From Mechelle: Tennessee ready to tip off tourney – Lady Vols help open the games at 11 a.m. ET Saturday (ESPN2/ESPN3.com)
Tennessee coach Pat Summitt got a laugh as ESPN dug up old photos of her playing days at Tennessee-Martin in the 1970s to use during the NCAA tournament selection show. The Skyhawks are in the NCAA field for the first time this year, and their most famous women’s basketball alum is very happy for them.
She doesn’t have to be concerned with making their stay a very short one; UT-Martin is the No. 15 seed in the Philadelphia Regional and faces No. 2 seed Duke in the first round.
Mechelle’s Spokane preview is up.
This year’s NCAA tournament No. 1 seeds established themselves well before Selection Monday. In fact, if you’d been asked to predict them just days after last season’s Final Four, you likely would have come up with this quartet.
Some might have thought UConn would struggle a bit more than the Huskies have in their one-loss season. But certainly no one is surprised that the Huskies, Baylor, Tennessee and Stanford are the top four teams in the NCAA tournament. Although …
Graham has Players to watch
Five who could catch lighting in a bottle
Seedings suggest these players won’t be around for more than one game, but each could make that game one to remember or even prolong her team’s stay.
Also from Graham: Vandersloot stands strong for Zags: Point guard needs 44 points to become first D-I player with 2,000 points, 1,000 assists
For all of her statistical milestones, national accolades and basketball skills, Courtney Vandersloot’s greatest strength as a point guard remains nothing more complicated than her ability to make everyone around her that much better.
But after piloting Gonzaga to the first Sweet 16 appearance in program history last season, she reflected on the postseason run and realized there was one player on the court whose limitations she felt might hold the team back at a time of year when championships are decided. So it was that the best point guard in the country decided there was one more player she could make better.
And even MORE Graham: Green Bay’s season to remember – Phoenix join UConn, Tennessee as teams to enter NCAA tourney with at least 32 wins
It’s the morning of the Horizon League championship game, and the staff and players who comprise one of the most successful programs in women’s basketball are gathered around waffles and eggs at a local restaurant, their blank (and insufficiently caffeinated) expressions serving as placeholders for the emotions the day will bring. It’s quiet enough, in fact, to hear the background music, and Green Bay associate coach Mike Divilbiss perks up when Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic” starts to play.
Across from him, junior starter Julie Wojta is unimpressed, or more precisely, unaware of Morrison. Divilbiss tries to give her a hint, offering up “Brown Eyed Girl” as the clue that will unlock the mystery identity.
“Yeah, that doesn’t help,” Wojta responds.
Scott Powers has Long road for DePaul’s Naughton nears end
Deirdre Naughton was laying poolside when her cell phone rang on a Friday in early August. It was the NCAA calling to tell her she had been granted a sixth year of eligibility to play for DePaul women’s basketball team.
Naughton immediately sprung to her feet and jumped around in celebration.
The catch was she couldn’t tell any of her teammates until it was finalized on Monday. Naughton promised she would keep her mouth shut for the weekend.
Not long after she hung up, she called her teammate and close friend Sam Quigley.
“I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but she told me on Friday,” Quigley said, laughing. “I remember her calling me, and I was screaming hysterically. I was probably more excited than she was.”
Skyler Diggins writes: Communication key to handling NCAA hype
Life is all about growth. When you experience things, sometimes you may make mistakes or do some things well, or both. Regardless, there will be an outcome. Whether that outcome is negative or positive, you will have an opportunity to reflect. Take note of the positive things or things that you did well. Then reflect on your mistakes. If you learn from these mistakes and do not make the same ones, you have grown.
I had to learn this in my freshman year of college.
Over at espnW, Angelique Chengelis writes Samford’s stock on the rise
Mike Morris knows the routine.
He calls a recruit and identifies himself as the head coach at Samford, and occasionally there’s a pause.
“They get all excited when they think it’s Stanford,” Morris said, laughing. “I kid around and I’ve said I always wanted to ask [Stanford coach] Tara VanDerveer, ‘Do y’all get that, are you Stanford or Samford?’ just to see if I get a grin out of that.”
Also at espnW, Jane McManus writes: Marist’s Brian Giorgis has the winning formula
Basketball was his first sport. He played as a youth. But after getting a glimpse of his 7-foot counselors at Willis Reed’s basketball camp, Giorgis realized the limits inherent in his 5-foot-9 frame. He decided to coach, but after a difficult season with the baseball team, Giorgis decided he didn’t want to coach boys again. He realized his style just fit better with his girls’ teams.“It wasn’t about style points and who looked better,” Giorgis said. “It was about what they could do to win games.”
Mark Simon does a little research: Stefanie Pemper’s Navy seeks upset – Mids coach was on Harvard staff when the Crimson knocked off No. 1 Stanford in 1998
Before coming to Navy, Pemper was the coach at Division III Bowdoin College, a liberal arts school in small-town Brunswick, Maine. There she developed a coaching style that emphasized there was more to basketball than what took place on the court. She has brought that to Navy, as well.
At Bowdoin, practices opened with the players talking about the classes they’d been in that day. When the team took an undefeated record into the Division III Final four in 2004, it left campus early so it could spend a day in Colonial Williamsburg on its way to the championship site.
At halftime of one game at Bowdoin, the players got engrossed in conversation and lost track of time and came out of the locker room 30 seconds before the second half was to start. Undaunted, the team suffocated its opponent into 25 percent shooting and won easily.
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