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Women's basketball links: Michael Cooper's hire, Debbie Black gets a win against Sheryl Swoopes, and Tara VanDerveer's hall of fame induction

10 links, with 9 actually about basketball and one about Scandal because...Scandal.


The big news from yesterday was the Atlanta Dream's hiring of former L.A. Sparks and USC coach Michael Cooper as its new coach to replace Fred Williams.

After a couple people asked my thoughts on Cooper, I was looking back in the Swish Appeal archives to see what folks around here had written about him and three things stood out. First, what I wrote at the beginning of this year about USC fans' patience growing thin with Cooper, whose inability to earn a NCAA tournament bid was (fortunately?) overshadowed on campus by he struggles of football and men's basketball teams. And second, an older rantier post from the Rethinking Basketball days about the Sparks needing to figure out how to play together.

The common theme that emerges from those (and other posts I re-read): since I've been watching women's basketball in 2008, there seems to be a feeling that Cooper's teams - college and pro - should have been more successful than they were and yet always had a reason to be doing so, whether it be injuries or not having a roster structured to succeed. And the latter point is probably the big question now for the Dream, especially with both Erika de Souza and Armintie Herrington being free agents: what kind of roster will he have at his disposal?

That remains to be seen. But the third link I dug up suggests something that we know we'll get from Cooper at some point (especially when he faces Bill Laimbeer again?).

  • Ross Pickering of LakerHolicz (among others) gave us a reason to like Michael Cooper: he keeps it real and, because he's no longer player, it can't go terribly wrong. Cooper, well-known as a L.A. Laker, was pretty direct about Dwight Howard when most of us talk around the issue (or find photos of agony): "His name is not Dwight Howard, it's Dwight Coward because he ran from Los Angeles." These are the types of quotes the WNBA is missing...or that cause controversy. Either way, welcome back to pro ball, sir. Read more >>>
  • Jason Orts of the Waco Tribune previewed the Athletes In Action tournament that Baylor is hosting. There was a good quote from Lady Bears coach Kim Mulkey in there, which might add to what we think about Odyssey Sims the draft prospect: "Surprisingly, Odyssey has shown great composure because she's on a different level (than her teammates)," Mulkey said. "Sometimes when you're on a different level, you get frustrated if people aren't able to do what you're capable of doing. At the same time, I think she has the ability, because she's so good, to make people around her better. She's embraced that, and I think she's having fun out there." Read more >>>
  • KWTX has a highlight package of Baylor's first game in the tournament against Savannah State. Perhaps unsurprisingly at this point, Odyssey Sims dropped 22 points in 26 minutes. Tonight they will play Northwestern State before finishing up the three-day tournament against Texas-San Antonio. Surely, I'm not the only one looking forward to the #9 team in the nation playing Kentucky on December 6. Read more >>>
  • Jim Fuller of the New Haven Register did a nice job of describing UConn center Stefanie Dolson's triple-double win against Oregon on Wednesday night, which James Bowman already touched on yesterday. Dolson's triple-double was just the second in UConn history, which is impressive considering the list of players who have come through there (in fact, I immediately wanted to know how close Maya Moore came to getting a triple-double in her time there). Fuller also included a quote from Huskies coach Geno Auriemma about star recruit Kia Nurse. Read more >>>
  • Cody Westerlund of the Ames Tribune reported on Iowa State star Hallie Christofferson's performance on her birthday, which included 5-for-7 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc. She is now fourth in the nation in scoring at 27.33 points per game with a true shooting percentage of 70%, which is impressive even over three games against so-so competition. Iowa State won't get its first significant test until Big XII play, but Christofferson's start to the season is impressive nonetheless. Read more >>>
  • Jonathan Lintner of the Courier-Journal reports that the undefeated Louisville Cardinals (5-0) will raise their Final Four banner on Sunday with the Florida State Seminoles in town. An impressive and somewhat surprising factoid alluded to in the article: Shoni Schimmel is just fourth on the team in scoring at this point and shooting 38.6%. If she starts scoring more, this team could become more dangerous. Read more >>>
  • Brian Nielsen of the Journal Gazzette & Times-Courier reported on a pair of former WNBA players competing against each other as coaches as Eastern Illinois coach Debbie Black beat Loyola coach Sheryl Swoopes in a battle of winless teams. As it turns out, it was a milestone in more than one way for Black: "It feels like a monkey is off my back," Black said. "It's a game I'll never forget. As a player I never really beat her so this is nice." Read more >>>
  • John Altavilla of the Hartford Courant reported on how the Connecticut Sun are thinking about the possibility of trading Tina Charles and/or Kara Lawson as well as the 2014 draft. To sum things up, the Sun have a lot of assets and that's never a bad thing. Read more >>>
  • The San Jose Sports Authority has announced its 2013 Hall of Fame class, which includes Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer. If you're able to open the video included, former player and current University of San Francisco coach Jennifer Azzi offers her thoughts on the basketball coaching legend. Read more >>>

Melissa Harris-Perry discussing Olivia Pope, Scandal, and the representation of black women on television.
  • Because it's Friday, we will now talk about Scandal.

    Since you almost never see a half-decent show with a black female lead - and for the record, HawthoRNe was awful - I've watched Scandal from Day 1 and it's...engaging. And since LaChina Robinson and Alysha Clark were on Twitter trying to spoil it for me while watching on Eastern Time we're going to include a link (yep - that's how I'm tying this to women's basketball).

    Part of what I think I find compelling about Scandal was described well by Alyssa Rosenberg of Think Progress (an article that has some spoilers if you're not totally caught up): "It might crush another woman to have this level of personal toxicity and romantic tumultuousness in her private life. But Olivia Pope has had her mother taken from her not just by her father, but by an uncontrollable government agency. She's survived having her personal life buffeted by the power of the presidency, and the attention of the national media...On Scandal, Olivia Pope, a person who is directly attacked and intimidated by state power, rather than simply being horrified at the victimization of others, is at the center of the action, and while she's frequently bowed, she's not destroyed."

    As described in a panel on the Melissa Harris-Perry show back in the summer, the show "works" because Olivia Pope is a powerful black figure who's also a very imperfect human being who miraculously always manages to stay composed and resilient while still dealing with various forces of oppressive daily. And yet when she starts to show repeated moments of vulnerability when the entire weight of the U.S. government comes down on her, I find myself saying "Come on, Liv - keep it together!" To the extent that pop culture can levy an authentic challenge to how we see gender and race, Scandal has done it as well as anything on network television. And that makes it worth watching.

Drop all of your comments and favorite links for the day in the comments below or create a fanshot to share it with the community. If you have a longer commentary to make, write up a fanpost. Otherwise, enjoy the weekend.