Saturday, February 14, 2009

Sun sign Jekabsone-Zogota

The Connecticut Sun addressed their need for a shooter Friday, signing Latvian star Anete Jekabsone-Zogota to a training camp contract.

She'll likely arrive in late June or early July, Sun coach Mike Thibault has said, because of her commitment to play for the host Latvian team in the European Championships. The Sun open their season on June 6.

But when she does make it to Connecticut, she'll give the Sun, whose shooting struggles cost them in their first-round playoff loss to New York last summer, a scorer in the mold of former Connecticut star, Katie Douglas. The Sun made just 73-of-203 field goals (36 percent) and shot 22 percent from the 3-point line in that series.

"We’re really excited to sign her," Thibault said in a statement. "We feel she will make an impact when she comes."

Averaging a team-high 15.9 points per game for defending FIBA EuroCup champion Moscow Dynamo this season, the 25-year-old Jekabsone-Zogota is 22-of-44 from three-point range in 10 EuroCup games.

The FIBA Europe Women’s Player of the Year in 2007 and the FIBA Europe Young Women’s Player of the Year in 2005, Jekabsone-Zogota helped Moscow Dynamo win the EuroCup title last year, averaging 20 points per game in the finals. She is the daughter of former Latvian men’s basketball star Andris Jekabsone.

"She’s one of the best young shooters in all of Europe, and she is the captain of her Olympic team," Thibault said of Jekabsone-Zogota, who averaged 15.8 points for Latvia during the Summer Games in Beijing. “When we finished last season, we said we needed to add a great shooter to our team, we feel like she can do that. This is a big off-season signing for us."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Use of instant replay expanded

The WNBA Board of Governors voted to allow the expanded use of instant replay by game officials beginning this season, it was announced today. The Board was scheduled to meet Wednesday. The two modifications will allow referees to use instant replay for the following scenarios:

(1) To determine at any point during a game whether a field goal was correctly scored as a two- or three-point field goal, and, for the purposes of awarding the correct number of free throws, whether a shooter was fouled while taking a two- or three-point attempt.

(2) When the game clock malfunctions during a play concluding with no time remaining on the clock (0:00) at the end of any quarter or overtime period.

With respect to the first scenario, review would occur at the discretion of the game officials. In the second scenario, game officials are currently required to reconstruct the timing of a play occurring during a clock malfunction; the use of replay would enable them to do so with greater accuracy.

The first rule expansion seems like a natural one, though in reference to the second one, I'm not sure how often a clock malfunction really impacts a game. The sense here, though, is that league officials don't want to slow down the game at any opportunity, but with replay becoming a bigger part of every professional sports league, there must have been some who voiced the need for greater use of the technology.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mohegan Sun to host WNBA All-Star game

For the second time in their seven-year existence, the Connecticut Sun will play host to the WNBA All-Star game and welcome the league's top stars to Mohegan Sun Arena on Saturday, July 25, in a nationally televised game, it was announced Tuesday.

The Sun also hosted the event in 2005. Only Washington, D.C., and New York have hosted multiple All-Star games before.

"The WNBA All-Star Game is a showcase event for the greatest female basketball players in the world, and I cannot think of a better location than Connecticut, where the Sun – and, really, the women’s game – has such a dedicated fan base,” WNBA President Donna Orender said in a statement.

Sun season-ticket holders will receive information from the team this week detailing an opportunity to buy their current seats for the All-Star Game in advance of a public on-sale date.

Others with an opportunity to purchase tickets prior to the public sale date include fans who purchase one of two Sun mini-plans set to go on sale Wednesday and season-ticket holders with other WNBA teams. Details of the latter option will be available in the coming weeks.

Individual tickets to the general public will be available in April at all Ticketmaster locations and the Mohegan Sun box office.

The game is scheduled for a 3:30 p.m. start on ABC.

"We are honored to host the All-Star game for the second time in our short history,” said Sun general manager Chris Sienko. “I believe it is a credit to our fans and illustrates how supportive they are of both our team and the WNBA. To have the best-of-the-best showcase their skills here this July will be an event not to be missed.”

Monday, February 2, 2009

Orender to visit Sun, 'major announcement' on tap

WNBA President Donna Orender, Mohegan Sun Tribal Chairman Bruce Bozsum and Connecticut Sun CEO Mitchell Etess and GM Chris Sienko will host a press conference at the Mohegan Sun's Wolf Den at 11:45 a.m. Tuesday to make what has been termed a "major announcement."

Mostly everyone I've spoken to has respectfully declined comment about what the announcement is while emphasizing this is something I "will want to be there for." I can say this with confidence, though: It's not bad news. If I have more, you'll have it.

WNBA Draft set

The WNBA Draft, scheduled for 3 p.m. on April 9, will be a little different this year. As opposed to past years when it directly followed the women's NCAA national championship at the site of the Final Four, the WNBA is holding its draft at the NBA Entertainment studios in Secaucus, N.J.

ESPN2 will provide first-round coverage while ESPNU and NBA TV will broadcast the second and third rounds beginning at 4 p.m.

To refresh your memory, Atlanta holds the top overall selection, followed by Washington, Chicago, Minnesota and Phoenix. The Sun have the 10th pick. Sun officials have said they'll likely hold their end of the draft at Mohegan instead of traveling to the site, as did they last year when it was outside of Tampa, Fla.

Top players eligible include Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris, Louisville’s Angel McCoughtry, Rutgers’ Kia Vaughn, UConn’s Renee Montgomery and Maryland’s Kristi Toliver. Considering Atlanta addressed front-court help by taking Sancho Lyttle with the first selection in the Houston Comets dispersal draft, I wouldn't be surprised if they turn toward McCoughtry, arguably the nation's top player and certainly one of its most versatile.

Paris and Montgomery will likely be next on people's boards, with Paris stepping into the Mystics' frontcourt (they already picked up Matee Ajavon in the dispersal draft so they've added a much-needed point guard) and Montgomery going to the Sky to complement Jia Perkins and Armintie Price. At least, that's how I see it. Things could certainly change based upon trades and need, but I could also be totally off. But I guess that's the fun of it -- predicting who goes where.