Saturday, August 30, 2008

One down, seven to go

After Minnesota's 92-78 victory Saturday over Washington, Lynx Coach Don Zierden was quick to give credit:

"I want to give our practice team a lot of credit," Zierden starts off. "We go against some athletic guys."

These eight guys: Greg Chassen, Kacey Keys, Eli Jermanous, George Dennis, Marcus Williams, along with Romone, Hans, and Joe, often are called in to provide live competition for the Lynx during practices. Using males as live scrimmage bodies is a common practice for women's college teams.

"Of our 15 practices (during the month-long Olympic break), we went against them nine times," continues the coach. "I want to credit them for how hard they pushed us, and credit our players for going against them. I think that made them better in helping them prepare for tonight."

"They really pushed us," Lynx guard Candice Wiggins says of the practice guys. "We were playing defense against them all the time."

Center Nicky Anosike adds, "The guys are bigger, stronger and faster. It really helps us as far as being able to play up to that level. Playing against them, then come into the game, it enables us to match (Washington's) physicality."

Definitely it showed throughout Saturday's contest that the guys toughened the Lynx up.

"Washington is a physical team, and I want to give my players a lot of credit," says Zierden.

Minnesota (14-13) got out in front 15-4 in the game's first five minutes, then hung on to a three-point lead at the end of the first quarter.

Then later, after a 28-28 tie, the Lynx again inched out front, mainly on the play of Vanessa Hayden-Johnson (three points), Wiggins (two points) and Charde Houston (four points) off the bench to give Minnesota a 46-38 halftime lead.

The Lynx never lost its advantage the rest of the game, but it finally took a 14-2 run midway through the final quarter to finally put to rest any notion that Washington (10-18) might had in getting back in the contest.

It was pretty, especially in the fourth quarter, when it seemed like a whistle was being blown every 10 seconds, but Minnesota notched a much-needed win to keep them in the playoff hunt.

"I knew there would be lapses tonight because we haven't played a game in over a month," continues Coach Z. "But I thought our energy and effort was pretty consistent."

"We kept our composure in the fourth quarter," says Lynx forward Seimone Augustus, whose two of her 12 points helped kick-start Minnesota's final scoring spurt.

Zierden was especially pleased with the performance of Hayden-Johnson, who finished with 11 points and nine rebounds. "She was really big tonight," says Zierden. "When she plays like that, she gives us a huge lift."

Says Hayden-Johnson, "I just wanted to help in any way that I could."

She and Wiggins (22 points) led the Lynx bench, which outscored Washington's 43-15. The team also held the Mystics to 41 percent shooting and under 80 points, along with finishing even on the boards (38 rebounds apiece). Every Minnesota player scored as well.

"There were some positives tonight," the coach surmises.

Now it's off on a road trip that either will make or break the Lynx's season, beginning Monday at Los Angeles, followed by stops at Phoenix (Sept. 3), Seattle (Sept. 6), and Sacramento (Sept. 7)

"This is where people are writing us off," believes Zierden. "These young players have fought (all season) and I am so proud of them. We are down to our last seven games -- last year at this time, we were looking at the draft -- and now we are in the playoff mix. We know it is going to be difficult going on the road, but I know one thing -- these young kids are going to compete."

Says Hayden-Johnson, one of only two Lynx players who have seen post-season play in a Minnesota uniform, "We can't depend on L.A. or (another) team to lose. We got to win and help ourselves out.

"We just got to get the job done," concludes Augustus matter-of-fact.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


This presidential campaign has gone on so long that we now must rely on airhead thoughts from movie stars and celebrities.

While watching the Olympic coverage on MSNBC, one of NBC's multiple channels covering the event, I saw a report on Angeline Jolie's voting preferences. That she hasn't decided which candidate she'll support -- Barack Obama or John McCann, because she is an independent.

In such a historical election, news media instead of speaking to common folk, gathering their opinion, or better yet, doing better coverage on issues rather than nonsense, we get to hear what political leanings an overexposed movie star (?) has.

Is America waiting breathlessly for which way Jolie is going to go? Has she suddenly becomes the swing vote this November?

Is this W.W.J.D. -- who will Jolie decides upon?

All summer long, we were needlessly treated to hourly updates on Jolie's pregnancy, who is just another single mother. But this same media that fawns over her, has no qualms jumping on a young woman who have multiple children out of wedlock.

While Russia continues to invade Georgia -- while the current U.S. president has the nerve to tell Putin to pull out, especially this coming from a man who invaded not one, but two countries, Keith Obermann spends last night talking about Jolie's potential presidential choice.

Fortunately, I had my mute button on, so I just got the visuals -- the usual red carpet scenes of Jolie and Brad Pitt, and didn't hear what Obermann had to say about it. It didn't matter because it was such a waste of time, I quickly switched to the mother channel (NBC) and continued watching something much more important -- men's gymnastics.

Is this D.A.C. -- does most Americans care what Jolie thinks who she wants for president?

I certainly don't.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A weekend of sadness

It has been a shocking weekend to say the least: Bernie Mac died Saturday morning at age 50, then Issac Hayes died Sunday at age 65.

Bernie Mac was not an overnight success, at least in the eyes of mainstream America. They knew him either from his television show or appearing in the two "Oceans" movies.

Issac Hayes reached mainstream America's consciousness after he won the 1971 Academy Award for best soundtrack. But he was more than the singer of "Shaft" or the voice of Chef in the obnoxious "South Park."

Black America knew both men, and knew them well.

Mac (1957-2008) accurately brought a slice of Black life to stage, screen and television. He closed "The Original Kings of Comedy" (2000), where he hilariously explained the difference between a noun and a verb. Another bit he did was the prelude to "The Bernie Mac Show," which aired from 2001 to 2006 on Fox, that featured him as an uncle raising his sister's three children. It won a Peabody Award in 2002. He was the rougher side of the Black father figure that Bill Cosby earlier protrayed on television, again showing that Blacks can be more than warm and fuzzy, yet caring.

Hayes (1942-2008) co-wrote "Soul Man" then embarked on a successful solo career, beginning with his 12-minute cover of "Walk On By," part of his four-song debut album, "Hot Buttered Soul" in which only one cut was shorter than five minutes. I discovered him back in the early 1970s on a now-defunct Detroit jazz station -- Hayes' songs were too long for the local AM Black stations at the time.

Hayes followed this classic with "The Issac Hayes Movement," another four-cut masterpiece, which featured a cover of the Beatles' "Something," and ". . . To Be Continued" before he released the "Shaft" soundtrack, when the rest of America finally discovered this man.

As great as these two men were, will they get the type of tributes they deserved.

Will Mac get the lengthy tributes that usually afforded White comedians when they leave for their eternal reward? Will Hayes be honored for his musical contributions as White musicians and singers do when they go?

The Clarence Thomas hearings sadly overshadowed Redd Foxx's passing.

More was said about Richard Pryor's use of profanity than his comedic genius -- it was just the opposite for George Carlin when he died earlier this summer.

Little was said about the late Robin Harris, who like Mac, also died suddenly and way too young. His "BeBe's Kids" told how unruly children can be without proper guidance and supervision.

Topper Carew's excellent documentary, "We Don't Die: We Multiply -- The Robin Harris Story" features Mac and other Black comics. It is a must-have DVD, and can be ordered on

Hayes, who was inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, was more than Shaft -- one of his best songs was "Part-Time Love" on his "Black Moses" double album. He also appeared in several movies, starring in "Truck Turner" and was a popular recurring character on "The Rockford Files," calling James Garner "Rockfish."

"Isaac Hayes is Memphis," Memphis TV reporter Kontji Anthony told CNN Sunday. He leaves to mourn and cherish his memories a wife and 12 children.

"My heart really goes out to his wife and (their child)," comic and friend Steve Harvey said on CNN. Mac married his high school sweetheart -- she, their daughter and their granddaughter are his survivors.

Mac and Hayes will be truly missed by White America, but Black America will miss them more because we knew them longer and best.