Paige Bueckers signals triumphant return with one simple gesture

In a room charged with expectation, UConn women’s basketball standout Paige Bueckers took her spot at the women’s basketball media booth for Big East Media Day.

The preseason AP All-American offered a confident thumbs-up, reported Maggie Vanoni of CT Insider. It’s a simple gesture, but for those familiar with Bueckers’ story, the unobstructed lift of her left thumb, free of any support, spoke volumes.

Bueckers has had to navigate a tumultuous year and half, having been benched due to injuries. But the thumbs-up she offered at the media event was a testament to how she feels about the upcoming season, with the official tip-off set for Nov. 8 against Dayton. 

“To still have people believe in me, believe what I can do on the court, it means a lot,” Bueckers said. “And just coming back from injury, sort of having that confidence, having other people still have confidence in me it means a lot. But at the end of the day, like preseason awards don’t really matter at all. You got to go out there and prove it.”

See Bueckers giving the thumbs-up with her left thumb was all the more reassuring, since the guard jammed her left thumb during the first couple of weeks of official pracitce this month. She missed a couple days of practice but has returned, just “limited” but Auriemma said he wasn’t worried about.

“I’m not worried about it,” Auriemma said.

This fall marks Bueckers’ comeback to the court, having sat out the entire previous season to heal from an ACL injury incurred in August 2022. This setback occurred shortly after she had to miss 19 games of her true sophomore season in 2021-22, a result of a different knee injury.

Despite not playing for a year and a half, Paige Bueckers has continued to earn accolades, most recently being named a Preseason AP-All American and a Big East Preason Player of the Year.

“The difference between having Paige and not having Paige is, you know, your chances of competing for a national championship just went up exponentially,” UConn women’s basketball head coach Geno Auriemma said.

The UConn Huskies were ranked No. 2 on the AP’s preseason Top 25 poll. With the return of Paige Bueckers they are poised to challenge defending champion LSU for the top spot.

“It’s just like an overwhelming feeling of excitement,” Bueckers said. “Just getting back on the court, back playing basketball and doing what I love most.”

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PWHL unveils potential names for 6 founding hockey teams

The PWHL is skating full force towards the league’s inaugural season, and the potential team names for its founding six franchises have just hit the ice, thanks to recent trademark filings.

On Wednesday, PWHL Holdings, LLC, the driving force behind the league, submitted applications for “Toronto Torch,” “Montreal Echo,” “Ottawa Alert,” “Minnesota Superior,” “Boston Wicked,” and “New York Sound” to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Hailey Salvian of The Athletic reported, who credited for breaking the news.

The trademarks have been filed under the category of “Entertainment in the nature of hockey games; Organization of ice hockey games.”

The names follow in the footsteps of previous professional women’s hockey franchises such as Toronto Furies, Toronto Six, Montreal Force, Les Canadiennes de Montréal, Boston Blades, Boston Pride, Minnesota Whitecaps, Connecticut Whale, Metropolitan Riveters, Calgary Inferno, Markham Thunder and Buffalo Beauts.

It’s important to note that trademark applications are not a definitive confirmation of the team names. These could be just a glimpse of the options on the table, with potentially more to come in the future. The sports world has witnessed similar scenarios with the launch of NHL teams like the Vegas Golden Knights and Seattle Kraken, where multiple team names were trademarked before the final identities were unveiled.

The PWHL also unveiled its new logo for Tuesday, which features a stylized ‘W’ to highlight women, and crossed hockey sticks and a puck. The logo was created by Baltimore’s Younts Design Inc., which has worked with MLB teams such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies. Speaking of the Dodgers, their owner, Mark Walter, is also a key financial player for the new women’s hockey league.

The first puck drop for the PWHL is set for January 2024, with training camps for the league slated to start Nov. 15.

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Clippers star Kawhi Leonard adds WNBA flair to his game with the step-through move

NBA star Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers has proven to basketball enthusiasts that he’s not merely a powerhouse on the court but also an astute student of the game, drawing inspiration from the remarkable talents in the WNBA.

Leonard has been seen incorporating the step-through move into his game, a strategic tactic involving the lifting of the pivot foot to elegantly maneuver around an opponent, creating a direct route to the basket. It’s a technique that has gained popularity in the WNBA.

During a press conference on Oct. 24, when asked about this addition to his repertoire of basketball moves, Leonard expressed admiration for the women of the WNBA, citing them as his inspiration.

“I think a lot of WNBA players do it. I initially thought it was a WNBA-specific rule, but then I realized that it’s permissible to lift that back foot,” Leonard stated, answering a question from The Athletic’s Law Murray.

DeWanna Bonner, a leading scorer for the Connecticut Sun, has notably made the step-through move her signature play, according to Just Women’s Sports.

A’ja Wilson, the formidable forward for the Las Vegas Aces, also employed this elusive move to great effect during the intense WNBA Finals face-off against the New York Liberty, as captured in a video shared by Twitter user @thelylway.

In embracing the step-through move, Kawhi Leonard celebrates the universal skillset prevalent in basketball and creates a connective link between the NBA and WNBA. The gesture proves the extraordinary influence that women athletes can exert on the sport, leaving a lasting mark on NBA stars like Leonard and enhancing the game as a whole.

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Aces’ Sydney Colson embracing the hate amid ‘villain era’ after WNBA Finals victory

Sydney Colson, fresh from the glory of the Las Vegas Aces’ 2023 WNBA championship win over the New York Liberty, is undoubtedly one of today’s top personas in the women’s basketball world. And frankly speaking, she stands unchallenged.

Every good story needs a captivating character, and the WNBA is no different. History has seen its fair share of compelling figures, such as the dominant Chicago Bulls in the ’90s, and LeBron James and Kevin Durant under the spotlight forming superteams in the 2010s. And now, in the 2020s, Sydney Colson has taken up this mantle in the WNBA.

Colson, a 34-year-old guard, has been turning heads not with her trash talk, but with her undeniable charisma and unapologetic demeanor, especially post-WNBA Finals. Her recent appearance on “The Daily Show” with Desus Nice was a testament to that.

“It’s incredible. I think about when I came in the league in 2011 and what it looked like then versus what these arenas will look like today,” she said. “But especially as a young Black player, to see women that look like me killing it on and working it, I just knew I had to keep working.”

However, it was Colson’s words for the doubters after the Aces’ championship win that truly marked the beginning of what the host referred to as her “villain era”—a role she never anticipated but is now fully embracing, Just Women’s Sports reported. 

“When I tell you I’m not even a trash talker, I’m not. This particular moment blew up and it’s making me look like such a douchebag,” Sydney Colson said, referring to her viral mimicry of Sabrina Ionescu’s “night night” celebration after the Aces’ win. “I’m trolling people at this point online because I don’t care. They’re like, ‘You only had 2 points. She’s got 2 points, how is she on ‘The Daily Show’?” she said.

As for the budding rivalry between the Aces and the Liberty, Colson sees it as a rivalry born out of respect and camaraderie, akin to a family dynamic.

“It’s like when you got siblings or cousins you grew up with. You rag on each other, you joke, but at the end of the day, you love them,” she said.

The “villain era” of Sydney Colson is here, and it’s compelling, unapologetic, and captivating.

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Iowa star Caitlin Clark scores signed Mia Hamm jersey and invite to USWNT legend’s golf tournament

While Iowa women’s basketball fans will be seeing Caitlin Clark take the court in just a few short weeks, they’ll also be able to catch her next year on the greens after the star guard scored a signed USWNT jersey from soccer legend Mia Hamm along with an invite to Hamm’s charity golf tournament. 

“She was literally my idol growing up,” Clark said in a video shared to Twitter by college basketball analyst Debbie Antonelli. “That’s so cool.”

Antonelli, a regular attendee of Hamm’s annual golf extravaganza, gifted the jersey to Clark. Hamm provides tournament attendees to purchase personalized autograph jerseys with a donation to the Mia Hamm Foundation, and Antonelli chose Clark to be the recipient.

Written on the jersey was a heartfelt note from Hamm, praising Clark’s talent on the court: “So fun watching you play! Keep being you! Can’t wait to watch you change the world!”

It didn’t take long for Hamm to catch wind of the Antonelli’s Twitter post, prompting Hamm to extend an exclusive invitation to Clark for the 2024 edition of her much-anticipated golf tournament. Although the 2023 tournament has already been hosted at the University of North Carolina’s Finley Golf Club earlier this month, Hamm expressed her excitement at the prospect of Clark joining the following year: “We would love to have you join us @CaitlinClark22,” Hamm wrote. “Best to you this season.”

Clark is no stranger to the golfing world, having showcased her skills at the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic Pro-Am back in July. Caitlin Clark played alongside U.S. Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson, taking the opportunity to interact with the fans and sign autographs.

“I used to run around golf courses and wanted to go to golf and basketball events when I was a young kid,” Clark said at the time, via Emma Hruby of Just Women’s Sports. “It can really change their life even if they have one interaction with you. Just trying to make as much time as I can trying to sign an autograph for a young kid or give them a ball or high five. That goes a really long way.”

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Nebraska volleyball match outshines Cornhuskers football for viewers

In a display of skill, grit, and pure sports excitement, the University of Nebraska women’s volleyball team not only prevailed on the court but also in living rooms across the nation, when the volleyball match got more viewers than the Nebraska football game on Oct. 21.

The Cornhuskers squared off against the Wisconsin Badgers in what has been dubbed the “Match of the Century,” which has left sports fans buzzing and gave the Huskers a 3-2 win.

Nebraska women’s volleyball draws astonishing amount of viewers

The women’s volleyball match drew an astonishing 612,000 viewers, Kaleb Henry of Sports Illustrated reported, making it the most-watched regular-season volleyball game across any network. The match aired at 8 p.m. eastern time on Big Ten Network.

The viewership numbers outdid those of the Nebraska men’s football game the same day, which saw the Huskers beating Northwestern 17-9. That game only drew 560,000 viewers and started at 3:30 p.m. eastern time on Big Ten Network.

“Both teams delivered on the hype of an undefeated No. 1 versus No. 2 matchup with a thrilling five-set match,” Big Ten Network executive Michael Calderon said, via Larry Hamel of “It was a tremendous introduction to Big Ten volleyball for any first-time viewers who will undoubtedly be back to watch more Big Ten volleyball during the final five weeks of the season. We believe there is still plenty of room for more growth.”

This has been a statement season for the Cornhuskers volleyball team both in terms of how well they’ve been playing and how many people they’ve gotten interested in the game. In August, a match between Nebraska and Wisconsin, set inside Memorial Stadium, broke a world-record for the highest-attended women’s sport event, with over 92,000 fans in attendance. The previous record was 91,648 at the women’s soccer game between FC Barcelona and Wolfsburg in April 2022.

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USWNT star Alex Morgan struggles to score despite best form

Alex Morgan, a name synonymous with goals in the USWNT‘s history, finds herself in an unusual position, reported by GOAL. For almost nine months, she has been grappling with a rare goal drought, a stark contrast to her reputation as one of the most prolific goal scorers in the team’s illustrious history, sitting alongside icons like Abby Wambach, Mia Hamm, Carli Lloyd, and Kristine Lilly.

The last time Morgan celebrated a goal with the USWNT was on February 11, during the SheBelieves Cup against Brazil, marking her second goal of the year. Since then, she has gone through a goalless streak spanning nine matches, covering a total of 660 minutes on the field. This barren spell coincides with a transformation in Morgan’s playing style; she’s evolving into a player who’s part-playmaker and part-goalscorer.

The upcoming friendlies against Colombia hold a significant opportunity for Morgan to reignite her goal-scoring prowess, especially considering Colombia’s impressive World Cup quarter-final run. The pressure on Morgan is palpable as she aims to secure her spot in the team, facing competition from the emerging talents within the USWNT.

Moreover, the looming 2024 Olympics add another layer of motivation for Morgan. The Olympics represent the one tournament that has eluded her, and she is determined to use this platform to reaffirm the USWNT’s dominance on the global stage.

What’s next for the USWNT and Alex Morgan?

Alex Morgan, USWNT, Women's World Cup

As the team gears up for the Olympics, Morgan’s journey takes on a new dimension. Will she rediscover her scoring touch and secure her position as the starting striker, or will she gracefully transition into a role akin to Megan Rapinoe’s, offering leadership and a game-changing presence off the bench? The answers to these questions will unfold on the field, where Morgan aims to script one last memorable chapter in her storied career.

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Louisville Women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz offers huge women’s sports betting take

Could sports betting help the growth of the women’s sports? Louisville women’s basketball head coach Jeff Walz is betting on it.

Ahead of the of the women’s 2023 ACC Basketball Tipoff in North Carolina on October 24, Walz said regardless of people’s feelings on gambling, it had a beneficial impact on the public’s overall interest in women’s basketball.

“Some like it, some don’t, but I think the more Vegas keeps putting lines in our games, the better,” Walz shared, per USA Today. “You want casual viewers. We have the women’s basketball fans – it’s, can we get the casual sports viewer? Can we get somebody that’s going to flip on the TV and see a women’s basketball game and stay on? … I think Vegas helps with that.”

The latest data seems to back up what the Louisville women’s basketball coach believes. The interest in both women’s basketball and women’s sports overall is growing based on viewership numbers from the 2023 NCAA Championship between LSU and Iowa.

The showdown, which featured women’s college basketball phenomena Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese, drew a record 12.6 million viewers.

And speaking of Clark, the recent exhibition game between Iowa and DePaul set a record with 55,646 fans in attendance.

But there is still room for improvement. The men’s title game between UConn and San Diego state had an average of 14.7 million viewers – a record low.

The future is bright for women’s sports

NFL Thanksgiving, NFL betting, NFL odds, NFL Week 12, NFL Thanksgiving betting

What Louisville women’s basketball head coach Jeff Walz is definitely interesting. Fortunately, future for getting more interest in betting on women’s sports looks promising.

At Draftkings, women’s sports have increased by 61% year over year, according to Shebettor, an organization dedicated to get women more involved in sports gambling. FanDuel’s WNBA bet count also increased by over 270% in 2022 from the year before.

Other organizations such as Bet on Women, which is led by WNBA All-Star Marissa Coleman, are also pushing for more equitable betting lines in women’s sports.

And it doesn’t just stop at basketball. The 2023 World Cup saw a surge in women’s sports betting, Yadarisa Shabong of Reuters reported. Betting on women’s soccer has had an annual market growth rate of about 20% since 2020, per Reuters.

A study conducted by German Sport University Cologne called “Breaking Barriers: Assessing Women’s Sports, Betting, and Integrity Challenges” also showed a 10% spike in betting on women’s tennis, volleyball and soccer over the course of 2017-2022.

“The dramatic growth of women’s sports is a hugely positive development – for fans, the sports, and athletes themes, and also for the betting market,” Khalid Ali said, CEO of the International Betting Integrity Association, one of the study’s partners. “It is creating very significant and untapped opportunities for sports betting.”

Sportsbooks have gotten more consistent about posting odds on women’s basketball, but that consistency is not equal with men’s basketball or college football. Walz said that lines even for games that might have a predictable outcome should still be posted, which can help draw casual viewers.

“When all of a sudden there’s lines on games, there’s interest,” Walz said “Obviously, our kids aren’t gambling, we’re not gambling a stamp – but I’m not stupid to (not to recognize) that this is good for our game. The interest picks up.”

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Aces’ Candace Parker drops honest admission on ‘second mom’ Pat Summitt

Fresh off the Las Vegas Aces’ championship celebrations, Candace Parker took the stage Tuesday at the espnW Women + Sports Summit in California, reflecting on her illustrious career and the profound impact of her college coach, Pat Summitt, who became a larger-than-life figure for Tennessee women’s basketball.

Parker got close to Summitt when she had to redshirt her freshman year at the University of Tennessee due to a new injury.

“Pat Summitt wasn’t just a coach; she was much more than that to me,” Parker said, via Cora Hall of the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Candace Parker’s special relationship with Pat Summitt

Parker revealed that she would go to Summitt’s office every Wednesday, even if it was just to have lunch or sit and do homework. Over time, Parker started opening up more to the coach.

“We just clicked, and she just became like a second mom to me,” Parker said.

This relationship proved to be pivotal not only during her time in school but also in shaping her career and life beyond basketball.

“There was this one practice where I wasn’t giving my all, and Coach Summitt didn’t hesitate to kick me out,” said Parker. “She made it clear that nothing less than my best was acceptable.”

Determined to prove her commitment, Parker showed up at the gym at 4 a.m. the next morning, hours before practice, ready to give it her all. However, she was met with a surprise.

“When I arrived, I saw that Coach Summitt’s office light was already on. It was a stark reminder that her dedication was unparalleled, and her influence was everlasting,” Parker said.

How Pat Summitt’s influence continues to guide Candace Parker

Candace Parker insane WNBA Finals feat as Aja Wilson leads Aces vs Liberty

This experience, Parker said, ingrained in her a relentless work ethic and a mentality of continuous improvement, which paid off when Parker became the first WNBA player to win titles with three different teams, the most recent being the Aces’ championship over the New York Liberty.

“Every time I’m tired, I can hear her saying, ‘You’ve never arrived.’ You are always working towards something, and what got you to this point isn’t going to be what keeps you here,” Parker said.“That’s the story I always remember about her, and it’s a story that continues to guide me.”

Summitt’s influence also extended to Parker’s approach to motherhood, embodying the “definite dozen principles” and the unyielding work ethic that Summitt was known for. Parker famously returned to the court just 52 days after giving birth to her daughter, Lailaa, in 2009, reported Nima Murugan of Essentially Sports. Not only that, but Parker took her daughter with her on the road while pursuing a professional basketball career, something that is highlighted in Parker’s upcoming documentary, “Candace Parker: Unapologetic.”

“I can’t tell my daughter to be her, or to be who she is, or to follow her dreams, or to love who she loves, or to go and study what makes her happy if I’m not doing that,” Parker said. “I think so many times, not just athletes, but women especially, you have to say, ‘Sorry, sorry.’ … No, you don’t have to be sorry about being you and and doing what you love.”

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PWHL reveals bold new logo centered around the ‘W’

The Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) unveiled its official new logo Tuesday, ahead of its inaugural season starting in January. At the heart of this design is a bold letter “W”, fashioned from two intersecting hockey sticks, making a clear nod to the world of women’s hockey.

The logo is composed of six total elements, including a puck, which pays homage to the six founding franchises of the league, John Wawrow of the Associated Press reported.

Stan Kasten, a board member of the PWHL, said that the logo perfectly embodies the essence of the league, merging both the symbolism and the PWHL initials.

“When people see the logo, they will recognize how it represents women and immediately know it’s about Hockey,” Kasten said. “The ‘W’ symbol speaks for itself but offers versatility to fit nicely when used inside our PWHL lettering.”

The color choice – purple – was intentional, the league said in the statement, which “signifies power and is often associated with ambition, both symbolic of PWHL players and the league’s formation.

The logo was created by Baltimore’s Younts Design Inc., which has worked with MLB teams such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies. Speaking of the Dodgers, their owner, Mark Walter, is also a key financial player for the new women’s hockey league.

The league is set to hit the ice in January 2024 and is essentially the next iteration of The Premier Hockey Federation, which was bought out in June by investors in the Professional Women’s Hockey Player’s Association.

The league announced in August the first six teams will be in New York, Ottawa, Minnesota, Toronto, Montréal and Boston.

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