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Hoops Happening: June’s best assists, handles and blocks are not to be believed!

Plus, Elena Delle Donne and Diana Taurasi were named Players of the Month for June, Imani McGee-Stafford is scorching the status quo with arts and athletics, ESPN’s has a dogged commitment to cornhole — links and more. This is today in women’s basketball for Thursday July 5, 2018!

WNBA: Finals-Minnesota Lynx at Los Angeles Sparks
Essence Carson is one of LA’s best defensive specialists.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The W did fans a solid with highlight reels of the best action from June. Take a look at these repeat-worthy goodies.

Dexterous dishes

The assist in basketball is one of the most beautiful features of the game. Point guards, with split-second timing, set scoring opportunities in motion. But to get the ball to her player, a guard must have impeccable court vision, sharp passing abilities and a dash of creativity.

Behind-the-back passes are always fun, but leave it to Diana Taurasi to make it a behind-the-back bounce pass with a spin move, between defenders.

The over-the-head hook pass from Candace Parker to Alana Beard was so smooth that by the time her defender (Glory Johnson) got her hands up the ball was over her head and on its way to Beard’s hands.

Ankle-breaking handles

The following video provides recorded evidence that the Indiana Fever’s Kelsey Mitchell has the best handles in the league and her professional career is only 18 games deep.

Like the other players, Mitchell finds her spots. But, unlike the others, her speedy action compromises their balance and, therefore, their ankles. For more, just ask Kaela Davis of the Dallas Wings and Kelsey Plum of the Las Vegas Aces.

Resounding rejections

Sylvia Fowles’ block on Dearica Hamby’s shot was forceful enough to knock Hamby off balance. It’d come as a surprise to no one if she had been left seeing stars. But LA’s Essence Carson wins the June Block Party on style points alone.

It’s not every day a player glides through the air superhero-like, with precision timing, in a blur of shot-blocking beauty.

Most recent game action

In WNBA action on Tuesday July 3:

  • The Indiana Fever snagged a big win over the Minnesota Lynx. With Cappie Pondexter now in the mix, things just got interesting for Indy.
  • It was a career night for Liz Cambage.
  • But the Sky’s Jamierra Faulkner went down with a career-ending injury.
  • The Storm surged to #1 in the standings.
  • And the Sun clenched the season series against the Sparks.

Next up in the WNBA

Court action returns today with four games on the schedule, including a Sparks-Lynx matchup in primetime, on ESPN2.

Stay tuned for previews!

Scorching the status quo: Art + athletics

Out with the either-or thinking.

Through her new foundation, Hoops and Hope, Imani McGee-Stafford is advocating for the and: arts and athletics.

“Sometimes I think we force kids into choosing between arts and sports,” McGee-Stafford said. “It doesn’t have to be that way.”

Nor should it be.

Adidas Basketball Black Tie Party Presented by Remy Martin
Imani McGee-Stafford takes the Adidas Basketball Black Tie Party by storm at Delilah on February 15, 2018 in West Hollywood, California.
Photo by Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Remy Martin

Art is vital to the development of empathy, compassion and emotional intelligence. By fostering artistic abilities in young people, society would be rearing less angry, less callous, less violent humans.

Art should not be treated as frivolous or elective, but vital and urgent.

Scorching the status quo: ESPN’s dogged commitment to cornhole

ESPN continues blatant discrimination against women’s sports. Only a few professional leagues are active during the summer, with the WNBA being one of the biggest. Yet, to get to women’s basketball on the ESPN website, readers must follow the bread crumbs to the menu and —

Hm. Not there? It used to be sixth or seventh on the list.

Let’s keep scrolling ...

and scrolling ... and scrolling ... and scrolling ... and scrolling ...and scrolling ... and scrolling ... and scrolling ... and scrolling and ... and scrolling ... and scrolling ...and scrolling ... and scrolling ... and scrolling ...and scrolling ... and scrolling ... and scrolling ... and scrolling ...

and, wow — will you look at that?

The WNBA is placed two screens deep into the menu:

  • after at least 7 sports that are not in active seasons
  • despite the WNBA being halfway through the regular season
  • with the WNBA All-Star game right around the corner

This is a matter we’d love to take directly to ESPN’s Public Editor but — oh, right. The network eliminated the position in May.

But burying women’s sports at the bottom of the menu is a mere symptom of a larger scheme. If anything other than sexism and misogyny are work here, ESPN needs to speak to it. Otherwise, from the view of fans and other media outlets, this appears to be a willful attempt at maintaining a broken and toxic status quo.

As previously reported, numbers are up for WNBA games on ESPN2, and fans and journalists alike have been literally begging for more national coverage every day of the season. If this is the revenue-driven business people claim it to be when seeking any excuse to avoid covering the WNBA, perhaps ESPN can enlighten their viewers on why more people watching WNBA games with increasing numbers is not cause to air more games to meet the demand.

Even bigger: Is ESPN willing to provide numbers on the recent corn-based competition it aired? Are ratings for cornhole so outstanding that the pastime deserves the bigger platform of ESPN while even the biggest WNBA matchups, powered by superstar players, are given second-class treatment on ESPN2?

Players of the Month

Elena Delle Donne (East) x Diana Taurasi (West)

Here’s why they won the awards:

The other players up for consideration, but who ultimately missed the cut, include: Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry, Connecticut’s Chiney Ogwumike, Dallas’ Liz Cambage and Skylar Diggins-Smith, Las Vegas’ A’ja Wilson, Los Angeles’ Candace Parker, Minnesota’s Sylvia Fowles and Maya Moore, New York’s Tina Charles, Phoenix’s Brittney Griner and Seattle’s Breanna Stewart.

Link lush

In the kind of news no one likes to here, Jamierra Faulkner is done for the season due to a knee injury she suffered in the Sky’s most recent matchup against the Wings.

Although the Chicago Sky did not report the information, the league transaction report shows Linnae Harper has been signed to a seven-day contract, making it easy enough to put two-and-two together.

We wish Faulkner and Sancho Lyttle well in their respective recoveries from ACL injuries.

In other news ...

How to #WatchThemWork all season

Shine brighter. * flicker flicker *