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Showing posts with label Shoni Schimmel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shoni Schimmel. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tuesday Cardinal Couple -- Shoni selected.

            =======BREAKING NEWS======

Jeff Walz has added another to the Class of 2015. 6'3" power forward Sam Fuehring verballed to the Cards today. We'll have much more on this in the Wednesday edition of Cardinal Couple

It was announced today by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED) that Shoni Schimmel is one of forty recipients named to the 2014 “Native American 40 Under 40″ award. This prestigious award recognizes 40 emerging American Indian leaders from across Indian Country who have demonstrated leadership, initiative, and dedication and made significant contributions in business and/or in their community.

The 2014 Native American 40 Under 40 Awards will be presented at NCAIED’s 39th Annual Indian Progress In Business Awards Gala (INPRO) being held at RES Wisconsin October 8th at the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino.

Schimmel, a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, was the highest drafted Native American in the WNBA draft this year and was also named the MVP of the 2014 WNBA All-Star basketball game where she set an All-Star game record of 29 points and became the first ever rookie to receive the MVP Award of the game. Shoni also broke the record for most 3-point shots in the all-star game with (7) made


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Schimmel to Schimmel

Atlanta Dream guard Shoni Schimmel drives through the lane to make a running layup against the Seattle Storm
Atlanta Dream guard Shoni Schimmel drives through the lane to make a running layup against the Seattle Storm
Cary Rosenbaum
• Fri, Sep 12, 2014
Sisters buoy Indian Country's first celebrity family
The Schimmel family stands tallest in the view of the Native American eye because of the success surrounding two of its 10 members.
One, Shoni, age 22, is the successful WNBA player who just capped off her rookie campaign with an All-Star most valuable player award.

The other, Jude, a 20-year-old senior guard at Louisville starting her master’s degree with a goal of helping the family with the legal side of sports in the event she doesn’t follow in her sister’s shoes.

The Umatilla tribal duo highlighted events in the Pacific Northwest in August, with Shoni and the Atlanta Dream playing at the Seattle Storm and Jude speaking in Worley, Idaho for the United National Indian Tribal Youth Conference.

They were both given microphones to preach their universal message: American Indians should look at them and say, “If they can do it, I can do it.”

“I tell people don’t be like Shoni Schimmel,” Shoni said, “be better than Shoni Schimmel.”

“We’re doing it for all Native Americans,” Jude said.

These sisters elevate their family into the spotlight as well, which could be seen at the Worley Longhouse with the family, sans Shea and Shoni, in attendance. A young girl wanted to know what goals teenage brothers Mick and Jobe have.

The media loves them, too. In April of 2013, the Associated Press wrote a story titled, “Schimmel parents get married after win over Baylor.”

But mother Ceci Schimmel suggested their family’s journey — which shot them into the spotlight after Jonathan Hock’s “Off The Rez,” documentary — was never about fame.

“In setting our goals as a family and as individuals, it was never ever about fame,” she said, noting her philosophy is to do good for others so it will return back. “That’s the mentality that I always try to instill in my kids that you always be helpful: You be that shepherd where you’re helping your people.

“Believe me, with that probably follows fame, only because people love you and want to support you because you’re being loving.”

The head of the household and the spokesman for the family is known as ‘Ricky Schim.’ It was a name the man from Pendleton, Ore. earned through more than 25 years of assimilation into tribal culture. He is the disciplinarian who preaches positive habit building.

“We only have two bad habits in this family,” he said, “and that’s cussing and drinking pop.”

‘Loud and Proud’
Although they have a non-Indian father in Rick, Shoni and Jude have not had problems coping with their identity.

Their mother made it easy. They were given a choice: Be white or American Indian.

“I said, ‘I don’t care what you are. If you want to go white, go loud and proud. I’m cool with that. If you want to go Native, I’m even prouder,’” she said.

It’s not hard to guess what they chose.

“I’m loud and proud Native,” Shoni said.

Jude said she embraces her light skin, light hair and green eyes.

“It’s not necessarily how you look but how you act and your culture and background. I don’t let (my features) bother me. I’m still Native … it’s where you come from and how you present yourself.”

And Shoni found out first-hand that presenting yourself as Native comes with discrimination. She recalled playing in a tournament in Warm Springs, Ore. as a child where a referee picked on her because of her heritage.

“Growing up, you come up with a lot of adversity,” she said.

Ceci said that the adversity is tough to overcome for Indians of the Umatilla Reservation, by nearby Pendleton, Ore.

“Where I come from, Pendleton is very racist to Native Americans,” she said. “The things they have said and done to me since I was 10 years old, seriously I could probably write a trail of tears documentary on the stuff I’ve gone through.

“A normal person wouldn’t go through what I’ve gone through and survive it. It’s sickening actually.” A generation later, the prejudice has continued, Ceci said.

“They’ve done stuff to Shea, my oldest son, and Shoni,” she said. “It’s traumatizing.”

To help bring awareness, Shoni and Jude brought their Louisville teammates back to their reservation to expose them to their culture.

“They thought, ‘This is really cool, maybe the whole world should see this,” Jude recalled.
The family has since relocated to Lapwai, Idaho.

Against all odds
It seemed like just yesterday, Jude said, she and Shoni were playing ball outdoors on the Umatilla Indian Reservation, pretending to be NBA and WNBA players. Cynthia Cooper, Sue Bird and Michael Jordan were just a few of them.

Growing up, they attended open gym religiously, playing with and against the boys, which Shoni called fun “because they’re a lot faster, bigger and stronger than you. It gives you motivation.”

When it came to making the leap to Franklin High School in Portland, the family received criticism, Shoni said.

“It was a big thing,” she said. “Everybody’s like, ‘You can’t move off the reservation. You’re not supposed to.’ It was a bigger thing for my family.”

Shoni recalled being looked down upon by some from home, but acknowledged the move would only help develop her as a person.

And develop it did.

The Schimmels would go on to lead Franklin to back-to-back playoff appearances, with Shoni gaining the attention of dozens of Division I schools.

Then came the time to make a decision, where she chose to attend Louisville to play for Jeff Walz.

The reservation again beckoned. But her mother had instilled in her the power to persist.
“One thing my mom always told me when I was younger, it’s only four years of your life,” Shoni said. “You can always come back to the reservation if you want to. The rez is always home, it’s always gonna be there.

Jude wasn’t far behind.

“It was for my own benefit to go off and try to be successful and make the most of my life,” Jude said.

They teamed up to lead the No. 5-seeded Cardinals to the national championship in 2013, where the underdogs fell 93-60 to the heavily favored University of Connecticut. Last year, they lost a close one to Maryland, 76-73, in the Elite 8.

After earning All-American recognition, Shoni was selected by the Atlanta Dream with the eighth overall pick.

Continuing to grow

About a month from the culmination of her collegiate career, Shoni was back on the basketball court as the Dream opened up the regular season on May 16 against San Antonio.
She debuted with team-record 11 assists. Despite starting just two games all season, she was selected by her fans to the WNBA All-Star team, where she earned MVP after scoring 29 points and dishing out eight assists.

Atlanta, 18-13 at the end of the season, earned the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference before being stunned by Elena Delle Donne and the Chicago Sky in the opening round.
Her coach, Michael Cooper, believes Schimmel — who averaged 8.3 points and 3.6 assists per game in 21 minutes — will progress“into a very special player in this league.”

“She’s got some things to clean up,” he said. “Going overseas and playing in the summer season will help her a lot.”

Schimmel was undecided of her next move as of Aug. 7. The Dream fell 2-1 to the Chicago Sky in the Eastern Conference semifinals. She is slated to be a guest speaker at Cooper’s basketball camp in Pablo, Mont. on Oct. 4.

Jude’s senior season begins in mid-November, where she hopes to showcase her talent on a team with about as many freshmen as seniors and juniors combined. She said the team, which last year boasted a 33-5 record and No. 3 ranking in the NCAA Tournament, has unfinished business.

“The ultimate goal is to win a championship,” she said. “This year, we’re young, inexperienced, but that could be really good for us. I’m looking forward to a brand new beginning.

“Honestly, we have the talent, it’s just a matter of us coming together and putting it all together and playing great games throughout the season.”

With Shoni gone, it feels like a repeat from high school, Jude said, “but this year I feel more prepared for it.”

“I’m still sad I don’t get to play with her right now. I’m hoping to play with her again in the future, but we’ll see,” she continued. “I just feel like it’s my opportunity for everyone else to see the other aspects of my game that they haven’t seen the last three years.”

For the first time in her collegiate career, she started a game last season — five of them, averaging 5.5 points and 3.5 assists while finishing second on the team with 54 steals. Her highlight was scoring double-digit points in consecutive games in the NCAA Tournament.
The competitive drive of the Schimmel sisters continues to fuel their evolution.

“We’re not doing it for ourselves, we’re doing it for all Native Americans,” Jude said
“All the odds are against you,” Shoni said, “so why not beat them?”



Wednesday, September 3, 2014



- Shoni and her WNBA impact

- Great verbal from DeGrate


The Future of Rez Ball:
Impact of Shoni Schimmel’s Rookie Season on the WNBA

It was a matter of dismay and consternation for some Shoni Schimmel fans that she was left off the WNBA All-Rookie team ( Three noted WNBA commentators also discussed their disagreement with the vote (

The rookie team vote was a predictable snub given the fact that I think this selection is by media vote, and the media normally go by comparative statistics. Because the other rookies played on teams with worse records and not as heavily laden with veteran talent, they got more minutes and thus put up more points and rebounds per game than Shoni did. But in an objective view, few if any rookies have ever had a bigger impact on the WNBA from the perspective of performance records, outstanding plays, performance style, fan and media attention, merchandise sales and ticket sales. With all those accomplishments, missing the All-Rookie team will probably be remembered in the future as an insignificant footnote to her rookie season, but it also attests to the depth of talent in the 2014 rookie class.

Shoni set a record of 21 assists in her first two games in the WNBA, and became only one of six players to ever score 20 or more points in a single quarter, a record that came against the best team in the WNBA. She was the first rookie to ever win the All-Star MVP, and she set a record for the most points ever scored by any player in a WNBA All-Star game. She also had a record seven threes in the All-Star game, and her four two pointers were all sensational shots. The back-handed flip shot over Griner was deemed by WNBA TV to be the number one highlight of the season. She made Player of the Week (not rookie of the week) in the last week of the season (only one other player on the all rookie team ever accomplished that). Her jersey sales led the WNBA, and her merchandise sales put Atlanta at the top of team merchandise sales. Her plays made the ESPN Sports Center top ten twice during the season.

With the kind of a resume that Shoni accumulated through the season, there was plenty of reason to not only put her on the All-Rookie team but to have made her Rookie of the Year. There is no doubt that she had the greatest total impact on the WNBA of all 2014 rookies, but there is room for critics to find holes in her game and in her stats and thus justify in their minds not including her in the All-Rookie awards. As it was in high school and college, her Rez Ball style of play continued to be controversial and votes like these illuminate those controversies. It will take years to fully evaluate, but her style of play may well have a permanent affect on the women’s game of the future, just as Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan affected the style of play in the NBA. While current WNBA players may not emulate her style of play, girls now playing at the AAU level may start emulating Shoni’s style more and more; and. over time, and that emulation will impact the way women’s basketball is played in the future. This is more likely to occur if Shoni continues to be a big fan draw, a frequent WNBA highlight reel focus and if her team has even greater success in the regular season and in the playoffs than they had this year.

As for the 2-1 playoff defeat of the Atlanta Dream by the Chicago Sky, it showed great resilience on the part of the Sky, and a monumental collapse by the Dream especially in the third and deciding game where they gave up a 20 point lead, a 17 point lead in the fourth quarter and a 3 point lead with less than 25 seconds to go, a one point lead with Atlanta shooting two free throws (both missed) with less than 10 seconds to go, as well as a missing a 15 foot jumper that could have won the game at the buzzer.

In hind sight, I think the move by the Atlanta Dream management to sign the French point guard Celine Dumerc turned out to be a counter-productive. It is perfectly understandable how it looked like a good move in the spring before the draft. Neither of the likely starting guards for the Dream, Hayes and Thomas, were anything approaching an ideal point guard, despite both being good players and Hayes having a much better season than was expected. When Dumerc was signed, the Dream did not know they would be getting Shoni Schimmel in the draft, nor did they know how good Shoni would be in the WNBA as a point guard.

The other problem with the Dumerc signing was that Dumerc herself never got fully comfortable playing with the Dream and playing in the WNBA. Despite the extensive international experience of the 32 year old Dumerc, she did not adjust to being the Dream’s point guard as quickly or as well as Shoni did. The fact that Dumerc did not join the Dream until June, the third month of the season, also proved to be more of a problem than was originally anticipated.

What her presence did do was keep the guard rotation in flux all season, while the Dream coaches were giving her time to adjust to the Dream’s style and players and to adjust to play in the WNBA. While some progress was made by Dumerc, her presence in the lineup kept Thomas’s and Schimmel’s role on the team, as well as that of Ajavon, in flux the whole season, and the team never developed the on-court chemistry and complementarity that coaches and management envisioned.

Next year it just might be a wise move for the Dream to draft Jude Schimmel to be their future point guard. Let’s see how Jude does as the incumbent point guard for the Cardinals this season.



For those of you who continuously harp to us that Jeff Walz needs a big girl on the about this?  
Jeff Walz has just landed a big time commitment for the class of 2015. Erin DeGrate,  a 6’5 center from Waco, Texas, was visiting Louisville this past weekend. She got back home to Texas and made her commitment official to the Cards. ranks her as the 8th best center in the class, and the 36th best player overall.
In the end, DeGrate chose Louisville over offers from Baylor, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Washington, and Kansas.
Two other prospects were on campus along with our two 2015 could they not have had a great time with all the activities on campus over the Labor Day Weekend?
Congrats to Coach and the staff. We'll love it even more when that LOI gets faxed in, of course...but for now...Erin Go Cards! 


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Thursday Cardinal Couple -- Rez Ball: Part III and "Dream rudely awakened"


game update:

Yeah, we know the Dream blew a 16
point lead in the 4th quarter to lose to
the Chicago Sky Tuesday night in Atlanta.

We got nothing here. We watched it and
we're done with it.

Fire Michael Cooper. A six year old could 
have coached that one better. Sure, the guy
had tongue cancer. I've never seen a tongue
win a WNBA Championship though.

Yo...defensive genius. Put someone tall on
a 6'5" slasher ( see: Elena Della Donne) who
can hit from outside. It boggles the mind...

you missed any of these reports, they are in the Cardinal
Couple archives. We recommend you read them all...)

REZ BALL:  An Awareness and History

A few months ago I read a comment from Russell Begaye on the Facebook page run by
fans of Shoni and Jude Schimmel. Russell Begaye is a member of the Navajo Nation
Council and is currently campaigning as a candidate for Navajo Nation President.
Begaye wrote, “I never thought I would hear national TV broadcasters talk about and
use the term rez ball.” His comment was noting with both surprise and pride how the
Schimmels had brought a unique and little known aspect of contemporary Native
American culture to a level of national awareness that few if any Native Americans

Despite the national awareness of “rez ball,” there is still not a very clear or very
adequate understanding of what Native Americans call rez ball. From the style of play
they see in Shoni Schimmel, non-Native American fans and commentators believe rez
ball is a creative and fancy style of play that involves a lot of no look passes, fancy
dribbling and creative shots. While artistic passes, fancy dribbling and creative shots
commonly occur in rez ball, these patterns do not fully convey the essence of rez ball.
Rez ball is not easy to define. Shoni Schimmel has often been asked to define it and
she tries to provide some idea of it, but it is a cultural feature that does not lend itself to
easy description or translation for someone who has not seen it or played it. As a
retired professor of cultural anthropology and a professor of American Indian Studies, I
am used to discussing and defining cultural patterns not familiar to outsiders of a
culture. That background and training does not mean I can do this cultural translation
fully or adequately, but I will give it a try.

My other credentials for being able to define rez ball is that I have been exposed to it for
more than five decades, I played rez ball for about two decades and I coached boys
basketball at the Navajo Academy (a college prep school in New Mexico) for five years.
My exposure to rez ball is primarily with the rez ball played on the Navajo reservation.
However, at Navajo Academy we played Native American teams from many other
reservations, so I have some broader exposure to how basketball and rez ball are
played on other reservations as well.

Rez ball has developed on many reservations and probably has various aspects that
are distinct to different reservations in different areas. Nevertheless, today there are
many tournaments that are open to and participated in by players from many different
reservations and areas, so most of the players today are exposed to how the game is
played on many different reservations. But the rez ball I see in Shoniʼs game in the
Northwest is very similar to, if not exactly the same, as the rez ball I saw all over the
Southwest going back 5 decades. It definitely seems to me that rez ball is still pretty
uniform across decades of time and in a wide variety of places.Before I can attempt
 to define or describe rez ball, I need to discuss how, where and
when basketball is played on reservations. Basketball is a very popular phenomenon
on most reservations and among urban Native Americans as well. My description of the
phenomenon of basketball in general and rez ball in particular is focused primarily on
my experience on the Navajo reservation and to a lesser extent to my exposure to rez
ball in the general Southwest and Northwest.

I distinguish basketball and rez ball from each other. Rez ball is that played in pick up
games and in open independent, non-school basketball leagues and tournaments.
School teams are often coached by coaches with training in traditional basketball, and
they often insist to one degree or another on their players and teams playing a more
traditional non-Native style of basketball. However, rez ball still heavily infiltrates and
affects the way more “traditional” basketball is played in school competition. This is
because about half the coaches today are Native Americans, and they typically
embrace and support more rez ball features in the way their teams play than is the case
with non-Native coaches. The other factor is that no matter how hard some coaches try
to get their teams to play a more traditional, non-Native style of basketball, their players
frequently revert to the rez ball styles they know and like. These players are also often
more effective in winning games when they infuse the game with a lot of rez ball

One thing that is common across time and place is the popularity of basketball
tournaments. To generate significant cash, all various community groups need to do is
sponsor a basketball tournament. These sponsors charge each team an entry fee. It
might be $150 and each player will pay $15. The sponsor gets the gym, the referees
and the trophies. The sponsors charge an admission of $3-$10 and sell concessions.
Back when I started playing at these tournaments, the teams were all menʼs teams, and
most tournaments had at least 18-24 teams. The teams are usually guaranteed two or
three games. Sometimes the the tournament brackets were split between teams who
had players who were 35 and older and those who who were under 35. Today most
tournaments usually also have at least two brackets, one for men and one for women.
There are often more womenʼs teams entered than menʼs teams.

Native American women took to basketball very quickly and became good very fast. In
reservation areas today, girls high school basketball generally attracts as big or bigger
crowds than boys high school basketball. Over the past three decades, teams from the
reservation areas have won most of the state tournaments in the 3A classifications in
which most play in both New Mexico and Arizona. There has often been two teams
from the reservation who have played in the state tournament championship game.
One year three of the four teams in the state girls semifinals were reservation teams.
Navajo fans will drive 150-250 miles to fill up the 20,000 seat arena in Glendale where
the championships are played. Boys teams from the reservation have also done pretty
well, but not as well overall as the girls teams have done.

One somewhat unique development in the independent (non-school) reservation
tournaments discussed above are coed brackets. These generally require at least two
 players of each gender be on the court at all times. The teams are usually made up of
five females and five males - sometimes 4 and 6. The difference in level of play
between the men and women is not as great as one might imagine, and these coed
tournaments are a lot of fun for both the players and the fans.

Reservation high school games are usually packed for both the girls and the boys. In
many areas the girls games outdraw the boys games, but both are very popular and
gyms are filled. Lines start forming hours before the game in many places. About 15
years ago, Ganado High School on the Navajo reservation in Arizona built a state of the
art 5500 seat basketball arena that had individual chairs with backs for every seat in a
360 degree circle around the court. It is a better facility than many colleges play in.
This facility was and is used for the sponsored tournaments of independent teams as
well as for school games.

Not to be out done, Chinle, a town 50 miles to the north, built a 7500 seat arena The
Chinle facility has often been used for regional state tournament playoff games, as well
as for regular high school games, independent menʼs and womenʼs winter leagues, and
for sponsored independent tournaments that usually occur in the late spring and
summer. The facilities can also be used for large gatherings. Now Window Rock High
School is building a 10,000+ seat arena. Games at these facilities are generally full.
The people love basketball. The only sport that can generate anything close to the
amount of interest there is in basketball is rodeo. While interest remains high in rodeo
and most communities sponsor a rodeo each summer, the interest in and participation
in basketball easily exceeds the interest in, attendance at, and participation in rodeo.
In order to understand rez ball, one must understand the popularity of the game in
Native America. Basketball is not just a winter sport. It is played and watched 9-10
months a year. It is usually only left dormant during the months of September and
October, which are filled with cross country and football as well as with rodeo and
other athletic events.






Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday Cardinal Couple -- W.Soccer falls to Illinois...Angel soars over Sky


- Angel's 39 lead Dream past Sky

- W. Soccer shut down in Champaign

It was the Angel McCoughtry of old. The feisty, emotional, unwilling-to-lose, ever-present #35. 

Atlanta is headed home for Game 3 of the WNBA Eastern Division SemiFinals. They are flying there on Angel's wings. 

 Angel McCoughtry was determined to make sure the Atlanta Dream weren't done in the WNBA playoffs.

McCoughtry scored 39 points, and the Dream beat the Chicago Sky 92-83 on Sunday night to even their Eastern Conference semifinal series at one game apiece.
Game 3 is Tuesday in Atlanta, with the winner moving into the Eastern Conference finals against Indiana.
''I just wanted to will the team to win,'' McCoughtry said. ''I wanted the ball in my hands and I wanted to take over the game. Luckily I hit a good percentage (65 percent) of my shots and my teammates gave me the ball and trusted me with it.''
Tiffany Hayes added 15 points for top-seeded Dream, and Jasmine Thomas had nine points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Elena Delle Donne scored 22 points for the Sky, who won 80-77 in the series opener at Atlanta on Friday. Allie Quigley had 20 points, and Epiphanny Prince finished with 19.
Chicago closed to 68-65 on Tamera Young's driving layup, but Atlanta responded with an 8-1 spurt. Hayes' 3-pointer with 6:50 left gave the Dream a 76-66 lead.
The Sky pulled within six with 36.5 seconds to go, but their rally fizzled from there.
Sylvia Fowles added 14 points for Chicago, which had a 39-36 rebounding edge.
''(McCoughtry) set the tone early and put her team on her back and you can't have that,'' Sky coach Pokey Chatman said. ''We have to regroup, watch the video. I don't think there's a lot of adjustments we have to make as a matter of Xs and Os. It's a matter of making sure from the beginning we set the tone.''
McCoughtry was 13 for 20 from the field and made 13 of 14 foul shots. She had 19 points in the first half, helping Atlanta to a 44-43 lead at the break. She also helped limit Delle Donne to 0-for-5 shooting from the field in the second half.

Fellow Louisvillian Shoni Schimmel saw 23 minutes after sitting out the first quarter and tallied nine point, five assists
and three steals. The Dream were without starting guard Ceci Dumeric for the game. 


Louisville women's soccer fell to Illinois 2-0 yesterday in Champaign, IL. Late first half and early second half scores by the Fighting Illini put the Cards in a stall they could not kick out of...despite taking more shots (13-8) and shots on goal (6-3) than their BIG10 opponent. 

The Cards (1-1) return home to open Lynn Stadium Friday night against Ole Miss. 


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thursday Cardinal Couple -- WNBA Playoff time !



- Angel, Shoni and Atlanta “Limp” into the Playoffs 
The Atlanta Dream begin their playoff run on Friday, August 22,
7 PM at home against the Chicago Sky on NBA TV.  Even though the
Dream finished the season as the regular season champions of the 
Eastern Conference and the only team in the Eastern Conference 
with a winning record, there does not seem to be any reason 
for confidence that the Dream will have a long playoff run. 
It could be as short as two games, and it could last as long as 
11 games.  The WNBA starts with two out of three playoff series,
and Chicago is anything but a pushover.  
For the first time during the whole season, Chicago has all of
their players ready to go for the playoffs.  During the season,
they have missed All-Stars Elena Delle Donne and Sylvia Fowles 
each for about half of the season, and starters Coutney Vandersloot
and Epiphanny Prince have also missed a substantial number of games.
 In their places, Jessica Breland, Allie Quigley and Jamierra Faulkner have played
extremely well in both starting roles and roles off the bench, so the Sky are loaded and
 ready to go for the playoffs.  To add to the concern, even with an injury plagued season,
Chicago won two and lost two in their regular season series with the Dream, with each 
team winning one and losing one on their home courts. 
The Dream lost 11 out of their last 15 games, including getting
trounced by a young Connecticut team 84-55 in their last game of 
the season on Sunday, August 17.  The biggest issue seems to be 
the play of their two big stars Angel McCoughtry (18.5 ppg) and
Erika de Souza (13.5 ppg).  Until the latter part of the season,
this had been De Souza best season, but her points and rebounds have 
taken a nose dive in the last 15 games. 

Angel has averaged “only” 15.3 ppg over the last 10 games
of the season.  Angel’s last outstanding game occurred just before
 the Dream’s western swing when she scored 28 points against NY.
 She started the western swing with19 against Phoenix, but she got
 hurt in the second half and did not play well the rest of the trip. 

After sitting out two games, Angel has started to play well in limited 
time in their last two games. 
After the All-Star game Shoni had an excellent 17
point OT effort at Minnesota in front of 4-5000 adoring Shoni 
fans.  Then she went through a series of four games in which she
never played more than15 minutes and scored a total of 7 points, 
going scoreless in two of those games.  Starting with the Dream’s 
four game western swing in Phoenix where Shoni had somewhere 
between 5-7000 fans, Shoni started a 6 game streak in which she
averaged 15.2 points a game, highlighted by a 24 point and 9
assists effort at home against Phoenix when Atlanta beat Phoenix 
96-82 sparked by Shoni’s 20 point 2nd quarter outburst.   Phoenix 
finished the season with a WNBA record 29 wins in 34 games. 

Shoni would have entered the playoffs on a roll except for a 9 point 
performance at Connecticut in which she went 3-12. 
As a new fan of the Dream, I have a lot of
apprehension about their playoff prospects based on their
recent performances, but older fans of the Dream indicate this is
par for the course and do not seem concerned.  When you realize 
that all four Eastern playoff teams enter the playoffs with a loss in 
their last game, and Chicago (the Dream’s first opponent) enters
the playoffs with two losses, there is plenty of room for optimism 
and pessimism.  Apparently the veteran pro players can turn it on 
whenthey need to do so.  It might be relevant to note that the Dream 
have lost to and defeated every team in the playoffs
in both conferences except for San Antonio with whom they won
both games in the season series. 


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wednesday Cardinal Couple -- Rez Ball Part II


- Rez Ball: Part II

( Today we bring you Part II in Gary Witherspoon's three part article on Rez Ball. If you missed Part can be found in last Wednesday's CARDINAL COUPLE. Gary has also sent a WNBA Playoffs Preview that will run Thursday.)


Part III:  Showboating or Showtime?

It has often been said that art is in the eye of the beholder, and I propose that is also true of whether a particular play or style of play is viewed as showboating or showtime. 

A couple of nights ago I was listening to an interview with the “Big O” Oscar Robertson.  The interviewer, Chris Webber, said he saw a film of one of Oscar’s high school games where his hand was above the square on the backboard on an attempted tip in, and he said he was impressed.  He said “I had thought players back in your time (late 1950s) were not as athletic as they are today.  Oscar said, “we could do all the things players do today, but we were not allowed to do them.  My high school coach said he would kick us off the team if he ever saw us do a dunk - anytime - not only in a game, but also in practice or even playing in a pickup game in the gym.  Our coach said that was showboating, and it was a corruption of the purity of the game, and made a travesty of basketball tradition and sportsmanship.”  That was the majority opinion back then.
Just last year, Marie Taylor, an ESPN reporter, said that Kim Mulkey told Brittney Griner when she came on the Baylor campus that she would be benched if she ever hurt the team’s chances of winning a game because of doing a dunk.  At this year’s WNBA All-Star game, the players on both teams set up a play so that Brittney Griner would have a chance to do a dunk, which was one of the highlights of the game.  There are more missed layups than there are missed dunks in women’s basketball.  Why is there so much prejudice against the dunk?

It is amazing how backward and short-sighted some basketball coaches have been and continue to be about their sport and profession, and how easily they forget that they are in the entertainment business.  We need to remember the history described above when we consider whetherrez ball is showboating or showtime.  Or whether rez ball and high flying poster dunks are just another culture’s style regarding how to play and enjoy the game.

There is a saying that has its foundation in the game of golf:  Different strokes for different folks.  We might extend that perspective to propose that in basketball there are different styles for different players.  Rez ball introduces non-Native Americans to a style of play built on the idea of playing the game for the joy of the creator, for the joy of the community and for the joy of the players.  Such a game can heal the sick, entertain the less fortunate, honor and celebrate all of creation.  These are actually the ancient traditions from which the modern game of basketball was developed and modified..

Magic Johnson came into the NBA in 1979 when the league was struggling.  He brought showtime to the league.  Without knowing it, his style of basketball and his approach to playing the game exemplified the ideals and essence of rez ball and put joy back into the game.  He came into the league with an effusive presence, a charming personality, and a smile that lit up the whole arena.  For him the game was fun and exciting, and that fun and excitement - that joy of playing - turned out to be contagious and captivating;  it infused the sport and the whole league with a new spirit and a new style.

It just might be that in a pattern similar to what Magic Johnson did for the NBA, Ms. Shoni Schimmel is in the process of doing for the WNBA.  Shoni runs the plays and tries to do what her coach asks her to do; but, with a little here and a little there, and a whole lot in the All-Star game, Shoni is introducing rez ball to the WNBA and to the whole world of women’s basketball.  By so doing, she is re-injecting a new level of joy into the game.  This will not corrupt the purity of the game, but take it back to its ancient origin and tradition.

It is relevant that Iroquois college lacrosse players, brothers Miles and Lyle Thompson, took the world of college lacrosse by storm in 2013-2014.  Playing for the University of Albany (New York) with a big time schedule, the Thompson brothers each scored more points (goals and assists) over the last two seasons than anyone else had scored in the history of college lacrosse.  In an unusual event, the Tewaaraton Trophy, the Heisman Trophy of Division I college lacrosse, was awarded to both Miles and Lyle Thompson.  The Thompsons, along with cousin, Ty, have led the Albany team in becoming the highest scoring team in Division I lacrosse for last two years in a row. In 2014 Albany defeated top ranked Loyola to reach the quarter finals of the NCAA tournament where they lost a heartbreaking overtime game to Norte Dame 14-13.  Albany squandered a 5 goal lead in the fourth quarter in route to the overtime loss.  Notre Dame went on to the finals.

The following is from the NY Times

The Thompsons — whose cousin, Ty, had 41 goals and 12 assists to help make Albany the highest-scoring team in Division I for two straight seasons — were born on a Mohawk Indian reservation in northern New York and relished the breakthrough because it was something very special.
“Words cannot describe how happy I am. It brought tears to my eyes,” Lyle added. “To share the award with my brother is an honor. For us, it is about bringing a positive influence and helping people, not just Native Americans, but everyone.”
Tewaaraton is the Mohawk name for their game, and the bronze trophy depicts a single Mohawk player adorned in a simple loincloth and golden eagle feather. It’s mounted on a hexagon-shaped slab of black granite, the six-sided base symbolizing the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy — the Mohawk, Cayuga, Oneida, Onondaga, Seneca and Tuscarora tribes.

The Thompsons brought joy, innovation and flare to the game of lacrosse. They made quick and daring assists and made deceptive and creative shots from behind the back, over the shoulder, and between the legs that drove goalies crazy.  You could say they brought joy to the college game of lacrosse, or you could also say they bought showtime or rez ball to the college game of lacrosse, the Creator’s Game.

Lacrosse and the Thompsons are relevant to the rez ball and showtime discussion here because the lacrosse played by the Thompsons and the rez ball played by Shoni Schimmel derive from common cultural roots, values and emphases.  And the games they play, as well as the styles they exemplify, have their antecedents in the Indigenous sports history of the Americas.