Reaction to Latricia Trammell hiring — Kellie Harper talks Tennessee tuneup — Must-click women’s basketball links

The IX: Basketball Wednesday with Howard Megdal, Nov. 2, 2022

Okay friends, we’re going to keep this week’s issue short. It’s been an incredible week of breaking news and many, many previews for conferences at The Nextso, so many previews. I have only myself to blame for assembling this incredible writing team and then encouraging them. Alas.

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But briefly, some notes from around the women’s basketball universe…

…I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a more enthusiastic response across WNBA world to a decision than the one the Dallas Wings have received for hiring Latricia Trammell. She’s made a lot of friends in this sphere, and from the locker room itself to the colleagues she’s had along the way, the universal accolades in the conversations I had was striking.

“Finally,” came one response. “The perfect hire,” came another. The situation in Dallas is a challenging one, as everyone from Brian Agler to Fred Williams to Vickie Johnson has found out. But the cupboard is hardly bare, talent-wise, and Trammell has a habit of getting the most out of her players. Moreover, her communication style looms as a particularly good fit following the issues that led to Johnson’s dismissal.

Would the Wings have gone in this direction if Curt Miller had preferred Dallas to Los Angeles? We’ll never know. But it’s also hard to imagine the same level of joy around the sport — since the Sparks, who had Trammell in their direct employ last season, probably wouldn’t have responded by hiring her if Miller had gone to the Wings. (To be clear, the consensus around L.A. hiring Miller was very positive as well. This was not, for instance, the buzz following the Derek Fisher hire.)

Now both teams have a chance to see how their decisions play out…

… next week at this time we’ll be deep into regular season play in college hoops. In FIVE DAYS there are this many games! Have you said goodbye to your family yet?…

…the Brooklyn Nets just namechecked the New York Liberty in this release designed to paper over Kyrie Irving’s disgusting promotion on an antisemitic film, subsequent bullying of a reporter who called him on it, and ultimately, this non-apology apology the Anti-Defamation League, for reasons that are unclear to me as a Jew, rushed to bless.

This comes days after hiring Ime Udoka, on leave from the Boston Celtics for still-unspecified conduct toward a woman within the Boston organization, and the fear — if not the expectation — is that the Liberty could be used as proof the organization cares about women sufficiently in other ways to justify the hiring of Udoka. This would be an unfortunate callback to a dark period in Liberty franchise history, under a former owner.

Let’s be clear: large sports organizations are not good or evil. There are good actors and bad actors within every one of them.

But here’s what should be the nonnegotiable: Women’s basketball teams are not human shields to protect men from their bad acts.

This week in women’s basketball

Arizona’s transfers are making noise early.

Good stuff from Dylan Manfre on what goes into scheduling nonconference opponents.

Eager to see Pitt early this season, not something I’ve said much in recent years.

Calvin Wetzel on some questions the NCAA’s best teams face.

Christine Butterfield’s convo with Jen Rizzotti is an interesting, newsy one.

Alex Simon’s reporting on the Pac-12 media rights negotiations is excellent.

Alexa Philippou had to fly to Miami for a story, we all benefit from her sacrifice.

Five at The IX: Kellie Harper talks Tennessee’s exhibition win

On Marta Suárez being excited about playing and assessing her performance… 
“Marta Suárez loves playing basketball. She loves it, so this is her favorite world: to get to play basketball. I thought she played really well. She played with great poise. She was efficient. I didn’t think she forced things and when I was asking the team to do defensively, I think she was listening and going out and trying so to execute that as well. I was really pleased with how she played. Honestly, the poise was probably the biggest part of that. She’s been practicing really well. Her practice stats have been excellent, and I know she’s very motivated. She just loves it.” 
On Rickea Jackson and Jordan Horston combining for the first 12 points of the game and how well they gel together and execute… 
“Those two players can go make plays. I think what you saw early on we were able to get them the ball and they can find opportunities. The great thing about both of those two, you can get them the ball on the open court. They can make a play. They can get a board. They can execute in a half court set and find some opportunities. They are dynamic, explosive, fun to play with, fun to watch and fun to coach.” 
On shooting 42.9 percent with 12 three pointers…
“Well, the 28 attempts, that’s a lot, but when you are shooting at 42 percent, you’re allowed. We’ve been shooting it well in practice. I think for the most part, we took good threes. I think we are aggressive. Our players are confident. Not just confident in their ability, but they are very confident in their teammates. I think if we can go rebound the ball the way we need to rebound, then we will have a lot of big green lines out there.” 
On freshman getting out there for the first time and assessing them… 
“You know, it was funny, I think a lot of people were a little anxious and I thought you could see that from the entire team, even some of our returners. The first game gives you a little jitter sometimes. It’s why you do this. It’s why you have an exhibition game but for them, they love playing. They are so competitive. Our freshman, Edie (Darby) and Justine (Pissott) are just uber competitive so them getting out there, getting an opportunity to knock down open shots, they were excited, and their teammates were excited for them.”
On playing every active player on the roster today and excitement of the team depth… 
“Well, our depth is our strength, we know that. Game to game I don’t know what that is going to look like. Going into this game, the minutes were scripted out. I knew how many minutes we were going to play each player. I think the only deviation we had was Jordan Horston. I had her down for a few more minutes but she was pretty productive with 12 so we stopped there. It got a little choppy at times in terms of our substitutions and who we were playing with, but we wanted to make sure everybody was getting a certain number of minutes so the next time out, they feel comfortable. Each game it may be somebody different step up. It won’t be predetermined moving forward.” 
On if they will look at the eight made threes by Carson-Newman and how they were able to get opening looks… 
“Well, I think, not necessarily just the threes, I thought they had too many open shots period. That was probably the biggest disappointment from the game. I understand they are very disciplined, and they can shoot the basketball, but we don’t want to give up so many open looks. That’s where we’ve got to be a little bit better. They shot 39 percent from the field, and I think for us that was a little bit high for what we wanted to see. We will make some adjustments this week. We will work on some things defensively, so we are better going into our first game.” 
On the slow start defensively…
“I think a lot of that had to do with first time out playing. The game was going pretty quick so there wasn’t a lot of time for our players to think, they were just playing. We haven’t completely developed the right habits yet. The more the game went on, the better I thought we got in terms of what we were trying to do defensively and there was a better understanding. We’ll get it on film, they’ll get to see exactly what I was talking about and we’ll correct some things and be better later on this week.”
 On Rickea Jackson
“I’m glad she’s on our team. She’s difficult to guard. You have to have great size, athleticism, strength, savvy and toughness to guard her. The really cool thing is if you do happen to have that, we have more players that can make plays as well, I think she requires so much attention and it’s going to get some other people open. She’s explosive, that’s nothing new. That’s everything we’ve been seeing in practice every single day.
On Sarah Puckett’s three-point shooting…
“She shot a lot of threes this summer and this fall. I think the biggest thing right now is she’s confident. She’s not hesitating, she knows she’s going to shoot it if she’s open and it looks great, and right now she’s another one, when she shoots, you feel like it’s going in. I thought she did a lot of good things, especially on the offensive end. 
On the momentum coming into this season…
“I think we have momentum at this point. I think our players are excited about the opportunity in front of us, but also understand it’s got to be next game mentality. You really got to lock-in and concentrate and focus on what you need to do each day, because if you start thinking about where you can go and what you can do, you start skipping steps, and then you don’t get there. So for us we’ve got to come out of this, we’ve got to watch film, break it down, get better and go up to Ohio State and be the best basketball team that we can be against them. Every day if you’re finding ways to get better and are trying to be the best version of you, individually and as a team, everything else takes care of itself. I think our veterans understand that and hopefully, that’s our team’s mentality. Sometimes you don’t know until you’re right in the middle of it. We’ll find out. 
On sharing the ball…
“I think we had several possessions where we shared the basketball, where we moved the basketball. Obviously making shots helps those assists, but I thought we were looking for each other. We were aggressive, we played downhill, so a lot of things went right offensively. We were really low turnovers in the first half, had a few more in the second, but I think when you’re looking at 25 assists, you’re walking out feeling good about sharing the basketball. That’s important. 
On the newcomers Jasmine FranklinJasmine Powell and Jillian Hollingshead
“Jasmin Franklin is obviously very experienced. Her work on the boards today is what we expect from her. She wasn’t able to get as many opportunities to score, but did her job on the boards. That’s important. She’s also really good defensively, and I think we are going to be able to continue to see that moving forward. Jasmine Powell is tough. She sees the floor, she’s been high assist, she shoots the ball well. She’s been practicing very good and we are excited about how she makes her teammates better. You put her on a team and her teammates play well and I think that’s a tribute to her and how she plays. Jillian Hollingshead has had some terrific practices. This one today wasn’t her best day, but I have no concerns about who she is and what she’s going to be able to do for us. I mean she can play a lot of positions for us, and you know, I am so excited about her and what she’s going to be able to do.”

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Howard Megdal

Howard is the founder of The Next and editor-in-chief.