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Hoops Happening: Tiffany Hayes, Brittney Griner named WNBA Players of the Week

Plus, a case for Skylar Diggins-Smith, some NBA-caliber boy drama in the WNBA, another mainstream sports media fail, on NCAA policy and karoshi, some silly trivia, links and more. This is today in women’s basketball for Tuesday June 12, 2018!

Los Angeles Sparks v Phoenix Mercury - Game Three
Brittney Griner rises for the rejection: A day in the life of the 6-foot-9 leading blocker in WNBA history.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Tiffany Hayes of the Atlanta Dream has earned her first Player of the Week nod in her seven-season WNBA career. She got it done by averaging a team-high 23 points per game in scoring, which got the Dream to a 3-0 record for games played June 4-10. Those wins included an upset over the Sun, which handed Connecticut their first loss of the season, and a down-the-stretch victory over the Seattle Storm.

In the West, big woman Brittney Griner picked up her sixth Player of the Week honor in her six-year WNBA career. Griner’s 23 points per game led the Phoenix Mercury to a 3-0 record for games played June 4-10. Griner also led the week in blocks, averaging 4 for the week — a number helped along significantly by her 7 nasty rejections of the Aces’ shot attempts Sunday night.

Here’s how they got it done:

East — Tiffany Hayes (Atlanta Dream)

West — Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury)

Congrats to the players of the week!

But the several candidates who did not make the final cut for Player of the Week honors must be recognized for their outstanding play. They are: Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry, Connecticut’s Chiney Ogwumike and Jasmine Thomas, the Dallas’ Skylar Diggins-Smith, the Indiana’s Kelsey Mitchell, Las Vegas’ A’Ja Wilson, the Minnesota’s Sylvia Fowles, New York’s Tina Charles and Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi.

Making a case for Skylar Diggins-Smith

Dallas’ Skylar Diggins-Smith is leading the league in scoring, with 23.0 points per game, over Tina Charles (New York), Griner, Breanna Stewart (Seattle) and Wings’ teammate Liz Cambage.

Diggins-Smith also has 6.0 assists per game, just behind Seattle’s Sue Bird, who is averaging 6.1 assists this season.

Yet, despite leading in scoring and assists — and having led in those areas off and on throughout the still-young 2018 season — it seems Diggins-Smith may be coming up short for Player of the Week accolades due to:

  1. the equally-impressive play of athletes in the Western Conference; and
  2. the Wings’ schedule.

For the week of June 4-10, Diggins-Smith and the Wings competed in only one game (to Griner’s three contests with Phoenix). That the win was over the 0-8 Indiana Fever probably didn’t help matters either. But if an honorable mention were to be awarded, it seems Diggins-Smith should be the top candidate, especially as she quietly shoots her way into MVP conversations.

Next up ...

It will be an action-packed Tuesday in the Association, with four hot matchups on the schedule. Preview and how-to-watch info are coming soon.

NBA-level boy drama finally hits the W

NBA players are forever kicking or punching each other in the nuts or “accidentally” raking someone across their eyeballs with too-long fingernails. Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors, notorious for dirty play resulting in suspensions, is the chief offender in the NBA right now.

Well, High-Post HoopsHoward Megdal dove deep into a hair-pulling incident involving newly-named Player of the Week for the East, Tiffany Hayes of the Atlanta Dream, and Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm. And, as any drama should, the whole thing played out on Twitter for the world to see.

Stewart did not appreciate being referred to as “that girl.” Given that she sometimes has the temperament of an aggravated hornet, it’s safe to say that the next time these two teams meet, chances are high that ponytails will be left on the court.

Save the date: Friday July 6.

Let’s play a name game!

Struggling to keep up with some of the players this season? There’s a reason.

5 women named Kayla:

  • Cayla George (Wings)
  • Kaela Davis (Wings)
  • Kayla Alexander (Fever)
  • Kayla McBride (Aces)
  • Kayla Thornton (Wings)

Let’s assume Dallas Wings Head Coach Fred Williams goes by last names in practice.

3 players called Kelsey:

  • Kelsey Bone (Aces)
  • Kelsey Mitchell (Fever)
  • Kelsey Plum (Aces)

At least 3 named Brittany:

  • Brittany Boyd (Liberty)
  • Brittney Griner (Mercury)
  • Brittney Sykes (Dream)

And a few players share the names Tiffany, Marie, Candice, Courtney, Natasha, Angel, Lindsay and Ariel.

Link lush

Scorching the status quo

SB Nation NBA set a fine example by informing fans of basketball action happening into the summer. Bleacher Report NBA and other mainstream sports media outfits? Not so much.

This is lame, tired and lazy — especially when the WNBA is an extension of the NBA. So, if you choose to sit around and pout all summer like little children, go for it — in your own time. But maybe it’d be a good idea to do better by your readers than to pretend every Spalding on the planet vaporizes after the NBA Finals?

In other news ...

The NCCA’s trash new policy aligns perfectly with America’s trash workplace norms. Everyone needs a day off — everyone, especially students who are supposed to be engaging in activities like studying. If the NCAA is going to require round-the-clock work of its athletes, then it needs to pay the athletes round-the-clock salaries.

We live in a society where there is no distinction anymore between home and work. People are expected to be plugged in all the time, and companies in many industries take advantage of their employees’ talents by underpaying them, requiring them to work multiple jobs to provide for themselves and their families the basics of daily life. On the flip side, workers who may be paid decent wages are required by some companies to work non-stop under a fixed salary as the company aims to get every penny’s worth out of each employee.

People have actually dropped dead on the job from overworking. These people are not old, but young — enthusiastic people in their 20’s and 30’s at the beginnings of what should have become vibrant careers and lives.

The NCAA’s revocation of a guaranteed day off for athletes can only lead to bad ends — karoshi, as it’s called in Japan, or “death by overwork.” So, will college hoops fans boycott the NCAA now or wait until a player collapses on the court and dies before a live television audience?

It’s not just Japan that faces this problem, however. And with suicide rates in the United States soaring over the last few decades, it might behoove public policy experts and health policy experts to examine the linkages between overwork and suicide.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts:


How to #WatchThemWork all season

Shine brighter. * flicker flicker *