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Got a lovely email, which led to this delightful discovery:  Clarissa Atkinson blog post about the old “girls’ rules” for women’s basketball – entitled “Crossing the Center Line: Girls’ Rules to Girls Rule.”

The author, in her varsity uniform, circa 1950

Back around the middle of the twentieth century, when I played high school basketball, we were not allowed to cross the center line. There were six girls on a team, three forwards and three guards, all rooted in their own half of the court. Guards never took a shot – they couldn’t. They struggled to get the ball from the opposing forwards, then threw it across the line to their own forwards, who got the glory, what there was of it. We were not allowed to dribble – one bounce, that’s all you got – and there was no such thing as a point guard. I went to a small girls’ school with a tradition of (relatively) serious attention to sports: our basketball rivalry with a neighboring school dated all the way back to 1901. But we played by girls’ rules, of course; nobody crossed the center line until 1971, just before Title IX, when all the rules changed.

I’ve often thought that “Crossing the Center Line” would be a fine title for a memoir for someone who came of age in the 1950s and lived through second-wave feminism in the 70s. In adolescence and beyond, we lived by girls’ rules. Like most people in those days, born too soon for the “Question Authority”t-shirt, we pretty much accepted the rules that were handed down.

Gives me a chance to relate a conversation I had with my mom a while back. She turned 81 last July, and was/is a beautiful athlete. Field Hockey, softball, tennis… whatever she laid her hand to, she was good at. (Long-time readers this blog may remember that her mom and her aunt (Louise and Nancy Van Voorhees) were part of a group of women who traveled to the Aug. 20, 1922, competition at Pershing Stadium in Paris: The first international track meet for women.)

Anyhow, as I started putting together my basketball timeline back in 2004 and began learning about the history of women’s athletics, I remember asking mom about what kind of sports she played in college (she studied voice at Vassar). What she described were the “Play Days” that were inserted in many colleges to replace intercollegiate competitions. Women within (or without) the schools would gather and form teams. If one team seemed to be wining too much, it was disbanded and new teams were formed. Said my mom, “I remember feeling vaguely disappointed that we didn’t have varsity sports.”

Like Ms. Atkinson, mom accepted the rules as they were. Luckily, in other areas, she has not — and I’m the better for it.

Aetna And Travelers Go Back In Time To Play Women’s Basketball Game

Travelers had a successful team — the “Tower Five” — first, starting in 1921. The 1921-22 team went 20-2 and outscored its opponents, 469-180. According to Bermel, the people from Travelers encouraged Aetna to start a team in 1923. Adrian Brennan, who worked at Aetna, was the coach.

Over the next decade, the Aetna girls — the “Crimson Tide,” who were also known as the “hotsy-totsy girls from Hartford” in the New York press — won 111 of 133 games. They played in (and won) the first women’s basketball game at Madison Square Garden in 1928. Dr. James Naismith traveled from Springfield to watch them play.

Glad to see this. I uncovered some of the Aetna photos on their website back in the day when I put together the (now out of date) women’s basketball timeline, but they disappeared. Even reached out to Aetna – confusing the heck out of some folks – but to no avail.

In the Bayou, LSU women’s basketball striving to cultivate new leaders

Last year, seniors Jeanne Kenney, Shanece McKinney and Theresa Plaisance led the LSU women’s basketball team on both ends of the floor.

Coming into this season, the Lady Tigers are looking for ways to replace the production of these players by adapting to a style of play that fits the current roster and their leadership.

From the Big 12: 

Each of the last two seasons, Sherri Coale’s challenge was finding enough healthy players to practice. Two years ago, Coale had to borrow two players from the volleyball team.

This season, the Sooners have a full 15-player roster.

“I love the fact that my gym is crowded and I want it to stay crowded,” Coale said Thursday during the Big 12 Women’s Basketball Tour visit. “We have a lot of options. The question is who will be our starting five. I have no idea and that’s a fantastic problem to have.”

Nearby at Oklahoma State

Point Guard University has a new player ready to continue the tradition.

Andrea Riley, who was the Big 12’s career scoring leader before behind dethroned by Brittney Griner, started Oklahoma State’s run of outstanding guards in 2006.

Tiffany Bias then took over and helped the Cowgirls with an all-around game that last season produced 13.9 points, 6.2 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Her career ended with Oklahoma State’s loss to Notre Dame in the Sweet 16.

Next up? Sophomore Roshunda Johnson.

Speaking of the Big 12: Cindy Brunson provides an in-depth 2014-15 preview

Speaking of the other 12, from Sue: Pac-12 preview: Stanford University

The biggest mystery in the Pac-12 going into the season is what Stanford will look like this year. Conference coaches picked the Cardinal to win the conference again, but the fact is that no one will know for sure until they step on to the court.

For starters, Stanford is Ogwumike-less for the first time in six years, with the graduation of Chiney Ogwumike last spring. Not only did the sisters lead the team statistically, but they carried it and kept the Cardinal relevant for the past three seasons.

From Connecticut: UHart women’s basketball adds 6 year old team member

The University of Hartford’s Women’s basketball team has a new team member that will never see a minute of action, but the impact she will make is immeasurable. Six year old Zoe Brown, who suffers from a rare immune system disease Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome, is the newest Hawk, thanks to the program Team Impact that pairs youth with life threatening illnesses with college and pro sports teams.

Well, this is unpleasant: Army used alcohol-fueled party, cheerleaders to woo recruits

The Colorado Springs Gazette reported Saturday that U.S. Military Academy documents show that the Army football program wooed recruits with an alcohol-fueled bus party, small amounts of booster cash, and dates with cheerleaders and female athletes.

Per the Gazette, the academy “acknowledged the misconduct” and admitted 20 cadets had been disciplined with two officers and two Army coaches facing reprimands. The academy also self-reported a recruiting violation to the NCAA.

Speaking of unpleasant. From EDD: No One Should Have to Go Through the Bullying That I Did

No one should ever experience being bullied. It’s a cowardly action that unfortunately occurs all too often in our schools. According to the National Education Association, it is estimated that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. I was one of those students being bullied. I would hear constant comments and snickers from students about my height. “Hey, you are taller than my dad and all dads! You are taller than the rest. Why are you so tall? Why aren’t you normal?” Those comments bothered me, made me feel small — made me wonder why I was different than everyone else. Why I was the one being picked on.

unless, of course, I can’t get out of the bloody office…

The U.S. women play Mexico in the CONCACAF semifinals at 7:30 p.m. ET Friday. From Graham: MIDFIELDERS HOLIDAY, LLOYD AND RAPINOE ARE THE KEY TO USWNT SUCCESS

As much as it brings on shuddering memories of ninth grade geometry lessons, any soccer field is as much an homage to Euclid as Pele or Mia Hamm. One large rectangle to begin with, the field is further subdivided into smaller and smaller rectangles — a 6-yard box within an 18-yard box that rests within each half of the field. The goal frame adds its element of perpendicularity. A circle, with its painted diameter right out of a textbook, sits in the middle of the field.

And if the United States is to end a World Cup drought that stretches back more than 15 years to a sun-drenched day in the Rose Bowl, the triangle might be the shape that matters most. Its lines invisible as it shifts, sometimes obtuse, other times acute, it is the product of points occupied by Lauren Holiday, Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe.

It might not be a right triangle, but it needs to be the correct one next summer.

The Irish are smiling: Notre Dame popular pick at ACC women’s basketball media day

Notre Dame didn’t lose a conference game in its first season in the ACC, and if prognosticators at the conference women’s basketball media day are right, there aren’t going to be many losses this time, either.

For the first time in about six seasons, Duke won’t be picked by many to play in the Final Four in women’s basketball.

And while veteran coach Joanne P. McCallie says she would rather be the ACC’s “top dog,” coaching a team that’s not under such pressure should be a lot of fun.

Duke had its annual preseason media day on Wednesday next to Cameron Indoor Stadium, and the most striking thing about it was the dearth of familiar faces.

When it comes to her team this year, four things stand out to Sylvia Hatchell.“We have leadership, we’ve got experience, we’ve got depth, and great chemistry,” the Hall of Fame coach told reporters Wednesday morning at ACC Women’s Basketball Media Day in Greensboro.

Three Pac-12 women’s basketball teams earned first-place votes in the preseason coaches’ poll, but despite some major changes upcoming, the Stanford Cardinal was voted the favorite for the 15th year in a row.
They won’t have to face 6’9″ Golden Bear: Savanna Trapp Out Indefinitely

Cynthia Cooper-Dyke’s players seem to have an unparalled work ethic. During 2014-15 Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Media Day on Wednesday, what the USC Trojans head coach said of forward Alexyz Vaioletama’s summer made you believe it.

“I was mad at Alexyz,” Cooper said, half-joking. “She worked too hard over the summer.”

 Never let it be said that Cynthia Cooper-Dyke doesn’t know how to make an entrance into a room.

USC’s women’s basketball coach is by nature a noisemaker.

She entered the interview room at the Pac-12 headquarters Wednesday prepared to talk to the media about her Women of Troy and their preparations to start a new season and build on last season’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 2006.

But first, Cooper-Dyke had to take a selfie with senior forward Alexyz Vaioletama, trying to line up the media in the background for a group photo-bomb. At another point, she offered to sing a little something.

The other USC has huge expectations: South Carolina picked to repeat as Southeastern Conference women’s basketball champions

South Carolina coach Dawn Staley knows the work it took to reach the top of the Southeastern Conference. She understands it’ll be an even greater challenge for the defending SEC champs to stay there.

Gone are the days when everyone would pencil in Tennessee to dominate the SEC, win the league title and easily move on to the Final Four. While the Gamecocks were picked to repeat, Staley expects the defending champions to be challenged by a hungry, talented group of teams looking to finish on top.

Meh: Veteran Lady Vols shrug off No. 2 prediction

On a day promoting a big-picture view of women’s basketball, Isabelle Harrison set her sights on the finer details.

“We want to set goals for ourselves,” Tennessee’s senior center said. “We want to keep it small right now, little things that are going to add up in the end.”

Delle (Dunkin’) Donne might be gone, but that doesn’t mean the Blue Hens are down and out: Delaware Women’s Basketball Predicted to Finish Second in CAA.
They’ll have to get through the Dukes, though, if they want to get to the Dance, ’cause James Madison is Voted to Repeat as CAA Women’s Basketball Champions
Even without 6’9″ Craig, the Great Danes are still thought to be the top dog in the America East – but lookee at the #2 Seawolves!

In the Big West, CSUN is the Overwhelming Favorite For Women’s Hoops Crown

After sweeping last season’s regular season and Tournament titles, CSUN is the media favorite to take home the crown in the 2014-15 season. The Matadors gained 13 first place votes and 125 points overall for the first place nod. Hawai’i checked in behind the defending champions with 101 points and the remaining first place vote. Back-to-back Tournament finalist Cal Poly was third with 99 points, while UC Davis wrapped up the top half of the poll with 83 points for fourth place.

In the New Big East, DePaul is the top Demon.

So fun the first time, they’re looking to do it a second: North Dakota Picked First In Preseason Women’s Basketball Poll

North Dakota won its first Big Sky championship and earned its first berth in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament as a Division I school last season. The Green and White posted a 22-10 mark last season with a 15-5 record in the Big Sky. North Dakota earned the most points in both polls, pulling 115 points and seven first-place votes in the coaches’ poll while earning 147 points and eight-first place votes from the media. 

From the Green Wave: Tulane women’s basketball coach Lisa Stockton: ‘We want the NCAA Tournament

Tulane women’s basketball coach Lisa Stockton said expectations are high for a team that has won 20 games or more in five consecutive seasons.

And expectations should be high, especially considering Stockton returns 11 of 13 letter winners from a season ago and 97.9 percent of the team’s points and 98.7 percent of the team’s rebounds.

For the Terps, it looks like the top in the 10: Maryland women’s basketball favored to win Big Ten, which is a bit of A homecoming for Brenda Frese

 …the Terrapins’ debut season in the Big Ten is a homecoming of sorts for Frese, 44, who grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

“I know for me personally, being able to come back in the Big Ten, having grown up in Iowa and (knowing) the Big Ten Conference extremely well, having coached at Minnesota for a season, I can’t wait,” she said. “I can’t wait to be able to get back and play against the great competition.”

This is interesting, considering the hot water UNC is in (UNC report finds 18 years of academic fraud to keep athletes playing): Tying college coaches’ contracts to academic progress gets mixed reviews

A proposed policy that would require teams to reach academic benchmarks before their coaches and athletic directors can cash in on performance-based bonuses has drawn mixed reviews.

The University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents is expected to vote on the policy Friday during a meeting at Frostburg State. If passed, any new contracts signed by coaches and athletic directors at the system’s schools would include stipulations that require teams to meet a certain Academic Progress Rate for them to receive bonuses based on other incentive clauses in their contracts.

If you’ve followed the “your students do well or else you lose your job” policies in education, you’ll have read about the cheating scandals. So – does this push folks (should I put “Top 25 folks”?) to focus on academics or focus on finding a way around academics?

Is it too early to say “on the hot seat”? Badgers women’s basketball: Coach Bobbie Kelsey excited entering 4th season

Where others might see pressure, Bobbie Kelsey sees opportunity.

Kelsey, beginning her fourth season as the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball coach, is still in search of her first winning season and first postseason tournament bid.

And yah, it’s too early, but the rest of the b-ball world has already warmed his seat.. so Ex-ESPN analyst Dykes defends his hire at Arkansas

“I’ve never been a head coach, never pulled the trigger on the sidelines making the decisions with live ammo flying around us,” Dykes said. “But I’ve seen it, and I’ve been a teacher on the air. I’ve tried to teach the game of basketball. I think that’s why I rose up in the profession like I did as an analyst, because I think I was a pretty good communicator and teacher on my nightly broadcast.”

In Colorado, so far, so good:

Two weeks into preseason practice is far from a make-or-break point in any team’s season, but it does provide enough time for a coach to start getting a feel for her team. According to Colorado women’s basketball head coach Linda Lappe, what her team has showed thus far is encouraging.

What do you think?

“We get better every day and we’re progressing on a great path,” Lappe said after practice last Friday. “I’ve been really impressed by our freshmen and how they’ve been able to come in and learn the system, but also our veterans and how they’re leading.”

Oh, oh: Mosqueda-Lewis Working Hard To Prove Skeptics Wrong

…if the draft were held today it is likely the Seattle Storm, which owns the pick, would take her and team her with Sue Bird, the first overall pick of the 2002 draft. 

But there is work to be done. There are WNBA executives who doubt Mosqueda-Lewis has the speed and agility to get to the basket, to create her own shots and, more importantly, guard the swift perimeter players she will be assigned to at the next level.

“People tend to make a lot of general assumptions,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “I was probably the skinniest I’d ever been during my freshman year, but we didn’t win and I didn’t have my best season. 

Rebecca Lobo and Kevin Conners discuss the possibility of a 3-peat.

From Dishin & Swishin 10/23/14 Video & Podcast: Geno Auriemma on USA Basketball & coming back to UConn, Carol Callan on all things USA Basketball

NCAA regional tix are up for sale (PROMO CODE: NCAA ) Women’s Preliminary Round Tickets

What, too soon? What people are saying about some of the top 2015 WNBA Draft prospects

Shoni still doin’ the other thing she does so well:Local youth at Montana basketball clinic and  WNBA Shoni Schimmel visits Wagner School

It started in complete silence, and then slowly turned into a low rumble of anticipation and excitement. A highlight was being played on the big screen of the theater of Shoni Schimmel during one of her games as a professional Native American basketball player for the Atlanta Dream team.

Some say you should never meet your heroes because they never turn out to be who you think they are, but Schimmel has remained true to herself and to the people. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communications at Louisville, but she doesn’t just communicate with the people she meets, she connects.

From Swish Appeal: Eurobits: Meesseman, Montgomery off to Russia

WNBA players aren’t the only ones who go abroad: WNBA Coach of the Year Sandy Brondello to coach UMMC Yekaterinburg

OOOOO, History Alert! The Lancaster High School girls’ basketball team, 1919-1920

Ummm…we’ll do better next time: Sporting goods stores vow to get women in the game

When 12-year-old McKenna Peterson opened her new Dick’s Sporting Goods basketball catalog recently, the basketball player and superfan was frustrated to find a glaring misstep: The only girl in the catalog’s pages wasn’t playing basketball — she was sitting in the stands.

So McKenna began to type the company a fiery letter, not just praising her favorite female “dunking machines” but also tearing into the annoying imbalance the boy-heavy mailer seemed to represent. “It’s hard enough for girls to break through in this sport as it is,” she wrote, “without you guys excluding us from your catalog.”

McKenna’s letter didn’t just spark a public outcry and lead the corporate giant’s chief to apologize — it highlighted an unavoidable tension of the sporting goods industry: Girls and young women are one of its fastest-growing markets, and one of its most ignored.

Big shoes now empty: Girls basketball: Shabazz coach Vanessa Watson retires after 31 seasons

Vanessa Watson is truly going out on top.

After 720 career victories and six Tournament of Champions titles, including one in each of the last two seasons, Watson has retired from coaching girls basketball at Shabazz.

Watson finished her career with a 720-107 record, and she trailed only Pascack Valley’s Jeff Jasper 923 wins on the all-time list for New Jersey coaches. Watson led Shabazz to 10 state championships and six Tournament of Champions titles.

After 31 seasons on the bench at the Newark school, a combination of several things went into Watson’s decision to call 2013-14 her last season. 

It’s that amazing combination that can happen in sports: heart-breaking and heartwarming: Dying Mt. St. Joe’s player’s last game sells out

From the News & Observer’s Jane Stancill: Wainstein report says Jan Boxill, UNC faculty member, suggested grades for athletes in ‘paper’ classes

In one email exchange Wainstein uncovered, Deborah Crowder, the department secretary and mastermind of the scheme to set up the no-show classes, responded when Boxill forwarded a paper for a women’s basketball player in 2008.

“Did you say a D will do for (the basketball player)?” Crowder wrote to Boxill. “I’m only asking because 1. no sources, 2, it has absolutely nothing to do with the assignments for that class and 3. it seems to be a recycled paper. She took (another class) in spring of 2007 and that was likely for that class.”

According to the report, Boxill replied: “Yes, a D will be fine; that’s all she needs. I didn’t look at the paper but figured it was a recycled one as well, but I couldn’t figure out from where.”

This is the kind of news that really pisses off those of us who are trying to balance our love of education with our love of sports.

From Mechelle:

Was Laimbeer really given enough time in New York to replenish the roster and establish a playing identity that would hold up over the course of a season? I don’t think so, but maybe time wasn’t going to make a lot of difference. Perhaps the style that worked for Laimbeer in Detroit just isn’t viable now.

Or … maybe the Liberty needed to stay the course longer with Laimbeer and get help through a key free-agent signing or two, along with the talent-rich 2016 draft. It’s not as if any realistic projection of the 2015 Liberty — regardless of who was coaching — included title hopes.

From Mel, a little history lesson: Guru’s WNBA Musings: Another Blindside Hits the New York Liberty

Several WNBA types who were in Turkey for the recent world championship won by the pro stars of America under the USA Basketball banner had no idea, especially with front office executive Kristin Bernet among them.

When asked about Big Bad Bill’s whereabouts, she said he was fishing, which was not out of line from comments he made during his past two seasons.

Gotta say, I might have suggested the Lib should have secured my season ticket renewal before the move…

Speaking of ex-Libs: Hammon elected to Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2015

And other ex-Libs: Sun Devil WBB to Honor No. 32 Jersey of Hall of Famer Kym Hampton on Dec. 6

Hampton was the first ASU women’s basketball player to earn all-America honors (1981-1982). In addition to the aforementioned career scoring and rebounding records, Hampton set several other records, many of which still stand today, including: most career blocks (178), most points (683) and rebounds (413) in a season and most points (44), rebounds (28) and field goals (19 – tied) in a single game.

*all sing* Bye, Bye, Bad Boy

Bill Laimbeer let go by New York Liberty.

Why do I feel like this:

Gary-Larson-Aquarium-Fire