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Kristi Toliver’s career speaks volumes about life as a women’s basketball player

On May 6, in an office at the Department of Domestic Affairs in Bratislava, Kristi Toliver — Virginia-born, Maryland-educated, as American as jazz — swallowed hard, signed some documents and swore, on her “honor and conscience,” to be a faithful and upstanding citizen of the Slovak Republic. A process that had been more than a year in the making was completed in a day and a half. Soon, she was in possession of a Slovak passport, now a dual U.S.-Slovak citizen. She was, at least for basketball purposes, a European.

As she boarded her flight back to the States, she was the same Kristi, but everything felt different. Behind her was another winter-spring season of Russian professional ball, ahead was another summer season with the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA.

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Wicked early flight meant getting up wicked-er early, so I’m looking forward to a nap soon.

It’s chilly-greening-spring here in Tennessee – 40 or so when we landed, but the Final Four greeter promised us 64 by noon. When you’re in the sun, yes….when you’re not? Brrrrrr!

Easy car pick up, then headed to East Nashville for some breakfast at Marche Artisan Foods. Great service, yummy food…

With time to kill before the hotel opened up, drove into, through and around downtown Nashville. Small and bustling at the center. Different, more concentrated vibe than when I was in Knoxville for the WBHOF induction ceremony a while back. Strong mix of old and new architecture.

Continued our wandering exploration and end up driving past Vanderbilt (yes, as we researched, started by THAT Vanderbilt – hence the “Commodores” nickname.) Did you know the campus was also an arboretum? Did a quick drive through – really, really lovely. Also stopped by Centennial Park to visit the Parthenon and did some walking. Yup, it’s big. Nearby lake is being dredged/cleaned, so that wasn’t so scenic.

It’s early for birds – but there is a list: RobinsBlue Jays, a lone Turkey Vulture, cackling Grackles, some beautiful Bank Swallows, noisy Northern Mockingbird, a gregarious Carolina Wren, and an early Hermit Thrush.

Next on the agenda, the aforementioned nap, then a return to East Nashville to partake of the fare at the Eastland Cafe. Then, we’re off to the Grand Ole Opry!

Phew!

Hoping tomorrow features a visit with a WBHOF inductee, coffee, brunch, barbecue and two fabulous games.

Until them, some more reading (and listening): First, make sure you check out the Tennessean’s coverage:

Fans show love early in Women’s Final Four

Kara Lawson: No favorite between Pat, Geno

Rebecca Lobo: UConn is beatable

Legendary lady Pat Summitt: Pride of Cheatham County

WOOT! WOOT! WBB HISTORY!! Nashville Business College: Champions before their time – LONG BEFORE TENNESSEE AND UCONN, THESE FARM GIRLS DOMINATED WOMEN’S BASKETBALL AND THEIR RECORD IS UNMATCHED TODAY.

Final Four teams have fun at Ryman

UConn’s Dolson, Hartley old hands at Final Four, Post
More Than Anything, Geno Demands Sweat From UConn Women, Courant
More Awards For Stefanie Dolson, Courant
Capsule: No. 1 Seed UConn Women Vs. No. 2 Seed Stanford, Courant
Pictures: Behind The Scenes With UConn Women In Nashville, Courant
It’s a Great Time to be a Husky, Stefanie Dolson

Stanford’s supporting cast stepping up to help Ogwumike, Register
ESPN analyst touts Ogwumike’s pro potential, SFGate
Lawson Says Stanford Has Best Shot At UConn, Hartford Courant

U-Md. abuzz as women’s basketball team heads to Final Four, Washington Post
Nashville already full of Maryland fans, ABC
Majoring in Chemistry, Chloe Pavlech

Before UConn, ND should fear Terps, Observer
Notre Dame Women: Save Your Pity, Blue & Gold
Irish must prove doubters wrong, Kate Fagan
Geno (And USA Basketball) Love Kayla McBride, Hartford Courant

Dishin & Swishin 04/03/14 Podcast: Breaking down the Final Four with coaches Doug Bruno, Lindsay Gottlieb & Coquese Washington, HoopFeed

Duke coach’s analysis of women’s Final Four, Bradenton Herald

In Women’s Final Four, Jousting Before the First Jump Ball, yea! It’s Harvey at the New York Times

Beating UConn rarely leads to title – Most teams that beat UConn in NCAA tourney don’t win NCAA championship, Mechelle Voepel

Rematches story of women’s Final Four, AP Teresa M. Walker

Five minutes with ESPN analyst Kara Lawson, Nashville Business Journal

NCAA hosting women’s hoops summit at Final Four, AP Doug

 

As coach Mitchell cuts to assistant coaches, Sea of Blue is Taking a Moment To Celebrate The Season That Was

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Indiana is working on its best start since…. Archie, Flip and Marcus ruled the airwaves.

Despite the loss of the team’s top three scorers from last season, the Hoosiers have reloaded with seven freshmen and redshirt sophomore Kaila Hulls, who is donning cream and crimson for the first time in her career after transferring from Bowling Green.

Freshman guard Larryn Brooks leads IU in scoring at 19.5 points per game and she dropped 37 points against Virginia Tech on Dec. 4 in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. Six of the Hoosiers’ top seven scorers are in their first season playing for IU. First-year players are responsible for 71.2 percent of the team’s scoring.

It’s great timing, ’cause IU is going to recognize 1972-1974 women’s basketball teams

“Becoming a varsity sport in 1971, our women’s basketball program compiled an incredible four-year record of 62-15, advanced to two Elite Eights and reached the 1973 Final Four,” IU Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Fred Glass said in a release. “We are thrilled to give this amazing group of women the recognition they so richly deserve.”

Speaking of history, check this out from PA: Helen Myers and the dandy 1926-27 West York girls’ basketball team“Every member was a star. Helen Myers and Wilhelmina Bufflap at all times outplayed their guards. Anna Joseph and Kathryn Sheffer2in center held their own against all odds. Margaret Stauffer, Catherine Neiman, and Marguerite Strayer as guards put up such a mighty battle that West York outclassed its opponents with a total score of 622 points to 390.

Ohio State is working on defining itself: Defenses turn attention to Buckeyes’ Ameryst Alston

The OSU newbies wrote an exciting first chapter by shocking West Virginia 70-61 in Morgantown in the season opener behind a 29-point performance from Ameryst Alston.

The sophomore point guard would follow that with a 28-point outburst against Florida Atlantic in the second game, and word about Alston and the free-flowing, basket-attacking style of McGuff began to circulate.

As the storyline progressed, defenses started to place more roadblocks on the court for Alston, and points for the entire team became harder to find.

An injury provides an opportunity: Volleyball player’s first contributions highlight move to 10-0

Just days after the Iowa State volleyball team fell out of the NCAA tournament in early December, senior Tenisha Matlock was on the hunt for a pair of basketball shoes.

With the loss of sophomore forward Madison Baier for the season to a torn ACL, the 14th-ranked women’s basketball team was searching for a tall player to replace her.

Revved up: Princeton University women’s basketball tops an SEC opponent for first time (Looks like Alabama will get some help from Baylor: Hayden to transfer to Alabama)

In what Graham called “the game of the year” (so far) the Gaels downed the #24 Zags in overtime. Writes Michelle:

Ascribing the designation of “statement game” after a big victory can be a tricky business. What exactly is the statement? Are we limited to only one?

Because when Saint Mary’s closed out a 79-78 overtime win over Gonzaga at home Saturday afternoon, there were a few things to say about the 11-1 Gaels.

For starters, this team is for real. The best start in school history has now included wins over Washington, Alabama, USC and the No. 24-ranked Bulldogs, who have won nine consecutive West Coast Conference regular-season titles since 2004.

It doesn’t get easier for St. Mary’s. Up next: Portland, 12-0 San Diego and 11-1 BYU.

How “on fiyah” is Maryland’s Alyssa Thomas? She notched her  second triple-double in three games as the Terps whomped Wofford. 

Central Michigan put up a fight — and there was not a lot of defense played by either side — but #17 Purdue escaped with a 109-97 win.

#14 Iowa State cruised to a win over Holy Cross, but their tests are coming in January: Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

From Chicago Now: Women’s Sports 2013: Five Great Moments for Women…and Chicago Chicago Sky Makes Playoffs

Speaking of the W: Albert Lee has several Reasons why the WNBA should not significantly spend more money in the immediate future

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So, you’ve got to believe other teams are thinking “now’s the time” when it comes to beating UConn this year. Down two players, they also got their bigs in foul trouble — and yet the Terps couldn’t take advantage.

Let’s see how well Penn State fares.

George Washington surprised #10 Cal.

My fault: Iona beats Pacific.

Let’s see how this plays out across the rest of the season: St. Bonaventure defeated Green Bay, 68-62.

Nice early season win for St. Joseph’s over Wichita State.

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for for the season to continue:

Clay says: Not much controversy in the brackets — Let’s play the games

Baylor, A&M, Prairie View headed to women’s Big Dance, KHOU, Houston

Graduating women’s basketball players reflect on their time at Cal, Daily Cal
Feet on the Ground: Layshia Clarendon’s unselfish attitude, Daily Cal

Cal Poly women’s basketball team to play Penn State in NCAA tourney opener, San Luis Obispo

CU Buffs women’s basketball team earns No. 5 seed in NCAA Tournament, Denver Post
Matt Sparkman writes: Buffaloes Earn A Five Seed, Face Kansas Saturday

Injured wrist won’t stop Carra’s final hurrah for sixth-seeded Delaware, Times-Tribune

Alexis Jones will lead Duke women’s basketball to New Orleans,and
Elizabeth Williams is the centerpiece of Duke women’s basketball, Duke Chronicle
Duke women’s basketball NCAA tournament preview, The Blue Zone

Fresno State to face Cal in NCAA Women’s Tournament, Fresno Bee

Vandal women draw UConn in opener, Idaho Statesman

Resiliency of MSU women rewarded with No. 5 seed in NCAA tourney, Detroit Free Press

Michigan women’s basketball full of cheers after learning of their No. 8 seeding, Detroit Free Press

Lady Griz no strangers to NCAA experience, Missoulian

Huskers receive tough tournament draw, Omaha.com
Nebraska, Creighton nab NCAA Tourney bids, Omaha.com

Notre Dame women’s basketball: No favors from NCAA, Sopth Bend Tribune

Penn State women’s basketball: Lady Lions seeded third, bound for Baton Rouge, Centre Daily

Princeton women get date with Florida State, Baylor awaits winner, NJ.com

Purdue women’s basketball team draws No. 4 seed, faces Liberty in Louisville, Purdue Exponent

Quinnipiac Women To Open With Maryland, Courant
Long wait is over for Quinnipiac, New Haven Register
Quinnipiac Bobcats eager to step onto the big stage against Maryland, New Haven Register

Syracuse women’s basketball seeks history, first NCAA Tournament win against Creighton, Syracuse.com

No. 2 seed Lady Vols open with Oral Roberts; Baylor is No. 1 seed, GoVolsXtra
Chattanooga’s season-opening upset of Lady Vols turned out good for both teams, GoVolsXtra

Aggie women to face Wichita State in NCAA opener, Aggie Sports

UConn women, in Bridgeport Regional, opens vs. Idaho, Post
UConn’s opponent: About Idaho, Post
UConn Women To Open Against Idaho, Courant
A Look At UConn’s Competition, Courant
Huskies to play host to Idaho in NCAA tournament, Register
Breaking down Idaho, UConn’s first round opponent, Register
Idaho has tough draw: UConn, Idaho Spokesman Review
The Idaho women’s basketball team takes a 16th seed in NCAA Tourney, KREM
UConn looms again for Kentucky, Courier Journal
Huskies look for redemption in NCAA tournament, Sports Illustrated

Wichita State women to meet Texas A&M in NCAA Tournament, Kansas.com

ESPN, MV: Bracket has familiar feeling

ESPN, GH: Irish face tough road to Final Four – Notre Dame could face host Iowa, South Carolina and Duke to get to New Orleans

ESPN, CC: Geography a big theme of the bracket

ESPN, KF: Not an easy start for CU, Delaware

ESPN, MS: Stanford, Cal: Elite company – Pac-12 and Bay Area rivals gain top two seeds in Spokane Regional

ESPN, Who Dey Pick: Breaking down the bracket

ESPN, Who You Pick: NCAAW: 2013 tournament

ESPN, Chat wrap: Selection Monday

Kelly Whiteside asks: Can anybody stop Baylor women’s basketball?

2013 Women’s Final Four could have familiar teams playing in New Orleans, New Orleans Time Picyune

Swish Appeal’s staff predicts Final Four & upsets

Queenie has some details: Maryland, ACC at-largeUConn, Big East at-largeNorth Carolina, ACC at-largeKentucky, SEC at-large

Nate wonders: Should conference rivals be placed in same region?

He also says: 2013 NCAA brackets: Surprises & first impressions

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the final score said something different:

In a rockin’ OT, it was LA-Lafayette (3-17 Sun Belt) over North Texas (10-10 Sun Belt), 80-74.

‘ware the Billikens! Saint Louis (5-9 A-10) over Butler (8-6 A 10), 44-41.

Troy (3-17 Sun Belt) over South Alabama (10-10, Sun Belt), 62-49.

Radford (9-9 Big South) over Presbyterian (14-4, Big South), 41-38.

UNC Greensboro (4-16 Southern) over Furman (8-12, Southern), 73-68.

Longwood (8-10 Big South) over Winthrop (14-4 Big South), 79-67.

Sienna (8-10 MAAC) over Fairfield (11-7 MAAC), 52-48.

Temple (5-9, A 10) over Xavier (7-7, A 10), 52-45.

Niagara (9-9 MAAC) over Rider (10-8 MAAC), 59-54.

#18 Texas A&M over #17 South Carolina, 61-52.

The fight the record implied:

Tennessee Tech over Belmont (10-5 OVC), 61-57.

Campbell over Hight Point, 74-73, OT.

Not the fight the record implied (good and bad interpretation):

#23 Florida State over Miami, 70-58.

#9 Tennessee over Florida, 82-73. TAMU is next.

#6 Duke over NC State, 79-65.

Stetson over Mercer, 67-52.

#12 Georgia over #22 LSU, 71-53.

#15 North Carolina over Boston College, 62-57.

#10 Maryland over Wake Forest, 92-81, OT. Thomas gets a triple-double.

Michigan State over Michigan, 62-46.

One look at the record, and you understand the result:

Iona over Canisius, 76-58.

FGCU over North Florida, 73-44.

#21 Nebraska over Iowa, 76-61.

Marist over Manhattan, 72-50.

#8 Penn State over Ohio State, 76-66.

#18 Colorado over Washington, 70-59. #4 Stanford is up next.

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didn’t get T’d up earlier in the game for her on-the-court wanderings? (I thought that had been a point of emphasis.) When she finally did earn a double T, WaPo thinks the damage was significant: Maryland women’s basketball falls to Duke, 71-56, after Coach Brenda Frese is ejected.

Mechelle seems to echo their headline:

Then Monday, Gray took command against Maryland, not just offensively but as the spark plug of a defensive effort that made things really hard for the Terps. Alyssa Thomas and Tianna Hawkins were a combined 7-of-30 from the field, totaling 20 points. The Terps had 24 turnovers.

Yet despite Maryland’s struggles, the Terps were down just 57-50 with 4 minutes, 3 seconds left. It was still a winnable game for Maryland, which was pretty remarkable all things considered.

But then Thomas missed a shot, Gray got a layup, and Frese lost her cool. Actually she seemed on the verge of that all night. Two technicals during a TV timeout sent Frese to the locker room and Gray to the foul line.

It wasn’t a particularly elegant game — unless you were Chelsea Gray — as the Blue Devil press harassed the Terps into a ton of TOs and some poor decision-making on offense.

“Just a great, physical game – an excellent game to help prepare us for the NCAA tournament and the way those games go,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said.

“So that was important to us – to be physical and play against a physical team.”

The Notre Dame-Louisville was a little more elegant — if you were a member of the Fightin’ Irish. Says Al Lesar: Notre Dame women’s basketball: Message: Get out of ND’s way

Every defensive stop. Every drive and bucket. Every spot-up 3-pointer.

With every Notre Dame possession, the gap between women’s college basketball’s elite and the rest of the pretenders got wider.

The “haves” (Baylor, Notre Dame and Connecticut) really have it. The “have-nots” don’t have a clue.

Louisville came into Purcell Pavilion Monday night ranked No. 10 in the country. The Cardinals left as another overwhelmed victim of the second-ranked Irish after Notre Dame administered a 93-64 spanking.

CARDINAL COUPLE columnist Sandy Walker provides today’s report on the game in South Bend last night.

In other games of interest, yes, Texas Southern kept on winning, but was a squeaker against (5-20) Grambling State, 59-58. Southern couldn’t keep up, getting SWAC’d by Mississippi Valley State, 61-57.

In the Southern, Chattanooga put some distance between themselves and Davidson as they earned a win over UNC Greensboro and the Wildcats got surprised by the College of Charleston, 74-71.

Hampton continued to roll in the MEAC.

Yes, Florida Gulf has the right to say the A-Sun is “Mine, ALL MINE,” but Stetson is determined to make keep it interesting.

An important Big 10 win for Nebraska, on the road against Iowa.  Perhaps it’s because the Unofficial mascot, Basketball Head, brings support to NU women’s basketball. (Is it just me, or do the I’s in Iowa/Iowa St. stand for inconsistent?)

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