It's not uncommon to hear people from around the sports world say that the postseason is a new season, a blank slate in which everyone is given a second wind in their quest to win a title.
The WNBA (Eastern Conference) playoffs have only added weight to that sentiment with a team defying the odds to make the WNBA Finals for the last three seasons, with the Indiana Fever seizing their momentum to win it all last year. This season, the element of surprise - or at least outperforming one's seed - is beginning to take shape as players unable to contribute to their teams during the regular season are gearing up to make an impact in the playoffs.
Today's links include some information on the return of key players to last year's champ and this year's pre-season favorite in addition to other news from around the women's basketball world (and a bit beyond).
- Michelle Smith of espnW wrote of the Los Angeles Sparks' 85-84 win over the Minnesota Lynx last night that "just because it's moot doesn't make it meaningless. Thursday's matchup certainly didn't look meaningless, not with the league's two best offensive teams trading scoring runs, elbows and emotional outbursts." For her part, Sparks star Candace Parker said of her quick - and somewhat bizarre - double-technical ejection that "I need to control my emotions in that situation". Read more >>>
- Mike Brown of the Tulsa World reported the Tulsa Shock were pleased with their ability to continue battling the Seattle Storm all the way to the end of their home finale, fittingly a defining characteristic of their entire season. And keeping with the theme, they ultimately came up short. For the Storm, Shekinna Stricklen scored a career-high, including 6-for-8 shooting from the 3-point line where the Shock seemed to find defending her a low priority. Read more >>>
- The Seattle Storm have announced their playoff dates against the Minnesota Lynx, including their home game to be played in Tacoma due to a conflict at KeyArena. Their series will begin on Friday, Sept. 20. Read more >>>
- Odeen Domingo of azcentral sports reports that Phoenix Mercury wing Penny Taylor is feeling good after sitting out Wednesday's loss in Chicago as the back end of a back-to-back. She will be available for tonight's game against the San Antonio Silver Stars at US Airways Center. Read more >>>
- The Indiana Fever have announced that star guard Katie Douglas will return to action tonight against the New York Liberty for the team's regular season finale. To accommodate Douglas' return, the Fever had to release Jessica Breland, who had actually been quite effective for them and provided some much-needed frontcourt depth. Read more >>>
- Mark Ambrogi of the Indianapolis Star writes that "unprecedented increases in corporate support, season ticket sales and merchandise sales to make the franchise profitable for the first time." The Indianapolis Business Journal, which previously reported similar information back in July, said that the Fever is one of "a handful of clubs" that is now profitable. In addition, to the persistent talk about the importance of drawing male fans, Fever president and general manager Kelly Krauskopf also pointed out that 52% of their fan base is now male as well. Read more >>>
- Marc Allard of the Norwich Bulletin laid out the argument for Connecticut Sun forward Kelsey Griffin as the 2013 WNBA Most Improved Player and it's a very compelling argument. Connecticut coach Anne Donovan notes that nobody has changed her game more than Griffin, but a large part of that was a change in position. For more on the MIP award, check out our storystream, which includes some numbers supporting Griffin as the leading candidate. Read more >>>
- Bob Phillips of the Connecticut Sports Examiner reminds us that the Connecticut Sun still have a chance to have some company in the cellar despite a disappointing season: they're only two games behind the New York Liberty, who will face two teams that have something to play for to finish the season. That might say more about the Liberty than it does about the Sun, however. Read more >>>
- Rebecca Lobo of ESPN added to the collective reflection about Katie Smith and Tina Thompson in women's basketball circles with some personal favorite moments that seemed to neatly encapsulate the core of what everyone else is saying about the two retiring stars. Her recollection of Tina Thompson imploring Lobo to shoot threes because that would help her team more - a skill that Thompson is often credited with pioneering among women's basketball forwards - and refusing to end practices on a loss stood out as particularly memorable memories for me. Read more >>>
- Emily L. Hauser wrote a piece about "Training the world – on little girls and body image" yesterday, which is a worthy read for...human beings on Earth. No, it isn't exactly about sports, but it is certainly related to the WNBA's broader sociocultural message of empowering girls. "If we all work together, maybe if we’re kinder to ourselves and each other, more loving toward these fabulous machines that move us through our lives, less willing to accept shaming that cloaks itself as wisdom – maybe together, we adults can make the world in which our little girls are growing into wonderful women a better place." Read more >>>
There are obviously plenty of other links floating around the interwebs, which you can drop in the comments below or create a fanshot for. If you have a longer commentary to share, feel free to write up a fanpost that the community can discuss.
And Happy Friday.