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.

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