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).

Thursday, August 23, 2007

2007 W Playoffs Sked

Eastern Conference -- First Round (Best of 3)

Detroit Shock vs. New York Liberty
Game 1 - Fri August 24, Detroit at New York -- 6:30 PM -- NBATV.
Game 2 - Sun August 26, New York at Detroit -- 12:00 PM -- ABC.
Game 3 * Tue August 28, New York at Detroit -- 6:00 PM -- ESPN2.

Indiana Fever vs. Connecticut Sun
Game 1 - Thu August 23, Indiana at Conn. -- 6:00 PM -- ESPN2.
Game 2 - Sat August 25, Conn. at Indiana -- 3:00 PM -- NBATV.
Game 3 * Mon August 27, Conn. at Indiana -- 6:00 PM -- NBATV.


Western Conference -- First Round (Best of 3)

Phoenix Mercury vs. Seattle Storm
Game 1 - Fri August 24, Phoenix at Seattle -- 9:00 pm -- NBATV.
Game 2 - Sun August 26, Seattle at Phoenix -- 6:00 pm -- ESPN2.
Game 3 * Tue August 28, Seattle at Phoenix -- 8:00 pm -- ESPN2.

San Antonio Silver Stars vs. Sacramento Monarchs
Game 1 - Thu August 23, San Antonio at Sac. -- 9:00 pm -- NBATV.
Game 2 - Sat August 25, Sac. at San Antonio -- 12:00 pm -- ESPN2.
Game 3 * Mon August 27, Sac. at San Antonio -- TBD -- NBATV.
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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

HRR chat w/ Rox

I had the opportunity to speak with Roxana Button this evening. Earlier this month, Rox made a verbal commitment to play for head coach Joe Curl and the Houston Lady Cougars. Rox and I talked for about 10 minutes; and, her comments are below. She seems to be a very level-headed young lady.

HRR: Describe the process which led to you making a verbal commitment to Coach Joe Curl and the Houston Lady Cougars.

Rox: I took an official visit back in May. I really just loved the place then. I mean everything about it – the campus, the coaches; and, then, later in July, he (Coach Joe Curl) came and watched me play in a tournament; and, he made the (scholarship) offer. I thought about it; and, I couldn’t think of a better place for me.

HRR: Did you have a short list of schools before you chose UH?
Rox: Probably, right when I called him is when other scholarship offers starting to come in. I had a couple on the table at that point.
HRR: Can you tell me which other schools made offers?
Rox: Yes. North Texas. UTEP. St. Edward’s. I can’t think of the others.

HRR: Since I haven’t had a chance to see you play just yet, what do you do well? What are your strengths?
Rox: I’m aggressive. I attack the hole; and, I can shoot from the outside.

HRR: What about Coach Curl and his staff impressed you?
Rox: I can tell by the way he is that he is a good person; and, that he cares about his team which is something that is very important to me. You can come to him about anything; and, he’ll help you. When he gives you his word, he tells you straightforward. For me he told me who he was recruiting; and, that’s one of the things that really impressed me.

HRR: Has school started for you, yet?
Rox: No, I start on Monday.

HRR: For those who don’t know, what high school do you attend?
Rox: I attend Coppell High School.
HRR: How long have you played basketball at Coppell?
Rox: I’ve played varsity all four years.
HRR: How good has the team been thus far?
Rox: My freshman year was the best team. We were District Champs; 13 and 1. We got in the first round; and, then we lost. My sophomore year we were okay. I fractured my elbow with three games left in district. We ended up tied for the third spot; and, we had to play a game to get into the playoffs and we lost that game. I didn’t play those last four games. My junior year we did pretty well. We ended up tied again; but, this time we won the game to reach the playoffs. We got to the first round; and, we lost to Colleyville.

HRR: You mentioned earlier you play basketball in the summer. What team do you play for in the summer?
Rox: I play for the North Texas Shockers.
HRR: What’s that experience been like for you?
Rox: It’s awesome. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. We’ve got a great group of girls who I’ve played with for two years. We have great chemistry on and off the court. It’s been great. We’ve traveled everywhere. We get along with the coach really well. It’s been a great fit.
HRR: Do you believe AAU basketball has been a good shot of exposure for you?
Rox: Yes. Definitely. It was a key factor in getting that scholarship. It’s exhausting (laughs).
HRR: Talk about. How much did you travel? How much time did it take out of your summer?
Rox: A lot. You know you have to make sacrifices. We were out of town every weekend in July except for the last weekend. During the week, you have practice; then, you have to work out on your own. I know most girls probably go through weight training and stuff like that.

HRR: How are you grades? What’s your G.PA.?
Rox: I have a 3.971.
HRR: On a 4 scale?
Rox: Yes.
HRR: Have you taken the entrance test?
Rox: The S.A.T.?
HRR: Yes.
Rox: I got an 1810 the last time I took it.
HRR: So, you’re definitely qualified then, right?
Rox: Yes.

HRR: Are you going to come down to Houston during this year during football season?
Rox: Yes. My official visit is scheduled for the weekend of the 22nd of September. I think that’s the first home game of the season.

HRR: Are you excited or are you relieved?
Rox: I’m excited and relieved (laughs). It’s a great feeling to go into your senior year knowing you’re already settled.

HRR: Are you going to keep track of UH this year?
Rox: Oh yeah. Definitely, I will. I’m going to try and catch the game at SMU. I can definitely see that game.

HRR: What do you know about Conference USA?
Rox: That’s probably the conference I’m most familiar with because I was being recruited by practically all of them – SMU, Tulane, Rice, UTEP, and Houston. The conference fits me perfect because the schools aren’t really far away from home.

HRR: This question is a little bit off-the-wall. Do you watch WNBA games?
Rox: I don’t really like to watch WNBA games.
HRR: Why not?
Rox: I don’t know. The games look kind of slow.
HRR: Okay. Are you a fan of the NBA?
Rox: I’m an NBA fan and college fan. That’s what I like.
HRR: Okay, so does that mean you like playing up tempo?
Rox: Yes.


Rox, 5-9 guard, is expected to sign a National Letter of Intent in November. An All-District 6-5A first-team selection the last two seasons, she currently is ranked among the top 30 prospects in the state. Rox averaged 15 points, four rebounds, and three assists per game last season.

I thanked Rox for taking time to speak with me; and, I wished her good luck during her senior year at Coppell High School which she'll begin Monday, August 27.
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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Button Commits to UH

I heard about this news last week; and, I received the news yesterday:

Roxana Button, Sr. Guard at Coppell High School, has orally committed to the University of Houston.

Button, 5-9, has been an all district 6-5A first team selection the last two seasons and is also currently ranked 27th in the state.

She’s a four year returning varsity player and averaged 15 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists per game last season.

A member of the National Honor Society, with a 4.0 GPA, she chose the U of H over several other division 1 and division 2 offers.




According to this article at the Dallas Morning News website, Roxana chose UH over SMU, North Texas, and Texas - El Paso.

The first day of the 2007 Fall signing period (when student-athletes can sign a national letter of intent) is November 14.
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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Preseason Wade Watch

Good news! Good news!

Women's college basketball season is not far away!

Today, the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) announced the 2007-08 preseason “Wade Watch” list for the State Farm Wade Trophy Division I Player of the Year.

The 2008 State Farm Wade Trophy winner will be announced at the WBCA National Convention held in conjunction with the NCAA Women’s Final Four in Tampa, Fla., April 5 - 8, 2008.

I've already begun making plans to attend and cover the 2008 Women's Final Four. Hopefully, I'll have a basketball show in full swing by then, too.
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Monday, August 13, 2007

Ags Ink Tyra White

I've always believed a basketball coaching staff should keep at least one scholarship available. Student-athletes change their mind quite often; and, a coaching staff never knows when a talented player may fall into its proverbial lap.

Case in point: Today, Gary Blair, Head coach of the Texas A&M Aggies basketball team,
announced the signing of 6'0 wing player Tyra White. White is one of the top 20 players in the country.

White originally signed with LSU early, but was granted a full release in June which makes her eligible to play with the Aggies in the upcoming 2007-08 season.
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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Comets Never Compensated Her?

Updated August 12, 2:45pm --
From the Comets: It is the policy of the Houston Comets to not discuss personnel matters publicly.

Note: The Houston Comets have been contacted for comment on the assertions made below. In order to be fair and accurate to both sides, if Mr. Hilton Koch and / or the organization responds, I'll post those comments as well.


With the 63 to 60 loss to the San Antonio Silver Stars Saturday night, the Houston Comets were officially eliminated from the 2007 WNBA playoffs. The Comets will miss the playoffs for only the second time in the 11-year history of the franchise.

Missing the playoffs in his first season of owning the Comets is something new owner Hilton Koch most assuredly did not expect. However, Mr. Koch may now have time to focus on a potentially major off the court issue.

Ms. Paige Mann has claimed she worked for the Comets' organization for months; but, unlike other Comets' employees she was never compensated for her work.

Below are her comments to questions from the HRR:

HRR: Did you have a role working with Hilton Koch and the Houston Comets? If so, describe your role. When did you have this role and are you still working with the Comets?

Paige: I began actual discussions with Darryl Linden (
"From Mentor to Out")
regarding my role with the 2007 Houston Comets in early November 2006. While we did not actually"name" my position at the time, it was to be a Basketball Ops./Asst. to GM role. We discussed salary, job expectations, and things I could begin to setup before the actual sale took place (preliminary travel arrangements, housing, transportation, etc). Approximately 2 weeks later, I agreed to take a 13% pay cut from the original amount offered to me in order to make room for other staff salaries. I accepted this offer on November 13, 2006, and agreed to start as soon as the sale went through.

In January, 2007, myself and Darryl Linden had meetings and teleconferences with various Comets and WNBA staff members including Andrea Young, President & CEO of the Comets, and Jamin Derschowitz, lead counsel for the WNBA, regarding player contracts, player movement, collective bargaining agreement, etc. During this time we made qualifying offers to a number of players and terminated the contracts of others. I had copies of many confidential files, manuals, etc. for the Houston Comets & the WNBA.

I continued to work in a Basketball Operations mode while confirming uniform and footwear orders; made tentative hotel and flight reservations for the entire season (at a savings of over $40k from the 2006 season); made site visits to possible new office spaces for Comets staff; continued to study the rather lengthy WNBA Instruction Manual;, worked with Darryl Linden and other league coaches to setup pre-season games, etc.

I attended day long transition meetings on January 17-18 with Darryl Linden, Paula Hanson (Sr. VP of WNBA Team Business Development), Tad Brown (CEO of Houston Rockets), Hilton Koch, Paola Furber (Furber Advertising) and April Sanders (Comets Tickets Sales and Service Manager.)

The press conference to announce the sale of the Houston Comets was set up and finalized at this time. I was called out to Hilton Koch's furniture store by Hilton Koch late on the afternoon of January 28 for an impromptu meeting with Hilton, Darryl Linden, Jill Costanza, Kyle Simpson, April Sanders, and Paola Furber to discuss every one's respective roles within the team structure and every one's roles in the upcoming press conference.

I was actively involved in both the press conference to announce the sale of the team and to announce a new head coach.

At Hilton Koch's and Darryl Linden's direction, I purchased and set up a website and email accounts for new staff members on February 3, 2007. I met with Joel Blank on several occasions to set up preliminary television broadcast dates for the 2007 season. I continued to act as a Houston Comets Basketball Operations employee and was physically present at the Toyota Center every working day until February 23.

HRR: Would you care to elaborate on what caused your departure from the organization and has it been resolved?

Paige: I am no longer working with the Comets for one simple reason: I was never compensated in ANY way for the time that I worked for the organization. WNBA representatives were aware that I had not received any compensation as their transition team had been in place in our offices from the time the press conference announcing the sale took place on January 31, 2007.

ALL ticket sales and services staff were receiving their paychecks as they had before the sale of the team. I expressed my concerns about this on several occasions and actually met face to face with Hilton on February 20, as he was on his way to attend the Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras Parade in Galveston with several staff members. I was told at that time that I would have "a check for my back pay by noon tomorrow" and that "we need to get you on the insurance plan right away." Neither of these things ever materialized.

I met with Katherine McConnell, acting COO of the Houston Comets on February 22, 2007, to express my disappointment over how the situation was being handled. Miss McConnell knew that I had not received any compensation up to this point as I had to arrive late two weeks prior to this in order to make some arrangements with my bank to transfer some of my funds into another account. She assured me she would look into it and asked if I would be open to accepting another position within the organization if need be. I said I would certainly consider that. The media relations position was discussed. I let her know that I would not be back in the office until my situation was resolved. I was again told that "a check for my back pay"would be ready and waiting for me at the Season Ticket Holder Crawfish Boil that took place at Hilton Furniture on February 27, 2007. Upon arriving at the event, I was told that Hilton HAD the check but that he had "spelled my name incorrectly" but that he would "fix it right away and take care of me."

On March 1, 2007, I received a phone call from Mike Fuerst, a lawyer for Hilton Koch, requesting a meeting with me. I met with him on March 6, 2007, and he presented me with, and asked me to sign, a document stating that I had never worked for the Houston Comets or for Hilton Acquisitions but that I had served as a consultant during that time. Mr Fuerst stated that if I signed the agreement that day he had a check for me in his office that he would release to me.

I was uncomfortable with signing a statement that clearly was not true. I chose to hire my own legal counsel, Scott Newar, and try to reach some sort of agreement.

As of today, I have not received ANY compensation for my work at the Houston Comets.
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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Ags Announce Schedule

Once again I'm planning to cover Big 12 women's basketball; and, since the Texas A&M Aggies are the closest Big 12 team to Houston, I may feature more news and info on them compared to the other Big 12 schools.

Case in point: the Aggies released their
2007 - 2008 schedule yesterday. Most of the game times and the tv appearances are not yet confirmed.

For Cynthia Cooper fans and fans of Prairie View A&M, the Aggies' opener the home part of their schedule against the Pantherettes on November 15.

Other non-conference opponents scheduled to visit Reed Arena include Michigan (Nov. 29); Florida State (Dec. 6); Auburn (Dec. 15); and Stephen F. Austin (Jan. 3).
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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Mark Berman Responds

In response to Comets forward Tina Thompson's disputing what Fox 26 Sports' Mark Berman reported yesterday regarding her contemplating retiring from the WNBA at the end of this season to play basketball full time overseas, I spoke with Mark Berman to allow him to respond to Tina's statements which she made before yesterday Comets' game versus the New York Liberty.

From Mark Berman:
"Tina's reaction to my story on her is unfortunate. When I approached her about the story, I did it without my photographer. I told her what I had heard that she was going to quit the WNBA when the season is over and play full time overseas. She responded by saying that she had not made a final decision. I asked her if we could discuss where she is at on this situation and she said "yes" and thanked me for not blindsiding her. I turned the camera on; and, we did the story which included Tina saying she was 70 percent sure she was not returning to the WNBA.

"In the 11 years I've covered the Comets, the players have always wanted the respect from the media that the men receive. And, that's exactly what they get from Fox 26. If Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, or Warren Moon had given me the same kind of quotes in the same situation they would have all been big stories. Tina Thompson is no less an athlete in her sport. Why is this situation any different? Tina is DEAD WRONG in her assessment of the situation; and, in her heart, she knows that. Regardless of what she thinks or says, I will continue to cover Tina Thompson and the Comets' franchise with respect and integrity."

Signed Mark Berman,
Sports Director Fox 26.
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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Comets lose to Libs

The Houston Comets "tragic number" to be eliminated from the 2007 WNBA Playoffs is down to one.

The Comets (10 - 19) were beaten 77 to 71 by the New York Liberty (12 - 16).

Since the Storm won the regular season match-up between the two teams, the Comets cannot finish tied with the Storm; therefore, the Comets need to finish the regular season with a better record than the Storm.

In order to reach the playoffs, the Comets need to win all five of their remaining regular season games and the Seattle Storm must lose all four of their remaining games. In that scenario, the Comets would finish 15 and 19 and the Storm would finish 14 and 20.

To compound the Comets' woes, Seattle lost on the road tonight versus the Minnesota Lynx which means the Comets could have moved closer to the Storm with a victory tonight over the Liberty.

After tonight's loss, Tina Thompson said she did not know the Storm had lost.

"I didn't know at all," said Thompson. "I mean I knew (Seattle lost) when I came into the locker room because someone said it; but, I didn't know during the game."

Thompson acknowledged tonight's loss was a big missed opportunity for the Comets.

"Of course. We didn't expect them (Seattle) to lose." stated Thompson, "But, we didn't go into this game expecting them to lose. We went into this game expecting to come out and play hard with the opportunity to win and put ourselves in a better position. And, if they lost, that would make the opportunity that much sweeter; but, either way it didn't matter -- considering that we lost."
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Tina Clarifies

Updated: August 8, 2007, 6:30pm: I spoke with Mark Berman to get his side of this story. His quotes in response to Tina Thompson's comments are toward the bottom of this post. I thank Mark for taking time to speak with me.

Before tonight's game between the Houston Comets and the New York Liberty, Tina Thompson spoke with the media and clarified a story released earlier today stating she was contemplating retiring from the WNBA to play professional basketball overseas.

Here are Tina's comments:

"You honestly can’t believe anything that Mark Berman says because he always chops things up and makes the story to fit, you know, whatever he is trying to figure out. What I told him today, after he told me that he heard from a very reliable source, that this would be my final season with the Comets. And I said, that that is a possibility, but that I have been pondering that for the last two or three years, and that at this point, percentage-wise, that I was maybe 70 to 30-percent sure. I am 32 years old and I have been playing in the WNBA 11 years and I am toward the end of my career. So at this point, I have a two-year old son and I am making decisions that are feasible for my future. And that is physically, emotionally and economically. It has a lot of factors.

"It's not even something I have thought about enough to talk about that with them (my teammates) at all. It’s not even an issue at this moment. Mark Berman said he heard it from someone. I don’t even know who he heard it from or whatever or whether he made it up or not. I haven’t said that (that I am pondering retirement) to anyone."


For those of who outside of Houston, Mark Berman works for Houston's Fox 26 Sports. He's the reporter who broke this story earlier today; and, in my opinion, as long as I've known "Scoop", Mark Berman's credibility has never in a doubt.

From Mark Berman:
"Tina's reaction to my story on her is unfortunate. When I approached her about the story, I did it without my photographer. I told her what I had heard that she was going to quit the WNBA when the season is over and play fulltime overseas. She responded by saying that she had not made a final decision. I asked her if we could discuss where she is at on this situation and she said "yes" and thanked me for not blindsiding her. I turned the camera on; and, we did the story which included Tina saying she was 70 percent sure she was not returning to the WNBA.

"In the 11 years I've covered the Comets, the players have always wanted the respect from the media that the men receive. And, that's exactly what they get from Fox 26. If Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, or Warren Moon had given me the same kind of quotes in the same situation they would have all been big stories. Tina Thompson is no less an athlete in her sport. Why is this situation any different? Tina is DEAD WRONG in her assessment of the situation; and, in her heart, she knows that. Regardless of what she thinks or says, I will continue to cover Tina Thompson and the Comets' franchise with respect and integrity."

Signed Mark Berman,
Sports Director Fox 26.
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Sunday, August 05, 2007

U19 is Golden

Congratulations to the USA Under 19 Women's team for "bringing home the gold" with a very convincing 99 to 57 victory over Sweden in the gold medal game of the U19 Women's World Championship.

The U19 World Championship was held in Bratislava, Slovakia.

I hope Cynthia Cooper, who was an assistant coach working with head coach Doug Bruno on the U19 team, will have some time to appear on Sports Rap (www.kcohradio.com) when she returns to Houston (after she gets some rest, of course) to discuss her experiences with the victorious squad.


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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Fever-Sky on Deuce

The WNBA has made a change to its television schedule...

In an effort to provide fans the best possible match-up with the most compelling storyline, ESPN2 has changed its WNBA Tuesday schedule for August 7.

ESPN2 will now televise the Indiana Fever vs. the Chicago Sky live from Chicago at 7 p.m. CDT. Playoff spots and seeds will be on the line. The Fever at Sky game will take the place of the previously scheduled telecast, the Los Angeles Sparks hosting the Phoenix Mercury.

Terry Gannon will call the final regular season game on the ESPN2 schedule with analyst Carolyn Peck and courtside reporter Heather Cox. As of this afternoon, Indiana has a record of 17-10, good for second place in the Eastern Conference. The Fever plays at third place Connecticut (15-12) tonight and can clinch a playoff berth with a win. Chicago, with a 12-16 mark after falling at Detroit last night, currently sits in fourth place in the East.

The Sky will be looking to hold off Washington (11-15) and New York (11-16) for the final playoff berth in the Conference.

I'll be at T.C. for the Comets - Liberty game which starts at 7pm.
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Thursday, August 02, 2007

WNBA awards

It's August which means it's time to for the WNBA's voting media members to cast their votes for the WNBA's regular season awards.

Once again, I've been fortunate to be asked by the Houston Comets to be one of the members of the media to vote for the league's honors.

I've been contemplating my votes for the last few days; and, today, I received my first piece of "propaganda" by one of the WNBA teams encouraging me to vote for its player for an award. (If you're curious, the award was for Most Valuable Player. However, I won't say which team sent me the information.)

The next few days of mail should get interesting...
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