Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Candice and an Epiphanny

See, see, didn’t we tell you Candice would have to pick up the slack? For those of you fans that still read us in the off-season, we predicted that with Minnesota Lynx lead scorer Seimone Augustus out for the season with a torn ACL, Candice Wiggins would have to take on the scoring slack, and she did. She scored 25 points to lead her team over the NY Liberty and snap a mini two-game losing streak.

In other news, Rutgers star Epiphanny Prince is skipping her senior season to play professionally in Europe. Say what!!

Yes, yes, we know men have been leaving college early to go pro (And therefore get paid to play) for decades. But we hate the thought of women doing this. So does the WNBA. They have set up tight rules to discourage this. Quoting CBS Sports, “To play in the WNBA, a player must turn 22 during the year they are drafted, graduate from college or see their class matriculate during the three-month period following the draft. Or the player must be out of high school for four years.”

Okay, here’s the deal according to CBS Sports. Prince has not signed with an agent or even had a European team offer her anything. She still plans to enter the 2010 WNBA Draft.

"I just wanted to start my pro career," Prince told the Associated Press by phone. "I feel it was the right move for me and my family. I've always dreamed of playing in the WNBA."

C is totally against it. She hates the thought of women skipping college. The shelf life of a WNBA player is about 6 years, maybe less, and with fewer teams this year, it is harder to make a team. Women don’t make nearly enough money to retire on, and need a college education to fall back on. Then she reads that Prince plans to take summer school courses and hopes to graduate from Rutgers on time. Okay, there goes that argument to stay in school to graduate, if it can be done early. So it seems to come down to money.

R says that the Prince quote shows she is doing this to take care of her family, so in her view she is thinking outside of herself and trying to help others. And a Europe team allows her to do that, start making money right away instead of risking injury her senior year.

C says how much money can she make in Europe? The CBS Sports article had an interesting tidbit. If Prince had returned for her senior season, she could have been covered under a program that allows exceptional NCAA athletes to purchase insurance to protect themselves in the event of catastrophic injury or illness during their college career. Just how much for women? A women's basketball player can get up to $250,000 in coverage. Okay, but CBS Sports thinks, “It's likely Prince would earn more than that playing abroad as many American players have earned six-figure salaries in Europe.” More than $250,000? And just why is it Europe values women basketball players so much moreand pays them so mucjh more than right here in good ol’ USA?

Here’s another interesting fact. Prince isn't the first woman to leave school early to play in Europe. Schuye LaRue left Virginia after her sophomore year in 2001 to go play abroad before getting drafted in the second round by the Los Angeles Sparks in 2003.

So I guess there is hope she will come back and play for the WNBA. But if you can make more in Europe, the question is why?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Team USA

Our Stanford girls, Kayla Pederson and Jeanette Pohlen both got picked for the USA National Basketball Team that will play in the 2009 World University Games. This is Kayla’s third time on the team, but the first for Pohlen, who stepped up her game this year by playing in the point position for Stanford and staying in tip-top shape.

It actually would have been a trio of Stanford players on the team, but Jayne Appel, a sure lock-in, had to withdraw due to KNEE SURGEY. Again. Jayne, we are worried about you.

Kayla and Jeanette will be in training camp until June 25th, and then go to Belgrade, Serbia, to play in the Games July 1-11. Hope their shots are up to date! And darn, again, that means we won’t be able to see them when we drop in on Tara VanDerVeer’s summer camp this week!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Azzi all the Way, Baby!!

You Didn’t think we would let Jennifer Azzi’s induction into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in June go by unnoticed did ya?

It wasn’t just what she did; she was the first in so many ways for Stanford. Jennifer brought Stanford's first national championship home in 1990, with a win over Auburn on Tennessee’s floor! The Cardinal went 31-1 that year and she was the Finals MVP. She became the first Cardinal women's basketball player to earn the Wade Trophy, the James Naismith Player of the Year award, and the Honda-Broderick National Player of the Year and was Stanford's first WBCA/Kodak All-American. She earned the three national player of the year awards as a senior in 1989-90, while twice being named to the WBCA/Kodak All-America First Team (1989 and '90). And oh, she won a gold medal in 1996. Her national team went 60-0 that year. Her coach? Tara VanDerVeer. After that, she was a founding member of the ABL for two seasons before it folded, and then went on to play 5 seasons with the WNBA, plus overseas.

And she grew up in Tennessee, yet chose Stanford. She might have been regretting that choice her freshmen year when Stanford was 14-14. She and her teammates went around campus posting flyers to get fans to come to see them in Maples. (I know, I can’t believe it either.)

Azzi, ever the workaholic, would ask her coach to come rebound for her on Sunday mornings. Jennifer talks about how Tara VanDerVeer asked her to have patience and see her vision that freshmen year. "It was a moment in the gym, just the two of us,'' Azzi recalled, "and she said I know this is really hard for you. You're from Tennessee. You're used to winning. But I want you to see this vision. I want you to see my vision. Picture this place sold out, full of fans. We're going to do everything we can do as a staff ... but I need you as the leader to see this vision. I want you to see us winning a national championship by your senior year."

Give me goose bumps! Wonder if Tara would like to predict the stick market, too?
During her induction, Jennifer was characteristically humble. It's not just about me, it's about all the coaches and teammates and players and everybody that has been involved in my career," Azzi said of being inducted. "That's what I've loved about the game my whole life, that it brings people together."

So glad you went to Stanford, Jennifer, not Tennessee.