Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lynx put shooting clinic on Storm


When the Minnesota Lynx suffered a 65-55 road loss to the Seattle Storm on June 24, Seattle's radio play-by-play commentator speculated the Minnesota Lynx had drafted over guard Candice Wiggins as a result of subsequent high draft picks.

On Friday night at Target Center, Wiggins showed Seattle and the 7,856 in attendance her role is no less valuable with time, sinking five three-pointers as the Lynx blew out the Storm 92-67.

"I knew about that comment, and I almost laughed at it," Wiggins said. "He doesn't understand what's going on in my mind. I knew it would take me a while to find a rhythm."

Wiggins had no shortage of rhythm with 16 points and five assists off the bench. Her point total matched a team high with guard Seimone Augustus. Augustus sank eight of 10 field goals to reach that figure, finding her groove with the mid-range jumper all game.

The Lynx (12-4) needed seven minutes to find their team rhythm, with the Storm (9-8) holding a 14-11 lead late in the first quarter. A 19-2 Minnesota run initiated by one of Augustus' jumpers ensured that was the last time Seattle would be a threat.

So dominant was Minnesota that head coach Cheryl Reeve found extended minutes for her reserves. Center Jessica Adair took advantage, scoring a career-high eight points in just over 11 minutes, while forward Chardé Houston drained all four of her shots and a free throw to score nine points in almost 10 minutes.

"Jim Peterson (Lynx assistant coach) is always in my ear about poise. I repeat it to myself, it's helping me a lot," Adair said.

"We have so much trust and faith in each other," Houston said. "Coach is always putting pressure on us to make the great plays, help each other on defense. All that really ties in."

Minnesota shot 56 percent from the floor against Seattle's 41 percent for the game, causing Minnesota to outscore Seattle in every quarter but the fourth, when both teams put up 18.

For the Storm, forward Swin Cash scored a game-high 18 points with Le'Coe Willingham adding 14, but the biggest surprise was the Lynx defense hampering the Storm's All-Star guard Sue Bird. Bird was held to four points and one assist, making just one field goal in six tries.

"Lindsay Whalen doesn't get a lot of credit for her defensive prowess. She was really impressive on that end of the floor," Reeve said.

The Lynx win gave them their first series victory over the Storm since 2003, which also means the Lynx own a tiebreaker should the Western Conference playoff picture get murky. Minnesota maintained their one-game lead over San Antonio for first place in the Western Conference and will face them in the first of four meetings Sunday at AT&T Center.


Click below for an extended post-game conversation with Candice Wiggins following Minnesota's Faith and Family Night event.

Click below to listen to Swin Cash prior to Friday night's game, as she shares her plans after her playing career is over.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Turnovers short Sparks against Lynx


The Minnesota Lynx demonstrated their depth to the fullest Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Sparks at Target Center.

Rookie forward Maya Moore struggled, making just two of 11 shots, while forward Rebekkah Brunson was ejected midway through the fourth quarter after receiving two technical fouls for comments made to officials. However, Minnesota cruised to an 85-72 win by scoring 35 points off 25 turnovers committed by Los Angeles. In contrast, the Lynx gave up only 15 points on 15 turnovers.

Helping the Lynx (11-4) capitalize on turnovers was guard Seimone Augustus, who scored 22 points on 10-of-17 shooting, and guard Lindsay Whalen with 16 points and seven assists. Whalen missed only one of her nine field goal attempts for the game.

"We just clicked immediately," Augustus said. "We had people in the passing lanes, getting deflections, the help side was there."

The Sparks (6-9) did feature the game's two top scorers, as guard Kristi Toliver scored a game-high 28 points while center Ebony Hoffman's 10-of-11 accuracy led to 24 points. Unfortunately, the rest of the team scored just 20, with goose eggs from starters Delisha Milton-Jones and Noelle Quinn.

"This is the second game where we started slowly. The problem is the first quarter where we dug ourselves a hole," said Sparks head coach Joe Bryant.

Los Angeles committed nine turnovers in the first quarter, with Minnesota coughing the ball up once.

Any doubts of Minnesota's closing abilities following the All-Star break were likely squashed on a key third quarter run. Los Angeles cut a 13-point halftime deficit to four, getting as close as 47-43 with 6:52 in the third. The Lynx's Taj McWilliams-Franklin then found Lindsay Whalen for a back-door lay-up, initiating a 17-2 run and signaling a potential end to the dominance the Sparks have held over the Lynx in recent years.

"They caught us off our heels. We just didn't value the ball." Hoffman said.

Minnesota's victory gave them a one-game lead over San Antonio for first place in the Western Conference and the league's best record. Adding to their aura is Augustus closing in on a milestone. After Tuesday night's game, if Augustus scores at least 103 points in the next five games, she would be the fastest to score 3,000 career points in WNBA history despite missing 37 games in the last two seasons to injury.

Currently, the record belongs to Cynthia Cooper. In previous circumstances, such buzz would direct all media attention to the 2006 first overall draft pick. However, with Augustus among four Minnesota All-Stars this year, she no longer carries the team's emotional weight on her own.

"I just sit back, relax and do what I do best: play ball," she said.

Accolades have been afterthoughts all season, as Augustus was not the least bit slighted over not being named to the WNBA's top 15 players of all time as part of their 15th season celebration. Fellow 2006 entrant Cappie Pondexter did get the nod, likely boosted with her two WNBA titles while in Phoenix.

"That's what separates those 15 players from me and the rest of the ladies that weren't up there," she said. "I want to get five championships and then I'll be at the top."


After completing pregame interviews, this writer received a request from several youth basketball players from Watertown-Mayer to autograph their game-day programs. The passion and joy from younger players seeing their big-league role models is indisputable. Critics still chastising the league for low attendance or interest should visit the tunnel before games to see the youth demographic line up for their brush with fame, complete with game-day programs signed by this writer.

Click play below to listen to Sparks guard Ticha Penicheiro, who talks about how her WNBA contributions highlight her home country of Portugal as more than just a soccer nation.

Friday, July 22, 2011

TSB Television runs with the Jaguars

TSB Television kicked off a new pilot in its continuing quest of sports coverage at all levels. This time, we traveled to Gangelhoff Center at Concordia University, where the Minnesota Jaguars hosted the Kansas Nuggets in a Women's Blue Chip Basketball League game. The rosters are made up of former collegiate and professional players who refuse to hang up the sport they love, playing in hopes of landing a professional contract overseas or in the WNBA. The games are no less exciting, as you'll find out by watching the video below! You'll also find interviews with Tavi Polley-Davis and Dana Olsen from Kansas, along with Minnesota's Jenna Smith, still owner of several school records while playing at Illinois.

Learn more about the Jaguars and the WBCBL by visiting their website.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lynx hold off Storm "surge"


Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve said Wednesday's loss to Phoenix would be all the motivation her team needed to respond with authority.

Following a road win against Indiana Friday, Minnesota followed up with a 69-62 home win over the Seattle Storm, even as Seattle controlled the game's tempo. The Lynx (9-4) were held to just six fast break points, but used a 22-2 run through the second and third quarters to build what became an insurmountable lead.

Lynx forward Seimone Augustus started slow, missing her only field goal attempt in the first, but finished with a game-high 19 points on 9-of-17 shooting.

"Our main thing was to get the ball in the post and let Rebekkah (Brunson) and Taj (McWilliams-Franklin) go to work down there. It started to collapse and they kicked out," Augustus said.

Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen got 13 points and four rebounds, collecting her 1,000th career board in the second quarter. The rebound made Whalen the sixth player in WNBA history to record 2,500 career points, 1,000 career rebounds and 1,000 career assists.

For Seattle (7-6), Tanisha Wright scored 18 points and Swin Cash put up 16 points and nine rebounds.

Similar to the first meeting of the season between the two teams, Minnesota carried a 47-26 lead following a Maya Moore put-back with 4:49 remaining in the third. Seattle, showing their championship pedigree even with no Lauren Jackson (strained left hip) or Camille Little (attending a wedding), slowly reeled in the margin on a charge led by Swin Cash and Tanisha Wright.

The 7,733 fans at Target Center held their breath when Cash sank a pair of free throws to bring Seattle within six with 1:33 left in the fourth. After trading empty possessions, Brunson provided the game-clinching play, following an 11-foot brick with an offensive rebound with 42 seconds left.

"Even though we do come back, it's a lot of energy, and it's difficult to get over the hump," said Seattle guard Sue Bird.

Whalen finished the job from the free throw line as Seattle's foul-and-chase game proved futile, and Minnesota moved to second place in the Western Conference.

Staying in front after going up big was a chronic issue for the Lynx last season, but Augustus credits spending the last half-hour of each practice simulating close-game scenarios for the team's improvement in defending leads this year.

"It's good to have a coach we understand. We're on the same page," she said.

"We're learning what play calls work for people," Whalen said.

The Lynx also learned this week that Maya Moore will make one more trip to San Antonio than originally planned; Moore was named starting forward for the Western Conference in the upcoming All-Star Game.

As the honor continued to symbolize Moore's popularity with the women's basketball community, the rookie expects to bring a few traveling buddies from the Gopher state.

"There's a good chance a lot of them could join me. I hope as many as possible," she said.


Click here to listen to an interview with Seattle's Katie Smith, who reflects on her storied WNBA career with the league now in season 15.

Click here for Seattle's Sue Bird, who was won two WNBA titles since joining the Storm in 2002.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mercury "triples" past Lynx for shootout win


Just your typical game between the Phoenix Mercury and Minnesota Lynx took place Wednesday at Target Center.

Defense is expected to be an afterthought when these two teams battle throughout the season, and the first of five match-ups for the two clubs offered a glimpse, with Phoenix earning a 112-105 road victory. The win gave Phoenix sole possession of first place in the Western Conference at 9-4, continuing their surge with their ninth win in the last ten games.

High scores are expected because no matter who players attempt to defend, both teams have far too much talent to quell an offensive riot. Ten players in all finished in double-figures, with the Mercury's Diana Taurasi scoring a game-high 27 points, including five three-pointers. She added eight assists for good measure.

"It really starts with (Candice Dupree) and (Temeka Johnson) and how they can get the tempo going and today, they did a really good job," Taurasi said. "We just got a couple more stops towards the end."

Utility player DeWanna Bonner added a season-high 24 points off the bench, including three treys and a 7-of-7 performance from the free throw line.

With most Mercury starters contributing early and often, Bonner's lone goal was continuing to feed the energy of the league's most prolific scoring team.

"(Minnesota) hit some big threes, got a couple lay-ups off of runs. We stuck together as a team," she said.

The Mercury jumped ahead quickly, leading by as much as 13 before the Lynx (7-4) warmed up from the floor. Minnesota sought to utilize their advantages in rebounding and turnovers, and were headed that way with a 91-80 lead with 6:31 left in the fourth quarter.

Phoenix responded with three consecutive three-pointers, taking the lead for good with 45.1 seconds left after Penny Taylor sank both free throws following a clear path foul by Seimone Augustus.

With Phoenix leading 108-105 with 13.3 seconds to go, there was a quick glimmer of hope for the 11,820 in attendance when Taylor missed the second of two free throw attempts. Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson misplayed the carom, sending the ball out-of-bounds and the Lynx's chance to win with it.

The loss marks the eleventh time in the last two seasons where the Lynx lost after leading by 10 points or more.

"Our defense was supposed to be our staple and we didn't have any of that tonight," said Brunson, who posted her eighth double-double of the season with 16 points and 16 rebounds.

Phoenix made sure of that by lighting up what was the best three-point defense in the league, sinking 14 of 27 from long distance while Minnesota made just 4 of 18, with rookie forward Maya Moore bricking all eight of her attempts.

"You expect them to make three-point shots, but the transition buckets, you can prevent those and it just didn't happen," said Augustus, who scored a team-high 22 points.

Minnesota will regroup quickly, as they prepare for their only back-to-back pairing of the season on Friday and Saturday, with the locker room aura reflecting their focus to correct errors.

"We have to get better at running people off the three-point line. We have to get better help," Brunson said.

The two-time WNBA champion Mercury already know about getting better, with no one sweating in the heat of losing the first three games of the season.

"We showed that we are a team that's banded together," Taurasi said.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Lynx shade Sun with third quarter run


WNBA fans and pundits considered the Minnesota Lynx the best three-quarter team in basketball last season, as their leads would usually only last to that point.

After the Lynx darkened the Connecticut Sun with a 90-67 win Saturday night at Target Center, the Lynx may be called the best third quarter team in the WNBA as they tied San Antonio for first place in the Western Conference.

Minnesota (7-3) outscored Connecticut (6-4) 23-6 in the third stanza as Connecticut made only two of 18 shots in the period. The Sun's shooting woes allowed the Lynx to blow open a 44-43 halftime lead and ride in cruise control for the rest of the game.

"Their defensive pressure in the second half was way better than the first and way better than ours," said Sun head coach Mike Thibault.

"When we play defense like that, it really sparked our offense," said Lynx rookie forward Maya Moore.

Proof was evident in field goal shooting, as Minnesota made 49 percent of their shots to Connecticut's 35 percent. Moore herself was electric, setting a new career high in scoring with 26 points on 9-of-14 from the floor, draining six of nine three-point attempts.

Even more impressive is who she compiled the stat line against, playing against several former UConn teammates for the first time since collegiate intra-squad practices. They include last year's first overall draft pick Tina Charles, Kalana Greene, and former Lynx guard Renee Montgomery.

"It forced me to focus because I know how talented they are," Moore said.

"Once you play with somebody so long, you know what shots are going to go in and what aren't. If you leave her open, they're going in," Montgomery said.

As Moore was tearing through her former college teammates, forward Rebekkah Brunson notched her seventh double-double of the season in her first game since being named Western Conference Player of the Month in June, getting 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Although Brunson's accolades attract growing national attention, with ESPN broadcaster Carolyn Peck campaigning to get Brunson in this year's All-Star Game on a televised game Tuesday, stats are still simply numbers for the Washington, D.C. native.

"I'm just going for some more wins. (If) we keep winning, I'm happy," Brunson joked with reporters.

Lynx guard Seimone Augustus added 20 points, hitting eight of her 15 shot attempts.

As Minnesota's chemistry and offensive production grow, so does the evidence suggesting their era of recent futility is shrinking.

"You can't double team anybody, and as soon as you give anybody an open look, it turns into points," said Sun forward Ashja Jones.

Montgomery led Connecticut in scoring with 14 points, with Jones adding 13 and reserve forward Kelsey Griffin chipping in 12.

Minnesota will get some regularity for the remainder of their schedule, as they no longer have any gaps of one week or more in between games. That also means fewer days of practice and less time to restore energy, but the transition is little concern for the Lynx.

"You don't have time to be tired, you just have to keep fighting," Moore said.

The youth demographic will get their chance to see Minnesota on Wednesday, when they host the Phoenix Mercury for their annual "Kiddie Day" promotion.

Click the player below to listen to WNBA President Laurel Richie's conversation with reporters prior to Saturday's game

Programs available for DVD purchase

Autism Part 1 DVD cover

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 DVD cover

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

Vices to Verses promo

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

Machine 2010 highlight promo

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