month after beating West Indies. South Afric

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In a 20th anniversary WNBA season marked by so much reflection, Los Angeles Sparks general manager Penny Toler was asked repeatedly to recount how she scored the first basket in league history in 1997.But she figures shell be talking for many more years about the shot that ended the 2016 season: Nneka Ogwumikes putback with 3.1 seconds left last Thursday that gave the Sparks a 77-76 victory over the Minnesota Lynx and a 3-2 series triumph in the WNBA Finals.After that game, the Sparks giddily posed for photos at Target Center in Minneapolis. Toler watched all that, smiling, and later stood outside the teams bus saying she was so happy I dont know what to do now.Ive watched this team struggle and get to where it is, said Toler, who has been in her role since 2000. I can honestly say Ive never been so proud in my life of a group of players.It was, of course, a very different story down a long hallway to the Minnesota locker room, where the Lynx quietly answered questions about a painful loss. And coach Cheryl Reeve not so quietly called out the officials for mistakes made in Games 4 and 5 -- formally acknowledged by the league the day after both games -- while also trying to properly credit the Sparks.Thus concluded a season that showcased the talent of the league, some of the issues it faces, the social consciousness of players, a new playoff system that for the most part was well-received, a first-year president trying to establish her authority, and some poignant goodbyes from beloved players.MVP and a title, tooWhat a big year for Ogwumike. She was the leagues MVP, won the WNBA championship, and moved up from vice president to president of the players union executive council.Ogwumike, 26, is just entering her professional peak years. Her efficiency was epic in 2016 -- shooting 66.5 percent from the field in the regular season, 62.5 in the playoffs -- and she and the Sparks have a lot to look forward to.Consider this, too, in regard to the leagues talent. From 2000-07, all eight MVP awards were won by three players: Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes and Lauren Jackson. In the nine seasons since, eight different players have won the honor. Ogwumikes teammate, Candace Parker, is the only person to win twice during that stretch.Neither Parker nor Ogwumike were on the U.S. Olympic team in Rio de Janeiro. The fact that Parker, a two-time Olympian, wasnt selected stirred some controversy. But Ogwumike also was a difficult omission -- explainable only because the Americans are so rich in talent, they can leave home two players whod be the best on any other team -- yet still win gold.Parker being left off the all-WNBA first and second teams reflected a similar logjam of great post players, but also the leagues misguided insistence on trying to have a set number of guards, centers and forwards on the teams -- rather than just the 10 best players, regardless of position.In the end, Parker was the one posing with the WNBA championship trophy and the WNBA Finals MVP award. So its fair to say she stated her case and then some.This season was a big step in Ogwumikes evolution as a superstar on court, but also in terms of her presence in league leadership. Same with her sister, Connecticut Sun forward Chiney Ogwumike, who is now vice president of the executive council.Its always easy to have something to say, but not do anything about it, Nneka said of concerns that players have. I think getting involved is whats necessary. But not just those who are elected. The voices that also matter are ones that arent holding any office.I hope Im good at communicating to people in a way that they can really hear things. And I think the group that we have can reach out to a lot of different people.The new guard follows the old guardThat Ogwumikes high-level involvement in the union comes when both are in their mid-20s is important, because the league saw the departure of players who have been carrying the leadership torch a long time.Indianas Tamika Catchings, who had been president since 2004, and council member Swin Cash of New York were among the big-name players who retired this year. As did Australias Penny Taylor (Phoenix) and Lauren Jackson (Seattle), although the latter had not played in the WNBA since 2012.DeLisha Milton-Jones, who finished her career in 2015 as the all-time leader in WNBA games played (499), hoped to have a chance to compete in 2016. But it didnt happen, so she officially retired, too.There were also key hellos, including to rookie of the year Breanna Stewart of Seattle. She hit the ground running and never stopped, following her four NCAA titles at UConn with an immediate impact on the WNBA.Stewart made it pretty clear theres an MVP award (or more) in her future. Stewart also helped Seattle get back into the postseason after a two-year absence, but the Storms stay was brief. Such is a reality of the new playoff format.Adding in one-and-doneThe postseason changes seemed to go over well for the most part -- especially the move to do away with conference affiliation and seed the top eight teams by record.Less popular, though, were the single-elimination games in the first two rounds. Some loved the NCAA tournament-like drama of that, but others felt like it was too brief. For instance, on the first night of the postseason, both Stewart and the Storm and Catchings and the Fever were eliminated. The playoffs then lasted another month.I do think the best two teams got into the Finals, which is the goal, Sparks coach Brian Agler said. The one-and-dones are difficult, because in pro sports youre used to playing more games and have a little more room for error. But I think that was done more for TV purposes.If I was going to make one change, it would be Round 2: When the third and fourth seeds play, have it be best-of-three.Agler said it seemed unfortunate that this years No. 3 seed, New York, ended up with single-elimination game against a No. 8 seed like Phoenix. The Mercury were up and down all year. But when they were up, they definitely didnt play like the lowest seed in the field. They knocked off No. 5 Indiana and New York before being swept in the semifinals by Minnesota.The semifinals were changed to a best-of-five series, and the top two seeds automatically advanced to that round. Agler liked that because, he said, allowing the Nos. 1 and 2 teams time to rest and recover was a fair reward for their regular-season success.The down side that some see, though, is that the top teams are out of the spotlight for the first week and a half of the playoffs.It was probably a little too long, but we figured it out, Reeve said of Minnesotas 10 days between games. I do like longer series, so I liked that they expanded the semifinals.Evaluation and a look aheadThe league had some controversy. Many players supported the Black Lives Matter movement and made protests during the national anthem. At one point, several players were fined for not wearing official warm-ups -- opting for all-black shirts instead -- though the fines were later rescinded.Lisa Borders, who took over as WNBA president this season from Laurel Richie, walked a tricky line between supporting the players right to free expression but also trying to establish an authority in regard to things such as uniforms -- which is something, because of sponsorship deals, professional sports teams take seriously.Unlike Richie, who was entirely new not just to the WNBA but womens basketball, Borders had a connection to the league through her support of the Atlanta franchise. Borders communications with the media about the league werent necessarily that different, though, than Richies were.Borders stayed on point with celebrating the leagues 20th anniversary and maintaining an optimistic overall message. She lauded the offensive uptick, in particular, as the league scoring average of 81.9 was the highest ever, as was the average team field goal percentage of 44.1.So fundamentally, the game is stronger than its ever been, Borders said.However, the issue of two officiating mistakes in the WNBA Finals -- a missed backcourt violation in Game 4 and a missed shot-clock violation in Game 5 -- pointed out an issue that tends to be discussed a lot by players, coaches and fans: the consistency and quality of officiating.This isnt occurring in a vacuum: The increased scrutiny on officiating has been across the board in all sports. But especially with late-game miscues in the two biggest contests of the year, the WNBA has to try to address why these things happened and how best to prevent them going forward.Borders also will have a change among her inner circle as Renee Brown, who has been with the WNBA since its inception, is stepping down as chief of basketball operations and player relations. Perhaps her replacement will be quickly tackling the officiating issues.Overall, the 2016 season will most be remembered for how it ended: With a thrilling WNBA Finals in which the leagues top two teams alternated victories. That showed just how competitive a matchup it was.The Lynx had their best regular-season record, 28-6, and were trying to win their fourth championship. That would have tied the now-defunct Houston Comets. Instead, the Sparks got their third, tying them with Minnesota and Phoenix -- which were the two teams most people had picked to win the title before the season started.But it went to the Sparks, who did it the hard way -- winning twice on Minnesotas home court.This league means everything to me, Toler said. And this was an epic Finals, especially [the last game]. I guarantee this will be a game Ill be talking about 20 years from now. I think we all will. Joshua Frazier Jersey .ca! 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Australia women 1 for 174 (Lanning 80*, Bolton 77*) beat South Africa women 8 for 173 (Lee 102, du Preez 36, Harris 3-31) by nine wicketsScorecard and ball-by-ball details Nicole Bolton and Meg Lanning scored unbeaten fifties to put on an unbroken 161-run stand for the second wicket to lead Australia to a nine-wicket win over South Africa in Sydney. The win handed Australia a 3-0 series victory with two matches still to be played.A rain delay meant the match was reduced to 32 overs after South Africa opted to bat. The visitors lost Suné Luus and Dinesha Devnarain early but opener Lizelle Lee and Mignon du Preez joined forces in the ninth over and put on 110 off 104 deliveries to put South Africa in a strong position. Lee dominated the partnership - which ended with du Preezs dismissal for 36 - and eventually went on to score her maiden ODI century. However, she could not prevent a South Africa collapse - they slipped from 143 for 2 in the 26th over to finishing on 173 for 8 as no other batsman reached double-figures. Medium-pacer Grace Harris (3 for 31) took two of those wickets, while three batsmen were run out.Australiass chase began with the early loss of opener Elyse Villani (13) in the first over, but South Africa had no further success.dddddddddddd Lanning - who had put on a record 224 with Ellyse Perry in the second ODI with her ninth century - took charge of yet another partnership, scoring a 75-ball 80, while Bolton scored her first fifty of the series and sixth overall, with an 83-ball 77. Their partnership took Australia past the target with 4.5 overs to spare.This was the last match of the ICC Womens Championship, which Australia had already won last month after beating West Indies. South Africa, who had a shot at automatic qualification for next years World Cup at the beginning of this series, finished sixth and will have another shot at qualification along with India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Scotland, Thailand and Zimbabwe in the qualifying tournament early next year in Sri Lanka. England, New Zealand and West Indies sealed the other automatic qualification spots. Wholesale Jerseys 2019 Cheap Jerseys 2020 Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys Free Shipping Cheap Jerseys China Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys ' ' '

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