The IX: Basketball Wednesday with Howard Megdal, March 13, 2019

How to approach women's basketball coverage — Interview with Danielle Robinson — Must-click women's basketball links

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I could spend all my time here talking about the Saturday Nigh Live skit about the WNBA this past weekend — I spent much of Sunday morning angry about a sketch comedy show, like I was Donald Trump or something — but let’s leave it at something simple, which is that a national comedy show punching down at an underpaid population by tapping into easy, inaccurate stereotypes is never a good idea.

I only wish the echo chamber supportive of the WNBA matched the one that roared about Dan Crenshaw, which landed him a plum spot on Weekend Update. Breanna Stewart or Chiney Ogwumike or Elena Delle Donne for Weekend Update please, SNL.

Instead, let’s talk briefly about the success between UConn women’s basketball and SNY, where the Huskies are outdrawing Red Sox and Bruins broadcasts in the Hartford/New Haven market. This didn’t happen overnight, incidentally — SNY partnered with UConn several years ago, built programming around the Huskies, and relentlessly promoted it all. As a regular viewer of the Mets, I can attest to how often their UConn programming is teased. This is how it must be done, of course.

But let’s note: UConn besting something as iconic as Red Sox programming in the heart of New England is happening, and not because this is some otherworldly UConn period, either — it’s been nearly three years since the Huskies won a national title! (Excuse me while I repair to my fainting couch.) It is happening because the significant women’s sports audience was treated with respect, given a regular place to go for coverage, and has responded. You know, like happens all the time with men’s sports?

Yeah, women’s sports isn’t a magic trick. Give it the space to thrive, give it time, promote it properly, cover it with top-tier talent. That’s all. That’s the whole thing. Here’s hoping an enterprising New York outlet does the same for the Liberty now.


This Week in Women’s Basketball

Reminder: The underlined words are the links. CLICK these! Clicks = Attention from editors, producers, and webmasters. If you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me! hmegdal@gmail.com

Neil Paine breaks down the arc of women’s basketball dynasties through history.

Loved this from Lyndsey D’Arcangelo on Cierra Dillard.

Good look at Tim Eatman’s role taking over Rutgers, from James Kratch.

Joan Niesen goes long on Sabrina Ionescu at SI.

Listen to Kristi Toliver on Alex Wong’s podcast.

The Cheryl Reeve Show. Download, subscribe, center your week around it.

Olivia Nelson-Ododa broke out this past weekend for UConn.

Only A Game told the Nicki Collen and Tom Collen story.

Beyond The W looks at how Ticha Penicheiro inspired (yet another) player.

Great stuff from Fred Morlan on Quinnipiac.

Love how Gatorade sends Elena Delle Donne to give out their Player of the Year award. This time, it’s Azzi Fudd.

Go ahead, watch Players Tribune on Angel Elderkin and try not to cry. I dare you.

David Yapkowitz looks at what’s next for Colorado’s Kennedy Leonard.

Great Pat Borzi breakdown on the Minnesota Lynx succeeding off the court.

Tom FitzGerald on Haley Jones!

Carol Callan deserves all the awards.


Tweet of the Week


Five at The IX: Danielle Robinson, Minnesota Lynx

HOWARD MEGDAL: Take me through your emotions once you were diagnosed with the season-ending injury. It happened just after getting named a starter, amid a stretch run. How did you deal with it, off the court?

DANIELLE ROBINSON: Well first, my initial thought was that I was done for the season, even if it wasn’t necessarily a season ending injury I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to come back from the way it felt. Then, I still had some hope that nothing was seriously wrong and that it was just me re-injurying the sprain that I suffered earlier in the season. When I finally got to the bench and calmed down a little and was asked if I could shoot the free throw of course my answer was yes but I knew I couldn’t do much more than that. And when I finally walked off the court after hitting the free throw and got to the locker room to see my actual injury, in my heart I knew that was it. I was praying I wouldn’t need surgery but the doctor who saw me after the game diagnosed it otherwise and I was heartbroken. I was so sad I was not going to be able to compete with my team anymore, especially after feeling like we were about to hit a stride and gain some momentum. 

I just dealt with it like I’ve dealt with anything else in my life: head on. Having the Achilles injury 2 years ago definitely helped me though because I sort of knew what to expect and how to deal with the ebbs and flows of recovering. I had my family and friends around me and supporting me and of course my staff and teammates. When I was well enough to move around on my scooter, I tried to get out as much as possible so that I wasn’t just cooped up feeling sorry for myself. I started working out and lifting upper body trying to make myself better. Started meeting with coach and watching film. Trying to make myself better off the court so that I could be better on the court.

HOWARD MEGDAL: You shot 48.5 percent from two last year, your best mark since 2012. What allowed you to excel around the basket?

DANIELLE ROBINSON: I think what helped me to excel was the freedom in the offensive system here in Minnesota. I am able to be myself and do what I do so it’s easier to play free. Also, the shots I take we practice every single day. Every single day, so when the game comes, I know when and where I will get those shots. 

HOWARD MEGDAL: What's the experience been like representing the Lynx so much in the community, and how striking is it to see the way the Lynx are such a permanent part of the community's fabric?

DANIELLE ROBINSON: It has been an absolute honor to represent this organization in the community. The Lynx are such an important part of the community; you say the word Lynx and people’s faces light up. We are given so much as athletes it is amazing to be able to give my time, effort, and love back to those in our community. I’ve learned so much about the city and as much as I’ve given to the city, it’s given back to me 1000 times already. 

HOWARD MEGDAL: You made your first WNBA three last season, and I know it is a focus for you and the team in 2019. What's that process like, and what goal do you have for yourself beyond the arc?

DANIELLE ROBINSON: I did make my first three-pointer last year and it felt good to do so. It was still an uncomfortable shot at the time I made it because I was never asked to shoot it until I got to Minnesota. I can say that my shot feels so much better now having had the time to fix my form and practice it over and over every single day. It is definitely a focus of ours as it is such a big part of the game now but for me I know it will open up so many things for our team. People won’t be able to sag off of me to double team Syl or help in other areas so that it was very important to me to work on that part of my game this offseason.

HOWARD MEGDAL: As you've been recovering, have you visualized a moment or moments to help motivate you? IF so, can you describe what you let yourself see?

DANIELLE ROBINSON: You know every day I walk by the locker room both at the practice facility and at Target Center, there are pictures of the four championships and the teams’ journeys, so for me those are the moments that I visualize. I visualize me now leading the charge. I visual making tough shots down the stretch, talking in timeout huddles making sure we are doing what we need to do, hyping our amazing fans up following a great run on the court from us; there is a lot I visualize, but I think one of the other things I visualize most is laying on that table following my injury realizing that it’s an honor to play this game, so I am going to take advantage of every single second I have on the court with my teammates, coaches, and our amazing fans. 


Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women's Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Lindsay Gibbs, @Linzsports ThinkProgress
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren PGA.com
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster