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And the children shall lead them…

Griner, Delle Donne, Diggins discuss sports and sexuality

SI Video host Maggie Gray: “Another big topic in sports recently is sexuality, especially with the NFL. In football it was rumored that maybe one or more players were going to come out–that would become huge news in the sports world and in general. In female sports, women’s sports, in the WNBA, players have already come out, and it’s really accepted. Why is there a difference between men and women in that issue?”

Brittney Griner: “I really couldn’t give an answer on why that’s so different. Being one that’s out, it’s just being who you are. Again, like I said, just be who you are. Don’t worry about what other people are going to say, because they’re always going to say something, but, if you’re just true to yourself, let that shine through. Don’t hide who you really are.”

Gray: “You’re in a different position where you’re not just a regular person, you’re a famous athlete, you’re the number one pick in the WNBA draft. How difficult was it for you to make the decision?”

Griner: “It really wasn’t too difficult, I wouldn’t say I was hiding or anything like that. I’ve always been open about who I am and my sexuality. So, it wasn’t hard at all. If I can show that I’m out and I’m fine and everything’s OK, then hopefully the younger generation will definitely feel the same way.”

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so I guess that means #1 Stanford didn’t go down to #4 Georgia, 61-59.

Chiney did everything she was supposed-expected to, but the rest of her teammates couldn’t make shots. It also hurt that Greenfield went to the bench with a sprained finger, but honestly, the loss wasn’t a HUGE surprise:

Somehow the shock of seeing Stanford’s run of five straight trips to the Final Four come to a premature end, didn’t carry the same sting.

Along with the sense of disappointment came perspective for what the top-seeded Cardinal accomplished.

“I think the reason that I’m not going ballistic right now is like we’re 33-3,” Stanford star Chiney Ogwumike said. “That was a huge achievement for our program.”

Still, it’s surprising that for the first time since 2007, Stanford won’t be playing for a spot in the Final Four.

That’s because Andy’s team did what it needed to do to advance to the Elite 8 for the first time since 2004.

“The senior class … this is our fourth NCAA tournament, and we have been to three Sweet 16s,” guard Jasmine James said. “So to finally make the next step and go to the Elite Eight and now to be going into another game to try to compete to go to the Final Four is definitely back to where Georgia basketball needs to be – trying to compete for a national champion

Smith also offered up some quick analysis of the game.

From Full Court: Jasmine James guides Bulldogs to upset of No. 1 seed Stanford

With her team clinging to a two-point lead with just 23 seconds to play, Georgia senior point guard Jasmine James headed to the foul line for two crucial free throws. Well, almost.

James cast a look to her left, toward the first rows of the stands, mere feet beyond the sideline.

There sat her parents — Greg and Janine — who’d flown almost six hours and endured a lengthy layover to watch their daughter in the regional semifinal against No. 1-seeded Stanford.

They will face the Cal Bears, who find themselves in their first Elite 8 after defeating the upstart Tigers.

The sum of LSU coach Nikki Caldwell’s fears about the Golden Bears came true in the game’s final 20 minutes. And as quick as you could say “transition basket,” the Lady Tigers’ season was over.

“We really tried to establish an inside attack and put the ball inside quite a bit,” Caldwell said. “I thought (Cal guard Brittany) Boyd really took it upon herself to push the tempo, which really got their transition game going. And that gave them some easier looks.”

Writes Elliott Almond:

This time Cal made its free throws, and the Golden Bears are headed into uncharted territory.

Second-seeded Cal broke open a close game in the final six minutes Saturday night in a 73-63 victory over Louisiana State to reach its first Elite Eight in school history in front of a crowd of 6,146 at Spokane Arena.

That Bay Area showdown local women’s basketball fans wanted? Not happening.

The Bears (31-3) will face Georgia on Monday after the Lady Bulldogs upset top-seeded Stanford in the other regional semifinal.

“We’re kind of in awe of this whole thing,” coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “We were us in the second half. I’m excited more people are seeing what I already know.”

Michelle Smith adds:

As Georgia celebrated its 61-59 upset of top-seeded Stanford, the chant began from the corner with the Georgia pep band.

“S-E-C, S-E-C.” Pretty soon, the LSU band, seated in the opposite corner of the gym, joined in.

But Cal spoiled the sing-a-long.

The Bears, willing to play as aggressively and as physically as any team in the SEC, completed the power shift in the Pac-12 on Saturday by defeating LSU 73-63 in the Spokane Regional nightcap, punching their ticket to their first Elite Eight.

So while Stanford, the team that has always stood in line in front of Cal, takes an early flight home Sunday morning, the Bears play on. How’s that for a changing of the guard?

I’m not quite buying the implications of the phrase “changing of the guard,” but the Pac12 sure has gotten more interesting.

Michelle offered up some instant analysis of the Stanford-Georiga game and the Cal-LSU game.

BTW, if you can get behind the pay wall, you  can read Ann Killion’s lovely piece:  Why Lindsay Gottlieb has Cal women’s hoops in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen Elite Eight 

Elena Delle Donne was magnificent against the Wildcats, and Martin’s adjustments in the second half — daring to go man-to-man, urging her players to crash the boards — almost got her Hens an enormous upset. But Delaware could quite get out of the hole they dug. Writes the News Journal’s Kevin Tresolini:

Down 14 at halftime Saturday, Delaware drew considerable confidence from what had become its not-so-secret weapon in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament – the second-half comeback.

Delaware had rallied from seven down at halftime against West Virginia and eight behind after 20 minutes against North Carolina at the Carpenter Center to win in the first two rounds.

“We wanted to go down with a fight if we were going to go down,” Elena Delle Donne said. “Even at half, we didn’t think we were going down.”

The Hens played better defense in the second half, but writes Fagan:

The pace was, in fact, brutal. Delaware was expending so much energy just getting the ball up the floor and getting a shot off without a turnover that little was left for other crucial things like closing out on outside shooters and boxing out on defense. Because of this, each time the Blue Hens pulled within striking distance — like late in the second half when they cut Kentucky’s lead to two — the Wildcats would fly down court and force a foul or whip the ball around and get an open look. Then they would set up their full-court press and make things difficult for Delaware, often forcing a turnover. (The Blue Hens turned over the ball 19 times.)

The key was that, when the rest of the Hens began to rise to the occasion, so did Kentucky’s “no-names.”  Especially Kastine Evans who nailed a killer 3-pointer with 2:21 remaining to all but seal the game.

“Kastine has no fear,” said Mathies. “She hustles on every play. We ran a play and the play is designed for anyone that gets open. She got open off the stagger screen and she made it. That shows how confident she is in herself and we’re glad she took the three and made it.”

Added coach Mitchell

“We’re extremely excited to win. We beat a very good team in Delaware. I’m so proud of our team, of finding a way to advance to the next round.”

Kentucky will face a familiar foe, and they think they might finally have enough to get past UConn

They will face Connecticut because, while Dolson gamely & gimpily fought to play 26 minutes and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scared the you-know-what outta UConn fans by going down with what looked to be an ankle injury (no, that wasn’t responsible for her going 1-6 from 3, her shot was off and rushed. “I guess it would have been worse if they were all air balls, said an honest KML), it was the freshmen (Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck combined for 35 points and one turnover) who stepped up to guide the Huskies to a 76-50 win over Maryland:
Jefferson, Stewart and Tuck did not consider themselves to be freshmen. They considered themselves as impact players. Their intentions were to come in and play a definitive role on a team with national championship aspirations.For months their plan did not completely come together. No matter how relentless UConn assistant coach Shea Ralph was with Jefferson or no matter how relentless associate head coach Chris Dailey and assistant coach Marisa Moseley were with Stewart and Tuck, there were questions whether they were getting through, whether the players were making any progress.

As it turns out, it was all a part of the process.

While the frosh finally “showed up”, UConn’s defense has been a consistent. Said coach Frese:

“I said the other day Connecticut can make really good teams look really bad, and that was on full display today. Obviously we really struggled against their defense. They made it very difficult. They were quicker to loose balls. I thought they were aggressive with their rebounding, but just disappointed overall in how we played.”

It’s likely the Huskies will have to lean heavily on their youngsters if they want to defeat Kentucky. That might be okay. Writes Mike DiMauro: Watch ‘Stewie’ and you see Elena

It was either fitting, or ironic, that two games ended with two standing ovations for two such similar players. Elena Delle Donne and Breanna Stewart. Except that maybe – probably, even – nobody in women’s basketball has them occupying the same airspace.

Delle Donne’s college career ended Saturday at Webster Bank Arena in the Sweet 16, succumbing to Kentucky and Kastine Evans’ killer three late in the game. When it ended, a UConn crowd gave Delle Donne a standing ovation, prompting a tweet from Elena after the game saluting UConn’s “classy fans.”

Stewart’s college career, meanwhile, accelerated into the passing lane a few hours later, helping the Huskies reach the Elite Eight for the eighth straight season. “Stewie,” as her teammates call her, was magnificent: 17 points, eight rebounds, a 3-pointer and four blocks.

From Mechelle: Win or lose, it really has all worked out

Let’s face it: Not many kids have the chance to play for UConn, which has won seven NCAA titles. Fewer still get that opportunity, then decide to walk away from it. Which Walker did, after appearing in 17 games for the Huskies in the 2010-11 season before transferring to Kentucky, and Delle Donne did after leaving Storrs before ever playing for them. 

But it has all worked out for Delle Donne, for Walker, for UConn and for women’s college hoops.

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I think Kate wins: Her quick hit on the Kentucky/Delaware game.

Doug a close second: His AP report.

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before I send mom to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and hop on the train to Bridgeport.

From Mel at Full Court: Delle Donne back in Husky territory for Sweet 16

The word “irony” is being tossed around a lot this week considering the impending close of the collegiate career of Delaware sensation Elena Delle Donne.

Soon after the sixth-seeded Blue Hens rallied from an early 10-point deficit in the second half Tuesday night to finish their 78-69 upset of third-seeded North Carolina (29-7), Delle Donne was asked if it was ironic that Delaware (32-3), in moving on to its first-ever Sweet 16 in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament this weekend, would be heading to the state of Connecticut.

Clay says All eyes on the Sweet 16 this Saturday and asks: Which top seed will stumble on Sunday

Sooner or later, one of the top seeds has to lose, right? Maybe two?

We’ve got another one for you here, but Baylor haters should stand down — the Bears are on their way to New Orleans.

Bloggin’ at espnW:

Baylor players Destiny Williams and Mariah Chandler look back at teammate Brittney Griner’s three dunks and ahead to the Sweet 16 and Louisville.

Delle Donne: Taking our fans on the road

What are the Top 10 Plays (so far)?

Did you see this? Seton Hall tabs Iona’s Bozzella as women’s hoops coach

How about this rumor: UAB’s Audra Smith to be Lady Tigers’ new head coach

Congrats! Robin Roberts to get ESPYS award (Pssst. Robin! The Final Four is in New Orleans. How ’bout “y’all come back, now”?)

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Not really a surprise: Kelly Harper out at North Carolina State.

From the Tulsa World’s Guerin Emig: OU’s Aaryn Ellenberg thrives and succeeds quietly

Aaryn Ellenberg could be the Marshall Henderson of women’s college basketball.

The Oklahoma guard has such a blustery game. It’s all movement, agility and a school record book of 3-pointers, distance-defying torpedoes that often win big games, like the four she buried UCLA with in last week’s NCAA Tournament second-round upset, a result that propelled the Sooners into Sunday’s Sweet Sixteen matchup against fabled Tennessee.

She has a glitzy nickname, “Vegas,” a moniker OU coach Sherri Coale pinned on her around the time she arrived in Norman from Sin City three years ago. Henderson, the Ole Miss star who shoots off his mouth as often as his rapid-fire long-range jumpers, doesn’t even have that going for him.

Elliott Almond at the Mercury News writes: Cal women’s basketball team perseveres through tragedies

Second-seeded Cal has passed some agonizing tests to reach the Sweet 16 where it expects another big challenge Saturday night against Louisiana State. The Golden Bears (30-3) escaped the second round Monday with an 82-78 overtime victory against South Florida after squandering a 10-point lead with a minute left. They also endured four close victories in Pac-12 play.

The perseverance, however, isn’t surprising on a team with three members carrying burdens no one should have to bear. Gennifer Brandon, Eliza Pierre and Tierra Rogers have leaned on each throughout their careers while dealing with the grief of family members suffering violent deaths.

“They don’t just survive, they thrive,” Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said Friday before the team’s practice at Spokane Arena.

WDEL’s Sean Greene: Delle Donne hopes for WNBA and Olympic future

First, though, writes Kate Fagan: Delle Donne, Delaware face pressure - Kentucky’s defense will test the Blue Hens in their first Sweet 16 appearance

The Delaware Blue Hens don’t appear to be in danger of freezing under the spotlight.

In the minutes before their practice Friday, the players were busy fashioning a headband made out of pre-wrap for assistant coach Jeanine Radice. They were laughing, taking pictures and soaking it all in.

After all, this is Delaware’s first trip to the Sweet 16, and coach Tina Martin has encouraged her players to have fun. Martin even began her news conference by saying, “After I wake up from the dream I’m in …” As in, she can’t believe her little mid-major program — Martin is in her 17th season at Delaware — is making such big waves. “I’m not worried about them being uptight,” Martin said of her players. “If anything, they’re enjoying it and taking in everything they can.”

Charlie gives us Five things to look for in the Sweet 16

5. Which No. 6 seed has the best chance of pulling another upset? An unprecedented four 6-seeds are still playing (along with a No. 12 in Kansas). Oklahoma and LSU have recent tournament pedigree even if that doesn’t include any current players to look to. Nebraska was here in 2010 and that’s it. Delaware is in completely uncharted waters. None of that experience or lack of it probably matters here. It really comes down to matchups.

Nebraska, despite the dynamic duo of point guard Moore and versatile forward Jordan Hooper, might have a difficult time dealing with Duke’s depth and length, not to mention the relative proximity of Durham to Norfolk. Kentucky is even deeper than Duke, and the Wildcats’ athleticism greatly exceeds Delaware’s. The Blue Hens could have some problems dealing with the relentless Kentucky pressure.

Mechelle writes, Landers back in the Sweet 16

Georgia coach Andy Landers stood just outside his team’s locker room at the SEC tournament earlier this month, grinning broadly.

“Listen to them in there,” he said of his players after their quarterfinal victory. “They’re in there high-fiving, chirping, laughing. I still enjoy that so much.”

Landers is the dean of the SEC women’s hoops coaches now that Tennessee’s Pat Summitt has moved into an emeritus role. And he’s one of the longest-tenured, most experienced college basketball mentors, men’s or women’s, in the country.

Michelle writes, Gottlieb carves own path of success

Lindsay Gottlieb jokes that she is the “black sheep in her family.” Except that nobody brags this much about the “black sheep.”

In her father’s courtroom in New York, the court reporters, officers, clerks, they all knew about Judge Stephen Gottlieb’s daughter, the successful basketball coach.

In the hallways of New York University where Chris Gottlieb is a law professor, people always stop to ask how the Bears are doing.

Graham has the Norfolk Sweet 16 breakdown

Fagan has the Bridgeport Sweet 16 breakdown

Mechelle has the Oklahoma City Regional breakdown

Michelle has the Spokane Regional breakdown

And here are espnW’s Sweet 16 picks

John Klein at the Tulsa World says: Draft choice could help Tulsa Shock’s resurgence this season

It could be argued the WNBA Draft has never had three players in the same season capable of changing the fortunes of a franchise.

And, no franchise in recent history of the WNBA has needed a change of fortune more than the Shock.

“We’ve been trying to dig ourselves out of that hole,” said Tulsa coach Gary Kloppenburg. “We’ve been inching our way up.

Didja hear? WNBA and ESPN Broaden Partnership Through 2022 *if the league has a new logo, why does the article use the old one?*

Shelly DuBois of CNN Money explains Why ESPN thinks the WNBA is worth watching

Speaking of the W, Parker Leads UMMC to EuroLeague Crown

Oh, and Curtis Coach Barbara Farris taking some time off to serve as WNBA assistant

A nine-year WNBA veteran, Farris plans to return to Curtis by mid-October to resume her teaching and coaching responsibilities. The exact date of her return, however, depends on whether the Liberty makes the playoffs.

Farris directed Curtis to a second consecutive Class 2A state championship this year in her third season as coach of the Lady Patriots.

A little DII news: Watterson grad in Division II final

Almost a year ago, Daiva Gerbec sat on the end of the bench and watched Ashland lose in the Division II championship game.

Her season had ended before it could begin when her left Achilles tendon snapped during a running drill in the first workout of the preseason. Not being able to contribute during that 88-82 overtime loss to Shaw was difficult.

Dowling women to play for NCAA Div. II title

The magical ride for the Dowling women’s basketball team continues.

In their first trip to the NCAA Division II Women’s Elite Eight, the Golden Lions will play for their first national title tomorrow night after they powered their way to a 76-54 semifinal victory over Augustana (Ga.) Wednesday at Greehey Arena.

In future news: CU Buffs’ Lappe already looking ahead

Inside the office of Colorado women’s basketball coach Linda Lappe hangs a dry-erase board.

Just a few days after the 2012-13 season concluded, the players on the 2013-14 roster were already written on that board. In the world of college basketball, there is little time to waste. One season ends and it’s on to the next.

“It’s a process to be consistent,” Lappe said. “It starts right after the season.”

From the Daily Wildcat: Whyte looks back on Arizona women’s basketball career with no regrets

Four years go by fast. For women’s basketball senior Davellyn Whyte, it hasn’t quite set in that her career as a Wildcat is over following the team’s 66-48 loss to Utah in the Pac-12 tournament.

Arizona’s second all-time leading scorer, with 2,059 career points has had a bumpy four years. Being one of the greatest women’s basketball players in school history certainly hasn’t been easy, but she said she reflects on her time in Tucson with no regrets.

The WNIT is at the Elite Eight stage (always interesting to look at the early rounds, since it’s really the only time we get to compare “major” v. “mid-major” conferences). Saturday you’ll see:

Florida at JMU, 4 p.m. ET

Utah at Saint Mary’s, 5 p.m. ET

Illinois at Kansas State, 5 p.m. ET

Drexel at Auburn, 7 p.m. ET

The WBI ended for the Quakers, but Even in loss, Penn women’s basketball shows growth

Mike McLaughlin didn’t know much about losing.

That was the first line of a Daily Pennsylvanian article written on March 24, 2010, after the Quakers finished the season with a program-worst 2-26 record. They set the program record for losses in a single season. They nearly became the first Penn team to lose every single Ivy game, only escaping in the final weekend after a victory at Dartmouth.

“There are times I thought, ‘Am I doing everything within my ability to make them better?’ McLaughlin said in 2010 interview. “They needed a strong leader in adversity.”

Today that feels like a distant memory

In the “this is what scholarships are about” vein: Four Coconut Creek girls basketball players headed to college

For the sixth consecutive year, the Coconut Creek girls basketball is sending a player to college. This year, actually, the Cougars will send four players to the next level. 

Guard Shamari Josey, who averaged 9.3 points per game this season, has signed with St. Augustine in North Carolina, while guard Joelle Patterson, who averaged 6.6 points and and 4.5 assists per game, has signed with Johnson and Wales. Forward Jasmine Watson is headed to Southestern Community College in Iowa. 

Coconut Creek’s other signee was team leader Andrekia Thompson, a first-team All-County selection who averaged 12.3 points per game and reached the 1,000-point career mark, signed with Thomas University, an NAIA program in Georgia. 

In the “what were they thinking!” vein: Missouri high school girls basketball team drinks urine in water cooler prank pulled by rivals

In the “thank you for all your time” vein: St. Peter’s girls basketball coach steps down

Bill Tomsich thought about stepping down last year as the head girls basketball coach at St. Peter’s.

After making another run to the Final Four and being named Division IV Co-Coach of the Year in the state, the stage was set for a grand exit.

“I’m glad I stayed an additional year. I wasn’t ready emotionally to step down,” he said Tuesday afternoon after announcing publicly that he was resigning after 18 years in the program, spending the last nine as head coach.

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…that was the theme for most top seeds. But it was a little more interesting for some than others.

UNC had to fight like heck to defeat the under-appreciated Great Danes of Albany.

Dayton, too, had to fight — through St. John’s and two overtimes.

#6 LSU escaped a stubborn #11 Green Bay, 75-71.

#8 Michigan moved on after a nice battle with #9 Villanova, 60-52.

#9 Iowa took advantage of the home court and sent #8 Miami packing, 69-53.

Florida State took a nice lead over Princeton and maintained it to a 60-44 win.

The #6 Blue Hens gave the #11 Mountaineers a first half head start, and then Delle Donne carried Delaware to victory.

#2 Kentucky and #15 Navy were all but tied at the half, then the Wildcats got in gear to secure the victory.

#1 Stanford and #16 Tulsa were exactly tied at the half. Cardinal woke up, though, in the second half (and still, Tulsa did not fold), and moved on into the next round.

#5 Louisville followed Schimmel’s points and Smith’s assists to victory over #12 Middle Tennessee State, 74-49.

#7 Oklahoma State didn’t have much trouble against #10 DePaul: Cowgirls (and Young) move on, 73-56.

#4 Purdue handled #13 Liberty, 77-43.

The ESPN/AP headline says “Duke pulls away in the second half to beat Hampton,” ’cause the #15 Pirates pulled within 6 in the second half. Yes, the #2 Blue Devils won, but maybe Hampton did deserve a higher seed.

#3 Penn State made Cal Poly’s first trip to the NCAA an unpleasant one: 85-55.

#Baylor dismissed Prairie View A&M, 82-40.

#1 Notre Dame did the same to UT-Martin, 97-64.

Some quick “Up Next” from Mechelle: Just like old times for A&M, Nebraska

 Nebraska coach Connie Yori smiled and noted that she has “some great Gary Blair stories.” Well, who doesn’t, right?

As for Blair, women’s basketball’s Mr. Congeniality, he reminded reporters that he’s old enough to remember when Yori was playing at Creighton. Scrappy devil of a player, she was.

The coaching colleagues will commence pleasantries before Monday’s NCAA second-round game here at Texas A&M. And then, it will be a battle to see who heads to Norfolk, Va., for the Sweet 16.

“It’s like a Big 12 reunion, really,” Yori said after her No. 6 seed Cornhuskers beat Chattanooga 73-59 to set up their meeting with No. 3 seed Texas A&M. “That seems like it’s fitting. Gary Blair, he’s one of the great coaches and great characters in our game. It will be interesting to go head-to-head.”

Speaking of Nebraska: I saw pintails, common mergansers and harris sparrows today. And it is cooooold!

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and still generating surprises.

The entire C-USA tourney has been a surprise (or hot mess, depending on your view): The championship game will feature the #6 seed (Tulsa) v. the #8 seed (UCF). UCF, straight of their upset of top-seed SMU, continued their hot play by taking down UTEP, 89-77. Tulsa used a stubborn defense to hold off #2 seed East Carolina, 72-59.

The MAC finals will feature a surprise team: Central Michigan earned a (fair) shot at the title by holding off top-seed Toledo. Tough for fans of Naama who’d hoped she’d get a chance at the Dance. The Chippewas will go up against Akron’s Zips, who defeated Ball State.

The Southland finals will feature top-seed Oral Roberts against #2-seed Sam Houston (who seem to have survived their brief bout with the WHB curse.)

No surprise, Hampton has rolled into the MEAC finals. No surprise, their opponent will be Howard.

Big Sky Finals: Montana v. Northern Colorado.

In the Big West, Cal State Fullerton couldn’t overcome top-seed Pacific (though it took a last-second three to do it). In the finals, the Tigers will go against Cal Poly (another team that seems to have survived the WHB curse).

The Vandals ruined my WAC brack(et). The finals feature Idaho and Seattle U.

D’em Penguins didn’t make it into the Horizon finals. Instead, it will be Loyola (IL) taking on Green Bay.

Revenge of the former team? #4 Prairie View upset Coop’s new team, Texas Southern, 58-62. That mean’s they’re in the SWAC finals against Mississippi Valley State.

San Diego State rolled over New Mexico, which means they’ll face Fresno State, which just escaped Wyoming, in the MWC finals.

It’s Delaware v. Hofstra and Drexel v. James Madison in today’s CAA semis.

The MVC has held serve through their semis: #1 Wichita State v. #4 Northern Iowa and #2 Creighton v. #3 Illinois State.

When Holy Cross takes on Navy, the Middies will be looking to three-peat as Patriot League champs

The biggest surprise of the day would probably be up Albany, if somehow Hartford could take down conference big dog, the Great Danes.

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Holly got her first win.

Georgia beat back a turnover-prone Rutgers.

The Terps raced ahead of the Greyhounds.

The Lions finally woke up to deal with the Bison.

Texas Tech made Charli’s return unhappy.

Win number two for Aston’s Longhorns. Her former team, North Texas, starts its season under new coach, Mike Peterson.

The Cardinal got their groove on in their win over Santa Clara.

Yes, Delle Donne is important to Delaware — as is Sugar to Georgetown. One was MIA, the other sizzling hot, and yet the Hens still had a chance at victory.

The Shockers almost pulled out a … shocking win over LSU.

The Hartley-less Huskies mauled the Cougars.

Don’t look now, but Fordham is 2-0. And James Madison is 0-2. And Seton Hall is 2-0.

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…with all 16 teams in Round 1 action.

All of the teams, including Delaware, Georgetown, Iowa, MTSU, and North Carolina, officially begin their path to March Madness. The Preseason WNIT helps prepare them with a three-game guarantee and a tournament-playoff atmosphere. The teams that play for the WNIT title will play four games, with the Championship Game televised live on CBS Sports Network at 4 p.m. ET Sunday, Nov. 18 at one of the participating schools.

To get up-to-date scores and news of Preseason WNIT games, visit www.womensnit.com and click on “Sign up for WNIT Pocket Updates.” You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Make sure to use #wnit when posting any Twitter messages.

Friday’s schedule:

Round 1 Games
(All 2011-12 team records in parentheses)

Friday, Nov. 9, 2012

Davidson (22-10) at North Carolina (20-11), 5 p.m. ET

Northern Illinois (14-17) at Iowa (19-12), 6:30 p.m. ET

Kennesaw State (14-17) at Middle Tennessee (26-7), 6:30 p.m. ET

Liberty (24-9) at Duquesne (20-12), 7 p.m. ET

Sacred Heart (25-8) at Georgetown (23-9), 7 p.m. ET

Grambling State (15-15) at Memphis (25-8), 8 p.m. ET

Sam Houston State (18-12) at Delaware (31-2), 8 p.m. ET

Morehead State (10-19) at Illinois State (19-13), 8 p.m. ET

Winners of Friday’s games advance to play in Round 2 games Sunday. The losers of Friday’s games will move to Consolation Rounds 1&2, details of which will be announced Saturday, Nov. 10.

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Bleecher Report, but this one hasn’t exploded into anything ugly (yet).

Tim Daniels has 5 Bold Predictions for the 2012 NCAA Women’s Basketball 

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When looking at the 1/16s and 2/15s, it’s amazing to see how many regular season conference winners aren’t involved. Random first round games I’m looking forward to:

Georgetown v. Fresno State: Can’t wait to see the Bulldog on Bulldog battle. The Cali-dogs have been more consistent than the Eastcoast-dogs, and they’re seriously threatening from beyond the three-point line.

Nebraska v. Kansas: Nebraska’s been up and down. I’ll be intrigued to see which Husker team shows up a Kansas team that hasn’t been to the Tourney since 2000.

Delaware v. UALR: Who doesn’t want to watch a first round match-up that doesn’t feature a member of the “Big 6″ conferences? CAA v. Sun Belt. Let’s go!

BYU-DePaul: Coach Bruno has done a great job cobbling together a team out of spare parts. BYU is trying help out its new conference.

Tennessee-Tennessee-Martin: Coach Summitt goes up against her high scoring alma mater.

Cal-Iowa: It’s an important game for a program that wants to show that Stanford ain’t it for the Pac-12.

St. Bonaventure-FGCU: Two “Cinderella” stories. Again, two non-6ers clashing. How will the Bonnies handle the Eagles’ flurry of threes?

Georgia-Marist – This isn’t coach Giorgis’ best team, but they’re also going up a rather confusing Georgia team. Interesting match-up.

Louisville-Michigan StateTwo teams with talent but confusing results. They’ve both fought hard to get to the Tournament.

West Virginia-Texas: Considering how much I picked on Texas, they’ll probably make a run at the Final Four.

South Carolina-Eastern Michigan: EMU’s point guard Tavelyn James played for USA Basketball, the first MAC player to be selected.  How will legendary USA point guard Dawn Staley plan against her?

Green Bay-Iowa State: Watching the selection show last night, my non-follower of wbball friend (who’s gotten vaguely interested now that the Huskers are makin’ noise) said: “Wait, 30-1 and they get a 7-seed?!?!” This’ll be Green Bay’s chance to show folks they were underrated.

LSU-San Diego State: Shhhh! There’s a baby in the house! (I feel a drinking game coming on!) Because of her time at UCLA, Caldwell is  familiar with Beth Burns’ team and their feisty guards.

Princeton-Kansas State: Tigers first AP ranking followed by the highest seed in the Tourney? My grandpa would have been proud. Take down a Big 6 team? Wow.

Queenie has her own unique take on the First Round Dance Cards.

At Swish Appeal, 2012 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Links: Reactions From Around SB Nation

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back on the women’s basketball beat. (How many of you own A Celebration : Commemorating the Birth of a League?)

From USA Today: Elena Delle Donne, Delaware making history

Just before Delaware’s final home game of the season, women’s basketball coach Tina Martin checked a message on her cellphone.

“Hi Tina. This is Joe Biden from Air Force 2 …”

“He said that he wished he could come but he had something on his schedule. Imagine that?” Martin said, smiling.

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Graham and Mechelle are debating player, coach and freshman of the year, plus the All-Americans

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The latest is up, and Charlie asks: Is a neutral site worth a lower seed? – Deciding No. 2 seeds will be committee’s toughest challenge

All weekend long, you’ve been sending emails and tweets declaring how wrong it is not to have Delaware as a No. 2 seed. Ultimately, the Blue Hens’ seed is part of what should end up being the selection committee’s biggest challenge next weekend — deciding which teams should be the four No. 2 seeds and in what order they should be ranked 5 through 8.

In our latest projection, through Sunday’s games, here’s how they stacked up:

5. Maryland
6. Duke
7. Tennessee
8. Kentucky … and then …
9. Miami
10. Delaware

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From Dishin & Swishin part two of a look at ten “game-changing players”

This time, it’s Elena Delle Donne, Delaware, Alyssa Thomas, Maryland, Sugar Rodgers, Georgetown, Skylar Diggins, Notre Dame and Niveen Rasheed, Princeton

And yes, ACC folks, that was the first #9 seed to beat a #1.

And congrats to BECOY KBA. Beyond well deserved.

(And yes, I noticed my Headline Writer hung me out to dry on an earlier post. Just wait ’til I see her face in the mirror. She is so fired.)

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Next Goal for the Blue Hens: Undefeated Conference Season

A win against William and Mary on Wednesday would mark an undefeated season in conference play for the Blue Hens. This perfect season would be the first in 10 years for any Colonial Athletic Association team.

“We started something really special, and now it’s time to finish it,” said Coach Tina Martin. “For these kids, for my players, this is a dream come true.”

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Doug sends along the following story: Spotlight shines on Delle Donne, No. 8 Delaware

Delaware star Elena Delle Donne’s stature is growing with every game. The vice president—of the country, not the school—even made it to a recent game to see the nation’s leading scorer.

Vice President Joe Biden, an enthusiastic alumnus, watched Delaware beat Drexel on Jan. 22 and spoke to the team after the game. He slipped into the sold-out arena, sitting near midcourt with Delaware Governor Jack Markell.

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how happy are the DC BasketCases?!?! Very happy. (Oh, and don’t tick off the male Terps, Georgetown, ’cause that’s messing up an important rivalry on the women’s side.)

And, as a follow on, how happy is Miami?

I don’t know that “ugly” fully captures the game, but I’m guessin’ Mel’s tweet does: EDD drives through crowd and hits. Delaware up 40-39 with 2.0 seconds left. On her worst day she is still a blooming legend.

New York, sweep New York. The Princeton Tigers enjoy their weekend.

Rhode Island is 0-12 in the A-10, and Indiana is 0-14 in the Big Ten.

Didn’t see this coming (nor, I’m sure, did JMU): Northeastern (4-11, CAA) 61, the Dukes (11-4) 50. First win ever for the Huskies over James Madison.

The Pride came back from 4 down at the half to defeat Towson, 69-66, courtesy of a late three by Nicole Capurso. But dang, check out Shante Evans’ 29 pts, 20 rebs!

No you don’t, you PinkPurple Eagles, you! Niagara (7-9, MAAC) makes Marist  (15-1) work wicked hard (2OTs), but can’t quite pull off the upset. Red Foxes win, 79-77, and are conference champeens.

Fairfield (13-3 MAAC) sorta keeps pace, taking down Canisius, 63-51.

In a game Nate wanted us to watch, but we were too busy watching this and this and this). USC built a big first half lead and eased to a 66-54 win over UCLA and new coach Close.

So, Nell must be enjoying her post-Bonner time at Auburn, huh?

In the kind of news a program wants to hear, Creighton (9-6 MVC) took down Indiana State, 63-48.

Not a battle of powerhouses, but still painful to witness the state of George Washington basketball. They (4-8, A-10) go down to Massachusetts (2-10), 56-53.

Tennessee still keeping their fans on tenterhooks. They travel to Ole Miss (2-12, SEC) and win, 66-56.

Welcome to the world of Georgia basketball: up, down, down, up. Then goes down to Florida, and goes down to Florida.

Speaking of up and down, down and up, up and down: hello Michigan State fans! In OT, Spartans 67, Purdue 52.

I totally understand why a 24-2, 13-0 C-USA team is not ranked (right). BUT, I sure hope SOMEONE in the top 25 is checking their roster, counting the number of underclassmen, and pondering a game next season.

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(and therefore the second time in NCAA history) that the top four seeds make it to the Final Four?

Andy Gardnier at USA might think so: Led by Baylor, Big Four rule this season

As the women’s basketball season heads into its stretch drive toward the NCAA tournament, this year’s balance of power has become clearly defined. There are Baylor, Notre Dame, Connecticut and Stanford — and then everyone else.

And did you catch this podcast from Hoopfeed?  Dishin & Swishin February 2, 2012 Podcast: A few things you may not know (but should) about this year’s college basketball season

  • Guests are Delaware head coach Tina Martin, Nebraska stars Jordan Hooper and Lindsey Moore, Florida Gulf Coast head coach Karl Smesko, and Saint Bonaventure head coach Jim Crowley.

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From Mechelle: Delle Donne, Delaware a perfect blend – Junior star is main ingredient to success, but players around her fit into roles perfectly

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for most of the ranked teams: Stanford, Tennessee, Kentucky, Miami, Delaware, Purdue and Gonzaga.

It took UNC double OT to escape Virginia, while Vanderbilt couldn’t escape South Carolina — is it time to take a better look at the Gamecocks (and scrutinize Vandy’s OOC schedule)?

I’m not going to talk about the VaTech/BC game. (Sigh. Remember when they were programs to be reckoned with?)

Not talking about the Stony Brook/Binghamton game either.

So, yes, let’s learn New Hampshires’s mascot: the Wildcats took down the Hartford Hawks, 64-45.

With their win over Drexel, Hofstra moves to 2-0 in the CAA.

The Gophers move to 2-0 in the Big Ten with their win over Northwestern.

Wonder if there will be an end of the season rematch: Memphis (11-3) by two over Tulane (11-3).

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Mel’s got some stuff on the game: Another Delaware Game-Changing Moment Awaits At Maryland

Since the season got under way back in early November the Delaware women’s basketball team has been akin to someone heading off the beach to do a little body surfing in uncharted waters.

Several times out the Blue Hens have looked at a wave unlike most they had ever seen and after successfully navigating across the crest an even bigger one would lie ahead.

With junior Elena Delle Donne healthy and happy, Delaware (10-0) is getting a rush from playing in an environment and setting challenges that not too long ago existed in another galaxy from where the Blue Hens dwell.

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From NCAA.com: Delle Donne back to superstar form -  Standout thriving for Blue Hens after taking leave of absence

In a six-week ordeal, doctors finally determined she had Lyme’s Disease, but she had lost eight pounds and was weakened by the illness.

“It was very trying,” Martin said. “We were all sitting on pins and needles wondering what was wrong with her.”

Delle Donne returned for the final third of the season, leading the Blue Hens to a run to the finals of the CAA Tournament and a berth in the Women’s NIT.

But it was this spring when she was training to play with the Team USA squad participating in the summer’s World University Games when Martin knew that Delle Donne was developing into the player that every college coach had dreamed about four years prior.

“I knew the way she was training last spring, I said, ‘watch out world,’” Martin said.

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got upset. And yes, we know that they had the lead 99.999% of the game. And yes we know that it took a last second three to get Gonzaga the win.

But the ‘dogs went on a 22-4 run to end the game. So look at Georgia’s schedule/record. Were they really the #12 in the country?

Ohio State, DePaul and Delaware (ouch, upward curve no longer in play in Providence?) rolled. Louisville snuck by, helped by Daugherty having the misfortune of pulling a Chris Webber.

Paying attention to “bowl eligible” Florida Gulf Coast, now sitting at 7-1. Their only loss: Seton Hall?

I’m not going to get excited about Arkansas’ 9-1 record until they’re midway through their SEC schedule – but I know friends of the blog Teddy and Candy must be thrilled. Ditto with Mississippi State.

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From Slam Online: 12 Days, 12 Previews: Seattle Storm – Five keys to a successful season.

The WNBA’s 15th season begins June 3rd and SLAMonline is counting down the days with in-depth previews of all twelve teams.

Prior to the start of each WNBA season (and NBA season for that matter), every writer and blogger in the country compiles extensive (by “extensive” I mean “wordy,” and by “wordy” I mean “tired”) previews analyzing the upcoming year, team by team. It’s just a fact of life. Almost as certain as death and taxes.

The problem, however, is they all look, feel, and say the same exact thing every year (copy and paste). You, the reader, deserves far better. Thus, we’re going through each team discussing five specific things they’ll need for their 2011 campaign to be considered a success.

More importantly, we want this to be interactive – be sure to post your thoughts in the comment section below.

There’s a ton of other stuff there, so make sure you check it out. A highlight: The Season: Episode 2 – The Lady Wolves’ journey continues on.

Here’s part two of The Season, a six-part series that follows the Buford Lady Wolves on their quest to three-peat as Georgia 2A state champions. In this episode, the Wolves are tested by several tough opponents in the Jump Off Plus Holiday Invitational; Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt pays a visit to check on verbal commits Andraya Cater and Kaela Davis; and there’s an in-depth feature with Andraya Carter on her Olympic experience. Be sure to his insidewomensbasketball.com for other episodes The Season.

Have you read Mel recently: AP Women’s Poll History — Changes In Latitudes and Guru’s Mixed Report: Old Dominion, Delaware, Rutgers, WNBA

This is one of those rare times that WNBA commentary will mix with the collegiate world here because of wanting to save a little time.

The Guru starts with Delaware’s Tina Martin checking in on Thursday afternoon returning inquiries about her former coaching colleague in the Colonial Athletic Association — Old Dominion’s Wendy Larry, who announced Tuesday she was stepping down after a 24-year run that included 17 straight conference titles in the conference.

One of those came at the expense of Martin’s Blue Hens, who beat ODU twice during the regular season — a rarity in terms of winning in Norfolk, Va. — but then in the CAA title game blew a second-half lead and lost to the Lady Monarchs in overtime.

And there’s this from the AP’s Bob Baum (and a headline writer with a call of the alliteratives) ‘Tougher’ Taurasi back from Turkish turmoil

Late last year, while playing professional basketball in Turkey, Taurasi was told by authorities there she had tested positive for the banned stimulant modafanil. In February, the Turkish basketball federation cleared her of wrongdoing after the lab that conducted the test retracted its report.

“It toughens you up,” she said of the experience, “and life’s about going through stuff that is really hard. You can let it really wreck you and you can be mad at it, which I was for a while. But I finally got over it, had a really good group of people around me here in Phoenix, my family, my close friends, my teammates, the fans here in Phoenix. You really sometimes have to depend on those people to get you through tough times and they did. They got me through it.”

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As our friend Pseudonymity notes, wet weather did a number on some SEC games:

Rain delay? What sport are we talking about? Tennessee beats Ole Miss in rain-shortened game after roof failure.

The same weather system caused the Florida-Vanderbilt game to be postponed until Friday night.

Auburn ends losing streak, upsets Georgia.

LSU wins overtime home game against South Carolina.

Mathies’ layup in the final seconds gives Kentucky the home win over Arkansas
Slow start dooms Alabama against Mississippi State, ending their mini-win streak.

I believe the following analysis is correct: With South Carolina’s loss to LSU, three of the first round byes in the SEC tournament are set: Tennessee is the #1 overall seed, and Kentucky and Georgia have byes. Vanderbilt can clinch a bye with one win in their next two games, tonight or against South Carolina on Sunday.

Otherwise, the fourth bye is complicated.

Want more on the SEC? Check out Rocky Top Talk, where David Hooper write: Three Weeks Is Enough Time for the Lady Vols

In a way, I really couldn’t be happier about how the regular season has gone for the Lady Vols.  Despite dropping a real head-scratcher to Georgetown in the Paradise Jam, the no-show against Baylor, and the multitude of dubious wins throughout conference play, Tennessee is positioning themselves for their best shot at a deep NCAA run since the Candace Parker-led championship teams.  The depth may actually be the greatest in the history of Tennessee basketball, and the mix of players affords Tennessee the opportunity to match up favorably against just about anything the field can throw their way.

In other games:

Note to self – Don’t be an idiot: Flip a finger, lose your Senior night. Guess it was a “fun” game between Rutgers and the University of South Florida.

In the “We’re not dead yet,” category: Ohio State got a pound of flesh when they rallied to upset #8 Michigan State.

No really, what is going on with the #16 Tar Heels (no disrespect to Georgia Tech intended)? North Carolina goes down for a third straight game.

There was no drama when the #9 Blue Devils met the Cavaliers.

Being ranked didn’t go to Houston’s head. The #25 Cougars easily handled the Thundering Herd.

No really, keep an eye on “insanely awesome” Miami. The #14 ‘Canes won big against #12 Florida State.

#17 Maryland easily defeated Virginia Tech and Green Bay hand no problem with Valpo, earning them the Horizon title.

Speaking of the Horizon, Butler (11-5  – Horizon) got surprised by Milwaukee (7-5), 73-66.

I’m thinking that if you’re in the CAA, you simply don’t want to face the Blue Hens and Delle Donne in the conference tourney. Delaware (9-7 – conf) took down VCU, (11-5 – conf) 75-67.

Doink! Maybe it’s a delayed WHB curse: Penn State lost to Purdue, 51-49. Mingo snagged 16 rebounds and 12 points.

Squeak! Maybe it’s a delayed reaction to their Stanford loss, but UCLA just squeaked by Arizona, 74-70.

Sports Illustrated (aka the AP) writes about this year’s new crop of players: Talented young guards make immediate impact

So does Mechelle: Simmons, Fussell live up to expectations – Freshmen from Tennessee and Texas shine in loaded and talented rookie class

Meighan Simmons has a little scar on her forehead, the kind you guess was caused by some childhood mishap. Considering the Tennessee freshman does everything at about 100 mph, you correctly suspect she wasn’t much different as a toddler.

“I was 2 years old,” Simmons explained. “I ran into the wall, split my head open. I was running from my older sister, and my dad had told me to slow down. Then I turned around to look to see if my sister was still coming and — bam. The wall was right there.”

And DishnSwish writes: From Rings & Medals to the Bottom of the Big East, Anne Donovan Is Loving the Challenge

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in Mel’s latest: Maryland’s Board Work Stifles St. Joseph’s

Drexel Down and Delaware Up

It was a mixed day for the two area teams diving into the start of play in the Colonial Athletic Association.

After having the best nonconference record in the Denise Dillon era, Drexel was victimized by the debut of new North Carolina-Wilmington coach Cynthia Dyke-Cooper, the former WNBA and Olympic star who guided the Sea Hawks to a 69-61 victory. UNCW (9-3, 1-0) shot 64.4 percent from the field.

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From Mel

Delaware’s Delle Donne Sits As St. Joseph’s Wins

A year ago in a closed private scrimmage Delaware sensation Elena Delle Donne reportedly put up 50 points at St. Joseph’s against the Hawks on the way to the one-year delayed start of her collegiate career.

If the 2008 high school athlete of the year out of Wilmington’s Ursuline Academy surprised that afternoon by not showing any rust, the Hawks were in for another shocker on Wednesday night when Delle Donne did not warm up prior to the non-conference game at the Blue Hens’ Bob Carpenter Center.

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