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2011, The Year that was...

Posted by Alex W.C. on 6:20 PM
So, here we are yet again, the end of another year. Even though the WNBA season ended several months ago, the NCAA season has kicked off with a bang. Overall, 2011 was a great year for women’s hoops, for many reasons – let’s take a look at just a few things that stood out to me:

Fifteen – That’s right all you haters! The WNBA celebrated a milestone as it hit the fifteen year mark, and put all the “it will never last” arguments to rest. 2011 also saw two WNBA teams pull in a profit, and several come awful close – along with all those, “The NBA should fold the WNBA because of the lockout” arguments being shut down. At this point, it looks like we could expect fifteen more glorious years. Let’s hope for some expansion teams in the coming years, but for now, I’m quite happy with where the league is.





Lynx Capture the Crown – After many years of a talented (and some might say stacked) roster, struggling with injuries and not even making a playoff appearance, the Minnesota Lynx were on a roll in 2011 and literally steamrolled over most teams to breeze through the playoffs, and sweep the two-time Eastern conference champion Atlanta Dream to capture their first championship. The reason? There’s not just one – Rookie of the year (who will only get better) Maya Moore, a healthy and hungry Seimone Augustus, hometown hero Lindsay Whalen, Coach Cheryl “I learned a thing or two in Detroit” Reeve, board crasher Rebekkah Brunson, – and a bench deeper than the Grand Canyon – Wiggins, McWilliams-Franklin, Wright, Houston, Adair, Harris and Hornbuckle. If they keep their roster in tact and healthy, the future could be very bright in the Twin Cities.



Phoenix Over the Hump in Seattle - In 2011, Phoenix could not seem to get a break when playing Western conference rival the Seattle Storm. Dark cloud memories hung overhead ever since 2010, when Sue Bird delivered a dagger 3-point shot that eliminated the Mercury from the Western conference finals in 2010, but 2011 looked like the year Phoenix could get retribution. Unfortunately, the Mercury would only snag one win at home against the Storm, and Seattle remained undefeated (with regards to Phoenix) at Key Arena.

Enter Candice Dupree.

Game three of the Western conference playoffs was all tied up with mere seconds left to play. After a drive from Penny Taylor was slightly off, a scrum-like battle for the rebound somehow put the ball in Dupree’s hands. With the final shot, she put the Mercury up by two, and ended Seattle's chances at defending their 2010 title. It may not have delivered a championship to the Mercury this year, but it most definitely felt like payback.



Swoopes Back in Action - Still struggling Tulsa Shock attempted to add some talent and experience to the roster by adding rookie standout Liz Cambage and veteran WNBA legend Sheryl Swoopes. After a two year hiatus, it was great to see Swoopes back in action, even if Tulsa struggled and were left in the dust, winding up at the bottom of the standings for the second year in a row. In all fairness, with the internal changeovers of players and coaches, one can see why Tulsa seemed to brave bad weather most of the season. Let’s hope 2012 brings them some well needed stability.

...and Swoopes can deliver more shots like this...



Change of the Guard - New WNBA president Laurel Richie, the first African American woman named president of a U.S. professional sports league took the helm after Donna Orender departed to start her own sports consulting firm. It was a welcomed and promising move by the WNBA to bring Richie on board after she spent a successful three years as chief marketing officer of the Girl Scouts of America. Let’s hope her goal is for another successful fifteen years of WNBA basketball.



A Legend Retires – On a personal note, assistant coach, Phoenix Mercury legend, and good friend Bridget Pettis retired from the WNBA after a lengthy career with on and off the court with the league. Her leadership, sense of humor, dance moves, and most importantly her spirit and love for the game will be surely missed.




All-Star Game, Texas Style! – San Antonio hosted the 2011 All-Star game that saw a “usual suspects” line up for the starters, but many rookie and first timers in the reserves. A fun game all around, and San Antonio provided a great venue for the event. It was also one for the books as the East finally took a victory from the West after the Western conference claimed seven All-Star wins in the past. No Fowles dunk at the end, but there was plenty of entertainment on the court.



Texas Style Intros - West



Texas Style Intros - East




Yes, there we so many more, (from Taurasi's overseas debacle & vindication to Catchings taking the 2011 MVP honors) but these were the ones that stand out in my mind. Feel free to comment and share your best WNBA memories of 2011!

So, WNBA fans, best wishes to you all in 2012!! The Los Angeles Sparks have the #1 pick, Minnesota Lynx have their first title to defend, and the USA Women’s basketball team is looking to keep their hands on the gold in London.

Looking forward to it!

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The Eternal Argument.

Posted by Alex W.C. on 1:43 PM
So, being a WNBA fan, at one time or another, we've all probably had an argument with someone hating on the league we all know and love. After a recent article from a writer in Mulwaukee, Wisconsin, I decided to make an "interpretive" video of what it would (allegedly) be like to interview guys like him, and those who follow his train of thought. It's about time W fans got the last laugh.

Enjoy.



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A season of giving...

Posted by Alex W.C. on 12:13 PM
Attention WNBA fans!!!

So, not sure what to get for that special women's hoops fan in your life? Limited budget due to overzealous spending on Black Friday? Worried that the literature options for sports fans is just too limited?

Well, have I got a deal for you!!

From now until Dec 31st, my book, "13 Teams, One Man's Journey with the WNBA" is on sale for just $10.00!! (3.99 off the retail price!!)

But I already have a copy...

Not a problem, the book makes a great gift for just about anyone. Give it to relatives or friends so that they know why you are such a women's hoops fanatic! Bring it to the office Christmas party as a conversation starter. There's never a bad time to talk about the WNBA.

So, the book is on sale for 10 bucks. Is that all?

No, that's NOT all! (as said in most infomercials) For every TWO copies of the paperback you purchase, I'll send you a FREE, that's right Diana, a FREE copy of the Kindle version of my book!!


But I don't have a Kindle...

No Kindle? No problem! There is an app for reading a Kindle version for just about any device...iPhone, iPad, Android tablet, PC, Mac, Blackberry, Windows phone...if it has a screen, you can read a kindle version!! Plus, it's not DRM protected, so you can easily pass it along to your friends!

Ok, how does this work??

First, Click here to order the book from my createspace site. Enter discount code S8S4R5TY at checkout for 3.99 off. Then, email me (13teams1journey@gmail.com) with the electronic receipt of your purchase - feel free to delete personal/payment info, just make sure the quantity and order info is still there - and I'll send over your free Kindle version!!

Is it that easy?

Yes, it's that easy! What are you waiting for? Give the gift that will share the joy and wonder that is the WNBA!!

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Interview: Sophia Young

Posted by Alex W.C. on 7:11 AM
Hey All,
When I was at the WNBA All-Star game this past summer, I had a chance to sit down with Silver Stars #33, Sophia Young for a few questions. We had a chance to talk chicken outfits, being an on camera personality, and her thoughts on the new additions to the Silver Stars roster. Enjoy!

This interview is a series of three - next up, Silver Stars assistant coach, Vickie Johnson.


2

If ignorance is bliss...

Posted by Alex W.C. on 11:37 AM
Yup, it's the playoffs. Tempers are flaring, play is getting intense, and fans are going crazy (myself included.) It is that time of the season; it happens.

Last night (Sept 19th, 2011) the Phoenix Mercury pulled out a huge win, coming back from an 18 point defect to top the Seattle Storm 77 - 75. It was a good game all around.

But something is troubling me as I read comments on Twitter and Facebook. Mainly about two things - Diana Taurasi and why the Storm lost.

Let's start with Diana. Oh, and I am going to put it on the table - yes I'm a fan of hers, and if that makes me biased, so be it.

One comment on Facebook went a little something like this -

"DT is just a no good white trash thug who thinks just because she played for UConn, her poo don't stink.....Bird has more class in her pinky finger than DT will ever have, as well as the rest of the Storm..hope SA or Minn sends DT home with a whoopin'! I am a SASS fan & hope they win, but if not,would much rather have Minn in the West to represent...any team but DT's....She is a disgrace to society with her roid rage behavior.....LOSER!"

Harsh.

"White trash thug" and "disgrace to society" are usually comments reserved for those who truly reflect qualities that are quite unbecoming - but I don't think they're justifiable in Diana's case.

Yes, she got called for the technical-and when ESPN has to blur your mouth because the F bomb(s)you're dropping is/are more than apparent, I'd say the technical was deserved. However, I don't think her outburst justifies such comments, especially those serving to reflect her overall as a person. Comments like these are usually filled by anger; people who make them would never give Diana a chance. Her behavior was poor, but is surely does not define her as a person.

The true ignorance in this comment was in the final part -

"...with her roid-rage behavior"

Oh, we're going there? Really?

Medically speaking, there is NO definitive or conclusive evidence that steroids cause aggressive behavior, only theories about isolated cases. As a matter of fact, most studies have shown that those who take anabolic steroids already had a disposition for aggressive behavior BEFORE they took them.

Oh, and the fact that Diana has NEVER BEEN ACCUSED OF TAKING STEROIDS!

This is a obvious dig at Taurasi for the doping allegations she was cleared of, and quite a while ago. Oh, and she was accused of taking a stimulant, not a steroid. Hey, while you're at it, why not add "her drunken " behavior to the "roid rage" comment? Yeah, dig up the DUI incident again - because it has about as much relevance as the "riod rage" comment does.

Bottom line, venting toward Diana really just shows how ignorant people can be. I don't support her behavior, but there is so much more about her that truly defines who she is. Put down the haterate and educate yourself before you comment. You might actually surprise yourself.

Now, on to the Seattle Storm.

Last nights game had sub-par officiating; yes, on both ends, there were questionable calls. Hey, it wouldn't be the WNBA without them, now would it? Even Rebeca Lobo commnented how there were far too many calls and that she was "...ready for some basketball." Excessive foul calls to suck the excitement out of a game. No doubt.

As I followed my time line on Twitter, tweet after tweet comments kept saying the same thing - how the Storm lost because of poor officiating.

I will not disagree that was a factor, but I wanted to point out a few other factors -

1. Seattle had home court. That advantage was huge.
2. Seattle had an 18 point lead at one point in the game.
3. Seattle was 11 of 20 from the stripe - missing out on 9 points.
4. Katie Smith (who's averaging 7.5 points per game this season) was 0 for 9.
5. The top scorer in the WNBA, Diana Taurasi fouled out and sat on the bench for the final 6 minutes.

I'd say those also came into play as to why the Storm could not nab the victory.

You can't blame just officiating. Oh, trust me, there are sometimes I would like to (and admittedly, have a few times this season.) It was a hard fought battle, and Seattle had several opportunities to run away with this game. It just didn't happen like that. Seattle did make it quite an exciting run, and I think everyone should respect that.

I can empathize though. I felt just as angry when Sue made that buzzer beater to defeat Phoenix in the Western Conf. finals last year. I was more angry about the fact that we left Sue Bird wide open at the arc - if you want to beat Seattle, you just don't do that. We did, and the rest was history.

Officials will be officials - arguing with them does little, and hating them does less. Yes, I will still be voicing my opinions about them at games in the form of several creative derogatory responses.

In the end though, it is teams that win - so may the best team do so.

1

Two words...

Posted by Alex W.C. on 10:25 AM
Thank you.

It is a simple thing to say, but all too necessary. It was just two months ago that I released my book, “13 Teams: One Man’s Journey with the WNBA” and was not quite sure how it would be received.

However, before I get into that, there were several events that preceded; events I want to make everyone aware of.

Almost a year to the day of my journey in 2009, I was diagnosed with a ruptured disc in my spine, between my L4 and L5 (lower back, near the tailbone). Because of this, I had to have surgery, which for the next 8 months, put a halt on many things in my life - namely finishing my book.

Challenges would not stop there however. After my back had healed, I had to leave my job in public education, put my home up for sale (which it still is) and took a huge financial hit. At this time, this was not an uncommon story for most Americans, as the struggling economy has impacted us all in many ways. None of them good.

I was at a very low point in my life. When you experience having everything taken from you, it leaves little to believe in. Yet, I pressed on. My father always taught me that perseverance is the only thing that will lead you to success in life. Talent, skill, and intelligence are all worthless - unless you put forth the effort to use it. Plus, I made a commitment to share my story with the best sports fans ever. I could not let anyone down.

So, I continued on with my book. For six months (January till May) I wrote every day, 7 days a week, morning, noon and night. I was focused and determined on bringing the book out to the fans of the WNBA for the 15th anniversary of the league.

A few weeks later, after much editing and several proofs ordered, the book was complete. I’ll never forget what it felt like – emotionally yes – but I’m speaking about what the actual physical book felt like when I held it in my hand for the first time. This was my gold medal, my championship trophy.

The only thing left at this point was to share it with you, the fans. Once I did, Facebook messages, tweets and emails poured in from around the country and around the world, all positive, uplifting and bringing me much happiness. You – the fans of this league we have all loved for the past 15 years – you are the ones who have allowed me to see the good in so many. You have exemplified how the word support should be defined, and have shown everyone who follows in your social media circles what being part of a family of fans truly means.

I know that I will always be able to count on you – the fans. I am so glad to be a part of this family, this movement, this group that is the reason why my journey was one of the most memorable parts of my life. With numerous words and thoughts flying through my head to express my gratitude, only two seem fitting. So, from the caverns at the bottom of my heart, to the top of Diana Taurasi’s bun...

Thank you.

(…You didn’t think I’d make a post without mentioning my girl, did you? *smile*)

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To all my overseas fans!

Posted by Alex W.C. on 2:41 PM
First of all, thanks to all those who overseas who ordered the book and waited between 4 - 6 weeks to get it. I appreciate your patience.

The book is now available in paperback from Amazon.com partners in the UK and in Germany.

Dispatching from the UK from £8.48 + £2.80 delivery: Click here.

Dispatching from Germany from EUR 18.88 + EUR 3.00 shipping. Click here.

Thanks for all of your support!!!!

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2011 All Star Highlights

Posted by Alex W.C. on 4:47 PM
I'll be posting a blog soon, but until then, enjoy the highlights. My fave? Angel McCoughtry's alley-oop to herself. Simply awesome. Hope you all enjoyed the game!


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Headed out to San Antonio, Texas for the WNBA All Star game!

Posted by Alex W.C. on 9:27 AM
Hey Y'all! So, I'm here at Sky Harbor Airport waiting for my plane to leave. Headed to the 2011 WNBA All Star game, and it should be a good one. Luckily, it looks like my plane is going to put me in San Antonio just in time to make it to the open practice. (I hope so, at least) Check out a vlog of my All Star preview I did yesterday. Go West!


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13 Teams - International Orders

Posted by Alex W.C. on 7:06 PM
So, you would like to order my book, but you live outside the US? No problem, here's 4 easy steps to take for an international order

1. Email me your name and full shipping address to - 13teams1journey@gmail.com. Be sure to include how many copies you wish to order.
2. I will reply with a list of shipping costs/options plus total price for the order.
3. Reply with which one you select - I will give you an email to submit payment via PayPal.com or you can submit a credit card number.
4. I will confirm when your order ships w/ a tracking number.

See? Easy! Just note that this process can take up to 2 - 3 weeks, including shipping time - I have to order the books directly from Amazon, then ship them to you. Rest assured I will do my best to get them to you just as quickly as I can.

Any questions? Just email me - 13teams1journey@gmail.com

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13 Teams & Meek Moments - book signing event!

Posted by Alex W.C. on 5:08 PM


Come join me along with Phoenix Mercury guard and WNBA Champion Temeka Johnson as we celebrate our stories:

13 Teams: One Man's Journey with the WNBA chronicles my 28 day journey to all 13 arenas in the summer of 2009.

Meek Moments: Decisions, Decisions, Decisions - A children's book which is "a fictionalized version of a younger Johnson, and the protagonist has decisions to make about prioritizing, something that Johnson says she learned from her grandmother, Jewel Johnson, who was a mother to her own seven children and Johnson."

- Kelly Carter, ESPN.com

The event will be held at Stupid Cupid, 5027 N. Seventh Ave (NE corner of 7th ave and Camelback) on Saturday, July 16th from 2:30 - 4:00pm. Come down and grab your copy of our books & we'll scribble in them for ya. (if you want us to that is.)

There will be a VERY limited number of books on hand, and once they're gone, they're gone! Cash and credit/debit cards accepted.

Phoenix Mercury Director of Basketball Operations Bridget Pettis (and author of the foreword) will be on hand as well!



Bonus offer! Make a single purchase at Stupid Cupid and get $2.00 off the price - that knocks it down to 11.99!! (this only applies to 13 Teams, and not Meek Moments - thanks)

See you there, and GO MERCURY!!

PS - For those of you not in the Phoenix area, the book will be available on Amazon.com on 7/15. I will have further instructions on my blog for international orders soon.

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All-Star bound.

Posted by Alex W.C. on 9:28 AM



Ok, I'm putting it out there...

Anyone want to go to the WNBA All Star game this year? I've got an extra ticket, (Sec 22, row 11) room at the hotel, and a rental car. All you'd have to do is get to San Antonio.

I don't smoke or snore. Flying in Friday and leaving Sunday. I can provide airport transportation.

BTW - Southwest is having a sale right now.

Price is totally negotiable. Any takers? Email me 13teams1journey@gmail.com

0

Book update!

Posted by Alex W.C. on 10:01 PM
Ok, so I know this book release is turning out to be a bit like Microsoft, with what seems to be no exact release date. For that I do apologize. I figured it might be a good explanation to explain how things work in "self-publish" world.

Right now, the manuscript is complete, and I have a "proof" - a copy of the book in its completed form to make sure it is exactly how I want it published. This most recent copy of the book has a few minor graphic errors that I could not have seen until I saw the book in print form. So, here's what has to happen:

1) I make the changes needed and upload the corrected manuscript.
2) It takes 24-48 hours to get the formatting of the manuscript approved.
3) Once approved, I then order a proof, which takes 2 days to get me. (I order every one overnight to make sure it gets to me as soon as possible.)
4) I receive the proof, then approve it.
5) Once approved, it takes Amazon 5 - 7 business days to make it available on line.

So, the original release date was supposed to be today, June 28th - however, I discovered a few small errors in the final proof, so I have to repeat the above process once more, which means that the book will not be out for another 2 weeks. For this, again, I do apologize. It will be soon, I promise. I want to make sure WNBA fans get the absolute very best.

Stay tuned. It's coming. I promise.

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Book Chat

Posted by Alex W.C. on 8:44 AM
Hey All, will be having a book chat this Sunday - I'll announce the time on Saturday here and on my Facebook page. I'll be reading passages from my book and will also take questions and such. Should be fun!! Who's in?


Owly Images

**UPDATE** Book chat will be on Monday, will announce time either today (Sunday) or Monday morning. There are too many WNBA games today - don't want to compete. See you then!

1

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes...

Posted by Alex W.C. on 7:31 PM
Hmm, things seem to be a little different, no? Yes, I've changed my twitter handle, as well as my website URL. Let's just say the change has been a long time coming and was inevitable. No, the WNBA did not tell me to stop using the likeness of their name - they even re-tweeted it when I changed it to WNBA_GUY on twitter two years ago.

So, why the change?

It became apparent to me about half way into the NCAA women's tournament this year that my fandom for women's hoop went well outside the realms of the WNBA - hence just using the letter W. After thinking about it a little while longer, I thought that with the book coming out soon (we'll get to more details in a minute) using the likeness of the WNBA brand might not be such a good idea. For starters, I want to make sure people do not assume that I am a part of the WNBA as an organization. Oh, indeed I support them any way I can, but I'm a fan who is more autonomous than anything. Thus I decided wguyblog would be a good name to move to.

There you have it. @wguyblog on twitter and here at www.wguyblog.com. I'll be posting blog updates & new videos (got a new HD Kodak Zi8) on Mondays from now until the end of the season as best I can. Also, check out my semi-regular spot over at "Dishin & Swishin" with David Siegel.

Ok, ok, yes, I know. The book has been coming out for weeks now, but no news. Well, I can safely say that it should be available on Amazon.com within the next two weeks. Editing comes in layers, and it took more than I thought it would. I refuse to give WNBA fans anything less than my very best, so I do thank you for your patience. I'll blast out tweets and Facebook updates the minute it is available.

In the meantime I put together my first video.

What was an excuse to get out of town for a few days turned into me attending a community event with the Washington Mystics. The team had partnered with Dreams for Kids DC to put on an adaptive basketball clinic for kids with physical or cognative disabilities. I had a great time and got to touch base with Mystics rookie Ta'Shia Phillips, who shared her thoughts on interacting with the community.

Enjoy.



Don't forget to vote for your All-Stars!!

1

13 Teams: A Preview

Posted by Alex W.C. on 3:45 PM


Click here to download a preview of my upcoming book, "13 Teams: One Man's Journey with the WNBA."

This link will expire on May 31st, so get your preview now. The file is a PDF, so you'll need adobe acrobat or a similar PDF reader to view it.

0

It seems a bit drafty...

Posted by Alex W.C. on 1:50 PM
In the first major event of the WNBA 2011 season, the Draft this year was not so much full of surprises, but quite full of talent. After major upsets of the three dominant women’s basketball programs, Tennesee, Stanford and UConn, choosing a rookie got a little tougher after the championship game, where A&M’s Aggies took home the trophy for the first time. Many a team threw around names, but nothing could be confirmed until draft day, even the quite inevitable #1 pick of UConn superstar Maya Moore.

Now, the Draft is over, players have been chosen and several trades have been made. The WNBA season is still several weeks away, but a lot can happen before the season tips off. Training camp rosters are swelling with talent, but in the next few weeks, difficult choices will have to be made as to whose name will be on the permanent roster. Even contracted players could be traded; nothing we haven’t seen before.

I’m not quite sure what I anticipate more; the Draft itself, or the aftermath that follows. Both can be equally entertaining.

As the Draft came in three lengthy rounds, I’m mainly going to focus on the top 12 picks. Each pick will be listed with multiple links to interviews, and other post draft day hoopla.

Number one – Maya Moore to the Minnesota Lynx.
Absolutely. No. Surprise.
Just as in years past, the Sparks picked Candace Parker, the Mercury picked Diana Taurasi, and the Storm picked Lauren Jackson, Maya Moore at the number one pick was inevitable. Yes, coach Cheryl Reeve hinted, teased and even at times taunted the media with what she already knew was going to happen, but that’s one of the fun privileges of being a coach, no? Maya even got a tour of the Target Center in Minnesota prior to the Draft, courtesy of Minnesota Timberwolves resident double-double king, Kevin Love.

Lynx Pick Maya Moore
Maya Moore post draft video
One Day with Maya Moore

You think they talked about basketball?

Number two – Liz Cambage to the Tulsa Shock.
As this was not a stunner as well, there was a bit of speculation leading up to the Draft. As I reported on my previous blog posts, Liz was quoted as not having the desire to play in Tulsa. However, closer to Draft day, she explained how she felt misquoted, and would be happy to go anywhere she was Drafted. Following the Draft, she exchanged signed jerseys with Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant.

Hmm, two Kevin’s welcoming in the top two picks? What are the odds?

Liz Cambage meets the press in Tulsa.
Liz Cambage meets OKC Thunder Kevin Durant
Liz Cambage draft day diary.
Liz Cambage post draft video

Number three – Courtney Vandersloot to the Chicago Sky.
This was a bit of a surprise to many, but also one that did make sense. Vandersloot proved her value to her Zags, showcasing her superior point guard abilities of passing and scoring in the NCAA 2011 tournament. Having her come off the bench can increase the chances of success for the Sky, while she plays alongside standouts Sylvia Fowles and Epiphanny Prince, It would seem that new coach Pokey Chatman has a plan for her team this season.

But actually, Vandersloot being selected at number three made more than just Chicago happy.

Getting to know Courtney Vandersloot
Coutrney Vandersloot post draft video
Courtney Vandersloot's draft day blog
Q&A with Courtney Vandersloot

Number four – Amber Harris to the Minnesota Lynx.
Many predicted that Amber Harris would go to the Sky with the number three pick, but when Vandersloot was chosen, it was a bit of a game changer. I heard that when Chicago made their pick, there was much excitement in the Minnesota Lynx war room, as the number four pick became a much easier selection. Needless to say it was unexpected, but the Lynx didn’t seem to mind one bit.

Amber Harris post draft video
Lynx press release: Amber Harris
Amber Harris dunk!

Number five - Jantel Lavender to the Los Angeles Sparks.
This 6’4” center was predicted to be gone by the time the Sparks had their pick, even though many also pointed out how she would work well into the team. With Harris and Vandersloot being taken of the board, that left Lavender available, and L.A. was quick to grab her.

Janel Lavender: Five questions
Janel Lavender - Draft highlights
Janel Lavender post draft video

Number six – Danielle Robinson to the San Antonio Silver Stars.
Touted as one of the top point guards in this draft, mainly because of her speed and passing ability, Danielle joins a team heavy with veteran presence. With two notable team members with point guard experience (Becky Hammon and Tully Bevilaqua), Robinson has a great opportunity to thrive under coach Dan Huges.

Danielle Robinson post draft video
One-on-One with Danielle Robinson
Robinson going to San Antonio

Number seven - Kayla Pedersen to the Tulsa Shock.
Versatility; it’s what the Shock got with their second pick in the draft. Even though she will likely play the three or the four spot, she can easily be moved around. Perimeter or post – pick your poison.

Shock select Kayla Pedersen
Kayla Pedersen post draft video
Kayla Pedersen - The next "Larry Bird" for the Tulsa Shock?

Number eight - Ta'Shia Phillips to the Atlanta Dream.
It’s not like the Dream are lacking in the size area, with Bales, de Souza and Leuchanka on the roster. However, adding a 6’6” rookie to come off the bench is not a bad thing either. No doubt, picking her up means the focus is on rebounding and defense. Well, that’s what it seemed to be...until...(what would a draft day be without a trade?)

Phillips heads to Washington
Ta'Shia Phillips post draft video
Ta'Shia Phillips traded to Mystics

Number nine - Jeanette Pohlen to the Indiana Fever.
What is it about Standford players that make them so versatile? Much like her former teammate Pedersen, Pohlen will be a welcomed backup to either point guard January or shooting guard Douglas. With her size and shooting ability, there aren't many areas on the court where she won’t contribute.

Jeanette Pohlen post draft video
Fever Otps for Versatility in Pohlen
Pohlen Selected in First Round

Number ten - Alex Montgomery to the New York Liberty.

Quick and defensive; that is what new Liberty head coach John Whisenant wanted. This 6’1” guard named to the 2011 ACC All-Defensive Team might be exactly what he was looking for.

Alex Montgomery stats
Georgia Tech routs Washington
2011 draft prospects

Number eleven - Victoria Dunlap to the Washington Mystics.
With Monique Curry possibly out for the season, the Mystics needed some depth on the bench. This SEC Overall player and Defensive player of the year is looking to do just that. With a healthy Alana Beard coming back, the Mystics are obviously looking for players to help them find redemption this post season.

Victoria Dunlap post draft video
Trudi Lacey on Dunlap
John Wall on Dunlap

Number twelve - Jasmine Thomas to the Seattle Storm.
Playing both the point and two guard spot with ease, Thomas is likely to nicely compliment the Bird/Jackson/Cash trio in Seattle. Coach Agler was not intending to pick Thomas, thinking that she would no longer be available at the number twelve spot. Careful what you wish for, right?

Storm Reunites Thomases in Draft
Jasmine Thomas on the Storm roster
Storm selects Duke guard

But what would a draft day be without a few trades?

Most noteworthy would be the draft day trade of Lindsey Harding & a 2012 second round draft pick to the Atlanta Dream in exchange for the Ta’Shia Phillips, Kelly Miller & a 2012 first round draft pick. Nothing like getting drafted then getting traded before you can even try on your draft day jersey, eh Ta'Shia?

The Liberty were also busy making trades, one for the Lynx's Jessica Breland in exchange for Angel Robinson & a second round pick - then a second for the Sun's Sydney Colson in exchange for Kalana Greene.

Since draft day there have been over a dozen transactions, check them out here.

Training camp for most teams starts within a few weeks, giving little time to players on training camp contracts to prove themselves and get a spot on a permanent roster. The WNBA currently has thirteen pre-season games scheduled.

What will be will be...on June 3rd.

On another note - I will be on hiatus for a few weeks as I finish my book 13 teams; One Man's Journey with the WNBA. Due out in June - stay tuned!!

4

On the Marquee: (Insert team name here)

Posted by Alex W.C. on 10:12 AM
Before the blog post, let's dispense with today's big news! The 2011 WNBA draft was held at ESPN today, and here's how the first round went down:

1 Minnesota Lynx - Maya Moore (No surprise there)
2 Tulsa Shock - Liz Cambage (Again, what was predicted)
3 Chicago Sky - Courtney Vandersloot (Not so expected, but a good fit)
4 Minnesota Lynx - Amber Harris (Minnesota was VERY happy with this)
5 Los Angeles Sparks - Jantel Lavender (As Rebecca Lobo said, youth on an older team)
6 San Antonio Silver Stars - Danielle Robinson (Stars got guards-a-plenty)
7 Tulsa Shock - Kayla Pederson (A good fit for any team)
8 Atlanta Dream - Ta'Shia Phillips (Gives the Dream a LOT of size now)
9 Indiana Fever - Jeanette Pohlen (Versatile guard, nice addition)
10 New York Liberty - Alex Montgomery (Good shooter & scorer)
11 Washington Mystics - Victoria Dunlap (Skilled defensive player)
12 Seattle Storm - Jasmine Thomas (PG backup, nice to have)


Check out the WNBA Draft site for all the details.

Next Monday's blog post will center more on the draft & season predictions once all the reactions have made their way out over the next week. Stay Tuned!

********

With the Washington Mystics being the fifth team in the WNBA to sign with a Marquee sponsor, (i.e. A sponsor who's name is featured on the front of the jersey.) it seems that the trend that the Phoeinx Mercury started just two short years ago has caught on quite quickly. Some say it is only a matter of time before this becomes standard practice in the league, as it provides much needed financial stability for a team.

However, not everyone seems to be happy with these changes.

Before we start talking opinions of said deals, let's go back to where it started.

On June 1st 2009, the Phoenix Mercury made history as the first team to sign with a Marquee sponsor; the Phoenix based company, Lifelock. The words "Phoenix" and "Mercury" were promptly replaced with the Lifelock brand on the uniforms and warm up jerseys as part of the agreement. In return, the Mercury received a guaranteed source of revenue for the next three years.



Not soon after, the Los Angeles Sparks followed suit with a similar agreement with Farmers Insurance. The following season, the Seattle Storm closed a deal with Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, followed by the New York Liberty swapping their team name for Foxwoods, a nearby casino. As stated before, the Washington Mystics, just a few days prior to the WNBA draft, signed with Inova Health System.

Two years and five teams later, the WNBA is just one team shy of having half the league in a Marquee partnership. Some say this is a good sign, while others are fighting fiercely against it.

I remember when this all went down in 2009, and many fans, myself included, were not happy to see the team name to be removed from the jersey. This unhappiness could come from a number of different places, most likely the public’s fear of corporate involvement. During a Q & A for season ticket holders, many of the fans expressed their dislike to the change in a series of quite heated comments. That is when Mercury GM Ann Meyers Drysdale, took the mic and gave a speech defending the deal, and speaking very highly of the benefits from partnering with Lifelock.

But I heard something different. I heard Ann give a speech that reflected her love, passion, and unwavering commitment for this team. When she began with, “I’m someone who knows about facing change…” she was all to right. Ann, of all people, wants many good things for the Phoenix Mercury, but above all else, she wants them to have an opportunity to play.

At that point, my mind was changed. I embraced the relationship between Lifelock and the Phoenix Mercury. I knew if I wanted to see my team continue to play, they would need all the support they could get.

So, how is a marquee sponsorship significant to a team, and to the league?

Revenue. In today’s economy, the stability of any business comes down to the money it makes and spends.

Many of the teams in the league operate at a loss, which means no profit at the end of the season. To this day, the only team to ever report a profit is the Connecticut Sun, albeit a moderate one. Businesses can only operate in the red for so long, as we’ve seen evidence of with several teams in the WNBA folding for financial reasons. A marquee sponsorship gives a financial shot-in-the-arm to a team, allowing them to have a stable source of revenue for the duration of the deal.

“Bottom line, we aren't profitable (we're close), but until we are, finding sponsors and new season ticket holders is priority number one.” Says Amber Cox, Phoenix Mercury COO. “The viability of our team and this league depends on us finding new, innovative revenue streams.”

This added revenue has many benefits: It gives the players job stability, helps offset the operating costs, and with money in the bank, teams can focus on the one reason why many of us love this league; Quality Basketball. In addition, it also allows teams to support community events, such as youth camps, and other local organizations.

One group of people not complaining are the players. I would figure that if anyone had a right to have a differing opinion, it would be the ones who have to wear the jerseys to work. Basketball is their job after all. Yet, after several seasons overseas where marquee sponsorships are common, many of the WNBA players reactions have been along the lines of, It’s about time.

I think it's very important," Taurasi told The Associated Press in 2009 when Phoenix was the first to seal the deal.

There is something much more noteworthy here, not just the money it self, but who is choosing to invest in a WNBA team. Lifelock, Farmers, Bing, Foxwoods and Inova Health System all have one thing in common; they are multi-million dollar companies with hefty advertising budgets. It cannot be ignored that when these companies put their advertising dollars in the WNBA, it is a sign of a growing support for women’s basketball.

“Finding companies who believe enough in the Mercury to spend substantial dollars is not an easy task.” Says Cox

They could always take their money elsewhere; I’m just saying.

Yet, still, I see too many still take a negative view of the marquee sponsorships.

To those who do, I ask this question: What would you rather have – corporate branding on a jersey, or no jersey at all? I say no jersey at all, because without financial support, there would be no team. I know that sounds extreme, but it is also reality.

Let’s face it, you can put whatever you want on a uniform, but it does little to change the spirit, heart and skill of the athlete that wears it. Your Favorite Player in any other jersey, is still Your Favorite Player.

The teams still retain their names, and although some still believe different, (I’m looking at you Adena Andrews) they are not known by their corporate sponsors. The Storm are not called the “Bings” and the Sparks are definitely not referred to as the “Farmers”. Kip Helt belts out “Your Phoenix Mercury!” at every game I’ve been to; I’ve never heard him refer to them as the “Lifelocks”.

Although If I were to ever start a band, that would be kind of a cool name…

Not to mention the Marquee sponsors so far have had very little involvement with the team, with regards to selection of coaching staff, players, roster moves, trades, etc. So much for corporate corruption. This really makes sense though; what company would want the added responsibility? So far we have seen no evidence that, other than the branding and it’s placement, sponsors want to have any kind of input with the team - unlike a UConn donor who wanted his three million back because he wasn’t allowed to have any say in who was hired for the coaching staff.

The most important people wearing these jerseys are the players. If they’ll wear them, then I’ll wear them. To support the companies who invest millions in the WNBA, is supporting the WNBA itself. It takes a lot of work to secure deals like this, and fans of the WNBA, in my humble opinion, should be happy that teams are doing so.

Want to support other buisness that support the WNBA? Then head on over to Jamba Juice to find a location near you. Last year, Jamba Juice signed a multi year sponsorship deal with the WNBA. These are the kinds of big sponsorships that are important to the league. C'mon, in the summer, who doesn't love a smoothie?

So, the next time you are at a game, look around to see the signage of the businesses who buy advertising space. If you ever happen to find yourself at said business, mention to them that you appreciate their support of the WNBA. The more they know that their investment is making a difference, the more they'll likely be to give more support in the future. Not to mention that other businesses may take notice.

If you still are against this, this is a free country, and you are entitled to your opinion. However, you may find yourself wearing your teams jersey with the team name prominently across the front...and no game to go to.

This blog was not brought to you by any sponsor, but hey, if there is anyone out there interested...

Here are some other pics of newly redesigned jerseys with the Marquee sponsor name.




0

We're number 2! We're number 2!

Posted by Alex W.C. on 11:51 AM in
Quite the fitting chant, considering the outcome of yesterday's games. Even though Stanford and Connecticut were favored to be in the mix for the championship, not everyone put them in that spot of their bracket. Just goes to show, sometimes being counted out is all you need to push ahead.

And with that being said, congrats to Texas A&M and Notre Dame on making it to the 2011 NCAA womens championship game. History will once again be made, because not since 1994 has the championship game not been host to a number one seeded team. This will be the first trip for the Aggies, and the second for the Fighting Irish.

May the best team win.

***Update 4/5/2011 - Congrats to Texas A&M on their first championship! You've earned it!***

Following the championship game (see countdown clock above), the WNBA will host the 2011 draft on April 11th, 2011. As It's been said before, Maya Moore is a lock for the number one pick for the Minnesota Lynx.

Lynx fans, say hello to your newest member!

(Click here to see a video tribute to Maya, courtesy of ESPN)

(Click here to see why Maya is arguably the best player in women's college basketball, courtesy of ESPN Sports Science.)

With the number one pick being no mystery, the number two spot could prove to make things interesting. It seems that "2" is the special number, between 2 second seeds in the NCAA Championship game, and the elusive #2 pick giving a hint of unknown.

So, without further a due, here are my top five fave draft prospects, in no particular order:

Liz Cambage - This 6'8" aussie standout has already made things interesting. With Maya at the #1 pick, that leaves Tulsa, who have the #2 pick, with the ability to Draft Cambage. But she has stated that she does not have the desire to play in Tulsa, while the Shock have stated that it will go ahead with it's plans, whatever those plans may be.



Cambage - “I don’t want to play at Tulsa,” Cambage said. “I’ve made that clear. They want to make me a franchise player, but I’m not going to the WNBA for that.

Coach Richardson - “Our situation is very unique, and if that’s the person we will choose and pick, then that’s the person that we will choose,” he said. “Whether or not she decides to play, that would still be her option of what she needs to do. So our position is we’re going to do the things we do regardless of what a player is going to say.”

Others weighing in on the situation:

Ben York, SLAMonline - "It's disappointing to hear, to say the least. I think she would be a great fit on that team. For whatever reason, Tulsa has been unfairly labeled as a place where no one wants to play. I think they have great fans and a lot to look forward to. It will just take some time to get to that point."

David Siegel, Dishin' & Swishin'/ Swish Appeal "I have to think that a lot of her comments are the fact that she is so young, and concerned about the pressure that will be put on her, and the scrutiny she will be under. I thought the comment she will try not to stress about it and will let her agent handle it was an indicator that she will go wherever he tells her to.

If I'm Tulsa, I can't pass on her, regardless of those comments, unless I get knocked over with a superstar deal, which isn't going to be coming."

Amber Harris - A 6'5" forward from Xavier who can score, rebound, and dunk. Brittney who?



Jantel Lavender - This 6'4" center who was big 10 player of the year - for FOUR years - also took the time top rack up a record number of rebounds, 1,422 to be exact.



Courtney Vandersloot - Poised to be the next Sue Bird, her point guard skills have developed tremendously, helping her to lead her Zags to an Elite Eight Appearance.



Kayla Pedersen - Had to give a shout out to a hometown AZ girl, even though she hails from Stanford. This do-it-all player should make a good for just about any team.



I know, I know, there are many I am missing, but these are the ones I've enjoyed to watch during the tournament. For a more complete list of prospects, head on over to the WNBA Draft website.

This draft should play out nicely, but I would expect to see a few surprises too. Don't forget to tune in to the 2011 WNBA Draft on ESPN on April 11th at 3:00pm (EST)

Who do you think is going in the first round? Thoughts?

1 Minnesota Lynx
2 Tulsa Shock
3 Chicago Sky
4 Minnesota Lynx from Connecticut Sun
5 Los Angeles Sparks
6 San Antonio Silver Stars
7 Tulsa Shock from Phoenix Mercury
8 Atlanta Dream
9 Indiana Fever
10 New York Liberty
11 Washington Mystics
12 Seattle Storm

0

DeJa...Liz?

Posted by Alex W.C. on 9:57 AM
On April 11th, 2011, the WNBA will be holding it’s annual draft, it’s 15th actually.

There really is no surprise this year in who will be picked first. Maya Moore is the best player in the country, and the Minnesota Lynx have the number one pick specifically for that reason. It simply is too inevitable.

Need a more concrete explanation?

SLAM online and HoopsWorld’s Stephen Litel recently did a draft Q&A for the Tulsa Shock (who own the number two pick in the draft) where he outlined exactly why Maya Moore is a lock for Minnesota at the number one pick.

Then there's that illusive number two pick. Names like Amber Harris, Kayla Pedersen, Jantel Lavender, Courtney Vandersloot and Jasmine Thomas stand out in my mind as those who will make the first round, but probably not at the number two spot.

Many are predicting that spot will to go to Liz Cambage, a 19 year old, 6’8” (although it’s been reported that she is actually 6’9”) Aussie (actually born in London) who's a standout baller at both ends of the court. It wasn’t until early March of this year that Cambage confirmed that she would indeed throw her hat in the ring, with regards to the WNBA draft. This was due to discussion between her and the Opals, the national team for Australia that she plays for, who wanted to keep her close to home to train for the 2012 Olympics.

DeJa vu anyone?

It was ten years ago that the WNBA drafted a certain sizeable 19 year old Aussie who many predicted would be become one of the best players in the league, if not the world. Three WNBA MVP awards, and two WNBA championships later, Lauren Jackson proved that she can live up to the expectations, and in some cases, surpass them.

The question now is, will Cambage repeat history? Besides height (Lauren at only 6’5” – did I just say only?) there are many parallels between Cambage and Jackson, mainly the ability to be a sizeable player who's a threat, both offensively and defensively.

But who is Liz Cambage? On a stat sheet, she is poised to be the next basketball star from Australia. Don’t believe me? Check out her stats for the Buleen Boomers, the team she plays for in Australia’s WNBL, whom she helped lead to their first ever WNBL championship.

As far as her off court personality, I’ll let you see for yourself. On the Austrailan T.V show The Circle & FOX news, Liz Cambage is quite the composed 19 year old, while still showing she can be a fun loving teenager. Nicely Balanced if you ask me.
(Thanks to Luuuc for posting several of Cambage’s TV spots on youtube)





This is one player that will get everyone talking, including two time WNBA champion Diana Taurasi.

"If she wants to come to Phoenix, we'll take her," said Taurasi.

I don’t think there’s anyone in the league who would say anything different.

Follow Liz Cambage on twitter at @ecambage
***UPDATE*** 3/26/11 Bouncing Boomer's high hopes via Melbourne newspaper, The Age.

0

I have seen the future...

Posted by Alex W.C. on 1:28 PM
..and the future is bright.

Watching the NCAA women’s tournament, it is obvious that the current talent level is the product of many players striving for a professional career in basketball. It was not that long ago however, that the opportunities for many female basketball players ended after graduating from college.

Women’s professional basketball has come a long way since then, and not without its obstacles.

In 1972, Title IX opened the doors for women’s athletics, mainly at the collegiate level.

Six years later in 1978 the Women's Professional Basketball League (WPBL) was formed, only to fold three seasons later. In 1980, In Ann Meyers-Drysdale (Co-MVP for the 1979-1980 season in the WPBL) was the first woman drafted to an NBA team when she signed with the Indiana Pacers. She would eventually not make the final roster. The ABL (American Basketball League) was founded in 1996 showing a great deal of promise as its teams included members of the Olympic gold medal team of that same year. The league disbanded after three seasons.

Needless to say, women’s professional basketball struggled over the years.

The WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association) formed in 1997, will begin its fifteenth season on June 3rd, 2011; a historic landmark for the young league and for women’s professional basketball.

The league was founded with only eight teams; many of the players drafted for the inaugural season had already been playing overseas. That was the only way for a woman to make a living at playing basketball at that time. The movie, Love and Basketball, is a pretty accurate depiction of what life was like for a female professional basketball player prior to the WNBA. The main character, Monica Wright, spends most of her professional career in the movie playing in Spain.

As life imitates art, Spain is currently home to several WNBA players during the European basketball season. I don’t use the words, “off season”, as many in the WNBA do not have such a luxury. Even today, in order to make a living as a professional athlete, many in the WNBA seek supplemental income overseas. This also means that, unlike their male counterparts, they do not get much down time during the year.

During the years the WNBA has been in existence, many have tried to undermine the determination of the league and those who truly believe in it. One can easily scan the internet to find many an article alluding to the universal message that the WNBA will never succeed.

While over time some WNBA teams have folded and the league regrouped, it still stands strong fifteen years and twelve teams later.

The question now is, who has the star caliber to take the league to the next level? Who in the next generation will take the reins?

Meet Brittney Griner.



A 6’8” phenom, who can not only dunk, but block, shoot and outplay almost any opponent. Currently playing at Baylor University, she has already broken blocking records and racked up stats that many college players only dream of.

She’s only a Sophomore. And she's not alone.

Other players like Maya Moore of UConn, participating in the cycle of a record breaking 90 game win streak, is considered to be the best players in the US, and is favored to be the number one pick in the 2011 WNBA draft.

Needless to say, as Brittney's collegiate career continues, and Maya's professional career begins, their game can only get better. Players like these are poised to have a huge influence in women’s professional basketball.

But when these players graduate, who will enter college basketball to raise the bar?

Enter the Buford High School Lady Wolves.

The Season is the title of a web based reality series, following the two time state champion high school team, as they defend their title. After watching just the first episode, it is undeniable that the demonstration of sheer determination by the players of this team is absolutely stunning.

Now with an established professional league, young women as early as high school, (and probably even earlier) are striving for a professional career in basketball; a reality today that not too long ago was only a dream. The Buford High School Lady Wolves, what I hope, are just one example of the athleticism that has emerged in for young women at the high school level. This serves to raise the bar as these young women begin play at the collegiate level and push it even further at the professional level.

Perseverance and time will ultimately create a level of play where skill and ability can only be second to none. It will serve the WNBA by providing them with a generation of players inspired by the existence of the league and the opportunity it provides.

I have seen the future. I can’t wait for it to become a reality.

0

For those about to hate...

Posted by Alex W.C. on 1:53 PM
Ahh, the haters.

Every sport has them. With the advent of the internet and its inherent anonymity, fans and non fans alike take to message boards, blog posts and letters-to-editors in full force.

However, the haters of the WNBA can seem like the most prevalent at times, and ironically, the most boring.

I say that because most of the haters on the WNBA have been using the same argument since the inception of the league, and I use the term argument quite loosely. It’s in part due several reasons; the ignorance of those who dislike women’s basketball, the fear men feel when females appear to do something as good or better than them, and the fact that somewhere along the line, our society felt condescending statements about women’s sports are par for the course.

Yet, even after 15 years, the statements from the haters remain the same. It’s as if someone made a list, and have been passing it along at some kind of secret society meetings for WNBA haters. That might be a little on the conspiracy theory side of things, I know.

But really, is there any other way to explain it?

I too, have grown tired of the haters and their useless statements.

So, in an effort to silence the haters once and for all (lofty, I know) I have put together a collection of those common statements by the WNBA haters and presented sound arguments that point out the flawed, weak and antiquated reasoning that the haters tend to subscribe to.

1. No one cares about the WNBA.

This is the mantra of the haters. They love to use this one, commonly followed by “is the WNBA still around?” I’ve got news for you, the league has been around 15 years, has well established teams and a strong fan base supporting it. Don’t believe me? Check out the Rebkell message boards or the WNBA message boards. Run WNBA through youtube and check out the fan made videos. While it is true the fan base for the WNBA is not as large as other sports, it is there, it is strong, and it cares about the league, more than you know. The WNBA has experienced substantial growth in every media channel, live games, and web streams.

Denying that isn’t going to change anything.

2. It’s boring, they don’t dunk.

While there is some truth to the latter part of this statement, the two together, (i.e. boring and dunk) don’t necessarily justify the statement as a whole. Dunking is a part of basketball, and while the women’s game may not get above the rim as much as the men’s, dunking is not a necessary part of the game. Dribbling, shooting, rebounding, ball handling – yes, all necessary, which the WNBA has plenty of. But dunking, as entertaining as it is, is more of an added bonus. If the one reason you watch basketball is for the dunks, then my friend, you are a fan of dunks, not of the game of basketball. Professional athletes playing basketball can be quite exciting, no matter what gender they are.

3. None of the women in the WNBA are attractive.

This is one of those statements that just makes absolutely no sense, and is not to mention, pointless. Professional athletes in the WNBA are not competing in a beauty contest. They are there for two reasons: 1) to play basketball and 2) to win. They are not there to impress fans with anything but their ability and skill. If you are looking for scantily clad women being quasi-athletic, do us a favor, stay home and watch reruns of Baywatch.

4. The WNBA fans don’t even defend their own league as much as fans of other leagues do.

To an small (quite small) extent, I agree with this. But there is a reason: When you’ve yelled at a brick wall for 15 years, you just get tired of it. The haters on the WNBA, be it professional journalist or would be blogger, have been using the same tired, recycled, pointless drivel since the inception of the league. After 15 years, fans get tired of trying to defend it, when it seems as if the ignorance about the WNBA seems to spread like a disease, with no cure. Fans of the WNBA tend to put their energy where it matters; supporting the teams and athletes they love.

5. Any good high school team or recreational league team could beat a WNBA team.

Nope, no, nada. They couldn’t. Not even close. Plus, the teams in the WNBA shouldn’t have to prove themselves by inviting a high school team down for a game.

Why?

These athletes are professionals who have busted their backsides making it to where they are. Most of them have toiled though college and even playing overseas for a couple of season before getting a shot in the WNBA. Your high school team has yet to even put in that amount of work, or earn the right to even step foot on to a court with these professional athletes. Amateurs who do get burned.
It’s not even close to true; let it go.

6. I like the WNBA, really, but I never go to games because of (insert reason 1 – 5 here)

Oh, so you’re like starburst; a walking contradiction? Jeff Perlman is a great example of this. He writes a piece sounding like he drinks the haterate regularly, then promptly contradicted himself, saying how big of a supporter of the WNBA he is. While I know fans of teams who stay loyal and are also indeed some of the most critical, there is a difference here between them and Mr. Pearlman. Fans are extremely critical of their teams because they want them to be better. Mr. Pearlman is a critic who, while having positive opinions about the WNBA, puts most of his energy trying to undermine it.

It’s kind of like a coach telling his team, “You guys are great, but not one cares and you’re going to lose.”

If you support something, then support it. If you don’t, then don’t. Ambiguity is annoying.

So, how do we deal with the haters? Ignore them.

Most of them are trolls looking to get a rise out of the fans. By responding to them, we give them voice, attention and a reason to continue what they do. They aren’t worth your time, and anything you say means nothing to them. Your time and words are worth a great deal.

...with one rather comedic exception:




So, the next time you see a tweet or a facebook post from one of these, ”non-fans”, just let it fall into obscurity. Instead, post a positive comment about the league, your team or your favorite player, and encourage your friends to do the same.

When the supporters outnumber the naysayers, the naysayers can become quite invisible. And that's a fact.

**Update 3/17/11**
Here's a poem by Emily Smith titled, "A Poem for the Haters." Enjoy.

It might be losing a bet with a buddy that brings you in,
But something bigger, more enduring, will bring you back.Watch closely, be prepared to leave your seat at least once,
Don’t spill your popcorn, and try not to have a heart attack.

If you don’t have a favorite team, just pick one to like tonight.
There will be plenty of time for a real favorite to shine through.
Try to keep your temper in check when there’s a bad call…
The refs are in control and will pretend they don’t hear you.

Take a look around, soak it all in; the lights, the colors,
The people, the faces. This isn’t just entertainment…this is a game.
Sure, we could watch big guys bang against each other for an hour..
But, for some of us, watching those guys just isn’t the same.

Basketball, to a WNBA player, is handshakes with grown-ups…
And playing on the playground with the kids (of all ages).
It’s remembering that you played in tiny gyms with other people’s kids,
Even though you’re making money and getting to play on bigger stages.

It’s digging into your very shallow pocket to give to charity..
And issuing a challenge for all the fans to do the same.
It’s selflessly using every drop of your talent on the court…
And knowing when it’s inappropriate to drop your own name.

It’s treating adoration like it’s something you have to and want to earn.
It’s giving up a Saturday to serve fast food to kids who gasp and point at you.
It’s walking down airport terminals and signing autographs happily…
Knowing that not many people are this blessed.. but you are one of the few.

It’s giving thanks to a cheering crowd with an emotional crack in your voice,
As the coveted and hard-earned championship banner is finally shown.
It’s winning gold in the Olympics and hearing our national anthem play
And being more than a little relieved that you’re not sobbing on TV alone.

It’s good times, a lot of great basketball, and amazing people..
Hard work, passion, determination, and a willingness to sacrifice.
It’s knowing that you are preparing the road for the little girls born today.
And, with that fact in mind, you give your all without thinking twice.

It’s not about the money, really, or playing to the biggest crowd
That keeps you at the gym and puts a bounce in your step as you play.
It’s knowing someone, somewhere, whose face is featureless right now,
Is watching you, adoring you, and wants to be you some day.

Basketball, to a WNBA player, is being, giving, hurting, sharing,
Loving, aching, laughing, and doing so much more..
Than just “playing ball” for money–it’s being the start of something bigger.
And we’ll be here with you…because that is what we all come back for.

2

All Star Travel Tips

Posted by Alex W.C. on 9:31 AM in , , , ,
Take it from me, when I say I've been there, I indeed have been there.

After all of the traveling I've done, I know what it's like to develop and execute a successful travel plan.

So, for those of you planning on attending the WNBA 2011 All-Star game in San Antonio, Texas, here is some helpful info you might be able to use:

AT&T Center:


View Larger Map

Tickets:
Tickets are now on sale through Ticketmaster, and prices will fit almost any budget - $15 to $186. Don't forget to add parking for 5 bucks! (it will be on the lower part of the page before you pay for the tickets.)

Flights:
With fuel prices going up, airfare is not going to be cheap. Yes, that's bad news. But there's plenty of time to budget for the trip, as this is probably the most expensive part of the trip.

San Antonio International Airport is only 8 miles from AT&T center, so, should you be going directly to the game, a cab ride should only take 15-20 minutes tops. (Depending on traffic)

Southwest Airlines has often been the lower cost airline in these situations. They do fly to/from every city that has a WNBA team, with the exception of Atlanta. (Coonecticut via Hartford, Washington D.C. via Baltimore.) For Atlanta, Delta would be your best bet, as Atlanta is a main hub for them, and you'll probably have the most flight choices. Coincidently, Delta (as of today, March 5th, 2011) has some of the best prices going - but don't forget to add 50 bucks (25 each way) if you are going to check at least 1 bag.

Buying in advance might not be the best option, as many airlines have sales right before summer travel. Your best bet is to - and I know this sounds weird - check on Wednesdays at or around midnight. Several friends in the travel industry have told me this is when many changes are put in place. Not sure if it is true, but it is worth a shot.

Also, you can try websites like Hotwire.com. Nicest thing about hotwire, the'll email you if the price goes down on a certain fare and let you compare with all the other travel sites.

Hotels (5 closest to AT&T center):

One thing to know about any of the nearby hotels, plan to drive or get a cab to the arena. Unfortunately, there is no hotel within "walking" distance. You can walk, but it will be quite a treacherous one, and I would not recommend it. Good news - most of the hotels are 3 - 5 miles to the riverwalk and downtown. You'll need to head that way anyway, because there are really no nearby shops or restaurants.

Days Inn San Antonio - At&T Center TX‎ - 1.1 miles away
$64 - $70
125 reviews - (2.5 star average review)
4039 E. Houston Street
San Antonio, TX 78220
(210) 333-9100
daysinn.com‎

Econo Lodge Inn & Suites Near AT&T Center‎ - 1.1 miles away
$55 - $80
66 reviews - (3.5 star average review)
2755 N. Panam Expressway
San Antonio, TX 78208
(210) 229-9220
econolodge.com‎

Comfort Inn & Suites Near the AT&T Center‎ 1.3 miles away
$100 - $115
30 reviews - (3.5 star average review)
4038 I-10 East
San Antonio, TX 78219
(210) 447-2000
comfortinn.com‎
(this hotel is where I stayed on my 09' journey. I can say that it was clean, and comfy. Worth the money. However, it is not close to ANYTHING, as many of the hotels near the arena.)

Hotel Microtel Inn (now a Days Inn) - Suites San Antonio NE‎ 1.4 miles away
$72 - $99
71 reviews - (3.5 star average review)
3443 Ih-35 North
San Antonio, TX 78219
(210) 225-4040
daysinn.com‎

Travelodge San Antonio ATT Center 1.4 miles away
$120-$149 (3 star average review)
3939 East Houston Street
San Antonio, TX 78220 US
210-359-1111
Travelodge.com

If you are looking for a little more high end hotels, San Antonio & the riverwalk is a mere 4 miles from the AT&T center. Expect to pay $100 - 180 a night.

Rental car:

A search of rental car places in San Antonio shows that rental cars are fairly inexpensive. (Click here)

Economy ranges from 18 - 24 dollars a day, while midsize and standard prices range from 25 - 30 dollars a day. Expect gas to be at least 4 - 5 bucks by this time. Fortunately, San Antonio, the AT&T center and the airport are all close to each other. Always check local gas prices before you pay for gas up front. Filling up the tank yourself might be cheaper, depending on how much driving you are going to do.

*UPDATE* 3/08/2011 - Someone shared some good info in a comment: For me, the "name your own price" option on Priceline.com has always netted me the best rates on rental cars. I've paid as little as $9/day in S.A. -PLIF05

That should be enough to get you started. Hey Silver Stars Nation, San Antonio residents, Hammonites, etc leave comments with any more suggestions, including Hotel, Restaurant, Nightlife ideas! We're looking forward to you being the hosts for this years big event!!

Check back often, as I will be updating this page with current info on the WNBA All-Star game for 2011, including schedules of events, news, etc.

0

Redefining Gentleman

Posted by Alex W.C. on 12:04 PM
Some days I think I rant too much about the current perception of women’s sports. I ponder backing off and trying to appreciate the positive changes that women’s sports has experienced over the past few years or so. Then I am oh so quickly reminded when things like this happen.

Pardon me while I take a slight departure from the typical WNBA content I write about.

Joel Northrop, a high school wrestler in Iowa, was recently celebrated as a gentleman.

Why you ask?

In the Iowa state wrestling championships, Joel Northrop, who was favored to grab the title, forfeited a match. His opponent in that match was a girl. Northrop then released this statement:

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for Cassy…. However, wrestling is a combat sport and it can get violent at times," said Northrup. "As a matter of conscience and my faith I do not believe that it is appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner. It is unfortunate that I have been placed in a situation not seen in most other high school sports in Iowa."

In doing so, many, including several sports journalists, hailed him as a gentleman who has the utmost respect for women.

I would disagree.

The opponent? Cassy Herkelman, a freshman, who had a 21-13 record for the season, not to mention 8 pins – all against other boys. Conversely, Northrop went 35-4 , and was ranked fifth in entire state of Iowa. The question that drives through my mind is why would someone throw their chances of winning a state title, after obviously working so hard to earn a spot in the championships?

The last sentence where he says, “It is unfortunate that I have been placed in a situation…” Why does this have to be about him? Am I supposed to think that because an opponent, a girl, who worked hard and earned this opportunity, took away his opportunity to compete? He’s the one who made the decision, no one forced him to.

That leads me to his reasoning behind his decision; as he said, it was his faith. While I am not a religious man myself, I have never been down on someone making choices because of their faith. We live in a country where we are guaranteed freedom of religion, and every citizen in this country has that right, and in doing so, the right to make decisions in their lives based on their faith.

But I question him falling back on his faith. I question it because it really does not make sense for him to say so. Here is a young man, and a talented athlete. Athletic achievements just do not happen, they require work and determination. I doubt seriously that he was able to post the record he did without a tremendous amount of said determination and perseverance. To take all that and just give it up?

It doesn’t make sense.

Maybe it is because, as I said before, I am not a religious man myself. Maybe someone with strong convictions of their faith would be willing to make a huge sacrifice, rather than sacrifice their values. Maybe this is something I am unaware of because I come from a non-faith based upbringing.

But when he stated that wresting is a “combat sport” and can become “violent at times”, his faith does not address this? Violence is ok some of the time, and other times it is not? It seems too inconsistent to me.

My perspective I can guarantee is not a popular one, and one that many will disagree with. Yes, call me a conspiracy theorist if you will, but I think it goes deeper than faith. It comes down to fear. Not fear of losing, but fear of losing…to a girl.

It didn’t quite come to me at first; but then I saw another example of this, a subtle example, but it was there.

Watching the NBA All-Star celebrity game recently, I saw as legendary NBA player Scottie Pippen faced off against WNBA champion Swin Cash. I shouldn’t even say “faced off” because there was no effort to support this on the part of Scottie Pippen. Swin was driving to the hoop, and Pippen was standing under the basket as she did. (See you tube video, starting at the 1:20 mark)



And that was all he was doing, just standing there. He did absolutely nothing to try to do what he was supposed to, which was to defend the basket. Even the commentators made a remark about how he made absolutely no effort.

That’s when it hit me. How could a forfeited wrestling match and lacking of effort by an NBA great could show the exact same thing? These male athletes would rather do nothing, than risk the chance at experiencing being shown up, or defeated, at the hands of a female athlete.

There, I said it.

This fear is what I believe drives the many examples of negativity that I’ve seen directed at women’s sports. It begins at the public school level when a coach refers to his players at “ladies” or “girls” when he wants to motivate them. Young boys are conditioned to think that association to anything female makes them weaker and less skilled. After years of this kind of conditioning, to even think that a girl could defeat them at their own game must be quite frightening. Just the thought that female athletes could do it just as good or better than men evokes not only negativity toward female athletes, but toward females in general.

CBS sports columnist Gregg Doyel commented, “But if a boy doesn't want to wrestle a girl, he has that right. It doesn't make him a chauvinist or a coward. It makes him a gentleman.”

Once again, the story isn’t focused on the girl who lost the opportunity to showcase her wresting skills, but the boy who threw in the towel. The boy is the hero and is celebrated for standing up for what he believes in.

The Girl? Maybe she’ll have better luck next time.

Unfortunately for Cassy Herkelman, there will be no next time. Cassy will never have freshman year in high school to repeat. Many moments in an athlete’s career come once in a lifetime. Oh sure, she'll have three more years in high school. This year however, for Cassie, is gone. And as it is, Northrop is the one who's celebrated.

It seems that many respected his choice, but no one respected Cassy’s. When Cassy became involved in wresting, she made a choice too. That choice was to physically engage boys in a very aggressive contact sport, and in doing so, accept any of the physical consequences that may come about. In other words, she took the bangs and bruises, and chose to keep going. This is clearly supported by the number of victories in her record and her perseverance to continue.

It comes down to this. Instances like this play out the same way most of the time. It’s not about the female athlete who had to work twice as hard to gain their place in a male dominated sport; it’s about the male athlete who was put in an awkward position. It’s not about the female athlete who made the decision to accept the physicality of their sport; it’s about the male athlete who didn’t want to “hurt” anyone. This focus makes the male athlete the martyr or the victim, and only creates a bigger battle for female athletes in the future.

It’s a double standard, its insecurity, its fear. What is cheaply sold by many as respect, is a smoke screen to cover up the true feelings male athletes have that they don’t want to admit to.

I had a conversation a while back with a guy who had been invited a few times to be a part of a scrimmage team and play against the Phoenix Mercury. (For those of you who don’t know, that’s a professional women’s basketball team.) He shared with me that in the beginning, he had the same feelings, as not wanting to get physical with the players, believing it would somehow be inappropriate. Those feelings quickly changed however, while on offense, he set a screen for one Diana Taurasi. He promptly received a hard elbow to the gut as Taurasi fought against the offense. He then explained how it was evident to him that Taurasi chose to get physical, and by doing do, inviting those to get physical in return.

So he did, and amazingly, no one got hurt. To me, that is the truest example of what respecting female athletes should be.

He is the one who is a gentleman.

UPDATE: Check out Sarah Spain's blog post over at ESPN W

References:

Heart of matter: No one to blame in Iowa wrestler flap


Wrestler defaults at Iowa prep tourney rather than face girl


For first time, Iowa girl wins a state wrestling match by forfeit


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