Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Monday, June 29, 2015

WNBA: Dolson's Record Night Helps Washington Top Chicago

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

WASHINGTON --
Back in last month’s training camp here at the Verizon Center, if WNBA Washington Mystics coach Mike Thibault had known enough to indicate that second-year pro Bria Hartley, the former University of Connecticut star, and veteran center Kia Vaughn out of Rutgers might not be playing regularly until sometime in July, that might have been enough for fans to start lighting distress flares along the banks of the nearby Potomac River.

Not to worry however.

Despite Chicago coming to town riding the hot hand of league-leading scorer Elena Delle Donne in her third season, the Mystics were able to break their second-place standings deadlock with the Sky in the Eastern Conference and gain an 86-71 victory in a Sunday afternoon matinee.

So without getting much of anything so far from Hartley (not dressed due to right foot stress factor) and Vaughn (concussion), Washington has bolted to a 6-3 start just 1.5 games behind the surprising Connecticut Sun (7-1), who have won all seven straight after the Mystics took a league opener off the Sun on the road earlier this month.

The big statistic as a team for Washington was the 37-24 domination on the boards.

“Our rebounding was a little better. We’ll wait until we play other teams but that’s a good first step,” Thibault said, who began his postgame remarks quipping, “I guess I should feel good we held (Delle Donne) to three below her average.”

The former University of Delaware star, who made shots heard around the league with a career-high 45 points earlier in the week against the Atlanta Dream in an overtime win, finished with 26, though in a decisive 23-14 third quarter Delle Donne was held scoreless.

“You know Delle Donne is tough. She’s going to get some calls. She’s a great free throw shooter,” Thibault said.

The story of the win on the Mystics’ side is wrapped around the play of second-year pro Stefanie Dolson, the former UConn post sensation, who had a career-high 19 points, one behind third-year pro Emma Meesseman’s 20.

Dolson also grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds.

“I think I’ve had a little more confidence lately,” Dolson said. “Obviously you know it sucks not having Kia but it gives people an opportunity to step up and in practice I’ve been getting a lot of reps.

“So I’ve just been trying to go in and have the mentality of working as hard as I can, doing what the coach asks and when I get the opportunity to score the basketball.

My guards did a good job of getting me the ball and getting me open and I did a good job of getting them in,” Dolson said. “Coach is making sure we’re always working on it (rebounding) and we always have it in our head.

“As posts we had a goal for ourselves today, certain number of rebounds as something to reach for. So going into the game, we really had it in our minds. We had the mentality of making the extra effort.”

Thibault noted the rapid rise in Dolson’s game after her rookie season and playing overseas this past winter.

“Huge progression. She’s rebounding the ball. Making decisions with her passes. She’s slowed herself down. I always compare it to when a quarterback comes into the NFL, the first year their game needs to slow down before they can improve and I think that’s what happened for her a little bit.”

Meesseman, a native of Belgium who came into the league the same time as Delle Donne, continued to receive praise from Thibault on her development.

“You know I’ve been touting Emma’s horn all season,” he said. “I think she’s an All-Star. It would be a pretty good All-Star game to see her and Delle Donne playing together (for the East) but I think that gives us something to throw back at teams as a weapon. It’s pretty sensational right now.”

The annual mid-season classic will be played up in Connecticut on July 25 at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

Ivory Latta, the former North Carolina star, had 16 points, making 5-of-7 three-point attempts, a category in which Washington shot 10-for19, a season-high 52.6 percentage as a team,

Tayler Hill, the former Ohio State star, scored 16 off the bench and hit 4-of-5 treys.

She was the fourth overall pick of the famous draft three years ago when Baylor’s Brittany Griner went first to the Phoenix Mercury, Delle Donne was then taken by Chicago, and then the Tulsa Shock picked up Notre Dame’s Skyler Diggins.

It was a big disappointment at the time of the lottery announcement for the organization and its fan base after Washington had finished with the worst record in the WNBA.

Then Thibault became available after being let go in Connecticut after coaching the Sun in their first decade and he used the pick to select Hill.

“Yeah, the first pick of the other draft,” he quipped Sunday. “She’s continuing to improve. Sometimes she lets her shooting dictate her approach to the game.We’ve been trying to harp on her, `Even the nights you’re not making shots, you can do other things.’

“I think that’s sinking in. Obviously, she made shots tonight but I thought her body language the last couple of days is really good. In practice the other day, the team she was on was really struggling and I thought she got them to fight through it a little bit. That’s a good leadership role for someone coming off the bench.”

Though Tierra Ruffin-Pratt scored just two points, Thibault credited her for defensing Sky veteran league star Cappie Pondexter into scoring just 10 points, the same total as former DePaul star Allie Quiggley, who also scored in double figures for Chicago (5-4) with 10 points.

Washington rookie Natasha Cloud, the former Saint Joseph’s star out of Cardinal O’Hara High and suburban Broomall, Pa., scored two points in 13 minutes, 24 points of action, off the bench. She also grabbed four rebounds.

On Chicago’s side afterwards, Sky coach Pokey Chatman said of the Mystics, “I thought they got off to a quick star offensively and we never quite gained the momentum back. We had a couple of runs but we had breakdowns in areas you can’t have them, like transition offense, missed layups, transition three, turnover … transition two and those are things we can clean up against any team in the league let alone against a team that is playing well.

“They’re at home, got a lot of weapons and that’s just something we have to work on.”

As to how the game went, Delle Donne said after playing the closest to home she gets in the league for the first time this season, “Truthfully it’s the 86 points they scored that we are most upset about. Putting up 71, that’s not too bad a game, unfortunately we were unable to get stops and that affects our offense a big amount.

“I think the biggest thing is we just have to become more of a consistent team, defensively.”

Before the game, Chatman was asked about her other Delaware player, rookie Betnijah Laney out of Rutgers.

“Just love her,” the Chicago coach said. “She’s such a hard worker. The minute I open my laptop, she comes rushing over and I have to tell her, `I’ve got ten other players I have to worry about, too.’”

The Sky next hosts the New York Liberty on Tuesday and then travel to Connecticut, Thursday, the same night Washington next plays visiting the Indiana Fever.

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Saturday, June 27, 2015

WNBA: Delle Done and Chicago Make First Visit to Washington

By Rob Knox @knoxrob1

Led by the WNBA’s scoring machine Elena Delle Donne, the Chicago Sky invades the Verizon Center to meet the Washington Mystics in a late Sunday afternoon matinee beginning at 4:00 p.m.

The Sky has been the WNBA’s road warriors to start the season. This will be their seventh road game in their first nine contests, although for Delle Donne it is a psuedo homecoming considering the short distance from D.C. to the University of Delaware where she excelled not far from her home in Wilmington.

Vice President Biden, a fellow alum, is a Delle Donne fan and attended seceral of her games with the Blue Hens.

Meanwhile, after stumbling out the gate with losses in two of their first three games, the Sky enter Sunday’s first of five meetings against Washington riding the momentum of a three-game winning streak.

Both Chicago and Washington sport 5-3 records. Each team is two games behind the 7-1 Connecticut Sun at the quarter poll of the WNBA season.

Each squad played Friday night with mixed results.

The Sky rode the tandem of veteran guards Cappie Pondexter and Allie Quigley, who combined for 40 points, to claim an 83-77 victory on the road over Indiana. Meanwhile, the Mystics fell to the Atlanta Dream for the second time this season, 83-80, despite 18 points from Ivory Latta.

In the win over the Fever, Delle Donne posted her fourth straight double-double (14 points, 14 rebounds). It was the first time this season that the WNBA’s leading scorer failed to score at least 24 points. Of course, she was the talk of the league following her career best 45-point performance in a 100-96 overtime win over Atlanta earlier this week.

Pondexter led the Sky with 23 points on 10-for-17 shooting – her third game with 20 or more points this season. Quigley added 17, while Courtney Vandersloot contributed 13 points, seven assist and six rebounds. Chicago finished with 11 offensive rebounds on the night and outscored the Fever 16-2 in second-chance points.

“Obviously when you can get a win on the road against a very good team, it’s positive,” Sky coach Pokey Chatman said following the Fever game. “More importantly for us, it was the second [half] on defense. We gave up 52 points in the first half and 25 in the second.

"We have to make sure that we continue improving on that end of the floor. It was nice to see us play off of Elena Delle Donne. You know she’s been putting up crazy numbers so they sent a double team. And it was nice to see my team make some reads and get [the ball] to open players. I think Cappie Pondexter and Courtney Vandersloot really stepped up.”

The Mystics have done a great job of immediately overcoming defeats this season. They have followed each loss with a win. Each of Washington’s three losses has been by four points or less. Washington will be looking to rebounding literally after being outrebounded by a combined 71-48 in its last two games against Los Angeles and Atlanta.

Washington has grabbed 24 rebounds in each of its last two games. It’s a number that should improve once Kia Vaughn returns to the lineup.

Emma Meesseman (14 points), Stefanie Dolson (12) and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt (10) also scored in double figures for the Mystics. Meesseman has scored 20 or more points in three straight home games for Washington, which was outscored 21-9 in the third quarter against Atlanta.

“They outplayed us particularly in the third quarter,” Mystic coach Mike Thibault said. “The difference in the game was offensive rebound points and turnovers. It seems like a broken record for me against them. They got 72 points and 42 of them came off of offensive boards and our turnovers.”

The game against Chicago begins an odd stretch in which Washington will play four games over an 18-day period. The next home game for the Mystics will be against the New York Liberty on Thursday, July 9 at 11:30 a.m.

SKY FEATURED ON ESPN2 PRIDE NIGHT TELECAST: For the second consecutive year, the WNBA is celebrating inclusion and equality throughout the month of June as part of WNBA Pride month.

The league will also celebrate WNBA Pride with a national television broadcast featuring the New York Liberty and Chicago Sky on Tuesday, June 30 (8 p.m. ET on ESPN2). The telecast will include in-game Pride related content and the WNBA Pride logo on courtside signage.

“The WNBA embraces people of every gender and sexual orientation,” said WNBA President Laurel J. Richie. “We are very excited to once again celebrate our diverse fanbase in partnership with our teams, partners and fans during WNBA Pride month.”

The WNBA is promoting Pride with an integrated marketing, media, grassroots and social responsibility program. Beginning in June and continuing throughout the season, the league and its teams’ Pride content, events and schedules will be posted on WNBA.com/pride and shared through the league’s social media channels with the hashtag #wnbapride.

Fans can purchase WNBA Pride T-shirts designed by adidas, the league’s official oncourt uniform and apparel provider, which are available on WNBASTORE.com. Proceeds will benefit GLSEN, a long-time WNBA partner.

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Friday, June 26, 2015

Philly Summer League: Saint Joseph's Chelsea Woods the Latest Hawk to Impact Action

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

HATBORO, Pa. –
For the last several years a Saint Joseph’s player among several Hawks stars has been in the group of various outstanding performers in the Philadelphia/Suburban Women’s NCAA Summer Basketball League here at Kelly Bolish Gym, one of the AAU Renegades in lower Bucks County not far from the northern city limits.

Several years ago it was Katie Kuester, now an assistant to Joe Logan at Loyola of Maryland in Baltimore, leading several teams to the summer title.

A year ago it was Natasha Cloud of the championship Gold squad who now is making an impressive debut as a WNBA rookie with the Washington Mystics after being chosen 15th overall in the second round.

Perhaps one night on this summer’s Philly schedule if the Mystics are home and off the former Cardinal O'Hara star out of Broomall might return to her old haunts.

Now in the early going with two weeks completed after Thursday night’s games, it looks like Saint Joseph’s sophomore Chelsea Woods might keep the Hawks streak alive here.

Woods, who had scored 28 points, each, the two previous nights, hit the high scoring performance of the summer Thursday with 31 points in Red’s 94-64 triumph over winless Kelly Green (0-3) as Red (2-2) with two straight victories made it to .500 and a seventh place tie in the 13-team action in which eight at the end of July will go to the playoffs.

She was also one of four players who hit the nightly 20-or-more points individual standard, which is the only stat the Guru can feature since points are the only statistic reported in the three nightly doubleheaders.

Each team gets one bye on the night with red-hot Neon Green (2-1) idle Thursday night and Pink serving its bye next Tuesday when the games resume.

In the same Red-Kelly Green contest, Mary Ellen McCollum, a 2014 graduate of Division II Holy Family in Northeast Philadelphia, scored 20 points for Kelly Green.

Alex Thomas, an incoming USciences freshman, scored 22 points in Purple’s 59-54 win over Sapphire Blue (1-2) to remain one of three unbeaten teams tied at the top along with Gold (4-0), which gained a 2-0 forfeit win over Ash (2-2), composed primarily of Millersville players, which failed to have enough personnel on hand when the tipoff deadline arrived.

Gold was a very strong favorite in its game Thursday so the result via forfeit might be academic.

Sarah Payonk, a junior on Division III Scranton, which dominates the Pink roster, was the fourth player to hit the 20-or-more standard scoring 21 to keep Pink (4-0) also unbeaten, courtesy of a lopsided 87-31 win over Royal Blue (0-4), dominated on the roster by Penn State-Abington players.

A narrow 56-54 victory was the first of the summer season for Forest Green (1-3), which upset Black (2-1), handing the Division II Philadelphia University group their first loss.

Besides Royal Blue (0-4) and Kelly Green (0-3), Team Orange (0-4), which fell to Maroon (2-2), the the primarily Division II West Chester squad, is also looking for its first victory.

Looking Ahead

One more team will get its first triumph of the season Tuesday since the 0-4 squads of Royal Blue and Orange will meet on Court 3 in one of the three 7 p.m. games.

Maroon (2-2) and Black (2-1) meet in the opening action of the night on Court 2 with the two squads under their winter affiliations at schools having met in the past.

With Red suddenly on a roll, an intriguing game on Court 3 in an 8:15 start looms with the matchup being with unbeaten Purple.

As teams begin to separate themselves some dates to take note among the top contenders in the early going are:

--Neon Green vs. Red on Court 3 in next Thursday's 7 p.m. start.
--Purple vs. Neon Green at 7 p.m. at Court 1 on July 7, with Black meeting Pink at the same date and time on Court 3.
--Purple vs. Pink on Court 2 at 7 p.m. on July 9 and Red meeting Gold on the same court immediately following at 8:15 p.m.
--Gold and Purple at 7 p.m. on Court 2 on July 16.
--Gold vs. Pink at 8:15 on Court 3 on July 21.

The Recap Skinny

With all the night’s highlighted mentioned, here’s the recap of the five games played, remembering that as mentioned Gold-Ash was a forfeit result after listed as a 7 p.m. start.

Under the bylaws as promulgated by longtime commissioner David B. Kessler, the 7 p.m. games allow a 15-minute grace because of traffic and distance for those directly coming straight from work or homes located a significant amount of time away from the venue located in Willow Grove Commons Business Park alongside the Pennsylvania Turnpike and near the intersection of Davisville and Byberry Roads.

Incidentally, there is no admission charge and there is a snack bar with cheap and tasty food such as hot dogs and hamburgers.

Thursday’s Action

Red 94, Kelly Green 64:
Besides Woods’ performance, Red got 18 points from Natalya Lee, a Division II Kutztown player out of Rancocas Valley High across the Delaware River in southern New Jersey, 16 from Devin Gold, a recent Caldwell grad out of Council Rock North, and 12 from Lauren Gold, a Shippensburg junior out of Abington Friends.

Besides McCollum’s 20, Kaitlyn Kelly a DeSales junior out of Pennsbury High, scored 14 points for which most came off four 3-pointers by the Kelly Green player.

The commissioner keeps noting its tough to achieve more parity across the board because of players and Division II and Division III squads who express a desire to be together prior to the annual May draft to make up the rosters.

Forest Green 56, Black 54: Michala Clay, a Saint Joseph’s incoming freshman, scored 17 points in Forest Green’s first win, as did Erin Fenningham, a Holy Family senior. Katie O’Hare, a Holy Family freshman, scored nine points for the winners.

Mary Newell, a Philadelphia senior out of Villa Joseph Marie, scored 11 points for Black, while Jess Kaminski, a Rams player out of Archbishop Wood, and Tori Arnao, a recent Rams grad also out of Archbishop Wood, each scored 10 points.

Holy Family, Philadelphia U., and USciences have familiarity with each other since the three schools all compete in the southern division of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference.

Maroon 77, Orange 56: Jiana Clark, scored 19 points for the primarily West Chester squad on which she is a senior as Maroon got back to .500 at 2-2.

Kendall Benovy, a senior on the Golden Rams out of Hershey High, scored 11 points, while Camden Boehner, a junior from Gettysburg Area High, and Dallas Ely, a recent West Chester grad, each scored 10 points.

Emma Dorshimer, a Gettysburg freshman, scored 14 points for Orange, which also got 11 from Lindsey Kelly, a Nazareth College senior from Central Bucks East, and 10 from Brianna Spector, an Oneonta State junior from Upper Dublin High.

Purple 59, Sapphire Blue 54: The USciences group let a 15-point lead shrivel to a mere single one before Sarah Abbonizio, listed for 2020 graduation out of Episcopal Academy, saved the day with foul shots at the finish to keep Purple unbeaten at the top in a three-way tie among the 4-0 unbeaten squads.

Sapphire Blue got 17 points from Michelle Boggs, a Division II East Stroudsburg senior out of Springside High, and 10 from Noelle Powell, a freshman at the school which dominates the summer roster of Sapphire Blue (1-2).

Pink 87, Royal Blue 31: Besides Payonk’s 21 for the predominantly Scrannon group, Julia Gantz, a Bloomsburg freshman out of Archbishop Carroll, scored 16 points to keep Pink unbeaten, while Sarah Engman, a Division III Widener senior, scored 14 points, and Jaclyn Gantz, a Scranton senior out of Hasverford High, scored 13 points.

Tyniqua Henderson, a Penn State-Abington senior out of Dobbins High, scored 12 points for Royal Blue while Elizabeth Jones, a junior at PSU-Abington out of St. Hubert’s, scored nine.

And that’s the report. As previously mentioned, next weekend’s July 4th holiday doesn’t impact the league schedule this summer so no extra night will be needed across the Tuesday and Thursday night dates to make up for any disruption.

When the impact has occurred, the commissioner usually let’s the previous day go dark or also doesn’t schedule when the holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday and then inserts a Wednesday night set of games on the three courts the following week.

Standings
Team W-L G.B. PF PA Pct.

(Thru Mon., June 29)

(Ties Listed Alphabetical For Now)

%-Gold 4-0 –- 228 184 1.000
Pink 4-0 –- 272 212 1.000
Purple 4-0 –- 243 172 1.000
Black 2-1 1.5 176 145 .667
Neon Green 2-1 1.5 212 166 .667
&-Ash 2-2 1.0 166 169 .500
Maroon 2-2 2.0 280 266 .500
Red 2-2 2.0 275 288 .500
Sapphire 1-2 2.5 165 173 .333
Forest Green 1-3 3.0 212 280 .250
Kelly 0-3 3.5 158 219 .000
Orange 0-4 4.0 206 257 .000
Royal Blue 0-4 4.0 213 307 .000

%-includes 1 forfeit 2-0 win
&-includes 1 forfeit 0-2 loss


Season Results
Thurs, June 25

Maroon 77, Orange 56
Purple 59, Sapphire Blue 54
Red 94, Kelly Green 64
Gold 2, Ash 0, forfeit
Pink 87, Royal Blue 31

Bye: Neon Green (2-1)

Tues., June 23

Black 49, Orange 47
Neon Green 91, Forest Green 42
Purple 59, Ash 31
Red 89, Royal Blue 84
Gold 87, Maroon 84
Pink 54, Sapphire Blue 49

Bye: Kelly Green

Thurs, June 18

Gold 70, Royal Blue 57
Ash 74, Forest Green 67
Sapphire Blue 62, Orange 60
Neon Green 69, Maroon 60
Pink 67, Red 50
Purple 66, Kelly Green 40

Bye: Black

Tues, June 16

Maroon 59, Kelly Green 54
Gold 69, Orange 43
Black 73, Red 42
Pink 64, Neon Green 52
Purple 61, Forest Green 47
Ash 61, Royal Blue 41

Bye: Sapphire Blue

Looking Ahead
Tues., June 30


7 p.m.

Gold (4-0) vs. Kelly Green (0-3), Court 1
Maroon (2-2) vs. Black (2-1), Court 2
Orange (0-4) vs. Royal Blue (0-4), Court 3

8:15 p.m.

Sapphire Blue (1-2) vs. Forest Green (1-3), Court 1
Neon Green (2-1) vs. Ash (2-2) , Court 2
Purple (4-0) vs. Red (2-2), Court 3

Bye: Pink (4-0)

Thurs., July 2

7 p.m.

Pink vs. Forest Green, Court 1
Sapphire Blue vs. Ash, Court 2
Neon Green vs Red, Court 3

8:15 p.m.

Kelly Green vs. Black, Court 1
Maroon vs. Royal Blue, Court 2
Orange vs. Purple, Court 3

Bye: Gold

Tues., July 7

7 p.m.

Purple vs. Neon Green, Court 1
Royal Blue v. Sapphire Blue, Court 2
Black vs. Pink, Court 3

8:15 p.m.

Red vs. Maroon, Court 1
Ash vs. Kelly Green, Court 2
Forest Green vs. Gold, Court 3

Bye: Orange

Scoring 20 Points or More

31-Chelsea Wood, Red (W) vs. Kelly Green (L) – June 25
30- Megan Quinn, Neon Green (W), vs. Forest Green (L) - June 23
30-Maureen Leahy, Neon Green (W), vs. Forest Green (L) –June 23
28- Chelsea Woods, Red (W), vs. vs. Royal Blue (L) – June 23
28-Chelsea Woods, Red (L), vs. Pink (W) – June 18
25-Tori Smick, Maroon (L) vs. Gold (W) – June 23
25-Ashley Wood, Gold (W) vs Orange (L) – June 16
25-Alex Louin, Neon Green (W) vs Maroon (L) – June 18
24-Sarah Fairbanks, Pink (W) vs Red (L) – June 18
24-Tyniqua Henderson, Royal Blue (L) vs. Gold (W) – June 18
23-Lauren Crisler, Gold (W) vs. Maroon (L) – June 23
22-Alex Thomas, Purple (W) vs. Sapphire Blue (L) – June 25
22-Micah Morgan, Purple (W), vs. Kelly Green (L) – June 18
21 – Sarah Payonk, Pink (W) vs. Royal Blue (L) – June 25
21-Natalya Lee, Red (W), vs. Royal Blue (L) – June 23
21-Alex Louin, Neon Green (W), vs. Forest Green (L) –June 23
21-Lauren Crisler, Gold (W) vs. Royal Blue – June 18
20-Mary Ellen McCollum, Kelly Green (L) vs, Red (L) – June 25
20-Margaret Melham, Red (W) vs. Royal Blue (L) – June 23
20-Brittany Sicinski, Maroon (L) vs. Gold (W) – June 23

Tie-Break Tracker

True Order Coming in a Few Weeks

Gold (4-0) vs. O (W), RB (W), vs. M (W), Ash (W-*F)
Pink (4-0) vs. NG (W), Red (W), SB (W), RB(W)
Purple (4-0) vs. FG (W), KG (W), A(W), SB(W)
Black (2-1) vs. Red (W), O (W), FG(L)
Neon Green (2-1) vs. Pink(L), M(W), FG (W)
Ash (2-2) vs. RB (W), FG (W), Purple (L), Gold (L-*F)
Maroon (2-2) vs. KG (W), NG (L), G(L).O(W)
Red (2-2) vs. Blk (L), Pink (L), RB(W),KG(W)
Sapphire Blue (1-2) O(W), Pink(L),Purp(L)
Forest Green (1-3) vs. Purp (L), Ash (L), NG(L),B(W)
Kelly Green (0-3) vs. M (L), Purp (L),Red(L)
Orange (0-4) vs. Gold (L), SB (L), B(L),M(L)
Royal Blue (0-4) vs. Ash (L), Gold (L), Red (L),Pink(L)

*-indicates forfeit result.

Don’t Forget to Like League on Facebook Page (Link to Come)

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WNBA: Back on the Sparks Veteran Temeka Johnson Recalls Her Lifetime Journey

By ROB KNOX (@knoxrob1)

WASHINGTON –
Temeka Johnson is living proof to the notion that great treasures come in small packages.

An affable 5 foot, 3 inch quicksilver guard, Johnson has consistently stood tall in a sport dominated by giants during her brilliant career in which she has carved out a special place in WNBA history as one of the all-time great guards.

Now in her second stint with the Los Angeles Sparks, the 32-year old Johnson recently reflected on her journey from her hometown of New Orleans to LSU, back to Hollywood along with the places in between.

Johnson couldn’t help but to give props to those who believed in her, shielded her from harm and made sure she succeeded.

“I am really a product of it takes a village to raise a child,” Johnson said Tuesday night during an extensive postgame interview following the Mystics 84-80 win over her Sparks at the Verizon Center. “I was fortunate because the neighborhood I grew up in; there were so many people there that supported me.

"There were so many people who believed in me since day one. I am thankful for that and my neighborhood for holding me accountable. I could’ve easily conformed to my environment and the drugs. I thank God because he had a different plan for my life.”

The talented Johnson has succeeded because of her fearless play and selfless attitude. It also helped that she had extra motivation to silence her bleacher critics who deemed she was too small to play professionally.

Darting in-and-out of sneaker squeaking traffic, Johnson made her teammates better everywhere she has played.

“Coming into the league, my goal was to constantly compete and close out all of the people who said I couldn’t do anything,” Johnson said. “I definitely proved them wrong.

"For people to say that I don’t belong. Who are you to say that I don’t belong? You don’t know the work and the time that I’ve put in to improve and prepare.

"I’ve gotten it all my life.

"At the end of the day, it’s the game of basketball. Once a ball is put into your hands, you have to do what you got to do. Size doesn’t matter to me.”

She has an incredible competitive drive and never backs down from a challenge.

There were times during the Mystics game in which she was in the post battling the 6-5 Emma Meesseman and Stefanie Dolson.

As the Sparks (0-5 overall) enter the middle contest of their three-game east coast trip against Connecticut (6-1) Friday night, Johnson is closing in on some nice round numbers.

Her 1,295 career assists are 10th in league history. She needs five to become the 10th woman in league history to drop 1,300 dimes.

Johnson has played in 298 games and recorded 294 steals. Sunday’s game against New York will be her 300th career contest.

While currently leading the WNBA in assists (7.0) and posting consecutive double-doubles against Connecticut (15 points, 10 assists) and Washington (17 & 10) is nice, Johnson’s biggest contributions have occurred away from the bright lights of her basketball sanctuary.

She has done her best work in the community.

“As much as I love the game of basketball, it doesn’t give you the same sense of pride in helping somebody,” Johnson said. “My whole foundation has been about giving back to underprivileged kids and the community.

"I want to share my story and let everybody know I am from the same places and areas. If you cut me, we bleed the same color.

"It’s possible that things can be done and you don’t have to conform to your environment. There are other ways out. Surround yourself with people who believe in you just as much as you believe in yourself. ”

A beacon of optimism, Johnson founded and runs the charitable organization, Heaven Open People’s Eyes (HOPE), which provides inspiration to youth, families, and communities to help them to lead a healthier lifestyle.

The main objectives for her Foundation are to make an impact in every community that she adopts, to strongly express the importance of education and support for at-risk schools.

She’s also an author of the children’s book series, Meek Moments, with its first title, “Decisions, Decisions, Decisions”, published in August 2010. In addition, Johnson initiated the Jewel Johnson Education Scholarship for those looking to pursue a career in education.

“Hope can come in many shapes and sizes,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t have to be tangible things. You can be an ear for somebody. You can give them a hug. Having hope keeps the light bright.

"I am happy to be that. It brings me joy to see somebody smile just by being able to do the little things that I do for them. I want to share my story with young kids and give them a sense of hope and something to be proud of.”

Her career has also been one to cherish. She was saluted this past spring as a Southeasten Conference women’s basketball legend.

“I didn’t know if I should be excited that I am a considered a legend so young or does that means I am old,” Johnson said laughing. “In all seriousness, the SEC was a tough conference and we had some great talent come through there. I was honored to be acknowledged like that. It’s a blessing.”

All she did at LSU was set the school and SEC record for career assists. Johnson played a key role as the Lady Tigers started their run to five consecutive NCAA Final Fours during the 2004 and 2005 seasons.

She was the 2005 recipient of the Lieberman Award which is awarded to the nation’s top point guard and named a 2005 All-American First Team selection by the United States Basketball Writers Association. Johnson claimed All-SEC First-Team accolades in 2004 and 2005 along with the 2003 SEC Tournament Most Valuable Player.

The accolades have continued in the WNBA. She was the 2005 WNBA Rookie of the Year with the Mystics and a member of the Mercury’s 2009 championship team. Johnson is one of four players in league history to have posted a triple-double (13 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists), a feat accomplished last season as a member of the Seattle Storm.

The only thing that has eluded Johnson during her basketball career has been an appearance in the all-star game, which could happen this year.

“I’ve always known that God was the head of my life and he’s kept me,” Johnson said. “He’s allowed me to be on this platform as the little general and do big things for his glory, not even for myself. I am living proof that you can do any and everything you put your mind to. I am thankful to God for giving me the gift and talent to play basketball.”

Johnson has paid it forward by providing opportunities for others. That’s bigger than any victory or accolade Johnson has achieved during her career.

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Thursday, June 25, 2015

WNBA Notebook: Tulsa Giving Opponents the Shock Treatment

By ROB KNOX (@knoxrob1)

Last season the Tulsa Shock didn’t beat the Washington Mystics and the Minnesota Lynx.

They won’t have to worry about this season after completing an impressive weekend road two-step by defeating both the Mystics, 86-82, and Lynx, 86-78, to extend their winning streak to six games, the longest since the Shock moved to Tulsa from Detroit in 2010.

At 6-1 overall, the Shock have the best record in the Western Conference and are tied with the equally surprising Connecticut Sun for the best overall mark in the WNBA. The Shock looks to keep the good times rolling Friday night when they host the New York Liberty (4-3 overall).

“We’ve been able to have a great start to our season,” said third-year guard Skylar Diggins, who was named WNBA Western Conference Player of the Week for the second time in her career on Tuesday.

“We understand there are a lot of games remaining. We are enjoying the moment, but are constantly preparing for our next challenge. The beauty of our team is we don’t care about who gets the glory. We just want to win basketball games.”

With more weapons than the Department of Defense, the Shock are making winning an enjoyable habit.

Tulsa has staying power. Averaging 82.4 points per game, the resilient Shock have been ruthless in attacking opponents offensively with a smorgasbord of options.

“During the offseason, the returning players prepared themselves by getting stronger physically and mentally,” second-year Tulsa coach Fred Williams said.

“In addition, our defense has been one of the main factors of our good start. I think the other factor is that we’re rebounding well. Courtney Paris and Plenette Pierson are doing a good job. Then with our perimeter play, we’re starting to spread the floor and shoot the ball pretty well. We are becoming a triple-threat type of club.”

Everybody has had a shining moment for the Shock this season.

As of Tuesday morning, Diggins (17.1 points per game, fourth overall), Pierson (15.3 ppg.,10th) and Riquna Williams (12.1, 20th) are among the top 20 in scoring. Courtney Paris leads the WNBA in rebounding (12.4 rebounds per game) while Diggins is third in assists (5.0) and three-point field goal percentage (52.6).

Jordan Hooper (45.0 percent) and Williams (40.7) are eighth and 10th respectively in three-point field goal percentage. Williams is seventh in steals per game (1.71). Rookies Brianna Kiesel and Amanda Zahui B. have also made contributions this season. Kiesel, a lightning-quick guard, handed out eight assists against the Silver Stars. Zahui B. blocked five shots in a win against San Antonio on June 14.

Defensively, they held the Seattle Storm to 15 points in the first half of a 68-45 romp. It was the only game this season in which the Shock hadn’t scored at least 70 points.

In consecutive wins over San Antonio and Washington, Pierson scored at least 20 points. However, her biggest contribution besides her scoring has been her veteran leadership and calming influence on the Shock. In her 13th season in the league, Pierson has been a key addition along with Karima Christmas to Tulsa’s squad in 2015.

They have brought their championship experience and toughness. It has paid immediate dividends.

During the win against Washington, Pierson’s best moment wasn’t her go-ahead basket that gave Tulsa the lead for good with 36.9 seconds remaining or finishing with a season-high 24 points.

Nope, it occurred after Diggins picked up her fifth foul early in the fourth quarter. With Diggins visibly upset, Pierson immediately went over to her and offered a few soothing words for her teammate.

However, when the game needed to be sealed, Diggins drilled a pair of foul shots that extended Tulsa’s lead to 85-82, with 16 seconds remaining.

Despite trailing the Mystics by one point with 45 seconds remaining, the Shock made winning plays down the stretch, stayed together, trusted each other and locked down defensively.

“I think adding Plenette Pierson has been a huge thing for their physical maturity and toughness,” Washington head coach Mike Thibault said. “They play better defense because of that. They have young players who have two to three years in the league and they’re growing. Picking up Karima Christmas also gave them more toughness on the boards. It’s a maturity process for them.”

Mystics analyst Christy Winters-Scott recently called Pierson the “Paul Pierce of the WNBA because she’s timely and crafty.”

Pierson won two titles with the Shock franchise when it was in Detroit in 2006 and 2008.

She was part of the Shock team in 2010 when it moved to Tulsa before being traded to New York during that season. Pierson has found the fountain of youth as she’s playing with an extra bounce in her step.

“Plenette is playing like she’s in a time machine,” Diggins said. “I’ve been following her and saying I am going to eat what she’s eating. She’s been great for us. We have threats at every position and that helps us. I don’t feel pressured to score 20 points a game. I can focus on doing what I need to do to help us win.”

Diggins has topped 20 points in a game three times. However, she provided a beautiful reminder to everybody of how explosive and great she can be against Minnesota in a first-place showdown in which both squads entered the game with 5-1 records.

A 2014 All-Star, Diggins scored a season-high 26 points on 9-of-15 shooting, including 3-of-4 from three-point range, while also dishing out eight assists and recording two steals in a win over the Lynx, which was its first home loss of the season.

However, the scoring was secondary to what she provided down the stretch to help the Shock finish strong. After the Lynx sliced an eight-point deficit to 72-69 with 3:07 remaining, Diggins took control, helping Tulsa score on four consecutive possessions to repel Minnesota’s charge.

On consecutive possessions, she found Paris for easy layups after penetrating in the lane. Williams drained a three-pointer on the Shock’s possession which answered a Lynx basket.

Then, Diggins delivered a dagger three-pointer after executing a behind-the-back dribble and stepping back in an elegant display of ball-handling wizardry. Diggins flourished down the stretch by scoring seven points and handing out a pair of assists.

Just like that, the Shock had responded to a road challenge by remaining poised.

In the two wins over the Mystics and Lynx, the Shock overcame a slow start and first quarter deficit.

“We are more experienced in those situations,” Diggins said. “We have Jordan Hooper who can score and is the best shooter in the league, in my opinion. Courtney Paris had a most improved type of season last year and is the best rebounder in the league. We have a lot of talent on this team.”

Tulsa leads the WNBA in 3-point field goal percentage, offensive rebounds per game, rebounds per game, and it commits the fewest turnovers per game.

Furthermore, the Shock are second in the WNBA in points per game and assists per game. In every game this season, the Shock has enjoyed a double-digit advantage.

Combining those facets has been a recipe for championship success.

The Shock has also been mentally strong as they have faced their share of adversity early in the year.

All-star Glory Johnson reported late to training camp after dealing with well-publicized personal issues. Johnson decided to sit out the season after becoming pregnant. Second-year guard Odyssey Sims has missed the last four games with a knee injury. Sims is expected back soon.

“We support Glory with motherhood,” Williams said. “With her not being here, it’s enabled others an opportunity for increased playing time. The ladies have done a good job of staying focused on what we’re trying to accomplish as a team. The players who are getting those minutes are making quality contributions.”

The Shock are having fun. After an intense one-hour shootaround Friday morning at the Verizon Center, they engaged in entertaining half-court shooting drills.

The thuds of balls clanging off the rim and ricocheting off the floor were drowned out by the consistent sounds of joyous laughter in an empty arena.

“Everybody believes in our coaches,” Diggins said. “We give them a lot of credit for what they’ve done for us. We have a team that’s proud to put on that Shock uniform every day. We work hard. We understand that we might not have any super-duper stars in the eyes of others, but that’s O.K. because at the end of the day, all we care about is winning.”


DELLE DONNE DETONATES AGAIN: While Tulsa and Connecticut are the early team stories, the biggest individual narrative this season is Chicago’s Elena Delle Donne, a University of Delaware graduate.

She is re-writing the franchise and WNBA record book with each mesmerizing performance for the 4-3 Sky.

A day after earning her second consecutive Eastern Conference Player of the Week award, Delle Donne got started on her third straight honor in a big way by scoring a career-high and franchise record 45 points to lift the Sky to a thrilling 100-96 overtime win against the Atlanta Dream Wednesday morning at Allstate Arena.

It was the Sky’s second straight overtime triumph.

Delle Donne also grabbed 11 rebounds for her third straight double-double.

In leading the Sky to their second straight victory, Delle Donne also blocked a career-high six shots. Just sit back and marvel at where Delle Donne’s accomplishments rank in WNBA history thanks to the Sky’s Media and Communications coordinator Lauren Niemiera.

With her 45 point performance, Delle Donne shattered the WNBA mark for most points by a single player through her team’s first seven games of a season with 221 points.

The previous record was set by Maya Moore last year with 193 points. Delle Donne’s effort is sixth all-time in WNBA history for most points scored in a single game.

She became the fifth player in the 19-year history of the WNBA with two or more games of 40-plus points in her career (the others: Diana Taurasi, 3; Maya Moore, Katie Smith, and Cynthia Cooper, 2 each).

With 40 points at Tulsa on June 6 this year and 45 points against Atlanta, Delle Donne becomes the fourth player in WNBA history with two games of 40-or-more points in the same season (the others, all with 2 each: Diana Taurasi in 2006; Maya Moore in 2014; Katie Smith in 2001). She still has 27 games remaining to inflict more damage.

Delle Donne also went 19-for-19 from the free throw line to set the new WNBA record for most consecutive free throws made without a miss.

The previous mark was 17 by Angel McCoughtry against Chicago last year on June 2

Her 19 made free throws tied for second in WNBA history for free throws made in a game with Tina Charles (Connecticut vs. Phoenix, June 29, 2013). Delle Donne has now made 34 consecutive free throws since her last miss on June 14th against the Indiana Fever.

She has led the Sky in scoring in every game this season, tallying at least 24 points in every contest. She also has pulled down at least eight rebounds in all but one game.

Fueled by a historic effort, Chicago’s starting five of Delle Donne, Courtney Vandersloot, Cappie Pondexter, Allie Quigley and Jessica Breland combined for 95 percent of its point total.

This is a key week for the Sky, who’s in the midst of a three-game in five-day stretch against Eastern Conference opponents.

After beating the Dream on Wednesday, Delle Donne’s scoring show goes on the road to Indiana Friday and Washington Sunday afternoon.

“We just wanted to win,” Delle Donne said following her effort against Atlanta. “At this point, being 3-3, we wanted to show that we can be consistent and put two wins together; so, that was the biggest focus.

"It wasn’t even about who the opponent was or what happened in that last game. We needed a win, and we were desperate for one.”

HARTLEY HEALING: Bria Hartley made her season debut against the Sparks Tuesday night. She missed Washington’s first six games with a stress fracture. Hartley scored six points in six minutes as Thibault eased her back into the lineup.

“Whatever time I have out on the court, I’ll definitely cherish,” Hartley said. “I still have to get out and get my wind back. Overall, I felt good being out there for the first time this year.

"My foot is doing well and the special brace that I am wearing has helped with the pain. It was tough not being able to be out there with your teammates, but at the same time I just tried to be as supportive as I can.”

The Mystics are 5-2 overall after beating the Sparks, 84-80. They got 20 points each from Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and Emma Meesseman. The Mystics visit Atlanta on Friday night and host the Chicago Sky on Sunday afternoon.

GRINER RETURNS: After serving a seven-game suspension for her role in a domestic dispute with Johnson, Brittney Griner makes her season debut Saturday night against Minnesota. That game will be televised nationally on ESPN2 at 7:00 p.m. eastern time.

The Mercury has done a good job in her absence with a 3-3 record. They have one more game without Griner on Thursday against winless San Antonio.

During Griner’s absence, veteran DeWanna Bonner has stepped up her game. She is second in the WNBA in scoring, averaging 20.2 points through six games. Leilani Mitchell is shooting 50.0 percent from the three-point line this season (14-of-28), tied for fourth in the league.

Mitchell is averaging career highs in points (10.2), three-point field goals made (2.3), three-point field goals attempted (4.7) and three-point field goal percentage (.500).

The Mercury are 3-0 vs. Western Conference opponents and remain the only undefeated team vs. their own conference in the WNBA.

Phoenix faces Western Conference opponents in each of their next seven games. The Mercury’s next Eastern Conference opponent is the Dream at home on July 14.

SPARKS OPTIMISTIC: The Los Angeles Sparks got a key piece of their attack back in Nneka Ogwumike during their 84-80 loss to the Mystics Tuesday night.

The 2012 WNBA Rookie of the Year started and scored 11 points in 36 minutes.

It was her first game of the season after missing the previous four games with a left ankle sprain. She looked good and flashed the explosiveness at times that make her one of the most dynamic players in the league.

“It feels really good to be back on the floor,” Ogwumike said following the Mystics game. “I’ve been watching and reflecting on what I can do to help the team once I got back out on the floor.

" I am glad that (head coach Brian Alger) had the confidence to keep me out there a long time. I want to help our team. I wasn’t entirely frustrated being out because getting healthy was the main priority. I’ve been to every practice and this week I was involved in practice.”

Ogwumike was one of five Spark players in double figures against the Mystics.

Jantel Lavender scored 18 points and Temeka Johnson contributed 17 points. Jennifer Lacy was active in scoring 14 points and Farhiya Abdi added 10 points for the Sparks. Entering Tuesday’s game against the Mystics, Johnson led the league in assists and Lavender was second in rebounding.

The Sparks have two games remaining on their road trip. They visit Connecticut Friday and New York on Sunday.

"We’re getting better,” Alger said. “We’re also getting a lot of young players some playing time, which may benefit us down the road. We thought we could be competitive without Candace Parker and Kristi Toliver early in the year, but we didn’t expect not to have Nneka, Alana Beard and Erin Phillips. So we’re just trying to improve and move forward.”

When asked about Parker’s possible return, Alger said, “probably sometime in mid-July.”

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Philly Summer League: Villanova Stars Highlight Neon Green's Explosive Win



By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

An explosive 91-42 performance by Neon Green over Forest Green with Villanova junior Megan Quinn and Bryant senior Maureen Leahy posting season highs of 30 points each on night three of the young season highlighted Tuesday’s action in the Philadelphia/Suburban Women’s NCAA Summer Basketball League at Kelly Bolish Gym, home of the AAU Renegades in Hatboro, Pa.

Four of the six games were competitive with the outcomes decided by five points or less and when the action ended, a three-way tie existed atop the standings with defending champion Gold, Pink and Purple tied at 3-0 while Black, also known as Division II Philadelphia University, also unbeaten a half-game back at 2-0.

Individually, nine players hit the magic milestone of 20 or more points with Quinn and Leahy joined by 21 points from Neon Green teammate and Villanova sophomore Alex Louin scoring 21 points.

Saint Joseph’s sophomore Chelsea Woods had her second straight 28-point performance in Red’s narrow win over Royal Blue while teammates Natalye Lee, a Division II Kutztown senior, scoring 21, and Margaret Melham, a Moravian freshman, scoring 20 in Red’s first win of the season.

Lauren Crisler, an American U. junior, had another standout game, with 23 for Gold in the narrow win over Maroon, also known as the Division II West Chester team, which got 25 points from junior Tori Smick and 20 from senior Brittany Sicinski.

The action also occurred on a night in which former Saint Joseph’s, Cardinal O’Hara, and Gold star Natasha Cloud helped WNBA-Washington close out Los Angeles in a narrow win in the nation’s capital in which she hit two foul shots at the finish.

Incidentally, commissioner David Kessler sent the league’s condolences to former Holy Family star Mary Ellen McCollum and her family on the death of her sister Katie on June 19. She and her other sister Christine have each played in the league several years.

Here’s the re-cap of the six games sent from commissioner-central to the Guru, who was down at the WNBA game in Washington.

Gold 87, Maroon 84 -- Besides Crisler’s performance, Jasmine Elum, a 2012 graduate of Bethune Cookman, scored 19 points, while Danielle Derr, a 2012 graduate of Division II Bloomsburg, and Alex Smith, a 2014 Holy Cross graduate, each scored 13 points for Gold (3-0).

Maroon (1-2) dropped into a two-way tie for eighth, the final playoff standings qualifier at the end of the season, though not as dangerous this early, with Dallas Ely, a recent West Chester graduate, scoring all 15 of her points on five 3-pointers to join the work of Smick and Sicinski mentioned above.

Black 49, Orange 47 -- Orange (0-3) narrowly missed getting its first win of the season while Black (2-0) stayed perfect as Mary Newell, a Philadelphia U. senior, scored 14 points, and Jess Kaminski, scored 7 in the tightly-fought contest.

Lindsey Kelly, a Nazareth College senior, scored 12 for Orange, with Emma Dorshimer, a Gettysburg freshman out of Jenkintown High, and Courtney Webster, a LeMoyne sophomore out of Central Bucks East, each scoring eight points.

Lauren Rothfeld, a Salisbury junior out of Upper Dublin, played her first league game of the season for Orange, having just returned from Israel.

Neon Green 91, Forest Green 42 -- All of Neon Green’s top performances from Quinn, Leahy, and Louin, have already been mentioned, while Pallavi Juneja, a recent Division III Haverford graduate, got all 12 of her points off four 3-pointers for Forest Green (0-3), and Kylie Giedemann, a Holy Family sophomore, scored 11.

Most of the Forest Green roster is composed of Tigers players. Under NCAA rules, Division II and III teams can play intact in summer league action, while Division I limitations are held to two each except for incoming freshman who have yet to enroll and are exempted from the count.

Neon Green will serve its bye on Thursday night while Kelly Green was idle Tuesday.

Purple 59, Ash 31 -- The other lopsided game was turned in from Purple (3-0), which is also the Division II USciences squad, as Sarah Abbonzio, who graduates in 2020, scored 13 points, and Micah Morgan out of Caravel Academy, scored 11.

Ash (2-1), which suffered its first loss as the season hit week 2, got 10 points from Taylor Pritchett, from Sussex Central, and Aunjel Van Brakle, a Millersville senior, scored nine points.

Red 89, Royal Blue 84 -- In getting its first win of the season, Red (1-2) also got 19 points from Lauren Gold, a Shippensburg junior, in addition to the points already mentioned from Woods, Lee, and Melhem in the high-scoring and close contest.

Royal Blue (0-3), still looking for its first win along with three other teams, got 19 points from Tyniqua Henderson, a senior from Penn State-Abington, which dominates the roster. Brittany a sophomore, scored 16 points, while Maggie Locke, a Holy Cross freshman out of Spring-Ford, scored 16, and Elizabeth Jones, a PSU-Abington junior, scored 15.

All class designations in these reports refer to players statuses going into their fall enrollments.

Pink 54, Sapphire Blue 49 -- Pink (3-0), primarily composed of Division III Scranton, got 16 points from Julia Gantz, a senior, and 10 from Katherine Feehery, a junior out of Cardinal O’Hara.

Sapphire Blue (1-1), suffering its first loss, got 10 points from Rachel Falkowski, a junior from Division II East Stroudsburg, which dominates the roster. Noelle Powell, a freshman, scored scored nine, while Madison Tambrini, a junior out of Archbishop Wood, scored eight points.

Looking Ahead

Tie-breakers in the standings are still difficult to begin using the natural positions, so unless a head-to-head situation occurs, deadlock teams will be listed alphabetically.

On Thursday, no games have teams undefeated going against each other nor do they have any in which both sides are winless.

This year, the July 4th holiday does not impact the league schedule, so no adjustments, such as an extra makeup night, is necessary.

All that said, here are the Guru ongoing stats, such as they are, remembering only points are kept from games, though some other nuances will be mentioned, such as overall defense, as they occur.

Standings
Team W-L G.B. PF PA Pct.

(Thru Wed., June 24)
(Ties Listed Alphabetical For Now)

Gold 3-0 –- 226 184 1.000
Pink 3-0 –- 185 151 1.000
Purple 3-0 –- 184 118 1.000
Black 2-0 0.5 122 89 1.000
Ash 2-1 1.0 166 167 .667
Neon Green 2-1 1.0 212 166 .667
Sapphire 1-1 1.5 00 111 114 .500
Maroon 1-2 2.0 203 210 .333
Red 1-2 2.0 181 224 .333
Kelly 0-2 2.5 94 125 .000
Forest Green 0-3 3.0 156 226 .000
Orange 0-3 3.0 150 180 .000
Royal Blue 0-3 3.0 107 215 .000

Season Results

Tues., June 23
Black 49, Orange 47
Neon Green 91, Forest Green 42
Purple 59, Ash 31
Red 89, Royal Blue 84
Gold 87, Maroon 84
Pink 54, Sapphire Blue 49

Thurs, June 18
Gold 70, Royal Blue 57
Ash 74, Forest Green 67
Sapphire Blue 62, Orange 60
Neon Green 69, Maroon 60
Pink 67, Red 50
Purple 66, Kelly Green 40

Tues, June 16
Maroon 59, Kelly Green 54
Gold 69, Orange 43
Black 73, Red 42
Pink 64, Neon Green 52
Purple 61, Forest Green 47
Ash 61, Royal Blue 41

Looking Ahead

Thurs, June 25

7 p.m.

Orange (0-3) vs. Maroon (1-2), Court 1
Red (1-2) vs. Kelly Green (0-2), Court 2
Gold (3-0) vs. Ash (2-1), Court 3

8:15 p.m.

Sapphire Blue (1-1) vs. Purple (3-0), Court 1
Royal Blue (0-3) vs. Pink (3-0), Court 2
Forest Green (0-3) vs. Black (2-0), Court 3

Bye: Neon Green

Tues., June 30

7 p.m.

Gold vs. Kelly Green, Court 1
Maroon vs. Black, Court 2
Orange vs. Royal Blue, Court 3

8:15 p.m.

Sapphire Blue vs. Forest Green, Court 1
Neon Green vs. Ash, Court 2
Purple vs. Red, Court 3

Bye: Pink

Thurs., July 2

715 p.m.

Pink vs. Forest Green, Court 1
Sapphire Blue vs. Ash, Court 2
Neon Green vs Red, Court 3

8:15 p.m.

Kelly Green vs. Black, Court 1
Maroon vs. Royal Blue, Court 2
Orange vs. Purple, Court 3

Bye: Gold

Scoring 20 Points or More

30- Megan Quinn, Neon Green (W), vs. Forest Green (L) - June 23
30-Maureen Leahy, Neon Green (W), vs. Forest Green (L) –June 23

28- Chelsea Woods, Red (W), vs. vs. Royal Blue (L) – June 23
28-Chelsea Woods, Red (L), vs. Pink (W) – June 18

25-Tori Smick, Maroon (L) vs. Gold (W) – June 23
25-Ashley Wood, Gold (W) vs Orange (L) – June 16
25-Alex Louin, Neon Green (W) vs Maroon (L) – June 18

24-Sarah Fairbanks, Pink (W) vs Red (L) – June 18
24-Tyniqua Henderson, Royal Blue (L) vs. Gold (W) – June 18

23-Lauren Crisler, Gold (W), vs. Maroon (L) – June 23

22-Micah Morgan, Purple (W), vs. Kelly Green (L) – June 18

21-Natalya Lee, Red (w), vs. Royal Blue (L) – June 23
21-Alex Louin, Neon Green (W), vs. Forest Green (L) –June 23
21-Lauren Crisler, Gold (W), vs. Royal Blue – June 18

20-Margaret Melham, Red (W), vs. vs. Royal Blue (L) – June 23
20-Brittany Sicinski, Maroon (L) vs. Gold (W) – June 23

Tie-Break Tracker
True Order Coming in a Few Weeks

Gold (3-0) vs. O (W), RB (W), vs. M (W),
Pink (3-0) vs. NG (W, Red (W), SB (W),
Purple (3-0) vs. FG (W), KG (W), Ash (W),
Black (2-0) vs. Red (W), O (W),
Ash (2-1) vs. RB (W), FG (W), Purple (L)
Neon Green (2-1) vs. Pink(L), M(W), FG (W)
Sapphire Blue (1-1) O(W), Pink(L),
Maroon (1-2) vs. KG (W), NG (L), G(L)
Red (1-2) vs. Blk (L), Pink (L), RB(W),
Kelly Green (0-2) vs. M (L), Purp (L)
Forest Green (0-3) vs. Purp (L), Ash (L), NG(L),
Orange (0-3) vs. Gold (L), SB (L), B(L),

Royal Blue (0-3) vs. Ash (L, Gold (L), Red (L),

Don’t Forget to Like League on Facebook Page (Link to Come)

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Monday, June 22, 2015

WNBA: Mystics Look to Even Home Record Off Winless Sparks

By Rob Knox @knoxrob1

WASHINGTON --
Emma Meesseman’s name appears frequently in several individual statistical categories as The second-year forward has been a consistent tower of power for the Washington Mystics through the first six games.

Cementing her status as a leading contender for next month’s All-Star presented by Boost Mobile game, Meesseman leads the Mystics in scoring (14.3 points per game, 12th in the league), rebounding (7.8, sixth), blocked shots (2.17, tied for second) and field goal percentage (56.1 percent, seventh).

Despite her early season brilliance, Meesseman remains somewhat a secret nationally.

That will change as the Mystics (4-2 overall) host the depleted and winless Los Angeles Sparks (0-4) Tuesday night at the Verizon Center in a contest broadcast on ESPN2 beginning at 8:00 p.m. It will be the Mystics only scheduled regular season appearance on the ESPN family of networks.

The Mystics swept both meetings against the Sparks last season. One of those matchups was a thrilling triple-overtime contest at the Verizon Center. They will play again on September 3 at the Staples Center.

Meesseman prefers dominating games the way she has -- away from the bright television lights.

However, it’s hard to stay anonymous when Meesseman has scored 20 or more points in the Mystics last two home games.

She recorded her first double-double (24 points, 10 rebounds) in the Mystics' 84-80 loss to Tulsa on Friday night. In her last two home games, Meesseman has averaged 23.5 points per game.

While the scoring is nice, Washington wants to get that winning feeling back at the Verizon Center. The Mystics are 1-2 at home this season and a perfect 3-0 while sporting the bright road reds.

Proving that they are far from a one-woman team, the Mystics have been getting contributions from everybody.

What a national audience will witness Tuesday night is that veteran All-Star guard Ivory Latta’s shooting stroke has returned.

The former North Carolina star scored a season-high 24 points to help the Mystics beat the Indiana Fever Saturday at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse. She has nine three-pointers in her last three games and is averaging 16 points during that span.

For the season, Latta is tied for 17th in scoring (13.0 points per game). The Mystic youngsters have made a nice impact for a team that hasn’t been at full strength.

With Kia Vaughn only playing one game, second-year Stefanie Dolson has been a perfect complement to Meesseman.

Dolson, who is averaging 11.1 points per game, is tied for sixth in blocked shots (1.5) and ninth in rebounding (6.8). Kara Lawson is averaging 8.7 points per game and is seventh in the league in assists per game (4.5).

Tayler Hill has been a spark of the bench for Washington, scoring 7.7 points per outing. She has made at least one three-pointer in every game this season.

Rookie Ally Malott has posted double-digits in two of the Mystics last three games. She scored a career-high 13 points against Tulsa.

Malott is shooting a league-best 62.5 percent from three-point distance. Malott will meet up against her former Dayton teammate Andrea Hoover, who plays for the Sparks. They helped the Flyers advance to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament earlier this year.

Rookie Natasha Cloud out of Saint Joseph's scored nine points in the win over the Fever and is 10th in the WNBA in assists per game (3.3).

Meanwhile, the Sparks are literally limping into this contest.

Off to their worst start in franchise history, Los Angeles has been without the services of Candace Parker, Kristi Toliver and Nneka Ogwumike all season.

Leading-scorer Alana Beard has missed the last two games. Erin Phillips didn’t play in Sunday’s 76-68 loss to the Connecticut Sun.

The status of Ogwumike, Beard and Phillips for the Mystics game is uncertain.

Despite missing those talented players, the Sparks still feature two of the top players in the league in Jantel Lavender and Temeka Johnson.

Lavender averages 12.8 points per contest and is second in the WNBA in rebounding at 11.0 per game. She’s one of two players in the league averaging double-digit rebounds. Johnson leads the league in assists (6.3).

The duo shined against the Sun. Lavender had a season-high 17 points and 10 rebounds, for her third double-double of the season. Johnson, who recorded a triple-double last season playing for Seattle, scored 15 points with a season-best 10 assists for the Sparks. Johnson needs six steals to reach 300 for her career and 15 assists for 1,300.

Marianna Tolo and Farhiya Abdi scored 12 points each for the Sparks, who are on a week-long three-game east coast trip.

Los Angeles has led at halftime in its last three games.

Unfortunately for the Sparks, they were unable to close out. In the second half of all three games, the opponents took charge with a combined 52.2% shooting performance compared to the Sparks 32.1% field goal accuracy during that period.

Both teams return to action on Friday. The Mystics visit Atlanta and the Sparks visit Connecticut.

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

WNBA: Washington Gains Weekend Split Winning at Indy Following Tough Loss to Tulsa

By Lamar Carter (@lcarter031)

WASHINGTON, DC ---
So far the Washington Mystics Are showing one enhancement you won't find anywhere on the roster this season -- resilency.

For the second time in two straight weekends the Mystics shook off a tough Friday night loss to come right back with a win -- in this instance winning at Indiana 87-75 Saturday against a Fever team that got flipped the other way by Washington after Indiana had posted an impressive 80-63 win in New York Friday against the Liberty in Madison Square Garden.

Thus the Mystics (4-2) are just a game behind the Eastern frontrunning and surprising Connecticut Sun (5-1), which won its second straight road game on the Western swing, beating the defending WNBA champion Phoenix Mercury 90-78 in double overtime Friday night.

Washington coach Mike Thibault wasn't as disappointed with the 86-82 losing outcome Friday against a highly inproved Tulsa Shock team from the West at home in the Verizon Center as he was a week ago down here when he felt his players gave away the game to the struggling Atlanta Dream at the finish.

Starting chronologically in this report beginning Friday night, Plenette Pierson scored 16 of her season-high 24 points in the second half while Riquna Williams, a former Miami star, poured in a season-best 22 points off the bench for Tulsa in a cross-divisional matchup of two of the early season’s most surprising teams.

For Tulsa, (5-1) its first victory of the season against an Eastern Conference opponent was a major positive in many ways: it snapped a four-game losing streak to the Mystics (3-2), pushed its current winning streak to five games and extended the franchise’s best-ever start to a season that next sees a head-to-head West showdown at the top of the division in Minnesota Sunday against the Lynx (5-1).

Pierson, who shot 9-of-19 from the floor and 6-of-7 from the free throw line, finished two points shy of her career best of 26 while Williams upped her season best for the second straight game after going for 16 in the Shock’s 88-61 win over San Antonio, which is still looking for its first victory.

Skylar Diggins, the number three overall pick out of Notre Dame in 2013 added 14 points for Tulsa.

Emma Meesseman matched Pierson for the game high with 24 points as one of four Mystics in double figures, along with 11 points for Stefanie Dolson, 10 for Kara Lawson and 13 for Tayler Hill off the bench.

Saint Joseph's graduate Natasha Cloud, the No. 15 overall pick in the second round of April's draft,was scoreless in this one, playing one second short of 11 minutes off the bench.

After starting the season 2-0, the Mystics have gone 2-2 through Saturday night's triumph in Indiana with the Los Angeles Sparks (0-3) coming here Tuesday and at this moment before Sunday's home game with Connecticut still looking for their first win of the season.

Washington started the game Friday strong, however, leading Tulsa for the first 17 minutes of the game before the Shock used an 18-8 run to push out to a 40-36 lead at halftime.

“Kudos to Washington, they jumped on us aggressively early and forced us to play their style of basketball. It took us a whole half to settle down and realize what they were doing,” Pierson said of the team’s start.

Thibault was equally complimentary towards the Shock, which won three WNBA titles in Detroit under current New York coach Bill Laimbeer.

"I think we've got to give Tulsa a little bit of credit," Thibault said. "There's a reason they're 5-1. They're playing wellm Plenette Pierson and Riquana Williams were spectacular.

"It's tough losing at home. This one, although it hurts, we played a good team. The one last Friday against Atlanta, I felt like we gave away. Tonight, Tulsa earned it."

The Shock remained aggressive in the third, leading wire-to-wire in the period and taking the largest lead of the game (64-54) on a three pointer from Williams with 1:44 left in the quarter.

Williams powered that third quarter surge by netting half of the team’s 22 points in the period on 4-of-5 shooting, including a trio of three pointers.

A simplified approach by Williams led to such an impressive quarter and overall game: “I was just making reads, playing free and having fun. If I overthink, I won’t play at my best,” she said.

Washington fought back in the fourth to produce an exciting final stanza that featured six ties and eight lead changes, but the Mystics couldn’t overcome a dominant period by Pierson.

The Shock’s veteran leader, who scored two points in the first quarter and had 12 through three periods, left an indelible mark on the game when her team needed it most.

Pierson scored 12 points in the fourth quarter alone - her most in any period this season and the only double figure effort on either team in the quarter. She opened the fourth with a turnaround jumper at the 9:23 mark that gave Tulsa its biggest lead of the quarter. Of the 14 combined ties and lead changes in the frame, Pierson accounted for six of them by herself.

With the game tied at 81 apiece with 1:05 left, Pierson scored three of the final five points, including what proved to be the eventual game winner with 36.9 seconds remaining.

“I have a tendency of letting [the other players] do their thing early on and then I’ll sprinkle myself in the mix. I just really wanted to put this team on my back and just go to work,” Pierson said of her efforts.

For a team that sports a WNBA-long five season postseason drought and has struggled to channel the winning ways of its predecessors in Detroit, a win like this – led by a star from its glory days – may go a long way to changing the fortunes of the franchise this season.

“This win keeps us on the path that we’re on. We’ve set out goals to go 3-1, 4-1 [and so on], so this keeps on track,” Pierson added. “This team is showing me that they’re never out, they’re going to keep scratching and clawing to get a victory.”

Meanwhile, Washington is not hanging its head afterr losses as in past seasons, a culture Thibault had to change when he arrived for the 2013 season after being let go by the Sun.

In Saturday's win at Indy, veteran Ivory Latta had a season high 24 points and nailed six treys and her Mystics shot a season-best 51.7 percent from the field.

Kara Lawson scored eight points, grabbed a team high nine rebounds and dealt seven assists.

The Mystics have won four straight regular season road games at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, where before the game, the NCAA, which is headquartered there, unveiled the logo for the 2016 Women's Final Four, which will be held in April at the arena.

"To get a road win is huge," Thibault said, noting both teams were fighting fatigue from their back-to-backs on the schedule.

(Indy) played great (Friday) night and we didn't play so great. We shot the ball better. For all the stuff that was back and forth in the game we got the last run in the fourth quarter, so that felt good."

Just 24 hours after postgame in New York talking about getting better each day, Indy first-year coach Stephanie White said of the loss to Washington, "I thought we were a step slow early in the ball game, really established a soft tone on the defensive end in that first quarter.

"Washington, give them credit. They made every big play. Latta made every big shot. They got every loose ball. They made all the hustle plays, the ones we made (Friday) night to come away from a victory in New York," White said.

"You have to give them credit for being able to come in here after a back to back as well and make the plays they needed to win."

Lynette Kizer, the former Maryland star, and Briann January each scored 14 points for the Fever (3-5).

Rookie Natasha Cloud from Saint Joseph's in this one played just over 21 minutes, went 3-for-6 from the field, including hitting a 3-pointer and scored nine points.

Meessemen, after her career-high 24 points, Friday night, scored 15 points, while Stephanie Dolson had 12 points and Armintie Herrington scored 10.

Perenially All-Star Tamika Catchings, the former Tennessee all-American heading for retirement after next season, scored just five points for Indy on a night after she was held scoreless for just the second time in her WNBA career, shooting 0-for-10 in the win in New York.

She had scored in 168 straight games dating back to July 23, 2009, the only other time Catchings was shut out in her WNBA career.

In that one two former Penn State stars one opposite sides did well, particularly second-year pro Maggie Lucas from Narberth in suburban Philadelphia, who had a career-high 23 points and making 5-for-8 on three-point attempts.

Marissa Coleman, another former Maryland star, had 16 points for the Fever, while Kizer scored 12.

Veteran Tanisha Wright, another former Lady Lion, scored 12 points for the Liberty, who dropped to 3-3 after a quick start and now hit the road beginning Sunday in Atlanta.

Rookie Brittany Boyd scored 11, as did former Georgetown star Sugar Rodgers off the bench.

The Liberty made several rallies from deep deficits but each time Indiana fould a way to apply the brakes and finished strong with a 10-0 run.

Tina Charles, the former Connecticut all-American, got into early foul trouble and scored just six points.

"She has to be more aggressive in the post when they come to attack her or double team her," New York coach Laimber said of his star center. "They're going to be physical with her and she has to be physical right back and be more aggressive in the low post and stop settling for the perimeter shots.

"We started the game beyond poorly. They were taking it to us and we didn't rematch their intensity. They were going twice as fast as we were and we didn't stand up. We did in the second quarter. By then it was kind of late in the game."

The Guru from New York Friday and team reports from Saturday games contributed to this file.


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