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  • Ruth Riley
    Center, Detroit Shock
    The Detroit Shock's Ruth Riley has had quite an eventful last three years. In 2001, the Indiana native was named the Naismith Award winner and led Notre Dame to its first NCAA Championship in women's basketball. After being drafted in the first round by the Miami Sol, Riley found her way to the Detroit Shock in her third WNBA season. In her first Motor City season, Riley helped the Shock go from the worst record in the league to winning the WNBA title in one season. In Game 3 of the WNBA Finals, Riley scored 27 points en route to earning WNBA Finals MVP honors.

    The NBA Finals Edition
    Coming to you from the soon-to-be Four Championship Drive
    As a proud athlete in the city of Detroit, I must dedicate this article to our male counterparts at the Palace of Auburn Hills -Congrats Pistons!!! Every championship has it's own unique story of how the pieces all fell together. As a former Bad Boy with championship experience, Pistons G.M. Joe Dumars knew the formula for success. He started the process by bringing in Coach Brown and finished it with the big addition of Rasheed Wallace during the season. The post-Rasheed Wallace Pistons found their chemistry and identity in the later part of the regular season.

    Eastern conference championship: From the must-win road games to the guaranteed win to the Rip/Reggie show-off, the eastern conference title was an exciting step along the journey. After the Indiana series, the celebration was short-lived in Detroit. The guys had their first day off in almost 4 weeks, and then headed back to the gym to get ready for L.A. As I watched their first practice in preparation for the Lakers (thanks, Coach Brown) one thing was very evident. They were neither content nor ready to stop and celebrate. They were confident in the task that laid ahead of them, they had faith in the system and structure of their team and were ready and willing to face the challenge.

    The Pistons won in a way that truly embodies the spirit of Detroit, and the people really rallied around that. Winning Game 1 and almost pulling off Game 2 in Los Angeles led to a much anticipated Game 3 at the Palace. And the crowd was not disappointed. Since we were in town for Games 4 & 5, we were able to witness, first hand, the electric atmosphere of the crowds there. There was an aura of pride and confidence coming from the fans as they were able to identify with the teamwork and determination that the Pistons displayed on the court.

    It wasn't just the fact the Detroit won another title, it was the commanding way in which they did it: winning 4-1 in truly a team effort. Every time the Pistons needed someone to step up, they were ready to meet the challenge. Chauncey Billups and Tayshaun Prince rose to the next level of stardom, Corliss Williamson was ready when his number was called and Mike James came in when they needed a spark. The entire bench was utilized throughout the playoffs, which is something you don't see often in professional athletics.

    So was it unexpected? I guess that depends on who you are and what you were expecting. To the Pistons and the people of Detroit, it was not a surprise. It was exactly what they expected. So Congrats, Mr. Davidson, for sweeping the three titles this year. Congrats to Joe Dumars, Tom Wilson and the Pistons organization. Congrats Coach Brown for getting your first NBA title. Congrats to the Piston players. There is no doubt that hard work pays off. Lastly, congrats to the city of Detroit. As a proud athlete in the city, we love your support!!!
    Posted by Ruth Riley - Jun 18 2004 11:05AM

    Basketball and Patriotism
    Two very patriotic events have happened recently that I wanted to write about and share with you. The first is our team's trip to the White House last week. Now I have been very blessed in my basketball career because I have recently returned from my second team trip to the White House (the first was with Notre Dame in 2001) and I must say the Bush Administration has been good to me.

    The trip was relatively quick, but very memorable. We were able to take a brief tour of the White House, followed by a reception, and then it was off to the Rose Garden for the ceremony. I have to say that my favorite part of the trip was when President Bush took us back to the Oval Office, where we were able to really meet him away from the cameras and media. It was amazing to think about the discussions and decisions that have taken place in that room, all of which have shaped the history of our country in some way or another. Of course, the day would not have been complete without leaving behind a personalized Shock jersey for the President. Now, Mr. Bush can take down all those UCONN jerseys and put the Shock jersey right next to his favorite Notre Dame jersey. Then his basketball collection will be complete.

    My second patriotic topic is a little more serious. You may have read the story about a teammate of mine at Notre Dame, Danielle Green, who recently lost her arm in a bombing in Iraq. As athletes, we are often labeled as pampered and maybe even a bit spoiled, but most of us are guilty of taking for granted many of the freedoms that our country was founded on and that we enjoy today. Now I realize that there are a lot of different opinions out there about the political and military choices our country has made of late, but because of our freedoms, we are entitled to those opinions. So I simply want to say thank you. Thank you to Danielle as well as all of the other men and women who are willing to risk their lives as they represent our country. My prayers go out to you and your families!!

    God bless,
    Posted by Ruth Riley - Jun 3 2004 12:31PM

    WNBA's First International Game
    Going international is one more step on the ladder of progress for the WNBA and women's basketball. We (the Detroit Shock) have recently returned from our first preseason game against San Antonio. There was no home-court advatange in this game, as it took place across the border ? the Mexican border, that is. In a brand new arena, Monterrey, Mexico hosted the first WNBA game outside of the United States, and did so with a very receptive audience.

    As a player, it is exciting to see and be a part of the expansion of my sport. In a country where futbol, or soccer as we know it, is the dominant sport, it was encouraging to see an arena full of anxious and excited fans for a women's basketball game. At a meet-and-greet event at the U.S. Embassy, I was able to talk with some girls from the local women's teams in Monterrey. Much like the United States, women's basketball is growing and gaining momentum every year. There are developmental leagues and programs in Mexico that allow girls to start playing at a young age. Many of the girls I met were very familiar with the players from both WNBA teams, which is a testament of the growing global coverage of the WNBA. This preseason game was not only a preview of both teams for the upcoming season, it was also a glimpse of how far the WNBA has come and what the future might hold.
    Posted by Ruth Riley - May 10 2004 10:46AM

    My European Trip
    Ruth joined the U.S. National Team for an undefeated six-game tour through Europe in late March. Here, she recounts her trip.

    Hey y'all!! Swin (Cash) and I met up with some of the other USA players in New York before heading over to E.P.'s (Elaine Powell's) second home this year -- Poland. We played our first game against the Polish National Team (which of course E.P. did not play on). The next day we played the club team that boasts Chasity Melvin and Margo Dydek along with E.P.

    I must tell this story about the game. I ran a high pick and roll with our point guard -- it's a play we also run in Detroit, so when I got the ball, Elaine knew I was probably going to shoot it. She came flying out of nowhere; I've never seen her jump so high to try to block my shot -- which only ended up in a foul on her part -- but it was slightly amusing to me :-)

    The highlight of the Polish trip was going to TGI Friday's after the game and laughing over some of our favorite stories from last season.

    After we left one Shock player in Poland, we were joined by Deanna (Nolan) in Frankfurt, Germany, on our way to the Czech Republic. If you can't tell by our chemistry on the court, we are a really close group on and off the court. Being with some of our teammates made the trip even more exciting. One of the simple thrills of the trip is finding a McDonald's nearby -- it kind of makes you feel like you are at home for a second.

    Overall, the trip was successful. We ended up with an undefeated record. We played 6 games in 3 different countries, all in 14 days. It is such an honor to be able to go overseas and represent your country. These trips are always fun, because they allow you to get to know the other players in the league that you normally only play against.

    It's great to be back home. This offseason has really flown by, before you know it we will all be back in Detroit preparing for another great season!! We thank you all for the support you have shown the Shock, and can't wait to see the Palace rockin' this year. Don't forget to buy your season tickets, because this year is going to be a great one!!

    God bless,
    Posted by Ruth Riley - Apr 22 2004 8:42PM