Breanna Stewart does that Breanna Stewart thing — Ariel Atkins talks USA Basketball role — Must-click women’s basketball links

The IX: Basketball Wednesday with Howard Megdal, August 4, 2021

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The unstoppable Breanna Stewart

If it weren’t so remarkable, it would be boring by now, this ability Breanna Stewart has to find another level when her teams need it the most. Not just for a single play, or a late rally.

She comes out in key moments, again and again, and stomps opponents before they have a chance to register an objection.

So it was on Tuesday or Wednesday (pick your time zone) against Australia, in a 79-55 win over an Australia team that defeated Team USA just a few weeks ago.

“It’s crunch time,” said Stewart after it was over. “It’s win or go home, and I think we’ve struggled a little bit with how we started in pool play games, and I wanted to make sure I came out aggressive on both ends of the court.”

She shot 8-for-10 from the field, 23 points in 23 minutes. But this only begins to capture her performance — a clear determination that this wasn’t going to be a close game. She added five rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal.

More to the point, she was everywhere, anticipating, deflecting, flying out at Australian shooters on one end, flashing to the open spaces on the other end. She had one turnover, total, for all her aggression. Team USA ran off 17 unanswered in the first, and by the end of the quarter, led 26-12. There simply wasn’t going to be a close game. Australia shot 30 percent for the game, and did so on contested shots all night.

I’ve said before, and I continue to believe, that we may be underappreciating Breanna Stewart, for all her championships and individual accomplishments, because she has the unfortunate habit of so thoroughly draining the will of her opponents early on that the opportunity to hit a late, highlight-reel shot to preserve a win simply doesn’t happen for her teams.

This is a feature, not a bug of her greatness. And now, she can do it two more times, and she’ll have herself another gold medal, all before turning 27.

This week in women’s basketball

Interesting look at the WNBA-Google partnership from the Google perspective.

Alexa Philippou has a fantastic story of Stefanie Dolson, gold medal winner.

Ariel Atkins discusses her Olympic experience.

Man, I thought they might too, Maitreyi.

Dawn Staley talks Olympic pressure with Sean Hurd.

I love this moving chart!

Bria Felicien on Lusia Harris’ first basket in the Olympics.

Updated Syracuse story from Dana O’Neil and Chantel Jennings. Do not miss.

Russ Steinberg talks Paige Bueckers and branding.

And Jane McManus is must-read on the NCAA report.

Five at The IX: Ariel Atkins

Ariel Atkins. (Screenshot via USA Basketball)

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 Sarah Kellam @sarahkellam, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By Jessica Taylor Price, @jesstaylorprice, Freelance Gymnastics Writer

Written by Howard Megdal

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