Houston Roundball Review: Women's Hoops

This is The Houston Roundball Review's (www.TheHRR.com) blog to discuss women's basketball. The HRR began in 1994 and has been media credentialed to cover college and pro hoops since 1997. Member of the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA).

Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Conversation With Hilton

Part I

Today, I decided to try and do something about the lack of info from the Comets, and to let Hilton know some of the Comets hard core fans craved information. First and foremost on my mind were the issues of Janeth Arcain's #9 possibly being used by another player and my fear of the Comets turning into a dirty LA type of team.

Hilton graciously spent quite a bit of time with us today talking about the Comets. He was friendly, sincere and open, and he gave his OK to share the following information with the other online fans. He said there are many issues/concerns that he wants to get done, things that have to be done to meet important league requirements/deadlines, but time has been short, and we are still short of staff. Many things have had to be done on the fly since he became owner on 01/31/07.

He assured us the Comets would not be a dirty team. He also mentioned the league has strengthened the sanctions for unsportsmanlike play.

Concerns about Janeth's number have been addressed. At first, he said he would double check with Karleen when they get back from the scrimmages in Las Vegas. Later, he actually spoke with Karleen on the phone before they boarded the 1:30 flight to Las Vegas, and she said she had talked to Maiga Ba who would be fine with using #99 rather than Janeth's number.

The Comets have gotten more corporate sponsors, but, interestingly, some of the larger corporations can't even be approached because of conflict with Toyota Center building sponsors (e.g. no other hospitals because Memorial Hermann is a building sponsor; no other car dealerships because Toyota has its name on the building, etc.). Some of these corporations can contribute in other ways, such as advertising their sponsorship at non Toyota Center venues and functions/events.

We do have six billboards going up around Houston, a poster has already mentioned the one on Hwy 59 coming in from Sugar Land around Shepherd, and Hilton said he was pleased with it as he drove by. Some of the others will have a player (I think he mentioned Sheryl and Tina, maybe Michelle, one of Coach Thompson, and he said he was talked into having one Comets billboard of him and his family). Those will be nice to see.

He really seemed to like the idea of a blogger, someone reporting on team practices, etc., as well as perhaps a player blogging like Mistie Williams and Dawn Staley did last year. He will look into this when the team gets back from Vegas on Tuesday. As we know, there is also the new director of media communication for the Comets, Ms. Djacarda Richard, and she may be the one addressing this and getting back to us on it. He liked the idea of Djacarda having an e-mail address on the website for fans to send questions, suggestions and ideas, and to be responded to promptly. He said that the league is handling the Comets website.

The Houston Rockets have a group of fans called the Red Rowdies whose job is to be really loud at the games in their own section. Hilton is looking into this concept for the Comets. There will be a loudest, proudest, craziest fans contest, and they will be called the Comet Crazies. He says it is going to happen, and the tentative date for this is 05/15/07. About 50 seats in the upper arena will be given to the Comet Crazies.

Hilton asked that anyone with ideas, and specifically connections, for a pep band they could put together to please get in touch with the Comets.

Hilton is also asking for suggestions/ideas from anyone that knows the functions of the section leaders and would be willing to share how that operated in past seasons. Volunteers are encouraged. :-)


There are Team NRG dance auditions on Saturday, 05/05/07, at the 24 Hour Fitness Gulf Freeway. Registration starts at noon, bring current photo and picture ID, $10 registration fee, free 2 week pass for every participant. The words "Funk" and "Hip hop", are written on the pamphlet. Had I noticed that, I would have asked him what about some fifties music. :) He mentioned a lady named Erica Davis (former cheerleader with I think Texans and Rockets) as the consultant for the tryouts.

The Comets are looking into having a "Van Day" sometime during the season.

Regarding the preseason game of 05/15/07 that was to be held at TSU, that became a closed scrimmage at Delmar: This had been in the works before Hilton became the owner but had not been finalized. It wasn't able to be worked out with TSU. There were talks of Univ. of Houston but that also didn't work out. There was no facility for the preseason game. Since the Comets and HISD have a new partnership, Delmar (Hwy. 290 and 610 loop) was chosen as the site. A large number of HISD students are being invited to attend. He also said the decision for Delmar gave them a couple of more weeks to prepare for the first home game from a business perspective.

Hilton is working on an open practice for all fans as in previous years. The Comets have been having practices at U of H, as well as Toyota Center when the Rockets aren't there.

Hilton wanted us to get the message out there that the Comets games are affordable family fun. The Comets are Houston's team, and that he feels fortunate to be involved in keeping the team here. He said, "We need everyone's input to maximize the excitement of the experience."


Part II

Okay, a little player news straight from Hilton. :D

We have an owner that has actually been going to practices! As I said previously, practice has been at UofH and Toyota Center.

Hilton is impressed with the entire coaching staff. He mentioned Karleen overseeing practice in the background and letting the assistants run the team, but she also steps in as needed.

Sheryl Swoopes: She is happy where she is and where we (Comets) are, she's excited about the new players. Jordan is at most practices and is good buddies with Hilton and Baby Hilton (who is 5 years old now). He said Jordan has very good basketball skills, and he is hoping Baby Hilton learns from him.

Dee Davis has been outstanding, quick, handles the ball well.

Kristen Newlin has been impressive pushing through the intense training, lots of running. He brought Kristen up himself so he was impressed for a tall post player to run that well is what it sounded like.

What he has seen of Ashley Shields has impressed him as well. He mentioned her quickness, steals and shooting ability. He also mentioned seeing her nearly "break another player's ankles" with a crossover dribble.

The Comets look to be fast paced offense, focused on defense, and the team chemistry is better. The players' professionalism and sportsmanlike conduct has been excellent in practice.

Finally, he said the league is hoping for 2 more teams in the next 2-3 years, and Atlanta and Denver are being mentioned alot.
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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Comets at Walk America

Sunday, April 29, at 8:00 a.m., Hilton Koch, Karleen Thompson and Michelle Snow will welcome participants at the March of Dimes Walk America event at the University of Houston's Robertson Stadium.

A ticket booth will be set up so that fans can purchase individual tickets, season tickets and mini-packages.
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Roster is 22, but

Currently, the Houston Comets roster contains 22 players.

However, based on the roster I received from the team this afternoon, there are three changes in the roster (as of this afternoon) compared to the one posted on the team's website:

Dee Dee Wheeler (5'6, G, Arizona), Astou Ndiaye-Diatta (6'3, F, Southern Nazerene) and Edwina "Wink" Brown (5'9, G, Texas) are not on the roster while Jae Cross (5'8, G, Australia) Alicia Gladden (5'11, G/F, from Florida State) and Jillian Robbins (6'1, F, Tulsa) are on the roster.

All 22 of these players are not participating in training camp right now.

Since I've been too sick to leave the house the last few days, I haven't been to camp in a while.
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Comets Name Douglas Trainer

Friday evening the Houston Comets announced the naming of Michael Douglas as Head Athletic Trainer for the team.

Douglas joins the Houston Comets after completing his first year as Athletic Trainer for the National Basketball Association Development League’s Albuquerque Thunderbirds.

Prior to joining the Thunderbirds, Douglas worked for the National Basketball Association’s Memphis Grizzlies in various roles – Assistant Trainer, Strength & Conditioning Assistant and Equipment Manager – over the course of three seasons. He had previously worked in the International Basketball League as Head Athletic Trainer.

Douglas is currently the only professional who holds the distinction of working as an Athletic Trainer in the NBA, NBDL and now the Women’s National Basketball Association.

“I’m very proud of the fact that I have experience in the NBA, the NBDL, and that I will now work with one of the WNBA’s premier teams,” said Michael Douglas. “Coach (Karleen) Thompson has assembled a great coaching staff and I’m really excited about the season.”

“We chose Michael because he stood out, particularly his expertise and experience with professional athletes,” said Thompson. “He has a really high-level knowledge of athletic training, the rehabilitation of sports injuries and basketball, which, to us, made him a perfect fit.”

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Sky's Jackson Not Arrested

Contrary to reports from some media outlets, Deanna Jackson was not arrested for throwing a punch and hitting an opponent in Israel after a championship game. Jackson plays for Ramat Hasharon in the Israeli League; but, she's also a member of the Chicago Sky of the WNBA. The Sky announced Jackson was suspended indefinitely for throwing the punch.

Read this
article written by Lior Klinger of Safsal in Israel. Klinger's article states many inaccuracies have been reported by the Associated Press.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Comets News

As I left the radio station (KCOH 1430 AM, www.kcohradio.com) this evening about 6:15pm, I called to let the Houston Comets know I was planning to stop by today for the final 30 minutes (the allotted media availability time) of practice. I left a message; a few minutes later, the new director of communications (she starts the job "officially" tomorrow) called me to ask when I was going to arrive at practice. I told her about 6:30 or so. She told me "Okay. I'll see you when you get here."

I arrived a few minutes early; so, I walked around a bit and entered the building about 6:40. While wearing my Houston Rockets press pass, I walked down the steps toward the basketball court. A young lady, who I believe is Karleen Thompson's assistant, met me on the steps and said to me "Practice is closed."

I said to her, "It's after 6:30."
She said, "It's still closed."

I asked her, "When will practice be open to the media?"
She answered, "I'm not sure."

So, I said, "Can you give me an idea?"
She said, "When Karleen says so?"

I finally said, "Okay."

I left the building.

One of the equipment people (and a friend of mine, by the way) ran after me and yelled "Kris, you're cool."

I kept walking; and, I said to him, "This isn't right." I got in my car and left to watch the NBA Playoffs.

The PR person called me twice and left me a message; but, by that time, I was already at my next destination.

The Comets need to do a better job communicating with the local media because the fans deserve to know what's going on with their favorite team.

"New Day for Comets"


Comets / Sun "match-up"
As mentioned earlier today to the HRR subscribers,...

Okay, here's what I've been able to learn about the Houston Comets - Connecticut Sun pre-season "match-up":

The scrimmage is closed. Not just to the public; but, unless I was told incorrectly, closed to the media, too.

Delmar Fieldhouse is the location.

Tuesday, May 15, is the date.
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Sunday, April 22, 2007

17 in Comets Camp

The Houston Comets tipped off preparation for the 2007 WNBA season with practice number one Sunday afternoon.

17 players were in camp today. New head coach
Karleen Thompson has taken a page from head coaches like Jeff Van Gundy and closed practice to the media until the final 30 minutes; but, that's no problem. She's in charge now.

Media guides were not present (accidentally forgotten). I won't be able to remember all of the players who I saw practice today. However, here's who I can remember off the top of my head:

Tasha Butts
Edna Campbell
Dee Davis
Erin Grant
Roneeka Hodges
Sancho Lyttle
Lauren Neaves
Jillian Robbins
Ashley Shields
Michelle Snow
Sheryl Swoopes
DeeDee Wheeler

LaTasha Byears, Tina Thompson, and Mistie Williams were not at practice.


I briefly spoke with Dee Davis; and, I asked her how her knees were feeling. I told her rumors were swirling on some message boards she wouldn't play with the Comets at all this season because she'd be on the Inactive List because of her knees. She was stunned and upset by the rumors.

She said to me, "You saw me in Cleveland; you see me now. What do you think?"

I told her, "You look ready right now."

I know Dee has battled knee tendinitis; but, any rumors saying she's definitely out for the season seem to be a tad bit premature.
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Friday, April 20, 2007

Comets Start Training Camp

The HRR has learned the Houston Comets will start training camp this Sunday, April 20. I was told an official press release will be sent later.

In other Comets news...

...the Comets have hired a director of media communications. Ms. Djacarda Richard will assume her now job either April 23 or 25. Djacarda was a Team Communications intern with the Comets in 2000. After the 2000 season, she worked for the Los Angeles Sparks in their communications department.
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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Comets Partner with HISD

This is a good endeavor:

The Houston Independent School District (HISD) has teamed up with the Houston Comets to increase student involvement in educational programs and promote the importance of sports.

Comets new owner, Hilton Koch, and HISD’s new athletic director, Daryl Wade, are enthusiastic about the new partnership. The WNBA believes in the importance of education and requires all players to finish high school, attend college and earn a degree.

“My vision for the Houston Comets is to do everything in our power to teach students the importance of education, be a positive role model and inspire our youth while giving back to the community. Partnering with HISD will be a key factor in accomplishing all of these core values,” Koch said.

A few points of the agreement are:

-An educational field trip for elementary school students with Math as the content area focus to be held at the Delmar Field House, on May 8th. Students will also receive a ticket to the Comets June 20th game versus the L.A. Sparks.

-“Court of Dreams Contest” – HISD students compete against other Court of Dreams participants throughout the league to see who will sell the most tickets. If HISD wins, its athletic department will invest the money in building a reading center to be used district-wide.

-“HISD Night” - HISD employees, students, their families and friends will receive a discount when the Comets play the San Antonio Silver Stars on Tuesday, May 29th.
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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Meet and Greet

WNBA President Donna Orender will be in Houston tomorrow as part of a "meet and greet" with Comets' owner Hilton Koch and head coach / general manager Karleen Thompson which take place at a local Houston restaurant Monday afternoon. (I'm not going to mention the name of the restaurant because I do not know if this event is open to the public -- the release didn't mention it one way or the other.)

Update: Ashley Shields, the Comets 2007 first round draft pick, will also attend the event.

According to the press release:
Orender, Koch, and Thompson will be available to discuss the overall vision of the WNBA, the upcoming 2007 season, the recent 2007 WNBA Draft, the Comets’ new ownership and head coach, as well as Don Imus’ remarks about the Rutgers basketball team.


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Q and A with Lindsey Harding

Lindsey Harding (Cy Fair HS, Duke University, Minnesota Lynx) is currently in the middle of her first two weeks of practice with USA Basketball as a member of the USA Senior Women's Basketball Team. The team is in Rome right now; so, during some down time for her, Lindsey took a few minutes to answer a few questions from the HRR.

Lindsey Harding: USA Basketball Photos
HRR: Did you ever think about playing for USA Basketball when you were younger?
LH: I hoped there would be an opportunity. It’s something I’ve strived for as a goal, but I thought it was going to come along later in life. Like after I was in the WNBA.

HRR: What have you learned from Dawn Staley thus far these first few days?
LH: It’s just the leadership. In college I did have a lot of leadership, but out here there’s a lot more to learn. She was there in my ear telling me what to say, what to do, when to do it, so it was good following her around.

HRR (hokey question): Was it difficult to practice with players you grew up watching and possibly idolizing?
LH: I think the only thing difficult is how much faster the game is, how much stronger and bigger they are. But once you get use to it and get adjusted to it, it gets easier. But at first it was an eye-opener.

HRR: Since you're going from the NCAA Tournament to USA Basketball to the WNBA season in a short amount of time, do you have any concerns about getting tired or getting injured during the WNBA season?
LH: No, I don’t think about getting injured. Period. As for being tired, after the NCAA Tournament I had two weeks where I wasn’t doing anything. And then I’m here for two weeks and the Lynx are giving me a few days off at home in Raleigh. So I’m getting enough time in between.

HRR: How would you describe the differences between the international game and college ball?
LH: They do not call fouls here. I’m just realizing that. And I’m not sure if they know how to call a charge here either (laughs). It’s so physical. But to be honest, I’d rather it be more physical than not physical at all.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

NABC Condemns Bigotry of Radio Program

I received this email blast from the National Association of Basketball Coaches today:

The board of directors of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) commended the outstanding season and accomplishments of the Rutgers University women’s basketball team on Wednesday and condemned the unanticipated and disparaging comments about the team from nationally syndicated talk show personality Don Imus.

“First and foremost, we want to congratulate NCAA women’s basketball champion Tennessee and NCAA runner-up Rutgers for their outstanding seasons,” said Jim Boeheim, NABC president and head men’s basketball coach at Syracuse University. “In light of the recent verbal assault by Mr. Imus, it’s unfortunate that these teams have not received the recognition they deserve for their accomplishments this season.”

“The NABC wants to commend Coach C. Vivian Stringer and the members of the Rutgers women’s basketball team, not only for a great season, but also for the way they have responded to this unwarranted attack. They have presented themselves with dignity and class,” said NABC Executive Director Jim Haney.

“While society is trying to move more toward human dignity and respect, we can learn from this that there needs to be greater accountability for such bigotry,” said Haney. “Media networks and corporate America must not condone this hurtful rhetoric as it perpetuates and creates divisions and hatred among people. The NABC will continue to champion efforts to make these types of actions and behavior unacceptable in our society.”
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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Comets sign Robbins

The Tulsa Golden Hurricane announced the news Jillian Robbins has signed as a free agent with the Houston Comets.

Robbins, a 6"1' forward from Spring, Texas, averaged 19.7 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.27 steals and 1.83 blocks per game, while connecting on 52.5-percent of her field goal attempts and 65.0-percent of her free throw attempts this season. She notched 20 double-doubles, claimed the school's only women's triple-double and scored in double figures in 28 of 30 contests.


Despite those gawdy numbers, Robbins went undrafted in last week's 2007 WNBA Draft.

school press release

HRR and Jillian at WNBA Draft Camp

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Owls Sign Prep Star from ATL

Rice Owls' women's basketball head coach Greg Williams announced that Megan Elliott of Pace Academy in Atlanta, Ga., has signed a national letter of intent with the Owls and will join the team for the 2007-08 season. Elliott, a 6-1 swing player, averaged 17.6 points and 8.3 rebounds and had 10 double-doubles on her way to earning honorable mention class AA all-state honors from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Link

From Scout.com:
"
Megan is a very hard worker and was a pleasure to coach the last few years," said Jonathan Davis of the Georgia Hoopstars club team. "She is very underrated player in the state of Georgia, but was recruited nationally by many of colleges that saw her play in exposure events." Elliott will be the ninth player off the Hoopstar's elite team to sign with a Division I school.
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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Lindsey Harding's First USA Basketball Camp

I'm trying to figure out the best way to add photos / images to my blogs; so, I figure why not start with Houston's own Lindsey Harding in her first camp with USA Basketball.

Lindsey Harding: USA Basketball Photos

Once I get the hang of this photo stuff (like what sizes look best, etc.), watch out!
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Monday, April 09, 2007

Hoop tidbits

Though I'm losing subscribers (yes, more than one) because of message boards, I'll continue adapting The HRR in order to provide basketball information to fans of the sport.

As mentioned in an April 2, Tip-in (Members' Section):

Cynthia Cooper told me Van Chancellor asked her if she'd be interested in being one of his assistant coaches at LSU; but, she said "thanks but no thanks". Coop understands how some people may react to her decision; but, she's happy at Prairie View. She believes if it's meant for her to be at LSU (or any other school) then it will happen in its due course. Coop says she wants to finish what she's started at PV.


Pope to Visit UH
Though the University of Houston is not listed among Brooklyn Pope's (6'2, junior forward at Fort Worth Dunbar HS) "list of schools", Pope is expected to make either an unofficial or official visit to head coach Joe Curl and the Houston Lady Cougars. (Yes, there is a difference between "unofficial" and "official" visits). Pope is one of the top players in the Class of 2008.

Keep in mind, Pope is good friends (and an AAU teammate) of Cobilyn Hill who signed to play for UH beginning in the fall of 2007.


Joe Curl to do Better
I don't always agree with Joe Curl's coaching philosophy nor his recruiting; but, I will give him credit for acknowledging he's "dropped the ball" the last two seasons with his basketball program on the court and off the court. Coach Curl told me he's, once again, more directly involved in the recruiting process. Plus, he's going to take on more responsibility marketing his team for the 2007 - 2008 season. (Hopefully, the team will have more than seven players during the 07-08 season.)

One game to mark on your calendar: Duke comes to Houston, Friday, December 28, to play the Lady Cougars.


Neaves in Monarchs' Camp
Late last week, I was told Lauren Neaves, formerly of the Rice Owls, is expected to be invited to participate in the Sacramento Monarchs' 2007 Training Camp.

Correction
I just received word Lauren will participate in the Houston Comets' Training Camp instead of the Monarch's camp.
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Sunday, April 08, 2007

HRR on Imus' Remarks

Please do not believe I have no thoughts on the comments made last Wednesday by Don Imus. I mentioned my thoughts Friday on Sports Rap (KCOH 1430 AM, www.kcohradio.com); but, I didn't put any comments in print.

Here goes:

I know Imus offered
an apology on Friday; but, actions need to be taken against him. If he's not fired, then suspend him without pay until each of the Rutgers women's basketball players graduate from Rutgers University. Considering the team is very young, you understand where I'm coming from.

Here's the joint statement by the presidents of the NCAA and Rutgers University regarding the comments made April 4 during the nationally syndicated Don Imus program on MSNBC:

“The NCAA and Rutgers University are offended by the insults on MSNBC’s Don Imus program toward the 10 young women on the Rutgers basketball team. It is unconscionable that anyone would use the airways to utter such disregard for the dignity of human beings who have accomplished much and deserve great credit.

“It is appropriate that Mr. Imus and MSNBC have apologized.”
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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Cleveland Recap

Hey, hey, I'm awake. The 8:40 pm flight from Cleveland to Houston didn't leave snowy Cleveland yesterday until 10:20 pm Eastern Time. The plane didn't touch down in H-town until 12:40 am Houston time. Our bags didn't arrive for about 20 minutes after that. No worries though because both of my bags did arrive which is definitely a good thing.

To recap the week that was:
We arrived in Cleveland Friday morning in time to attend to the first session of the WNBA's Draft Camp; unfortunately, for us, our bus driver had other plans. Despite passing our hotel at least twice, the bus didn't drop us at the hotel for about 90 minutes. As a result, I missed the first session.

Downtown Cleveland is currently undergoing construction which caused a lot of slow movement and impatient visitors. Instead of risking another bus ride, I walked from the hotel to the site of the draft camp -- Cleveland State University's Woodling Gym -- to attend Friday's night session. The walk to the gym proved fruitful.

I interviewed Comets' Coach / GM Karleen Thompson; Baylor's Bernice Mosby; and three C-USA players: Rice's Lauren Neaves; UAB's Carmen Guzman; and Tulsa's Jillian Robbins. Of the four players I interviewed, Mosby was the only one to be chosen in the April 4 WNBA Draft. However, during my
interview with Karleen she told me she was planning to make a draft selection which would make people say "Wow!" Clearly, she was referring to Ashley Shields whom the Comets chose with the 8th pick in the first round of the Draft. Though Shields is an unknown to many basketball fans, a few basketball people believe the Comets made a great choice by selecting her. Time will tell.

Saturday afternoon I attended the WBCA's High School All - America Game; and, after seeing her in person, I am very, very impressed with UConn signee Maya Moore. Maya is not just an incredible athlete; she's a very skilled basketball player. Period.

As I do when I attend the Women's Final Four, I brought up the possibility of the city of Houston hosting a Final Four with a member of the NCAA Championship Committee. Hopefully, one of my ultimate basketball goals will be realized in the future.

Tuesday, April 3, Candace Parker's mother accepted the State Farm Wade Trophy for Candace at the WBCA Awards Luncheon. During her speech, Parker's mom told the crowd she "looked forward to receiving this honor again next year". I didn't interpret the statement as arrogant; however, though I didn't doubt it before, I was convinced Candace was returning to Tennessee for the 2007 - 2008 season. Later, I learn of reports from Nancy Lieberman stating that Candace would leave after the 2006 - 2007 season to play overseas and earn up to $1M. I guess Candace's mom knows best when it comes to decisions regard her child. Huh?

None of the three games in the Final Four (two semifinals and the title game) were high scoring or "aesthetically pleasing" to watch; but, the goal of the participating teams is to win not simply entertain. Tuesday night, Tennessee defeated Rutgers 59 to 46 to capture the 7th basketball National Championship in Tennessee's history. I interviewed most of the
Tennessee players in the locker room after the victory.

Attending the WNBA Draft yesterday was a first for me. Seeing everying with a "behind the scenes" look was very interesting. It was definitely hectic and fast paced. After attending the Draft, I went to the airport and waited (and waited); but, thankfully, I'm back in H-town. I was too tired to attend this morning's press conference at the University of Texas to announce Gail Goestenkors as the new head coach; but, hopefully, I'll have numerous opportunites in the future to interview "Coach G" in the future.

Women's basketball continues evolving and improving; hopefully, as the evolution continues, more and more people will start appreciating the sport and attending the games instead of criticizing it for not being like the men's game.
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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Comets - Merc Trade Rumor

Behind the scenes in Cleveland, a rumor is floating around that the Houston Comets and the Phoenix Mercury are discussing a trade.

Houston would trade F / C Sancho Lyttle and their 8th pick in the 2007 WNBA Draft to the Phoenix Mercury in exchange for the Mercury's #1 pick overall in the 2007 WNBA Draft.

If the rumor is true, I believe the Comets would select Duke's Lindsey Harding with the number 1 pick which would definitely help the Comets dire need of a point guard.
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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

7th Heaven

As sweet as ever!!!! - Pat Summitt

Rutgers tried to make it a fight, but Tennessee held the Scarlet Knights off for the school's 7th NCAA Women's Final Four Championship. With Candace Parker coming back next year, can the Lady Vols repeat? They definitely will be the hunted next season, and I think that's just the way they like it.

The game wasn't played as good as it could or should have been, but the Lady Vols got the job done. Rutgers should be commended for not giving up, but with continuing to get beat on the boards and missing shots in the paint, their chances of winning dwindled as the clock ticked away.

Once again, the UT Lady Vols can call themselves Champions. Maybe now Candace will allow her name to be mentioned in the same breath as Tamika and Chamique. They both won titles, and now so has she.
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Lady Vols Outrebounding RU

Tennessee didn't shoot the ball well (11 for 30, 36.7%) in the first half; but, the Lady Vols completely dominated Rutgers on the boards. Tennessee outrebounded the Scarlet Knights 23 to 12 (including an astounding 12 offensive rebounds)!

Lady Vols' senior forward Sindey Spencer leads all scorers in with nine first half points. Junior forward Alberta Auguste was solid on offense and defense for Tennessee with eight points on 3 for 4 shooting and five rebounds. Candace Parker has seven points on 3 for 8 shooting from the field while Nicky Anosike leads everyone with eight rebounds.

For Rutgers, center Kia Vaughn leads RU with six first half points followed by five points from Matee Ajavon.
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2007 Women's Final Four - Cleveland (Championship Game - First Half)

Well, the first half started good, got ugly, and then finished on a decent note. Tennessee is 20 minutes away from it's 7th Championship in 11 Championship games (and a total of 17 Final Four trips).

In the second half, if Rutgers wants to have a chance at winning, they need to hit the boards better and do a better job of handling the press. If Tennessee wants to make sure they win, they need to start taking (and making) those open shots they keep passing up. Rutgers will continue to double team Candace, so Nicky (and everyone else) needs to take that open jumper.

The next 20 minutes will determine a champion. Who will stand up and grab that ring?!!!!
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Monday, April 02, 2007

WBCA Luncheon

After finally waking up Monday morning, I got myself together and walked over to the WBCA's National Coach of the Year Luncheon. The luncheon is presented by AstraZeneca.

I am always honred to attend this luncheon because I enjoy listening to the stories from each of the coaches who wins an award. Congratulations to each of the winners on each level of women's basketball from high school to Division I (including JUCO, NAIA, Division II, and Division III).

Duke's Lindsey Harding was named the National Player of the Year by the Atlanta Tip-Off Club.

Coaching icon Jody Conradt was honored for winning her 900th game; and, Coach Conradt's speech was exceptional. She was humorous and grateful to everyone who has helped promote women's basketball.

Duke's Gail Goestenkors received the National Division I Coach of the Year award. Her speech was touching; funny; respectful; and emotional. Once again, Coach G called N.C. State head coach Kay Yow her hero for Yow's "courage, and such class, and such passion every day..."

Coach Yow spoke to the audience and her talk touched everyone in the room. She urged all the schools and coaches to participate in the "Hoops for Hope" and the "Think Pink" activities for the upcoming season. There weren't too many dry eyes in the room after Coach Yow finished talking.

Following the honors for the coaches, the second part of the program was for breast cancer awareness and research. Listening to the coaches (Harvard's Kathy Delaney-Smith, emcee; Toledo asst. coach Duffy Burns; Concord University head coach Kenny Osborne; and Prairie View A&M's Cynthia Cooper-Dyke) tell their stories describing how breast cancer impacted the lives of their loved ones and themselves was emotional and inspiring.

I've known Coop for years; but, I'm always impressed to see fans ask for Coop's autograph and take a picture with her. After the presentation, she was gracious today signing a few basketballs and posing for pictures. Then, she and I sat down and talked hoops.
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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Lady Vols 20 to 2 run beats UNC

With 8:18 left in the second half, the Tennessee Lady Vols trailed the North Carolina Tar Heels 48 to 36; however, Tennessee cranked up the suffocating defense down the stretch to outscore UNC 20 to 2 and pull out a thrilling 56 to 50 victory. North Carolina did not make a field goal the last 8 minutes. UNC's Ivory Latta hit two free throws with 3:43 left for the Tar Heels only points during crunch time.

Tennessee was more aggressive and took it to the Tar Heels.


Tennessee's Nicky Anosike took it upon herself and led the defensive charge to help the Lady Vols creep back into the game. Anosike sank four free throws and a lay-up to tie the game at 50 with 2:04 left in the ball game. At the 1:44 mark, Anosike put Tennessee ahead by hitting one of two free throws.

UNC's Latta missed a three-point shot with 1:16 as the Tar Heels continued going ice cold.

Tennessee trapped UNC's Alex Miller just across the half-court line and forced a steal by Candace Parker. Parker sank both free throws to give Tennessee a 53 to 50 lead with 34 seconds left in the game. North Carolina called time-out; but, Latta missed a 3-point shot afterwards. Tennessee's Alexis Hornbuckle rebounded the miss and was fouled. She split two free throws to give the Lady Vols a four point lead (54 to 50) with just 24 seconds left.

Instead of going for two points, Latta jacked up an another three-point shot; but, she shot an air ball. Tennessee's Sidney Spencer rebounded the miss and sank the final two points of the game from the foul line.

Tennessee will play Rutgers Tuesday, April 3, in the championship game.
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2007 Women's Final Four - Cleveland (Game 2 Complete)

The second half didn't start any better than the first half ended, but as time went by, things slowly started getting better. As the last 8 minutes of the game played out, UNC could not hold on to their lead, slowly starting to unravel as Tennessee stopped making stupid plays and started scoring points. The game ended the way I expected the entire game was going to be played. Back and forth, good (not lousy) basketball.

After the normal cooling off period, I ventured into the UNC locker room. If you ever get a chance to visit a locker room after a game has ended, choose the winning team. Unless you are in need of a good crying, there isn't a lot of good things that will come from visiting the losing team's locker room. The players really don't have much to say because they are still in shock and trying not to cry in front of you. Losing sucks, but it's a part of life.

Well, the Final is set. Rutgers vs. Tennessee. Can Rutgers get its first title or will Tennessee get #7 (and in the process getting some distance between them and Satan's team)?
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Garbage In, Garbage Out

22 to 21, at halftime, of the Tennessee - North Carolina ball game!

This first half was truly bad basketball. Fast paced, bad basketball. Forced turnovers. Unforced turnovers. Missed lay-ups. Poor decisions.

At one point in the half, the two teams were a combined 2 for 25!

It's hard to defend women's basketball to my cynical colleagues with a first half like that.

North Carolina shot 9 for 32 (28.1%) in the first twenty minutes while Tennessee shot 7 for 29 (24.1%).

47 combined rebounds from all of the launched bricks!

29 combined turnovers.

Fast paced chaos is difficult to watch when it's not executed properly.

UNC's Ivory Latta picked up her third foul which didn't seem to bother the Tar Heels' offense too much until Tennessee's Shannon Bobbitt began to pester Carolina's Alex Miller which disrupted UNC's offense toward the end of the first half.

Candace Parker played only eight minutes in the first half after she picked up her second foul (on a shaky player control foul called on her).

The second half has to be better than those brutal 20 minutes.

My goodness.
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2007 Women's Final Four - Cleveland (Game 2)

One word to describe the first half of the UNC vs. Tennessee game:

ATROCIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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2007 Women's Final Four - Cleveland (Game 1)

I have one word for the Rutgers vs. LSU game: HORRIBLE!!!!!!

Once again, LSU cannot win a game in the Final Four. I know that making it to the Final Four 4 years in a row is an accomplishment, but not even winning one game in those 4 years is bad. Maybe this LSU team did not want Pokey to get a ring or make any more money for the accomplishments they did since her resignation. Maybe the pressure finally got to them. Maybe Starkey doesn't want the job full-time and that is the reason why he did not make any adjustments in the second half. Maybe Carla Berry ratted LSU out by telling Rutgers their game plan. Who knows? I expect the UNC vs. Tennessee game to be better. We'll find out shortly.
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RU is Making it Rain

No live blogging tonight (so far) from the Final Four; but, at halftime of the Rutgers - LSU game, the Scarlet Knights "made it rain" with eight made three-point shots (out of 10 tries) in the first half to take a surprising 37 to 19 lead over the LSU Lady Tigers. RU's Matee Ajavon went a perfect 4 for 4 from the Land of Three.

LSU is stunned.

I thought this game would be a low-scoring, slug-fest. Well, LSU is struggling to score; but, unfortunately for the Lady Tigers, Rutgers has their offense in high gear from behind the arc. Ten assists on 13 made baskets.

Stunning.

The second half is minutes away.
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HRR Tidbits from Cleveland

I'm getting ready for tonight's games (they're finally about to start!).

First up:
#4 seed Rutgers versus #3 seed LSU.
  • Since both teams play such solid defense, I don't believe this game will very "aesthetically pleasing" to watch; but, the game should be very, very competitive.
  • As long as LSU's Sylvia Fowles doesn't get into early foul trouble, I'll pick LSU to win -- 55 to 50.
Next up:
#1 seed North Carolina versus #1 seed Tennessee.
  • I still believe Tar Heels' guard Ivory Latta is bothered by an injured ankle; but, the key to this game will be Candace Parker. If Parker starts the game aggressive and avoids early fouls, she'll be able to settle down her teammates which should help the Lady Vols play confident and relaxed.
  • The Tar Heels are deeper and more athletic; so, they need to force the tempo and make the game as fast paced as possible. If Tennessee dictates the tempo, UNC's offense isn't nearly as effective in the half court compared to the full court.

Minor notes:

Downtown Cleveland has loads of construction and a lot of transients. Nothing problematic; however, seeing so many people sleeping on the curbs and sidewalks is not exactly putting Cleveland's "best foot forward".

Last night, I attended the VIP / Media Party which was held at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. After I stuffed my face with some snacks, I went downstairs; and, I had a blast! I participated in some of the interactive tv screens and listened to artists like Bessie Smith; The Ink Spots; Marvin Gaye; Led Zeppelin; The Who; James Brown; Dinah Washington; Aretha Franklin; The Beatles; etc.

Next, I walked over to the Jimi Hendrix area; and, I paid, figuratively speaking of course, homage to my musical hero. I listened to Jimi's songs for at least 30 minutes. I was groovin' to "Red House" (Live version, San Diego, 1969 - I believe); jamming to "If Six was Nine"; "Hey Joe"; "Purple Haze"; "Spanish Castle Magic"; I could go on and on. I was in music heaven!

After that party, I headed over to the WNBA's Party. I arrived late; but, I saw friends I hadn't seen in a while; had a few drinks; and enjoyed the crowd.

This morning, I went to church for Passion Sunday; next, I ate breakfast with some friends; then, I watched the Pistons - Heat game; and, lastly, I ate lunch with some coaches.

Now, it's game time...

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2007 Women's Final Four - Cleveland (Day 2 Complete)

I've just arrived back to the hotel after attending both the VIP/Media Party as well as the WNBA/WBCA Party tonight. The VIP/Media Party was held at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I highly recommend going if you ever get a chance. I have only one word: Impressive!!!! When I first walked through the doors I wasn't impressed. But once I started walking around, I couldn't believe the memorabilia that was there. I was lucky to get in for free (normal ticket prices are $20). But if I did have to pay, it would have been well worth it.

The WNBA/WBCA Party was held at the Cleveland Convention Center. The party was good, with many current & former NCAA and WNBA coaches and players in attendance. The food and drinks were flowing with the ladies dancing all night long.

Next up, the semifinal games Sunday night. My predictions: LSU and Tennessee.
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