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Staley, USA Women’s National Team set to start training camp

Courtesy of ABC Columbia:

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado – With the 2017 WNBA Finals participants set, the roster for the 2017 USA Basketball Women’s National Team training camp now lists 20 of the nation’s top basketball players, headlined by five Olympic and FIBA World Cup gold medalists, who accepted an invitation and are available to participate in the training camp Sept. 30-Oct. 2 in Santa Barbara, California.

Led by 2017-20 USA Basketball Women’s National Team head coach Dawn Staley (South Carolina), the roster includes WNBA stars Sue Bird (Seattle Storm); Layshia Clarendon (Atlanta Dream); Elena Delle Donne (Washington Mystics); Skylar Diggins-Smith (Dallas Wings); Stefanie Dolson (Chicago Sky); Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury); Tiffany Hayes (Atlanta Dream); Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm); Kayla McBride (San Antonio Stars); Kelsey Plum (San Antonio Stars); Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm); Kiah Stokes (New York Liberty); Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury); Morgan Tuck (Connecticut Sun); and Courtney Williams (Connecticut Sun). Current collegiate All-Americans who will take part in the camp include: Napheesa Collier (Connecticut); Asia Durr (Louisville); Kelsey Mitchell (Ohio State); Katie Lou Samuelson (Connecticut) and A’ja Wilson (South Carolina).

The camp will be utilized to help identify and prepare athletes for future USA National Team events, including the 2018 USA World Cup Team, and will mark the USA’s first training camp under Staley’s tenure as head coach.

The USA will train at 10 a.m. (PDT) daily, with sessions at Westmont College on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. On Oct. 2, the USA National Team’s practice will be held at the University of California, Santa Barbara Recreation Center’s Robertson Gymnasium.

All 20 athletes possess prior USA Basketball experience. Among the Olympians, Bird and Taurasi are four-time Olympic gold medalists; while 2016 marked the first Olympic gold for Delle Donne, Griner and Stewart.

Bird lists as a four-time USA World Cup Team member and owns three gold medals and one bronze medal at the event; Taurasi has two gold medals and one bronze medal in FIBA World Cup play; and Griner and Stewart were members of the 2014 USA World Cup Team that returned home with the gold medal.

Michelle Clark-Heard (Western Kentucky), Jennifer Rizzotti (George Washington), Sue Semrau (Florida State) and Jeff Walz (Louisville) will be assisting Staley as court coaches during the USA National Team camp.


Original Source: http://www.abccolumbia.com/2017/09/19/staley-usa-womens-national-team-set-start-training-camp/

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Elena Delle Donne has found a home with Washington Mystics

Courtesy of The Washington Post:

Twice now, this 6-foot-5 basketball prodigy has taken her career, and her life, into her own hands with startling force.

The first time, Elena Delle Donne left in the middle of the night. She was 18, burned out, homesick and unwilling to cede any more of herself to the sport. She returned home to Delaware from the University of Connecticut for what she needed — a reprieve — before finding her way back to basketball on her own time and eventually becoming the No. 2 pick in the WNBA draft.

She left again nine years later, this time after spending the first four years of her professional career with the Chicago Sky. She demanded a trade to the team she believed could give her what she wanted — the chance to become a better basketball player, a team culture she could love, and the opportunity to spend more time with her family.

Now with one full regular season and one momentous playoff victory under her belt, Delle Donne judges that her second move, to the Washington Mystics in February, was just as successful as her first.

“I love it here. I really love it,” Delle Donne said emphatically, hunched over and sitting on a massage table after practice this week at Capital One Arena. “I love my teammates. I love my coaching staff. It’s just a great group of people. It’s infectious to be around. I really just enjoy coming to — I mean, I’ll call it work — every day.”

While Delle Donne found happiness in her move to Washington, the Mystics are overjoyed.

Delle Donne raised the ceiling for what Washington can achieve the moment she arrived. On Wednesday, she scored 25 points, one shy of a franchise playoff record, and added 11 rebounds, three assists and two blocks to lift the Mystics past the Dallas Wings and into the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2002. They now head to New York for another single-elimination game against the Liberty on Sunday.

During the regular season, Delle Donne dealt with ankle and thumb injuries and played through pain all while leading the team and ranking fourth in the WNBA with 19.7 points per game. In the regular season, she ranked in the top 15 in the league in rebounding (6.8, 13th), blocks (1.4, eighth), field goal percentage (49.4, 15th), three-point field goal percentage (38.8, 10th) and free throw percentage (95.3, first).

“She’s the biggest presence that we have out there on the court,” point guard Ivory Latta said. “Physically, mentally, everything. She’s a top player in the WNBA, so she attracts a lot, and she opens it up for everyone else. It’s just confidence. She gives us confidence.”

Part of what Delle Donne appreciates in Washington is that, though her talent makes her the largest presence on court, she doesn’t have to be the loudest voice in the locker room.

Krystal Thomas, a sixth-year pro, is one of the team’s most vocal leaders. Latta, who has spent a decade in the WNBA, keeps the locker room energized. Delle Donne, though unmistakably the Mystics’ franchise player, isn’t the team’s sole engine.

Being able to share that responsibility is a break from the norm.

“She’s had to be the star since she was a freshman in high school, and she was a starter on her state championship team as an eighth-grader,” Coach Mike Thibault said. “That’s a lot of pressure.”

Delle Donne craved that type of all-hands-on-deck culture that Thibault has cultivated since he signed on as the team’s coach and general manager in 2012. She has been open to working with him since at least 2013, when the Mystics tried to orchestrate a draft-day trade for Delle Donne with her blessing.

Said Thibault, who has known Delle Donne since she was a junior in college: “I think part of it is she’s family-oriented, and we have tried to develop a culture on and off the court where the players — you don’t have to have best friends, but you have to have a respect for each other and a liking for going to work with each other every day.”

Delle Donne also craved good basketball advisers, and Thibault came highly recommended from friends around the league. He tutored 2012 league MVP Tina Charles and has worked with USA Basketball for decades. Injuries derailed Delle Donne’s progress somewhat this season, but she has been able to work on improving her defense and the superb passing skills that helped make her a star.

“I really feel like I’m improving on court, but also really as a leader,” Delle Donne said. “And that’s what you want to see, is just growth. In all areas.”

As far as winning championships, Delle Donne believes that the Mystics will be WNBA title contenders in due time. Thinking about the future in Washington doesn’t scare her — it’s where she wants to be. It’s the type of situation that makes Delle Donne think about playing in the WNBA longer than she ever previously imagined.

“It’s so enjoyable that I hope my body holds out for many, many years and I can continue to do this, because it’s fun,” she said. “Who wants to go work a 9-to-5? I hope I can last for a long time and be a part of this. Because it’s really special.”


Original Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/mystics/elena-delle-donne-has-found-a-home-with-washington-mystics/2017/09/09/7c363bba-958d-11e7-aace-04b862b2b3f3_story.html?utm_term=.2461f3271a46

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Delle Donne scores 37 as Mystics beat Storm 110-106 in WNBA

Courtesy of Daily Mail:

WASHINGTON (AP) – Elena Delle Donne scored a season-high 37 points and the Washington Mystics beat the Seattle Storm 110-106 in overtime on Friday night.

The victory spoiled Seattle’s Sue Bird breaking the WNBA’s all-time assist record when she recorded her 2,600th career assist in the first quarter to pass Ticha Penicheiro and move into the top spot.

Washington led by three when Emma Meesseman made 1 of 2 free throws with 16.3 seconds remaining in overtime for a four-point lead. Bird was fouled on a 3-pointer five seconds later and hit all three shots to pull Seattle to 102-101. The teams combined for 13 free throws over the remaining 11 seconds and with Seattle down two with 3.8 seconds left Sami Whitcomb intentionally missed a free throw, but Delle Donne secured the rebound and made two free throws at the other end to seal it.

Meesseman added 27 points, eight rebounds and five assists for Washington (18-15), which holds a one-game lead on Phoenix for the fifth spot in the playoffs. The Mercury hold the tiebreaker between the teams.

Despite the loss, Seattle (14-19) clinched a postseason berth due to losses by Chicago and Atlanta later Friday night. The Storm will be the eighth seed.

LYNX 110, SKY 87

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Sylvia Fowles had 27 points and 12 rebounds for her 20th double-double, and the Lynx topped 100 points for the third straight home game with a victory over the Chicago Sky.

The Lynx set a WNBA record with 35 assists – without injured point guard Lindsay Whalen. They topped the 34 assists that both Los Angeles and Seattle had against Chicago earlier this season.

Maya Moore hit her 461st career 3-pointer, moving past Katie Smith for the franchise record.

Minnesota (26-7) remains a game in front of Los Angeles for the best record in the league. The Sparks, who beat Atlanta on Friday, own the tiebreaker. They’d need a win in their final game and a loss by the Lynx to get the top seed.

Kahleah Copper scored 21 points for Chicago (12-21), which was eliminated from the playoff hunt with the loss.


NEW YORK (AP) – Tina Charles and Epiphanny Prince scored 16 points apiece and the Liberty pulled away in the fourth quarter to win their ninth straight game, beating San Antonio.

New York (21-12) entered the night having clinched a first-round postseason bye and is a half-game behind Connecticut for the third seed. The Sun played at Phoenix later Friday night. The Liberty, who have not lost since Aug. 4, conclude their regular season against the Dallas Wings on Sunday with a shot of matching the franchise record for consecutive victories.

Kia Vaughn and Shavonte Zellous added 10 points each for New York.

Kelsey Plum scored 18 points and Kayla Alexander had 15 points and nine rebounds to lead San Antonio (7-26).


PHOENIX (AP) – Brittney Griner had 20 of her 31 points in the first half and the Mercury clinched a home playoff game with a win over the Sun.

The Sun (21-12) dropped into a third-place tie with the New York Liberty, each with one game remaining in the regular season. Connecticut visits the Los Angeles Sparks and New York travels to the Dallas Wings, both on Sunday. The Liberty hold the tiebreaker.

The Mercury (17-16) finish their season at home against Atlanta on Sunday and will stay in Phoenix. The Mercury can earn the fifth seed with a win and a loss by Washington.

Alyssa Thomas had 19 points and Brionna Jones added 13 for the Sun.


LOS ANGELES (AP) – Candace Parker scored 15 points and the Sparks built an early double-digit lead en route to an easy victory over the Dream.

Los Angeles (25-8) has won six straight and is a game back of the Minnesota Lynx (26-7) for the No. 1 seed into the playoffs. The Sparks host the Connecticut Sun while the Lynx face the Washington Mystics at home to conclude the regular season on Sunday. The Sparks beat Minnesota 78-67 on Aug. 27 and own the tiebreaker over the Lynx. Atlanta (12-21) was eliminated from the postseason.

Nneka Ogwumike and Odyssey Sims added 13 points apiece for the Sparks. Jantel Lavender chipped in 12 points.

Tiffany Hayes scored 19 points to lead Atlanta, which committed a season-high 19 turnovers.

Parker picked up her 1,000th career assist in the first quarter with a pass to Chelsea Gray, who made a 26-footer. Gray hit another 3 on the Sparks’ next possession to cap a 14-2 opening run as Los Angeles built a 43-29 halftime lead. Gray finished with eight points.


Original Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-4846070/Delle-Donne-scores-37-Mystics-beat-Storm-110-106-WNBA.html

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VIDEO: WNBA mode included in NBA Live video game for first time, including Elena Delle Donne of Mystics

Courtesy of CSN Mid-Atlantic:

NBA Live is back with a new version after a one-year hiatus and EA Sports has added a brand new feature that is quite cool. For the first time, you can play with WNBA teams including the Washington Mystics and Elena Delle Donne.

The graphics are sweet, too. Check out this video of the gameplay:

That’s not bad at all. Of course, NBA 2K18 is also coming out this fall and the franchise is extremely popular. But maybe NBA Live will win some new fans with the WNBA mode.


Original Source: http://www.csnmidatlantic.com/washington-wizards/video-wnba-mode-included-nba-live-video-game-first-time-including-elena-delle

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Mystics looking for a little rhythm — and luck — heading into the playoffs

Courtesy of The Washington Post:

With three games left in the regular season, the Washington Mystics are taking aim at two marks, one reachable through their own doing and the other requiring considerable assistance.

A win against the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday night at Capital One Arena would guarantee Washington a home game in the WNBA playoffs. The Mystics secured a fourth postseason berth in five years when they beat the Indiana Fever on Aug. 20.

Two losses in a row since have left Washington as a long shot to claim a top-four seed and the accompanying first-round bye. For that scenario to unfold, the Mystics (17-14), now in the No. 5 slot, would need to win out and have either the New York Liberty or the Sun lose each of their remaining games.

The Mystics, losers of four of their past five games, trail third-seeded Connecticut (20-11) by three games and No. 4 seed New York (20-12) by 2½ .

“The biggest thing for me is to be playing better basketball with some rhythm going into the playoffs,” Coach Mike Thibault said. “We’ve had no rhythm at all. It’s just been disjointed really.”

Part of the uneven play, according to Thibault, is attributable to injuries late in the season. All-star forward Elena Delle Donne, for instance, has played two games since undergoing left thumb surgery that kept her out of the lineup for more than two weeks.

The 2015 WNBA MVP’s first practice since the procedure was last Thursday, immediately before a back-to-back, the Mystics’ only such stretch this year. Delle Donne scored 29 points, matching her season high, with 11 rebounds during Saturday’s 83-78 home loss to the Dallas Wings.

Washington had lost to the Liberty, 74-66, Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

“I’m all right,” Delle Donne said. “Obviously all of our bodies are a little tired. I think both were great tests. Unfortunately, we came away with losses in those tests, but they are good games to be in right now, especially with the playoffs right around the corner. A back-to-back is always a struggle.”

Guard Natasha Cloud, a top reserve, has missed the past three games with a partial plantar fascia tear in her right foot. She continues to rehab but may not play again until the postseason, Thibault said, leaving the club even more shorthanded during this critical juncture.

Washington already is without starting guard Tayler Hill, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee in mid-July. She was the Mystics’ second-leading scorer at the time and has missed the past 13 games.

Thibault gave his players Sunday off and had them in film study Monday afternoon, allowing for additional time to rest. The Mystics’ final two regular season games are Friday at home against the Seattle Storm and Sunday on the road against the Minnesota Lynx , which has won three WNBA championships since 2011.

“We’re going to have to get back to work in the couple days before we play a game just to try to get everybody on the same page,” Thibault said of his plans later this week. “It’s going to be hard. I was looking at our games lost to injuries, and I was just shaking my head, not as much just for people being out but being out at different times so you’re always re-scrambling things.”

Turns out Washington will be playing Tuesday night because of another unforeseen circumstance. The Mystics originally had been scheduled to face Connecticut on July 28 in the rubber match of their three-game series, but a leak in the roof at Capital One Arena forced postponement until a month later.

After another leak delayed the Mystics’ game against Indiana for 45 minutes on Aug. 12 — creating the opportunity for a dance-off between the two teams during the interlude — the roof at the 20-year-old arena has undergone repairs, according to Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns and operates the facility, in an effort to guard against additional leaks.

Tuesday’s forecast calls for a chance of rain throughout the day.


Original Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/mystics/mystics-looking-for-a-little-rhythm—and-luck—heading-into-the-playoffs/2017/08/28/fcc8c92c-8c10-11e7-84c0-02cc069f2c37_story.html?utm_term=.7513a6da8789

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Elena Delle Donne’s Nike React Hyperdunk 2017 PE is inspired by the Air Swoopes

Courtesy of Sneaker News:

Back in 1996 when Sheryl Swoopes became the first female basketball player to get a signature shoe, it was quite a big deal. Among those paying attention was a young Elena Delle Donne, who even at seven years old, had to have a pair of the Air Swoopes right away. Now the current WNBA star honors her childhood basketball and sneaker hero with a very special edition of the Nike React Hyperdunk 2017 in a PE inspired by Swoopes’ first shoe.

Customized with special touches calling back to the Air Swoopes, the Delle Donne’s Hyperdunk features a split color block, added heel tabs, and the same pattern on the textile inner lining. Elena adds a couple more of her own touches to the PE: an angel wing tattoo graphic as a tribute to her sister Lizzie, and “Demand Excellence” visible underneath the translucent outsoles.

Delle Donne wore the “Swoopes” React Hyperdunk 2017 PE on-court Saturday, August 26th. The shoe hits retail November 4th in limited supply at Nike.com.


Original Source: https://sneakernews.com/2017/08/28/elena-delle-donne-nike-react-hyperdunk-2017-pe-air-swoopes/

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Washington Mystics players speak out about President Trump, politics in Washington Post story

Courtesy of Fansided:

Politics is a tricky subject to navigate, particularly for professional athletes subject to media scrutiny, fan criticism, and the expectations of their own team.

The Washington Mystics don’t seem to care.

In an eye-opening piece in the Washington Post on Sunday, players and coaches spoke out about current events and whether they would visit the White House if invited.

For the Mystics, it starts with the coach. The story says Mike Thibault welcomes political discussion around his team, no matter the views, and encourages his players to support causes that are important to them.

“I’m not trying to be dramatic about it; I just think it’s important that you stand up for what you think’s right,” Thibault said. “I don’t know if it’s the teacher part of me or the activist part of me, I don’t know what it is. I just feel like I want them to stand for something, whatever it is.”

Part of that could mean making a difficult decision if the Mystics win the WNBA Championship (a big “if.” The Mystics are on track for a playoff spot, but would have to get past several teams in seemingly better shape.). Major sports champions are traditionally invited to the White House to meet the president, but many of President Trump’s actions and policies have rubbed Mystics players the wrong way, to the point where they might not want to attend.

In the story, Elena Delle Donne called Trump’s statement last week on banning transgender individuals from serving in the military “idiotic” and “very frightening.”

Natasha Cloud said she does not support any of Trump’s views on politics or human rights issues, and added that if the Mystics were to win the WNBA title, “we [presumably the Mystics] would not go to the White House.
Delle Donne agreed:

“I wouldn’t go,” Delle Donne said. “I’m pretty sure the whole team just isn’t in support of a lot of the values that the president right now seems to be standing for. So yeah, I don’t think many of us would make that trip.”

The Mystics are hardly an outlier, either. Earlier this month, the Seattle Storm held a Stand With Planned Parenthood night, which included a pregame rally. They also gave proceeds from ticket sales going to the non-profit. WNBA president Lisa Borders also weighed in on the hotly contested Georgia special House election, supporting Democrat Jon Ossoff, who ultimately lost to Republican Karen Handel.

It will be interesting to see if other WNBA contenders weigh in on a potential White House invitation in the offseason. After all, one team will ultimately have a decision to make.


Original Source: https://summitthoops.com/2017/07/31/theresa-plaisance-raised-on-game/

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Delle Donne’s Unprecedented Free-Throw Shooting Continues To Amaze

Courtesy of WNBA:

The game of basketball offers a unique scoring opportunity that simply can’t be found anywhere else in sports: the free throw.

This motion doesn’t cloak its true meaning in verbose vernacular. In fact, it’s exactly what it claims to be: An uncontested throw of the ball at the hoop in hopes of adding another point, two or even three to your final total. No defender trying to block or even affect the shot, other players reduced to fans watching the action unfold in front of them. It’s a play that’s become so commonplace in the game today that we often overlook its simplicity.

Delving into WNBA team free throw percentage from the past five seasons, a veiled but intriguing theme of consistency comes to fruition. From 2013-16 the Chicago Sky never dropped out of the top four, and this season the Mystics are the second team shooting 85% or better (Fever, 2017) since the 2011 Phoenix Mercury.

The thread clearly isn’t a homecourt advantage but rather a prolific individual shooter: Elena Delle Donne.

You know about the MVP awards, the scoring champion accolades, the Rookie of the Year trophy and the Olympic gold medal, but EDD also holds the profound honor of being the league’s all-time leader in the free throw percentage (94.3%).

Delle Donne has made the charity stripe her second home. While her exceptional arsenal of offensive weapons make her lethal off the dribble or in a catch-and-shoot opportunity, her ability to draw fouls and then convert from the line is what sets her in a class all by herself when it comes to stuffing the stat sheet.

On Tuesday afternoon, Delle Donne tied DeWanna Bonner’s record for consecutive made free throws in a single season at 59. Eva Nemcova still holds the all-time record after sinking 66 straight between the 1999 and 2000 seasons.

She missed the historic shot and fell short in chasing more history, but still, this ground-breaking level of consistency was nothing new for the four-time All-Star.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

In 2015, Delle Donne made 58 straight free throws as a member of the Chicago Sky, which at the time set the all-time single-season record before Bonner set the new record just five weeks later. In the same season she also set a new WNBA in-game record by knocking down 19 of 19 free throws against the Dream in late June en route to a career-high 45-point outburst. All in all she’s made an astounding 686 of the 728 total free throw shots she’s attempted in her WNBA career thus far.

2017 has been particularly special for the free throw phenom as her 96.4 percent shooting from the line is the best clip of her career. EDD has only missed four free throws this entire season, she’s taken 112. Always mentioned in the scoring champion discussion, Delle Donne’s 19.3 points per game are the 7th most in the WNBA and of her 366 points this season 108 have come in the form of free throws.

Many are hesitant to say that someone is “automatic” or a “guarantee” when it comes to scoring the basketball. But, if Elena Delle Donne is on the line with two free throws coming her way, it’s safe to assume she’ll have two more points next to her name as her team runs the other way to get into their defensive set.


Original Source: http://www.wnba.com/news/elena-delle-donne-free-throw-foul-shooting/

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Elena Delle Donne hopes to share lessons from her life and career in new books


Courtesy of USA Today:

Even for a program like Connecticut, Elena Della Donne was a big deal. The Huskies routinely bring in top classes, but by 2008 Delle Donne had become perhaps the most talked-about high school girls basketball player in history, destined for multiple titles with the nation’s most elite program.

Then, after only a short stay on campus the summer before her freshman season, she left. Her decision to transfer to the University of Delaware is still scrutinized nearly 10 years — and one WNBA MVP award and Olympic gold medal — later.

Now, she’s hoping to pass on the life lessons she learned then – and from the rest of her career (so far) – in two new books: Her memoir, My Shot, and the first in a series of kids books, Elle of the Ball. Delle Donne wants both books — which are written with a collaborator and will be released by Simon and Schuster in March of 2018 — to be accessible to children and teenagers who may be struggling with the same feelings she had when she was younger.

“It’s been a couple of years in my career and I feel like at this point I’m comfortable with who I am, where I am,” Delle Donne said. “A lot of lessons I’ve learned along the way, and I love kids so I definitely wanted these first books to be geared towards a younger age group and just wanted to share some life lessons. Also just give a little bit of fun reading.”

Among those life lessons, she said, are those she learned in the years after her departure from UConn, when long-simmering feelings of burnout culminated in an abrupt – but necessary – break from the sport before returning to the court at Delaware a year later. She said she began feeling burned out long before she stepped on campus in Storrs, Conn. and in her book shares some of the emotions she was feeling in the years leading up to that famous departure.

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

“It was definitely a chance to tell it in my own way and in my own words, even going through the writing process of it all. At some points it’s kind of emotional to have to re-live moments that were tough, especially the whole Connecticut turmoil and going through that I felt like I had to re-live those emotions in order to re-tell it the way I was experiencing it in that time,” she said. “So I would say that was one of the hardest parts of the book was getting through that and burnout was a huge part of the book and I think — even if you’re not an athlete — there’s things in life you feel like you’re burning out in and I tell it from my perspective and how I got through it and hope that can help others.”

There are other life lessons in the books that Delle Donne hopes can appeal to kids – and grownups – across different audiences. Which means she hopes that both boys and girls take away something from the books. In Elle of the Ball, a book about a middle school basketball player, there’s a boy character too.

“So if they don’t relate to my character hopefully they can relate to another one and that was very important to me,” she said.

Delle Donne also hopes to offer some of what she learned about perseverance, having the right people to support you and some tales about life being so tall. (Delle Donne is 6-foot-5).

“It took me until college to really be comfortable,” she said. “Obviously basketball helped a lot but I would say college is when I finally loved my height and embraced it.”

As for feeling comfortable with herself as a whole? As it is for any of us, it’s an ongoing process, she said.

“But I’m in a great place now and I feel like I’ve really learned so much over the years,” she said. “This was a great time to reflect and share some lessons.”


Original Source: http://ftw.usatoday.com/2017/07/elena-delle-donne-book

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Elena Delle Donne makes herself right at home with Mystics

Courtesy of ESPN:

WASHINGTON — Elena Delle Donne hasn’t attempted her first subway ride in the nation’s capital, the Beltway gives her a headache and her dogs Wrigley and Rasta are only lukewarm to their new digs in northern Virginia.

But just about every other part of the 2015 WNBA MVP’s transition to a new team and new city looks as free and easy as, well, an EDD jump shot.

And plenty of shots hit the mark during a Sunday matinee for the Washington Mystics, who never trailed in breezing past San Antonio 89-74 at the Verizon Center.

Delle Donne, who requested to be traded from the Chicago Sky during the offseason, scored a team-best 24 on 8-of-12 shooting in her debut for a Mystics team that has generated buzz as a possible contender for a first-ever league championship.

“Obviously, you come in and get 24 points in your debut, that probably sets a pretty good tone for things,” said Washington coach Mike Thibault, though conceding he expects a far different look from the Stars when the teams meet later this summer.

“This is exactly what I was hoping for and even more,” said Delle Donne, who, teamed with the league’s top 3-point shooter Emma Meesseman, gives the Mystics one of the more potent frontcourts. “I knew coming here this team had chemistry. But when you get here and you feel it and experience it, it’s even better than I imagined. It’s so fun to play with so much talent and so many options.”

San Antonio played without three starters in Kelsey Plum, the No. 1 pick in last month’s draft who’s out with a right ankle sprain, Moriah Jefferson (right knee soreness), and Kayla McBride (overseas playing in the Turkish League finals). McBride and Jefferson led the Stars in scoring in 2016 and Plum, from the University of Washington, comes in as the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer.

The Stars also are coming off rare back-to-back road games, having lost 73-64 to New York on Saturday night in Madison Square Garden. That didn’t stop Monique Currie from amassing 31 points, less than 24 hours after scoring 23.

The Mystics are intact, though they haven’t been for long as Kristi Toliver and Meesseman joined the group midway through last week. While the defense had some lapses, including Delle Donne weathering five fouls, Thibault largely attributed that to the newcomers still figuring out what is familiar to veterans Tayler Hill, Natasha Cloud, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and Ivory Latta.

“They’re used to talking to each other and those kinds of things, and it’s going to take a little longer to integrate the newer players.

“[Elena] will get better once she gets used to our defensive system,” he said. “She’ll be able to anticipate some things and get there a little bit quicker. I think a couple of her fouls were just from being a count late.”

That said, Thibault couldn’t have been more pleased with his franchise player, quipping this about her free-throw prowess: “We have a rule that if you violate while she’s shooting the free throw, we’re going to fine you 25 bucks apiece. So we had one almost do it early in the game. They’re all going to fine her for missing a free throw because it’s such a rare thing.”

Delle Donne, who set a Sky record for 97 made free throws her rookie season, sank her first seven from the line and finished 8 of 9.

She’s already a fan favorite, too, though the announced crowd of 6,126 was nearly half of the opening day attendance a year ago in D.C., most likely a result of a midafternoon game on Mother’s Day and the first-place Nationals playing an afternoon home game nearby.

While it’ll take a while for her jersey to rival anything worn by Alex Ovechkin and Bryce Harper, plenty of girls, boys and even grown men walked around the Verizon Center showing off her No. 11.

Dave Noren pulled up his new Delle Donne T-shirt to reveal Delle Donne Chicago Sky garb. “I’m from Chicago,” he said, admitting that he prefers she play in Washington given his suburban Virginia address. Sons Greg, 12, and Zach, 9, also had their own Delle Donne paraphernalia.

“She’s the best,” Zach said.

Greg added, “She’s really good.”

Delle Donne cited wanting to be closer to home as the primary reason she wanted to leave Chicago. Now home is a straight shot up I-95 north to Wilmington, Delaware, a far easier trek for parents Ernie and Joan Delle Donne than navigating a plane ride in and out of O’Hare International.

Short of relocating a WNBA franchise to the tri-state area, “This is perfect,” said Ernie Delle Donne, sitting alongside his son Gene, daughter-in-law Jennifer, granddaughter Gia and Amanda Clifton, Elena’s fiancé.

Ernie Delle Donne, who traveled to 28 of Elena’s 32 home games last season, used to leave his office no later than 11 a.m. for a night game in Chicago. If he was lucky, he’d be back to work by 1 p.m., the next afternoon.

“Now for a 7 o’clock game, I can leave at 4 and be here in time for tipoff and be back before midnight,” he said.

Elena lunched with her mother on Thursday — Joan Delle Donne stayed at home with Elena’s sister, Lizzie, on Sunday — and handed off a Mother’s Day gift to Gene. Lizzie, who has cerebral palsy and autism, is expected to come for two games.

The family is expected to make good use of their recently purchased vacation home on the water in Annapolis, Maryland. Friday night, Elena met her family for a Mexican meal and had a flatbread from Dunkin’ Donuts with everyone before arriving at the Verizon Center by noon Sunday.

“The drive from our house to practice here is actually a lot better than in Chicago,” Clifton said. “Just being out here, being close to family automatically puts her in a better place. She’s much happier, not just about basketball, but about life.”

Joe Biden wasn’t in the house on Sunday, but the former vice president from Delaware told Thibault he expects to attend four or five games. The first state was well represented, however. The University of Delaware, Delle Donne’s alma mater, sent down a charter bus of 44 fans.

“This is wonderful,” said Carol Dillon, a regular at Delaware’s Bob Carpenter Center during Delle Donne’s college. “We can take the train.”

Seated next to her in the second row at midcourt, her friend Helen Hannan added while mimicking a jump shot, “I could watch her shoot all day.”

“I knew the Delaware faithful would show up,” Delle Donne said. “That’s my crew; that’s my family. Delaware always makes me proud. It’s truly a home game. Delaware doesn’t care if it’s two hours. It’s home for them as well.”

While Delle Donne will be the focal point for the Mystics offense, she’s surrounded by shooters, including Toliver. The former Maryland star, who won a league championship last year as a member of the L.A. Sparks, scored eight and added four assists.

“I played four years two miles down the road,” said Toliver, whose father, former AAU teammates and high school bestie were in the stands. “It feels like home.”

Tayler Hill, one of two mothers on this team along with Tianna Hawkins, finished with 15, and Meesseman had 13 with nine boards.

“Offensively we didn’t have to force much and I think it’s going to continue to be that way,” Delle Donne said. “Any player can step up anytime and any night. It’s exciting to be on a team with this many options.”


Original Source: http://www.espn.com/wnba/story/_/id/19367118/wnba-moms-getting-more-help-ever-face-challenges

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University of Delaware women’s basketball coach retires

Courtesy of WDEL:

The University of Delaware has another opening to fill. Long-time women’s head basketball coach Tina Martin has announced her retirement.

Martin recently finished her 21st year at the helm of the Blue Hens, piling up 408 wins, a school record for either men’s or women’s basketball. She took her teams to four NCAA tournaments and seven WNIT invites. She had 20 wins or more in 12 of the past 18 seasons.

She released the following statement.

“After a great deal of thought, I’ve decided the time is right for me to retire as head coach at the University of Delaware and move on to the next chapter of my life.  Delaware basketball has been my passion for over 20 years and I am going to miss it. I’ve been fortunate to work with very driven and loyal assistant coaches, talented student-athletes, great teams, and supportive fans. I would like to thank all of the athletic directors I have worked with at UD, including Bernard Muir and Eric Ziady and especially Edgar Johnson who hired me 21 years ago. My staff and I have established an outstanding winning tradition and I will always be proud of my legacy at the University of Delaware.”

Martin was named conference coach of the year three times and coached WNBA star Elena Delle Donne, who was the second overall pick in the WNBA draft and won Rookie of the Year and MVP honors.

Martin’s consistent success peaked with four conference championships.

In their final season in the America East Conference in 2000-01, her squad finished 17-1 in the league, on their way to a 26-5 campaign.

The move to the Colonial Athletic Association meant a huge hurdle was put in their way, national-power Old Dominion under head coach Wendy Larry.

Delaware went 111-40 overall in their first five seasons in the league, but had to settle for four WNIT appearances and a conference-regular season title in 2002-03.

They would win a then-program-record 26 games in 2006-07, finishing tied for second in the league, but a win over Old Dominion in the regular season helped the Blue Hens join the Lady Monarchs and James Madison as three CAA teams earned bids to the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

The floor caved in the following year, with a 7-24 record, including 1-12 outside of the league in 2007-08.

After a 15-15 campaign in 2008-09, a gift fell into her program’s lap as a Delaware product named Elena Delle Donne made a decision to resume playing basketball, and chose her home state’s top university.

The four Delle Donne years saw the Blue Hens win 104 games, and took the program to new heights.

They started with two more WNIT appearances, and a spot in the 2011 CAA championship game, but then the explosion happened.

Delaware went 63-6 over the new two seasons, being ranked as high as No. 7 in the Associated Press poll as they not only made the 2012 NCAA tournament, but won their program’s first post-season game at Arkansas-Little Rock as a No. 3 regional seed.

2013 brought Martin and the Hens news they would host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, and despite Delle Donne beginning to battle what would turn out to be Lyme Disease, they again won the CAA, and took advantage of their hosting opportunity.

A 78-69 win over West Virginia was followed by a 78-69 upset of No. 3-seed North Carolina, sending the Blue Hens to the Sweet 16 in Brideport, Connecticut.

Delaware would get close late, but Kentucky’s tenacious defense eventually wore down the Hens in a 69-62 defeat, ending the career of Delle Donne and a 7-player senior class.

Despite the momentum at that point, Martin’s squad has fallen back to the pack in the four years since.

One final WNIT apperance came at the end of a 20-11 season in 2013-2014, making her 0-7 in the secondary post-season tournament.

The last three years her squads went 47-46, finishing no better than 4th in conference play, as James Madison and Drexel have stepped to the forefront in the league.

Martin was a basketball star at Lock Haven University and was an assistant at Lock Haven and Seton Hall before taking the head coaching job at Delaware in 1996.

Martin’s top assistant for her entire time with the program, Jeanine Radice, has been named the interim head coach. The school said in a statement they will begin a national search for Martin’s replacement.


Original Source: http://www.wdel.com/sports/university-of-delaware-women-s-basketball-coach-retires/article_5d5beb54-2c15-11e7-b4f6-c79d8bbc63d2.html

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Five Reasons To Watch The Mystics Work This Season

Courtesy of WNBA:

2016 Record:

Key Offseason Moves:
Acquired Elena Delle Donne in a trade with the Chicago Sky in exchange for Stefanie Dolson, Kahleah Copper and the No. 2 pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft

Acquired the No. 6 pick in the 2017 draft from the Seattle Storm as part of a three-team trade with the Mystics sending Bria Hartley and Kia Vaughn to New York

Signed free agent Kristi Toliver

Re-signed Tayler Hill

2016 Highlights

EDD Takes DC

The Mystics pulled off one of the biggest trades in WNBA history by acquiring former MVP and scoring champ Elena Delle Donne from the Chicago Sky.

Her list of accolades is lengthy, including individual awards and her contributions to Team USA’s Gold Medal in Rio last summer. One thing is certain – she can revitalize Washington’s franchise. Her arrival has already caused a whirlwind of speculation and sky-high expectations for the team this season. She will produce, just as she always does, and the Mystics can do some incredible things this season because of her immense talents.

Adding A ‘Spark’

The Mystics didn’t just make a splash on the trade market, they also did in free agency. The club signed Kristi Toliver from the Los Angeles Sparks, fresh off her WNBA championship victory over the Minnesota Lynx.

Playing her last seven seasons in LA beside Candace Parker, Toliver is now a seasoned vet with a championship ring and solid leadership qualities. Her outside shooting ability will give Washington another option to stretch the floor on offense and take some pressure off of Delle Donne.

The Balling Belgian

Perhaps the scariest part about the Mystics is that, in addition to EDD and the other scorers on the roster, they also boast perhaps the WNBA’s most versatile center.

Indeed, 23-year-old Emma Meesseman is a stretch-5 who can pull her defender outside the 3-point line and create easy routes to the basket for her teammates. She can also knock shots down from deep, as evidenced by her near-45% mark from long distance, ranking best in the league ahead of Seattle’s Sue Bird.

Meesseman attempted and made the most 3’s of her career last season, resulting in the highest scoring output in her four years in the WNBA. It’ll be interesting to see what year five holds for the Belgian.

Top Of The Hill

In her first year as a starter, Tayler Hill started in all 32 games she played and led the Mystics with 15.4 points per game. She averaged career-highs across the board and nearly doubled her scoring average from the year before.

Now with an established scorer like EDD around, Hill should be able to get better looks, leading to more efficient scoring. If all the pieces come together quickly, this Mystics offense should be one of the league’s most potent.

Sharp-Shooting Shatori

With the No. 6 pick in the 2017 Draft, the Mystics selected Shatori Walker-Kimbrough from Maryland, and she should be able to contribute immediately as a 3-point markswoman.

After all, shooting threes is what she does best, having set Maryland and Big 10 3-point field goal percentage marks as well as leading the NCAA in 3-point shooting as a junior, shooting 54.5% from behind the arc.

The Mystics already have the first, third and fourth best 3-point shooters from last season (Meesseman, Delle Donne and Toliver, respectively) and now added arguably the best shooter available in the draft. The pick came from the Storm in a three-team deal that saw the Liberty land Bria Hartley and Kia Vaughn. This offense has the capabilities of being a modern, run-and-gun WNBA offense.


Original Source: http://www.wnba.com/news/five-reasons-watch-mystics-work-season/

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Mystics open training camp with revamped roster, elevated expectations

Courtesy of The Washington Post:

The Washington Mystics opened training camp Monday morning with an energetic practice and a retooled roster following an active offseason in which they added, among others, Elena Delle Donne, the 2015 WNBA MVP who has teammates entertaining thoughts of delivering the franchise its first championship.

Delle Donne was among 15 players who attended the first of two practices at Verizon Center after reporting to camp Sunday afternoon. The Mystics also were scheduled to practice Monday night and expected to spend the majority of that time in five-on-five scrimmages.

During the later stages of Monday’s first practice, Mystics Coach and General Manager Mike Thibault discussed pick-and-roll defense, emphasizing communication, particularly with younger players. Washington has four rookies in camp, including guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, the sixth overall pick out of Maryland.

“We’re going to harp on constantly,” Thibault said. “That’s going to probably be the thing that determines how good we ultimately are. Can we be a good defensive team, not an average defensive team, and if we are a good defensive team, we’re going to score a good amount of points probably. I’m happy for the first day.”

On a broader scale, Thibault reinforced the importance of taking a winning attitude into the season, which commences May 14 at home against the San Antonio Stars.

The Mystics are coming off a 13-21 record last year, missing the playoffs for the first time since Thibault took over in December 2012.

“It was all about culture, which is why I was so drawn to this team,” Delle Donne said with regard to Thibault’s message. “It’s just about building that culture with one another, the communication, the trust and giving everything we have.

“I also like that he said, ‘Expectations mean you have a chance.’ When there are no expectations on a team, it means you have no chance. I really liked that, and I took that away.”

During her introductory news conference in February, Delle Donne mentioned bringing a WNBA title to the District as soon as possible. That sentiment continued to resonate throughout the locker room at the start of this training camp, with both veterans and newcomers indicating the parts are in place to make a championship run.

In addition to Delle Donne, the Mystics added point guard Kristi Toliver, a free agent signing who helped the Los Angeles Sparks win the WNBA Finals last season. The former Maryland standout is not in camp because of overseas obligations and, according to the team, is expected to join the Mystics early next month.

So too is power forward Emma Meesseman, a first-time all-star two years ago and the league leader in three-point field goal percentage last season. Meesseman also has basketball obligations internationally with the same Russian Women’s Basketball Premier League team as Toliver.

Meesseman’s absence along with the offseason trades of centers Stefanie Dolson and Kia Vaughn has Krystal Thomas, entering her first season with Washington, on track to get significant work during training camp. Thomas, a 6-foot-5 center, signed with the Mystics as a free agent after spending last season with the Seattle Storm.

The Mystics also are without forward-center LaToya Sanders, a top post defender who is out indefinitely because of a foot injury.

“For me, I’m just trying to do whatever the team needs,” Thomas said. “Wherever Coach T tells me to go, that’s where I’m going to go. I’m here to serve. I’m here to be part of the team and help this team do big things in the playoffs and eventually lead to a championship. I just want to work hard, be a vocal leader, bring my experience from playing in the league.”

Thomas is the only player on the active training camp roster other than Toliver and point guard Ivory Latta with at least five years in the league. Among the Mystics’ projected starters, only Toliver has more than four years of WNBA experience.

Even with Toliver overseas, the Mystics still have plenty of depth at point guard. Natasha Cloud was the starter for most of the last two seasons, and Latta started 67 of 68 games during 2013 and ’14, her first two years with Washington.

Tayler Hill also has served spot duty at point guard. The No. 4 pick in the 2013 draft is the projected starter at shooting guard after re-signing with Washington this past offseason.

“You’ve just got to live up to the expectations,” said Latta, a two-time all-star participating in the 10th training camp of her professional career. “We’ve got great players. We’ve got great additions to the team. The sky’s the limit. I just can’t wait until we all come together. Emma’s not here, Toliver’s not here. Whenever we all come together, it could be something very special.”


Original Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dc-sports-bog/wp/2017/04/19/washington-mystics-elena-delle-donne-takes-part-in-pre-training-camp-workout/?utm_term=.14fced280339

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Washington Mystics’ Elena Delle Donne takes part in pre-training camp workout

Courtesy of The Washington Post:

In the first round of pickup games Wednesday with her new Washington Mystics teammates, Elena Delle Donne received a pass along the baseline, pump faked to draw a defender in the air and scored on a up-and-under shot off the glass.

The sequence led Tianna Hawkins, who had given up the basket, to mutter an expletive. Watching from a nearby seat at the Verizon Center practice court, Mystics Coach and General Manager Mike Thibault empathized.

“Welcome to the club,” he said, smiling. “That’s what I was saying the entire game when whenever we played her.”

During one stretch, Delle Donne made four shots in a row, including two difficult floaters after spinning by her defender. She also made her share of three-pointers from NBA range, each time eliciting a smile from Thibault, who orchestrated the trade for Delle Donne in the most significant move in franchise history.

Delle Donne was named WNBA MVP in 2015 and last season finished tied for first in the league in scoring, averaging 21.5 points per game for the Chicago Sky. The Mystics acquired Delle Donne from the Sky, which drafted her No. 2 overall in 2013, in exchange for the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, center Stefanie Dolson and guard Kahleah Copper.

“I feel good,” Delle Donne said. “We all were a little winded. Obviously that’s how it is the first time getting up and down with one another, but some really good things I’ve seen. Obviously some things to work on, and I think coach is itching to get out there and coach us.”

While Delle Donne was the centerpiece of the Mystics’ offseason transactions, Thibault also added other players expected to contribute significantly, including point guard Kristi Toliver. The former Maryland star, however, was not at Wednesday’s workout because of overseas commitments.

Toliver plays for UMMC Ekaterinburg, the same Russian Women’s Basketball Premier League team as Emma Meesseman, a first-team all-star two years ago with the Mystics. UMMC Ekaterinburg is in the RWBPL finals beginning Saturday, and both players are expected to miss a majority of training camp.

Other Mystics players, including two-time all-star guard Ivory Latta and free agent signing Krystal Thomas, are scheduled to arrive later this week, with the majority of the team assembling for the first practice of training camp Monday.

“I already like what I see in just pickup,” said point guard Natasha Cloud, entering her third year with the Mystics. “This is our first time playing since coming back from overseas and kind of having down time, getting back in shape. We’re already clicking.”

Guards Tayler Hill and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, the No. 6 overall pick in last week’s draft who didn’t have far to travel to join her new team, also stood out Wednesday. Walker-Kimbrough played at Maryland, where she was a three-time first-team all-Big Ten selection.

Hill made six shots in a row at one point, all from long range, illustrating the potential matchup issues opponents figure to face when guarding the Mystics, who have three of the WNBA’s top four three-point shooters from last season.

Walker-Kimbrough also has shown an ability to make three-pointers consistently, shooting 55 percent from beyond the arc as junior to lead all Division I players.

“It was definitely a challenge, but the most exciting part is I feel myself getting better,” said Walker-Kimbrough, the fourth all-time leading scorer for the Terrapins. “The girls are great. They’re encouraging me, just going at me, making me better, so it was a great day.”


Original Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dc-sports-bog/wp/2017/04/19/washington-mystics-elena-delle-donne-takes-part-in-pre-training-camp-workout/?utm_term=.14fced280339

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New commercial perfectly answers all questions about why you should watch women play hoops

Courtesy of USA Today:

So last year’s WNBA finals, as we’ve written on this site, was overall a pretty phenomenal and exciting series of hoops. With the WNBA draft on Thursday night and the season only a month away, the league released a new video reminding us all about some of the craziest two minutes in basketball along with some clips that should easily answer the question about if women are tough enough to play basketball.


Original Source: http://ftw.usatoday.com/2017/04/wnba-watch-me-work-draft-elena-delle-donne-maya-moore

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1,100 spread awareness for disabilities at LOGAN Nose-On

Courtesy of WNBU

Over 1,100 people showed up to this year’s LOGAN Nose-On luncheon. LOGAN Center hosts the annual event to raise awareness for people who have intellectual or developmental disabilities.

They only expected almost 1,000 people to show up, so having over 1,100 people is great for the center.

They also received a big check for $150,000 from the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, which is bound to help a lot of people.

But the big takeaway was what the keynote speaker, WNBA’s Elena Delle Donne, had to say.

Delle Donne knows the feeling all too well, being the little sister to someone who is blind and deaf.

“[A girl] was looking at my sister like she was a monster,” Delle Donne said. “And that’s something that stuck with me for my entire life.”

To Delle Donne, her sister was the complete opposite of a monster.

“Growing up with Lizzie was an absolute blessing,” Delle Donne said. “She taught me so many lessons that I don’t think I would have learned without having her as my older sister, like perspective.”

And it’s been a blessing for Lizzie being given equal support from her sister, because unfortunately, it’s a common thing for people with disabilities and their families to hear they can never do something again.

“Doctors said she would never be able to hold her head up on her own,” Delle Donne said. “She’ll never be able to walk. And she’s done all those things plus more.”

That’s something not too far off from what Janet Menting was told two years ago after getting into a bad car accident.

“They actually told me they’d never see me walk or talk or move my hands,” Menting said. “I have use of one hand.”

Menting actually spent 2 months in a coma after the accident. Two years later, after persisting and fighting for what she wanted, she’s surpassing those expectations.She’s working at the front desk at LOGAN now and she’s already made some huge improvements.

“At home, I go on walks every night,” Menting said. “I get up and run. And mom can’t keep up with me! Dad and mom are like ‘Janet! Slow down!'”

Both women want to spread a message of hope.

“I encourage a lot of people that are in a wheelchair to set their mind to stuff,” Menting said. “Not just give up on one thing.”

“Special needs individuals are an absolute joy and a gift to all of us and we’ve just got to continue to get them out in the community,” Delle Donne said.

There are still plenty of people out there who are looking for support and motivation. If you’d like to help out the cause, you can donate on LOGAN’s website at http://www.logancenter.org/donate/


Original Source: http://www.wndu.com/content/news/1100-spread-awareness-for–disabilities-at-LOGAN-Nose-On-416753613.html

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‘Hope to see you soon’: Mystics’ Elena Delle Donne shares letter from Joe Biden

Courtesy of The Washington Post:

Former vice president Joe Biden is already looking forward to making the 90-minute train ride from his home in Delaware to see former Delaware star and 2015 WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne play for the Mystics. Biden, who made the commute between Wilmington and D.C. on a nightly basis for 36 years while serving as senator of Delaware, sent Delle Donne a letter last month after the Mystics completed a blockbuster trade for the 2016 Olympian.

Delle Donne tweeted a photo of Biden’s typed letter, which came in an envelope labeled The Vice President, on Tuesday. It reads:


Dear Elena,
Congratulations on your recent move to the Washington Mystics! I look forward to watching you play here in the District. Washington is a great city, but the best part is that it’s only a short train ride from our home state of Delaware.

Best of luck as you transition to a new city and new team. Congrats again.


Joseph R. Biden Jr


View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

“Hope to see you soon,” Biden wrote beneath his signature. “Proud of you — both your skill and your courage.”

Delle Donne originally committed to play college basketball at U-Conn. after a decorated high school career in Wilmington, but she transferred to Delaware before her freshman year to be closer to family. Delle Donne, who battles chronic Lyme disease, spent the first four years of her WNBA career in Chicago. It was no secret this offseason that she wanted a fresh start with a team closer to home.

Biden has followed Delle Donne’s career for years. He was in the crowd when Delle Donne and Delaware defeated North Carolina in the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament, and he wished her luck at the Rio Olympics, where the U.S. women won gold last August. Biden’s first chance to see Delle Donne in a Mystics uniform during the regular season is May 14 at Verizon Center.


Original Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dc-sports-bog/wp/2017/03/07/hope-to-see-you-soon-mystics-elena-delle-donne-shares-letter-from-joe-biden/?utm_term=.651e3eea03c4

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In Elena Delle Donne, the Washington Mystics Finally Have Their Star

Courtesy of WNBA:

September 26, 2012 was supposed to be the first day of a bright future for the Washington Mystics. After winning just five games earlier that summer, the Mystics had the best odds of getting the first pick in the loaded 2013 WNBA Draft, which featured Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins — the so-called “Three to See” — as the top prospects. And with a 93.8 percent chance of walking away with at least a top three pick, the Mystics seemed on track to obtain their first superstar since Chamique Holdsclaw left the team in 2004.

Then, live on SportsCenter, the dream immediately turned into a nightmare. As then-president Laurel J. Richie began calling out the results, the Mystics were the first team to hear their name; they would be picking fourth a few months later at the 2013 WNBA Draft. No Griner. No Delle Donne. No Diggins.

That is, until two weeks ago, when the Mystics swung one of the biggest trades in WNBA history, acquiring Delle Donne in exchange for Stefanie Dolson, Kahleah Copper, and the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft. “It’s taken four years to make it happen,” Mystics head coach and general manager Mike Thibault told WNBA.com after the deal was made official. “When she came out of the draft, we were trying to make a deal with Chicago to get her then.” Finally, after a circuitous route, the Washington Mystics have their star.

As is often the case with nightmares, the 2013 WNBA Draft wasn’t quite as bad as the Mystics might have imagined. With the No. 4 overall pick, they took Tayler Hill, who had a breakout season last year, averaging over 15 points per game, and looks to be a key part of their core moving forward. They also stole Emma Meesseman late in the second round, and the Belgian forward is now one of the league’s best young bigs.

That duo, combined with Delle Donne, now gives Washington arguably the most talented young core — all of them are 27 years old or younger — in the league. With those three leading the way, the Mystics have officially embarked on the next phase of their organizational journey. “We think we’re on the right path to having an elite organization at some point,” Thibault said. “It’s taken a few years to build where we’re going, and this [adding Delle Donne] is one of the big missing pieces to it.”

In existence since 1998, the Washington Mystics have been stuck in the middle of the pack. In 19 seasons, they’ve been to the playoffs nine times, but have won just one series — back in 2002. No Mystic has ever made an All-WNBA First Team, and just three players have made an All-WNBA second team: the aforementioned Holdsclaw, who did it three times, Alana Beard and Crystal Langhorne. With a dearth of playoff success and no superstars over the past decade-plus, the Mystics have long been overlooked. But there is nothing mediocre about Delle Donne (nor building a new arena, set to open in 2018).

Adding a former MVP and perhaps the best player the franchise has ever had, however, brings a set of expectations that will be unlike anything the Mystics have ever managed.

“The hardest thing is fans’ expectations right away are that automatically things are gonna work right. It doesn’t work like that,” Thibault said. “It takes time for players to get used to each other. We’ll have some bumps along the way in all of this, but the biggest thing is they keep their eye on the big picture of what we’re trying to accomplish. And the best way to do that is just get better every day — when you’re walking out of the gym, walking out better than when you walked in.”

The on-court cohesion should come sooner than later with the talented trio of Delle Donne, Meesseman and Hill joined by veteran guard Ivory Latta, newly acquired sharpshooter Kristi Toliver and returning center LaToya Sanders.

In Meesseman (1st), Delle Donne (3rd), and Toliver (4th), the Mystics now have three of the top four three-point shooters by percentage in the league last season. If you include Hill (17th) and Latta (30th), they have five of the top 30, giving Washington far and away the best outside shooting attack in the league.

But while the Mystics will be able to put five legitimate three-point threats on the floor, Thibault doesn’t want to become one-dimensional on offense, saying, “I don’t think we want to live or die with that [three-pointers].” With the versatility those players, have, that shouldn’t be too much of a worry. No matter the area of the floor, the Mystics are going to be a problem for opposing defenses.

“[Thibault] has said that we’re building a Golden State type of team, type of offense,” Toliver added. “And I wouldn’t want to play for any other style than that.”

Anchoring everything — the versatility on offense, the pressure and expectations, the new direction of the franchise — is Delle Donne, who is no stranger to those kind of things. For four years, she was the face of the Chicago Sky, helping the team to its first ever playoff apperance in her rookie season, then following that up by leading them on an improbable WNBA Finals run the next year. With Delle Donne powering the way forward — she had a usage percentage north of 25 percent in each of the last three years — the Sky went to the playoffs in all four of her seasons there.

But Thibault’s hope is the situation in Washington will be different. “They [Meesseman and company] will take some pressure off of her,” Thibault said. “A lot of times in Chicago, she was given the ball and they said, ‘Go make a play for us.’ She doesn’t have to do that every possession.”

Likewise, Delle Donne sees a bright future for her and her teammates once they get on the floor together.

“The basketball side of things is something I’m smiling the most about and am most excited about,” the 2015 MVP said. “Each time I listen to Coach Thibault speak about the team and what he thinks we can accomplish and do, it just gets me so excited to just get on court and start working with these awesome and talented teammates.”

With the arrival off Delle Donne, the Mystics have their long sought-after star, and the dynamic of the franchise has, at last, been transformed. Now, the Washington Mystics are part of the WNBA’s elite.


Original Source: http://www.wnba.com/news/elena-delle-donne-washington-mystics-trade-history/

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Social Stream: Elena Delle Donne Arrives In Washington

Courtesy of WNBA:

For the first time in three seasons the Washington Mystics failed to play postseason ball in 2016. But, before even stepping foot on the hardwood in 2017 the team already appears poised to make sure that drought will be short-lived.

The Mystics added 2015 WNBA MVP, three-time All-Star and Olympic gold medalist, Elena Delle Donne from Chicago in late January. In addition to bringing a long list of accolades, EDD is widely regarded as one of the league’s preeminent scorers and will immediately make the Mystics an offensive juggernaut.

The 27-year-old arrived in the Nation’s capital on Friday to officially be introduced as the newest Mystic. Follow her day here:

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Original Source: http://www.wnba.com/news/social-stream-elena-delle-donne-arrives-washington/

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1-on-1 with Elena Delle Donne

Courtesy of WJLA:

The Washington Mystics introduced D.C.’s newest sports superstar Friday.

Elena Delle Donne met with the media about a week after the team pulled off a block-buster deal to bring the 2015 WNBA MVP to Washington.

The acquisition immediately vaults the Mystics to challengers for the WNBA title – an achievement the franchis has yet to accomplish.

ABC7’s Scott Abraham sat down with Delle Donne for an extended interview covering her trade to Washington, her battle with Lyme disease and moving closer to her family.

Original Source: http://wjla.com/sports/content/1-on-1-with-elena-delle-donne

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Elena Delle Donne “always had her eyes on D.C.,” suggests that the WNBA should lower the rims

Courtesy of Bullets Forever:

It looks like Delle Donne wanted to be a Mystics player from Day One.

Mystics forward Elena Delle Donne gave two interviews to CSN Mid Atlantic’s Chris Miller in regard to the trade that sent her to D.C. In the video above, there are the two main takeaways from it:

  • Delle Donne said that she “always had her eyes on D.C.” since she began her professional career. In addition, Delle Donne felt like it was Christmas morning when she knew that she’d be in Monumental Red this summer.
  • She was humbled by John Wall’s and Bradley Beal’s excitement over her arrival. In fact, she said this multiple times in this video. Let’s show that Monumental-ly powerful photo once again!


Delle Donne was in attendance for the Wizards vs. Pacers game last night with Tayler Hill, who signed a contract extension as well.

During the game, Miller had a chance to speak with Delle Donne again during the second quarter. Once again, Delle Donne talked about being “humbled” by Wall’s and Beal’s welcome. But that’s not the biggest takeaway from it.

At the 1:10 mark, Miller asked Delle Donne what she would do if she were commissioner for a day. Her response was that the WNBA should consider lowering the rims to about 9 feet so there could be more above-the-rim play in the league.

For those of you who aren’t the biggest WNBA fans out there, Delle Donne mentioned that she got some slack over the suggestion. It stemmed from a mailbag Q&A she gave on The Players’ Tribune in February 2016. Delle Donne believes that the best way to see if lower rims work is by getting some players together, play competitively, and see how it is. And other sports, like volleyball, for example, have different net heights in the women’s vs. the men’s game. UConn and USA Basketball women’s national team head coach Geno Auriemma also agreed.

Some other players disagree, most notably, Phoenix Mercury point guard Diana Taurasi, who said,”Might as well put us in skirts and back in the kitchen.” ESPN’s Kate Fagan, who spoke to Taurasi on that topic, also agreed that lowering the rims would not be the best thing to do in basketball. First, there’s the challenge of finding different hoops for women and girls to play on. And second, dunking isn’t the be-all, end-all of basketball skills. Fagan mentioned Warriors point guard Stephen Curry who is lauded for his perimeter playmaking skills as opposed to his dunking ability.

I’ll finish this with a question. Do you think that women’s basketball should have lower hoops? To me, I don’t think it makes sense, mostly because of the logistics and the fact that women who play right now have to adjust the way they shoot. But there are notable women’s basketball figures like Delle Donne and Auriemma who think the idea has merit. Let us know in the comments below.

Original Source: http://www.bulletsforever.com/2017/2/11/14588760/elena-delle-donne-interview-washington-dc-lower-rims-2017

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Forbes’ Under 30 list includes Patrick Kane, others with Chicago ties

Courtesy of Chicago Tribune:

Patrick Kane and Elena Delle Donne have been named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list of innovators and entrepreneurs in the sports category, one of 20 selected by the business magazine for its annual ranking.

Forbes noted Kane’s three Stanley Cup trophies and various awards the Blackhawks winger has collected as well as endorsements deals with Bauer and Chevrolet. The magazine noted Delle Donne’s Rio gold medal and 2015 MVP title as a member of the Sky.

Other athletes with current and former Illinois connections were selected to the list, including Chris Sale, who the White Sox recently traded to Boston; former Bear and current Patriot Martellus Bennett, and Paralympic medalist and University of Illinois alum Tatyana McFadden.


Original Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/chicagoinc/ct-forbes-under-30-list–patrick-kane-20170104-story.html

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Elena Delle Donne works to inspire seriously ill students

Courtesy of Delaware Online:

Persistent health conditions shouldn’t keep someone from achieving goals, WNBA star Elena Delle Donne told students at Wilmington Hospital’s First State School, a program for chronically ill children.

The Ursuline Academy and University of Delaware grad and Olympic gold medalist told students how suffering from Lyme disease, which can cause long-term joint, heart and central nervous system problems, didn’t keep her from pursuing her dreams. The key, she said, was to set goals and surround yourself with great people.

“There might be days that you don’t feel so hot,” Delle Donne told nearly 20 students Wednesday morning. “Tell someone. It helps to have someone there to support you and guide you. Just be honest and open with them about what you are feeling or what you may be nervous about or upset about that day.

“They can help you get through those toughest times, because we know we can’t get through them alone.”

Located in Wilmington Hospital, the First State School gives children and adolescents who would otherwise be homebound with serious chronic illnesses the chance to attend school with their peers while they receive medical treatment. The school offers kindergarten through high school education to children with diabetes, sickle-cell anemia, severe asthma, cancer and other illnesses that preclude regular school attendance.

The 31-year-old program, the first such school and one of only three in the country, is a collaborative effort by Christiana Care and the Red Clay Consolidated School District. The school has a camp that encourages students to adopt healthy lifestyles, another reason Delle Donne was there.

“Bringing Elena in today to help with some of our activities … really shows the students that they can overcome their chronic illness and work on physical activities, maybe in a modified version of what the typical student may do,” said Elizabeth Houser, the school program director. “But that there is still the ability despite their chronic illness to be able to participate in health and wellness.”

The visit touched 17-year-old Telyka Brooker-Parquet.

“I have asthma so it’s really hard for me to do any sports, and I’m really scared so I just give up,” Brooker-Parquet said. “But [Delle Donne] didn’t give up. She said anybody can do it, and I guess I can do it, too.”

Brooker-Parquet, who has been in the school for four years, suffers from chronic asthma and severe allergies that cause her to go into shock if she smells anything she’s allergic to. The teen said Delle Donne’s visit allowed her to see there are others like her, including people who have family members with disabilities.

Like Delle Donne’s sister Lizzie, who is deaf, blind and has intellectual disabilities, Brooker-Parquet said her brother is also disabled.

“This was especially important to me,” Brooker-Parquet said. “I’m a sick child that has a brother with autism, and I’m scared of almost everything, to see her and how she can do everything she wants to do … Why can’t I?”

Delle Donne, a Delaware native who serves as a Christiana Care spokeswoman, is no stranger to providing young children help. This summer, she turned the U.S womens basketball team’s gold medal win in Brazil into a win for babies born on that same day by gifting newborns at Christiana Hospital miniature green, fuzzy Nike Waffle 1 sneaks.

Nike and Delle Donne, Delaware’s first Summer Olympic gold medalist in 16 years, had promised to donate the kicks if her team took the gold.


Original Source: http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/local/2016/12/07/elena-delle-donne-visit-seriously-ill-students/95051100/

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Delle Donne, Ambassador for Special Olympics


Standing 7-feet tall and weighing 280 pounds, Andre Drummond is one of the most physically imposing big men in the NBA.

Put him in a gym with 400 Special Olympics athletes, and the Detroit PistonsAll-Star center turns into a little kid again.

Drummond, 23, was named as the newest Special Olympics ambassador on Thursday, and he celebrated his new role by hosting a pep rally and basketball clinic in Detroit.

“It’s a feeling you don’t forget. It’s a genuine look and genuine excitement,” Drummond said with a chuckle in a telephone interview. “They don’t see me as just a basketball player, they see me for who I am and the amount of time and effort I put into being a supporter of the movement.”

Drummond was first introduced to Special Olympics as a rookie when he attended an NBA Cares event. From that moment on, he was determined to be as involved as he could in promoting the cause and working with the athletes all over the world.

“Just seeing how much they love the game and the excitement they had just drew me to them,” Drummond said. “Year after year I continued to do it, and I tried to be more involved, and now it’s kind of like that next level being an international ambassador.”

Drummond joins other high-profile ambassadors such as Michael Phelps,Damian Lillard, Yao Ming and WNBA star Elena Delle Donne.

“Andre has experienced firsthand how sports can build fitness, confidence and skills among Special Olympics athletes and how playing unified and being unified can break down barriers and help build respect and inclusion in every neighboring school and community across the nation,” Special Olympics CEO Mary Davis said.

Unified programs work to pair students with and without intellectual disabilities for education and sports.

As much as Drummond enjoys playing basketball with those he met on Thursday, he said the real experience comes in the conversations and interactions away from the court.

“Anybody can shoot and throw the ball around,” he said. “But when you get the time to really speak to them and hear their stories and see the kinds of personalities they have, it’s something you can’t really describe. You have to be there for the moment.”

Original Source: http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/17966083/andre-drummond-detroit-pistons-named-ambassador-special-olympics

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Elena Delle Donne’s woodworking skills are almost as impressive as her game on the court

Courtesy of ESPNW:

In “some people have all the talent” news, prepare to feel really unaccomplished, thanks to Elena Delle Donne’s latest Instagram post.

The 2015 WNBA MVP and Olympic gold medalist is, you know, pretty good at the whole basketball thing, but she’s also really good at woodworking. Like, really good. This likely comes as no surprise for anyone who follows her (or her burgeoning business) on social media, but if you aren’t aware of her skills, please cast your eyes on the picture of her most recent table tops below.




Original Source: http://www.espn.com/espnw/culture/the-buzz/article/17832823/elena-delle-donne-woodworking-skills-almost-impressive-game-court

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Sky’s Elena Delle Donne named to All-WNBA First Team

Courtesy of Chicago Tribune:

Sky forward Elena Delle Donne has been named to the All-WNBA First Team, the league announced Friday.

WNBA MVP Nneka Ogwumike topped the list as the only unanimous pick. The Los Angeles Sparks forward received 39 first-place votes and 195 points from the media panel.

New York center Tina Charles was second with 38 first-team votes and 193 points. Guards Maya Moore of Minnesota and Sue Bird of Seattle, and Delle Donne completed the first team.

Ogwumike averaged 19.7 points and 9.1 rebounds in the regular season and helped the Sparks reach the WNBA Finals against Minnesota. The teams were tied 1-1 entering Game 3 on Friday night.

Forwards Angel McCoughtry of Atlanta and Breanna Stewart of Seatte were selected to the second team along with guards Diana Taurasi of Phoenix and Jewell Loyd of Seattle, and center Sylvia Fowles of Minnesota.

Associated Press

original source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/basketball/ct-sky-elena-delle-donne-wnba-first-team-20161014-story.html

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Elena Delle Donne’s New Nike Shoes Are Incredibly Fresh

Courtesy of Stack:

Elena Delle Donne has taken over the WNBA.

Though the Chicago Sky were recently eliminated from the 2016 WNBA playoffs, Delle Donne had a fantastic campaign. The 6-foot-5 guard/forward averaged 21.5 points, 7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game.

She’s just 27 years old, but Delle Donne’s accolades are piling up fast. She’s a three-time WNBA All-Star. She was the 2013 WNBA Rookie of the Year. She’s made the All-WNBA First Team twice. She won the league’s MVP award in 2015. She recently won her first Olympic gold medal at the Rio Olympics. Now, Nike is honoring Delle Donne with her own special edition shoe.

The Delle Donne Hyperdunk 2016 is a player exclusive colorway of this year’s Hyperdunk silhouette. The shoe features technology such as Flyknit and a dynamic Zoom Air cushioning system. Delle Donne’s model features a white and Hyper Jade color scheme in a personalized pattern than includes outlines of Delaware (her home state) and phrases such as “Path Less Traveled” and “No Excuses.” The inside sole of the shoe also features a replica of a tattoo Delle Donne has that’s dedicated to her sister Lizzie.

The shoes aren’t yet available for retail, but they’re expected to drop some time before the end of the year.

Get a closer look at these incredibly fresh kicks below:




Original Source: http://www.stack.com/a/elena-delle-donnes-new-nike-shoes-are-incredibly-fresh

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Elena Delle Donne’s first retail shoe to make debut in Chicago Sky’s WNBA playoffs

Courtesy of Chicago Tribune:

If you happen to catch the Chicago Sky‘s playoff game against the Atlanta Dream on Sunday, check out Elena Delle Donne‘s feet. She’ll be wearing her first signature shoe, the Nike Hyperdunk PE, during the nationally televised game at Allstate Arena.

The star forward has been recovering from thumb surgery, which she had Sept. 13, so she’ll likely show off the shoes at the game but not play.

Delle Donne joins a select group of female athletes who endorse shoes available on the market. Many align themselves with brands and wear customized kicks, but most shoes aren’t made for retail. Nike hasn’t settled on a launch date for Delle Donne’s PEs but plans to have the $140 shoes for sale online and at select stores by the end of the year.

As someone who begged her parents to buy her a pair of Sheryl Swoopes’ 1996 Air Swoopes, a first for WNBA players, the debut of her own shoe holds added meaning for Delle Donne.

“I remember just freaking out to my mom and my dad saying I had to get a pair of those shoes. That was the first time I could wear a female’s shoes and that really meant something special to me,” Delle Donne told the Tribune. “And hopefully it will be the same for young girls out there who are out there playing, and even young boys.”

Nike approached Delle Donne last fall, and she worked with a Nike designer on the look. The tongue of the sea-green-like “Hyper Jade” and gray shoe contains raised features, such as the outline of her home state of Delaware, the words “no excuses” and “path less traveled,” and a replica of her tattoo with older sister Lizzie’s name inside angel wings.


“Lizzie can’t see or hear, so all of our communication has always been through touch,” Delle Donne said. “So a lot of the important parts of the design is something where you can just feel it, almost like Braille.”


Original Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/chicagoinc/ct-elena-delle-donne-shoe-chicago-inc-spt-0923-20160922-story.html

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Elena & Lizzie in For The Wind

Via Chicago Tribune

Elena Delle Donne has always been protective of her sister Lizzie.

Yet when Gatorade approached her to do a commercial with Lizzie, who is blind, deaf, and has cerebral palsy, Delle Donne didn’t hesitate to say yes.

“It was really exciting to see it all come together,” Delle Donne said in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Friday night. “With Lizzie I’m very protective and general turn down interviews with her. But this was such a special concept so worth sharing with the world. She’s so inspiring and if I can share her gift with as many people as possible and she can inspire some people it’s so worth it.”

The 2-plus minute short “For the Wind” that debuted Friday on the internet shows how the siblings communicate through hand over hand sign language. The reigning WNBAMVP says how wind itself plays a part in her life.

It’s been a rough week for Delle Donne. She had surgery on her injured right thumb and is recovering in Chicago. Then also there was a leak of her health records after a hack into the WADA database that the agency says Russia is to blame for.

“In the end they can say all they want. I’ve never cut corners, I play this game to the best of my abilities and respect the game,” Delle Donne said. “Thanks for showing the world what the doctors have diagnosed me with and the medicines they’ve put me on. It’s sad we live in a world where you can attack people through the cyber world.”

Filming the short with her sister was extremely important to Delle Donne.

“It’s put so much in perspective,” Delle Donne said. “This one was special because it was supposed to come out before playoffs and be a little bit of a pump up. But now it’s pumping me up in other ways. I can talk about her all I want, but until you see the way she interacts with not just me, but my family as well, it’s a really powerful thing to share that with everyone.”

The digital short is the first solo one by Gatorade with a WNBA player. The sports drink company has long been supportive of female athletes having commercials with Mia Hamm, Serena Williams and Abby Wambach.

“Gatorade is committed to the development and advancement of women in the game and we’re proud to their stories on and off the field of play,” said Kenny Mitchell, who is the head of consumer engagement for Gatorade.

Delle Donne said she flew home one day during the season to film the commercial with Lizzie, who she said really enjoyed it.

Original Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/basketball/ct-elena-delle-donne-gatorade-digital-short-20160916-story.html

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20-foot EDD sculpture at All-State Arena

Via Red Eye Chicago

As ads go, Gatorade’s art project is pretty cool.

Inspired by Sky star Elena Delle Donne, sculptor Michael Murphy used 1,606 wind spinners and a 20-by-20-foot metal structure outside Allstate Arena to create a piece that changes depending on your perspective. From one angle, the viewer sees a portrait of Delle Donne. From another, one can see Gatorade’s “G” symbol.


Source: http://www.redeyechicago.com/sports/redeye-yes-that-s-a-20-foot-elena-delle-donne-sculpture-20160916-story.html

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Nike welcomes Elena Delle Donne home from Rio

Courtesy of ESPN:

She’s a self-proclaimed sneakerhead (girl has more than 300 pairs of kicks in her closet), and has wornNike gear for as long as she can remember. Elena Delle Donne and her teammates proudly sported the iconic Swoosh logo across their chests from practice to the podium during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. It’s only right that the sportswear and lifestyle brand would host a homecoming event for the gold medalist.

“I’m so honored to be here,” said the Chicago Sky starter and 2015 WNBA MVP. “Nike is like family to me. I’ve been obsessed with the brand since I was old enough to understand what Nike was. I remember feeling like a new person whenever I’d get a new pair of their sneakers.”

The homecoming kicked off on Thursday night at the Michigan Avenue store’s week-long styling series, a promotion that gives shoppers a closer look at its “tech pack” fall collection through one-on-one sessions with some of Chicago’s most notable fashion stylists and wardrobe consultants.

Delle Donne is particularly thrilled about the collection. At 6-foot-5, she admits that finding pieces to fit her stature can be difficult, but this line seems to do the trick. “If you’re tall like me, you’re going to love [the collection]. The arm lengths are great and the pieces just move with you. The [Sportswear Tech Fleece] is probably my favorite.”

She also joked that she’ll have to keep her new favorite top away from her mother, who’s known to raid her closet. “My mom steals all my stuff. So, I’m going to have to hide this from her.”

At the event, which was hosted by Val Warner — a co-anchor for ABC Chicago’s morning show “Windy City Live” — and moderated by fashion stylist BeBe Jones of styling firm Row A Seat 1, experts shared their tips for mastering the season’s most swoon-worthy athleisure trends. Of course, Delle Donne had her own styling secrets to add: “If my jeans don’t fit perfectly, I’ll just roll them up and make them capris. Or, I’ll wear really tall boots so that no one knows that my jeans are really up to here,” she told Warner, as she pointed to her kneecaps. “I make it work.”

Though she jokes about her height, Delle Donne admitted that she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I absolutely love being tall. It makes me unique.”

The recently engaged 26-year-old shared that she and fiancée Amanda Clifton have set a soft date for their upcoming nuptials — which is tentatively slated for November 2017. As for her styling plans for the big day, you can expect to see the athlete in a wedding gown. “Maybe Nike can make you a dress,” Clifton added. “That’s a good idea!” replied Delle Donne.

As for her greatest accessory of all, the basketball star’s Olympic gold medal is displayed on her mantle. “Being in Rio was an absolute dream come true. Getting that medal put around my neck was by far the greatest moment of the whole trip. They’re sending us this awesome wooden case, so I’m going to keep it on display.” She added that getting to catch events that she’d watched since she was a child like swimming and beach volleyball was “pretty special.”

Friday , Delle Donne and the Chicago Sky will play the visiting Seattle Storm. Before the game, Delle Donne likely went through her regular series of game-day rituals: a big breakfast in the morning, a small lunch, and then a half of a bagel with peanut butter right before she gets on the court. She’ll also jam to a playlist that Clifton has created for her, which includes “Closer” by The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey.

“I also have gum that I have to chew [before my games]. I’m superstitious about it. I chew a piece during warm-ups and then a new piece for the game. If we’re not playing well, at halftime I switch the piece because it’s clearly the gum’s fault. And if we have a couple losses in a row, I throw the pack away and have to buy a new one. I don’t know where this superstition came from but it just continued to grow.” Seems to be working, so no judgement here!

Lyndsay Green is a Chicago-based style and travel editor and founder of Beauty Atlas magazine, a destination guide for beauty enthusiasts. When she’s not in some far-flung destination testing natural face masks or stocking up on foreign beauty products, you can find her brushing up on her tumbling skills in an adult gymnastics class in the Windy City.

Original Source: http://www.espn.com/espnw/life-style/article/17450188/nike-welcomes-elena-delle-donne-home-rio

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Elena Delle Donne, Nneka Ogwumike Named WNBA Players of the Week

Courtesy of WNBA:

NEW YORK, Sept. 6, 2016 Elena Delle Donne of the Chicago Sky and Nneka Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks today were named the WNBA’s Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Aug. 26 through Sept. 4.

Delle Donne earned Player of the Week honors for the second time this season and the 12th time in her four-year career.  The 2015 WNBA Most Valuable Player presented by Samsung led the Sky to a 4-0 week – which covered the first 10 days after the Olympic break – as Chicago improved to 15-13 overall and moved into second place in the Eastern Conference.  Delle Donne leads the WNBA in scoring for the season (22.1 ppg).

Delle Donne paced all WNBA players in scoring (27.3 ppg) and ranked fourth among East players in rebounding (7.3 rpg) last week.  The former Delaware standout opened her week with 34 points, eight rebounds and five assists in a 90-82 home win against the Atlanta Dream on Aug. 26.  Two days later, Delle Donne notched 18 points and nine boards in a 92-85 win over the host Dallas Wings.  On Sept. 2, the three-time All-Star scored 22 points and grabbed six rebounds in a 92-88 victory against the visiting Seattle Storm.  She capped the week by recording 35 points, six rebounds and four assists in a 97-73 home rout of the San Antonio Stars on Sept. 4.

Ogwumike earned Player of the Week honors for the fourth time in five weeks, the fifth time this season and the ninth time in her five-year career.  The former University of Stanford standout led Los Angeles to a 3-2 week and a tie for the WNBA’s best record at 24-5.  For the season, Ogwumike ranks third in the league in scoring (19.8 ppg) and rebounding (9.1 rpg).

The three-time All-Star led all Western Conference players in scoring (21.0 ppg), ranked fifth among all WNBA players in rebounding (8.6 rpg) and finished fifth among West players in assists (4.2 apg) for the week.

On Aug. 26, Ogwumike finished with 28 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks in a 79-72 loss to the host Storm.  She had another 28-point performance and added 12 rebounds, four assists and three blocks in an 87-79 road victory over the Wings on Sept. 2.  Ogwumike capped her week with 21 points, eight assists and six rebounds in an 88-81 home win against the Indiana Fever on Sept. 4.

Other candidates for the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were the Dream’s Angel McCoughtry, the Connecticut Sun’s Chiney Ogwumike, the Minnesota Lynx’s Sylvia Fowles and Maya Moore, the New York Liberty’s Tina Charles, the Storm’s Jewell Loyd and the Washington Mystics’ Tayler Hill.

For more information on this week’s Players of the Week, visit www.wnba.com/awards.


Original Source: http://www.wnba.com/news/elena-delle-donne-nneka-ogwumike-wnba-players-of-week/

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Inside The Numbers: EDD’s Scoring Surge

Courtesy of WNBA:

Elena Delle Donne won an MVP and a scoring title in 2015. What has she done for an an encore in 2016?

Re-discover her three-point touch, apparently.

Although her per game numbers are slightly down from her MVP season (23.4 ppg to 22.1, 8.4 rpg to 7.2), her scoring from July on has been unmatched by anyone else in the league.

Here is her scoring average broken down by month:

May: 18.8
June: 20.4
July: 23.4
August: 26.0
September: 28.5 (through two games)

EDD has lifted the play of her entire team and it comes at the perfect time with the Playoffs rapidly approaching. Since the break, Chicago is 5-0 and Delle Donne is averaging 25.8 points. Currently the Sky sit at the fourth seed, which would give them a first-round bye and save them from one single-elimination game under the new playoff format.

Delle Donne has already made a career-high 43 three-pointers this season (on exactly 100 attempts) and she still has six games remaining to boost that total. Her 43% from downtown has helped her improve to a career-high 48.6% from the field this season, up 2.6% from her MVP year. After shooting 43.8% from behind the arc as a rookie, EDD regressed by her standards to 36.4% in her second year (when she played only 16 games) and then a career-low 31.6% during her MVP year. Whatever was wrong with her three-point shot appears to have been fixed, making it even harder for opposing defenses to develop a game plan to contend with her all-around offensive game.

The interesting part about her three-point shooting is that she has been much better on the road (51.9%) than at home (32.6%). Otherwise her home and road splits are almost identical, especially in scoring where she averages 22.0 at home and 22.1 on the road. Why has she shot the three-ball so much better on the road than at home?

One explanation is that an MVP-caliber player like EDD steps up her game when her team needs it the most, like road games against the best teams in the WNBA. She’s posted two games with five three-pointers this season: one in Minnesota on July 5th, when she shot 5-of-6 from deep and finished with a season-high 38 points to go along with 10 rebounds; and one on June 24th in New York, where she went 5-of-7 during a 31-point, 8-rebound performance.

Although the Sky lost both of these games, Delle Donne showed that she has the ability to score 30+ on any given night. The Sky are in the driver’s seat with just six games remaining and a half-game lead on the elusive fourth seed. EDD will look to carry her scorching hot September into the Playoffs.

Original Source: http://www.wnba.com/news/elena-delle-donne-stats-inside-numbers-090716/

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Young Sky fan gets her day in the sun

Courtesy of Chicago Tribune:

The Sky will make Friday a special day for one of its fans. Taliyah Jackson, 17, will sign a one-day contract, address reporters during a news conference and join players in the locker room and on the bench when the Chicago Sky play the Seattle Storm 7:30 p.m. at Allstate Arena.

Jackson, who has muscular dystrophy as well as other debilitating medical conditions, was chosen for the honor as part of a partnership between the Sky and La Rabida Children’s Hospital, where she receives physical therapy. Last year the team gave Kiara Hood, another La Rabida patient with hemiplegic cerebral palsy, the VIP treatment.

On Jackson’s big day, she’ll meet Elena Delle Donne. “Her uncle’s been talking to her about her,” said Denise Smalley, Jackson’s mother. “She knows she’s a good player. Then she also knows she went to the …”

“Olympics!” Jackson chimed in, finishing her mom’s sentence.

On Thursday, Delle Donne said via email that she admires Jackson’s strength and courage and called her an inspiration.

“I know what it’s like to dream about something your entire life like playing professional basketball or playing in the Olympics,” Delle Donne said. “And I can’t wait to watch Taliyah’s dream come true tomorrow.”

Jackson, who starts her senior year at South Shore International College Prep on Tuesday, has come a long way since October 2013, when she first started having seizures, adding a new neurological disorder.

Doctors at Rush University Medical Center diagnosed Jackson with mitochondrial encephalitis and ataxia, which create a rare, degenerative brain condition that, among other things, slows her walking and speech and causes other abnormal movements.

Jackson was hospitalized at La Rabida until February 2014, and during her stay she was visited by Bulls star Jimmy Butler and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. She continues to work on her rehabilitation there and hasn’t had a seizure since that time.

Jackson is walking again, and can even run and dribble a basketball, but still requires a wheelchair at times. “If I go to a mall, I know I have to take her wheelchair with me because I know she wouldn’t be able to do a whole mall,” Smalley said. “But she can get around.”


Original Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/chicagoinc/ct-sky-teen-chicago-inc-spt-0902-20160901-story.html

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As WNBA returns, Sky’s Delle Donne reflects on Olympic gold

Courtesy of Daily Herald:

There was a season going on several weeks ago. Now, after a 34-day break for the Olympics, it’s game on again. Strange, but true.

The Chicago Sky, fighting for its playoff life with 10 games left, resumed the 2016 season with a game at Allstate Arena Friday night against the Atlanta Dream. It was a strange moment for Sky star Elena Delle Donne to see her Olympic teammate, Angel McCoughtry of the Atlanta Dream, in a different uniform.

Delle Donne and McCoughtry help the United States women cruise in Rio, earning the team’s sixth straight gold medal.

“That was the best part of the whole (Olympic) experience for me … the friendships I made with my teammates,” said Delle Donne, the WNBA’s reigning most valuable player. “We spent so much time together, every single day (for a month). Those are friendships that will last a lifetime.

“When I saw Angel (at Friday’s shootaround), I gave her a big hug. It’s weird to go out and compete against her now. Everyone is kind of friends with everyone (in the WNBA). But this is a little different now with Angel (and the other Olympians). Now, maybe it’s go out and get dinner after the game.”

The U.S. women certainly ate well while in Rio. Delle Donne says one of her best off-the-court moments was dinner at a swanky Brazilian steakhouse after a tour of the “Christ the Redeemer” statue.

“We went as a team and it was amazing,” Delle Donne said. “Seeing that statue and all the amazing views of Rio was really cool. It was great to experience that culture.”

Winning a gold medal was cool, too. Even though the U.S. women, like the U.S. men, were expected to win it all, it was still emotional for the players to finally do it.

“A dream come true,” Delle Donne said of having the gold medal hung around her neck and standing atop the medal stand. “I grew up watching the Olympics. I loved it. I wanted to be there in some way someday. That gold medal is quite a prized possession of mine.”

And, according to Delle Donne, it was harder to come by than everyone else thought.

“Everyone was making it seem like it was so easy for us,” said Delle Donne, a reserve on a team with an average margin of victory in Rio of 38.4 points per game. “It actually was really difficult. Our team had to come together in less than a month and try to gain chemistry, and I remember at the beginning we weren’t playing very beautiful basketball.

“But we were at the end. And that was the amazing part. It was the most fun I’ve ever had in basketball. Great coaching, and everyone was so talented and intelligent and willing to take on a new role if it meant helping the team. It’s just fun to play on a team like that because it can take your game to new heights.”

And yet, USA head coach Geno Auriemma kept all the personalities on an even keel.

“He never made us feel the pressure,” Delle Donne said. “I really liked playing for him. It’s not just the X’s and O’s with him, but he helped us through the pressure with his funny personality. He’s really fun.”

Delle Donne had so much fun she’s already thinking about Tokyo’s 2020 Games.

“I would love to go back,” Delle Donne said. “It was the greatest experience of my life.”

But first, Delle Donne has work to do. She wants to get the Sky back to the playoffs for the fourth straight season.

“This is the weirdest season I’ve ever played in (because of the Olympic break), but I’m ready to get going again,” Delle Donne said. “I was so excited to see my (Sky) teammates again. They’ve been working hard (during the break), doing stadium stairs and beach workouts. I know they are dying to play some games.

“We’ve got some good teams to fight (for a playoff spot). We’re ready.”

Original Source: http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20160826/sports/160829091/

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Olympic gold medalist and WNBA MVP: How burnout actually helped my career

Courtesy of CNBC:

Standing at 6 foot 5, Olympic gold medalist and WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne looks like she could never be stopped.

But burnout from basketball almost ended her incredible career.

“To be honest, I burned myself out” at one point, Donne told CNBC.

It happened at the end of high school. The young athlete would get up before school to run and lift, attend a full day of school, practice after school with the team, and then train even more on her own after that.

It was too much, and the rising star nearly walked off the court for good.

“I actually gave up the game after high school and put the basketball away for a year,” she said. “I started playing volleyball and set my mind to becoming an Olympian in volleyball.”

While 365 days without practice would be enough to sideline most athletes, Donne came back with full force.

“I knew the second I picked the ball back up and started playing that I wanted to get back into it,” she said.

Burnout, as it turns out, helped Donne rediscover her passion, a key ingredient she says all successful people need.

“You know, sometimes you do have to put it down in order to get the passion back,” said Donne, a 2015 MVP of the Women’s National Basketball Association who plays for the Chicago Sky. “Luckily, I got it back.”

Donne recently took home a gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics for the U.S. women’s basketball team.

“There’s going to be times you don’t feel like doing it and you just have to remind yourself — what are you working for, what do you want to be, where do you want to get to?”

WITHOUT THE PASSION, YOU’VE GOT NOTHING. – Elena Delle Donne, Olympic gold medalist and WNBA MVP

On top of Donne’s already difficult job, since 2008 she has been battling Lyme disease, which often causes serious joint pain and fatigue, among a range of other symptoms. She says her older sister, Lizzie, who is deaf and blind, motivates her to keep striving.

“Without the passion, you’ve got nothing,” she said. “You need the passion to put the practice and preparation in.”

Original Source: http://www.cnbc.com/2016/08/25/olympic-gold-medalist-elena-delle-donne-burnout-helped-my-career.html

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Elena & Nike Give Sneaks to DE Newborns

Delawareans are quite familiar with Elena Delle Donne’s heart of gold.

But the homegrown superstar has gone a step further.

Delle Donne turned the U.S women’s basketball team’s gold medal win over Spain on Saturday into a win for babies born on that same day by gifting newborns at Christiana Hospital miniature green, fuzzy Nike Waffle 1 sneaks.

Nike and Delle Donne, Delaware’s first Summer Olympic gold medalist in 16 years, promised to donate the kicks if her team took the gold.

Families received the cute sneakers on Sunday with a note:

“It all starts now,” the note begins.

“26 years ago, it started in Wilmington for a little champ just like you. And today, Elena Delle Donne conquered the world. Maybe someday that could be you.”

“Or maybe you’ll choose to do something else. There really are no limits to your potential.”

Delle Donne, a spokesperson for Christiana Care Health System, was born at Christiana Hospital on Sept. 5, 1989.

The former Ursuline Academy and University of Delaware All-American appeared in her first Olympics this summer and scored 10 points, including eight in the second half, in her team’s gold medal-winning game against Spain.

“I kept having to look at it. Is this real life?,” Delle Donne said in the postgame interview area, still clutching the best addition to her jewelry collection. “Just taking it all in, like ‘Oh my goodness. Somebody pinch me. Did this really happen?’ ”

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Delle Donne & USA in Sixth Straight Gold Medal

Via Blue Hens

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Former Blue Hens All-American Elena Delle Donne captured the University of Delaware’s first-ever Olympic gold medal Saturday afternoon as USA Women’s Basketball cruised to a 101-72 victory over Spain at Cariocas Arena.

“We are so proud of Elena and the entire USA Women’s Basketball Team on winning the Olympic Gold Medal,” exclaimed Delaware head coach Tina Martin.  “This was a lifelong dream for her personally and we are thrilled for her and her entire family!”

Delle Donne appeared in seven of the team’s eight games after taking an elbow to the eye during warm-ups prior to the August 14 game against China.  The forward finished the games by posting 8.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 17.0 minutes per contest.

Team USA’s Olympic winning streak now stands at 49-0, dating back to the 1992 bronze medal game, and its all-time Olympic record is 65-3. U.S. Olympic women’s basketball teams have earned a record eight gold medals, one silver medal and one bronze medal.

Delle Donne, the school’s first-ever female Olympian, joins fellow Blue Hens Mike Koplove ’98 and Kestutis Marciulionis ’00 as Olympic medal winners. Koplove earned a bronze as a pitcher for USA Baseball during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China while Marciulionis collected the bronze for Lithuania Men’s Basketball during the 2000 Sydney Olympics.  Delaware also had a fourth Olympian in Peter Maestrales ‘01, who played for Greece Baseball during the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

Read More: http://www.bluehens.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=29100&ATCLID=211136189

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Elena on Gold Medal: “Somebody pinch me”

Via Chicago Tribune

The gold medal was securely draped around her neck, but Elena Delle Donne kept fiddling with it, asking herself: Did this really happen?

“Yeah, I kept looking at it,” she said. “Is this real life? Oh, my goodness, somebody pinch me.”

It’s real, and so was the American dominance in this Olympic tournament.

All that’s left to debate, and it’s not worth the time, is whether U.S. coach Geno Auriemma was being genuine when he said after his team’s 101-72 blowout of Spain: “It wasn’t a cakewalk; it was a struggle. Because of our depth and experience, we were able to separate ourselves.”

Delle Donne helped provide the depth that resulted in 55 bench points, 32 more than the Spaniards.

The reigning MVP of the WNBA averages 34.1 minutes for the Sky, eight more than anyone else on the team. For Auriemma’s band of experienced superstars, she was a role player.

“Right from the beginning, she blended right in,” Auriemma said. “Everyone knows that Elena is one of the most talented players in the WNBA, but she had never really played internationally at this level; she’d only made one tour with (USA Basketball), to Spain.

“We talked a lot about expectation level, and we wanted to be able to trust her. Obviously you see the talent.”

The 6-foot-5 Delle Donne played 16 nearly flawless minutes Saturday, hitting all three field-goal attempts, including one off the glass after taking contact. She drew some oohs when she swatted a shot by Spain’s tall and talented Astou Nador.

Delle Donne scored 10 points, grabbed four rebounds and had two assists and no turnovers.

But asked for her favorite individual highlight, she replied: “A couple of those 3s Diana Taurasi was hitting. I just had to laugh and shake my head. I idolized her growing up, and to be able to play alongside her and see some of that craziness that I saw when I was a young kid falling in love with the game, that was really cool for me.”

Team USA assistant coach Doug Bruno, the head coach at DePaul, would have appreciated that line. A few minutes earlier, he had disclosed why he feels this team is so special: “For as talented as this group is, they are so selfless.”

Delle Donne, 26, had a nice hug for Bruno after the game. She walked off the floor with Maya Moore’s arm around her shoulder. While Tina Turner’s “(Simply) The Best” played in Carioca Arena 1, teammate Brittney Griner lifted her into the sky.

Told that the photo of that lift was making the rounds on social media, Delle Donne responded: “Oh, that’s sweet. This being our first Olympics, it really meant the world to us to share that moment together. Hopefully we’ll see some more.”

Said Griner: “I love playing with E. She’s amazing.”

Asked if the two would emerge as leaders over the next four years, Griner replied: “We’ll step into those roles, but there are definitely players in front of us. We just got our diapers off.”

Maybe, but the adult world beckons. Delle Donne figures she will get one day off once she returns to Chicago. Then it’s back to practice with the Sky, preparing for Friday’s home game against the Atlanta Dream.

Yes, the Dream awaits.

But the reality is even better.

“This,” she said of her gold medal, “is amazing.”

Original Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/columnists/ct-elena-delle-donne-usa-spain-greenstein-spt-0821-20160820-column.html

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Elena Delle Donne Score Nine In USA’s Win Over Canada

Courtesy of CSN Chicago:

Elena Delle Donne bounced back in a big way Friday.

After foul trouble derailed Delle Donne’s flow in Wednesday’s win over Serbia, the reigning WNBA MVP scored nine points as USA Basketball dealt Canada their first loss in group play. Delle Donne also added six rebounds, three assists and one block in the 81-51 victory.

[RELATED: Delle Donne featured in new Nike film]

The Chicago Sky forward is now averaging 8.5 points per game for Team USA, who looks like heavy favorites to bring home the gold.

Through four games, the U.S. have an average win margin of 40.25 points. Their 30-point win over Canada was their closest contest yet.

Delle Donne and USA Basketball close out group play Sunday against China.


Original Source: http://www.csnchicago.com/olympics/elena-delle-donne-scores-nine-usas-win-over-canada

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WNBA stars Elena Delle Donne and Breanna Stewart put on an alley-oop show at Team USA practice

Courtesy of ESPN: 

As the U.S. women’s basketball team makes final preparations before it faces Indiana Fever forward Natalie Achonwa and team Canada in Group B play tomorrow, Elena Delle Donne and Breanna Stewart decided to put on a little show for those in attendance at Team USA’s practice.

USA basketball tweeted a video this afternoon of Chicago Sky shooting guard Delle Donne and Seattle Storm forward Stewart combining for a sweet alley-oop slam during team practice — serving to both showcase the players’ athleticism and dispel any rumors that WNBA players can’t play above the rim. Yes, those still exist.

Check out the slam here:


And because multiple angles of dunks are a necessity these days, here’s another look:



Also ICYMI, Angel McCoughtry of the Atlanta Dream did this last night in team USA’s 110-84 win over Serbia.



Original Source: http://www.espn.com/espnw/culture/the-buzz/article/17274477/wnba-stars-elena-delle-donne-breanna-stewart-put-alley-oop-show-team-usa-practice

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Chance the Rapper, Jimmy Butler, Elena Delle Donne star in Nike Olympic ad

Courtesy of Chicago Tribune: 

Nike’s “Unlimited Together” is a patriotic ode to the U.S. men’s and women’s Olympic basketball teams, but the ad also has Chicago’s fingerprint on it.

South Sider Chance the Rapper performs a song to haunting piano riffs and borrowing themes from the “Star-Spangled Banner,” while the two-minute, 25-second black-and-white commercial displays images of the Bulls’ Jimmy Butler and the Sky’s Elena Delle Donne joining teammates in a show of unity.

The video, part of a larger “Unlimited” campaign running during the Rio Games, also features former Sky player Sylvia Fowles and Stevenson High School alum and former Deerfield resident Tamika Catchings.

Here are Chance’s lyrics for “Unlimited Together”:

We want some heroes in our story /We need highlights for a nightlight, we need glory for a while

We want results, we want results / Hit our families, hit our folks

Bombs bursting in air 

(Sings) Oh say

(Raps) Can you see America’s face? / We share a pair of parents, we took good care of the place

We just want narrators to pick up the narrative’s pace

Put on a show for us, float for us / Make it easy, make some more for us

Save the day

We want a ‘W,’ we tired of picking different sides / I got your jersey, just a different size

We all want you to be a buzzer-beater / Find us a leader far from Silent Bobs and Cousin Skeeters

Through the perilous fight, want you to be brave / You want to see a hero? You need a teammate

(Chorus) People, people, we the people would like you to know that wherever you go, we’re right by your side

(Repeats chorus)


Original Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/chicagoinc/ct-chance-the-rapper-team-usa-nike-ad-20160810-story.html

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Rio 2016 Olympics: Strong debuts for USA Olympic rookies in women’s basketball

Courtesy of The Indian Express:

Elena Delle Donne, Breanna Stewart and Brittney Griner have all had stretches when they have taken over games as the U.S.


It’s been an impressive start to the Rio Games for the three Olympic rookies on the U.S. women’s basketball team.

Elena Delle Donne, Breanna Stewart and Brittney Griner have all had stretches when they have taken over games as the U.S. has won its first two contests in dominating fashion. There probably isn’t another country that could have the reigning WNBA MVP coming off the bench, but that’s the role Delle Donne has played so far. She actually enjoys it.

“We’re so deep and that’s one of our many strengths, and I kind of like” coming in off the bench, said the 6-foot-5 star, who is averaging 11.5 points. “I like being able to watch the game a little bit, kind of watch from the bench, let it come to me and get out there and provide the spark.”

While this is Delle Donne’s first major tournament experience with the U.S., Griner and Stewart played for coach Geno Auriemma in the world championship in 2014.

Griner was big at the worlds, earning all-tournament honors. She’s given the U.S. a strong presence inside as neither Senegal nor Spain attempted to score much in the paint with her in the game. The 6-8 center acknowledged it took a few minutes for her to get comfortable on the court, but once she got her feet wet, she was ready.

“Once I got about five minutes into the game, basketball just kind of takes over,” Griner said. “I don’t want to say it turns into just another game, but it turns into just basketball. You’re out there playing, you know what to do.”

Stewart may be a rookie to the Olympics, but she certainly isn’t to USA Basketball. The 21-year-old has played in the fifth most games for the U.S. of anyone on the Olympic team. She’s won five gold medals at the junior level as well as one at the world championship. She has a chance to win many more over the next decade.

“She’s a newcomer to the Olympics, but certainly not to international basketball,” coach Geno Auriemma said. “Nearly everywhere she’s played she’s won.”

Stewart scored 15 points in her Olympic debut and has made seven of her eight shots in the two games. The four-time NCAA champion leads the U.S. with 12 free throw attempts.

“They could be starting on this team, there’s no question about it,” point guard Sue Bird of Olympic rookie teammates. “Their youth and I guess their lack of international experience is the one area but that will come with time. They’re playing so well and that’s why. … When Stewie and Elena come in, they’re like top five in the WNBA in scoring. When they come in it just keeps rolling.”

Next up for the Americans is Serbia on Wednesday. The U.S. took Tuesday off after playing back-to-back days.

While there will most likely be a huge roster turnover before the next Olympics with potentially half of this team retired by 2020, the young trio is a strong foundation to build on.

“They definitely are the future of this team,” Diana Taurasi said. “They are all so unique and talented.”

Original Source: http://indianexpress.com/sports/rio-2016-olympics/strong-debuts-for-usa-olympic-rookies-in-womens-basketball-2964616/

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Elena Delle Donne, USA Cruising Early in Rio

Courtesy of CSN Chicago:

Elena Delle Donne didn’t need to log a ton of time to leave her mark on Team USA’s 103-63 rout of Spain.

The reigning WNBA MVP put up 12 points in just 16 minutes Monday, and was a key part of the team’s plus 14 rebound advantage.

Delle Donne’s strong performance was her second in as many days.

The Chicago Sky forward had 11 points, six assists and two steals in her Olympics debut, which resulted in a 121-56 thumping of Senegal.

Two convincing wins have the U.S. women looking like overwhelming favorites to bring home the gold medal. They are the only team to score over 100 points and have an average win margin of 52.5 points.

The squad returns to the floor Wednesday to battle Serbia.

Original Source: http://www.csnchicago.com/olympics/elena-delle-donne-usa-cruising-early-rio

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First-Timers Ready To Continue Legacy

HOUSTON — Breanna Stewart remembers sitting in front of her grandmother’s TV, watching Team USA win men’s and women’s basketball gold medals at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

The idea of one day becoming an Olympian herself didn’t start until a year later, when a 14-year-old Stewart joined USA Basketball’s U16 team.

“I couldn’t have pictured that (in 2008),” Stewart said Tuesday in Houston after Team USA’s final practice before leaving for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games. “Getting into the (USA Basketball) system made me kind of realize one day maybe I could become an Olympian.”

Stewart joins Brittney Griner and Elena Delle Donne as Team USA’s three first-time Olympians hoping to help the Americans win a record sixth straight gold medal.

“I think it’s not so much pressure (to win another gold), it’s what we expect of ourselves,” Stewart said. “Playing USA Basketball at every single level, I know our goal is always a gold medal.”

The first-time trio also played on the U.S. national team’s 2015 European tour, and Griner and Stewart were members of the 2014 FIBA World Championship team that qualified for these Games with a gold medal.

In addition to their experience with USA Basketball, all three first-timers were standout college players and are in the early parts of successful WNBA careers.

“The young guys are already starting to understand that you just have to do your part,” said coach Geno Auriemma, who coached Stewart at Connecticut and led Team USA to gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games. “You don’t have to do anything special; just do your part and everybody else will do their part.

“Sometimes on their own teams, there’s a pressure to do everything, so the beauty of this they only have to do their part and enjoy it.”

That’s been the message since Team USA started practicing on July 23. Through four exhibitions and a week’s worth of practices, Auriemma and the veteran players have stressed focusing on the goal and enjoying the Olympic opportunity.

“They tell me to take it in,” Griner said. “Don’t let it go by real quick because it will go by quick.”

Griner was happy to be in her hometown of Houston before heading to Rio to represent her country.

“I come from a household of law enforcement and military,” she said. “My dad was a Marine, (and) I wanted to enlist and follow my dad’s footsteps. I got into basketball and went down a different road. Now I’m able to play for my country and it mean’s everything to me.”

Download the Team USA app today for breaking news, 2016 U.S. Olympic Team bios, videos and more.

Griner also wants to continue the legacy of U.S. Olympic women’s basketball teams, which have won 41 straight games in Olympic competition — a streak dating to 1992 — and seven overall gold medals, including the last five.

“I don’t look at it as pressure to win gold again,” Griner said. “More I don’t want to let down the players that have set the standard, set the bar of how USA Basketball is supposed to go.

“We’re all here, we all come together to make each other better so we can go do what we need to do. We really do want the lady next to us to get better.”

Team USA is full of talent — including the past five MVPs of the WNBA Finals and the reigning league MVP in Delle Donne — and the team’s chemistry has come together during four exhibition wins.

“You look to your left and to your right and you’re playing with the best players in the world,” Stewart said. “Knowing a certain person is going to be here on defense or here on offense and where people like to get the ball — it’s been a lot of fun (building that chemistry).”

With such a strong offensive potential, Auriemma has asked his players to contribute in other ways every time they’re on the court.

“The pressure isn’t on scoring,” Delle Donne said. “We have to play great defense, and that’s something we’ve been working on every day. There are so many incredible players, each night someone new might step up and have the hot hand and we’ll ride them for as long as they’re hot.

“It’s not about who’s making the baskets. In the end it’s about getting a gold medal.”

Original Source: http://www.teamusa.org/News/2016/August/03/First-Timers-Ready-To-Continue-Legacy-Of-US-Olympic-Womens-Basketball-Team

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Meet the Basketball Star Who’s Poised to Take the Olympic Games by Storm

Via Vogue

As the U.S. team heads to Rio in pursuit of its sixth back-to-back gold, all eyes are on Elena Delle Donne.

By the time their daughter was standing two heads above her fellow kindergartners, Elena Delle Donne’s parents knew she was an unusual child, and were not terribly surprised when, aged ten, Elena joined a basketball team and led it to place third in the national championships. Recently voted Most Valuable Player of the Women’s National Basketball Association, Elena is currently poised to lead the U.S. women’s Olympic basketball team to collect its sixth consecutive gold in Rio. “She is a once-in-a generation type of player,” says NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum. “She’s a Steph Curry.”

In an unlikely twist for somebody with Marvel-comic physical gifts, Elena’s life has also been shaped by extreme physical disability. Her older sister, Elizabeth—or Lizzie, as everybody calls her—was born blind, deaf, and with cerebral palsy. Now 31, Lizzie can communicate only with a handful of signs, and people relate to her through touch and smell. (Elena and Lizzie’s mother, Joanie, has worn the same Chanel perfume all of Lizzie’s life so that her daughter will always know when she is near.) Lizzie has had more than 20 surgeries, most to try (unsuccessfully) to give her limited sight, as well as a successful ten-hour spinal operation at the age of eight, performed by former presidential hopeful Ben Carson.

The two sisters are extraordinarily close, often literally so. “We can’t text or Skype,” Elena says. “The only way to be with Lizzie is by physically being with her.” So while many female basketball players spend the off-season playing overseas, where salaries are lucrative, Elena divides her time between traveling with her team, the Chicago Sky, and her family’s home in the rolling green landscape of Wilmington, Delaware. She and her fiancée, Amanda Clifton, keep apartments in both Chicago and Wilmington. In order to spend as much time as possible with Lizzie, the superstar athlete works out not at a pro-athlete training complex but at the local sports center, building her core strength and running speed while her neighbors take Zumba classes and throw birthday parties for their children.

When I visit one recent morning, Elena, who has come from a hot-yoga class and lifting weights at the gym, arrives with her mother for lunch at a bustling restaurant nearby. Slightly tan, with her long blonde hair pulled back into a high ponytail, she looks as if she might have come from a run on Venice Beach rather than rural Delaware. Between bites of Cobb salad, Elena, who is six feet five and 26 years old, remembers her height being a difficult issue to manage as a child. “My mom always said, ‘It’s good. No one’s like you.’ But I wanted to be like everyone else,” she recalls. It wasn’t until junior high school, around the time University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offered her a full basketball scholarship, that she accepted that her height was an advantage.

After lunch, mother and daughter retreat to the Delle Donnes’ 35-acre, multi-home property. Elena has a few free hours to hang out with her sister before she is due back at the athletic center, to coach a session for the De11e Donne Academy (her jersey number is eleven), clinics she and Clifton—who played college basketball—run for children ages seven through eighteen. After leading 30 girls through conditioning exercises and drills, Elena poses for selfies with the star-struck students, including one who brings along an oil painting she created of her idol.

Elena’s balancing act will come to a standstill this month so she can focus on securing a victory in Rio. “There’s going to be some tough competition—particularly from Australia, France, and Canada,” she says. Though she is concerned about Zika, “it will not stop me. I have been wanting to compete in the Olympics as long as I can remember.” Elena’s parents and her older brother, Gene, will join her in Brazil, as will Clifton. Her sister can’t travel, but when Elena needs an extra jolt of energy, she will rub the tattoo on her left ribs. It says: Lizzie.

Original Source: http://www.vogue.com/13463188/elena-delle-donne-rio-summer-olympics-us-womens-basketball-team/

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Hometown Hero Returns to Delaware

On Wednesday, July 27, 2016, Elena Delle Donne returned to her home state of Delaware, along with the rest of the United States women’s national basketball team, to play an exhibition Olympic tune-up game against France. As a Delaware student, I jumped at the opportunity to attend this game to support the former Blue Hen.

The return to Delaware

I arrive in Newark, Del. and enter my apartment for the first time, a place I will enter again in one month when I start my junior year at the university. I walk past Memorial Hall on the Green relishing the beauty that is the University of Delaware’s campus.

I walk down Main Street passing a few familiar faces, but mostly see Newark residents enjoying the beautiful weather. I wonder if any of these people are going to the big game tonight. I reconnect with a few friends, all the while getting that giddy and excited feeling in my stomach because I’m back home and back in one of my favorite places in the world.

But, there also happens to be another very coveted person returning to this small town on this day; one who has been gone for a little longer than I have. Her name is Elena Delle Donne. Have you heard of her? As a Delaware student and resident, Delle Donne is to UD what Stephen Curry is to Davidson. Of course, we also have Joe Biden, Joe Flacco and several others, but as of late, Delle Donne is arguably the most famous and accomplished graduate that our university has.

Delle Donne is returning to the Bob Carpenter Center with not just Ursuline, Delaware or Chicago Sky written across her chest, but with the three most-important letters of all: U-S-A. The Olympics is something that Elena Delle Donne has been working toward her entire life, and she gets to prepare for the pinnacle moment of her career right on her home court, in front of family, friends, fans and Delaware students, like me.

USA vs. France

A smile beams across my face when the team comes running out of the locker room and the crowd erupts. Delle Donne waves to the audience with both hands expressing her gratitude to the sold-out crowd. There is a faint chant of her name that is drowned out from the loudness of the cheers.

Although this moment must be incredibly emotional for her, Delle Donne appears extremely focused in warmups. She’s chewing on her gum and calmly draining her shots just like she did hundreds of times on this court as a Blue Hen.

Scanning the crowd, there are so many people with Chicago Sky No. 11 jerseys, and even more with University of Delaware apparel. For Delaware residents, this is even more special because their state doesn’t have professional teams in any sport. These are their sporting events, and the pride follows suit. Delle Donne making it onto the Olympic team is something that is almost unheard of from the small state of Delaware. She is quite simply a hometown hero, and the crowd will do everything in its power to make sure she knows it.

Delle Donne takes the microphone and addresses the anticipating crowd. “This atmosphere puts me at a loss of words. Let’s make the Bob go crazy,” she says. Although it becomes very clear that the crowd doesn’t need any encouragement to make noise throughout the game.

The crowd erupts before she even touches the floor in game-time action. While the team’s roster is announced, the building practically shakes as the announcer calls her name. When she is announced as a starter, the fans continue to go wild. Some of the people in attendance have been supporting her as a basketball player since she was in the eighth grade, and pride is resounding throughout the crowd.

When she attempts and makes her first three-pointer, the crowd is on its feet, arms up in the air and I have chills. People are yelling, “I love you Elena!” and it was in that moment that I realized she was truly inspiring a whole generation of women in basketball, and women in sports.

She is greeted with a standing ovation when she is subbed out of the game with about 40 seconds left in the first quarter. Fans in the crowd are holding up signs with her name on them, including one that says, “US Olympian #11 DE Proud.”

On the bench, she is chatting alongside Maya Moore, but all the while keeping a strong watch on the game. It seems to me that she hasn’t yet been able to even absorb the scope of this crowd and moment.

Every time Delle Donne touches or comes near the ball, the volume in the arena is amplified. The draw of fans at the Bob is clearly for her, but her teammates are undoubtedly eating up the energy. A chant of “USA” ensues and it brings this game into perspective. These women are traveling to the Olympics in under a week to try and bring home a gold medal for their country; something that is so much bigger than themselves.

With about six minutes left in the game, the crowd starts yelling to Geno Auriemma, “We want Elena!” and “Put Elena in!” Their pleas are granted with just over four minutes left in the contest, as Delle Donne scurries over to the table to be subbed in. The excitement is building and peaks right when she steps on the floor. There is a dramatic sigh when she misses a pull up three-pointer, but her 10-point performance is capped off with a fierce drive to the basket for a three-point play opportunity. This play is enough to keep the crowd excited all the way through the final whistle.

There is another standing ovation for Delle Donne, and she scans the crowd one last time taking in this electric environment. After the game, she comments that this was by far the most emotional game she has ever played in at the Bob. “To see faces that have gone along with me in this entire journey, and now see me in a USA Jersey, which has been my dream my entire life, it was so special to come out and share that with them as well.”

More than just a game

After the game, fans gather in the corner of the court, and some are rewarded with a high-five from their idol. Many others are waiting to see if she will return to the court after the press conference. Although notified she will not be returning, the disappointed looks of fans fade at the realization that they were just treated to a performance by Delle Donne en route to the Olympics.

Delle Donne is inspiring generations of young girls and boys to follow their dreams. She is living proof that you can make it in women’s basketball without going to the UConns or Stanfords of the world. She is the face of Delaware athletics. She is the face of women’s basketball. This is not only a dream come true for her, but also for Delaware fans.

“I’m not here to just represent myself, or the team,” Delle Donne said after the exhibition. “We’re really representing everybody, trying to make this dream come true for everyone.”

And for this fan, she is doing just that.

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Chicago Sky Player Starts Charitable Foundation

As a professional basketball player, Elena Delle Donne puts her heart and soul into more than just the court she plays on.

The forward guard for the Chicago Sky WNBA team and U.S. Olympian is in the early stages of the Elena Delle Donne Charitable Foundation. The foundation aims to raise money for Lyme disease research and giving back to the special needs community.

“[These are the] two avenues it will attack because both of those are near and dear to my heart,” Donne said. Donne has dealt with Lyme disease every day for eight years.

“It’s definitely tough, there are good days and bad days,” Donne said. “There are days I’ve relapsed and missed several games and practices.”

Lyme disease is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks.

The other cause Donne is raising awareness to through her foundation is based around her older sister who has special needs. Her sister Lizzie is both blind and deaf.

Donne and Lizzie can only communicate in person with hand over hand sign language.

“I can just remember growing up with her [and] the impact she had on my life, not just her but being around her peers and what that meant to me,” Donne said.

Despite their struggles, Lizzie and her friends always stayed positive.

“[They were] going through days with struggles but were always so bright and happy and I feel like it’s a gift that needs to be shared,” Donne said.

Through the foundation, Donne hopes to bring her love of sports together with those who have special needs.

“For me I would really like to see programs with more unified sports and that’s something the Special Olympics do and I absolutely love it,” Donne said.

Unified sports are when special needs athletes play along normal able athletes.

Donne hosts basketball camps where she also has Special Olympics athletes participate.

In order to raise awareness for Lyme Disease and special needs, Donne is in the early stages of planning a golf tournament and auction for fundraising.

“I love golf,” Donne said. “It’s one of my other passions and something I like to.”

While she enjoys golf, Donne jokes that she is not good enough to play professionally but plays as a hobby.

Donne first began thinking about starting her foundation when she entered the pros. Within the past year, it all started to come together.

“A lot of times unfortunately if you don’t have this platform it’s hard to be heard,” Donne said. “I’m not exactly sure what I would be doing but I think I would be a special education teacher.”

Via Chicago 5

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US Women’s wrap up 3 exhibitions at Garden

Via San Francisco Chronicle

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. women’s basketball team continues its pre-Olympic tour with a three-city exhibition series that wraps up Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

The Americans will face France on Wednesday at the University of Delaware, play Canada on Friday in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and host Australia on Sunday in New York before heading to the Rio Olympics.

“We really want to win the next three games, but at the same time, we need to find out before we get on that plane to go to Rio, what we have,” U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said. “What can we count on? What’s going to be our strength?

“What are the things that we’re going to build on that are going to sustain us down there? And that’s what these next three games are going to be all about.”

The Americans will play France in the home state of Olympic rookie Elena Delle Donne.

“I’m excited for a chance to play in front of the home crowd,” said Delle Donne, who had 11 points in the 88-84 victory over the select team in Los Angeles on Monday night.

France was the silver medalist at the 2012 London Olympics and Australia has medaled at every Olympics since 1996 — the year that the U.S. won the first of its five straight gold medals.

“This is a good chance for us to see where we are before the Olympics,” Australia guard Penny Taylor said. “It will give the younger players a chance to face the U.S. for the first time before Olympic competition.”

While most of the other teams in the Olympics have been together for months, the U.S. has had just two days of practice. After a sluggish start against the select team, the Olympic squad built a 12-point lead.

The select group kept it close, giving the national team all it could handle.

“We are focused on the whole process, the whole journey, and this was just the first game,” said guard Sue Bird, who is aiming for a fourth gold medal at the Olympics. “We’ve only had a couple practices together, so it was really good to be challenged in that way by the select team. It really showed what we’re going to need to work on and the level that we have to play at moving forward.”

The U.S. will play its first game at the Olympics on Aug. 7 against Senegal. Other teams in the Americans group are Canada, China, Serbia and Spain.

The Americans will be trying to win a sixth consecutive gold medal, the most by any women’s team sport. They’ve won 41 straight Olympic contests dating back to the bronze medal game in 1992.

Original Source: http://www.sfchronicle.com/sports/article/US-women-s-hoops-team-wraps-up-3-exhibitions-at-8424789.php#photo-10656942

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Scouting Myself by Elena Delle Donne

Welcome to Scouting Myself, a new series where professional athletes give elite high school athletes the opportunity of a lifetime: The chance to break down film, run drills and discover what it takes to make it to the next level — straight from the pros themselves. Our next installment features WNBA All-Star Elena Delle Donne.

Back in high school, I was confused and felt a bit lost in terms of what to do next with my basketball career. If I could’ve had a professional basketball player come to my school and answer some of my questions, it would’ve meant the world.

I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to meet with Isabelle. Hopefully I’ve been able to help prepare her for the recruitment process.

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Reigning MVP Enjoying Scorching July For Sky


The Sparks and Lynx may have stole the early-season headlines, but reigning WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne has been heating up with the weather, as the windy, brutal Chicago winter has given way to the blistering heat off Lake Michigan.

She’s been on an absolute tear since the calendar hit July, averaging 23.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game to go along with a sizzling 50.7 FG% and 45.2 3PT%, all monthly highs for her this season. In fact, her torrid stretch now has her leading the league in scoring with 21.3 points per game for the year.

There’s been no doubt that Dellle Donne’s stellar play has led to the resurgence of the Chicago Sky, who are currently 11-12 and sit just half a game behind the Atlanta Dream for second place in the Eastern Conference. The Sky are on the rise, winning five of eight games in July behind EDD’s MVP-like performances. Additionally, they have won three straight contests heading into Friday’s matchup with the Connecticut Sun, their last game before the Olympic break.

Let’s take a look back at some of Delle Donne’s best plays in July to visually appreciate her greatness.

Delle Donne’s versatility was on display as she charges coast-to-coast for the reverse layup off the steal to tie the game at 84 against the Mystics. Chicago would go on to win this game 86-84 to start their July off in the right column in the standings:

With the historic Los Angeles Sparks and Minnesota Lynx, coupled with the sensational play of rookie Breanna Stewart and stellar start to the season by Tina Charles, Delle Donne was a forgotten woman of sorts around the league. The superstar has returned to form after a sluggish beginning, however, and has been turning heads lately. If she can keep it going after the Olympic break, the Chicago Sky can easily find themselves in the playoffs this season.

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Delle Donne Stars in Nike Basketball Film

Chicago Sky star Elena Delle Donne gives us a taste of her dedicated work ethic in Nike’s latest film.

The training certainly has paid off. The reigning MVP hit one of the most clutch shots of the season this week to beat the Seattle Storm.

Having already achieved the league’s highest individual accolade, Delle Donne says she’s now determined to do whatever it takes in order win a WNBA Championship.

Her quest for a title will have to be temporarily put on hold, as she is currently preparing to help win a Gold medal for the USA Women’s National Basketball Team in this summer’s Rio Olympics.

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Bringing Versatility To Life In MVP-Caliber Performance

Elena Delle Donne and the Chicago Sky haven’t had the smoothest summer. A year after EDD’s MVP campaign led the Sky to a 21-13 record, and second place in the Eastern Conference, Chicago opened the 2016 season 1-4. Now, about two-thirds of the way through the season, the Sky sit at 10-12, right amongst the pack of six teams within two wins of each other vying for the Nos. 4-8 playoff seeds.

Due to the new playoff format, and the fact that nearly every team is still alive in the postseason chase, each progressive game becomes more and more important. Sunday night’s game against the Storm was no exception, especially considering just one win separated the two clubs entering the game. As the Sky make their push for the playoffs over the last dozen games, they’ll need EDD at her MVP-best. Which is right where she was on Sunday in Seattle.

Delle Donne poured in 35 points on a neat 14-for-24 shooting, grabbed 11 rebounds, and drained the game-winning three right over Breanna Stewart’s outstretched arm with just one second remaining.

It was an offensive clinic, with Delle Donne dominating the Storm from all over the floor, then breaking their hearts in the final second.

Her versatility was never more apparent, as she scored from all three levels. In the process, she packed a whole season’s worth of moves into her performance, giving us a perfect case study of why she’s so difficult to guard.

Let’s start inside, first taking a glance at her work on the offensive boards. At 6-foot-4, Delle Donne is one of the league’s taller players, but due to her elite athleticism she often operates on the perimeter. This frequently forces opponents to try and guard her with a wing, usually giving Delle Donne a decided size advantage.

Such was the case Sunday, as Alysha Clark received the unenviable task of being the Storm’s first option against last year’s MVP. The 5-foot-11 Clark is a veteran, but experience only goes so far. On both of these occasions, Clark starts with inside position, only to see Delle Donne simply jump over her or muscle her out of the way.

Offensive rebounds aren’t the only way to score inside, of course. Here we’ll see Delle Donne show off her guard-like ball-handling and quickness to put the ball on the deck and cruise past Sue Bird. Then, a second later, she reminds everyone of her toughness by finishing through contact for an and-one.

On this one play, she came into contact with a point guard and a forward, and beat them both at their own game.

Again we’ll see Delle Donne’s full skill set on this possession. After grabbing the defensive rebound, she pushes the ball up the floor like a point guard, takes a few hesitation dribbles to lull the defense to sleep like a wing, then finishes through contact down low like a post.

Next we’ll move out to the mid-range. First, Delle Donne once again shows the downside to defending her with a smaller wing, as she casually rises up over Clark to bury the pull-up jumper. Clark contests well, but there’s nothing she can do giving up five inches to EDD.

Then Delle Donne backs Clark down in the mid-post before draining the turnaround jumper. Solid defense once again, but the height difference gives Delle Donne the upper hand.

Finally, though not operating on the block, Delle Donne shows off her post moves, schooling the rookie Breanna Stewart with a series of fakes.

Last but not least is the three-ball, which Delle Donne is knocking down at a 42.1 percent clip, the second-best mark of her career and good enough for ninth in the league.

As we see on this play, she’s capable hitting from downtown in a catch-and-shoot situation, just like many other bigs who can stretch the floor.

But what separates Delle Donne once again is her ability to combine guard-like qualities into a forward’s body. Few players in the league can hit three-pointers off the dribble like this, let alone 6-foot-4 forwards.

Even with the long arms of Breanna Stewart in her face, Delle Donne is unbothered, rising up to hit the game-winner.

Sunday night in Seattle, EDD was versatility personified, bringing the basketball buzzword to life with a fierce MVP-like performance that earned the Sky a crucial victory.

And on Tuesday night against the Mercury, she’ll try to do it all over again.

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Even Elena is playing “Pokemon Go”!


By now, just about everyone has jumped on the “Pokemon Go” craze. If you don’t believe me, you should probably just go outside and see EVERY SINGLE PERSON wandering aimlessly and staring at their phones.

And it’s not just normal people getting in on the fun — even athletes have joined in. On Friday, Elena Delle Donne helped Chicago Sky teammate Erika de Souza catch one of the animated creatures after practice.

Helped @erikasouza14 #catchemall today after shoot around! I don't know this guys name. Help me out here.

A photo posted by Elena Delle Donne (@de11edonne) on

Yup, they’re even at Allstate Arena. There’s no escape, people. We all should probably just embrace this cultural phenomenon. At least, you know, until the next viral craze hits in two weeks.

Source: http://espn.go.com/espnw/culture/the-buzz/article/17084151/even-elena-delle-donne-playing-pokemon-go-here-proof

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Delle Donne, Battling Lyme Disease & Inspiration


Three-time WNBA All-Star Elena Della Donna has faced her share of body challenges — from being teased for her height as a kid to her ongoing battle with Lyme disease. For this summer’s Body Issue, she talked to ESPN’s Morty Ain about how she’s coped and what serves as her inspiration.

We play an amazing caliber and brand of basketball, and people try to cut that down because they are just comparing it to the men’s game. “Oh well, she didn’t dunk in that game!” “Whatever, they’re just girls, nobody wants to watch that.” That’s pretty frustrating. We are the most elite players in the world. This is my life, and it’s what I’ve put in 22 years of my life doing.

I support lowering the rim. When you think about it, there probably isn’t a guy in the NBA who can’t dunk, so it should be the same way for the females. If we lowered it to 9 feet, maybe even lower, we can have our point guards getting up there and dunking the ball. I think that would make our game extremely fun to watch.

I have a pack of game gum. I go to the store and stare at the gum until I pick out the right one — somehow one will pop out to me. Once I buy it, no one is allowed to touch the packet or it’s ruined. I’ll take a piece and chew it in the first half, and if things aren’t going well and we aren’t playing well, I have to change the piece of gum. Because obviously, it’s the gum’s fault; it’s not our fault that we’re playing bad [laughs]!

My biggest challenge is trying to stay healthy with Lyme disease.At my worst, I have muscle aches and fatigue and various symptoms, like you get when you have the flu. Then there are days I’ll wake up a little bit tired or my muscles aren’t recovering as well, but I keep that in mind and will alter my training. I also have to eat really well and stay away from foods that will make my inflammatory system go crazy.

I take around 50 supplements a day to battle it. I think it’s always surprising to people that I have a chronic illness and I play a professional sport.

It took the doctors two months to figure out what was going on with me. I had my first relapse my sophomore year in college. A lot of tests can’t detect it, especially when it’s gone chronic and reappears. I was sleeping probably 18 hours a day, not eating much, and I lost probably about 35 pounds. I had literally told my parents, “I think I’m dying.”

I said I wanted to be the best female basketball player in the world when I was 4. I’ve always had really lofty goals.

I’ve worked with the same personal trainer since second grade. My brother, who was three years ahead of me in school, played basketball, and I always would tag along to his workouts or games. He was doing a workout one time and I just asked, “Hey, can I hop in?” The trainer was in shock. But he let me continue to work with my brother and come along. I still work with him today. He’s like family now.

My entire day revolves around stressing my body, putting it through rigorous workouts and then giving back to it. It can be up to four and a half hours a day. This sport takes so many years and hours of training.

When I first got to the WNBA, I felt like throughout a game I was losing my endurance. I wasn’t performing nearly as well in the third and fourth quarter as I was in the first half. So I got a new strength coach back in Delaware, and we really worked on core stability and endurance, doing circuit training. People wrote that I put on 12 pounds of muscle. That might have been a bit of an exaggeration. But I definitely put on muscle and lost body fat.

I used to tell my mom all the time that I wished I were shorter. She’s 6-2 and my dad is 6-6, so she understood. She was like, “I’m telling you, one day you are going to realize how beautiful your height is.” She would always tell me how unique I am and say, “Why try to be like the rest of the pack? Be your own person.”

It used to be annoying when kids would make fun of me for my height. It’s funny because height is an attribute where people feel like they can call it out. Like, if I’m at a grocery store, someone will be like, “You’re so tall!” Kids would be like, “Oh my god, you’re taller than my dad.” “Oh, you look like a monster!” “I don’t look like a monster, I’m just tall.” Those would be hurtful things that kids would say, but I don’t think kids even understand that that comes off as rude.

My dog’s huge. He’s a Great Dane, so I knew he was going to be huge, and it’s something that I absolutely adore. When he stands up on his hind legs, he is my height. And when he’s on four legs, his head comes up to a little above my hip. He also thinks he’s a lapdog, which is comical at times.

His name is Wrigley. I got him my first year in Chicago for my rookie season, so I figured a Chicago name would work well. But when I would take him to the dog beach in Chicago, everyone else had a dog named Wrigley too.

When I’m practicing on the court, I always try to play mind games with myself. I’ll tell myself, “I’m going to miss this shot,” and then I force myself to push through that. Or I’ll say, “There’s no way you’re going to make 11 in a row.” Then I have to try to challenge myself to do it. When I’m on the court, everything is positive. I tell myself, “It’s going in.” So if I can train the opposite way, I’ll be even more prepared when it’s game time.

In high school, I made 81 free throws in a row. I remember when I missed, it was kind of like, “Thank god this is over!” Literally everybody in the gym was holding their breath every time I shot a free throw. I was just so relieved for it to finally be over.

My sister, Lizzie, has always been my biggest inspiration, even though she’s never spoken a word to me. She’s deaf and blind, and she has intellectual disabilities as well. She’s probably functioning at the level of a 1- to 2-year-old. Not only that, but she’s had over 30 surgeries in her life. She’s overcome every single thing that’s been thrown her way. So many times doctors said she wouldn’t be able to walk, or she wouldn’t live to this age, and she’s surpassed all of those expectations. She’s just amazing.

On my 20th birthday, I got a tattoo of my sister’s name inside of angel wings. I wanted to put it somewhere it’s not seen every day, but I know it’s there. And before every game I pat it, or if I need to channel my sister in any way throughout a game, I’ll pat my side.

Anything I endure in a day will never be able to compete with what she has to endure each day of her life.

Original Source: http://espn.go.com/wnba/story/_/page/bodyelenadelledonne/chicago-sky-star-elena-delle-donne-talks-free-throws-endurance-dunking-espn-body-issue

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Zika, Delle Donne ‘Unwaivered’

Elena Delle Donne has seen pro athlete peers such as LeBron James and Jason Day withdraw from the Rio Olympics, but the Sky star said Friday that there’s no way she’s dropping out despite the risks associated with the Zika virus.

“For me, my mind still hasn’t wavered at all about Olympics. This is a dream come true to respresent the country and there’s no doubt I will be there,” Delle Donne said during a conference call.

The Team USA women’s basketball player has been especially vigilant about monitoring her health since she said she first developed symptoms of Lyme disease and was later diagnosed her sophomore year at the University of Delaware. The disease, transmitted through tick bites, can cause fatigue, headaches, joint pain and flu-like symptoms.

Some athletes, such as Day, cited concern about the Zika outbreak in Brazil as the primary reason for pulling out of the Olympics. The disease can be contracted through mosquito bites and can cause severe birth defects, as well as fever, joint pain and other symptoms.

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Delle Donne Designs Delivered!

Most everyone knows Delaware native Elena Delle Donne as a gifted basketball player.

Not so well-known? That when the WNBA Chicago Sky star is not playing ball, she exercises another passion: building furniture.

Delle Donne spends her spare time making impressive, intricately patterned coffee and dining room tables with friends Megan Gainey and Amanda Clifton.

Indeed, the future Olympian’s mad skills with a miter saw captured so much attention when she posted photographs of the homemade furniture on her social media accounts, Delle Donne and her friends decided to start their own business, DelleDonneDesigns.

Since then, customers have been, well, coming out of the woodwork. The customized handcrafted furniture, made in Chicago and Middletown, Delaware, can be ordered through Delle Donne’s website, elenadelledonne.com. Look underDelleDonneDesigns

“We might need to hire more people,” Delle Donne says. “We’ll see.”

Costs vary according to size and complexity of the table’s design, but prices can range from about $350 for an end table to about $1,250 for a dining room table. Shipping and handling is extra.

Customers are fans. “It’s basically people who follow me on social media and different friends and family,” Delle Donne says of the made-to-order tables that can require assembly. Instructions are included.

Delaware jeweler Carl Doubét, one of Delle Donne’s first customers, says he spotted a photo of the tables on her Twitter account. He was so impressed with the modern, elegant look, he ordered two tables for his 2900 Concord Pike store, Carl Doubét Jr. Jewelers.

“As soon as I saw the post, I said, ‘That’s it!’ I sent an email within five minutes,” says Doubét, who has been hunting for tables for his store for the past two years. “Before that, nothing grabbed me. I saw her photo, and it was perfect. The design captivated me first, and I thought the Delaware tie-in was fantastic.”

Doubét says he was surprised to learn that Delle Donne was making furniture.  “The relationship to the two, on the outside, seems like such a bizarre fit. But then, you think, ‘What a neat way for her to showcase another gift.’”

The tables, where Doubét’s customers can sit while they shop for engagement rings, were delivered to the Brandywine Hundred store earlier this month. Each is about 6 feet long and cost Doubét about $1,000 a piece.

Doubét says he doesn’t personally know Delle Donne, who graduated from Wilmington’s Ursuline Academy and the University of Delaware. The jeweler simply appreciates her talent for custom design. And he says he’s a supporter of any hometown hero.

“As a Delawarean, I like supporting other Delawareans,” Doubét says.

Delle Donne, 26, says she has long been a fan of do-it-yourself projects and TV shows.

“Ever since I was little, I loved to build various things. It’s kind of like a dream,” she says.

But her budding furniture-building side career started simply because she needed a dining room table.

Delle Donne says Megan Gainey, a college friend from UD, was already making “crazy, cool designs” out of wood. Together, they decided to turn her art into a table. Delle Donne posted the table on Instagram and Twitter, and the response was greater than she expected. Fans began asking where to purchase similar tables.

So, does Delle Donne really make the furniture? She laughingly says “yes” and knows it sounds a little far-fetched to hear that she is actually doing the sawing, staining and sanding. Yet, after basketball practice, she says she goes home and works on the furniture, usually with Wrigley, her 3-year-old Great Dane, by her side.

“Right now, [Amanda Clifton] and I do it in Chicago on my rooftop. My other friend [Megan] lives in Delaware and does all the East Coast orders.”

During the basketball off-season, Delle Donne says they will all be making the furniture in Delaware.

Delle Donne and her partners divvy up the work and tend to leave the wood cutting to Gainey and Clifton, especially during basketball season, which runs from May to late October.

“We try to keep [Delle Donne] away from the power tools,” Clifton told the Chicago Sun Times in a May interview.

So far, they’ve made 10 tables, and new orders are coming in every day. Delle Donne says they’ve just received an order for a headboard.

The symmetrical designs are made using a smartphone app. Patterns can range from Chervon (an inverted V shape) to herringbone. Then, the partners use different wood – some reclaimed, some purchased at home improvement stores. Each piece is stained, cut and sanded.

“It’s been a really fun, artistic process. It was kind of a hobby and a fun outlet away from basketball,” Delle Donne says. “It’s very involved, but we’ve gotten much better. It’s very time-consuming. Luckily, Megan and Amanda have a lot more time.”

Each table, from start to finish, takes about two weeks. The furniture is only sold online, but Delle Donne says she wouldn’t mind, in the future, possibly opening a store.

But not just yet. Her dance card is currently filled.

Delle Donne, who recently filmed a not-yet-aired Gatorade commercial at Ursuline Academy, is gracing the pages of ESPN the Magazine’s “Body Issue” and will be featured in the July issue of Glamour. And she is one of 12 players on the U.S. Olympics women’s basketball team going to the 2016 Rio Games, held in Brazil Aug. 5-21.

Delle Donne and the U.S. squad will be in Delaware on July 27. The team is playing an exhibition against France at Newark’s Bob Carpenter Center at 7:30 p.m.

Given Delle Donne’s current packed schedule, Doubét counts himself lucky to be one of her first furniture customers.

“It’s really amazing that in about month or so, she’s heading to the Olympics, but she still has time for tables,” he says.

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Delle Donne in ESPN ‘Body Issue’

NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne and Red Stars’ Christen Press will be featured in ESPN The Magazine’s eighth annual “Body Issue.”

Other athletes photographed include Super Bowl MVP Von Miller, 12-time NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade, NFL stars Antonio Brown and Vince Wilfork, UFC champion Conor McGregor, swimmer Nathan Adrian, beach volleyball Olympian April Ross, wrestler Adeline Grey, boxer Claressa Shields, and retired diver Greg Louganis. Duathlete Chris Mosier is the first transgender athlete to appear in the issue.

ESPN said Tuesday that the issue will be posted online July 6 and on newsstands July 8.

You can watch the promo video here.

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Delle Donne featured in Glamour Magazine

Via Chicago Tribune

Elena Delle Donne boasts about the depth of the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team in the July issue of Glamour magazine.

“We could field a second team,” the Chicago Sky star says. “We have players dropping three-pointers from half court. It’s an incredible group.”

Delle Donne is featured in a photoshoot with Olympic teammates Tamika Catchings, a Stevenson High School alum and former Deerfield resident, and Sue Bird.

The issue is on newsstands now.
Original Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/basketball/ct-elena-delle-donne-glamour-magazine-20160609-story.html

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Back to DE with US Team in tow

Via Delaware Online

Fans of Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne will have an opportunity to watch her and the 2016 USA Basketball Women’s National Team at her old playground this summer during the 2016 USA Basketball Showcase. The women’s national team will host Australia, Canada and France in a four-team, three-stop tournament July 27-31 at the University of Delaware’s Bob Carpenter Center, Bridgeport, Connecticut; and New York.

Featuring the world’s second-ranked team Australia, 2015 FIBA Americas Championship gold medalist Canada and 2012 Olympic silver medalist France, the showcase tips off at the “Bob” at 5 p.m. on July 27 for Australia vs. Canada, followed by a 7:30 p.m. clash between the USA and France. The July 29 games feature a 4:30 p.m. start at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport between Australia and France, while the USA takes on Canada at 7 p.m. On the tournament’s final day at Madison Square Garden, Canada and France tip off at 1:30 p.m., while the USA and Australia will begin play at 4 p.m.

From there, the U.S. team will travel to Houston for United States Olympic Team processing and a final practice on Aug. 2, prior to traveling to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Tickets for the USA Basketball Showcase exhibition games will go on sale starting June 13. For ticket information visit usab.com/showcase.

“This tournament with Australia, Canada and France, three of the top teams in the world, is an incredible opportunity for our team to prepare for Rio,” said USA and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma, who has directed the USA National Team to an overall 23-0 record and gold medals at the 2012 Olympic Games and the 2010 and 2014 FIBA World Championships. “I think each of these games will be competitive and be a really, really good preview of what you’ll see in August at the Olympics. Two years ago we were able to play games at Delaware … and the fan support at both of those games was tremendous.”

Five-time defending Olympic gold medalists, the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team features three-time gold medalists and tri-captains Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever) and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury); two-time Olympic gold medalists Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx) and Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx); and 2012 Olympic gold medalists Tina Charles (New York Liberty), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx) and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx). Competing in their first Olympic Games are Elena Delle Donne (Chicago Sky), Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury) and Breanna Stewart (University of Connecticut).

FIBA on March 11, 2016, held the draw to determine the Aug. 6-10 preliminary round groups, and the United States was placed in Group B along with Canada, Senegal, Serbia and two teams that will earn their berths at the 2016 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament next week in Nantes, France. The top five finishing teams from the Olympic qualifier will earn a berth to Rio, with the second and fourth best teams included in Group B.

The U.S. will open play against against Senegal on Aug. 7, followed by the No. 4 team from the Olympic qualifier on Aug. 8, Serbia on Aug. 10, Canada Aug. 12, and the USA concludes preliminary round play on Aug. 14 against the No. 2 team from the Olympic qualifier.

Auriemma will be assisted through the 2016 Olympic Games by DePaul University’s Doug Bruno, the Minnesota Lynx’ Cheryl Reeve and University of South Carolina’s Dawn Staley.

Original Source: http://www.delawareonline.com/story/sports/2016/06/09/delle-donne-comes-back-delaware-us-team-tow/85664188/

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Elena continues to spread acceptance


Reigning WNBA MVP Elena Della Donne has never been shy about expressing her opinion, particularly when it comes to perhaps the one issue closest to her heart.

So when a comedian recently included in his Showtime special a bit about his “retarded” cousin, Delle Donne took to Twitter along with others to call him out.

On Tuesday, the comedian, Gary Owen, decided to remove the offensive segment.

“I’m thrilled the Special Olympics was able to reach him and make it clear how powerful and hurtful words can be,” Delle Donne said Wednesday. “I hope this will change his perspective and resonate with him in the future.”

Delle Donne, who will be making her Olympic debut this summer in Rio, is also devoted to the Special Olympic movement as a proponent of Unified Sports and a spokeswoman for those with intellectual disabilities.

“I will say something every time,” the Chicago Sky star said of speaking out when she hears someone use the R-word, as those involved in Special Olympics call it, or anything she finds offensive. “My sister doesn’t have a voice to defend herself, so I take lot of pride in doing that. … Whenever that happens, I speak out and say it was wrong and unfair.”

Delle Donne has spoken and written often of her older sister Lizzie, who was born deaf and blind, with cerebral palsy and autism, and though Lizzie is unable to participate in Special Olympics activities, Elena has consistently worked with the organization throughout her career.

Delle Donne’s devotion has extended to making sure all of her basketball clinics are unified — involving those with intellectual disabilities along with non-disabled teammates — and including unified games at the NBA and WNBA All-Star weekends.

“The Special Olympics athletes are really incredible,” Delle Donne said. “It’s really good basketball and really fun.”

On Wednesday, Special Olympics announced that it has surpassed its goal of registering one million Unified Sports participants by reaching 1.2 million, a significant jump from 500,000 two years ago. In addition, Unified Sports are now in 4,300 schools in the U.S.

“The greatest thing about it is that it’s breaking down barriers for people who are nervous to approach those with intellectual disabilities because they don’t know what to say or they’re afraid they’ll break,” Delle Donne said. “When you build relationships, you eliminate that.”

Original Source: http://espn.go.com/espnw/culture/article/16049634/elena-delle-donne-continues-spread-word-acceptance

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Wrigley’s World: Elena’s four-legged fan

Via Chicago Sun Times

It’s hard to miss Elena Delle Donne when the 6-5 Sky star walks around the city.

But the reigning WNBA MVP isn’t always getting stopped to sign autographs. Instead, she’s often fielding requests to pet her 3-year-old Great Dane, Wrigley.

“They always comment how beautiful Wrigley is and ask to pet him,” Delle Donne said. “He loves it.”


Delle Donne has always been surrounded by Great Danes. Her first, named Raider, was found on a walk with her mother, Joan, when Elena was 5 years old, growing up in Wilmington, Del. After their first dog passed, the Delle Donnes got another Great Dane, Champ.

“They’re just such loving and friendly dogs,” Delle Donne said. “Their personality is incredible. It’s different from any other dog I’ve seen.”

Delle Donne knew leaving her family and moving to Chicago would be a bumpy transition, so she bought her third Great Dane during her rookie season in 2013. She didn’t know what to call her new puppy for several weeks but soon found the perfect name after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Wrigley Field.

Delle Donne, who averaged a league high 23.4 points and shot 95 percent from the free-throw line last season, said Wrigley helps her get through the ups and downs of the WNBA season.

“He’s an outlet for me,” Delle Donne said of Wrigley, who stands nearly equal level to Delle Donne when standing on his back paws.

“He keeps things in perspective, he’s like my little boy,” she said. “I can come home after having an awful game or come home from a tough loss and he’s there just celebrating like we won the championship.”

As the Sky look to rebound from an early exit to the Indiana Fever in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season, Delle Donne has her eyes set on the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Delle Donne is among the 12 players selected to the U.S. women’s basketball team for the Rio Games. She is one of three first-time Olympians on the team.

Wrigley won’t be marching next to Delle Donne with Team USA during the parade of nations at the Olympics in Rio, but the handsome Great Dane will be cheering from Chicago.

“He’s probably going to want to wear my Team USA jersey,” Delle Donne joked. “He’s everything to me, I love him. I make sure Wrigley has the greatest life ever and then I come next.”

Original Source: http://chicago.suntimes.com/sports/wrigleys-world-sky-star-elena-delle-donnes-four-legged-fan/

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Delle Donne’s Silent Supremacy

Via Roling Stone Magazine

Elena Delle Donne is not just a basketball player. She also likes making tables. She is the proud owner of a dog named Wrigley, the reigning champion of Complex’s Beast Wars bracket. She’s built a bed frame with her bare hands! But when you hit free throws at a rate of 94 percent, your woodworking acumen tends to recede from the foreground, even if you continue to post photos of your latest creations on social media. And even if, because you are the kind of grinder who figures you might as well make a business of your hobby, you start selling your furniture on Etsy.

Because here’s the thing about that number: it’s higher than NBA free throw record-holder Steve Nash or Rick Barry or half-court hustler Steph Curry. It’s higher than those of the men she’s compared to by well-meaning people who wish to compliment her through analogy to male players: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitzki. Elene Delle Donne can mess around with framing squares all she wants, but the 90-degree angle that bests basketball pros worldwide is the one she makes with her own arms as she stands at the foul line. Quick dribble, knee bend, smooth unfurling of the right angle: that’s the technique that has made her the most accurate free throw shooter in all pro ball. No fat to trim, it would make Frank Bunker Gilbreth proud.

Of course, Delle Donne’s free-throw shooting is just one aspect of her game; the reigning WNBA MVP, she may be the most well-rounded player the league has seen in recent history. She’s a big who can play post and guard, taking small players inside and staying to the outer perimeter with tall opponents. It’s a tactic her father first suggested when she was a kid: combine altitude and attitude, genetics with technical facility, destiny and free will. And it’s served her well.

“It’s just complete confidence and knowing everything’s going your way,” she says. “So anything you do will be successful.”

Part of what makes her effective is exactly that zone, which many describe as poise – not arrogance, but the placid confidence of a player who doesn’t question the future, seeing it only as a place where intentions become correct outcomes. Somehow, what seems impossible to almost every person in the world feels natural when she’s on the court. There’s some chess to it, but there’s also the instinct developed by routinized tape study and years of making reads.

Pokey Chatman, her coach on the Chicago Sky, says Delle Donne plays with intellect. She means how fluent Delle Donne is in corporeal codes. It’s a language Delle Donne, who says verbal communication isn’t always the best way to speak, trusts.

This faith she attributes to her older sister Lizzie, who is deafblind, autistic and has cerebral palsy. All her life, Delle Donne has spoken to her sister through hand-over-hand signing, in which the listener gently holds the hands of the speaker in something like a manual dance, words felt on the skin. But sometimes, Delle Donne just observes Lizzie. She likes to watch a smile break on her sister’s face when a breeze ruffles by.

“You learn so much more than from other forms of communication,” she says. “She experiences the world in such a different way, and it’s incredible to watch.”

Still, the sisters cannot speak outside of each other’s physical presences. They need to share space. It’s one reason their brother Gene believes that Elena made a midnight getaway from UConn after only two days of classes. Delle Donne has said she needed to find herself outside of basketball. It’s difficult for her to explain how she found that woman; all she did was not play basketball. She joined the University of Delaware volleyball team instead, until she decided she had no idea what she was doing (she knows what she likes: family, basketball and dogs) and returned to the court.

Other players might’ve agonized over passing up the chance to train with UConn’s Geno Auriemma, but according to Delle Donne, more even than winning the MVP last year or leading the WNBA in All-Star Game voting during her first season – the first time a rookie has ever done so – her pride is situated in having made a mid-major, University of Delaware, into a name.

Now, her eyes are on Rio. She remembers watching the Olympics as a kid: track and field, volleyball, swimming. It became the dream. After last season, she toured Europe with the USA Women’s National Team and she’s participated in Olympic training camps, but her place in Brazil wasn’t officially assured. Then, earlier this year, she was driving to her practice facility when she got the call from Carol Callan, the Women’s National Team Director. She was scared, or maybe relieved. She was also, she was to discover, a member of the Olympic team, alongside the likes of Maya Moore, Diana Taurasi, Angel McCoughtry and Brittney Griner. In the WNBA, these players are her rivals. Now, they’ll be her teammates.

“We all get to play together, which is so refreshing,” she says. “Finally! Be on one team together instead of always competing against one another.”

It’s a statement that could be interpreted as disingenuously Pollyannaish, but it reflects something of the humbleness of the WNBA. The league has fared well in comparison to other women’s pro leagues, but its 12 teams still don’t get prime coverage. Around half of American players, such as Griner and Taurasi, have played abroad, because WNBA salaries amount to pocket change for their NBA counterparts, while, for example, Griner made 12 times her 2013 WNBA salary playing in China. Delle Donne, with her scoring finesse and squeaky clean image, has supplemented the pay with endorsements, and recently she joined Chris Paul and Demaryius Thomas — not to mention Twitter— as a strategic partner and equity investor in Muzik, an audio tech company soon to release wireless headphones.

The night we spoke, Delle Donne had already done a photo shoot for the company, and after a day of posing, she sounded a little tired. Then again, that could also have something to do with a general weariness with the media. After all the articles that have been written about her, she wonders what’s left to write about (she thinks the most interesting aspect of her life is the woodworking thing). Everyone knows that she loves Chicago, even though she must spend six months of the year away from family. Everyone knows about the Lyme Disease she was diagnosed with in college. Everyone knows she wants to lower the rim in women’s basketball. At this point, she’d prefer to let her play on the court do the talking – even if she knows that’s wishful thinking.

“It’s like, I’ve done so many articles. People know a lot, a lot about me,” she says. “[But] I’m constantly thinking of new ways to engage fans, and help grow the visibility of the WNBA.”

“You didn’t study marketing, did you?” I ask.

“I did not,” she laughs, a little ruefully. “Maybe I should have.”

Original Source: http://www.rollingstone.com/sports/features/elena-delle-donnes-silent-supremacy-20160527

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Delle Donne among SI ‘fittest’ with Chicago ties

Via Chicago Tribune

Chicago native Dwyane Wade and the Sky’s Elena Delle Donne made Sports Illustrated’s Fittest 50 list, along with several other athletes with Chicago-area ties.

The list, the magazine’s breakdown of the 50 male and 50 female pinnacles of strength, speed, endurance and agility, also includes NASCAR’s Danica Patrick, a Roscoe native, and Los Angeles Sparks star Candace Parker, who hails from Naperville.

“From pull-ups to battle ropes and sled pulls, the 30-year-old mom of one puts in the work off court and it’s paid off so far in her career,” SI writes about Parker.

The magazine praises Patrick for her CrossFit training and yoga, notes Delle Donne’s boxing drills and TRX exercises, and lauds the 34-year-old Wade for putting in work at for biomechanics-focused gym.

Original Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/breaking/ct-dwyane-wade-elena-delle-donne-si-fittest-50-20160523-story.html

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The unlikely media interest in all things women’s sports


It may seem strange on the surface that women’s lifestyle media company Refinery29, which focuses on fashion and beauty, would be branding out into sports coverage. But with the lack of media in the women’s sports space, it might have a fighting chance.

“It’s a layup for us,” said Refinery29 co-founder Philippe von Borries. “It’s a space where we should be. It makes complete and utter sense. For us, it’s always been a commitment to categories where we’re celebrating women and amazing achievement, and building a community of incredible female voices. Last but not least, it’s a huge commercial category.”

The digital network is launching a YouTube channel called “Brawlers,” which includes a series following athletes like United States Paralympic Jessica Long. It also will profile hula hoop world record holder Marawa The Amazing, as well as launch a health-and-fitness series called “60 Seconds to Fit.” Olympics content is also in the works.

Even before its announcement in early May during the digital content Newfronts for advertisers, Refinery29 secured Smartwater as a sponsor.

Just how sparse is coverage for women’s sports? The Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport at the University of Minnesotasays that 40 percent of all sports participants are women — but only 4 percent of sports media coverage is dedicated to those sports.

A June 2015 Gallup poll found that 66 percent of men are sports fans, but so are 51 percent of women. What’s more, higher-income men and women (meaning they had a household income of $75,000 or more) were more likely to be sports fans than those who were middle or lower income.

For leagues like the NFL, women now make up 45 percent of their fan base. And thanks to their FIFA World Cup win in 2015, the U.S. women’s soccer team is helping raise American interest in the sport among both genders.

“There’s going to be a tipping point from an advertiser standpoint and from a broadcaster standpoint,” said David Selby, managing partner and president of agency Schafer Condon Carter. “It’s obviously the right thing to do. There’s a huge level of interest to market there. I don’t think it’s going to be will women watch women’s sports and men men’s sports. The caliber and entertainment value of watching the (women) athletes is pretty amazing.”

Refinery 29 isn’t the only one creating more content about female athletes. Fox also announced a drama series on Monday in partnership with the MLB called “Pitch.” The show will revolve around the first female pro baseball player, which the network called “a true story … on the verge of happening.”

At its NewFront presentation in early May, Conde Nast Entertainent touted its digital series “Why I” late last year, which is tied to Selfmagazine. The profile series follows women athletes to find the motivation behind why they do what they do. Its debut clip in November, which featured MMA fighter Ronda Rousey, was Self‘s top performing video on Facebook that year.

Nickolas James, executive producer at Conde Nast Entertainment, admitted that in the past there weren’t that many female athletes to cover. But thanks to the women’s World Cup win and other high-profile leagues like the WNBA, more women want to read about sports. James also points out that these profiles are “guaranteed to be extraordinary, positive and uplifting — something any brand would want to be associated with.

“Male athletes have multimillion dollar contracts,” said James, executive producer of “Why I.” “For women it’s not about the fame or glory, it’s because they love the sport.”

Despite the potential, some media buyers say that much of the media and advertisers still are hesitant to commit to women’s sports coverage. One cited the lack of viewership compared with men’s sports. Another source pointed out that many media companies and brands “are full of guys who have been doing sports for the last 25 years, and they just don’t get (the appeal of women’s sports).”

Even this crop of women’s sports coverage doesn’t highlight live sports. It’s mostly profiles, and, in the case of Fox, fictionalized sports stories. While ESPN touted women like MLB analyst Jessica Mendoza, ESPN The Magazine and ESPNw editor-in-chief Alison Overholt and “His and Hers” host Jemele Hill during its upfront presentation on Tuesday, it still emphasized that its key demographic and programming was for young men.

But digital could become the testing ground, and if it succeeds, it could lead to more coverage. Nick Bourne, chief commercial officer at Bigballs Media, which runs two of the largest digital soccer video brands, said digital has more leeway to experiment with women’s sports content. Young women are more likely to be on digital platforms compared with men, he said.

For example, Pew Research Center reported that 76 percent of women who use the internet use social networking sites, versus 72 percent of men. Nielsen has also reported that more women get their news from social media (28 percent) than men (25 percent), as well as are more likely to use it for entertainment (48 percent versus 45 percent).

“It’s got the role models,” Bourne said. “It’s got the stories, especially when you look at women’s soccer. It’s perfect for digital because when you look at where the young females are, they are on digital rather than TV.”

Update: A previous version of this article stated that Refinery 29 said that Elena Delle Donne would be a part of the “Brawlers” series. After publication, Refinery 29 notified CNBC that she will no longer appear because of a scheduling conflict.

Original Source: http://www.cnbc.com/2016/05/20/the-unlikely-media-interest-in-all-things-womens-sports.html

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Delle Donne shines in return home

Via The Review

Delaware alumna and reigning WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne led her team to victory on Sunday as her Chicago Sky defeated the New York Liberty 93-59 in a preseason game at the Bob Carpenter Center.

After being introduced to a standing ovation, Delle Donne found success early on in the game. The Sky dominated the first quarter and continued applying pressure to the Liberty, resulting in an 18-point lead at halftime. Delle Donne ended up with 17 points in only 15 minutes of play.

Adut Bulgak added 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Liberty while shooting 50 percent, and Sugar Rodgers chipped in 10 points, while only shooting 25 percent from the field.

It was recently announced that Delle Donne will be playing for the women’s basketball team at this year’s Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Delle Donne will be joined in Brazil by Liberty player Tina Charles.

Delle Donne said playing in the Olympics will be a dream come true, and that there’s nothing that will prep her better for the Olympics than playing against what she called “the best players in the world” in the WNBA.

Rookie center Imani Boyette added 10 points and five rebounds to the stat sheet for the Sky. Boyette said her excitement in taking the court with Delle Donne for the first time culminated in her inability to make a layup during warm-ups because of how nervous she was.

“I feel like I’m dreaming,” Boyette said. “Her [Delle Donne] following is amazing, her fans are so great. They even embrace me, and I’m like a nobody.”

Delle Donne credited the university with helping to shape her and to prepare her well for life in the WNBA.

“Delaware is such a tough academic school, so it was really challenging,” Delle Donne said. “I had to learn a lot about time commitment and how to weigh everything out, so it prepared me for the real world. Delaware was incredible for me.”

While thanking the crowd after the game, Delle Donne said she’s forever grateful for her fans back home and that she looks forward to bringing the Sky back to Delaware next year.

“We’re definitely the Chicago Sky, but today, and any other time we’re on the East Coast, we’re the Delaware Sky, too,” Delle Donne said.

Original Source: http://udreview.com/delle-donne-shines-in-return-home/

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Delle Donne to Make Olympic Debut


Playing in the Summer Olympics will be part of a very full 2016 for UConn star and recent WNBA No. 1 draft pick Breanna Stewart. She was among the 12 players named Wednesday to the U.S. women’s basketball team for the upcoming Rio Games, and one of three first-time Olympians.

Also making their Olympic debuts will be Chicago’s Elena Delle Donne, who was the WNBA’s MVP last season, and Phoenix’s Brittney Griner. The Americans will be seeking their sixth consecutive Olympic gold medal. Stewart is coming off a fourth consecutive NCAA title with the Huskies, and she was selected first in the draft by Seattle, where she’ll start her professional career.

“It’s definitely been a great year,” Stewart said. “I’ve had a lot of great things happen throughout my career, but when you look at the opportunity to be able to go to the Olympics, that was my biggest goal in basketball. Winning a fourth national championship, getting drafted, going to the Storm, and now this. It’s really amazing. I can’t wait to get going and see what happens.”

The rest of the U.S. roster comprises nine of the 10 players who were returning from the 2012 London Olympics.

They are Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore, Sylvia Fowles and Lindsay Whalen of defending WNBA champion Minnesota; Seattle’s Sue Bird, Indiana’s Tamika Catchings, New York’s Tina Charles, Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry and Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi.

Bird, Taurasi and Catchings are all going for their fourth Olympic gold medal. Catchings has already announced that this will be her final season of play.

Los Angeles’ Candace Parker, who won gold with the U.S. team in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, was not chosen for the squad. Parker, 30, is the only active WNBA player who has won the league’s MVP award more than once. She is also the only player off the 2012 Olympic team who was one of the finalists for 2016 but was not picked.

“If you combine the returning 2012 Olympians with the 2014 world champions, you have 15 very qualified candidates,” U.S. women’s national team director Carol Callan said in a statement. “Add to that an emerging group of young athletes, and the decision becomes that much harder to settle on a final 12-member roster.

“The good news is that we have developed a deep, talented pool of athletes at each position through our national team program. We are grateful that the very best athletes in our country want to play and push each other to be better whenever our team gathers to train.”

A five-member selection committee made the final decision on the 12 players. The team is coached by UConn’s Geno Auriemma. He had six former Huskies on the team that he coached to a gold medal in the 2012 London Games. This time there are five from UConn: Stewart, Moore, Bird, Charles and Taurasi.

“The committee had a really difficult job this year, because it’s the first time in a long time that a lot more than 12 players could easily have been named to that team,” Auriemma said in a statement. “But the 12 that were named are a great combination of multiple gold-medal winners and great leaders.”

Stewart and Griner played on the 2014 world championship team for the United States. But this will be the first major competition on the senior national team for Delle Donne, who was the No. 2 pick behind Griner in the 2013 WNBA draft. Last season, Delle Donne led the WNBA in scoring at 23.4 PPG and won the MVP award.

“It’s so hard to even put it into words,” Delle Donne said. “Just to think this entire basketball journey I’ve been on has been absolutely incredible, but this has been by far the pinnacle of my career and the best news I’ve ever heard. It’s absolutely a dream come true.”

The Olympics will run from Aug. 5-21. The U.S. team is in Group B along with Canada, Senegal, Serbia and two teams that will earn their berth in the Rio Games at the Olympic qualifying tournament in France from June 13-19.

Original Source: http://espn.go.com/olympics/basketball/story/_/id/15392591/breanna-stewart-elena-delle-donne-12-players-named-us-women-basketball-roster-rio-olympics

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Elena Delle Donne cuts loose with Running Man Challenge

Via Chicago Tribune

You may have seen Elena Delle Donne dunk but you’ve probably never seen her dance.

The Sky forward let down her guard to get goofy on camera Saturday, doing the Running Man Challenge that has been sweeping locker rooms and campuses.

“Am I doing it right?” she asks on Twitter.

For the moment, we’re going to set aside that fact that neither her dance nor all these other dances that are trending are actually the original version of the running man, but whatever. The current fad looks like someone doing a version of the Roger Rabbit while holding a shake weight.

Athletes and students break into the dance while “My Boo” from Ghost Town DJs plays in the background. At least one group has been using the fad to promote muscular dystrophy awareness.

Original Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/basketball/ct-elena-delle-donne-running-man-challenge-20160425-story.html

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Women’s Sport Conference Takes Chicago

Via Daily Herald

Girl power emanated from every corner of Morgan Manufacturing, a sleek conference and event space in the West Loop of Chicago, on Wednesday.

It was espnW’s inaugural “Women + Sports Chicago” conference, and movers and shakers in the world of women’s sports were brought in to educate and inspire others.
There were panels of young Olympians, corporate leaders, founders of nonprofits that serve young female athletes, and some big-name athletes including Chicago Sky star Elena Delle Donne and soccer legend Julie Foudy.

But perhaps one of the best stories in the building was with one of espnW’s own.

Alison Overholt, the editor of espnW, recently was named the editor-in-chief of ESPN The Magazine. The move makes her the first woman to be the editor of a major sports magazine in the United States.

“When all this first happened, I was just thrilled for the opportunity and some colleagues told me they thought I might be the first woman to hold a position like this and I wasn’t even aware of that,” Overholt said. “I think it says a lot that that part of it was an afterthought. I also think it says a lot that we’ll never have to say that again.

“There will be more women who get to do this moving forward. The path is there now.”

Overholt will keep her title as editor of espnW, an entity that is near and dear to her as a former athlete. Overholt says events such as “Women + Sports Chicago” are important conversation starters.

“This is hugely important, creating this sense of community is so crucial,” Overholt said. “You’re seeing these little pockets of people talking and making connections with each other. I feel like bringing content to life in this way and creating community gathering moments and connecting women to each other and shining a spotlight on women’s sports is vital.”

Hometown hero:

One of the panels at the espnW “Women + Sports Chicago” event included recipients of the Toyota Everyday Heroes award.

Everyday Heroes gives $10,000 checks to women who are working to promote and grow sports for girls and women in their local communities.

This year, Game On! Sports 4 Girls was one of the winners. The organization is based in the Chicago area and was created by Barb Lazarus, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago.

Lazarus created her sports camps for girls in 2007 in an effort to help foster self-esteem and produce healthy, productive children. Game On! served 200 girls during its first summer. Now, going into its tenth summer, Game On! boasts locations in four states.

“This (award) has given a legitimacy to my team and it’s said to us, ‘you’re doing the right thing, you’re making a difference. Keep going. Keep the momentum going,'” Lazarus said. “It was always a dream for me to give back. What sports did for me as a young girl and into high school and college was invaluable.

“There was a point in my life that I was ready to take that leap of faith (leave law to start a nonprofit) and ready to go out on my own and really ready to make that impact of women helping girls and women helping women.”

Roster moves:

While Elena Delle Donne was busy entertaining the crowd at espnW’s inaugural “Women + Sports Chicago” conference on Wednesday, the Chicago Sky was finalizing the players who will surround her on its training camp roster.

One addition of note is homegrown: 6-foot-2 guard Maggie Lyon of Northwestern.

The former New Trier prep star signed a free agent training camp contract with the Sky, which opens training camp on Sunday.

“Maggie’s a tough player with a high basketball IQ,” Sky coach and general manager Pokey Chatman said. “Her ability to shoot and stretch the floor, play without the ball in her hands and finish around the basket makes her a tremendous offensive threat.”

Lyon averaged 16.5 points per game as a senior at Northwestern this season and broke the school’s career 3-point record. She finished with 1,693 career points.

Original Source: http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20160422/sports/160429443/

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Elena Can Dunk On Either Rim Height


Whether the height of the rims is 9 feet or 10 feet, Elena Delle Donne will dunk on them.

Delle Donne is a proponent of lowering the rims in order to grow women’s basketball, dunking aside. But even if the WNBA keeps the hoops at 10 feet, it doesn’t seem to hold back the 6-foot-5 Delle Donne. She’ll drive to the hoop and slam it down.

Two weeks ago, Delle Donne pulled a Steph Curry by draining 3-pointers from long range. Now she channels her inner Zach LaVine — or Candace Parker — with a dunk of her own.

After this, her new nickname has to be “Delle Dunk.” Right?

Original Source: http://espn.go.com/espnw/culture/the-buzz/article/15222949/elena-delle-donne-dunk-whichever-rim-height-want

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Working out like Elena: Intense routine will get your attention

Working out next to basketball star Elena Delle Donne showed me that we have more than a major height difference.

The 6-foot-5-inch-tall Ursuline Academy grad takes a high-intensity, calorie-torching workout called Fit Accelerated at the Hockessin Athletic Club with her mom as a way to spice-up her fitness routines. Tossing kettlebells, pulling major poundage on the rowing machine, it didn’t matter, she always had a beaming smile on her face.

“It’s just nice to change it up,” she said after the class.

My barely 5-foot self, on the other hand, wheezed through the 45 minutes with shaky legs and achy arms when I tried the class for our Take It Off health challenge.

About 10 minutes in, I realized why people, including Elena, come back for more pain: the class is a community. Every lady and gentleman who took the class encouraged me to keep on going in between their reps with smiles and cheers.

Sure the calorie burn is a plus, but ultimately that support keeps people motivated, said Dina Saitis, the personal trainer who crafted Fit Accelerated.

“They have friendships. It goes beyond…it’s a community here at [Hockessin Athletic Center], not just in my class, but throughout the whole facility,” Saitis said. “It’s really a family.”

Throughout our 12-week challenge I’ve challenged myself by stepping out of my comfort zone and trying classes I would have never dreamed I would have participated in.

I was so excited to try Fit Accelerated I showed up a week early. Thank you, Dina, for being patient and accommodating my impatience.

Saitis specializes in small group and one-on-one training. She trains Delle Donne when she is in Delaware, too.For Fit, at most 16 people can take the class. Saitis sets up eight pairs throughout the room at different cardio and resistance training sessions.

For Fit, at most 16 people can take the class. Saitis sets up eight pairs throughout the room at different cardio and resistance training sessions.

Cardio burns more calories at first, and strength or resistance training with weights helps build muscle.

People take turns completing a Saitis-created workout from lifting kettlebells and deadlifting weights to fast-paced mountain climbers.

“When I plan a class I am thinking about hitting everything from your deltoids all the way down to your calves,” she said.

One person does cardio, while the other does resistance training. Then they switch.

Cardio workouts are done in intervals: working for 20 seconds and then resting for 10 seconds. The resistance training is consistent for a full minute and 50 seconds before resting.

Don’t feel pressured to go crazy, Saitis said. Do what works best for your health and fitness level. Rest when you want and challenge yourself if you can.

“It gives you the opportunity to explore those options,” she said.

High-intensity workouts have consistently been in the the top five fitness trends compiled by the American College of Sports Medicine. Though people need to be careful about injuries if they are not taught how to properly lift weights or do the specific movements, the journal BMC Public Health found that people were more likely to continue with high-intensity exercises over those that were less strenuous.

“It’s all the rage right now,” Saitis said.

Exercise in general burns calories and increases the body’s muscle mass, which increases calorie-burning metabolism, but high-intensity workouts go to the next level. The more muscle you have than fat will help you burn more calories after a workout, when your body is resting.

Exercising also helps burn off blood glucose as you sweat, which helps diabetics and others better control their blood sugar. National studies show that regular exercise, which means about 150 minutes a week of movements that work up a sweat whether it’s gardening or lifting weights or walking ,can help people avoid diabetes, and help those who have it feel better and stave off related problems.

People can try Fit Accelerated for free, then each class costs $20 for a HAC member and $25 for a non-member. For maximum benefits, take the class twice a week.

It may seem intimidating, but anyone can feel at ease in the class, Saitis said.

When Maureen Freeberry, 71, got questionable results from a bone density scan she used it as a wake-up call to get fit. She decided to take Saitis’ class to challenge her activity level and strengthen her bones. Protecting your bones better protects the muscles on the body.

Working out side-by-side with Delle Donne is fun, but she said she knows her limits, too. Freeberry is not afraid to modify different exercises or lower the weight amount she’s lifting.

“She’s amazing,” Freeberry said of Saitis.

Recognize that rest is important, Saitis added, to prevent injuries and help muscles recover.

“You can’t just go all out all the time,” she said.. “Just pull back. We work with everyone here.”

I definitely had to put down the kettlebells more than one time, but I decided to challenge myself by opting for a heavier sandbag to toss over my shoulder during step-ups onto a block.One thing I learned was to go at your own pace, no matter what is going on around you.

Delle Donne may have looked like she was gliding through each exercise, but she assured me that isn’t always the case. The first time was rough for her, too.

“It kicked my butt,” she said.

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WNBA Stars Debate Lowering Rims

Via The Source

The WNBA recently announced they will be lowering basketball rims from the typical 10 feet rims they’ve been using for the past 19 seasons. Once news got out, UCONN legend Diana Taurasi had some choice words about the decision. The nine-time WNBA All-1st team champion sarcastically suggested they “might as well put us in skirts and back in the kitchen.”

Recent WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne feels different, remarking lowering rims is a great idea for the game of women’s basketball and for the fans. The Chicago Sky superstar had this to say:

I think it would bring a whole different aspect to the game and bring viewership as well and show the athleticism of our women. We do every single thing on that court that the men do, other than the dunking. And, obviously, there is a handful of athletes who can dunk.

But when you look at other sports like volleyball, their net’s lower. Golf, their tees are closer. It goes on and on. Tennis, they play [fewer] sets. Why not lower our rim and let every single player in the league play above the rim like the NBA can?

Even Taurasi’s college coach, Geno Auriemma agreed with the decision. Let’s just hope his creates the fan buzz the WNBA been searching for which has been missing since their golden years when the great Cynthia Cooper, Lisa Leslie, Teresa Weatherspoon and Chamique Holdsclaw suited it up on the hardwood floor.

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Delle Donne & Taurasi Go Back and Forth on Rim Lowering

Via For The Win

An earlier version of this story incorrectly credited many of the arguments against lowering the rim to Diana Taurasi. They were the ideas of ESPN’s Kate Fagan.

A debate over lowering the height of the rim in women’s hoops has one of the stars of the game fuming over the language used to counter her proposal.

Elena Delle Donne said she’s frustrated with how Diana Taurasi, one of the most recognizable faces in the women’s game, worded her rebuttal to the reigning WNBA MVP’s idea to lower the rims because “it would bring a whole different aspect to the game and bring viewership as well and show the athleticism of our women.”

“We do every single thing on that court that the men do, other than the dunking,” Delle Donne said when she discussed her proposal earlier this month. “And, obviously, there is a handful of athletes who can dunk…”

Taurasi, in an interview with ESPN this week, quipped if the sport went through with lowering the rim, they “might as well put us in skirts and back in the kitchen.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Delle Donne fired back, saying it is statements that imply lowering the rim would be like sending women back to the kitchen that set back the sport.

“I respect Diana so much, I think what she’s done for our game is phenomenal,” she said. “But I definitely disagree with what she said. The biggest issue I have with what she said is how degrading that is to women athletes in general because when you look at sports — men’s and women’s sports — volleyball, the nets are lower; golf, women’s tees are closer. And if you want to talk about Serena Williams, she plays less sets than the men so are you going to tell her to put a skirt on and go back to the kitchen?”

The idea of lowering the rim has been discussed for years in women’s basketball. Delle Donne’s push of the idea comes as the WNBA approaches the start of its 20th anniversary and is looking to expand its popularity with a new league president, new uniforms and marketing initiatives.

Delle Donne said she also disagreed with concerns from ESPN’s Kate Fagan that lowering the rim would make logistics more difficult for female players at all levels of the game.

“I messed around with it, there’s a rim at my parents’ house that I lowered to 9 feet and 9 and a half feet and I was able to adjust within probably 20 shots,” she said. “And I feel like when you’re a basketball player you can adjust to different things and I actually think shooting percentage would go up immensely if you lowered the rim.”

The timing of Taurasi’s quip, which comes as UConn is having to defend winning in a dominant fashion, was also frustrating to Delle Donne.

“For Diana to say something like ‘put your skirts on and go back to the kitchen’, that’s tweets we read every day of what people say to us when we’re just trying to play our sport,” she said. “That’s what’s frustrating about it. It’s a time to empower women athletes, not to bring them down.”

Source: http://ftw.usatoday.com/2016/03/elena-delle-donne-diana-taurasi-lowering-hoops

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Elena & Kevin Durant Model New USA Jerseys

With the Rio 2016 Olympics just months away, Nike unveiled some new basketball uniforms for Team USA on Thursday.

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant modeled the men’s threads, while the Chicago Sky’s Elena Delle Donne showed off the women’s.

Four years ago, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and KD rocked more triangular-shaped letters across their chests. They won gold in London, as did the women’s team.

Rio’s opening ceremony will take place August 5.

Source: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2625672-kevin-durant-and-elena-delle-donne-model-new-team-usa-jerseys-at-nike-event

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Why The MVP Wants To Lower The Rims

Via For The Win

NEW YORK–Elena Delle Donne continues to fight for equality in her sport, recently telling New York Magazine she would like to see the media to refer to her and her WNBA counterparts as “basketball players” and not “female basketball players.”

But there is one thing the Chicago Sky forward would like to see changed to further set the WNBA apart from the NBA: A lowered rim.

“I think it would bring a whole different aspect to the game and bring viewership as well and show the athleticism of our women,” she told For The Win at Nike’s Innovation Summit on Wednesday. “We do every single thing on that court that the men do, other than the dunking. And, obviously, there is a handful of athletes who can dunk.”

“But when look at other sports like volleyball, their net’s lower,” she continued. “Golf, their tees are closer. It goes on and on. Tennis, they play [fewer] sets. Why not lower our rim and let every single player player in the league play above the rim like the NBA can?”

At 6-foot-5, the reigning WNBA MVP is one of those players with above-the-rim abilities.

She added she hasn’t heard any reaction the idea after mentioning in a recent Players’ Tribune mailbag that would be her one rule change.

“I might even get pushback from fellow WNBA players,” she said, “but I stand by it. It would bring a whole different viewership to the game and it’d be fun. It’d be so exciting.”

From a visibility point of view, she has a point. Think about how many times Brittney Griner grabs headlines when she dunks. And Delle Donne noted none other than legendary UConn coach Geno Auriemma has long been a proponent of the idea for the college game. Here’s what he told the Hartford Courant in 2012:

“What makes fans not want to watch women’s basketball is that some of the players can’t shoot and they miss layups and that forces the game to slow down.

“How to help improve that? Lower the rim. Do you think the average fan knows that the net is lower in women’s volleyball than men’s volleyball? It’s about seven inches shorter so the women have the chance for the same kind of success at the net [as the men].”

Auriemma didn’t even want a drastic change — he proposed a 7.2-inch switch (in honor of the 1972 landmark law Title IX) to account for the hypothetical average difference in women’s height versus men’s. A slightly lowered rim, he added, means “fewer missed layups” and “more tip-ins.” It also would introduce plays like alley-oops.

“I have Geno on my side,” Delle Donne said on Wednesday. “And I feel like having Geno Aurriema in your back pocket is always a great thing. If the greatest coach in the world believes we should do it, then we probably should do it.”

Source: http://ftw.usatoday.com/2016/03/elena-delle-donne-wnba-rims-lower-chicago-sky-mvp

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Team USA Plans To Win 6th Straight Olympic Gold

Via Team USA

LOS ANGELES — Elena Delle Donne admitted feeling a bit out of her element at the Team USA Media Summit – at least when the element concerned was gold.

The reigning Most Valuable Player in the WNBA shared a stage Wednesday with triple Olympic gold medalists Tamika Catchings and Sue Bird and double gold medalist Candace Parker.

“I’m certainly in awe of these gold medalists,” Delle Donne said. “Last night I was introduced after them (at a media function) – which is embarrassing. You’ve got to introduce me first! These athletes are second to none, not just because of their basketball skills, but how special they are.”

Delle Donne, 26, who plays for the Chicago Sky, has never represented Team USA at a major international tournament, although she played at the World University Games and represented the U.S. on its 2015 European tour. Delle Donne said she has enjoyed being part of the Team USA selection process and getting to know the other players.

“We have to make sure we keep the USA tradition alive,” Catchings said. “Everybody who comes into our family knows what it is to compete on the highest level.”

The USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee is considering 25 players for the Olympic team and will whittle the list to 12 in mid-May. The final roster will be announced on July 5 after the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

“I always say I do not envy the people on that committee,” Bird said. “From the pool of 25, you could literally pull 12 from a hat and send them to the Olympics and they would have a chance to win a gold medal.”

While the depth of talent in the United States is unparalleled, Bird said that the committee isn’t looking simply for the 12 best or most-talented players, “but a group that comes together as a team and complements each other.

“What can you bring in terms of winning a gold medal that has nothing to do with basketball?” Bird added. “It’s giving 100 percent all the time and being a good teammate. Everyone can shoot, everyone can dribble, what else can you bring?”

University of Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma, who guided Team USA to the gold in 2012 in London and was at the helm for world championship gold medals in 2010 and 2014, will be the first two-time Olympic head coach for the women’s team.

The Rio 2016 Olympic Games represents some significant basketball milestones: 80 years since men’s basketball joined the Olympic program, 40 years since women began playing at the Olympic Games and 20 years since the U.S. women began their record streak of five gold medals.

Team USA is 58-3 in Olympic play on the women’s side and has a 41-game winning streak dating to the bronze-medal game in 1992 in Barcelona, Spain.

“Every time we go out, everybody’s gunning for us,” said Catchings, who represented the U.S. for the first time in 1996 on the junior national team and plans to retire at the end of this season. “They all play their best game against us – you want to be the team to take the USA out.”

The last team to take out the USA was Russia in 2006 at the world championships, coincidentally in Brazil. That gave Bird and Catchings a taste of what awaits them in August if they are on the floor for Team USA in Rio.

“There were a lot of people there, and I’m sure a lot of them were Brazilians – and they were cheering against us,” said Bird. “It makes for a really exciting atmosphere.”

The U.S. women have never failed to win a medal at an Olympic Games in which they have competed. Team USA won the silver medal in the first Olympic women’s tournament in 1976, then missed the Moscow 1980 Games due to the boycott. Team USA won two straight gold medals in 1984 and 1988, then faltered to a bronze-medal finish in 1992.

Team USA returned to the gold standard at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games, which took place three months after the founding of the WNBA. Both Bird and Catchings remembered the dominant U.S. team which included Teresa Edwards and Dawn Staley.

“I was 15 or 16 years old and that was right around the time when basketball was becoming super important to me,” said Bird, who is now 35. “It was a really pivotal point in our lives in terms of basketball. We were one of the first classes to choose a college knowing there was a professional life in America after it.”

Catchings, 36, whose father Harvey played in the NBA, wanted to play in the same league when she was growing up.

“When the WNBA came, that was even better than the NBA,” she said. “(I thought) ‘I have something I can do. I can play with women who are just like me and inspire me.’ I remember watching the 1996 Olympic team and knowing one day I’m going to be there.”

For her part, Delle Donne said she most vividly remembered the 2008 Olympic Games because they marked Lisa Leslie’s last appearance.

The other three players protested that they were there, too. “You didn’t see us,” Bird teased.

Now she not only sees them, she’s one of them.

Source: http://www.teamusa.org/news/2016/march/09/team-usa-womens-basketball-plans-to-win-sixth-straight-olympic-gold-in-rio

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From USA Training Camp To A Dodgeball Tournament

Elena Delle Donne spent the early part of the week at USA Basketball training camp in Storrs, Connecticut. When she returned home, she really got down to business.

And while, sure, training with the national team was probably intense, it paled in comparison to her Wednesday night. Joined by her older brother, Gene, and some other friends, the reigning WNBA MVP turned her focus to winning a title.

A dodgeball title, that is.

Before heading to the gym with her squad, she got in some last-minute practice at the house.

And then dominated the competition. Since she used the hashtag #champs, I’m just going to assume they won it all.

Sibling teamwork #champs #stickybandits @genedelledonne

A video posted by Elena Delle Donne (@de11edonne) on

Is there anything Delle Donne can’t do? I think not.

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Chicago Sky to play at UD in May

Via Delaware Online

Elena Delle Donne and the Chicago Sky are coming to the University of Delaware for another preseason game.

Delle Donne, the former UD All-American and the 2015 WNBA most valuable player, will return May 1 when the Sky faces the New York Liberty.

Tip-off is 2 p.m. at the Carpenter Center.

It’s the third straight year the Sky has played at Delaware. This year’s game will come several months before Delle Donne is likely to represent the United States at the Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

The Sky walloped the Washington Mystics 76-69 in front of 4,750 in 2014, with Delle Donne getting 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Last year’s game was played the Friday of Memorial Day weekend and attendance was 3,105 as the Sky beat the Liberty 83-55 as Delle Donne had 16 points and eight rebounds.

“Being several years removed from college and to see the continued support from fans in Delaware is absolutely unreal,” Delle Donne said in a Sky press release Tuesday. “I brag to my teammates all the time about Delaware and why it’s so special and every single time we come back, we feel loved.”

Delle Donne, a graduate of Wilmington’s Ursuline Academy, sparked Delaware to a 63-6 record her final two seasons – 2011-12 and 2012-13 — including a 42-0 record against Colonial Athletic Association foes. Delaware won its first NCAA Tournament game in 2012, when she was a junior, then downed West Virginia and North Carolina at the Carpenter Center with epic comebacks in front of sellout crowds her senior year. Delaware’s season ended in a Sweet 16 loss to Kentucky in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Delle Donne scored 3,039 career points, fifth in NCAA Division I history at the time, despite missing 22 UD games because of illness or injuries.

She was then the No. 2 pick in the 2013 WNBA draft, and has enjoyed a stellar career despite being sidetracked by a back injury and a recurrence of Lyme Disease symptoms her second season.

“Delaware has become a second home for us,” Sky coach and general manager Pokey Chatman said in the statement. “The support we’ve received over the past three seasons has been unconditional. The Bob has become a familiar place for our players and an electric environment for WNBA basketball. This year, with the added excitement of Elena returning as MVP, will be very memorable.”

Original Source: http://www.delawareonline.com/story/sports/2016/02/23/elena-delle-donne-chicago-sky-play-ud-may/80800652/

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Delle Donne on Rachel Banham’s game


When you’re putting up the kind of scoring numbers that Minnesota guard Rachel Banham has been, people are going to notice. Especially when they see that Kobe Bryant has noticed.

Banham’s 60 points against Northwestern, her game-winning 3-pointer against Iowa, her 52 points against Michigan State, her 27.5 points per game, her taking over as the Big Ten’s all-time leading scorer (2,921 points) — these are things not lost on the best in the women’s pro game.

Several of those players are gathered here at UConn for the USA Basketball women’s national team training camp, and they include some outstanding scorers. But perhaps no one here better understands what Banham might be feeling right now than Chicago Sky star Elena Delle Donne.

The WNBA’s MVP last season, Delle Donne led the league at 23.4 points per game. And she was a scoring wizard in college at Delaware too. It’s fair to say that Delle Donne rarely has had games — playing with Team USA’s huge collection of talent might be the only exception — where she didn’t have the expectation that shehad to score a lot for her team to win.

Sounds dreamy, right? Like being the actor with the best lines or the band’s lead singer. Who doesn’t want to have a near-constant green light to score? Isn’t that the most fun?

“It’s not, really,” Delle Donne said. “Honestly, you’d rather be in an offense where everybody on court with you could score the ball well and could be the top scorer that night. Because then you all have each other to rely on.

“It can be tough when you know if you’re not averaging that 25 to 30 points, your team is not going to win. And not only that, you know the defense is completely geared to guarding you.”

Delle Donne, of course, was a UConn-caliber player who decided not to attend Connecticut and instead stayed home to play for the Blue Hens. She scored 3,039 points in her college career, averaging 26.7 per game. She was drafted second overall by the Sky in 2013 and was the WNBA’s rookie of the year. In her three WNBA seasons, she has averaged 20.2 points.

The 6-foot-5 Delle Donne has a guard’s mentality in a post player’s body. She acknowledges that she has always used her size and ability to exploit mismatches to her advantage whenever possible. Banham, by contrast, is a 5-9 guard who particularly loves the 3-point shot; she has 97 treys this year.

“I’ve relied on my height many times; when in doubt, I could often elevate and shoot over people,” Delle Donne said. “So Rachel has to have a different craftiness to her game to get through double- and triple-teams. That’s what’s really impressive about her.”

Delle Donne also understands the other kind of weight that can come with being a big scorer: needing to always credit your teammates and keep them involved. Delle Donne said her Delaware teammates were empathetic because they knew she wasn’t trying to bring attention to herself, but that it was the natural byproduct of her scoring prowess.

Banham has been getting the headlines, but she has a teammate in Carlie Wagner who is averaging an impressive 19.1 points per game herself.

“There’s no way I’d be able to do what I was doing in college or now without help from teammates,” Delle Donne said. “I’m sure Rachel feels that way too.

“It takes a certain mindset to come out and stay positive, especially if you miss a few of your first shots. You have to keep that mentality that the next one is going in. I’m sure she also has great teammates that uplift her too, because that’s what I had to keep me going.”

Another of the WNBA’s top scorers, Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry, is also at the USA Basketball training camp. She’s at 19.5 points per game in her seven WNBA seasons and has twice led the league in scoring average (2012, 2013). She had that role of go-to scorer in college at Louisville, as well.

“It’s funny that Elena says it’s difficult to score that much, considering she makes it look so easy,” McCoughtry said, smiling. “But I would say it is a lot of pressure. Especially when the game gets tight, and you’re thinking, ‘I have to score to help the team.’

“Not everybody can do that. But what’s that saying? To whom much is given, much is expected? That’s basically what it is. If you have that scoring ability, you have to do it. Maybe the biggest challenge is when you have to take the last shot. You miss, and you feel like you let everybody down. You want to make it so bad, but you’re not always going to be the hero.”

Delle Donne and McCoughtry both said there also has to be a level of trusting your teammates to also make big shots when they have the opportunity. It’s always a balancing act. But let’s face it, once you put up huge numbers and have the reputation as a scorer, that’s what people are going to expect to see. And it becomes what you expect of yourself.

No player in the USA Basketball camp knows Banham’s game better than her fellow Minnesota native Lindsay Whalen, who has won three titles with the Minnesota Lynx and helped lead the Gophers to the 2004 Women’s Final Four.

Whalen averaged a team-leading 20.5 points and 5.4 assists her senior season of 2003-04, with then-junior post player Janel McCarville averaging 16.1 points. Whalen, who is from Hutchinson, Minnesota, was already a Gophers legend before that Final Four run, but the first game of that 2004 tournament was particularly epic.

Whalen had missed seven games with a broken hand suffered in February, and her first game back was the NCAA tournament opener against UCLA. She scored 31. Then against top-seeded Duke in the Elite Eight, she scored 27.

Whalen has worked out with Banham and evaluated her game. She has high hopes for Banham, who has recovered from her own serious injury: a torn ACL in December 2014 that caused her to redshirt that season and return for this one.

“I was in practice with them a couple of times getting ready for this camp,” Whalen said of the Gophers. “She said it was right around the start of Big Ten season that she kind of turned the corner mentally, and body-wise too. She was stronger and was able to gain a lot of confidence.

“The most impressive to me was the game winner down one, when she faded left and made it to win. That’s big time.”

Whalen was referring to Banham’s 3-pointer that beat Iowa 78-76 on Feb. 15. The Gophers’ loss to Michigan State in Sunday’s 114-106 scorefest hurt, but Whalen has her fingers crossed that 18-9 Minnesota can still get into the NCAA tournament.

“I think mentally, Rachel is having fun,” Whalen said. “Hopefully, she’s not letting the scoring weight get to her. She seems to be enjoying it. But I know more than anything, she wants to get a few more wins to make the tournament.”

The WNBA draft is April 14 at Mohegan Sun Arena, home of the Connecticut Sun, and UConn’s Breanna Stewart is the sure No. 1 pick. But Banham has been upping her stock, and if you ask around at the training camp, people are looking forward to seeing her get a chance in the WNBA.

Delle Donne quickly became one of the WNBA’s most popular players in large part because of her scoring prowess; her career high is 45 points, set in June against Atlanta. She scored 40 in the Sky’s season-ending loss to Indiana in the playoffs last year. She is eager to see how Banham adjusts to the WNBA level.

“I think she’ll be very happy when she gets to the pros,” Delle Donne said. “She won’t have to carry as big a load as she has. But the great thing is, doing it gets you ready for the next level.”

Original Source: http://espn.go.com/olympics/basketball/story/_/id/14827335/elena-delle-donne-appreciates-rachel-banham-high-scoring-game

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Elena’s Mailbag

Via The Players’ Tribune

his is The Tribune Mailbag, a series in which athletes answer questions directly sent from our readers. Previous editions featured The Captain himself, and USWNT midfielder and World Cup Champion Megan Rapinoe, among others. 

Next up, we feature WNBA MVP and Vince Vaughn superfan, Elena Delle Donne. Take it away, Elena.


What’s the weirdest thing in your locker? – Oliver

A Sofia the First doll. My niece sent it to me as a good luck charm.

Saw you tweeting about Making a Murderer. I finally finished, and I’m obsessed. I need to talk about it with someone!!!! What’d you think????? – Michelle

I’m so on the fence after more and more evidence/information has come out. After watching it on Netflix, I thought, “No way did they prove beyond a reasonable doubt he was guilty.” I hear a lot was left out of the Netflix series, though.

H-O-R-S-E. Elena vs. Steph. Who wins? – Vincent

I have to say me.


Portillos. Just kidding. Hole in the Wall. It’s out in Deerfield, but worth the short trip. Unique atmosphere, too! 

I read your free-throw percentage last season was 97%. That cannot be true. —William

I am not sure. I’d have to Google it.

Let’s get really real. Did Harry and Hermione ever secretly hook up? – Sam

After butter beer … most likely.

Best of seven: ‘96 Bulls vs. ‘16 Warriors — who you got and in how many games? (Your agent is definitely answering these questions. Answer on video or I won’t believe it’s really you.)  —Meghan

Jordan always wins. I promise this is me!

If you could change one WNBA rule — and only one — what would it be? – Lindsay

Lower the rim.

The Bachelorette: WNBA Edition. Who’s starring? – Sara

Chiney Ogwumike.

WHO YOU GOT IN THE REMATCH: Rousey or Holm? – Joseph

I don’t see Rousey losing twice. 

I’ve always been the tallest girl in class. I feel awkward in my body. Will that ever change? – Beth

Yes! Why fit in when you were born to stand out? Own it.

Who’s the best/funniest trash talker you’ve encountered on a basketball court, and what’s one thing they said that cracked you up? – Dan

I honestly haven’t had much trash talked to me. 

Gilbert Arenas. What the hell? – Emma


Hello, how are you? It’s so typical of me to talk about myself — I’m sorry. I hope that you’re well. Did you ever make it out of that town where nothing ever happened? And it’s no secret that the both of us are running out of time. So hello from the other side (other side). I must have called a thousand times (thousand times). To tell you I’m sorry for everything that I’ve done. But when I call you never seem to be home. Hello from the outside (outside). At least I can say that I’ve tried (I’ve tried). To tell you I’m sorry for breaking your heart. But it don’t matter. It clearly doesn’t tear you apart anymore. – Adele

We could have had it alllllll, rolling in the deep. You had my heart inside of your hand and you played it to the beat. Love you, Adele!

Help me look smart in front of my friends. Who’s an under-the-radar WNBA player that everyone will be talking about next season? – Cheryl

I’d think you would be so much cooler if you watched and could answer that on your own.  :)

Cubs or White Sox? The people have a right to know. – Jim

My dog’s name is Wrigley …

If someone says to me, “You play like a girl,” what should I tell them? – Taylor


Original Source: http://www.theplayerstribune.com/elena-delle-donne-sky-wnba-mailbag/

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Delle Donne Among Stars at NBA All-Star Celebrity Game


A WNBA All-Star past and present shared the star-studded court on Friday night at the 2016 NBA All-Star Celebrity Game presented by Mountain Dew.

Reigning MVP Elena Delle Donne and former Charlotte Sting/Indiana Fever forward Tammy Sutton-Brown represented the WNBA at Toronto’s Ricoh Coliseum.

Delle Donne joined the USA team coached by comedian Kevin Hart, with longtime WNBA star and current Spurs coach Becky Hammon serving as an assistant. Sutton-Brown, a Markham, Ontario native, was on the Canada team roster headlined by head coach Drake.

New teammates @jason_sudeikis and @de11edonne pose before #DewCelebGame. #WatchMeWork #WNBA20

A photo posted by wnba (@wnba) on

Original Source: http://www.wnba.com/news/elena-delle-donne-tammy-sutton-brown-nba-all-star-celebrity-game-2/

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Delle Donne to Participate in NBA All-Star 2016 Celebrity Game


A WNBA All-Star past and present will join a cast of fellow pro athletes, actors, actresses and more in Toronto on Friday.

Elena Delle Donne and Tammy Sutton-Brown are among the participants in this year’s NBA All-Star 2016 Celebrity Game presented by Mountain Dew, which airs on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET from the Ricoh Coliseum.

Delle Donne, the league’s reigning MVP, will join the USA team coached by Kevin Hart, with longtime WNBA star and current Spurs coach Becky Hammon serving as an assistant.

Sutton-Brown, a Markham, Ontario native, is on the Canada team roster headlined by head coach Drake. Sutton-Brown retired in 2012 after a 12-year WNBA career split between the Charlotte Sting and Indiana Fever, which included two All-Star appearances and a WNBA title in her final season.

The full ESPN release is below.

NBA All-Star 2016 Celebrity Game Presented By Mountain Dew Exclusively on ESPN

For the 12th consecutive year, ESPN will exclusively televise the NBA All-Star 2016 Celebrity Game presented by Mountain Dew on Friday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m. ET at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto, Ontario. This will be the first NBA All-Star event to be held outside of the United States.

Play-by-play commentator Mark Jones, analyst Jon Barry and sideline reporter Cassidy Hubbarth (NBA Tonight) will return to provide commentary for the telecast.

Celebrities Suit Up to Play Ball

Grammy Award-winning artist and Toronto Raptors Global Ambassador Drake will be joined on the sidelines by two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash, NBA All-Star DeMar DeRozan and Toronto Blue Jays All-Star right fielder José Bautista.  Canada’s team will feature Tom Cavanaugh (“The Flash”); Stephan James (“Race”); Arcade Fire’s Win Butler; Drew and Jonathan Scott (HGTV’s “Property Brothers”); two-time WNBA All-Star Tammy Sutton-Brown; professional tennis player Milos Raonic; actor and singerKris Wu; seven-time NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady; and NBA TV analyst Rick Fox.

NBA All-Stars Russell Westbrook, Andre Drummond and San Antonio Spurs Assistant Coach Becky Hammon will assist four-time NBA All-Star Celebrity Game MVP and actor/comedian  Kevin Hart as he coaches the USA team, which includes Jason Sudeikis (“Race”); O’Shea Jackson Jr. (“Straight Outta Compton”); Anthony Anderson(ABC’s “black-ish”); Nick Cannon (“America’s Got Talent”); WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne of the Chicago Sky; Joel David Moore (ABC’s “Forever”); five-time NBA All-Star and ESPN analyst Chauncey Billups; NBA legend Muggsy Bogues; and Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry.

The NBA All-Star 2016 Celebrity Game presented by Mountain Dew will also be available on WatchESPN. The game rosters are subject to change.

Original Source: http://www.wnba.com/news/elena-delle-donne-tammy-sutton-brown-nba-all-star-celebrity-game/

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Sky’s Elena Delle Donne, Courtney Vandersloot named Olympic team finalists

Via Chicago Tribune

WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne and Chicago Sky teammate Courtney Vandersloot were named two of 25 finalists for the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team on Monday.

Delle Donne led the league in scoring (23.4) and Vandersloot led in assists (5.8) last season. They’ll join former teammate Sylvia Fowles and 22 other WNBA stars at training camp Feb. 21-23 at the University of Connecticut with the hope of making the cut for the 12-woman roster.

Delle Donne played Team USA for its European tour and helped the Americans finish 4-0 against three pro clubs and the Italian national team.

The roster of finalists for Rio 2016 is filled with other Chicago ties.

• Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm) is a former Niles West standout who starred for Notre Dame.
• Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever), who helped knock the Sky out of the playoffs, played high school ball at Stevenson.
• Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks) was a former National Player of the Year out of Naperville Central.
• Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury) was the first draft pick in Sky franchise history.

Original Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/basketball/ct-elena-delle-donne-olympics-20160125-story.html

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Elena Delle Donne Shows Off Her Woodworking Skills


We all know that Elena Delle Donne is one heck of a basketball player, but did you know she also happens to be a pretty skilled carpenter? It’s totally fine to say no here. I didn’t know this until about five minutes ago.

The Chicago Sky star and reigning WNBA MVP posted a picture on Instagram on Monday night of her latest project, and it seems — based on the hint she provides that includes dog footprints — to be something for her beloved canine pal, Wrigley. Is it a bed? A doggy couch? A drawer for only dog food and treats? You’ll just have to decide for yourself.

… Guess what I'm making?! #hint #🐾

A photo posted by Elena Delle Donne (@de11edonne) on

Good to know if this whole basketball thing doesn’t work out, she’s got something else she can fall back on.

Original Article: http://espn.go.com/espnw/athletes-life/the-buzz/article/14650988/elena-delle-donne-shows-woodworking-skills

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Elena reunites with Kevin Hart for NBA All-Star Celebrity Game

Elena Delle Donne will return to the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, joining comedian Kevin Hart’s team when he and other U.S. stars face Drake’s Canada team in Toronto on Feb. 12.

The Chicago Sky forward and 2015 WNBA MVP will play alongside actors Jason Sudeikis, Michael B. Jordan, Anthony Anderson and Bryshere “Yazz” Gray; TV host Nick Cannon; former NBA stars Chauncey Billups and Muggsy Bogues; and Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry at Ricoh Coliseum.

The game will air live at 6 p.m. Central time on ESPN, and fans can follow, post and tweet using the hashtag #NBAAllStarTO.

Drake’s team features former NBA greats Steve Nash, Tracy McGrady and Rick Fox; Toronto Blue Jays All-Star right fielder José Bautista; actors Stephan James and Kris Wu; Arcade Fire’s Win Butler; HGTV’s Drew and Jonathan Scott; tennis pro Milos Raonic; and the Indiana Fever’s Natalie Achonwa.

Delle Donne played with Hart in the 2014 game on a team that also included Jordan, rapper Snoop Dogg, model Erin Heatherton.

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Elena Delle Donne Joins Kevin Hart to Move NYC

Via Slam Online

To kick off the new year and help New Yorkers get started on their fitness resolutions, WNBA star Elena Delle Donne joined Kevin Hart in a training event this past weekend.

Hundreds of motivated New Yorkers came out for Nike’s high-intensity “Move With Hart” event, as can be seen in the photos.

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A world class basketball player and a world class role model

“That’s the thing: You don’t understand burnout unless you’ve been burned out. And it’s something you can’t even explain. It’s just doing something you have absolutely no passion for.”

This is the quote that is highlighted on Elena Delle Donne’s personal website. That quote exemplifies everything there is to idolize about Elena Delle Donne. She is a hard worker, a dreamer and a leader. She is willing to put in the necessary work that it takes to become successful.

If you don’t already know her name by now, you should. Delle Donne was named the 2015 WNBA MVP, but that only begins to tell her story. Sure she is an extremely talented basketball player, but Delle Donne should be a source of inspiration for many people.

She gets her inspiration from her younger sister, Lizzie. Lizzie was born blind and deaf and she also has cerebral palsy and autism. Her full story can be found here.

“The only real interaction I, or anyone, has with her is in person, with hand over hand sign language. She hugs. She smiles. She kisses,” wrote Elena Delle Donne.

Lizzie is the reason Delle Donne elected to turn down a scholarship offer from NCAA women’s powerhouse UCONN in favor of staying close to her hometown of Wilmington, Delaware and attending the University of Delaware. The same reason she does not play overseas during the WNBA offseason. Family is important to Delle Donne and that’s very clear. Her relationship with Lizzie and her brother Gene is a connection that everyone should strive for. Family is important and we shouldn’t take things like family for granted in this life.

Family means so much to her that she started the Elena Delle Donne Charitable Foundation. A foundation that encapsulates many things that hit home in her house: the challenges that Lizzie faces, the Special Olympics, and Lyme Disease as well.

Just another reason that Delle Donne should be a role model for people across the world: she cares. She has a real desire to help others and she doesn’t think she is too good for anyone; although she has bragging rights over just about anyone on the basketball court. Delle Donne is an ambassador and a mentor. She is a national ambassador for the Lyme Research Alliance and also the global ambassador for the Special Olympics. Not only does she help with these charitable organizations, but she also hosts the Delle Donne Academy basketball camp where she touches the lives of many young girls aspiring to be like her.

Delle Donne suffers from Lyme disease herself. One of the main symptoms of Lyme Disease is fatigue, not something that is particularly ideal when playing basketball at an incredibly high level as she does. But she takes it in stride and refuses to use it as an excuse.

“I’m often exhausted from the Lyme, and frustrated with my body. It’s hard. But when I think about my position — when I think about how tired I am or how much it hurts — I think about Lizzie,” Elena wrote. “I’m so lucky to have the health that I do, and so lucky to have a body and mind which allow me to do what I do. She inspires me. None of my hardships are even close to the same plane as what she has endured. And look at what makes her happy… Wind. That’s perspective.”

Delle Donne exemplifies leadership, perseverance, hard-work, love for others and lastly she has proven that if you put in the work, dreams and goals are attainable.

“I could do whatever I wanted as a girl, whatever my brother did. I could play against the boys and achieve what they did.”

Delle Donne combined hard work and self-confidence and that was the recipe that led her to becoming the 2015 WNBA MVP. Practice, Preparation, Passion. Those three words are Delle Donne’s keys to success in her career. It’s not surprising what she has achieved though considering her motto: Demand Excellence.

However, it’s about time that Elena Delle Donne starts receiving attention for all of the good things she does off the court. Positive role models are hard to come by these days in sports, but Delle Donne leaves hope for a bright future. It’s time to stop making jokes about the WNBA and time to start appreciating the talent and heart of Elena Delle Donne.

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This Nike short film proves there are too many great players to pick a favorite

For Christmas, Nike released a short film wherein four kids try to figure out who their favorite player is. There’s a whole bunch of basketball stars that they visit: Kevin Durant, Paul George, Anthony Davis, Kobe Bryant, Elena Delle Donne, Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, who takes NBA2K more seriously than you’d imagine.

Future and Serena Williams also have cameos in this film, but the kids sadly can’t meet them because life isn’t fair sometimes — although they can somehow afford to travel the world to meet all these athletes, but that plot hole discussion is for another day.

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Elena Delle Donne, Duncan Keith headline new Gatorade ad

Danny Ecker via Crain’s Chicago Business

Two of Chicago’s most prominent athletes are part of the latest national commercial from sports drink giant Gatorade.

Chicago Sky forward Elena Delle Donne and Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith are both featured in the brand’s new “Moving the Game Forward” ad (above), a national spot that debuts today.

The ad is rife with Chicago ties, which is fitting for locally based Gatorade. Aside from Delle Donne and Keith, former Simeon Academy star Jabari Parker and Chicago native Dwyane Wade play roles, as does the Michael Jordan statue outside the United Center.

Keith stands out among the group, which includes globally recognized athletes Usain Bolt and Lionel Messi, among others.

The Hawks defenseman—not one to appear in many national commercials—seems to be filling in for teammate Patrick Kane, who is one of Gatorade’s top athlete partners and appeared in a national ad for the brand last summer. But no brand that works with Kane is putting his face at the forefront of its marketing while the 26-year-old star remains the subject of a sexual assault investigation.

A Gatorade spokeswoman said Keith’s appearance was a one-time deal as opposed to an endorsement partnership.


While the new ad signals a low point for Kane’s marketability, it’s the opposite for rising star Delle Donne, who recently added Gatorade to an endorsement portfolio that includes Nike, DuPont and Delaware health care system Christiana Care.

The Gatorade spot marks the second national commercial appearance for the WNBA’s new most valuable player in as many weeks, coming just days after Nike debuted its “Snow Day” ad and made Delle Donne one of the faces of its cold-weather gear campaign.

The national commercial spotlight is new territory for the 26-year-old, whose only experience in TV ads was a recent local spot for Christiana Care.

Embracing her role as the face of women’s basketball, however, is nothing new. And Delle Donne plans on taking advantage of the extra attention that she’s getting after posting one of the most statistically impressive seasons in WNBA history.

“I’m lucky enough to be in a time right now where women’s sports are really taking off,” Delle Donne said last week at an event to debut the new Nike ad. “To be in this time period where I feel like it’s taking off is such a special thing. I’m excited about it and I like the challenge of it all.”

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Benhind The Scenes: Elena Delle Donne in Nike Commercial

Via Slam Online

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Snow Day: Elena Delle Donne, Paul George, & Draymond Green Star in Nike Commercial

Via Slam Online

Nike released a really, really dope new ad today featuring 21 of its pro athletes, from all different sports.

Entitled “Snow Day,” the new commercial includes basketball stars Paul George, Draymond Green and Elena Delle Donne among others you’ll recognize from football, soccer and other sports. Check out the spot above, which will debut in a 60-second version on TV starting Thursday night.

And for more, here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the commercial, plus the players share their favorite snow day memories.

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Elena Delle Donne’s 7 Steps to a Perfect Free Throw

Via Stack.com

Elena Delle Donne recently wrapped up an MVP season during which she averaged 23.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2 blocks per game for the WNBA’s Chicago Sky. Although she is a dynamic scorer and a lockdown defender, the most impressive part of her game might be her free-throw shooting.

Delle Donne finished the season with a marvelous 95 percent free throw percentage, knocking down 207 of 218 attempts. For comparison, the best free-throw shooter in the NBA—MVP Stephen Curry—knocked down 91.4 percent last season.

2015 was Delle Donne’s best pro season at the line, but she’s long been a free-throw master. She holds the national high school record with 80 consecutive made free throws, and she ended her college career at Delaware sporting a free-throw percentage of 91 percent.

So how did Delle Donne get so good at swishing shots from 15 feet? Luckily, she recently detailed her routine to The Wall Street Journal. Her free throw technique consists of seven basic steps.

1. Find the “Dot” in the Middle of the Free-Throw Line
Almost every free-throw line on a hardwood court has a dot placed perfectly in its center. This “dot” is typically a small hole or nail. Its purpose is to help the people who paint the court. They anchor a string to the dot to help them correctly mark the court’s dimensions.

For Delle Donne, the dot is where she begins her free-throw routine. She lines up the top of her right foot with the dot before she receives the ball from the referee. You can actually see her looking at the dot and adjusting her foot accordingly before the second free throw in this video.

2. Take Three Dribbles
After Delle Donne lines up on the dot, she looks up and receives the ball from the ref. Then she takes three dribbles in place with her right hand.

3. Place the Index Finger on the Pin-Hole
After Delle Donne takes three dribbles, she places her right index finger on the pin-hole—you know, where you insert the needle to pump air into the ball.

4. Bring the Front Elbow to 90 Degrees
Next, Delle Donne pulls the ball in front of her and forms a 90-degree angle with her right elbow.

5. Bend the Knees
Delle Donne then bends her knees slightly, keeping her upper body completely stationary.

6. Lift, Flick and Pop
After she bends her knees, Delle Donne straightens her legs, lifts her right elbow, flicks her right wrist and pops her ankles. This is the actual motion of elevating and releasing the ball. Delle Donne stresses not getting any hang time on your free-throw motion. “It’s a little bit of an ankle pop—no jumping,” Delle Donne told the Journal.

7. Tell Yourself It’s Going In
When the ball leaves Delle Donne’s hand, she practices positive visualization. “I actually just tell myself, ‘It’s going in,’” Delle Donne said. “Every single time.”

Delle Donne’s been using this routine for over a decade, logging thousands upon thousands of practice repetitions. Her muscle memory is so strong that no matter what the situation is, she can calmly step to the line and drain a pair. Technique is certainly important for free throw success, but nothing is more critical than practice.

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Basketball’s Best Free-Throw Shooter Isn’t in the NBA

TOM PERROTTA via The Wall Street Journal

WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne shot 95% from the line this season, putting her in elite company

When the NBA season kicks off this week, the best free-throw shooter in professional basketball will be at home in Delaware preparing to run a camp for young girls.

Elena Delle Donne, the 6-foot-5 star of the WNBA’s Chicago Sky, won the league MVP award this season. She averaged 23.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and two blocked shots a game. But it was at the free-throw line where Delle Donne made history. She hit 207 of her 218 free-throw attempts, 95%—11 misses short of perfection. In three seasons with the Sky, Delle Donne has made 94.1% of her free throws, including playoff games.

Those numbers put Delle Donne in elite company. Calvin Murphy, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and Ray Allen are the only other players in ABA, NBA and WNBA history to shoot 95% or better in a season with more than 200 free-throw attempts. Peja Stojakovic shot 92.7% from the line in 2003-04, the highest percentage ever for a season with more than 400 free-throw attempts. Delle Donne has played 77 regular season games in her WNBA career and hit 448 of her 477 free throws (93.9%).

The first thing Delle Donne does when shooting a free throw is look for the dot—sometimes it’s a nail—that marks the middle of the free-throw line. She lines up her right foot with the dot. After she bounces the ball three times, she places her index finger on the ball’s air pinhole. She bends her knees slightly and makes an L-shape with her shooting arm.

“From there I just lift and flick, and a little bit of ankle pop,” Delle Donne said.

There’s one more thing.

“I actually just tell myself, ‘It’s going in,’” she said. “Every single time.”

Free-throw wizards tend to be modest about their talent. Anyone, they say, could shoot like them with practice.

“I guarantee 90%,” said Ted St. Martin, who holds the Guinness world record for consecutive free throws, 5,221 in seven-plus hours of shooting in 1996.

St. Martin is 80 years old and can no longer shoot, after two shoulder operations. But he still coaches, and still shakes his head at NBA free-throw percentages, which haven’t had any sustained improvement since the 1970s. (The NBA league average at the line since 2000 is 75.5%, the same as it was from 1970 to 1979, according to Stats LLC.)

Deb Remmerde-Leusink, an assistant coach for the Northwestern College women’s Division II team, shot 95.8% from the line when she played there and once hit 133 consecutive free throws. She said Delle Donne’s technique fits her theory on free-throw shooting.

“I would say two things: Have the same routine every time you step to the line, and reps,” Remmerde-Leusink said. “You’ve got to get reps.”

Delle Donne’s reps began early, under the tutelage of her father Ernie, who played basketball at Columbia University. He made his daughter shoot at a lower basket until she could use the same technique on a regulation court.

“When you look at most kids who are 6, 7, at the YMCA, they are on a 10-foot rim way too early,” Ernie Delle Donne said.

When Delle Donne was 12, she hit two free throws to tie a game with 0.1 seconds on the clock in the national Amateur Athletic Union basketball championships (her team went on to win that game and the national girls title).

“In my mind nothing will be as bad as that,” Delle Donne said. “The pressure will never get there again.”

Not long after, Delle Donne did something radical: She scrapped her free-throw motion and started anew at the suggestion of her coach, Steven Johnson, a Delaware math teacher.

“I’m not a special person, I’m not a special coach,” said Johnson, who no longer coaches basketball. “Elena just trusted me completely and she wasn’t afraid to make a mistake. All we tried to do is reduce her motion to as few movements as possible.”

Delle Donne struggled but persisted.

“It was horrific for probably a good year,” she said. “I kept saying to him, ‘Are you sure? I’m awful now.’”

Delle Donne eventually set a girl’s national high school record by hitting 80 consecutive free throws. These days she doesn’t need a lot of practice to maintain her touch.

“When I’m in the gym and I’m resting, that’s when I shoot foul shots,” she said. “It’s not a ton. It’s kind of like an art and you get it down and that’s it.”

John Eric Goff, a physics professor at Lynchburg College and author of Gold Medal Physics: The Science of Sports, said all great free-throw shooters have exquisite control over the angle at which they release the ball and its speed.

“Add 2% to your speed and you’re going to go from hitting the center of the hoop to the back of the rim,” Goff said.

A WNBA basketball is an inch smaller in diameter than an NBA ball. Goff said the smaller ball could enter the hoop at a two-degree lower angle and still go in (he called it “a tiny advantage”). One tiny disadvantage: A WNBA ball is a bit livelier, since it has a smaller radius of curvature but the same legal range of air pressure as an NBA ball. It’s slightly less predictable when it hits the rim.

Delle Donne said she’s just as comfortable with an NBA ball: “A little bit more knee bend and a little bit more ankle pop to get it there,” she said.

But there is one oddity that occasionally disrupts her free throws, when the Sky play the Connecticut Sun in Connecticut. That gym doesn’t have a dot in the middle of the free-throw line. Delle Donne went 21 of 24—a mere 87.5%—from the line in three games in Connecticut this year.

“It really bugs me,” she said. “It shows how mental foul shooting is. You need to know where to line up.”

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Elena Delle Donne and Jordan Spieth Voted Athletes of the Month

Via US Sports Academy

When it comes to winning, September’s top honorees for the United States Sports Academy’s Athlete of the Month are no strangers to it. Displaying expertise in golf and basketball for years, respectively, Jordan Spieth and Elena Delle Donne succeeded again, this time gaining favor with those making selections on the online public ballot.

Golf star Spieth won the Tour Championship and clinched the FedEx Cup on 27 September. He led by one stroke going into Sunday’s round and ended up winning by four strokes. This was his fifth win on the PGA Tour this year, including the Master’s and U.S. Open. The 22-year-old Texan became golf’s first $22 million man, a PGA Tour record, with just over $12 million in prize money and the $10 million bonus for the FedEx Cup.
Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic, the world’s top-ranked player, was second in the voting, after beating world number two Roger Federer for the U.S. Open title at Flushing Meadows on 13 September. This left him with the year-end No. 1 ranking for the fourth time following his 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Federer in the final.

Tying for third place for the men were United States football star Leonard Fournette and Polish soccer star Robert Lewandowski. Louisiana State University running back Fournette helped defeat the Auburn Tigers on 19 September with 228 rushing yards placing him at the top of the national rushing statistics, with 193.5 yards per game. Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski stepped off the bench at half-time against Wolfsburg to score five goals in nine minutes during a 5-1 comeback win. Lewandowski scored the quickest ever Bundesliga hat-trick (four minutes) and then set a new record with four goals in the same match.

On the women’s side, United States WNBA star Elena Delle Donne came was first in the balloting. The WNBA announced that Delle Donne was named Most Valuable Player for 2015 after leading the Chicago Sky to a 21-13 record. She averaged a league high 23.4 points per game in 31 games, scoring at least 40 points twice, 30 points five times, and 20 points 21 times. She also shot a WNBA-best 95.0% (207-for-218) from the free throw line and finished third in the league in rebounding with 8.4 rebounds per game and third in blocked shots with 2.06 blocks per game.

Coming in second in the worldwide voting was Italian tennis star Flavia Pennetta. The 26th seed beat fellow Italian Roberta Vinci to win her first Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open in New York City. An error in the eighth game did bring Vinci level at 4-4, but Pennetta stepped up her play to win the decisive tie break 7-4. She then raced to a 4-0 lead in the second-set, withstanding a late rally from her opponent and childhood friend to win it 6-2.

Tying for third on the women’s side were New Zealand golf star Lydia Ko and Dafne Schippers, a sprinter from the Netherlands. Ko became the youngest winner of a major after scoring a stunning final round to win the Evian Championship in France on 13 September with her 16-under-par finish.. The 18-year-old, ranked number two in the world, fought back when the pressure ramped up – as she has done for most of her previous 12 professional tournament wins – to win the fifth and final major of 2015 by six shots on the shores of Lake Geneva. World champion Schippers edged Olympic champion Allyson Felix to win a highly anticipated 200 meter race at the Van Damme Diamond League meeting on 11 September. Felix held a slight advantage entering the home straight, but Schippers passed her down the stretch to secure her victory. Schippers crossed the finish line in 22.12 second, beating Felix by a tenth of a second.

The public is invited to participate in the worldwide Athlete of the Month nomination and voting process. Visit the Academy website at www.ussa.edu to submit your nominations each month. Return to the website during the first two weeks of each month to vote for the Athletes of the Month. Your votes choose the winners who become candidates for the Athlete of the Year. The monthly and yearly winners are announced on the Academy’s website and in its online publication, The Sport Update.

The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, regionally accredited, special mission Sports University created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research, and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy, call 251-626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.

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Girls basketball: Local players get surprise meeting with Elena Delle Donne

By Rich Mayor | Chicago Tribune

Meeting your idol is one thing. Hugging her, asking her questions, taking selfies with her and walking down a makeshift catwalk as she judges is quite another.

Marshall, Simeon and Young’s girls basketball teams were able to do just that Friday at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Lincoln Park, at a Nike event featuring Sky star and reigning WNBA most valuable player Elena Delle Donne.

Some players had no clue Delle Donne would be at the event; others managed to piece together context clues about an event that started as a fashion show. When the 6-foot-5 forward walked down the runway with minimal warning, the metaphorical roof blew off.

“You can’t tell by (the players’) emotions now, but I saw them when she came in,” Marshall coach Dorothy Gaters said afterward. “That was real, genuine excitement they expressed.”

Delle Donne, 26, averaged 23.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game in the 2015 season, while shooting .460 from the field and .950 from the free-throw line. Delle Donne, who received 38 of the 39 first-place MVP votes, is first Sky player to win the award.

The players in attendance could basically recite her stats.

Marshall senior Keshunda Williams was “amazed” being in the presence of the MVP. She sees the NBA as “rigged,” so only watches the WNBA. Williams laments Delle Donne not being around 10 years ago — expressing jealousy of current grade-schoolers — since a Chicago-based role model would’ve inspired her even more as a young player.

“I think it’s the most important thing I can do, is inspire the younger athletes coming up,” Delle Donne said. “I remember, luckily, when I started playing I had the WNBA to look up to. It’s so important to have something you can really dream about, a goal that you can hope to attain. Hopefully being around them and talking with them will help motivate them more, whatever their dreams are.”

Delle Donne returns home to Delaware on Monday. After playing in Chicago for three seasons, she “certainly” considers it a second home, pointing to Lincoln Park as her favorite area, despite moving homes a few times in her Sky career.

Meanwhile her stock as a player, a local icon and Nike spokesperson continues to grow.

“Even with this clothing line, it just shows how much more she wants to do,” Simeon’s Daija Mosley said. ” She wants to go further than just basketball, you know? She tries to inspire others, and that’s a great thing for us.”

The Sky traded for Marshall graduate Cappie Pondexter, Ms. Basketball of Illinois in both 2000 and 2001, prior to the 2015 season. The 32-year-old’s presence increased the Public League’s already prodigious focus on the Sky. Gaters was sure to organize multiple team trips this season to see the Sky, who lost in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

“She epitomizes what we hope these kids aspire to do, which is be the best you can be,” Gaters said. “For most kids, they don’t want to do anything extra. But you see this young lady, she’s probably the best basketball player in the world. She’s an example of what to look to.”

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2015 Nike Elite Women’s Collection Wear-Test

Via SlamOnline.com

A couple weeks ago, Nike gathered a who’s who of the best women’s basketball players on the planet past and future: 2015 WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne, the legendary Sheryl Swoopes, 2015 WNBA ROY Jewell Loyd,Chiney Ogwumike and Sue Bird. The reason? The unveiling of the brand’s new basketball performance apparel collection, designed for women by women.

The 2015 Nike Elite Women’s Basketball Collection caters to the premier female athlete—no more rolling up sleeves or adjusting shorts because you’re wearing men’s gear, this collection is designed to fit perfectly for women.

Available now at Nike.com and select retail outlets, the collection includes a Nike Women’s Elite Basketball short, hoodie, pant and tank, all tailored for on-court performance, optimal mobility and lightweight comfort.

SLAM’s Alexis Morgan (@alexiskmorgan) was in the building for the collection’s launch event, including an on-court wear-test. Watch the video above to hear from all the WNBA players in attendance and to get a closer look at the apparel.

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USA National Team Races Past EuroCup Pro Team Dike Naples, 86-50

By USA Basketball via Sports Page Magazine

In an overall team effort that saw every member score by halftime, the 2015 USA Basketball Women’s National Team (3-0) raced out to a 32-6 lead at the end of the first quarter and earned an eventual 86-50 win over 2015-16 EuroCup pro team Dike Naples on Thursday night in Naples, Italy.

Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury) tied as the game’s high scorer with a team-high 15 points to go with three rebounds, a pair of blocked shots and two steals, Breanna Stewart (University of Connecticut) shot 6-of-9 from the field and finished with 12 points and three steals, Elena Delle Donne (Chicago Sky) contributed 11 points and five boards, Stefanie Dolson (Washington Mystics) scored 11 points on 4-of-5 from the floor, and Courtney Vandersloot (Chicago Sky) rounded out the USA’s top five scorers with eight points to go with a game-high three assists. Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury) grabbed a game-best nine caroms, while contributing six points and four steals.

“I thought that for about 30 minutes we played some really, really good basketball,” said USA National Team head coach Geno Auriemma, who utilized a new starting lineup tonight. “All-in-all, I’m glad that that second group (tonight’s starting five) got a chance to play a lot of minutes and contribute a lot. It was good for them to show what they can do when given an opportunity.”

“Being able to get them out there right from the beginning when it mattered was important. I thought they set a great tone in the first quarter. So for me, this is what this trip is all about. We want to give people an opportunity to make the team or to show us that they’re not quite ready yet. Sometimes when you’re bringing people off the bench, you’re not getting them in the right circumstances all the time. So, I thought today was good.”

Griner, who had nine points by the end of the first quarter, put the red, white and blue on the board first with a pair of free throws at 8:34. Naples got a bucket at 7:07, but Griner scored seven points to help fuel a 14-0 run that blew the game open, 16-2, at 4:32. Following a 4-2 spurt by the home team, the USA reeled off another 14-0 run to take a commanding 32-6 lead after 10 minutes of play.

Naples never threatened as the U.S. went up 55-16 at halftime and 77-36 at the end of the third period.

“We were working out the kinks a little bit,” said Stewart, who started against Naples after coming off the bench in the USA’s first two games. “We have a big game on Saturday, it’s our last game on this tour and we want to finish off strong. This is preparing us for that.

“Our group was trying to make sure we had the fluidity of our plays down and that kind of stuff,” continued Stewart. “There are certain sets that we want to make sure, if we have to use them, we know how to do so and are ready to do that. Eventually we figured it out.”

The Americans connected on a blistering 58.7 percent (37-63 FGs) from the field, including 42.9 percent (6-14 3pt FGs) from 3-point, while holding Naples to just 37.7 percent (20-53 FGs) field goal shooting and 33.3 percent (7-21 3pt FGs) from beyond the arc.

Gintare Pertonyte was the top scorer for Naples with 15 points.

Four-time USA Basketball gold medalist Cierra Burdick (Atlanta Dream), who played at the University of Tennessee, recently arrived in Naples and contributed three points and six rebounds.

For Delle Donne, the three days in Italy was a return to her roots and the reigning WNBA MVP was swarmed by fans in Rome and Naples asking for selfies and autographs.

“It’s amazing that just my last name alone brings so many fans,” she said after making her way through a throng of fans following the game. “It’s pretty incredible, the support that they had for me.”

The USA’s four-game European tour concludes with a game against 2015 EuroLeague champion USK Prague on Oct. 9 in Prague, Czech Republic. Not only did USK Prague win the EuroLeague title last spring, it recently defeated a Diana Taurasi-led UMMC Ekaterinburg squad 93-91 on Oct. 7 for the 2016 SuperCup title.

“It’s going to be a little bit weird (laughs),” said Danielle Robinson (San Antonio Stars), who helped lead USK to the EuroLeague crown last season and will remain in Prague with the club team after Saturday’s game. “I know they’re going to come out and play hard. That’s kind of our M.O., our coach prides herself on defense, and getting out and running on transition. I think it’ll be a good test for us, especially because we like to do the same thing. I think it’ll be a good game.”

“Obviously we’re getting ready to play one of the best teams in all of Europe, one that’s just coming off of a great win over a great team,” added Auriemma. “So, I’m sure they have a lot of confidence right now. And any chance you get to play the United States, I’m sure they’re going to be excited. It’s going to be a challenge for us, going into their country. It’s the last game of a long trip, so I’m looking forward to seeing what our team is made of. I think we’re going to play great. It’s going to be a great environment and it’s going to be a great game.”

Auriemma is being assisted through the 2016 Olympic Games by DePaul University’s Doug Bruno, the Minnesota Lynx’ Cheryl Reeve and University of South Carolina’s Dawn Staley. Reeve is coaching the Minnesota Lynx in the 2015 WNBA Finals and therefore is not with the team in Europe. University of Hartford head coach Jennifer Rizzotti is serving as a court coach during the USA’s European Tour.

The USA squad is using this tour as preparations for the 2016 Olympic Games, which will be held Aug. 5-21 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

USA Basketball Women’s National Team
U.S. Olympic women’s basketball teams have earned a record seven gold medals, one silver medal and one bronze medal, and are 58-3 all-time in Olympic competition. The 2016 U.S. team will enter Rio riding a 41-game Olympic winning streak that dates back to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics bronze medal game.

Since the inception of the 1995-96 USA Basketball Women’s National Team program, the USA National Team, in addition to its record five-straight Olympic gold medals, has captured four FIBA World Championship gold medals, one FIBA World Championship bronze medal and one FIBA Americas Championship gold medal, while compiling a remarkable 86-1 record for a .989 winning percentage in those events. Further, USA National Teams in exhibition contests since 1995 boast of a 186-15 record (.925 winning percentage).

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Elena Delle Donne leads WNBA first team


Chicago Sky star Elena Delle Donne continues to rack up honors in the WNBA.

After earning league MVP honors last month, Delle Donne was a unanimous choice for the WNBA first team in voting announced Thursday. It’s the first time in her young career that Delle Donne has been chosen as one of the best five players in the league.

“It’s an awesome honor to be named amongst such incredible players. It was a fun season, and I think it reflects a really great season,” said Delle Donne, who is training with USA Basketball in Europe. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get where we wanted to be, but there is a lot to improve upon, so that’s exciting as well.”

The Sky lost to the Indiana Fever in the conference semifinals.

Delle Donne averaged 23.4 points per game, scoring at least 40 twice. She shot 95 percent from the free throw line and finished third in the WNBA in rebounding.

She received 39 first-team votes from a national panel of writers and broadcasters.

Joining her on the first team were Maya Moore of Minnesota, Tina Charles of New York, DeWanna Bonner of Phoenix and Angel McCoughtry of Atlanta.

The second team was headlined by Brittney Griner, who missed the first seven games of the season while serving a suspension for a domestic violence arrest. Other members of the second team were Candace Parker of Los Angeles, Tamika Catchings of Indiana, Epiphanny Prince of New York and Courtney Vandersloot of Chicago.

Parker sat out the first half of the season to rest her body, and Prince missed the first 10 games of the season playing for Russia in an Olympic qualifier.

Catchings was honored for the 12th time in her career. She didn’t make it last season or in 2008 when she was injured.

“At this stage of my career, to be among the 10 best players in the league is a blessing,” Catchings said.

Each player receives a trophy, and first-team members are awarded $10,000. Second-team players receive a $5,000 bonus.

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WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne Helps Unveil Nike Women’s Basketball Collection

By Christina M. Tapper | S.I. Kids

This was Elena Delle Donne’s year.

The Chicago Sky star won the 2015 WNBA MVP after leading the league in scoring (23.4 points per game) and free throw percentage (95%) — she made 207 of 218 shots from the charity stripe.

Despite Delle Donne’s on-the-court domination, the 6-foot-5 guard/forward saw her team flounder in the Eastern Conference Semifinals last month. Delle Donne scored 40 points in a decisive game three against the Indiana Fever, but it wasn’t enough. The Sky’s season ended with a 100-89 loss.

“It just wasn’t my team’s year,” Delle Donne said at the launch of the Nike Women’s Elite Basketball collection in New York City recently.

She’s not moping, though.

“So many times in sports you’re going to fail, but it’s how you get back up from that,” Delle Donne said. “I’m not going to sulk about it. I’m just trying to improve and encourage my teammates to do the same. That’s how you bounce back.”

Delle Donne aims to get even better this offseason. And to assist in her improvement on the hardwood, she’s upgraded her gear — some of which she helped create.

Last week, Delle Donne joined other WNBA stars in New York as Nike unveiled its new line of apparel designed for women, by women. The brand worked with professional hoops stars like Delle Donne, Connecticut Sun forward Chiney Ogwumike, and Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird — as well as elite high school players — to create the line.

From the tank to the shorts, Delle Donne said the gear will help bring her game to the next level.

“The fit is incredible,” said Delle Donne, who pointed out girls and women have often worn men’s apparel while playing. “I can put it on and just concentrate on my training.”

The line also includes a basketball hoodie and a cuffed pant. All the products were on hand at the unveiling, which included a panel discussion with Delle Donne, Ogwumike, Bird, and 2015 WNBA Rookie of Year Jewell Lloyd, moderated by basketball legend Sheryl Swoopes.

Delle Donne grew up wearing Swoopes’ sneaker, the first-ever women’s basketball signature-shoe. So being a part of the new women’s athletic collection is special.

“I remember when the Air Swoopes came out and how big that was,” Delle Donne said. “I owned a pair in middle school. When I got them, I had to go out to the yard immediately and play in them. Now, I’m a part of this collection. It just shows how far we’ve come now that we have a basketball apparel line.”

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USA Women’s National Team Defeats Uni Girona, 84-52

Elena is among 33 athletes who have been selected to attend the USA Basketball mini-camp in Las Vegas from October 3rd to October 6th. From this pool of 33 athletes the 2014 World Championship Team will be selected.

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