Category Archives: Sue Bird

The Art Of Addressing, By Not Really Addressing, What’s Next For The WNBA

by Categorized: Asjha Jones, Connecticut Sun, ESPN2, Laurel Ritchie, Sue Bird, WNBA Date:

  When Mike Thibault coached the Connecticut Sun he was often asked what he thought about the growth of the WNBA. His opinion mattered; no coach in the history of the league has won more games than he.

   What Thibault would invariably suggest was to look at where the NBA was after its first 10 seasons and then compare it to the WNBA. His point was to remain patient, give the league time to take root before predicting it looked about to wilt.

   Saturday afternoon at the Mohegan Sun Arena, WNBA President Laurel Richie held a press conference an hour before the start of the All-Star Game. Before she said a word one thing was clearly apparent.

   Aside from selected members of the Connecticut media, ESPN.com and ABC staff, columnists and a few bloggers and internet representatives, her audience was without a single media member representing any of the other 11 franchises.

   Imagine David Stern holding a press conference prior to the 2013 NBA All-Star game without anyone from New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Antonio, Minnesota, Atlanta, Indiana or Chicago in attendance?

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Still Enthused, Sue Bird Says, “What’s Another Surgery?”

by Categorized: Brian Agler, Seattle Storm, Sue Bird, UConn women's basketball, USA Basketball, WNBA Date:

Sue Bird, one of the greatest point guards in women’s basketball history, may also be its most surgically repaired.

     Ask her how many operations she’s had in her career, which began at UConn in 1998, and Bird starts counting them on both hands.

    “Are you including my nose?” she said. She finally settles on nine.

    The latest, to remove a large cyst that had grown in a bone in her left knee on May 9, is keeping her out of the WNBA for the first time since she joined the Seattle Storm in 2002. But she was with her team Sunday, watching it defeat the Connecticut Sun at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

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Brian Agler Says He Wouldn’t Be Surprised If USA Basketball Still Wants Geno

by Categorized: Brian Agler, Geno Auriemma, Sue Bird, UConn women's basketball, USA Basketball Date:

We ask Geno Auriemma the question just ab0ut every three months: Do you want to return to coach the 2014 World Championship and 2016 Olympic team. So far he has steadfastly said no. But to this point, USA Basketball still has not named a replacement.

On Friday in New Jersey, Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said it was “Geno’s job” if he wants it. And on Sunday, Seattle coach Brian Agler, considered a strong candidate for the job, also said he wouldn’t be surprised if USA Basketball is still trying to talk Auriemma into taking the job again.

Agler said he hasn’t been interviewed by USA Basketball.

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Faris Is Learning About The Realities Of WNBA Life

by Categorized: 2013 WNBA Draft, Connecticut Sun, Kelly Faris, Kelsey Griffin, Sue Bird, Tina Charles, UConn women's basketball, WNBA Date:

During her career at UConn, Kelly Faris played in 154 games. She was a member of four Final Four teams and two national champions, including the Huskies’ 39-0 team in 2009-10.

    In her golden era, UConn lost just 11 games, seven to Notre Dame. The success against the rest was surely intoxicating, resulting in the sense of infallibility which has fueled Geno Auriemma’s perennial powerful program for the last two decades.

   But as every UConn player who joins the WNBA finds out, the glow doesn’t persist. Players fly commercial, often live alone in a condominium and play against the top talent in the world on a daily basis. It’s an unremitting tempo that can initially shock your system.

   And after the Connecticut Sun’s 78-68 loss to the New York Liberty Friday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., the look on Faris’ face suggested her new reality was starting to wear on her.

  “I’ve been spoiled by my past,” Faris admitted. “At UConn, I was a part of very good teams with a lot of talent. Right now, it’s frustrating to me that we’re in kind of in a hole.”

   The loss dropped the Sun to 2-4 and set up a very crucial early-season game Sunday against the Seattle Storm (1-3) at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

   Without both Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird this season, the Storm are the league’s lowest scoring team. They had just four points in the third quarter of Friday’s 68-59 loss in Atlanta.

   And as it tries to rebound Sunday, the Sun realize they must find a way to gather momentum into July without either Renee Montgomery (high ankle sprain) or Tan White (broken finger). They also know there is no alternative. With Chicago, Atlanta, Washington and New York off to strong starts in the Eastern Conference, there is no time to waste.

  “The conference is going to be a battle to the end,” Kelsey Griffin said. “Everyone [in the conference] is really good. There are no gimmes and everyone knows it.”

   On Friday, the Liberty held Tina Charles to seven points (3-of-17) and four rebounds in 26 minutes. It was the first time this season the MVP didn’t reach a double-double.

    Charles, burdened with four fouls early in the third quarter, said after the game that she “wasn’t as aggressive” as she wanted to be in the first half

    “I thought in the second half [when they outscored Connecticut 54-35] they [the Liberty] really came at us aggressively,” Sun coach Anne Donovan said. “We came back after their runs, but we were waiting on Tina [Charles] to get going a lot of times. We need to get aggressive and confident in other positions all the time. We need to play off of Tina when she’s playing well or when she’s not. We’re very aware of that now and hopefully it’s something that we continue to remember in the future. “

  One of the ways Donovan hopes to insure that after Sunday is by getting newcomer Iziane Castro Marques more involved. The veteran guard, signed last week, played just five first-half minutes on Friday with two points. She will be counted on to complement the scoring provided by Kara Lawson and Allie Hightower, who combined for 33 points and six three-pointers against the Liberty.

 “We needed some practice time to get Izzie into a rotation and to see how she might be able to help us so we were playing a lot of minutes with Kara [35 on Friday], Alli [35] and Kalana [Greene, who played 29].

   “Kelly stepped up and gave us some good minutes [five points in 16 minutes] but we need to get Izzie into that rotation as well.  We need some practice time, to be honest, and we get that after Seattle [the next game is June 23].  And I’ll feel better, probably, at that point to know exactly what we got. “

  As for Faris, the time will likely help her better understand the realism of professional basketball where there are no UConns. In Tulsa, her former college nemesis, Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins, the third pick in the draft, is on a team that’s 1-6.

  “This team [the Sun] is full of talent,” Faris said. “We all need to get on the same page and there is plenty of time for us to turn it around. We’re more than capable of focusing on the little things we need to do better to improve as a group.”

 

 

 

Jeff Goldberg To Sign “Bird At The Buzzer” At UConn Co-op Today

by Categorized: Notre Dame women's basketball, Sue Bird, UConn women's basketball Date:

Let’s face it. He may need to write another book now following the triple-overtime masterpiece the teams played in South Bend in March.

But Jeff Goldberg, the Courant’s former UConn women’s basketball beatwriter – and author of  “Bird at the Buzzer” -will be back in Storrs today to sign copies about his book, now out in paperback, at the UConn Co-op before the second-round game on Monday at 5:30 p.m.

If you are nice to Jeff, he may offer you a walk-through in the sequel, “Free Throws Aren’t Cheap.”

 

UConn: Where Dreams Often Become Reality

by Categorized: 2013 WNBA Draft, Big East women's basketball, Bria Hartley, Brian Agler, Geno Auriemma, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, St. John's women's basketball, Stefanie Dolson, Sue Bird, UConn women's basketball, USA Basketball, WNBA Date:

Now that her junior year is about to enter its stretch run, Stefanie Dolson’s mom sat her down the other day to discuss her options for life after college.

“I’m just trying to figure it out, slowly but surely,” Dolson said.

This scene is sure to repeat all across the nation. But there is a difference in the Dolson household: If things go according to plan – the way they’ve gone with the UConn women’s basketball program since 1995 – her first job won’t be on the bottom rung of some corporate ladder.

It will be on the top, playing professional basketball in the United States and overseas. And she’ll be making good money doing it.

“Playing professionally is a dream many of us have,” Dolson said. “It is something that I want and that I have worked for. If the opportunity eventually presents itself, than that’s what I will do that. If not, then I hopefully will find a job that I love.”

Since the WNBA began play in 1997, few programs have enjoyed as much inclusion as the Huskies. During the 2012 season, UConn placed more players in the league (13) than any other.

On this current UConn team, ranked third(19-1) and on a seven-game winning streak heading to Saturday’s game at St. John’s, there are a number of players poised to continue the tradition.

That will begin with senior Kelly Faris, the Huskies all-purpose guard.

“She is terrific player,” Washington Mystics coach Mike Thibault said earlier this month. “She is what you want in a college player because you can use her in so many different spots. She is strong enough and tough enough to defend power forwards. She is such a great defender who is really improving offensively. She has great instincts and is a great athlete.

“If Kelly keeps improving, there will not be a question about her. She is getting better at knocking down outside shots and even looking for them, which I think she stopped doing for a while last season.

“But I tell you this, if you had to pick a kid to represent your program, she is a pretty good one.”

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Seattle Takes A Look At Kelly Faris

by Categorized: Brian Agler, Kelly Faris, Sue Bird, UConn women's basketball, WNBA Date:

Among the spectators at Saturday’s UConn-Cincinnati game at he First Third Arena was Seattle coach/GM Brian Agler.

Agler said he was there scouting Kelly Faris, which is interesting because the Storm has the sixth pick in the 2013 Draft and teams usually don’t waste valuable time looking at players they feel they can’t get.

Agler said league rules prevented him from speaking specifically about Faris’ ability. But he did say this about UConn players in general – and he has coached Sue Bird, Swin Cash and Svetlana Abrosimova with the Storm.

“I can tell you that UConn are almost always ready to play in the WNBA after they graduate,” Agler said. “They just seem to get better as they get older.”

Agler said Bird just made her Euroleague debut with Moscow last week and had 10 assists after missing the first part of the season rehabbing hip surgery at UConn. She is teammates this winter with Diana Taurasi and Candace Parker.

“People look at Sue and think of her as a girl next door type. But she has a lot of toughness,” Agler said. “She is persistent and takes good care of herself. But she has played a lot of basketball and the years of wear and tear take a toll. She’s looking at beginning of the end of her career; it won’t be anytime soon, but sometime in the next five or six years. She wants to finish strong and we’d like her to do it here in Seattle as healthy as possible.”

Agler heard from Abrosimova’s agent last week who expressed her desire to return to Seattle. Agler said he’s in the process of putting the team together.

As for the draft …

“It has the three players who most think will go 1-2-3 [Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins]. I don’t know about that. There are other players who can make impact,” Agler said. Agler added he has 20 to 25 players targeted and will really start to scout hard in the conference tournaments.

As for the Huskies …

“My prediction before the season was that UConn was going to make a run at the title,” he said. “They are a year older, had a great recruiting class and they are hungry. Everyone talks about UConn’s ability to run and score, but they are such good defenders.”

 

Sue Bird Stops By To Work, Recover, Reflect

by Categorized: Big East women's basketball, SNY, Sue Bird, UConn women's basketball, USA Basketball, WNBA, XL Center Date:

Here is what occasionally can happen when you play women’s basketball for UConn, where teams have won seven national championships and played in the last five Final Fours.

There are days when you walk out to practice and Sue Bird, perhaps the greatest point guard in the game’s history, is out there in shorts and a UConn tee-shirt ready to test your skills.

Tuesday was such a day for the No. 2 Huskies, who play Oakland tonight at the XL Center.

Bird had surgery to repair the labrum in her left hip on Oct. 5 at the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colo. She had the same surgery on her right hip in 2011, made a full recovery and returned to play in Russia for UMMC Ekaterinburg by the start of January. A similar timetable between was anticipated from this surgery.

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