Here’s what I’ve got. Enjoy.
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Here’s what I’ve got. Enjoy.
Doing some work for Stanford while figuring out next steps.
Read my story on Lindy LaRocque. Live blogging from the game tomorrow against Washington. 2 p.m.
My old friend Ron Kroichick at the San Francisco Chronicle (yeah, I miss the old place), wrote a great feature on Candice Wiggins.
Columnist Bill Plashcke sat down with UCLA coach Nikki Caldwell.
San Jose State holds memorial for former coach Janice Joseph-Richard
Stefanie Gilbreath getting close to her first chance at college basketball.
Candice Wiggins is rehabbing a serious, painful injury.
She’s missing the European season, the chance to makes some nice money. She can’t play basketball.
She’s miserable, right? Wrong.
Wiggins was upbeat, positive and full of energy in a Thursday morning conversation.
“I am so good right now, I’m in a really good place,” Wiggins said.
Wiggins is literally in a really good place, at Stanford, taking classes to finish her degree in Communications. She’s going to class — she has five on her schedule for the quarter — spending time with friends and just, well, resting. Rest has been a foreign concept to the Pac-10′s all-time leading scorer, who has rarely taken a week off save for injuries since her Stanford career ended in the national title game in 2008.
The player who always went full-throttle has been forced to slow down after sustaining an Achilles tendon injury early in the WNBA season.
“This is probably the best thing that happened to me, and I know that doesn’t make any sense,” Wiggins said.
Wiggins said she was burned out on year-round basketball. Her body and her mind were tired. She had surgery in late-May to repair a torn meniscus after the European season, but said she was experiencing soreness in her Achilles when she came back to the floor for Minnesota Lynx.
After her injury, which happened in the closing seconds of a game against the New York Liberty, Wiggins said she was devastated. She was crying when she made the phone call to her mother to break the news.
“I told her I was hurt and she said, ‘Good, maybe you can sit down now,’” Wiggins said. “I was crying and I just stopped.”
Wiggins said her life was “awesome” over the summer.
“I was sad I wasn’t with the team, but I got to go to the ESPY’s. I got to live my life, I got to see my family for the first time in six years,” Wiggins said. “I got to do a lot of things I’ve never been able to do before.”
Wiggins said there were some people in her life who were a little worried to see her taking this so well.
“I know there are people who think I was too happy,” Wiggins said. “But I need an offseason, it was too much for me.”
Her torn Achilles tendon, sustained in July at the end of a WNBA game, is healing well.
“It’s going great. I can do single-leg calf raises, which at this stage is hard to do,” Wiggins said. “My Achilles scar is one of the best scars ever and it’s all about how the scar looks. And the rest is helping my body.”
Wiggins said she’s learned a valuable lesson from this experience.
“For me, right now, rest does more for me than working out. A day off is more beneficial to me that going out and working out,” Wiggins said. “I’m still overindulgent. I will go until the wheels fall off, but you can’t drive your body like that.”
Wiggins said she will take the full nine months to recuperate. She will likely not play again until the WNBA season starts in June.
“I’m being very conservative. If it takes nine months, then I feel like I have that time, so why not take it?” Wiggins said. “I just want to be back for the WNBA season and completely 100 percent rested for it.”
And she plans to be around to watch the Stanford women start the new season.
“I love being along for the ride. It’s such an awesome vehicle,” Wiggins said. “We’re legit (title contenders). I only dreamed of being that legit when I was playing. I’m a Stanford fan now too, I just used to play.”
Arizona State point guard Dymond Simon is back on the floor with the Sun Devils after missing the 2009-2010 season. She is back for her senior season and to help return ASU to the NCAA Tournament. Simon talked with LCH on Monday on the verge of the start of the season.
Q: Where are you in your recovery process?
A: I was cleared fully last Monday. I’ve been doing everything with the team for a week and a half now and it’s pretty exciting. I’m feeling really good right now, getting used to being back, getting some chemistry with my teammates.
Q: What are the kind of things you need to “get used to”?
A: Being patient. Not rushing a lot of things, especially on offense, especially coming back from injuries like this. You’re in shock a little bit. The game is a lot faster than what I’ve been used to last year and a half. Those first couple of practices it goes fast, but thing are going well. But i haven’t lost a step. I’m just taking my time. I’m moving into things slowly, but my coaches and my teammates understand.
Q: How has the last year and half been for you?
A: I definitely had some ups and down. Last year didn’t go so well for our team. We are all taking it upon ourselves, we’ve worked hard over the summer, and we are determined to make this year very special. My knee hasn’t been perfect the entire year. But I’ve tried to be positive throughout this whole transition. It’s been a blessing in disguise. I’ve matured as a basketball player and a person and I think the extra year will prepare me for what’s ahead.
Q: What is the state of the team you’ve come back to?
A: It is definitely a young team. But a lot of these players have a year under their belts and I’m excited to be able to play with them and help them see what college basketball is all about. They are hungry and they have great work ethic on the court and I’m happy to be back out there.
Q: How difficult is it to come back into the mix after being gone for more than a year?
A: It’s no. I’m thankful for my coaches, who have been great about telling me to focus on one thing at a time. They’ve told me ‘Dont worry about past injuries. Focus on how well you are doing now’. It’s helped me to stay in the moment. I’m making myself more present.
Q: Have you tapped into any of the other players who have experienced multiple ACL injuries? What have they taught you?
A: I’ve definitely learned from this experience. I have known Jacki since high school and she’s definitely a person I look up to. She’s had more ACL problems than I have. She’s this amazing person. But from me, I’ve had so much help around me here, that I didn’t have to rely on other people. I have my coaches and my performance coach and they all have kept me in a positive state.
Q: What’s the thing most people don’t understand about being injured and the recovery?
A: It’s that people don’t feel what I feel. Especially, the doctors and the trainers. No matter how bad I went to get out there and start earlier than I should, they tell me that it’s not time. And I get so frustrated and so mad. There have been times when I thought that I just want to shut it down, that ‘Man, it’s not even worth it.’ But I’ve picked my spirits back up because I love the sport. People don’t understand all the transitions you make, from being injured to getting out of surgery, to going into rehab and maintaining your rehab. It’s alot.
Q: How close were to you “shutting it down” as you put it?
A: There was definitely a time (last May). But I made a conscious decision to keep moving forward. I was getting hit at so many different angles. My knee wasn’t where I wanted it to be, I was arguing with my trainers and docs and it got to me. I didn’t really want to play. The coaches saw that. I’m a gym rat and I’m used to being in there all the time and I wasn’t able to be in there. They were questioning me about what was wrong. It took me about four weeks to snap out of it. I was putting way too much pressure on myself and once I realized that, my knee started to come to.
At the time, I was still in rehab and I hadn’t been cleared and I was forcing the issue when I shouldn’t have. But honestly, I’m happy that it happened at that point and I’m much better now.
Q: How difficult was it from your vantage point to watch the team struggle last year?
A: It was the hardest year ever. I could definitely see it in Coach (Charli Turner Thorne’s) eyes. She was so frustrated and so disappointed and she couldn’t show it to the team. In my eyes, she’s one of the strongest people I know so, I’m proud of her for maintaining her composure. I was just sitting there and watching and I felt like ‘Wow, I feel so bad for her and for the team.’ And it sucked because I couldn’t do anything about it.
Q: What words would you use to describe the team as you get closer to the start of practice?
A: Hungry. These girls, they are amazing. They will do whatever it takes to win. We talk every day, that we don’t want this to go like last year. And as a captain, I won’t allow it. We are working every day, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.
Tina Thompson has carved out a Hall of Fame career. She is the lone remaining original WNBA and she’s about to become the league’s career scoring leader.
Former Arizona State standout Briann January is in one of the best situations for a young player in the WNBA. She has been the starting point guard for the Indiana Fever, the star-studded team that finished as a runner-up in the WNBA Finals last season.
January is a perfect fit in Indiana with her quickness and love of playing good defense. She spent a four games out of the lineup this season already with a sprained MCL, but she is back “in the swing” of things.
Indiana is 9-6 and in fourth place in the tough Eastern Conference. January has played in 11 games with three starts. She is averaging 6.4 points and 2.1 assists per game.
She took a little time for leftcoasthoops.com this week and we appreciate it.
Q: How is your health?
A: My healthy is great. I had a little injury, but I’m out of the brace now, which is great. I’m getting back to getting to 100 percent. I’m feeling good right now.
Q: How did you time out of the lineup impact your game?
A: Actually, it might have been blessing. It was a chance to sit back and study the game some more. In the thick of things when you are playing every day, there’s so much to think about, and having time out and being able to step back and really see the game, it was definitely a blessing. I came back hungrier than ever and understanding things a lot clearer. It has really helped me.
Q: Are you still playing catch up from your time off?
A: It’s always tough to adjust to the speed of the game again once you are out for a little while. My teammates are helping me. With my teammates’ help, I’ve gotten caught up fast. I’m in the swing of things right now.
Q: What is different for you in your second WNBA season than in the first?
A: Oh, so much. That rookie season, you think you know the game, you think you understand the game and try to be a student of the game. But everything still so brand-new, knowing what to expect, knowing what it’s going to be like to play in the league, knowing what I’m going to do, what it takes to win…
Having a year under my belt means so much.
Q: How do you describe your role on this team?
A: My role is to set the tempo on offense and defense, to pressure the ball, to be a catalyst and push the ball. I need to be an energy player, to bring energy and spark when I’m on the floor.
Q: There’s been a lot of talk about the impact of playing year-round on players, what is your take on that?
A: It’s crazy. I honestly don’t know how some of older players have done it for so long. Especially playing overseas, because it’s a lot different from playing in the league. It’s brutal man, you’re getting hit all over the place and there’s not much being called. That takes a huge toll on your body.
I am huge on taking care of my body. I took some time off last season, coming off college and the NCAA Tournament, then (WNBA) training camp, and the WNBA season, to the playoffs and the Finals. I felt so worn down. I waited to go overseas until January and that really helped me. But that’s not always an option.
It’s hard, but it’s what we do, it’s our job. It’s tough because of opportunity to make what we make overseas.
There are pros and cons to it, but I take care of my body at all times. There are a lot of coaches in the league that understand. They understand that the older players might need some time off from practice. We all do what’s necessary.
Q: How was your overseas experience?
A: I played in Tarsus (Turkey). I got the chance to play against Tamika Catchings and Katie Douglas or Ebony Hoffman. It was like the Fever league over there.
I was in a place that was a pretty rural little city. There were two bordering cities, Adana and Mercin where they had malls and restaurants. A half-hour either direction and I could get to something I knew, which was great. I played with Betty Lennox and Chante Black.
Q: Did it change your game?
A: You are expected to be more aggressive. My coach wanted me to score more and really control the team. That helped me a lot. In the offseason, I was talking with (Fever coach) Lin Dunn, and one of things she wanted me to work on and study other point guards in the NBA was being that floor general. That was one thing that being overseas really allowed me to do. The coach really expected that of me and I had to step up and get it done for our team.
Q: What did you take from your experience in the Finals last year?
A: I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. I was so lucky just to be placed in that situation. For my first year in the league, to make it to Finals, it’s just a different level of basketball, the mental aspect of it, physical aspect of it, the intensity of it. There’s so much I took from that. It was great, it helped me a ton.
Q: Has your WNBA career and your role exceeded your expectations?
A: I didn’t know what to expect. I’m definitely blessed to be in Indiana. I couldn’t ask for a better organization or a better team. All of these girls are my friends now. We are so close and we don’t have none of the drama that can get in the way of team playing its best basketball.
The organization has our best interests in mind. They’ve put me in a position where they want me to succeed and they are doing everything they can to help me.
Ashley Walker, the former Cal star, was the last player waived by the Seattle Storm before the start of the season. Walker, who was drafted by Seattle last season but struggled after breaking her foot, had a strong camp after spending her first overseas season in Israel. The fact that she was cut was a surprise to many.
Walker talked Thursday after what happened since and more.
Q: What is happening with you since you got waived from Seattle?
A: I’m actually getting a chance to enjoy the summer. I’m going to hang out with friends, work out on my own time, stay in shape and really enjoy the summer.
Q: Where are you right now?
A: Right now, I’m hanging out in Oklahoma. My agent is here, so I’m out here working out.
Q: You had a really good camp. Brian Agler said good things about your camp. How disappointed were you to be waived?:
A: Of course, I was really disappointed. My rookie year was so up and down after breaking my foot, which really didn’t help that situation. I had a great overseas season. It was my first time over and I really enjoyed it. But (in Seattle) things didn’t go my way. That happens. Maybe that really wasn’t a fit there. Hopefully, I’ll stay in Oklahoma and maybe something is here. If not, then next year.
Yeah, it was disappointing, but life goes on. It’s part of our careers. And I’ll keep working out and be ready.
Q: Do you feel like you did everything you could in camp to make the Storm roster, left it all on the table, so to speak?
A: I definitely went in with open eyes. I worked my butt off. Some of the things (coach Brian Agler) wanted me to improve on, he wanted me to come in lighter. He wanted me to shoot the ball better and I went overseas and did those things. It just didn’t work out. They are really a veteran team. I don’t think he’s really kept a draft pick in two years. It’s hard to find a spot on that team. Going from the ‘four’ to the ‘three’ was a big adjustment, but I was working hard at that. He went with a vet and that’s OK.
Q: Are you preparing your game to be a ’3′? Is that where you think you will ultimately fit?
A: I wouldn’t say I’m preparing to be a ’3′. I can play the ’4′. There are a lot of small forwards in the league. Amber Hold plays the ’4′ and she’s smaller than I am. I think it’s a matter of being able to play more than one position. That’s what it’s going to come down to. I need to play to my strengths and definitely prepare to be a multi-faceted player.
Q: Can you talk about your first season overseas?
A: I loved it. I had a great, great time. I had really good teammates and it was an amazing culture. I enjoyed making new friends and learning the language. Everyone there was a pro. The players are older and they’ve played a lot longer. The overseas game is rougher. You just kind of grow up as a basketball player there. I went in hurt and I had a chance to heal. But that experience taught me to be a pro and that’s why I came to came so ready.
Q: Devanei Hampton was with you in camp. Lexi was in Washington. How much opportunity did you all have to compare your experiences?
A: Dev stayed with me the majority of the time (in Seattle). I’ve talked to Lexi and she’s already left to go play in the ‘D’ league. She had a great time in Washington and I think she had a great camp.
Q: Did you go into camp with your hopes up or practical about how difficult it would be to make the roster?
A: I definitely went in knowing that I could potentially get cut. I went in knowing I had a great season in Israel. I was a little surprised that I got cut, but a lot of people were, I think. But it wasn’t like smack in the face. They were looking in a different direction.
I told Brian that I want to be one of the better players in the league and if it’s not here, then maybe it will be somewhere else. Everybody had seen my in college. When I got there, I was not a leading scorer or a leader and people know how that turned out. I think I am one of those players who develops over time. Maybe I need more time to develop, or a spot to call home.
Q: What are you doing in Oklahoma?
A: I’ve been here for a week or two. My agent is here because she has Marion Jones as one of her clients. I needed to talk to her, figure out what to try to do for the summer. And it’s easy because she’s right around the corner. I’ve found places to work out. I will go home this weekend and visit with my family for a while. My home is still Modesto. I’m looking to buy a house, but I haven’t found one that I liked yet.
Q: Do you still have hope that you will get back on a WNBA roster? Perhaps this season?
A: I’m talking to my agent, I will keep working out. My agent is telling me, ‘We’ll find something.’ I’m waiting for a call and if I get one, I get one. I will keep working hard and sew what happens. I definitely see myself finding a spot. Everybody changes rosters, people get hurt. You never know.
Been wanting to write for a while a story about the quick turn that the top players make going from the NCAA Tournament to the WNBA grind. Jayne captured it so well…http://my.wnba.com/cms/119159/catching_up_with_jayne_appel