My WNBA coverage and what to expect this season

Hey everyone!

It’s been a while since my last blog post so I thought I would just quickly update all of my readers and subscribers (thank you!!) on what they can expect from me this WNBA season. I am going to be writing articles with a major focus on the Dallas Wings and the Atlanta Dream at http://www.hashtagbasketball.com/wnba. I will still watch the WNBA and other teams but if you follow those two teams closely, I will be too.

As for the blog, I will still post every two weeks to keep up with the latest WNBA information and or other interesting tidbits. I have a very busy summer ahead of me, but that does not mean the WNBA season stops. I may be absent here or there throughout the summer due to some personal family commitments so apologies if I miss certain days or if I don’t post articles, etc.

Thank you everyone for always reading this blog. I appreciate your support and I hope you continue to support during the WNBA season!

– Aneela

2018 EuroLeague Women Final Four Semi finals Recap

Hello everyone,

I hope everyone is doing well. It’s been a while since I last posted a blog post and I thought I would recap both the EuroLeague Women Final Four semi finals games.


Semi Final Game #1 : UMMC vs Dynamo Kursk

There will be a new champion in EuroLeague Women as Russian powerhouse UMMC defeated the reigning champion Dynamo Kursk by a final score of 84 to 77.

Led by Maya Moore’s 28 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists, UMMC was efficient both on the perimeter and in the paint. After UMMC Ekatrinburg took a two point lead after the first quarter, Dynamo Kursk stormed back and took a nine point lead thanks to the play of Angel McCoughtry who came off the bench. However, the lead was short lived as UMMC came storming back and was only down by one at the half. In the third quarter, UMMC was red hot and Dynamo Kursk just didn’t have enough scoring power other than Angel McCoughtry to keep up. UMMC was then able to control the game from that excellent third quarter and maintained the lead to grab a win. Now, UMMC will have a chance to become Euroleague champions when they face off in the final versus either Sopron or YDU this Sunday, April 22nd.  Not only was Maya Moore excellent but Brittney Griner, Emma Messeman and Kristi Toliver helped in delivering a great win for UMMC Ekatrinburg.

Semi Final Game #2: Yakin Dogu vs Sopron Basket

The fairytale season continues on for Sopron Basket. They are heading to the Euroleague Women final versus UMMC. Sopron Basket took full advantage of the Euroleague Women Final Four being held in Sopron. From the start of the game, they took control of the game and played stellar defense versus the Euroleague’s scoring leader Kayla McBride and caused several turnovers that led to easy baskets for Sopron. They never allowed Yakin Dogu to get comfortable. They went into halftime with a 10 point lead.

After halftime, it was a different story. Despite maintaining the lead, Yakin Dogu was able to get easier baskets both on the perimeter and in the paint. Yakin Dogu’s defence was much better in the second half which caused problems for Sopron. They had trouble scoring and Yakin Dogu came back. With roughly 3 minutes left, Yakin Dogu and Sopron Basket held brief leads over another until the score was tied at 65 a piece. Jelena Milavonic then hit a huge three pointer with about two seconds remaining. Yakin Dogu then recieved a 5 second violation on the other end which sealed the deal for Sopron. This is a historic win for Sopron as they head off to the title game taking place on Sunday April 22nd.

Mainstream media coverage on women’s basketball and WNBA and how it correlates to growing the fan base

I’ve been pondering over writing this blog post and whether or not people will actually read this post. This is a topic that ever since I first became aware of women’s basketball nine years ago never seems to go away. Or have a solution. It’s one of the struggles that many great WNBA/WBB fans and passionate writers and bloggers have to face every day.

As many of us know, when it comes to sports, the four main men’s sports get all the coverage and love from both fans and media companies alike. I’m talking about the NFL (which in some parts of the United States, it’s more like a religion), the NBA (once again, in some parts of the United States and world wide, it’s also the biggest sport), the NHL (this is HUGE in Canada, and in few parts in the United States) and MLB (which is America’s favorite summer past time).

So, in turn the four main men’s sports get a huge chunk of TV money from big name media companies such as ABC, ESPN, Sportsnet and TSN(HUGE in Canada), CBS, TNT, FOXSports, etc. This leaves very little TV money to give to other sports. What gets left over goes to women and men’s tennis, NASCAR, golf, gymnastics, etc. The remaining goes to the niche sports.  Women’s college basketball and the WNBA fall into that category.

It’s not just the TV companies who pull this type of move. It’s the newspapers(although to be fair, newspapers are dying), radio, online magazines/websites, etc. They only provide in depth coverage of those four main men’s sports. They only send their major beat writers to cover those events and send their columnists to write an opinion on those games. It’s like a well oiled machine for those four main major men’s sports, not only in the US and Canada, but world wide as well.

So, what does this have to with the WNBA/women’s college basketball coverage? Well, it’s pretty obvious. If all of the TV broadcasts and media focus on just those sports, there leaves absolutely little coverage for the women’s basketball world. No major sports personality is asking questions on TV on why the WNBA does not have their official draft details out yet, even though the draft is in less than three weeks! No major columnist is talking about how the WNBA Training camp will go and which players are in good shape, etc. Because of this, the WNBA/WBB world does not have any added pressure to release their details. Nor, will they have to because no major sports person will be there to release it to the public.

This may sound like I’m being pessimistic about the coverage that there is out there, considering there are some pretty good ESPN podcasts and one good ESPN writer who covers both the WNBA/WBB which is great. There are also some very good independent websites and great podcasts out there online too. I’m not complaining about that coverage, I’m complaining about the fact the WNBA/WBB world will never have as strong as a fan base simply because the TV/media coverage is non existent compared to major sports out there.

For example, if I take my friend right now to a WNBA game between the Connecticut Sun and the Washington Mystics at the Verizon Center, and the Mystics take care of the Sun easily and win in impressive fashion, my friend is impressed. Now, they want to know how they can keep track of the Mystics. I’ll tell them all my favorite Twitter handles, my favorite independent WNBA websites and some great podcasts. They say thanks, and check them out. Now, they are hooked onto the Mystics. They can’t get enough. But, now they want more. That coverage alone isn’t enough. They want to hear the Mystics on the radio. They want their favorite major sports personality to discuss the Mystics on TV. But, sadly, they won’t get it. They won’t get it on ESPN either. My friend is now upset. They’ll still check on the Mystics once in a while to see how they are doing, and tries to attend the games, but the fan level is diminished. They are now longer obsessed. And that is one way the WNBA loses their fans.

It’s a vicious cycle. This just doesn’t apply to fans either. It applies to great talented writers and bloggers who once wrote about the WNBA and women’s college basketball, but had to drop the coverage altogether because they couldn’t make a living out of it unlike their fellow writers and columnists who cover those major men’s sports. This is such a shame because the WNBA/women’s basketball world loses those talented writers who wanted to cover the WNBA athletes and stories but couldn’t due to a lack of interest (from those major media/TV companies)

The WNBA/women’s basketball executives need to stand up and demand respect for their league and better coverage. They need to figure out how to get more than just NINE games on ESPN. They need better communication from league executives down to their fans. If ESPN can not provide the coverage they need, they need to add another TV partner. Or, get creative and figure out a new way to integrate new content. They need to push the media, both TV and newspapers to give them better access. They deserve that much. It’s time. If the league continues this way, there won’t be a league at all.

I won’t lie. There are tough days to cover the WNBA/women’s basketball world. No, this is not my day job. It’s hard getting simple releases, difficult getting easy answers, etc. But, I continue writing/tweeting about the sport simply because it deserves the coverage. I’m here to continue it while I still can. I will write for those great athletes that need their stories to be told on other women’s basketball websites. My voice will still be here. But it’s a damn shame, that we have lost so many great fans/writers due to this vicious cycle.

Women’s College Basketball Player Weekly Rankings – Week 13! Class by Class!

We are officially one month away from conference tournaments starting and a month away from the regular season coming to a close. This 2016/2017 regular season has been memorable and there’s still plenty of good action left.

Without any further ado, listed below are the top 36 seniors, the top 27 juniors, the top 18 sophomores and the top 9 freshmen for the week of Jan 30th to Feb 5th.

Note: *Before we jump into Week 13 rankings, I just thought I would clear some confusion regarding the rankings. These are weekly rankings, based on games played from the week before. These are NOT overall rankings. If a player’s team did not play that week or was injured, they will NOT be on the list that week. These player rankings were designed to see which players were consistently playing well from week to week. I am checking in and on around 52(!!!) schools each week to get a fair assessment on top players. There’s no bias in these rankings, so if your player is moved around, that just means another player had a better week against stronger competition, or was not the best player on their team during that week. I always check and give credit to players who perform well vs top 25 teams, top 10 teams, etc. I also look into the blowouts and assess the players fairly there as well. I hope this clears the confusion*

For the previous week rankings, you can find them here. If you have any questions, you can check my FAQ page here. If you have a comment or suggestion, feel free to write it in my comments section or contact me via Twitter at @whoopsblogger

SENIORS

  1. Alaina Coates – South Carolina
  2. Chantel Osahor – Washington
  3. Kelsey Plum – Washington
  4. Brionna Jones – Maryland
  5. Sydney Wiese – Oregon State
  6. Tori Jankoska – Michigan State
  7. Shatori Walker-Kimbrough – Maryland
  8. Nina Davis – Baylor
  9. Alexis Jones – Baylor
  10. Alexis Peterson – Syracuse
  11. Brianna Day – Syracuse
  12. Britney Sykes – Syracuse
  13. Makayla Epps – Kentucky
  14. Miah Spencer – NC State
  15. Kelsey Lang – Texas
  16. Karlie Samuelson – Stanford
  17. Erica McCall – Stanford
  18. Breanna Lewis – Kansas State
  19. Leticia Romero – Florida State
  20. Alexis Prince – Baylor
  21. Maddie Manning – Oklahoma
  22. Peyton Little – Oklahoma
  23. Evelyn Akahtor – Kentucky
  24. Nia Coffey – Northwestern
  25. Lindsay Allen – Notre Dame
  26. Ally Disterhoft – Iowa
  27. Taya Reimer – Michigan State
  28. Adrienne Motley – Miami
  29. Curtyce Knox – Texas A&M
  30. Brittany Brown – Florida State
  31. Brooke Schulte – DePaul
  32. Sophie Brunner – Arizona State
  33. Courtney Range – California
  34. Precious Hall – James Madison
  35. Ellen Nystrom – Colorado State
  36. Elin Gustavsson – Colorado State

JUNIORS

  1. Kelsey Mitchell – Ohio State
  2. Diamond DeShields – Tennessee
  3. Victoria Vivians – Mississippi State
  4. A’ja Wilson – South Carolina
  5. Jamie Nared – Tennessee
  6. Mercedes Russell – Tennessee
  7. Gabby Williams – Connecticut
  8. Rebecca Greenwell – Duke
  9. Lexie Brown – Duke
  10. Allisha Gray – South Carolina
  11. Brianna Turner – Notre Dame
  12. Jordin Canada – UCLA
  13. Monique Billings – UCLA
  14. Shakayla Thomas – Florida State
  15. Katelynn Flaherty – Michigan
  16. Kia Nurse – Connecticut
  17. Brooke McCarty – Texas
  18. Aerial Atkins – Texas
  19. Stephanie Mavunga – Ohio State
  20. Mariya Moore – Louisville
  21. Ciera Porter – Missouri
  22. Khaalia Hillsman – Texas A&M
  23. Kaylee Jensen – Oklahoma State
  24. Marie Gulich – Oregon State
  25. Mikayla Cowling – California
  26. Amanda Cahill – Indiana
  27. Lauren Moses – Virginia

SOPHOMORES

  1. Napheesa Collier – Connecticut
  2. Katie Lou Samuelson – Connecticut
  3. Sophie Cunningham – Missouri
  4. Kristine Anigwe – California
  5. Kennedy Leonard – Colorado
  6. Megan Gustafson – Iowa
  7. Hallie Thome – Michigan
  8. Teniya Page – Penn State
  9. Marina Mabrey – Notre Dame
  10. Arike Ogunbowale – Notre Dame
  11. Anriel Howard – Texas A&M
  12. Maria Jespersen – South Florida
  13. Allazia Blockton – Marquette
  14. Kennisha Bell – Minnesota
  15. Kalani Brown – Baylor
  16. Bridget Carleton – Iowa State
  17. Jill Barta – Gonzaga
  18. Caliya Robinson – Georgia

FRESHMEN

  1. Kysre Gondrezick – Michigan
  2. Joyner Holmes – Texas
  3. Ruthy Hebard – Oregon
  4. Destiny Slocum – Maryland
  5. Kaila Charles – Maryland
  6. Andrayah Adams – St. John’s
  7. Tori McCoy – Ohio State
  8. Leaonna Odom – Duke
  9. Kayla Overbeck – Vanderbilt

My picks on #WNBA awards – who gets what?

It is now the end of the regular season and with the playoffs set to begin soon, it’s time to hand out the awards for players who performed well during the regular season. It is never easy picking out the “right” winners, as over the years, many deserving candidates have been robbed from MVP, First Team, All Defense, etc. This was not an easy decision for me to make, and I know that the voters will hopefully get it right when the awards come out soon.

To start off, let’s start with the easiest award and without a doubt, that would be Rookie of the Year. The ROY award belongs to Breanna Stewart, who rightfully was deserving of superstar status and no other rookie came close to matching her input game in and game out. Congrats Breanna Stewart, I hope this award sets you off to a legendary career in the WNBA.

The All Rookie Team was a bit harder to decide. In a stacked class of 2016, there were more than arguably 7 or 8 rookies who all stood out at particular moments throughout the season, some peaked early (Tiffany Mitchell), some struggled shooting the ball (Aerial Powers), some blossomed later (Bria Holmes), etc. It was difficult to decide the top 5 rookies, but it was really tough to decide between certain rookies so I have them as a tie. Listed below are my top 5 picks for the 2016 ROY team

  1. F – Breanna Stewart
  2. G – Moriah Jefferson
  3. G/F – Aerial Powers
  4. C – Imani Boyette
  5. G – Tiffany Mitchell & F – Bria Holmes (tied)

Next up is the Most Improved Player Award. There were four worthy candidates to pick from which include Sugar Rodgers from the Liberty, Layshia Clarendon from the Dream, Elizabeth Williams also from the Dream and Jewell Loyd from the Storm. From this four, two are fourth year players and two are sophomores. In my opinion, Elizabeth Williams has improved the most among the four, BUT she is a second year player and don’t most rookies improve on their first year? It makes no sense to give the most improved player award to her, considering that she was going to improve after a rough first season. This is why I believe that Sugar Rodgers deserves the nod for the Most Improved Player. Without Rodgers contributions this year, the Liberty would struggle scoring without Tina Charles. She became their second leading scorer and helped the Liberty to maintain the 3rd seed and 1st overall in the Eastern Conference. She’s improved since last year, but this year she became an All Star level type of player and that is why she is my pick for the award.

The third award is the Sixth Woman of the Year award. This season, there were three worthy candidates to pick from which include Renee Montgomery from the Lynx, Allie Quigley from the Sky and Jantel Lavender from the Sparks. Renee Montgomery helped the Lynx stay ahead and become the best team in the WNBA by leading one of the best benches in the league. Allie Quigley who has previously won the award twice, continued to help the Sky regain their footing after not getting off a to a great start and Jantel Lavender was one of the key pieces in helping LA become the second best team in the WNBA this year. All three are deserving of this honor, but my pick for the Sixth Woman of the Year award belongs to Jantel Lavender. Lavender often was on the floor during crucial moments for the Sparks and was one of the reasons why LA had the record they did and they often relied on her contributions since LA struggled with bench play all season.

The fourth award is the Defensive Player of the Year award. This season, four candidates stood out. Sylvia Fowles from the Lynx, Alana Beard from the Sparks, Kiah Stokes from the Liberty and Breanna Stewart from the Storm. Alana Beard had a marvelous first half defensively before the Olympic break in which she made the Sparks the best team defensively. Her ability to make her opponent work harder and make difficult plays made LA a dangerous team both offensively as well as defensively before the Olympic break. The second half, she tailed off as did the Sparks defensively, but that doesn’t mean she still is not worthy of being a candidate. Kiah Stokes was one of the Liberty’s best interior defenders and made it difficult for any player to score inside and the Liberty often relied on key defensive possessions late in the game to win. Unfortunately, Kiah Stokes suffered a hip injury in late August, meaning that her DPOY chances took a hit and so did the Liberty’s defense late in the season. Breanna Stewart was often asked as a rookie to take on the toughest defensive assignment and she often did well although the Storm struggled in the first half of the season. The second half, the Storm picked up their play thanks in large part due to Stewart and her defense is one of the reasons why the Storm are headed back to the playoffs.  Sylvia Fowles who has previously won the DPOY award before made Minnesota the top team defensively and was one of the key pieces in making Minnesota a tough team to beat an even more harder team to beat with her defense. It was not an easy task to beat the Lynx this year when they were at their best and Fowles is one of the reason why. This is why Sylvia Fowles is my pick for the Defensive Player of the Year award.

Speaking of, here is my picks for the All Defense Team *- note – All Defense is only one team, not two unlike the All – WNBA teams.

  1.  C – Sylvia Fowles
  2.  G – Alana Beard
  3.  G/F – Tanisha Wright
  4.  F/C – Breanna Stewart
  5.  F/C – Kiah Stokes

The next award is the Coach of the Year Award. This season, there were three worthy candidates. Cheryl Reeve from the Lynx, Brian Agler from the Sparks and Jenny Boucek from the Storm. Cheryl Reeve was able to guide the Lynx to an outstanding regular season with not just her All Star starting players, but was able to get major contributions from her bench which included Renee Montgomery, Natasha Howard, Jia Perkins, etc which allowed her stars to rest a little bit longer. She was able to maintain the Lynx’s focus even after her stars went to the Olympics. She helped the Lynx sustain excellence, something that is not easy to do. Jenny Boucek, earlier this year had a struggling Storm team that dealt with inconsistent play despite her stars logging heavy minutes. She was able to after the break, really focus on the Storm and finally was able to get great production from her young stars at the same time which led to the Storm making the playoffs, something that was not expected from them this season and for that she deserves credit.  Brian Agler made LA one of the top teams this year because he was able to make Nneka Oguwmike an MVP candidate which allowed Candace Parker to take the pressure off her shoulders and got solid seasons out of both Alana Beard and Essence Carson as well as moving Jantel Lavender to the bench. He was able to help LA become a great team and for that he deserves kudos. This is why Brian Agler is my pick for Coach of the Year.

The last and most important award is the MVP award. This year, there were two strong heavyweights and then there were the rest. Much has been debated on whether Tina Charles or Nneka Oguwmike should be MVP. Since there’s so much discussion regarding the MVP and who “deserves” the award, I’m going to keep it short and sweet. My pick for the 2016 Most Valuable Player Award goes to Nneka Oguwmike.

My picks for the 2016 All WNBA Team (1st and 2nd team)

  • F – Nneka Oguwmike
  • F/C – Tina Charles
  • F – Elena Delle Donne
  • F/G – Angel McCoughtry
  • F – Maya Moore

2nd Team

  • F – Breanna Stewart
  • G – Sue Bird
  • F – Candace Parker
  • G – Lindsay Whalen
  • G – Kristi Toliver

So, there you have it! All my picks for all of the upcoming awards coming out soon. It’s never easy picking these choices, but regardless of who gets it, I am excited for the winners.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Thoughts on Canada vs Australia exhibition game #1

The Canadian National Women’s Team was back in action today as they faced a tough test in Australia in Delaware. They lost by a final score of 80-67 Listed below are some quick thoughts on the game (*note – No live stream was available and this is by observation through the box score)

The link to the game is right here.

  • Canada got off to a rough start early and trailed after the first quarter by a score of 29-13.
  • Canada started to get into the groove into the game in the second, third and fourth quarters and made this game very interesting.
  • Natalie Achonwa struggled a bit with foul trouble and with her foul shots, but that should get better as she integrates into the team and gets comfortable.
  • Nirra Fields sure does brings a lot of energy onto the team.
  • Penny Taylor is still an all world player. At the age of 35. Without her and Liz Cambage, Australia is sunk.
  • Canada missed a lot of free throws. Work to do for sure. Can’t miss them in the Olympics.
  • Canada had a prime opportunity to strike in this game and make a statement but alas, they’ve got major work to do if they are going to be in the group for a possible medal.
  • Attendance was listed at 4,910. Not bad, could do better though
  • Canada faces a new team (I believe France?) in Bridgeport, Conn on Friday.