Dishin & Swishin in the year 2015: Looking back at the year in Women’s Basketball
As we say goodbye to another calendar year and make resolutions for 2016, it seems like a good time to look back at what made 2015 a great year for women’s basketball.
It was also the year that Dishin & Swishin was added to iTunes and several other podcast directories. Here is just some of what made 2015 a fun year of listening from Hoopfeed’s Dishin & Swishin podcasts.
January began with the Seattle Storm hiring a replacement coach for Brian Agler, who moved on to Los Angeles. Jenny Boucek was promoted from associate head coach to the top spot, and Dishin & Swishin was one of the first to talk to the new Storm coach about her vision of what the Storm could look like going forward.
As the NCAA season rolled on thought the winter months with Connecticut, Notre Dame, and South Carolina all rising to the top of the polls, one program determined to make life difficult for the poll voters and eventually the NCAA selection committee was Princeton. A dominant mid-major, the Tigers rolled through their opponents in their quest for an undefeated season. In February, coach Courtney Barnhart joined the podcast to discuss her team and their situation.
March madness is always a favorite and popular topic for the podcast, and ESPN bracketologist Charlie Creme makes his annual visit to discuss the selection process and go over what he sees in projecting the brackets. The roundtable NCAA preview broke down the actual brackets, and featured the Associated Press’ Doug Feinberg, ESPN’s LaChina Robinson and Debbie Antonelli, as well as Hall of Fame coach Lin Dunn, in two parts.
Put together a final four of UConn, Notre Dame, Maryland and South Carolina, add in legendary coach Doug Bruno, and what do you get? You get the most listened to podcast of the year! Bruno helped break down the final four and the results of the tournament to that point at the beginning of April, and you loved it. Thanks to coach Bruno and congratulations on being most listened to!
The Connecticut Huskies won their third straight NCAA tournament, and Dishin & Swishin put a wrap on the team and the season with Geno Auriemma’s former assistant coaches and current head coaches Jamelle Elliott and Tonya Cardoza, discussing what makes the UConn program different than others. It was the third most listened to podcast of the year.
The WNBA draft was right after the NCAA tournament, and the surprise entry of Jewell Loyd and Amanda Zahui B certainly added spice to a fairly lackluster draft. Connecticut Sun forward Chiney Ogwumike was the 2014 Rookie of the Year, and the always entertaining personality came on the podcast to discuss what draft day and the aftermath would be like for the newest members of the WNBA.
When we had friend of the podcast Stephanie White on the April 23rd podcast, she was ready to begin her first season as coach of the Indiana Fever. When White returned to the podcast on August 27, she had her team ready for a playoff run that culminated in an entertaining WNBA final series with Minnesota. Congratulations on a great season coach!
The WNBA season opened with an air of uncertainty. Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson gave the league headlines it did not want. The Liberty hired Isiah Thomas as team president with an offer of ownership, despite the outcome of legal actions in a sexual harassment case that involved the franchise’s ownership and former New York Knicks executive Anucha Brown, currently the NCAA’s vice president of women’s basketball championships. Players like Diana Taurasi, Candace Parker, Janel McCarville and Penny Taylor decided to sit out all or part of the season. Dishin & Swishin turned to the best in the business, Mechelle Voepel for a candid discussion on these topics.
Then WNBA president Laurel Richie returned to Dishin & Swishin in June to discuss the season to date, the hot-button issues described above and more. Thank you Richie for your support of the podcast during your term as league president and good luck in your future endeavors.
The WNBA season itself was loaded with great stories and the podcast covered them. Some of the topics included the rise of the Tulsa Shock including the first all-star appearance by long-time veteran Plenette Piersen. The Connecticut Sun, despite numerous injuries got off to a great start under coach Anne Donovan. Mike Thibault continued to groom the Washington Mystics into a playoff team, led by improving young players like Emma Meessemann and Stefanie Dolson. There was no clearcut rookie of the year candidate, and Jewell Loyd, Kiah Stokes, Dearica Hamby, and Natalie Achonwa all joined Dishin & Swishin on one podcast to discuss their rookie years.
Minnesota suffered injuries and roster changes, including acquiring Sylvia Fowles, but the one constant was the performance of Maya Moore, who again proved to be the best all-around player in the game. By the end of the season, we would be discussing if Cheryl Reeve is the greatest WNBA coach of all-time and if they Lynx are a dynasty as they won another WNBA title.
One of the best stories in the WNBA this season, and the guest on one of the most popular podcasts of the summer was that of Chicago Sky guard Jacki Gemelos. After five ACL surgeries, Gemelos earned her spot on the Sky roster, and players and fans of women’s basketball everywhere were thrilled. The story is just being written on Gemelos’ WNBA career, and we cannot wait to see the next chapter.
Dishin & Swishin began the transition to the 2015-16 NCAA women’s basketball season by catching up with some WNBA legends now in the coaching ranks.
First up was the coach at tiny Post University in Waterbury, Connecticut, Taj McWilliams-Franklin. It was a fascinating look at why a WNBA legend has interest in giving back to a small Division II school.
It was important to have Loyola coach Sheryl Swoopes on the podcast for two differing reasons. First, Swoopes is building a program at Loyola Chicago, and in fact the Ramblers just won bragging rights in the city by beating DePaul. However, it was also important to give Swoopes a forum to reply to an article on espnW where she had been, in her opinion, unfairly portrayed and misunderstood. Swoopes recently was announced as a candidate for induction into the Naismith Hall of Fame this year, where she will undoubtedly be placed alongside former teammate and legend Cynthia Cooper-Dyke.
Dawn Staley has turned South Carolina into not only a national power, but also a model of what a program can be. They lead in attendance, they play a difficult in and out of conference schedule, have players on all levels of USA Basketball, and are a legitimate national champion candidate. Staley is also the guest on the second most listened to Dishin & Swishin of the year, as those Gamecock fans turned to Hoopfeed in droves to hear their coach discuss the up coming season!
The transfer epidemic is a major issue in NCAA women’s basketball. Players are leaving schools after successful seasons, not just after sitting on the bench or coaching changes. Diamond DeShields, Lexie Brown, Kaela Davis, Linnae Harper are just a few of the players that have left major programs. In a fascinating look at the topic (and discussion of her own team), Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb appeared on the podcast at the beginning of November. It is a great listen for people interested in the coach and program side of the topic.
As the NCAA season unfolds, there are several programs that have been spotlighted on Dishin & Swishin that are “different” than the usual standard bearers of UConn, Notre Dame, and the rest.
Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff appeared on the podcast after starting their season with the most ambitious schedule you can imagine: opening with number two South Carolina before hosting number one Connecticut. Still ahead at the time were games against Notre Dame and Maryland, the rest of last year’s final four.
Fast starts propelled Tony Bozzella’s Seton Hall team and Katie Meier’s Miami (Florida) teams into the Top 25, and while they still have not cracked the charts, Kelly Graves and Oregon are still undefeated and increasing votes weekly.
How will the rest of the college season play out? It should be fun to watch and chronicle with podcasts!
To end the year, the Connecticut Sun brought focus back to the WNBA, and Dishin & Swishin is pleased to congratulate and welcome back to the podcast their new head coach, Curt Miller.
A very special thank you to you, our listeners and readers, for your support of Dishin & Swishin and Hoopfeed. Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year, and may all your teams be champions!