WNBA Finals feature Chicago Sky vs. Pheonix Mercury, Sunday Sept. 7

The WNBA Finals tips off on Sunday  Sept. 7 at 3:30pm Eastern on ABC between the Phoenix Mercury and Chicago Sky.

The WNBA Finals tips off on Sunday Sept. 7 at 3:30pm Eastern on ABC between the Phoenix Mercury and Chicago Sky.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The WNBA Conference Finals both went the distance, providing an exciting matchup for the WNBA Finals. Starting Sunday, Sept. 7, the Finals will feature the Phoenix Mercury versus the Chicago Sky. The Sky are hoping to win the franchise’s first title while the Mercury are looking to add their third championship, winning it all in 07′ and ’09.

Brittney Griner was the first WNBA player to dunk in a playoff game. She hopes to win her first professional championship this year.

Brittney Griner was the first WNBA player to dunk in a playoff game. She hopes to win her first professional championship this year.

This is a quick turnaround for both teams as the Mercury and Sky had the first and second picks, respectively, in WNBA’s 2013 draft. The Mercury’s selection of Brittney Griner was a no-brainer and is paying immediate dividends as she was awarded WNBA Defensive Player of the Year for the 2014 season.

Diana Taurasi is seeking her third championship with the Phoenix Mercury, the last coming in 2009.

Diana Taurasi is seeking her third championship with the Phoenix Mercury, the last coming in 2009.

Adding Griner to seasoned All-Star Diana Taurasi has been a boon to the team and helped Taurasi transition from the top scorer in the league to the assist leader this season. The Mercury defeated last year’s champions, the Minnesota Lynx with two convincing wins in the conference finals leading many to make them the favorites to win it all this year.

Brittney Griner (r) and Elena Della Donne (l) were picks number 1 and 2 respectively in the 2013 WNBA draft.

Brittney Griner (r) and Elena Della Donne (l) were picks number 1 and 2 respectively in the 2013 WNBA draft.

Meanwhile, the Sky are being led by their own tandem of a second year phenom and All-Star veteran. Elena Della Donne has quickly become one the WNBA’s best scorers and has had challenging match ups with two of WNBA’s best players during the first two rounds in the Atlanta Dream’s Angel McCoughtry and the Indiana Fever’s Tamika Catchings.

Sylvia Fowles (c) will have to be an overpowering interior presence in order for the Sky to get past Griner and the Mercury.

Sylvia Fowles (c) will have to be an overpowering interior presence in order for the Sky to get past Griner and the Mercury.

The veteran leadership and savvy play of last season’s WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Sylvia Fowles has enabled the Sky to keep games close and grind out tough victories. The Sky evened their series with a narrow double-overtime win in game 2 against the Fever, before closing it out with a blowout win in game 3.

If the SKy are successful and win the championship, their leading scorer  Della Donne will be the likely candidate for MVP.

If the Sky are successful and win the championship, their leading scorer Della Donne will be the likely candidate for MVP.

This best of five series should go the distance as both are evenly matched. They both have talented perimeter players and an intimidating interior defensive presence. The series will likely come down to which team can better execute down the stretch of close games.

The 6’8″ Griner will have her hands full with the 6’6″ Fowles. The deciding factor will be either the 6’0″ Taurasi’s ability to use her size to create for others or how the 6″5″ Della Donne can create mismatches with her ability to create for herself. Look for the Sky to win this series in 5 games as they take advantage of their length advantage on the front line.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

Chicago Sky upset Atlanta Dream; WNBA semifinal matchups set

Elena Della Donne leads the Chicago Sky to the Eastern Conference Finals  with 34 points in game 3.

Elena Della Donne leads the Chicago Sky to the Eastern Conference Finals with 34 points in game 3 on Tuesday, August 26.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The Chicago Sky overcame a 20-plus point deficit to stun the Eastern Conference favorite Atlanta Dream and eliminate them with an 81 – 80 victory Tuesday night. The Sky will advance to the second round of the playoffs, winning the series 2 – 1, both victories occurring in Atlanta.

Elena Della Donne (l) and Angel McCoughtry (r) both had fantastic performances throughout the 3 game series.

Elena Della Donne (l) and Angel McCoughtry (r) both had fantastic performances throughout the 3 game series.

The star of the game was the Sky’s Elena Della Donne who went off for a playoff career high 34 points, 17 in the fourth quarter, including the game winning shot with 8.2 seconds left in the game. The Sky outscored the Dream 30 – 13 in the final quarter to seal the upset victory. Della Donne shared the credit after the thrilling win stating, “When we were in huddles and I was looking at my teammates, everyone had that look in their eyes like we’re not ready to leave, we’re not ready to go home.”

McCoughtry was able to lead her Dream past the Sky in game 2 but fell just short in game 3.

McCoughtry was able to lead her Dream past the Sky in game 2 but fell just short in game 3.

The Dream’s Angel McCoughtry, who led her team to a game 2 win with 39 points, was only able to muster 17 points in the series finale. McCoughtry’s game winning attempt bounced several times on the rim before eventually clanking off in the end. Dream head coach Michael Cooper characterized game 3 like boxing saying the game was Like a Muhammed Ali – Joe Frazier fight…sometimes your great players can will you to win. Just like in game 2 where Angel [McCoughtry] brought [the victory] to us, Della Donne came in tonight and brought [the victory] to them.”

The loss brings to a close what was a promising beginning for a Dream team that has been close to winning a championship the past few seasons. The emergence of rookie Shoni Schimmel in the WNBA All-Star game seemed to be the peak for the team this season as they look to regroup and build on this season’s progress.

WNBA superstar Tamika Catchings is hoping to lead the Indiana Fever back to the WNBA Finals.

WNBA superstar Tamika Catchings is hoping to lead the Indiana Fever back to the WNBA Finals.

Meanwhile, the Sky advance to the Eastern Conference Finals to take on the Indiana Fever, led by former league MVP Tamika Catchings. The Fever dealt with injuries all season long but finally seem to be healthy. While the Della Donne versus Catchings matchup will be key in the series, the impact the Sky’s Sylvia Fowles on the interior and the Fever’s Briann January on the perimeter will play pivotal roles in the outcome of this best of 3 series.

Diana Taurasi (l) and Brittany Griner (r) hope to lead the Mercury to an upset over the defending champion Minnesota Lynx.

Diana Taurasi (l) and Brittany Griner (r) hope to lead the Mercury to an upset over the defending champion Minnesota Lynx.

The Western conference finals will feature the defending champion Minnesota Lynx and the star-studded Phoenix Mercury. Brittany Griner and Diana Taurasi look to lead the Mercury into Minnesota and upset Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, and company as their best of 3 series begins Friday night.

Maya Moore (l) and Siemone Augustus aim to defend their championship and make a 4th consecutive WNBA Finals.

Maya Moore (l) and Siemone Augustus aim to defend their championship and make a 4th consecutive WNBA Finals.

Of the four teams remaining, the Sky is the only team that has not yet played in the WNBA Finals. The Fever are looking to capture their franchise’s 2nd title (’12). The Mercury are seeking their franchise’s 3rd title (07′ and ’09). The Lynx are also looking to add a 3rd franchise title (’11 and ’13) and make their fourth consecutive Finals appearance. Any WNBA Finals matchup should make for more exciting playoff action.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

Shoni Schimmel, Atlanta Dream, WNBA, expand on All-Star buzz

Atlanta Dream reserve guard Shoni Schimmel won WNBA All-Star game MVP in her rookie season.

Atlanta Dream reserve guard Shoni Schimmel won WNBA All-Star game MVP in her rookie season.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

As the WNBA enters the last few weeks of the regular season, the Atlanta Dream is trying to capitalize on the momentum from the 2014 All-Star game played this past Saturday. Dream reserve guard Shoni Schimmel set a WNBA All-Star game record with 29 points en route to earning MVP honors as the East won in overtime over the West 125 – 124. Schimmel has seen her popularity surge as her flashy style of play, combined with her Native American background has made her a fan favorite in just her rookie season.

Older sister Nneka Ogwumike (l) had to watch her younger sister Chiney Ogwumike (r) celebrate victory in only the second time the sisters have faced each other.

Older sister Nneka Ogwumike (l) had to watch her younger sister Chiney Ogwumike (r) celebrate victory in only the second time the sisters have faced each other.

The WNBA All-Star game featured many highlights, including the first pair of sisters (Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike), an in-game dunk by Brittany Griner, scoring outbursts from Schimmel and the WNBA second leading scorer, Skylar Diggins. The game winning shot for the East came from 9-time All-Star Tamika Catchings, who has missed the bulk of this season due to injury. The Phoenix crowd was treated to what is likely to be described as the best All-Star game in WNBA history.

Atlanta Dream head coach Michael Cooper guided the East to an overtime victory but received the unfortunate diagnosis of tongue cancer shortly thereafter.

Atlanta Dream head coach Michael Cooper guided the East to an overtime victory but received the unfortunate diagnosis of tongue cancer shortly thereafter.

The East was coached by Dream head coach Michael Cooper, who has been diagnosed with tongue cancer in the past few days, but has helped guide his team to a sizable lead in the Eastern Conference. Cooper is expected to make a full recovery after surgery and will take a leave of absence from the team for at least two weeks. The team will have to learn to adjust as the season nears its end. Schimmel, with her All-Star game and Atlanta Dream teammates Angel McCoughtry and Erika de Souza, have already been tested as they lost an overtime game Tuesday July 22, to last year’s champions Minnesota Lynx.

Maya Moore is hoping her excellent season can translate to continued post-season success for her Minnesota Lynx.

Maya Moore is hoping her excellent season can translate to continued post-season success for her Minnesota Lynx.

The Lynx team continues to be led by WNBA’s leading scorer, Maya Moore, as the team strives to continue its recent championship success. The Dream players made it to the Finals three times in the last four years (’10, ’11, and ’13) but have yet to win it all. Meanwhile, the Lynx  players have been to the Finals the last three seasons and have won twice (’11 and ’13) in that span, defeating the Dream on both occasions. Both teams seem to be on a collision course for the WNBA Finals again-OnPointPress.net.

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

Sports memories of 2013

LeBron James continues to prove he is the best basketball player on the planet as he wins the NBA Championship and  Finals MVP in consecutive years.

LeBron James continues to prove he is the best basketball player on the planet as he wins the NBA Championship and Finals MVP in consecutive years.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Every year has a unique sports identity and 2013 had a number of trends that immediately come to mind. This year the sports world treated us to fantastic moments like a Super Bowl that was decided in the final minutes and thrilling plays throughout a seven-game series in the NBA Finals. Game 6 of the NBA Finals might be viewed as the game of the year as it provided us with scintillating plays all the way to the end.

Ray Allen (r) makes what might be the play of the year in 2013 as he drills a 3 pointer to tie Game 6 in the final seconds of regulation over Tony Parker (c) and Kawhi Leonard (l).

Ray Allen (r) makes what might be the play of the year in 2013 as he drills a 3-pointer to tie Game 6 in the final seconds of regulation over Tony Parker (c) and Kawhi Leonard (l).

We also witnessed serious tragedy in sports, headlined by the bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. While there was something memorable about the different sporting events throughout 2013, there were some trends that connected the various sports.

 

Derek Jeter (l) and Kobe Bryant (r) are hoping to fully recover from their injuries and have a much better 2014.

Derek Jeter (l) and Kobe Bryant (r) are hoping to fully recover from their injuries and have a much better 2014.

Superstar injuries: 2013 was a year in which some of the biggest names in sports spent a great deal of time on the injured list. Derek Jeter, Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose, Rob Gronkowski, Matt Harvey, Robert Griffin III, Matt Kemp, Rajon Rondo, Arian Foster and Russell Westbrook were just several of the many All-Star caliber players  who suffered lengthy injuries this calendar year. Adrian Peterson has altered the perception of the impact of some of these injuries as he returned in record time to win the 2012-13 National Football League (NFL) MVP award after tearing the ACL in his knee at the end of the 2011-12 season. It is becoming apparent that Peterson’s recovery was exceptional and that it seems unreasonable to expect any athlete to return to action and be better than they were before the injury.

 

Serena Williams raises her title as she continues her dominance at the U.S. Open.

Serena Williams raises her title as she continues her dominance at the U.S. Open.

Elite performances by the elite performers: The 2013 calendar year was tremendous for the best players in almost every sport. Peyton Manning set NFL records for quarterback in the 2013-14 season en route to a likely fifth MVP award. Miguel Cabrera proved to be the best offensive player in Major League Baseball (MLB), winning the American League (AL) MVP award for the second consecutive season. Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal each won two out of four Grand Slam titles this year on the tennis tour. Tiger Woods reclaimed his position as the number one ranked golfer in the world while winning five tournaments in 2013. Perhaps no performance stands out more than LeBron James capturing his second consecutive National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals MVP award and fourth league MVP award this year as he led the Miami Heat to back-to-back championships.

 

Mariano Rivera was classy as he watched the mess that is New York sports crumble around him,.

Mariano Rivera was classy as he watched the mess that is New York sports crumble around him.

Tough year in New York sports: The Yankees and Mets both faced numerous injuries to key players and failed to make the postseason this year. The Yankees had to watch their rivals the Boston Red Sox win another title. They also have to try to cope with the retirement of legend Mariano Rivera, the loss of their best offensive player Robinson Cano, the unavailability of currently suspended, scandal-plagued player Alex Rodriguez while hoping that Derek Jeter is going to be healthy and productive all season. The Giants and Jets both had mediocre seasons and will be watching the upcoming NFL playoffs from home, missing the chance to play in the Super Bowl which will be played in their hometown. Both football teams will likely make numerous player changes as they look to rebound next year. The Knicks and Nets are off to painfully slow starts to the 2013-14 NBA season. Any talk about NBA championship contention for either team seems extremely far-fetched as both teams have a long way to go just to make the playoffs this year.

 

2013 Boston Marathon participants are emotional wrecks as they witness copious innocent people injured on the street.

2013 Boston Marathon participants are emotional wrecks as they witness copious innocent people injured on the street.

Sporting world’s negative headlines: The two bombs that exploded during the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 may be the most unfortunately memorable event that took place in sports. With approximately 264 people injured and 3 spectators killed that day, the tragedy unfolded slowly over the next few days after the marathon as the manhunt, shootout with one alleged perpetrator and eventual capture of the other alleged perpetrators played out on television like harrowing scenes from the FOX Network show 24.

Many were surprised to witness Aaron Hernandez being arrested in connection with a murder shortly before the start of the NFL season.

Many were surprised to witness Aaron Hernandez being arrested in connection with a murder shortly before the start of the NFL season.

2013 was also witness to the arrest for murder and gun charges of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. Hernandez is currently imprisoned as he awaits trial for the serious charges. The Miami Dolphins sparked greater debates about bullying in athletics as news surfaced about Jonathan Martin walking away from the team after alleging that he was bullied by teammates, specifically Richie Incognito. The NFL is still investigating this matter. Meanwhile, Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston was able to perform on the field while being investigated by local Florida prosecutors after he was accused of sexually assaulting a female who also attends Florida State. The prosecutor’s decision to not pursue charges against Winston still raised questions about whether some athletes get special treatment from law enforcement as the attorney for the accuser remains adamant that her client was violated. At the same time, Winston consistently asserted that his encounter with the accuser was consensual and that he “did nothing wrong.”

The Louisville Cardinals honor injured teammate Kevin Ware as they celebrate winning the National Championship in college basketball.

The Louisville Cardinals honor injured teammate Kevin Ware as they celebrate winning the National Championship in college basketball.

2013 was quite an eventful and memorable sports year. Kevin Ware breaking his leg during the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament was a gruesome sight but provided the impetus to propel the Louisville Cardinals to the national title. College football’s Nick Saban, coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide and Women’s college basketball’s Geno Auriemma of the Connecticut Huskies proved to be the dominant coaches in their sports as they led their teams to another national title.

Ray Lewis' last game in the NFL ended with him holding the Lombardi Trophy as the Baltimore Ravens were victorious.

Ray Lewis’ last game in the NFL ended with him holding the Lombardi Trophy as the Baltimore Ravens were victorious.

The Minnesota Lynx (WNBA) and Miami Heat (NBA) won championships in 2013 and have been in the finals each of the last three years. “Big Papi” David Ortiz led the Boston Red Sox through the post season again to win the World Series over the St. Louis Cardinals. Meanwhile, Ray Lewis was able to retire on top as the Baltimore Ravens pulled out a narrow victory over the San Francisco 49ers. With the Winter Olympics in Russia and World Cup in Brazil (for which the U.S. team was placed in the Group of Death) on docket, 2014 seems poised to garner even more interest than 2013 did in the sports world.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.