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  1. #1

    Default Gophers in the WNBA

    Since neither Bell or Wagner made the WNBA, I thought I’d start a fresh topic on this. Here’s an update from the U of M about Gophers in the WNBA.

  2. #2


    We should note last weeks Athletic article on Amanda. Amanda's now departing to play for Sweden in EuroBasket (27 June to 7 July).

    Since a loss to the Washington Mystics on June 7, the Liberty have won three of their last four thanks to multiple players stepping up. But perhaps none as emphatically as hot-handed center Amanda Zahui B.

    On Saturday, she dropped a career-high 37 points in a critical 98-92 win over the Los Angeles Sparks. She went 13 of 16 from the field and 7 of 8 from beyond the arc, while the Liberty shot 47 percent as team.

    Three nights earlier, the 25-year-old recorded a double-double (15 points, 13 rebounds) in a win over the Minnesota Lynx. In eight games, Zahui B. is averaging 11.3 points per game, and her opponents are starting to take notice.

    “She had a great game and I wish we were able to slow her down,” Sparks center Chiney Ogwumike said Saturday. “My college coach (Tara Vanderveer) used to say, ‘Some days you’re the dog, and some days you’re the hydrant.’ Well, she was the dog from the perimeter today.”

    The Swedish center’s outbreak should come as no surprise. It’s a reflection of the years of work she’s put in at every level of the game, creating a blend of European and North American styles of play.

    “I definitely give all credit to my college teammates, scout guides, everyone that I ever played against in college,” the University of Minnesota product told The Athletic before the Lynx game. “That’s where I found the mix of more physical (style of play) out here, and more finesse in Europe. I think that I have found the in-between, so I don’t really have to transition much. It just has become my game.”


    Zahui B. has not only found her signature scoring groove this season, but has also done well for the Liberty on the defensive end, proving she is more than a finesse player. She grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds in the win over the Lynx and recorded a career-high six blocks in a loss to the Sparks on June 4. In fact, Zahui B. has set career marks in nine different statistical categories to start her 2019 campaign.

    “She’s been great,” Smith said. “For me, the biggest thing for her (from) when I was an assistant to now is not fouling … she has a skill set that’s different. She can shoot the ball, she’s a stretch four. But she’s also challenged herself (in respect to) the rebounding, the activity level. Her defense has gone from here to here (gesturing up).
    Zahui B. attributes some of that discipline to the pivotal role she must play for Team Sweden.

    “When I play out in Europe I’m more so (a go-to) leader,” said Zahui B., who’s been a part of the national team system since age 13. “Not only my basketball skills and what to do on the court, but also leading the team, making sure that everyone’s good.”

  3. #3


    The fact that AZB was en route to EuroBasket explains what initially puzzled me ...

    I was looking forward to watching her play at the Lynx home game last weekend, but she was nowhere to be found. The Liberty have upped their game with her starting. But against the Lynx last weekend, they could have used her defense in the paint. The Lynx achieved (I think) 50 points in the paint - something that the team has accomplished only about 20 times in its history. A few blocks from AZB could have turned a Lynx win into a Liberty win, conceivably.

    AZB also played quite well in the off season.

    What's quite interesting is that she has added such a good three-point shot to her game. Aside from her post play, she's looking a lot like Rachel, in terms of shooting beyond the arc.

    The tidbit that I think is noteworthy for Rachel and the Sun (especially as she has upped her game in recent games) is her point-production efficiency. By that I mean that she quite often scores points at a rate that is (not quite, but almost) equal to about half the number of minutes she plays. She can easily put up 10 points in 20 minutes of play. Not many in the WNBA are that efficient at scoring on a points per minute basis. One of the reasons I think the Sun are doing well (besides good starters) is that their second unit is good enough to keep up with, or beat most second units in the WNBA. So in the Lynx-Sun game a week or so ago, in which the game was extremely close the entire game, when the Lynx second unit went aainst the Sun second unit (with Rach at SG), the Sun typically stretched their lead from (say) +/- 1, to (in some cases) a 5 or 10 point lead. In fact, it was literally a Banham triple that on two late-game occasions bumped their lead to +5 and +10. So although it was not an overall terrific game for Rach (in fact, she turned it over late in the game and went to the bench), her contributions to the Connecticut effort were often very clutch.

    On the year, AZB is shooting 40% from three (14 of 35) and 50.6% overall (39 o 77). She has 70 rebounds, 8 assists and 21 blocks in 248 minutes of playing time this year.

    Rachel is shooting 31.3% from three (10 of 32) and 35.2% overall (19 of 54). The overall stats seem down from last year, but that's perhaps due to her shooting almost exclusively triples. [Note that during her rookie year, she shot about the same percentage from three as Diana Taurasi, but that stat didn't count officially since she didn't play enough minutes to take enough shots to be eligible for the 3-pointer stat-leaders chart.] She has 12 rebounds, 7 assists and 1 block in 129 minutes of playing time this year.

  4. #4


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Eagan, MN


    Sweden lost to the Czech Republic today. The final was 71-64

    Zahui had 19 Points, 7 rebound, 5 assists and 2 each of steals & blocks.

    Sweden plays France Sunday. They have to win by 20 to avoid a play-in to the quarterfinals.

    The best bet is that they will lose to France, which means they would play the loser of GB vs Spain (they will probably be the runner-up in Group A) to reach the QF. If they beat France by less than 20, and win the PD with the Czechs, they will play the winner of Latvia vs Ukraine (that would be the 3rd place team in Group A).
    Last edited by Ski U Mah Gopher; 06-28-2019 at 10:16 AM.
    Follow me on twitter: @skiumahgopher

  6. #6


    This is not a particularly fun result for Rachel B’s Connecticut Sun team. On the one hand they and Carly’s dad’s Washington Mystics are leading the WNBA (and this is about the first time in like forever that the top two teams are in the East). I read somewhere that the (then #2) Mystics were doing it via stout defense (plus Elena Delle Donne). Until recently, the Sun had beat the Mystics twice (accounting for 2/3 of their current losses).

    Then this game happened in which the Mystics beat the Sun 102-59 in one of the worst routs ever in the WNBA. It’s a bit of a head-scratcher. How does the then-number-one Sun get beat that badly?

    In any event, here’s how it went down. Only 3 Sun players played with scoring efficiency - namely ...
    in-the-MVP-conversation Jonquel Jones (scoring a Sun high 15 points in 29 minutes);
    and two second unit players:
    Brionna Jones (who you remember from Maryland, and who scored 8 points and 6 rebounds in 10 minutes off the bench);
    and our Rachel Banham (who scored 8 points and 3 rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench).

    Minor Sun efficiency credit goes to rookie Kristine Anigwe (who nabbed 6 rebounds in 10 minutes). You may recall her as being 2nd place last year in NCAA D1 offensive rebounds per game, beating out Taiye Bello by half a rebound/game.

    The remaining four Sun starters tallied a cumulative 22 points in a cumulative 106 player-minutes for a scoring efficiency of about 0.21 (compared to 0.444 for Rach, 0.527 for JJ, and 0.8 for Brionna).

    Compare to the following scoring efficiency by the Mystics. High scorer Elena Delle Donne (also an MVP contender) by herself scored 19 points in 27 minutes (for a 0.704 efficiency). Six Mystics players were in double figures. Those six scored a cumulative 84 points in a cumulative 130 player-minutes for a scoring efficiency of 0.646.

    The point is, Ladies and Gentlemen, that is how you get a rout. Have four out of five starters on the routee team with a scoring efficiency of 0.21 while the router team has 6 players with a scoring efficiency of 0.646.

    There was no way that JJ plus Sun second-unit players Brionna, Rach and Kristine could salvage that game.
    Last edited by CutDownTheNet; 06-30-2019 at 12:44 PM.

  7. #7


    Sunday, France defeated Sweden 71-65. Amanda in 30 minutes: 13 points, 14 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks.

    Today, Sweden defeated Latvia 77-62 in the qualifying round. Amanda in 27 minutes: 12 points and 10 rebounds.

  8. #8


    Highlights from the win versus Latvia: Amanda hits a three; but more fun is Amanda being tossed to the court during a lane battle while adding a little Zahui B embellishment. Sweden plays Serbia tomorrow.

  9. #9


    Sweden got beat pretty badly (86-49) today by Serbia

    AZB named top performer for Sweden with 9 points and 10 rebounds. Not a ton of points, but then again their whole team had only 49.

    Honestly didn’t know there were good basketball players in Serbia. Serbia out-assisted Sweden 23-9. Sweden out-turnovered Serbia 25-13. Sweden got 6 blocks, tho, 3 of which were AZB’s. But mostly poor shooting seems to have unraveled the Swedes.
    Last edited by CutDownTheNet; 07-04-2019 at 07:14 PM.

  10. #10


    Kenisha Bell's team (Lynx) @ Rachel Banham's team (Sun) at 1 PM this Saturday. It's on ESPN2. See

    Going into this game (and not including pre-season games), Bell's stat line is essentially empty (having played slightly less than a minute in a single game - the win over Atlanta). Banham's partial stat line for the season is ...

    W = 9, L = 4, Min = 12.6/game, Avg Pts = 4.7 Two-Point FG% = 40, Three-Point FG% = 32.4, FT% = 71.4, DReb/game = 1.3, Ast/game = .7, Stl/game = .3

    The Sun had lead the league starting out the season, but are now in 2nd place behind the Washington Mystics. The Lynx find themselves in 4th place at this point in the season - trying to dig themselves out of a hole created by both inexperience plus injuries plus losing lots of games by about 3-4 points.
    Last edited by CutDownTheNet; 07-05-2019 at 12:59 PM.

  11. #11


    The Connecticut game was very close - down to the wire, actually, so Kenisha didn’t play. Rachel did play for 17 minutes, scoring 7 points and 2 assists. In fact it was a Banham two-pointer that came a point or two from tying it in the final minute. But not quite enough, so the Lynx picked up a huge road win, and break the long streak of Sun home wins dating back to last summer.

    There’s a nice shot of Rach working on defending D-Rob, posted on the Lynx game summary at ...

    In the latest Lynx practice report at there is also this mention of Bell ...

    “Asia Taylor had a big bucket against Connecticut, and both her and Kenisha Bell have been awesome presences at practice. They’re athletic and they play very hard, which is very valuable.”

    It was also noted that Temi will be back soon from Europe. Not noted was that implies a roster adjustment. Most likely, it will be a cut of a forward, since it’s hard to imagine cutting Bell at this point, when a probable 2-game DWI suspension is on the horizon for Sims (it’s going to be hard enough to cover Sims’ minutes, let alone her team-leading points).
    Last edited by CutDownTheNet; 07-09-2019 at 12:08 AM.

  12. #12


    Here’s Keke Bell, smiling in the Lynx team locker-room picture (tweeted by the Lynx) in which the whole team is happy that they just beat the Chicago Sky by one point. After a heroic shot by Odyssey Sims plus some great defense by the Lynx.

    The Lynx led by 10 to 15 much of the game, but the Sky caught up mostly in the back of reigning WNBA 3-pointer queen Allie Quigley, who made six treys, mostly in the second half.

    In the 4th quarter when the Lynx were still ahead by five, two bricked shots by Lexie Brown (who is slumping a bit lately) led to 5 fast-break points by Chicago, and it was a gritty slug-fest from there on out.

    Due to the closeness, Kenisha again did not play. But if Lexie’s shot continues to be weak, expect Bell to get some playing time. Asia Taylor (who was brought in with Bell for the injury waiver) did play 17 minutes and score 13 points - a career high for her. I suspect that forward Shao Ting (or Ting Shao, as the WNBA mistakenly calls her) has fallen out of favor (ever since that China-step she demonstrated, which was a cool 360-degree spin to a layup, but nevertheless called traveling, given the 4 steps involved, and done at the end of a close game). When Temi gets back from Europe, I think that Ting gets a ticket to China, rather then Bell getting cut.

    Hard to guesstimate, but Kenisha probably stays a Lynx through Sims’ DWI suspension or maybe til Seimone’s knees recover enough for her to play.

  13. #13


    A great article on AZB: Amanda Zahui B Brings Great Versatility in Return to Liberty

    “Through the nine games this season, Zahui B is averaging career highs in field-goal percentage (50.6%), three-point percentage (40.0%), rebounds per game (7.8), blocks per game (2.3), and points per game (11.4). Although she has shown promise on offense throughout her career, her defensive improvement is startling; she has never averaged more than 0.6 blocks per game in a season.”

    “... The 25-year-old also boasts an effective jump shot for a center of her size, releasing outside attempts from above her head that rip right through the net ... which opens up the Liberty’s offense and creates room for Tina Charles to operate.”

    Note: I think part of her improvement is also due to the coaching change, in which she now gets more minutes.

    “She obliterated the Los Angeles Sparks in an impressive Liberty win earlier this year, scoring a sparkling 37 points and making 7 out of 8 three-pointers and 13 of 16 overall shot attempts. No one of the talented Sparks squad could stop her inside the paint or outside the perimeter.”

  14. #14


    The Lynx had an off night Friday, losing at Atlanta. It was otherwise significant due to minor and major events:

    - Kenisha Bell gets her first significant (but uneventful) 10 minutes of playing time as a True Lynx (she got an assist and a rebound).
    - Sylvia Fowles joins an elite club (of 14) who have scored 2000 or more WNBA buckets. Whay is in that club.
    - Syl also notches her 157th double-double, tying Lisa Leslie.

    Although the whole team was a bit off (credit the Dream defense maybe?), D-Rob was the only guard to truly excel. Sims was held to a low score (for her) of 9. The Lynx got as close as 4 points in the 4th quarter on a Talbot 3.

    Maybe I shouldn’t give away the secret, but the trick to beating the Lynx seems to be holding back Sims’ scoring plus holding Syl to a “small” double-double plus limiting Collier and Talbot to single digits.

    If two of {Sims, Temi, Dantas (when injury free), Collier, Talbot, D-Rob, Brown, Bell} could go off for 20ish points in any given game, and Syl gets her usual double-double, then the Lynx are nearly invincible.
    Last edited by CutDownTheNet; 07-14-2019 at 02:27 PM.

  15. #15


    Some analogies and possible inspiration for Kenisha Bell to keep working hard toward her dream of becoming a pro basketball player ...

    Erica Wheeler ... grew up in Little Haiti section of Miami with 12 people in a three-bedroom house.

    Kenisha Bell ... her family was homeless for a while after moving to Minneapolis.

    Erica Wheeler ... graduates from Rutgers, went undrafted in the WNBA Draft, ended up playing in Puerto Rico, then a couple WNBA teams, now the Indiana Fever.

    Kenisha Bell ... drafted #30 by the Lynx in the 2019 WNBA Draft, cut after training camp, recalled in June, challenged the team in practice, but cut again in July.

    Erica Wheeler ... at 2018 All-Star Game ... becomes first undrafted WNBA player to be named MVP of an All-Star game with 7 three-pointers, 7 assists, 25 points in minimal minutes. Some of her (All-Star) team-mates and foes are wiping away the tears at the awards ceremony.

    Keke Bell ... keep working on your game, you never know what opportunities are in store for you.

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