September 27, 2012

By DOUG FEINBERG AP Basketball Writer


Phoenix Mercury coach Corey Gaines looked at his phone and a one-word text from star Diana Taurasi said it all — “Wow.”

Gaines was still in shock after his team won the WNBA draft lottery Wednesday night and earned the No. 1 pick next year and the rights to take Brittney Griner.

Even though the Mercury (7-27) had the second worst record in the league and a 28 percent chance of getting the No. 1 choice, Gaines didn’t expect it.

“I could see where I was sitting each time she (Laurel J. Richie) opened the envelope, and the first one I saw was Washington,” Gaines said. “My first instinct was that I felt sorry because they really needed that pick, Then that went away and I saw the next one, and I saw the order they were going in, and then all of a sudden I realized it — we just got the No. 1 pick. It’s just got to be lucky.”

Chicago will pick second and Tulsa third. Washington, which had the worst record in the league will pick fourth. The Mystics (5-29) had a 44 percent chance to win the top pick. Only four times in the 11 previous lotteries has the team with the worst record secured the top pick.

Neither Gaines nor Mercury President Amber Cox would commit after the lottery results were announced to taking Griner with the No. 1 pick.

“Griner has a unique skill set,” Cox said. “We’ll look at the class and it’s our job over the next few months to figure out what’s the best fit for us.”

Griner though is a once in a lifetime talent. The 6-foot-8 Baylor star is an unbelievable shot blocker and also can play above the rim. She helped guide Baylor to a national championship last year and the first 40-0 season in college basketball history. The reigning Associated Press player of the year will try to lead the Lady Bears to a second straight championship when the season starts next month.

“We like to fast break and you need to rebound and play defense to get out and run,” said Gaines, smiling. “Obviously she can block shots and rebound the ball well.”

Griner headlines a talented class. Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne led the nation in scoring last season and is a versatile 6-foot-5 guard who can score from almost anywhere on the court. Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins has guided the Irish to the past two national championship games and is one of the most followed female athletes on Twitter.

“They all are very different players and can do different things for us,” Cox said.

Phoenix was plagued by injuries most of the season. Taurasi only played in eight games and Penny Taylor missed the entire year while recovering from an ACL injury. Candice Dupree also missed 21 games because of a left knee injury.

“This was a difficult season with all the injuries we had,” Gaines said. “The players this year tried so hard and now the texts are coming in from them. They are ready to come back and excited.”

The Mercury have had the first pick in the draft two other times, including 2004 when they drafted Taurasi.

This was the first time that the lottery was shown on television. In the past the lottery had been held later in the calendar year behind closed doors at a league meeting.

But with the WNBA playoffs starting on Thursday and the incredibly talented senior class, the league moved up the lottery.

“This is what you love about sports. To have our lottery televised live on ESPN with all the drama of the envelopes coming out. I think it went great,” WNBA President Laurel Richie said. “We’re trending on Twitter.”

In a similar fashion to the NBA draft lottery, the actual lottery was held two hours before it was revealed on TV in a separate room. Each team had representatives in that room and they were sequestered until the results were shown.

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September 20, 2012


Associated Press


The Brooklyn Nets will be featured in a behind-the-scenes series on both NBA TV and


The league's network announced recently that it will spotlight the team on “The Association” in its inaugural season in the New York borough.


This is the fourth straight season that the “The Association” has followed a team. Previously, it spotlighted the Los Angeles Lakers (2009-10), Boston Celtics (2010-11), and Denver Nuggets (2011-12).


The Nets series will tip off on Oct. 16.


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September 20, 2012

Associated Press


President Barack Obama has welcomed the reigning WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx to the White House.

It’s been nearly a year since the Lynx won the championship, but the team’s visit was delayed by the Summer Olympics and Obama’s busy schedule.

Obama told team members they are great ambassadors for the game and strong role models for his own daughters. The president says the Lynx have returned glory to the Twin Cities.

Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve thanked Obama for his support of the WNBA and told him the selflessness of her players along with leadership are behind their success.

The Lynx won the championship after sweeping the Atlanta Dream in three games last October. The team is in first place in the league’s western conference this season.


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September 20, 2012

Associated Press


Washington Redskins receiver Joshua Morgan felt the full downside of the social media age this week, receiving death threats and other venomous messages on Twitter because of his fourth-quarter blunder in the loss to the St. Louis Rams.

Morgan talked recently about the nastiness he's heard from fans since his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for throwing the ball at Cortland Finnegan. The penalty cost the Redskins valuable field position during the team’s final drive in Sunday's 31-28 defeat.

“I heard everything, especially when they get you on Twitter and are sending you death threats and wishing you bad things and your firstborn,” Morgan said. “You see it all, you hear it all. You never let it get to you, especially with me being from D.C. They treated me kind of like they did (San Francisco 49ers return man) Kyle Williams last year when he dropped a punt against the Giants.”

Morgan said the threats are keeping him focused. He said he wasn’t tempted to discontinue his Twitter account.

“The only thing I take seriously is football and my family, and nothing really scares me,” he said.

Morgan said he’s been fined over the penalty but doesn’t yet know the amount. He also said he wouldn’t be throwing such a tantrum again. After all, raising the ire of fans is one thing, but getting a cold stare from the coaching staff is something else.

“Especially with coach Mike Shanahan,” he said, “none of us are dumb enough to make the same mistake twice.”

The Redskins play Cincinnati on Sunday.


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September 13, 2012

By Kenneth Miller

[Editor’s note: Ken Miller is an award winning veteran journalist who spent 30 years writing for the L.A. Sentinel and has been a popular guest on local sports talk radio for several years. This is the first edition of his weekly sports column.]

I must admit that I was first to hate on the hiring of UCLA coach Jim Mora, but I should have known better.

The Bruins took a page from their nemesis USC and gave their job to a former NFL has been who could not get a job anywhere else.

Can you say Pete Carroll boys and girls?

After striking gold Carroll left the scarlet and gold high and dry amid recruiting scandals that set the program back for three years.

But, he did so after leading the Trojans back to national prominence, cashing in with the hapless Seahawks.

Mora might be next to follow such a pattern.

He made a bold move and started the first African American quarterback in UCLA history and boy has it paid off.

Brett Hundley a bulky 6’3 red shirt freshman from Arizona has already completed 42 of 61 passes for 507 yards and 6 touchdowns. Heck that’s better than Heisman hopeful Geno Smith of West Virginia who has completed 32 of 36 for 323 yards.

Mora also has a Heisman candidate on his team in senior running back Johnathan Franklin, the leading rushing in the nation with 431 yards. Franklin out of Dorsey is averaging 10.5 yards per carry and four rushing touchdowns.

And, oh by the way it’s no fluke that UCLA is 2-0 on the season and already saying bring on the Trojans.

Franklin played for my homey Paul Knox at Dorsey who does not receive nearly the credit and respect that he deserves coaching the Dorsey Dons. Two of the best high school coaches in the nation are both in the same league in Knox and my former junior high and high school mate Robert Garrett of Crenshaw.

Franklin played line backer and running back at Dorsey during a senior year in which he was All City and the Coliseum League Player of the Year.

I know it’s early, but the more Mora the better for the Bruins…

Another Heisman candidate in the Pac 12 is former Crenshaw star De Anthony Thomas who has 166 yards on 10 carries for the Oregon Ducks.

Enough of football… Did you see that beat down by Andre Ward last Saturday on HBO? For a minute I thought I was getting a fight that should have been on Pay Per View until that boy Chad Dawson came out looking like he was hungry for a meal. Then Ward just bullied and mauled him like a pit bull until the fight was stopped in the 10th round.

I don’t really know where Dawson goes from here. It was a horrible decision to go down in weight to begin with. Did he not follow Roy Jones Jr. and see what happened to him after he went up in weight and then tried to come down. Dawson will never be the same…

In the meanwhile, Ward—the onward Christian Solider — is getting better and better. Much props to Dan Goosen and Sir Raps A Lot Prince…

Finally, I think you know my transformation from Raider fan to Raider hater. I saw my boy Huey Jackson on the sideline coaching with the Bengals and that kid Raider coach bumbling with the Raiders on Monday night. The Bengals and Raiders probably would have been a more competitive game than the way ESPN had it scheduled. Two blowouts… No wonder their ratings are in the toilet.


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