BY MIKE PEDEN
While the Minnesota Lynx made a giant splash Tuesday with their preseason game at Concordia University's Gangelhoff Center, a second Minnesota women's basketball team hosted their home opener at the St. Paul facility Saturday and Sunday.
The Minnesota Jaguars are a women's semi-pro team and new member of the Women's Blue Chip Basketball League. Former Minnesota Golden Gopher Tanisha Gilbert had an integral role in the team's formation, eager to return to her local roots. Coaching the Jaguars and running their front office is Melissa Young, once the head coach of Hamline University's women's basketball team.
The Jaguars started the season winning out at a Miami tournament. After sweeping the Rock County Robins with a 71-66 win on Saturday and a come-from-behind 88-82 win on Sunday, the first-year Jaguars remained distant from the loss column, with their record at 7-0.
While recent talk has surfaced about the relatively low pay of WNBA players compared to their overseas earnings, WBCBL players receive little or no compensation. To save money, teams will schedule back-to-back weekend series against one opponent to limit travel costs.
The lack of paychecks hardly detriments participation. The Jaguars are comprised of former standouts in high school and college whose passion saturates their stream of consciousness. Some are using the Jaguars to stay in shape for professional scouts and agents, including WNBA veteran Tamara Moore and Illinois Fighting Illini star Jenna Smith, who was a second-round pick for the Washington Mystics in the 2010 WNBA Draft only to be waived during training camp. Others hope to get noticed for the first time.
The rules are similar to WNBA games, with 10-minute quarters and a 24-second shot clock. College rules are used for tabulating fouls, which means a team can commit six fouls before placing their opponent in the bonus. However, the biggest difference between WNBA and WBCBL appears before the game tips off. Prior to the playing of the national anthem, all players and coaches meet at center court to join in prayer, reflecting the hopes and wishes of the league's players to better their lives through basketball.
The Jaguars host their second and final weekend series of the WBCBL season July 16th and 17th at Gangelhoff Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. both days.
Listen to any or all of our interviews by clicking play below the player you want to hear.
Former Golden Gopher Tanisha Gilbert
Concordia-St. Paul alum Gillian Bjerke
WNBA veteran Tamara Moore
Illinois Fighting Illini standout Jenna Smith
Programs available for DVD purchase
Autism: The Wall That Knows No Limits - Award-winning documentary series providing insights on autism rarely seen in contemporary media. Produced by someone on the spectrum, this series is a wealth of information for anyone seeking to learn about autism.
$15 for one episode, $50 for the complete series (4 episodes)
What Are You? A Dialogue on Mixed Race - Originally a school assignment, this one-hour documentary explores a population that existed for many years but didn't get much focus until recently. This program examines how a small but growing segment of the population could shift racial and cultural identity. Screened at the 2009 Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival and will be screened at the inaugural Critical Mixed Race Studies conference at DePaul University. $15
From Vices to Verses: Featuring Voices Merging - From Vices to Verses: A New Era of Hip Hop and Action is a biannual conference held at the University of Minnesota. The goal is to promote the culture and history of hip-hop, which is often lost in the corporate mainstream representation. In this program, you'll see how the Voices Merging student group absorbed what they witnessed and how their experience will transform them as a group and as individuals. DVD copies come with 14 minutes of bonus footage not seen online or on TV. $15
Minnesota Machine: 2010 - Geared for Greatness - Join the professional women's football team in their historic 2nd season. Despite several injuries that depleted the roster, the Machine finished 2010 with a 6-3 record and their first division title in franchise history, edging the Iowa Thunder in the Midwest Division of the American Conference. This highlight reel includes clips from the 2010 season and their interview on the cable television show Rollin' and Tumblin' - $15
Silhouettes by RZI Couture - The inaugural breast cancer benefit fashion premiere took place in St. Paul and was met with a fabulous response. All the models were breast cancer survivors or relatives of someone affected by breast cancer and all the clothing was designed by Rosalyn Smaller, owner of RZI Couture and currently fighting breast cancer herself. The TV version features testimonials from the models and co-host Miss Georgia of KMOJ. $10 of every purchase will be donated to RZI Couture to help the breast cancer fight! $15