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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.

LIBERTY 81, STARS 69

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).

MERCURY 86, SUN 66

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.

SPARKS 81, DREAM 56

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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WNBA players will be featured in a video game for the first time

EA Sports will be adding them in their upcoming ‘NBA Live 18’ basketball game.

Courtesy of Blasting News:

Since #Ea Sports revived their “NBA Live” series following a four-year hiatus in 2013, they have not fared well at all against the juggernaut that is 2K Games “NBA 2K” series. After taking 2016 off and spending extra time on the upcoming “#NBA Live 18,” they are hoping it can fully compete. Now they are doing something never done before in a basketball video game. Today, EA Sports announced the inclusion of #WNBA players and teams in their game.

EA Sports’ past history of innovation

The “NBA Live” series has been known for trying new things, as they routinely included international teams playing under FIBA rules for years in their games.

EuroLeague play last appeared in “NBA Live 09” before being added to “NBA 2K14” for the first time back in 2013.

Back in 2015, EA Sports also added female players for the first time in their “FIFA 16” video game. They added 12 women’s national soccer teams to the game that year and had American Soccer star Alex Morgan share the U.S. regional cover of the game with Lionel Messi. Now with “NBA Live 18,” EA Sports has once again taken the opportunity to innovate and expand basketball to more people by adding the WNBA to their game.

WNBA players will be part of the digital basketball landscape

The rosters of all 12 WNBA teams and their players will only be available to play in “NBA Live 18.” There will be a new WNBA Play Now mode added to the game so that the teams, along with authentic courts and jerseys, can be used.

In a statement released by the executive producer of the game, Sean O’Brien, he teased that “This is only a taste of what we have in store.” He also added that they are looking forward to working with the WNBA on more integration into the game in the future.

WNBA stars scanned into the game

Besides being playable in WNBA Play Now, EA Sports also brought in many of the league’s stars to have their heads scanned into the game. These included past MVPs Elena Delle Donne, Maya Moore, and Diana Taurasi, as well as 2016’s Rookie of the Year Breanna Stewart and the 1st pick of the 2017 WNBA Draft Kelsey Plum. Others known to have been scanned are Tina Charles, Brittney Griner, and Sue Bird.

The game will not allow for players to give WNBA players a fully customized experience like NBA or user-created male players. However, the plan moving forward is to change that in future installments of the game. O’Brien added that the WNBA being part of the game is “something that we’re absolutely committed to moving forward.”

Source: http://us.blastingnews.com/gaming/2017/08/wnba-players-will-be-featured-in-a-video-game-for-the-first-time-001903965.html

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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.

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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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Five Reasons To Watch The Mystics Work This Season

Courtesy of WNBA:

2016 Record:
13-21

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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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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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 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.

elena-shoe-2

“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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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.

edds

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

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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.

2016 WNBA PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

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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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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Reigning MVP Enjoying Scorching July For Sky

Via WNBA

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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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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Delle Donne, Battling Lyme Disease & Inspiration

Via ESPN

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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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 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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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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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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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

Via ESPN

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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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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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 leads WNBA first team

Via ESPN

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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Women’s Watch: ‘Sky is the limit,’ Pondexter says

By Patricia Babcock McGraw | Daily Herald

And, just like that, the Chicago Sky’s promising season ended earlier than expected.

On Monday, the Sky, a 20-win team seeded second in the Eastern Conference, was eliminated from the WNBA playoffs by third-seeded Indiana, a team it had swept 4-0 during the regular season.

The disappointment in the interview room later was clear to see. The Sky, which advanced to the WNBA Finals last year and expected at least that much this season, was a bit shellshocked. I give credit to Sky forward Elena Delle Donne for trying to find a positive just moments after the final buzzer.

“This has been by far my favorite team to play on,” Delle Donne said. “It’s such a special group of players. That’s what will stand out the most.

“It’s just the chemistry. It’s something you really can’t put words to. I’ve been on teams before where we’ve done team-building exercises, trust falls and all that stuff. This team, we didn’t have to fake it or do a single thing to build what we have with one another, and that’s what’s so special. Everyone is so unique and different but somehow we’ve all come together and formed a family.”

Important for sure. Team chemistry will go a long way to building a champion. But let’s be honest, the Sky needs more than warm fuzzies to prevent another early exit next season.

The Sky needs some defense, which was a big issue all season.

The Fever, a team that averaged an unremarkable 78 points per game and was an average shooting team (42 percent), scored 100 points and shot a blistering 58 percent from the field in the Game 3 clincher at Allstate Arena.

That was the Sky’s problem in a nutshell. For most of the season, the Sky led the WNBA in opponents’ scoring average (79 ppg).

“Obviously, our defense was something that was up and down and inconsistent all season and tonight that showed,” Delle Donne said after the Game 3 loss.

The loss of all-star center Sylvia Fowles (midseason trade to Minnesota) hurt most from a defensive standpoint. Her shot-blocking, shot-changing abilities and presence in the lane were underestimated.

While perimeter players such as Delle Donne, point guard Courtney Vandersloot and reserve guard Allie Quigley were good on offense, each of them, at times, was a step slow on defense. Frequent breakdowns on the perimeter put pressure on the defense.

Guard Cappie Pondexter, who was brought here via a trade with New York for guard Epiphanny Prince, says the difference between making the playoffs and winning a championship will come down to personal accountability during the off-season.

She should know. She won two titles with Phoenix.

“Individually, when it comes to defense, it’s something that has to do with pride,” Pondexter said. “Just wanting to get stops. It’s not about skill always — a lot of it is each person and wanting to get those stops.

“We’ve got to get better.”

Time is ticking for Pondexter, a Chicago native who was excited to play in her hometown. She is in her 10th season and has battled injuries the last few years. She knows she’s in the twilight of her career and she has a sense of urgency. You could see it in the huddles as she sternly encouraged her teammates to work harder on defense.

“All of our goals that we had listed from the beginning of the year haven’t (been reached). But that doesn’t mean we should stop to individually get better,” Pondexter said. “We’ll remember what our goals are going forward and the sky is the limit.

“I think we’re solid. I like our core. I think we’re tough. We’re going to get better in the off-season. (Delle Donne) told me we’re going to win a ring together, and I believe that.”

So D-up, Sky! Defense might win you a championship.

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New WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne praised by LeBron James, others

At 6 feet, 7 inches and roughly 300 pounds, Miles Bankston was his usual formidable obstacle in Elena Delle Donne’s path, but common sense and team protocol dictated he not flip the franchise player on her head as she drove toward him 10 days before the season opener.

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Delle Donne’s MVP year includes mastery of free throws

At 6 feet, 7 inches and roughly 300 pounds, Miles Bankston was his usual formidable obstacle in Elena Delle Donne’s path, but common sense and team protocol dictated he not flip the franchise player on her head as she drove toward him 10 days before the season opener.

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Elena Named 2015 WNBA Most Valuable Player

At 6 feet, 7 inches and roughly 300 pounds, Miles Bankston was his usual formidable obstacle in Elena Delle Donne’s path, but common sense and team protocol dictated he not flip the franchise player on her head as she drove toward him 10 days before the season opener.

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Elena Delle Donne Wins MVP

At 6 feet, 7 inches and roughly 300 pounds, Miles Bankston was his usual formidable obstacle in Elena Delle Donne’s path, but common sense and team protocol dictated he not flip the franchise player on her head as she drove toward him 10 days before the season opener.

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The Chicago Sky’s unstoppable No. 11: Elena Delle Donne

At 6 feet, 7 inches and roughly 300 pounds, Miles Bankston was his usual formidable obstacle in Elena Delle Donne’s path, but common sense and team protocol dictated he not flip the franchise player on her head as she drove toward him 10 days before the season opener.

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Elena Delle Donne Emerges as Face of the W.N.B.A.

At 6 feet, 7 inches and roughly 300 pounds, Miles Bankston was his usual formidable obstacle in Elena Delle Donne’s path, but common sense and team protocol dictated he not flip the franchise player on her head as she drove toward him 10 days before the season opener.

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Deadspin: Elena Delle Donne Outscores Entire Other Team In 4th-Quarter Comeback

The Chicago Sky completed a magnificent comeback to take the third and deciding game of the WNBA Eastern Conference semifinals, charging back from 17 points down with eight minutes remaining to top Atlanta 81-80.

The hero was Elena Delle Donne, who scored 17 of her 34 points in the fourth—a quarter in which Atlanta had 13 points in total—including the winning basket with eight seconds left.

Watch video: Deadspin

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USA TODAY: Elena Delle Donne’s late jumper rallies Sky past Dream

ATLANTA (AP) — Despite trailing by 17 early in the fourth quarter, the Chicago Sky weren’t ready to give up on their season. Instead, they kept their focus and pulled off the biggest fourth-quarter comeback in WNBA playoff history.

Elena Delle Donne scored 17 of her 34 points in the final period, including the winning jumper with 8.4 seconds left, as the Sky rallied from 20 points down to beat the Atlanta Dream 81-80 on Tuesday night and advance to the Eastern Conference finals.

“I just know that when we were in huddles and I was talking to the team, everyone had that look in their eye like we were not done yet — we were not ready to go home,” Delle Donne said. “So I was very confident. … I knew we were playing pretty good defense, just not doing the little things like finishing with a rebound, finishing with a contested shot.”

The Sky, who trailed by 16 after three quarters, became the first team to rally from such a deficit in a playoff game since the WNBA went to four quarters in 2006, according to information provided by the league from the Elias Sports Bureau. It’s been done three times in regular-season games.

Tamera Young scored 16 points and Sylvia Fowles added 13 points and 15 rebounds as the Sky won a playoff series for the first time in franchise history. Chicago was swept by Indiana in the first round last year in the Sky’s first postseason appearance.

The Sky will visit the Fever for the opener of the East finals on Saturday.

The road team won each game in this best-of-three series, with Chicago taking the opener 80-77 last Friday, and Atlanta winning 92-83 in Game 2 on Sunday.

(Article via USA Today)

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WNBA: Elena Delle Donne scores 21 to lead Sky over Mystics

Elena Delle Donne is starting to work her way back into form and the Chicago Sky are going to need their young star if they hope to make a playoff push.

Delle Donne scored 21 points in her second game back after a recurrence of Lyme disease that caused her to miss 17 of the Sky’s previous 18 games. Sylvia Fowles added 14 points and 11 rebounds for Chicago in a 76-65 win over Washington on Sunday.

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Stronger Delle Donne Ready for Tipoff

At 6 feet, 7 inches and roughly 300 pounds, Miles Bankston was his usual formidable obstacle in Elena Delle Donne’s path, but common sense and team protocol dictated he not flip the franchise player on her head as she drove toward him 10 days before the season opener.

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Stronger Elena Delle Donne wants more success

Sky’s second-year star has built up in the offseason to build on her WNBA rookie of year season. Elena Delle Donne had a remarkable first year while leading the Sky to a first-ever WNBA playoff appearance.

But the rookie of the year says she wants to become better and stronger. The 6-foot-5 forward, who averaged 18.1 points and 5.6 rebounds, passed up playing overseas during the WNBA offseason to build up her stamina and muscle mass while training four days a week in Chicago.

“Strength … that was an adjustment I wasn’t able to make until the offseason,” Delle Donne said Tuesday in Chicago. “I knew I was going to just have to get through and get by with the versatility of my game. Once we were eliminated (by Indiana), I asked our strength coach (Ann Crosby): ‘When can I start lifting?’ She just said: ‘Calm down. We need to relax first. Relax your body, but we’ll get to it.'”

Continue Reading…(Chicago Tribune)

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Chicago Sky, Delle Donne to play WNBA preseason game at UD

The Chicago Sky will host the first-ever WNBA preseason game in the state of Delaware on Tuesday, May 13, at 7 p.m. The Sky will take on the Washington Mystics at the Bob Carpenter Center at the University of Delaware, the alma mater of the 2013 WNBA Rookie of the Year Elena Delle Donne.

Delle Donne began her esteemed career at UD in 2009 and became one of the most successful athletes in the University’s history.

She was awarded the Senior CLASS Award and Honda Award in 2013, and was a first team All-American and National Player of the Year candidate in her junior and senior seasons.

 

Continue Reading…(UD Daily)

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Elena Delle Donne, Chicago Sky to play preseason WNBA game at Bob Carpenter Center

Elena Delle Donne and the Chicago Sky will play a preseason basketball game May 13 at the Bob Carpenter Center, officials announced Tuesday.

The Sky will take on the Washington Mystics at 7 p.m. Delle Donne, a star at Ursuline Academy and the University of Delaware, is the reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year. She helped the Sky earn its first franchise playoff berth.

Continue Reading…(Delaware Online)

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Elena Delle Donne adjusting to her role as the face of the WNBA

During her award-winning rookie season, it became clear early that Elena Delle Donne would rather talk about her teammates than herself.

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Q&A: Quick WNBA playoff exit driving Elena Delle Donne

Elena Delle Donne, the reigning WNBA rookie of the year and former Ursuline Academy and University of Delaware star, will return home to partner with the Delaware 87ers, the 76ers’ NBA Development League affiliate, for a Lyme disease awareness night during Monday’s 7 p.m. game against the Maine Red Claws. The game will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network.

Q: So many people in Delaware look up to you. How do you feel about returning to the Bob Carpenter Center, and representing the state?

A: It’s always great to come back to the Bob. If I can do any event and have it be at the Bob, it’s always exciting for me. The fans have always been incredible and I hope they come out to support the 87ers and also this function. I really hope they come out. The Bob has always been rocking, ever since I’ve known it, even in high school. I’m really glad the event is there. … Being born and raised in Delaware has just been awesome. I’ll always be a Delawarean at heart, no matter where my life takes me.

 

Continue Reading…(Delaware Online)

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Drill of the Week

Watch as Elena Delle Donne, working out and getting ready for her rookie season in the WNBA.

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Player of the Week – Sierra

Name: Sierra

School: Torrey Pines

Hometown: San Diego, CA

Grade: 10th Grade

Sierra is a strong and fast 6’3 sophomore at Torrey Pines High School in San Diego. She plays on the San Diego Sol Elite club team.  This summer she traveled to Oregon, Seattle, Tennessee, and California playing in several tournaments averaging double doubles in the viewing tournament. She made the End of the Trail All Tournament team and has division 1 scholarships already offered to her.  During her freshman year at Torrey Pines she averaged 17 points, 15 rebounds, and 7 blocks per game.  Sierra plays with a “blue collar working style” and she practices several times a week with her club coach, Spatticus Harris to improve her game and get stronger.  She runs the floor fast and is an excellent shot blocker. Sierra plays well with her back to the basket, but her ball handling, outside jump shot, and ability to go coast to coast is what sets her apart from most girls her size. Sierra is passionate about basketball and loves the game.  Her favorite players are her mom, Elena Delle Donne, and Michael Jordon.  Her goal this year is to win a league championship with her Torrey Pines teammates.  Sierra is also a great student.  Her GPA is a 3.8 in honors curriculum, she was selected as a scholar athlete, and selected for the “I am Torrey Pines Leadership Award.”  When she isn’t playing basketball or at school she loves surfing in the ocean and being with her family and friends.

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Delle Donne Named Rookie of the Year

Throughout the season Delle Donne swept the rookie accolades winning Rookie of the Month for the months of June, July, August and September. Delle Donne received all of the votes Rookie of the Year making the decision unanimous. Click the link below to read the full story.

Read more (WNBA.com)

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Delle Donne Sweeps Rookie Awards

Rookie of the Month Sept.

NEW YORK, September 16, 2013 – Chicago Sky guard/forward Elena Delle

Donne has been named Rookie of the Month for games played in September, the WNBA announced today. This marks the fourth consecutive Rookie of the Month honor for Delle Donne, making her the second player (Tina Charles, 2010) to sweep the awards.

For September, Delle Donne led rookies in scoring (17.2 ppg), free-throw percentage (1.000, 26-for-26), minutes (33.6 mpg), and ranked second in rebounds (5.8 rpg) and blocks (1.8 bpg). The WNBA All-Star led her team to a 3-2 record for the month, which included a 70-68 win on Sept. 11, over the visiting Phoenix Mercury. Delle Donne’s 18 points included a buzzer-beater to give the Sky the win.

The Delaware native has helped the Sky to the best record in the East (24-10) and a franchise-first playoff berth. Delle Donne finished the season ranked first overall in three-throw percentage (.929, 157-for-169), fourth in points (18.1 ppg), and fifth in blocks (1.8 bpg). Delle Donne appeared in 30 games, scoring in double-digits in all but two.

Highlights of Delle Donne’s month included:
• Sept. 8 vs. Washington: 22 points on 8-for-8 shooting from the free-throw line in a 93-79 win
• Sept. 11 vs. Phoenix: 18 points including a buzzer-beater in a 70-68 win
• Sept. 13 vs. Atlanta: 18 points and eight rebounds in an 87-82 win

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No Time Like the Playoffs

When I hear the word “playoffs,” so many things come to mind. I am reminded of the postseason runs I made with previous teams, the unforgettable wins and the heartbreaking losses. As I remember these experiences and look ahead to the start of the WNBA playoffs, I remember why I love this sport so much.

I play basketball because I am a competitor. I have an undying will to win and I hate to lose. With all of this in mind, I can’t begin to explain the extent of my excitement for this postseason. I have the opportunity to compete with and against the best women’s basketball players in the world, who share this same love of competition.

The playoffs aren’t just a time of the year or a part of the basketball season. To me, the playoffs are a feeling, a time when the focus and intensity increase as the stakes also increase. Now, it’s a matter of winning and advancing, or losing and calling it an end to the season.

My first WNBA season has been nothing short of amazing. With that said, I am fully aware that I will never be able to have my rookie season back. I will never have another “first season,” and I am using this as fuel for the playoffs.

My team has experienced so many franchise milestones this year: the first winning season, the first playoff appearance, franchise attendance records, among other things. While my teammates and I are extremely proud of these accomplishments, we are far from satisfied. We are motivated by and aware of the fact that there is still work to be done. Honestly, I feel lucky to have so much more ahead for a few reasons.

First, and above all, is the obvious: I am in a position to compete for a WNBA championship title. As an athlete, this is the ultimate goal. But in addition to this obvious cause of my excitement, I also feel lucky that I am able to continue this season with my teammates and my coaches. When I was drafted to the Chicago Sky, I was immediately surrounded by the most supportive and motivating teammates and staff. Throughout this entire season, I have felt nothing but support from my team, and the playoffs are an opportunity to extend my time with these amazing people.

The playoffs are an opportunity to continue to compete for a championship with people who have become like family. There’s no time like playoff time. GO SKY!!

Until next time,

Elena

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Delle Donne Comes Through at Buzzer

Elena Delle Donne shined in the much anticipated match up between the first and second draft picks. This game was only the second matchup between the Phoenix Mercury and the Chicago Sky. While the Mercury led for a good part of the game, Elena hit a shot at the buzzer to lead her team to victory. Click the link below to watch highlights and read the full story.

Read more (WNBA.com)

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