Women's Hoops Blog
Jayda Evans covers college and pro women's basketball. While its her first year on the Washington beat, she has covered the Storm since its inception. She'll offer observations, critiques, occasional off-beat tales and answers to select e-mail inquires. Evans also has written a book on the Storm and women's hoops, called "Game On!"
July 29, 2008 3:49 PM
Posted by Jayda Evans
Poster Ars asked if there was any word from Storm star Lauren Jackson following the team's impressive 3-2 finish to the pre-Olympic part of the WNBA season without the Australian in the lineup. Jackson left the states on July 17 to train with her national team.
Well, PG Sue Bird, who's Jackson's closest friend on the team, received plenty of text-messages from the Aussie. Most were simple, telling Bird to tell the team "Congrats" for winning. But the last one on Sunday was a little more detailed.
"I'm a legend!" said Bird of what Jackson text'd her after the Sacramento win. Bird scored a season-high 24 points in the game, hitting six free throws down the stretch to secure the victory. "Write that down."
Only there's one catch to Jackson's proclamation.
"She calls everybody a legend," Bird said. (True, I've been called that before by Jackson) "So, I don't take it as some kind of award."
Jackson and Phoenix forward Penny Taylor were in a Aussie "boot camp," doing team building and training. The grueling workout caused Jackson to complain to Bird about her body being sore, but she looked forward to reuniting in China.
Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi also heard from Jackson and communicated with Taylor via e-mail. The Aussies defeated Brazil 99-62 in a tune-up game in Wollongong, Australia. The teams will play again on Wednesday, then travel to Haining, China for the 2008 DIamond Ball Tournament from Aug. 2-5. Six teams -- Russia, Latvia, China, Mali, Team USA, and the Opals -- are part of the Olympic tune-up field.
July 29, 2008 11:01 AM
Posted by Jayda Evans
STREAK OVER!: Interviewed Donovan after the session and actually got a direct smile my way following a question I asked. So, I'm happy to report that whatever ban I did have appears to be over. I'll have that feature on her as the Games approach.
NO JUICE: The computer's battery fizzed out quick today, so I didn't get a chance to wrap up practice. To finish off Day 2 of practice, I must say, again, that I love Fowles' play and what she brings to the Olympic team. Leslie is the all-time leading scorer for Team USA and she should be able to go nuts in Beijing, if the team can gel quickly and Fowles can continue to play like she has in training camp. Thibault wasn't happy about turnovers in the final scrimmages and the team worked heavily on defense today. The session ended with an around-the-horn shooting drill with posts facing off with the guards. The guards won, but the posts won one three-point part, hitting 10 first. That prompted Brown to comment how she loves watching a 6-foot-5 player hit a three. Yep, times have changed in the women's game. Anyway, since the posts lost, the guards made them do sit-ups. Bird busted into Kanye West's rap from "The New Workout Plan," singing "1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and get them sit ups right and tuck your tummy tight and do your crunches like this." Everyone laughed, especially Leslie, who Bird was standing over as she rapped.
FIVE POSSESSIONS: Bird is at the point and the team is doing a drill of five possessions against the men. Bird's team is Thompson, Taurasi, Leslie, and Parker.
ANOTHER BLOCK: Man, here's hoping Fowles can continue to block shots the way she is in practice. The one just now on a male practice player led to a Pondexter fast break layin. Nice.
FULL-COURT SCRIMMAGE: The men are back on the court and the women are playing against them, practicing last-second situations. Pondexter is running the point with a team of Lawson, Milton-Jones, Catchings, and Augustus. Players are rotating in and out, though, so lineups and positions are changing quickly. It's the type of team Donovan likes -- plenty of versatility.
MAILBAG: A new poster (Welcome Storm39) asked about TV coverage while playing in the Games and USA Basketball released that the matchups will air live on NBC networks. Read more here.
RUNNING AND FREE THROWS: USA Basketball president Val Ackerman said on Monday that one of the biggest advantages to the women's team is that they all are in great playing shape. To keep it that way, Donovan has the players running sprints (although it looks like jogging) in between shooting free throws. There's no altitude problem in China, but the air quality is a major concern. Renee Brown, vice president of senior women, said she just returned from China, however, and expects the team to be fine.
Media is in and Team USA is playing four-on-four against each other. Kara Lawson is running the point for a "white" squad that includes Sylvia Folwes, DeLisha Milton-Jones, and Diana Taurasi. They were playing against a "red" squad that included Tamika Catchings, Lisa Leslie, Sue Bird, and Katie Smith. Cappie Pondexter, Candace Parker, Seimone Augustus, and Tina Thompson are on the "green" team.
Things are a lot more spirited today. Connecticut coach Mike Thibault stopped play at one point and got after the team for not harping at each other for an uncontested layin. Olympic coach Anne Donovan is talking about discipline.
Watching in the stands is a group of older conference goers from campus. And Phoenix GM Ann Meyers is along the sideline, she'll be broadcasting again for the Games. There is also a set of three officials, none that I really recognize from the WNBA, that are watching the scrimmage and making spot calls.
One side note, while the women are being carted around in a chartered bus, I heard the men were escorted in suburban limos and the select team that practiced against them rode a bus. The men were together a little longer in Las Vegas, but still, can a woman get some equal treatment?