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Monday, July 23, 2018

Hard Lessons Learned in the Early Weeks of the 2010 WNBA Season

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By Clay Kallam
Correspondent

Ten games into the WNBA season, more or less, and several things are becoming clear about the 2010 iteration:

1. Good assistants aren’t necessarily good head coaches. Granted, Cheryl Reeve has had to overcome injuries to arguably her best three players – Rebekkah Brunson, Candice Wiggins and Seimone Augustus – but the Minnesota Lynx have played even worse than those losses might suggest. They don’t defend (their best effort was giving up only 73 to Chicago, and they still lost by 15), and they have handed Tulsa two of that weak team’s three wins.

It doesn’t help that Lindsay Whalen has been less than impressive in her return to her home state, and though the trade that brought her and Monica Wright for Tina Charles and Renee Montgomery isn’t quite as bad as the worst trade in WNBA history (that distinction would have to go to another Lynx transaction—Katie Smith to Detroit for Chandi Jones and a draft pick who never contributed), it certainly hasn’t made Reeve’s job any easier.

Then again, Reeve hasn’t shown the ability to get the Lynx to play up to their potential, even after a solid stint as an assistant for the Detroit Shock. There is a difference between suggesting and deciding, and Reeve is finding out just how big that difference is.

2. Good players, and nice people, aren’t necessarily good head coaches. Lisa Leslie was certainly a great player, one of the best ever, but her retirement is not nearly enough of a reason for the Sparks to be 3-7. Sure, they’re old, and yes, Ticha Penicheiro has been hurt, but even so, L.A.’s talent shouldn’t be five games below .500 – so naturally, the fickle finger of fate points directly at Jen Gillom.

Gillom has done pretty well coaching at Xavier Prep in Phoenix, but her time in Minnesota, and her time in L.A., lead inexorably to the conclusion that she just isn’t cut out for the pro game. There were concerns about how she’d handle the egos on the Sparks, and the 3-7 record – plus dismal defense, bad rebounding and shaky ballhandling —indicate those concerns were justified.

Everyone likes Gillom, and she was a very good player in her day, but so far, she’s been overmatched as a WNBA coach.

3. Atlanta is years away from making any money at all. Most observers thought Atlanta was a horrible choice for expansion because there has been no historic interest in women’s basketball, or for any other sport not named football or spring football. Even when the Braves were winning division titles year after year, they couldn’t draw – so why would anyone have believed the WNBA could thrive there?

The answer to that is still unclear, as despite rebounding nicely from a 4-30 inaugural season, the Dream have trouble getting 2,000 people out to Phillips Arena to see a 7-3 team chock full of exciting, interesting players. It was understandable that Atlanta’s crowds would be small when the team was awful, but now attendance is even worse despite the attractive product.

Realistically, owner Kathy Betty is looking at years of seven-figure losses before there’s a chance to break even – and what if the team reverts to horrible again? WNBA history suggests that winning teams can make a little money and losing teams will lose a lot, so not only must Betty create a market out of pretty much nothing, she needs to do so while still having a winning team every season.

Of course, we’d all like the Dream to be a WNBA success story, but the signs are not good. I would imagine she’ll give it at least one more season, but if Atlanta’s fans continue to come disguised as cupholders, Donna Orender is going to be looking for another Tulsa sooner rather than later.

Originally published Tue, June 15, 2010


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NCAA DIVISION I TOP 25 COACHES' POLL
WOMEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Week: February 7, 2012
RANK SCHOOL RECORD LAST WEEK'S RANK PRESEASON RANK AP RANK POINTS
1 Baylor (31) 24-0 1 1 1 775
2 Notre Dame 23-1 2 2 2 743
3 Connecticut 21-2 3 4 3 710
4 Stanford 20-1 4 5 4 685
5 Duke 19-3 6 8 5 650
6 Miami (FL) 20-3 7 7 6 604
7 Kentucky 21-3 5 15 7 584
8 Maryland 20-3 10 10 8 534
9 Wisconsin-Green Bay 20-0 9 24 9 530
10 Ohio State 21-2 11 NR-RV
(61)
10 483
11 Tennessee 17-6 8 3 11 476
12 Delaware 20-1 13 NR 12 434
13 Georgetown 18-5 15 11 14 379
14 Texas A&M 16-5 16 6 15 378
15 Nebraska 19-3 18 NR 13 309
16 Rutgers 17-4 14 12 17 372
17 Louisville 17-6 12 9 20 276
18 Gonzaga 21-3 19 NR-RV
(70)
19 234
19 Purdue 19-5 17 21 16 222
20 Georgia 18-6 20 12 21 202
21 Penn State 18-5 21 14 18 176
22 DePaul 17-7 23 18 NR-RV
(38)
92
23 Georgia Tech 16-6 22 NR-RV
(18)
22 104
24 South Carolina 18-5 NR-RV
(13)
NR 24 46
25 Vanderbilt 18-5 NR-RV
(23)
NR-RV
(19)
NR 45
Dropped Out: No. 24 North Carolina, No. 25 Kansas.
First-place votes: Total first-place votes received (if any) are indicated in parentheses following school name.
Others receiving votes: St. Bonaventure (22-2) 34; North Carolina (17-6) 19; California (17-6) 18; Florida Gulf Coast (21-2) 16; Middle Tennessee (19-5) 15; Texas-El Paso (20-2) 8; Texas Tech (16-6) 5; Brigham Young (21-4) 4; Fresno State (19-4) 4; St. John's (15-8) 4; Princeton (15-4) 3; Oklahoma (15-7) 2; West Virginia (17-6) 2; Kansas State (15-7) 1.
Rank remains unchanged since last week
Ranking has risen since last week.
Ranking has dropped since last week.
Credit: Courtesy Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). The weekly Division I Top 25 Coaches' Poll, sponsored by USA Today and ESPN, is based on voting by a Board of Coaches made up of 31 head coaches at Division I institutions all of whom are WBCA members.