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the “pick apart” and “prep part” starts.

After Michelle writes that the Seed, site of opener puzzle Stanford Cardinal receive No. 2 seed — and play first-round game in Ames, Iowa

When Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer entered the media room Monday night after the brackets were revealed, one of the assembled reporters wished her a happy St. Patrick’s Day.

“I am part Irish,” VanDerveer said dryly, “but I don’t feel lucky.”

Mechelle and Michelle say to Stanford, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

Melanie Jackson has the Women’s tourney power rankings

After editing Charlie Creme, Graham Hays, Michelle Smith and Mechelle Voepel this season (and covering the women’s NCAA tournament the past 15 years), it’s easy to pick up tidbits about the top teams around the country. So here’s one editor’s take on the women’s field of 64:

Newsday’s Marcus Henry is Breaking down the women’s NCAA Tournament and Jordan Rinard from the Miami Student explains Why I’ll be watching the women’s tourney

Mel offers Guru’s NCAA/WNIT Musings: Louisville Seed Not in the Cards

Well while the Guru didn’t get into the actual seeding forecasts, the countdown of where things were in terms of locks and bubbles pretty much played out.

But some of the Guru’s kitchen cabinet who have been in power centers in the past couldn’t help but wonder at some of the moves made by the committee.

Doug offers 6 players to watch in the NCAA women’s tournament and posits: Here’s what could happen in NCAA women’s tournament

As Colorado State women welcome fresh start in WNIT, Graham and Charlie debate: Are Conference Tournaments Good for the Women’s Game?

Ramona Shelburne offers up New glory days for Cooper-Dyke, USC

Charlie Springer at the Card Game explains: Louisville women’s basketball team latest to pay a price

Scott Wolf at the Los Angeles Daily News adds: USC women’s basketball eager for first NCAA Tourament game since 2006

Ruey Yen at the California Golden Blogs says A 7 seed for Cal Women’s Basketball means it’s off to Waco, TX to face Fordham and likely Baylor

Though West Virginia women are not happy with NCAA draw, the Mountaineers could have career season in 2013-14

From the AP’s Stephen Hawkins, Young Baylor still No. 2 NCAA seed, Big 12 champs

Everything seems pretty much the same for perennial national power Baylor, with another Big 12 title and a No. 2 seed in hand headed into the NCAA women’s tournament.

But this is a much different group than the Lady Bears had two years ago for an undefeated national championship and was an overwhelming favorite to repeat last season before an unexpected regional final loss to Louisville.

Patricia Babcock McGraw says the DePaul women ready to go against Oklahoma

While traveling to North Carolina last March to watch DePaul play in the NCAA Tournament, Megan Rogowski’s family from Prospect Heights rolled in some sightseeing and college visits.

“My parents and my little brother and sister visited Duke and North Carolina and North Carolina State,” said Rogowski, a star at Hersey and now the best 3-point shooter in the Big East Conference. “They had a lot of fun, and they’ll know what to expect for this year.”

Hopefully, the Rogowskis have more items on their “Tobacco Road must-see list” because Megan and DePaul are headed back this year.

In preparation: Offensive rebounds, turnovers primary focus for Lady Tigers - Lady Tigers have been working with scout team to fix mental errors

From Mark Carmin: Akron women’s basketball rides dynamic duo into Mackey Arena to face Purdue

Jodi Kest doesn’t remember giving Akron seniors Rachel Tecca and Hanna Luburgh the nickname “Bread and Butter.”

Tecca swears by it.

“That’s what coach Kest called us,” she said.

The 6-foot-1 forward, though, prefers “dynamic duo” when describing her and Luburgh’s exploits on the court for the Zips, who make their first NCAA tournament appearance Saturday against No. 17 Purdue at Mackey Arena.

“I’m Batman. She’s Robin. I’m Batman because I was here first and I’m taller,” Tecca said.

Ward Gossett notices that Former Chattanoogan Mike Bradbury has Wright State in new place

Wright State women’s basketball fans are celebrating, thanks in large part to former Chattanoogan Mike Bradbury.

Before Bradbury arrived, Wright State had enjoyed only one winning womeon’s season. Since he got to Dayton five years ago, the Raiders have had three 20-win seasons and this year added the school’s first Horizon League championship and its initial invitation to the NCAA women’s tournament.

“It’s been a good week. In my professional career this is probably the highlight,” said Bradbury, a late-1980s basketball player and sprinter at East Ridge High School before moving on to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Jennifer Gish from the Times Union: U Albany women plan March Madness surprise - In third straight trip to tournament, Danes aim to get first victory

“The third time’s a charm,” said the team’s leading scorer, sophomore Shereesha Richards. “So you never know. This might be the year we get an upset.”

Coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson said the team has seen the game film of last year’s NCAA Tournament loss a couple of times, and now knows the importance of boxing out, especially in free-throw situations, and making critical layups.

She says West Virginia is a “super-athletic” team. That’s very much like North Carolina, which beat UAlbany 59-54 in the first round last year after trailing the Great Danes for much of the game.

The UConn Women’s Staff Moves Quickly To Scout Prairie View because the UConn Women’s Path To National Title Begins With Prairie View

Chloe Pavlech blogs on selection Monday: The Terps are Ready to Dance.

Iowa State’s Jadda Buckley is Excited to be Playing at Home

Duke’s Rebecca Greenwell writes Anything’s Possible in Postseason.

Chiney warns A Hungry Team Can Be Dangerous

Shelly Stallsmith previews Penn State vs. Wichita State; Maryland vs. Army in NCAA women’s basketball openers

Gene Wang writes Maryland women’s basketball will host Army in NCAA tournament first round

“I never will take the NCAA tournament for granted,” Maryland Coach Brenda Frese said. “Like I told our team today, when you miss out on an opportunity to go, you’ll never take it for granted. We’ve had a few years, not too many, of those, so it’s truly an honor. These guys have put in a ton of hard work, and now we want to represent Maryland.”

Lisa Leslie is impressed by Saniya Chong’s spirit

Skylar explains What makes No. 2 Notre Dame so tough and Al Lesar writes Notre Dame’s Allen plays her own game

When she looks in the mirror, Lindsay Allen likes the face smiling back at her.

The Notre Dame women’s basketball team’s freshman point guard never tried to be the next Skylar Diggins.

Her only goal was to be the best possible Lindsay Allen.

“I have to make my own path; not worry about what (Diggins) did, what she accomplished,” said Allen. “Just play my game and play my role.”

It’s going to change (apparently) but Flag controversy blocks South Carolina home court advantage

The South Carolina women’s basketball team made history Monday night, earning its first ever number one seed in the NCAA basketball tournament.

The team will travel to Seattle over the weekend, where they’ll face Cal State Northridge in first round action.

A far cry from what some feel could have been.

Of the four number one seeds in this year’s NCAA Women’s basketball tournament, South Carolina will be the only top seed without a game in-state.

The Gamecocks were never in the running to host a regional game this season, in light of an NCAA boycott against South Carolina.

From Walt Moody at the Centre Daily: Third-seeded Lady Lions to face Wichita State in NCAA Tournament opener

You could call Penn State’s draw in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament a bit of a “shocker” in a couple of different ways Monday night.

Crowded around several flat screen televisions in the Founders Room at the Bryce Jordan, the Lady Lions saw they landed a No. 3 seed, a number that was somewhat of a surprise to most prognosticators and even to members of the team.

Well, yeah: Lady Vols eager to end their Final Four drought. Dan writes Lady Vols to be watchful for foul play in NCAA tournament

From Texas: Women’s Basketball Takes on Penn in the First Round

From Lady Moc Land

“This time of year, you’re going to play a good team, regardless of your seed, because all of the bad teams are at home,” UTC coach Jim Foster said. “I like the geography of where we’re going, and I think we’re going to have a good crowd in attendance.”

From Kentucky: Lady Tops enjoying title as NCAA looms

The Western Kentucky women’s basketball team returned to Bowling Green on Sunday evening with weary eyes, but with smiles that hadn’t faded since Saturday night.

Yup, the Beavers go dancing for first time since 1996

When Scott Rueck took over the Oregon State women’s basketball program in late June of 2010, he was met by a large contingency of fans and supporters in the Loge of Reser Stadium.

The Beavers were coming off an 11-20 season that saw them go 2-16 in the Pac-10 Conference.

Players had left and Rueck would have to somehow cobble together a roster after holding open tryouts.

He never could have imagined another similar crowd a mere 45 months later.

Oh, and Freshman point guard Sydney Wiese leads Beavers’ resurgence and OSU realizes Middle Tennessee has plenty of NCAA experience

From Green Bay: Patience, persistence pay off for UWGB’s Zastrow

Sam Zastrow could have quit or moved on from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay women’s basketball team.

She wasn’t getting many minutes and could have transferred to another school to get more. The former Algoma standout has been asked a lot over the years why she didn’t.

“I’ve always wanted to play here,” Zastrow said. “The fact that I wasn’t getting to play the first couple of years, I took that as a challenge. I’m like, ‘I’m not going to leave. I’m not going to let people bring me down.’

From the Salt Lake Tribune: BYU ‘happy to go dancing’ in NCAA tournament

Coach Jeff Judkins said the Cougars aren’t just happy to be in the tournament this year.

“As we talked about before [the bracket] came out, we are not here just to get to the tournament. We really want to play our best basketball and represent this university and this conference the best that we can.”

Over at SportsBlog: Tanisha Wright covers March Madness

What’s showing when? Coverage maps: Saturday & Sunday Who’s announcing when? 2014 NCAA women’s basketball tournament TV schedule on ESPN and ESPN2

You think you know who’s going to win? Play the Brackets.

In non-tourney NCAA news: TCU loses women’s basketball coach Jeff Mittie to Big 12 rival Kansas State and the Topeka Journal writes: Mittie finds perfect fit with K-State women’s basketball program - New Wildcat coach likes facilities, team potential

And yup, it’s not really a surprise, but LaTech is looking for a new coach.

In W news: Ruth Riley’s Passion for Sports Meets Her Passion for Helping Children

Need a little Becky Hammon Coaching Fix?

Speaking of coaching: Seattle Storm Names Shaquala Williams Assistant Coach

From Nate: Swish Appeal’s preliminary 2014 WNBA Draft Board and Evaluating 2014 mid-major WNBA draft prospects: How do we adjust for strength of competition?

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From the Tulsa World: Kloppenburg fired as Tulsa Shock coach

And from Michael Peters at the World: Moral to the Gary Kloppenburg story: Nice guys do finish last

It never dawned on me Kloppenburg wouldn’t get at least one more year as Tulsa’s coach until a Mike Brown story late this season.

Only when team ownership was quoted in our story as giving Kloppenburg the most lukewarm support possible did I realize the coach was in trouble.

The Shock made progress during Kloppenburg’s tenure in Tulsa.

On that issue, there also seems to be universal agreement.

Did he make enough? Obviously, the Shock’s management didn’t think so.

*Julie Plank. Paging Julie Plank.*

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They made the NY Times pay attention: Griner and Other Rookies Rejuvenate W.N.B.A.

With the W.N.B.A. playoffs beginning Thursday, the league’s shift in branding and promotion, with a focus on Griner and other top rookies, has been a success. Ticket sales during the regular season improved by 8.9 percent. Games on ESPN2 averaged 231,000 viewers, a 28 percent jump from a year ago. Traffic on the league’s Web site has increased, too.

“We couldn’t have been more thrilled with how this season is going,” Laurel Richie, the W.N.B.A. president, said in a telephone interview. “We’ve focused a lot of our efforts on storytelling, both about the game and our players.”

Nice shot, Michelle! 

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Suddenly Minnesota looks a mess... and, so, I’m thinking “BAIL ON YOUR PREDICTION, you coward, IT’S GOING TO BE L.A. and Atlanta!!”

But then Chicago manages to survive the Mystics (‘ello ‘elle!), and the L.A. gets STOMPED by Spare Parts ‘ompsons.

And no, I don’t want to talk about Phoenix escaping the Cambage Shock. (What’s the record for double-doubles pts/assists in a season?)

And in “Honestly? Wasn’t a moratorium declared on this stuff?” news Hightower, Faris Sidelined By Injuries

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This time it was the .comCurse (Candace Parker’s Road to RedemptionParker is in midst of her prime playing some of the best basketball of her career right now) and Jayda (Welcome to hot seat Candace Parker; your must-win title push starts now.):

The Sparks, starting a season-high five-game road trip, were without All-Star Game MVP Candace Parker due to an injured right wrist. Her status for Los Angeles’ next game, Sunday at Washington, was uncertain.

Parker’s absence shouldn’t diminish the Shock’s win, nor Cambage’s career high 28pts. 

“It’s good to beat a good team,” Tulsa coach Gary Kloppenburg said. “We really want to push for the playoffs and we know we’ve gotta beat some of these elite teams to get there.”

Guess Diggins got her birthday wish.

The Laurel was in Minny: 

She was asked about a pre-season survey of league general managers, who picked Phoenix to finish first in the Western Conference, followed by Los Angeles and Minnesota. The Lynx have the league’s best record (14-3) at mid-season. “Maybe there were some bright, shiny toys in the window that got people excited,” she said, referring, perhaps, to highly-touted rookies like Skylar Diggins and Brittney Griner. “But I can’t imagine anyone affiliated with the WNBA considering the Lynx an afterthought.”

The Lynx confirmed their non-afterthought status by sluggishly starting and then slugging the stubborn Stars, 85-63.

“Everybody says, ‘What do you have to work on?’ ” Reeve said, acting as though the question was preposterous. “There is a ton we have to work on. … We played in spurts. We feel we have to play better, for sure. But in the end, statistically, we had a pretty good game.’’

Guess so.

In Chicago, Big Syl was…well, BIG as her 10-14 (32pt-15rebs) shooting made up for Prince & Cash’s double-double (3-13) carried the Sky over the Mystics.

“You know, she’s a beast,” Chicago coach Pokey Chatman said. “I call that her beast mode. … Look at her toenail polish when you go in there (to the locker room). She’s got that Incredible Hulk Green on.”

“Pack Up Your Basketballs In Your Old Kit Bag:” USA Basketball Announces Plan To Relocate Headquarters To Tempe, Arizona

USA Basketball today officially announced that it has agreed to relocate to Tempe, Arizona, as part of a $350 million development project. USA Place, LLC, has been selected to develop a new national headquarters and training center for USA Basketball on a 10.5-acre site located next to Arizona State University’s Tempe campus on land owned by ASU at the southeast corner of Mill Avenue and University Drive.

I can see the financial lure. Wonder how the staff will feel — and what impact it will have on the athletes (bball and other sports).

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fans are going to need a lot of antacid, what with teams losing leads and making big comebacks.

First is was the Lib against the Mystics. (Why does Kara mock us fans with her potential?) Oh, and Bill ‘splains himself in a Letter From Laimbeer

With the All-Star break behind us and the second half of the season in front of us, I wanted to take this time to thank you for your support and patience through the first half of the 2013 season. Although our record may not be what we anticipated entering the year, I’m confident that we are headed in the right direction towards bringing a Championship to the New York Liberty. I wanted to share with you my thoughts on our progress directly.

Then it was the Sun against the Catch-lesFever. (Hope  her family is okay) (Hey, how did I miss this? Dramatic growth in male fans helps WNBA’s Fever score profit for first time) (Oh, and Mike does a little pot stirring for Tina: Will she stay, or will she go now?)

Seattle, not to be outdone, took it to Phoenix. (Will Taurasi with the WNBA Community Service Underwriter award, what with all the funds she’s donating via fines?) (And, anyone need a center? Reserve Nakia Sanford leaves Storm)

Wheeeeee!!!!

Meanwhile, Michelle offers up Five (other?) things to look forward to

Folks who didn’t have to worry too much about rallying — unless it was around the flag — were the USA Basketball women. Dave chats with their coaches: Celebrating USA Gold with coaches Sherri Coale and Katie Meier; Monique Currie and the Mystics, Camille Little and the Storm look to hold on

Over at A Daily Dose of Hoops, Brian Giorgis Discusses Marist Women’s Basketball And Team USA

Nate offers some links that ponder the Upcoming collective bargaining and the impact of Elena Delle Donne, Skylar Diggins, and Brittney Griner which led me to this: 

Sports fans have an exciting new avenue for enjoying the top news around the sports world thanks to the iPad app Beyond the Box. The app systematically ranks and analyzes the best sources related to each sports team and league in an effort to bring relevant and interesting content to the fans.

Beyond the Box founder and CEO Shailo Rao took some time to speak with FanSided about what in to making the app and what we can expect from the company in the future. You can check out what Shailo had to say below.

At the .com, Diggins is Looking Back, Looking Ahead. (I wonder if coach McGraw has tried All-Access again…)

Rachel explains the obvious: Why Elena Delle Donne is top rookie

Doug reconnects with Sheryl: Back on the court, Sheryl Swoopes is happy again

This new opportunity has provided a high from what Swoopes concedes was the lowest point in her life four years ago. She had just been cut by the Seattle Storm and was having financial problems, which came to light when she failed to pay rent on a West Texas storage unit. Swoopes lost years of memorabilia from her celebrated basketball career, including awards, jerseys, fan mail and her college diploma.

“I was just mad at everyone,” Swoopes said. “Mad at the WNBA, mad at life. I’d say a lot of it was my immaturity, my stubbornness — my mom says my hardheadedness. I wasn’t responsible in taking care of my things.

The WBCA decides to do some organized talking: WBCA board establishes working groups
to explore changes in women’s basketball:

Semrau assigned board members to three working groups, each co-chaired by two members of the association’s Executive Committee, to focus on a particular topic and develop recommendations for consideration by the entire board. Each group met briefly to begin their discussions and will continue them by teleconference in the coming weeks. The groups are:

  • Legislation and Governance – Penn State head coach Coquese Washington, the association’s vice president, and Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw co-chair this group, which will focus on how the WBCA might be better represented in a revised NCAA governance structure, how the WBCA can more effectively participate in the NCAA legislative process, and how the WBCA’s own governance structure might be improved in order to have a more efficient organization. Members include Claudette Charney, Hillsdale College; Diane Dickman, NCAA; Danielle O’Banion, Kent State; Martha Putallaz, faculty athletic representatives; Jennifer Rizzotti, Hartford; Christy Thomaskutty, Emory; and Rich Ensor, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
  • Playing Rules and Officiating – Kentucky head coach Matthew Mitchell, the association’s secretary, Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma, and West Coast Conference deputy commissioner Connie Hurlbut co-chair this group, which will focus on whether or not we have the right rules going forward and how the game is officiated. The goal is to improve the quality of the game so that it is more attractive to spectators. Members include Anucha Browne, NCAA; Nikki Caldwell, LSU; Brandan Harrell, Georgia Highlands College; Patricia Manning, Williams College; Joanne McCallie, Duke; Melissa McFerrin, Memphis; and Dawn Staley, South Carolina.
  • Professional and Grass Roots Development – Kansas State head coach Deb Patterson, the association’s treasurer, and Arizona State head coach Charli Turner Thorne, the immediate past president, co-chair this group, which will focus on educational programming that will provide WBCA members with opportunities to become better coaches as well as explore the feasibility of establishing a certification service for coaches of women’s basketball. Members include Amanda Butler, Florida; Tricia Cullop, Toledo; Lisa Mispley Fortier, Gonzaga; Kirsten Moore, Westmont College; Mary Beth Spirk, Moravian College; Carol Callan, USA Basketball; and Todd Starkey, Lenoir-Rhyne.

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ever come up with the stoopid idea?”

WNBA rookies lift viewership, sales

“Oh.”

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From Louisa Thomas at Grantland: Candace Parker Knows What She Wants

Practice ended, and Candace Parker’s teammates left the floor. Parker held a ball. Sweat darkened the shoulders of her long gray shirt, roughly mapping the shape of her delts. She had a packed schedule that day: two interviews, a Twitter chat hosted by the Associated Press, a tour of her house for Time Warner Cable Sports’ Backstage: Sparks, lunch with her mother, a weightlifting session with her trainer, an appointment at the eye doctor, and her daughter’s gymnastics class, all before dinner. But no one, least of all herself, wanted her to hurry off the court.

One of the men who had scrimmaged with the Sparks that morning, Tevin Calhoun, who averaged 5.5 points a game last season as a junior at Troy University, jogged over to Parker. He had a young face, mismatched borrowed Nikes — he’d shown up without shoes — and an enviable vertical leap. He also had about three inches and 30 pounds on Parker, who is 6-foot-4, and his soft box cut gave him an inch or two more. She had big hands, though, and endless arms.

Parker turned toward Calhoun, smoothly moving her dribble behind her back. “You wanna, like, play a little bit?” she asked.

From the Windy City Times: Lesbian Chicago Sky player set to attend her first Pride Parade

Although Sharnee Zoll-Norman has mentioned her wife in past interviews, specifically about her absence from the WNBA following the 2008 season until she joined the Chicago Sky this year, it has not been publicized. “It’s never been printed,” she said. And she intentionally never had a formal coming-out.

“I never felt whether I’m gay, straight, bi, [or] whatever that my sexuality had anything to do with me as a basketball player, and I don’t think it necessarily has anything to do with me as a person,” she said. “If I was straight, I wouldn’t have to come out and say that I was straight. So I’ve never had an official coming-out, or something where I felt I had to announce that I was gay. But everyone knows. I wear my wedding ring proudly; I have matching tattoos with my wife, and also have her name tattooed on me. We go a lot of places [together] and I surely don’t hide it [that she's my wife.]“

In this exclusive coming-out interview with Ross Forman, Zoll-Norman of the Chicago Sky tells of life as a lesbian, including her first appearance in a Pride Parade, when she rides on a bus in the annual Chicago Pride Parade on Sunday alongside her wife, Serita Norman.

(Looking forward to reading about the 300+ NCAA Division 1 Basketball Coaches marching is solidarity. And the Division II Coaches. And DIII. And NAIA. And WNBA…)

Speaking of coaches: someone’s cranky: Minnesota Lynx coach unhappy with her ‘big three’ star players

“My big three? If I’m using the last two seasons as a measuring stick, I don’t think they’ve come close to what they’ve been for us the last two years,” Reeve said.

About one of that trio: Dishin & Swishin 6/27/13 Podcast: Seimone Augustus embraces her role in Minnesota on and off the court

Off the court, Augustus has publicly embraced her position as a role model in the lesbian and gay community, talking openly about wanting to get married in Minnesota to her fiancée, and passionately discussing her happiness when Minnesota approved same-sex marriage.

On today’s podcast, Augustus talks about the 2013 Lynx, including candid comments about the lessons learned from their two road losses, at Minnesota and a disappointing performance in Los Angeles last weekend.

A story posted in the future notes: More ouches for Katie Douglas

Indiana Fever guard Katie Douglas will miss several more weeks of action due to a bulging disc in her lower back. Initially diagnosed after missing Indiana’s game at New York on June 5, she missed subsequent games against Phoenix, Connecticut and Washington. Additional testing this week revealed the need for continued therapy and rest.

Speaking of ouches, what are the current odds on Penny getting back on the court this season? Michelle says Penny Taylor sees silver lining

But Taylor knows, as difficult as it has been to be turned into an unwilling observer of a game she loves to play, that there was at least one silver lining.

She went home to Melbourne, Australia, for her rehab, allowing her to spend time with family, specifically her mother, Denna Noble, who was battling cancer. 

“In a way, this worked out that I was home for a really important phase in my life,” Taylor said. “Because if I was playing, there is no way I would have been there for this time. I would have been overseas, and that would have been really difficult.”

About the W’s Generation Next: From Nate: Alex Bentley off to a surprising start as Skylar Diggins and Brittney Griner start to find their rhythm

We’ll take stock of the top ten first (which is essentially the eight at or above average players and two others), but I think it’s fair to say that the Rookie of the Year race is already down to a predictable two players barring a dramatic improvement for a predictable third player.

From the WaPo: Can Brittney Griner pull the WNBA out of its doldrums?

After taking the women’s college basketball world by storm over the course of four dominant years at Baylor, Brittney Griner has tried to embrace her status as the new face of the WNBA, a league beginning its 17th season on the heels of a 2012 campaign that saw attendance hit record lows. She just never expected it to be such a grind.

Not only must Griner suit up for the Phoenix Mercury, but she also is carrying the league mantle off the court, with interviews and promotional appearances across the country. No matter the venue, she is supposed to deliver.

So far: Griner’s popularity reels in fans

Inside the arena, workers have the power tools out as players begin pregame warm-ups, installing another row of courtside seats to meet ticket demand. Meanwhile, Griner is taking pictures with more than half a dozen groups that bought blocks of tickets for the season opener against the Chicago Sky.

Let’s just call it the “Griner Effect.”

“She smiled, she talked to people, and it was a lot, much more than we usually ask the players to do,” Mercury public relations director Rebecca Clark said. “And she was happy to do it. There are times I feel bad asking her to do one more thing, and she just rolls with it.

Her ROY competition made sure her team rolled: Delle Donne, Fowles lead Sky past Liberty

It has been only nine games, but Elena Delle Donne and Sylvia Fowles are turning into a formidable offensive tandem.

Delle Donne scored a season-high 26 points — her ninth straight double-digit performance — as the Sky rallied from an early deficit on the way to an 87-74 victory over the visiting New York Liberty on Wednesday.

About that game, from L’Alien:

It wasn’t a coincidence that Pondexter and Mitchell were grabbing a quick breather when the Sky pulled out that lead – the Liberty desperately lack direction with those two off the floor – but a lot of New York’s problems this season can also be tracked back toPondexter. It feels like she’s jacking up far too many long jumpers, curling off screens and just firing away, and the numbers back that up. She’s always taken plenty of long two-point shots – the least efficient shot in basketball – even when she was a legitimate MVP candidate back in 2010. That’s acceptable when you can hit them at a half-decent rate. But so far this season she’s taken the barrage of long-twos to another level. Before this game against Chicago, she was 11-46 from 16-to-21 feet (in seven games). That puts her on pace to take 223 shots from that distance over the entire regular season. She took 152, 125 and 124 shots from the near-equivalent range over the last three seasons respectively (it’s not an exact parallel because the three-point line’s moved out this year, so it was 16-to-20 feet in the past). Her attempts near the rim are actually pretty similar to past years, but some of her mid-range twos have moved back, and some of her three-point attempts have stepped inside the arc. It’s not working. She’s shooting a poor percentage, and her turnovers are through the roof as well. It’s hard to tell how much of it is Cappie settling for the wrong kind of shots, and how much is Laimbeer’s offense setting her up to take too many in the wrong areas. It’s probably a little of both. But it’s something that needs fixing if the Liberty are going to win a decent number of games this year.

It’s an interesting observation, because I have heard Bill say the words (similar to) “Our offense is better when she’s working within it, not just jacking up shots. It may be that injuries are pushing Pondexter back to her old “me rescue you even if it kills us” mentality, or it may be there’s a battle going on between the two personalities. Keep an eye on this, y’all….

Gabe Salgado has A Locker Room Exclusive: My One-On-One Interview With Elena Delle Donne

In the case of Elena Delle Donne, she gives new hope to the third-largest franchise in the WNBA. Attendance at the Allstate Arena has increased, the fan base has grown and Delle Donne has given sports fans something to talk about.

Making things even better, the Sky are on pace to have their best season in team history. Currently they are 5-3 and in second place in the WNBA’s Eastern Conference, just two games behind Atlanta.

From Andrew Hartsock: Ex-KU star Angel Goodrich finding way in WNBA

It didn’t take Angel Goodrich long to learn the WNBA was a bit more rough-and-tumble than the brand of ball she played at Kansas University.

Just a few weeks into her pro career, Goodrich already has sat out one game nursing a sore knee, then most of a week — of practice, but no games — after suffering a concussion.

“It’s a lot faster, and the physicality … it’s a lot more aggressive,” Goodrich said, comparing the pro to amateur game. “Everything’s bigger and faster and stronger. But these are the top players in the country, and it’s great to be one of them, great to be a part of it.”

That was no sure thing.

An unheralded member of the WNBA team: Adelanto resident now the voice of WNBA’s Sparks

“I’ve been trained to commute,” said Bush, who has announced basketball games at Duarte High School and Pasadena City College for the last 15 years. “I’ve done about 50 or 60 games a year. Commuting isn’t an issue for your dream job.”

Bush said that announcing at Staples Center for the Sparks, not the Lakers, is in fact his dream job. He admitted that the WNBA might not be the premiere basketball league, but as a fan of the game and a longtime follower of women’s basketball, there’s nowhere he would rather be.

Speaking of the Sparks: WNBA star Lisa Leslie surprises campers, speaks about being better role models

From the College ranks:

*cue music* Under Pressure: Sydney Moss gets her release

A different kind of pressure: Former player says ousted OU women’s basketball coach pressured her over religion

A former Oakland University women’s basketball player who played for recently fired coach Beckie Francis has come forward to say she was the victim of religious intimidation and emotional abuse by Francis.

The former player, who grew up in a mixed-faith home, has practiced Islam her entire life, and she says Francis attempted to convert her to Christianity and obsessed over the player’s weight while she was playing at Oakland University.

The University Star has a Q&A With Zenarae Antoine, Women’s Basketball Coach

SR: Is good coaching when you have players buy into your personal system or base your system off their strengths?

ZA: That is a very good question. To me good coaching comes from a number of different things, it is the X’s and O’s, which is a big part of it. In addition to that, I think that you need to have the ability to relate to the current student athlete and enhance their skill sets. There’s a lot of different ways for coaches to figure out how to win. It’s the coach’s ability to be great a communicator. For things to move forward, coaches need to be able to recruit to a system that they like and they run and that works well for them. You look at some great BCS (Bowl Championship Series) schools and they just sign great players regardless of the system, those kids just make plays, and they’re freer in their system. My personal philosophy is that I like to recruit players to a system, but it’s important that I understand their limitations as well as their ability to blend together as a person, not just a basketball player.  

Nine for IX: ESPN Films’ screening of ‘Pat XO’

The roped-off area for the media and the orange carpet were clear signs that the midweek screening at a local theater wasn’t showing standard moviegoer fare. The film “Pat XO” debuted in an exclusive showing a short distance from where Pat Summitt cemented her career at the University of Tennessee.

The movie will debut across the country on July 9 at 8 p.m. Eastern on ESPN as part of the Nine for IX series – movies directed by women that focus on women’s athletics.

From M Robinson: FGCU coach Karl Smesko on the “Ackerman White Paper”, Part I: Rule changes

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The Prince-less Sky fall to the undermanned SASS. (Perhaps Tony Parker inspired them?). ESPN’s headline highlight’s EDD, and for good reason: she battled the classically physical vet Delisha Milton-Jones and still managed a nice line: 17 Pts, 6 Reb, 1 Ast, 4 Blk

Snap judgment: Dan Hughes, COY.

The more undermanned Sun (add Lawson to the DNP list) were outscored in the final quarter by 11, and Mike T and his Mystics team left Connecticut with the win (and a standing ovation).

Snap judgment: All these injuries are making me feel like it’s September, not June. If folks get healthy, this really may be a tale of two season halves.

The soon-to-be more undermanned Liberty (fingers are crossed that Carson’s knee injury is a bad sprain) went down to Georgia and got spanked by the Dream, 75-56.

Snap judgment: Yes, the Dream are 4-0, but look at who’ve they played (and are going to play). It’s not until July 9th that they’ll get a real test.

Wig and Dig are still shooting like figs, but Seattle was equally putrid from three-point land. End result, Tulsa gets their first win. (They gotta win at home, though!).

Snap judgment: Yes, if you’re the Storm, this season may mean you live and die by the three, but how does a team come out “flat?” Not okay.

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there are no games?

Don’t worry! L’Alien will fill in the blankness in your life with game recaps and analysis.

WNBA Today, 05/28/2013: Griner dunks but Mercury demolished, while Mystics squeak past Shock

Memorial Day was a big holiday for the WNBA this year. While the season may have begun for the diehards on Friday night, Monday was the launchpad for the vaunted ‘Three to See’ on national television. ESPN2 rolled out the red carpet for Skylar Diggins in Tulsa’s home opener, followed by the professional debuts for Brittney Griner and Elena Delle Donne. It didn’t all go quite according to the anticipated script, but there was some entertaining basketball along the way. Oh, and a couple of dunks. We mustn’t forget the dunks.
Sunday night saw the opening game of 2013 for two teams with very different outlooks on the season. The Los Angeles Sparks have brought back every meaningful piece from a strong 2012 campaign, and added Lindsey Harding to run the point. Their expectations for 2013 are a lot of wins and a deep playoff run, preferably with a parade at the end. Conversely, the Seattle Storm are without star duo Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson, have only four rotation players returning from last year, and are hoping to scrap their way through 2013 as best they can. Given all that, maybe the way this game played out shouldn’t have been much of a surprise.
Four more teams got their WNBA seasons started last night, and just because I feel like it, we’re going to go Bullet Point Breakdown on both of them. Away we go.

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Whoa, who’s going to guard EDD? (Paging Nneka! Paging Nneka!).

Snap judgment: EDD for ROY.

To Russia with love? Sure, Piph wants to play in the Olympics, but damn, girl, you’re important to this team (see last year).

Snap judgment: Sky needs to get a comfortable lead in the East so they can hold on and make the playoffs.

Who’s going to light a fire under the Mercury? They couldn’t have looked less interested in playing yesterday — and that was on defense (as always) and on offense.

Snap judgment: Corey’s on the hot seat.

What a difference a year makes: How much fun was the Tulsa (Yes, TULSA, ESPN!)/Mystics game?!? Whoop! Whoop!

Snap judgment:  Coach K & T split COY awards.

Rome wasn’t re-built in a day, nor was the Detroit Shock/Newark Liberty. Even if Ford and Pierson get healthy, defense and offense are an issue.

Snap judgment: Liberty don’t make the playoffs.

Yes, it’s going to be a loooong season in San Antonio and Seattle.

Snap judgment: Storm and Silver Stars get the first and second picks in the 2014 draft.

“Baby, you can drive my (reaaaaally, reaaaally) nice car!” The happiest point guard in the west is Ms. Harding. The happiest MVP candidate is Ms. Parker.

Snap judgment: The Minny/LA rivalry will heat up big time. Expect technicals.

Snap judgment, two: Hollywood rediscovers the Sparks.

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Have you done your homework?

From Full Court

Clay: Team plus talent will win the West

Teams are more than talent.

Sure, a supremely talented group of players can overwhelm a roster with significantly lesser ability, but when two talented groups go head-to-head, “team” becomes more important.

In the competitive Western Conference, there are three very talented rosters, but only one has the balance that comes when ability matches position, when options are many and holes are few. That roster belongs to Minnesota, which is why the preview begins with …

The Sparks are set to catch fire

Seattle must weather an injury storm

WNBA Preview: Is there a beast in the East?

Ever since Dick Vitale high-volumed his way onto a TV screen, American sports fans have listened to a host of commentators talk about coaches as if they were players. “Rick Pitino sure shut down Trey Burke in this one,” an announcer will intone, as if Pitino were out on the court personally shadowing Burke.

In truth, of course, Pitino could have had the greatest strategy in the world, but if his players didn’t have the talent to execute it, it wouldn’t matter. Or, to put it another way, coaching IQ directly correlates with player talent.

Sun shake it up — but did they really need to?

The Dream might miss the point

And this cool little review: Once upon a jersey: The evolution of sponsorship in the WNBA

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, names were everything.If that play was a basketball game, and one team was the Montagues and the other the Capulets, the name splashed on the jersey would be an honor for the players to display and each fan to behold. The names of the teams (families) in this game would represent a bitter rivalry between sworn enemies, and would contribute to a competitive matchup.

The only difference here is that, unlike in the play, this basketball game would not end with the key players dying by suicide. (And I for one would like to keep it that way.)

From ESPN

Michelle says: Pondexter among MVP candidates

Mechelle writes: Defending champ back for more

On May 31, the Indiana Fever will unveil their WNBA championship banner and receive their rings. There were some times over the winter months when Fever president and general manager Kelly Krauskopf checked the WNBA website and once again had a feeling of amazement that these things were going to happen.

“I’d see, ‘Get your Fever 2012 WNBA championship gear here.’ And I’d think, ‘Wow, that’s us,’” Krauskopf said. “Then you start reflecting on the journey it is to get there — all the years, tweaking the roster, everything the team went through. When we started the playoffs badly against Atlanta, when Katie [Douglas] went down in Connecticut. That whole journey makes it more special.”

It’s a lengthy path that, for Krauskopf, reaches way back to 1999, when she was named chief operating officer of the expansion Fever.

Michelle asks: Is Harding L.A.’s missing piece?

Speaking of missing, Michelle knows the Storm will have new look in 2013

“We’ve played a lot of games since I’ve been here without Lauren,” Storm coach Brian Agler said, referring to the fact that Jackson hasn’t played a full season for the Storm since 2010 because of injuries and the 2012 Olympic break. “Not that we enjoy it, but we have a good feel for how that is … We haven’t played many games without Sue.”

Mechelle knows Mike T is Ready to resurrect the Mystics

She also is aware that the Plot thickens as 2013 season nears

Last week, women’s basketball Twitter queen Skylar Diggins sent out a short, perfectly apt tweet. It was in response to a big surprise with her new team, the Tulsa Shock, but it could apply to the entire WNBA season, which officially starts this week.

 “The plot thickens …” was @SkyDigg4′s comment. And indeed, there are a lot of storylines to follow, many of which could — and probably will — impact who we see in October battling for the WNBA championship.

With their

WEST BREAKDOWNS

and

EAST BREAKDOWNS

it’s Prediction Time! Which team will win the East? and Which team will win the West? and the crew offers their 2013 WNBA season predictions

The AP Mystery Writer says Strong offseason, filled with major moves, raises the WNBA bar for the Tulsa Shock

Are the pieces finally falling in place for the Tulsa Shock?

Time will tell, but if the preseason prognostications of the league’s general managers are any indication, Tulsa finally looks like a playoff contender. A survey found the Shock as the WNBA’s most improved team.

The AP’s John Marshall wonders: Is this the beginning of The Brittney Griner Era?

AP Mystery Writer deux is in Texas and offers this: Steady and sure, Silver Stars — one of the WNBA’s most consistent clubs — slide into new year

AP Mystery Writer trois is covering Chicago: Sky is the limit for Chicago, Delle Donne as WNBA team hopes to turn tide in 2013

APMW4 is California Dreaming: Candace Parker resumes chase for her 1st WNBA title with LA Sparks

Candace Parker is ready to resume her pursuit of the only major title to elude the basketball star in her career.

She wants a WNBA championship to add to her two Olympic gold medals and two NCAA championships at Tennessee. She even won a title with her Russian pro team during the offseason.

Parker thought the Los Angeles Sparks had the makings of a title team last year, but they came up short, getting swept in the Western Conference finals by Minnesota.

APMW5 is at the Casino: Connecticut Sun eyeing WNBA title with new head coach

Mike Thibault led Connecticut to two WNBA Finals in his decade as the team’s head coach, but never won a championship.

That will be Anne Donovan’s charge this season.

Connecticut fired Thibault and replaced him with the Hall of Fame standout in the offseason. The move came despite a year in which the Sun posted an East-best 25-9 record before losing to Indiana in the conference championship series.

“Usually, when you’re taking over a team, you’re restructuring, you’re tearing it down, you’re building it up again,” said Donovan, who won a WNBA title as coach of Seattle in 2004, beating the Sun in the finals. “That’s certainly not the case here in Connecticut.

Randy Hill at Fox Sports South is wondering: Griner will be huge, but can she make WNBA big?

The arrival of Griner and two other gifted rookies – Skylar Diggins and Elena Delle Donne – has been offered in carefully rendered comparison to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird lifting the NBA profile in 1980.

That’s not excessive pressure, is it?

“I just learn to go with it,” Griner said of handling expectations. “I really haven’t had a problem with that.”

Sports Illustrated offers up this AP article: After finals loss, Minnesota Lynx hope for title finish in 2013

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve would find herself walking through the aisles at her grocery store this offseason when she would be recognized by a fan.

The ensuing conversation would occasionally catch her off guard. Often times instead of congratulations being extended for leading her team to a second straight WNBA finals, the most common question she got was, “What happened?”

After steamrolling through the regular season at 27-7 in pursuit of their second straight championship, the Lynx lost to Indiana in the finals. For a franchise that for years was a league doormat, the newfound expectations have been eye-opening.

From Scott Gleason at USA Today: WNBA hopes Brittney Griner, new logo are slam dunks

Change is coming to the WNBA.

That message is being emphatically emphasized in the upcoming season with a new logo featuring a player rising to the rim for a dunk.

Fittingly this summer, the 12-team league welcomes a rim-rising star who’s already generated an unmatched buzz before stepping out on the court for an official game.

Lois Elfman writes this for the Amsterdam Times: WNBA veterans joining coaching ranks with the Liberty women basketball team

This will be a New York Liberty season like no other, with All-WNBA First Team guard Cappie Pondexter playing alongside fellow WNBA champions Cheryl Ford and Katie Smith, as well as talented rookies Kelsey Bone and Toni Young.

The coaching staff is also unlike any the Liberty has had before. All four assistant coaches played for the Liberty at some point in their WNBA playing careers—Barbara Farris, Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Teresa Weatherspoon and Tamika Whitmore.

Now that the rosters are set, check out who’s in and who’s out.

Jayda writes: TV Alert: With rosters finalized, here’s where to watch the Storm and other WNBA teams

John Altavilla writes: Sun Goal This Season: Tighten Things

Keep up with the Fever with Kevin Messenger’s blog.

Over at Mel’s blog, it’s Mike Siroky’s SEC Report: Making The WNBA Season Opener Rosters

L’Alien is Back (and redesigned)! Priming for Opening Night in the WNBA: New Rules, a New Line, and Prediction Time

So What’s New?

Well if you’ve ended up here, you’re probably well aware of the ultra-hyped new rookie class that’s entering the league. They’re obviously new. We’ve also had coaching changes in New York, Connecticut and Washington since the end of last season. But you can read all about that and the various roster changes in the individual previews. What has the WNBA altered for 2013 on a more basic level?

Finally, a little audio: WomenSportsCentral – Link Brenda and Mechelle’s WNBA preview starts at 13:05 minute.

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Cool weather and contrary winds means the current bird migration is, as a fellow birder put it, a nonslaught.

So, while I spent this morning not seeing birds, other folks are making basketball news.

Phoenix want BG to be very, very careful: Brittney Griner’s WNBA contract has a skateboarding clause in it

From Jim Massie, Ohio State’s Stokes psyched at shot with WNBA’s Silver Stars

In Tulsa, Skylar Diggins joins Tulsa as No. 3 pick, creates speedy backcourt with Candice Wiggins

Bill promises the Liberty will be fun to watch in 2013

Jayda identifies Where former local high school stars are aiming to make pro rosters

In a little Hall of Fame Minnesota high school news, A most respectful, and maddening, rivalry

Area girls basketball coaches Randy Strand and Gregg Slaathaug have been driving each other crazy for 12 years. Fans have benefited. Their antics during games are, in some cases, as entertaining as the action on the floor.

Ellyn Bartges gets a little more press on her efforts: Oral history project chronicles birth of girls basketball in Illinois

Springfield’s Alma Uphoff Liebman used a mocking tone to describe early girls basketball regulations in Illinois.

In the years before Title IX and before the Illinois High School Association allowed girls to compete on school teams, girls intramural basketball teams were often forced to play an odd style of the game. Instead of the familiar five-on-five full-court game, each girls team used six players at a time. Three from each team were stationed on one half of the court, and three were stationed on the other half “because it was too hard on us to play full court,” said Liebman, her voice full of sarcasm.

“Half court basketball’s not basketball,” said one of the Springfield area’s first girls basketball coaches.

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So, to distract us, Mechelle offers this: Douglas fights way back to Fever

You might wonder whether Katie Douglas perhaps had just a brief moment of regret after Indiana won the WNBA championship last season. After all her years of durability through high school, college and pro ball, how could she have suffered a debilitating ankle injury just before the WNBA Finals that the Fever won? What are the odds of that rotten luck and bad timing?

Then again … if you know much about Douglas, it won’t surprise you that, actually, not a single second of angst crossed her mind in that regard. 

“At no point was I sad at all; I was really at peace that I was finally part of a WNBA championship team,” Douglas said Wednesday, looking ahead to the start of the Fever’s 2013 season May 24. “I helped get them there, and my teammates finished it off. They were great.

Get 24 Seconds with Brittney Griner (BTW she helped tv #s on Draft Day)

Need some preseason previews? Here’s what Full Court has:

D.C: With Thibault, the Mystics have nowhere to go but up

‘sota: The Lynx lose Mama Taj but still will be tough to beat

Texas:Despite setbacks, San Antonio concedes nothing

From News on 6: Shock Poised To Bring Excitement To Tulsa Thanks To Offseason Additions

Summertime in Tulsa normally can’t be considered one of the more exciting times of the year, particularly on the sports front.

The heat is oppressive, the mosquitoes are biting and everyone is anxiously awaiting the arrival of fall and football season. However, this summer—and more in the future—an unlikely source could give Tulsans a reason to be excited, a source that has previously been a point of ridicule and even embarrassment.

Yes, the Tulsa Shock could actually be something worth seeing this summer in Tulsa, thanks to progressive improvement over the past two years and the addition of new point guard Skylar Diggins.

In the land of the Vols, a continuation (Pat Summitt still head coach emeritus) and an explanation (Vols cite job performance for firing)

This is cool: Mark Emmert calls for inclusiveness

NCAA president Mark Emmert opened Tuesday’s second Inclusion Forum by urging campus leaders to make school policies more welcoming for women, minorities, disabled athletes and those with different sexual orientations.

While he didn’t cite Collins specifically during his speech or in the subsequent question-and-answer session, Emmert expressed his support for the first openly gay active player in a major American pro sports league. He acknowledged that Collins’ disclosure that he’s gay could have a ripple effect on how college athletic departments treat other players and coaches.

What did he have to say after Griner’s “revelation”? And what is he going to do about universities who have institutionalized homophobia?

Mechelle reflects on the changing roles/responsibilities of journalists: Who should ask? Who should tell?

This wasn’t discussed when I was in journalism school in the 1980s, or even brought up much by editors throughout my career. Nonetheless, there seemed to be an unspoken code: Sports writers not only shouldn’t “out” athletes or coaches but should essentially avoid questions about their personal lives if we thought they might be gay.

If they chose to bring up the topic, that was OK. Otherwise, we usually didn’t ask. And they rarely told.

I’m certainly not suggesting all media have adhered to this “code.” But I have. And many of the reporters I’ve known seem to, as well. Or at the very least, are typically hesitant to broach the topic of whether someone is gay, even in circumstances when writing about their relationship could be deemed journalistically relevant.

After Baylor’s Brittney Griner talked openly about being gay recently, I thought a lot about the so-called “don’t ask, don’t tell” mindset in sports writing. And I’ve pondered it more since NBA free agent Jason Collins’ announcement this week.

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but the rest of the world sure did.

Here’s hoping you and yours are safe and hugged.

As for the basketball world, here’s what I missed:

It’s never too early: The early NCAA women’s basketball preseason top 10

Job filled: Pepperdine promotes assistant Ryan Weisenberg to job as women’s basketball coach. I guess only folks near the program can say whether this is a good or lazy hire.

Another job filled: New women’s basketball coach Randy Norton’s UAB connections go way back

Another job filled: Wright leaves Gannon to coach Miami (Ohio) women’s basketball

You stay put: Duke extends women’s basketball coach McCallie’s contract through 2018-19 season

It’s about time: Alabama reassigns women’s basketball coach Wendell Hudson to administrative role

And well they should: Special year treasured by Irish fans

 They came with basketballs to be signed, and cameras to snap photos.

They formed a line that snaked down the north dome of the Joyce Center, around the concourse, and past the basketball office in the south dome, to get autographs.

They showed up more than 1,200 strong, forcing a move from Purcell Pavilion to the north dome.

Notre Dame women’s basketball fans showed up in record numbers to celebrate a remarkable season, and bid farewell to seniors Skylar Diggins and Kaila Turner at the Fighting Irish women’s basketball banquet on Tuesday night.

From Sean Farrell: Syracuse Women’s Basketball: A Season In Review

With the selection of Kayla Alexander in the WNBA Draft last week, the women’s basketball season officially came to a close. Between a 24-8 record, an appearance in the Big East semifinals and the NCAA Tournament, it was arguably the most successful season in Quentin Hillsman’s seven years at Syracuse.

From jords: Kentucky Women’s Basketball 2012-13: Year In Review

Congrats: Schimmel Sisters, Angel Goodrich Win Prestigious NABI Honor

Angel Goodrich, Native American Basketball Invitational (NABI) alumnus who recently was selected by the WNBA’s Tulsa Shock, only the second Native player to be drafted into the league, and Shoni and Jude Schimmel, the first Native Americans to play in an NCAA women’s basketball tournament championship game, were named the recipients of the 2013 Phil Homeratha Leadership Award. The award, named after the late Haskell Indian Nations University women’s basketball coach, Phil Homeratha, will be presented during the NABI Championship games taking place at U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix on Sunday, July 21.

Cool: Roonie Scovel Talks About Seeing Former Player Drafted by WNBA

Podcast: Brenda & Mechelle:  WSC Radio Show: April 19, 2013: The end of the NCAA basketball season, the WNBA Draft and more

A blog entry from Elena: A little girl’s dreams realized

My days leading up to the draft were spent with 11 other rookies going to meetings to help ease the transition into the professional sports world. Rookie orientation was only three days long and as you can imagine, there is a lot of information that can be helpful in preparing to enter the WNBA. So, because of the short time period, we had to fit a lot of meetings into those three days. Because I was so busy focusing on the tips and information I was being presented with, I barely had time to focus on the fact that I was just days away from one I had dreamt of for as long as I could remember. Playing professional basketball was a lifelong dream and I was lucky enough that, due to the fact that the league existed for most of my life, this was a realistic dream.

From Full Court: Making sense of the Mystics’ Meesseman mystery pick

From the Pittsburgh Courier: Brittney Griner is Gay — Can the WNBA finally move on?

Last Wednesday during a press conference the #1 Draft pick in the WNBA, Brittney Griner did the unspeakable. She casually, matter of factly and openly came out as gay in her first press conference as a professional basketball player.

Griner enters the WNBA as one of the most successful college basketball players (male or female) ever, and she will do wonders for the Phoenix Mercury as a low post defensive stopper. However, what is more important than her play on the court is that her openness about her sexuality shows that as a league and a business the WNBA has finally grown up. Griner’s admission shows that the WNBA is no longer obsessed with finding that “crossover” star to “save” the league and might actually get back to the business of promoting good basketball.

More: Brittney Griner discusses being gay

From Kate Fagan: What does it mean to be an openly gay athlete?

From Jemelle Hill: Brittney Griner’s inspiring message

From LZ Granderson: No perfect time- Society’s not waiting for NFL to be fully prepared for an out player

From AZ Central: WNBA is fine with gay athletes such as Brittney Griner; why can’t men’s major pro sports seem to handle it?

From Fox Sports Arizona: Mercury embrace Griner as player, person

From Outsports: Podcast: Brittney Griner comes out to little fanfare

From HoopFeed: Before Brittney: Emily Nkosi talks about Griner and life since leaving Baylor after coming out

Will her play translate into the W season? WNBL grand final MVP Kelsey Griffin has re-signed with the Bendigo Bank Spirit for next season.

Movie time! Former Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt’s life, career chronicled

Pat Summitt smiled, laughed and shook her head at times.

The Hall of Fame coach, who has early onset dementia, was part of the audience watching a screening of a documentary about her career. “Pat XO.”

“It’s a wonderful film and they did a great job with it,” Summitt told The Associated Press. “It was really incredible to see all those people share their stories.”

Four losses:

Hall of Fame Clemson women’s basketball coach Tribble dies at age 80

Hall of Fame coach Sheridan dies: Shadle Park great won five state volleyball titles, two state girls basketball titles with Highlanders

Crash kills former Orange Park women’s basketball star, Alicia Gladden

Godwin Heights mourns girls basketball player who collapsed, died during practice

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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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1-3. Griner, Delle Donne, Diggins go 1-2-3

BG: OMG it’s TH! and Teary-eyed Brittney Griner selected No. 1 by Mercury in WNBA draft

EDD: Delle Donne happy to be part of Sky and from Delaware: Delle Donne drafted No. 2; headed to Chicago

SD: Notre Dame women’s basketball: Diggins headed to Tulsa

4Washington Mystics select Tayler Hill with fourth pick

5. Bone Sets Aggie Women’s Basketball History, First Aggie Selected in WNBA First Round

6. Storm selects Tianna Hawkins in WNBA draft

7. Oklahoma State’s Toni Young selected seventh by New York Liberty in WNBA Draft

8. Syracuse women’s basketball star Kayla Alexander picked 8th in WNBA Draft

9. Cal’s Layshia Clarendon selected ninth overall by Indiana Fever in WNBA draft

10Mathies selected 10th in WNBA draft

11. UConn’s Kelly Faris drafted 11th overall by the Connecticut Sun

12Lindsey Moore picked in 12th the WNBA Draft

Who else got picked:

K-State’s Chambers, KU’s Goodrich chosen in WNBA Draft

St. John’s women’s basketball sees first two players selected in WNBA draft in Nadirah McKenith and Shenneika Smith

Lady Lions’ Bentley and Greene Drafted to WNBA

No pressure: What’s next for star trio? Griner, Delle Donne and Diggins must play well, help WNBA continue to grow

Now it’s official: Nothing outlandishly bizarre happened. The 3 To See were the top picks in Monday’s WNBA draft. So let’s examine what lies ahead for Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins.

Is Big Bad Bill back?  Draft grades: Liberty score an A

New York coach/general manager Bill Laimbeer snagged a slice of pizza as he was on his way out after chatting with the media here at the WNBA draft. He passed on the brownies, though. It already had been a sweet-enough night for the Liberty.

Asked if the draft could have gone any better, Laimbeer grinned and said, “No, actually. We came into this draft with certain names on certain spots, and they went exactly as we expected.”

Fagan writes about Bill’s draft picks: Young motivated by late coaches - Forward rededicated self to game after OSU’s Budke, Serna died in a plane crash

“Potential” means you haven’t done anything yet — or so the saying goes.

Toni Young heard it a lot from coach Kurt Budke during her first two seasons at Oklahoma State. “Potential is just what you can be,” Budke would say to Young. Sometimes he might change the phrasing, but the point was always the same: Young had a long way to go.

 Every day, Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna tried to light a fire under the 6-foot-2 forward. They wanted Young to dedicate herself to improvement, instead of just skating by on raw talent, which she had in abundance. “They would tell me all of the time that I could be a great player and play in the WNBA if I just put my effort into it,” Young said Monday night, after the New York Liberty selected her with the seventh pick of the first round in the WNBA draft. “When no one else believed in me, the two of them did.”

Swish Appeal has a Q&A with Brittney Griner on her 2013 WNBA Draft experience

They also offer a little pick-by-pick analysis.

So does the Bleacher Report. They’re also Breaking Down Top Picks That Will Have Biggest Impact

Mechelle takes time to reflect: Before 3 To See, this trio starred - Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes and Rebecca Lobo helped pave the way

In the spring of 1997, when they were poised to be “three to see,” the irony was that no one had actually seen them play competitive basketball for a while. All had been on a break from the sport. The pro hoops world that Sheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslie and Rebecca Lobo were about to enter was exciting, but uncertain. Would this WNBA thing actually last?

Leap forward to the Twitter generation. The expected top three picks in the WNBA draft — Baylor’s Brittney Griner, Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne and Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins — aren’t going into unchartered territory. The WNBA will start its 17th season in May.

From Chiney: Friendships make women’s basketball special

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SI’s Richard Deitsch, dat is! WNBA Draft gets interesting following top three picks

Mike Thibault sees opportunity where others see misery. The new coach and general manager of the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, a franchise with 11 wins over the past two seasons, is confident that the No. 4 pick in this year’s WNBA Draft will produce a quality player.

What it is unlikely to produce is a shot at one of the following players: Brittney Griner, the game-changing 6-foot-8 center from Baylor; Elena Delle Donne, the 6-foot-5 forward from Delaware whom many consider a cross between Lauren Jackson and Diana Taurasi, or Skylar Diggins, the heady and popular Notre Dame point guard who will be a box-office draw for the team that drafts her. That trio of college All-Americas are near-locks for the first three picks for the April 15 WNBA Draft

The Courant’s John Altavilla says, Sun Face Difficult Decisions In Monday’s Draft

Things will be quite different with the Connecticut Sun this season. Not only is there a new coach, Anne Donovan, but a team within one win of playing for the WNBA championship in 2012 will be without pillar Asjha Jones, who is taking the summer off to rest.

“You can’t take a veteran off a team who has been a significant contributor without expecting an adjustment for everyone, in the locker room and on the floor,” Donovan said. “But the positive is we already understand she will not be with us and we know we have to fill the hole. It presents a new opportunity for others to establish themselves. We know what we have and we know what we don’t have.”

From Tim Leighton at the Pioneer Press: Tayler Hill expected to be top-10 pick

Tonsillitis slowed Tayler Hill during her senior season at Ohio State, but it won’t be a hindrance on the biggest night of her basketball career. The former Minneapolis South High School guard played the final half of her senior year with strep throat and missed two games to have her tonsils drained.

Hill, who recently had her tonsils removed, is healthy and ready to find out where she will play when the WNBA draft is held Monday, April 15.

Gina Mizell thinks Several former Oklahoma high school standouts could hear name called

Dawn Lee Wakefield notes: Kelsey Bone among 12 candidates in historic first live WNBA draft broadcast

Nate wonders: Who’s the best center prospect after Brittney Griner?

Part of the reason I like keeping track of draft prospect statistics, both before and after they’ve played a year in the league, is because it helps to really put in perspective just how good WNBA stars were in college.

They’re not only the elite or All-American caliber players but the most efficient and productive players in the nation.

And that helps to put both the hype and reality of Brittney Griner into perspective. But it also helps to demonstrate just how strong this year’s group of centers could be: there are three centers not named Griner who also appear on first round mock drafts and the stats suggest that at least two of those “other” centers could end up being better than any of those drafted last year. Digging back further – and taking Liz Cambage’s two year absence from the league after her rookie season into account – this year’s group has a chance to become the best overall in a number of years in terms of the number of players that actually make a roster.

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From the .com, where they continue the “Three to See” theme, they also have have Prospect Files and Q&As:

Bone:

When did you know you wanted to be a professional basketball player? And, given that dream, when did you realize that you had a legitimate shot of doing so? 
I knew I wanted to play professional basketball when I watched the Houston Comets win four consecutive championships, and I was at all four of them. I knew I had a legitimate shot at being a professional when I went overseas for the first time to France and played international basketball at the age of 16. I played against superior talent and several of the players from foreign countries were going pro. I was able to do well in that environment and realized that I could play this game professionally.

Delle Donne:

What do you expect to be some of the biggest challenges or adjustments at the next level?
Defending the guard spot. I play this spot on offense and need to be able to defend this spot on the defensive end.

Faris:

What do you expect to be some of the biggest challenges or adjustments at the next level?
With each new level the competition gets tougher and tougher. Players become smarter and stronger than they were in college. Just as I learned when I got to college, I will have to learn to adjust again in the WNBA.

Hawkins:

What strengths, qualities or skills will be able to bring to a WNBA team?
Relentless rebounding ability; the ability to run the floor, the ability to shoot the midrange to 3-point range.

Rogers:

When did you know you wanted to be a professional basketball player? And, given that dream, when did you realize that you had a legitimate shot of doing so? 
When I won Rookie of the Year for the Big East and I was sitting on that podium with soon to be professional players Maya Moore and Tina Charles.

Young:

When were you introduced to the game of basketball?
Sophomore year in high school

Sue and Richard l’Alien speak in Mike Peden’s: After top three, WNBA Draft a top-heavy toss up

“Previous drafts show that (Pokey) Chatman and Chicago have been influenced by NCAA tournaments,” Cohen said. “Chatman is very hands on and picky with the way her guards play, seeing as Vandersloot has had her growing pains.”

However, the Sky suffered migraines after Epiphanny Prince was sidelined with a broken foot. Without her offense, opponents harassed Fowles, quashing a promising start to knock Chicago out of playoff contention.

“Delle Donne is so skilled. She represents the type of player you have to be now,” Favor said. “She has the greatest potential to succeed.”

The Hartford Courant adds: Top 3 Picks Predictable, So Suspense Starts With No. 4

There is a running joke about Monday’s 2013 WNBA Draft. It’s the one about the how one draft can suddenly resemble two.

“The joke around here is that I have the first pick in the other draft,” said Mike Thibault, the coach and GM of theWashington Mystics and owner of the fourth selection. “I tried to come up with creative ways to get one of the three, but none of it worked.”

Mike Brown at the Tulsa World is thinking: Shock could land Skylar Diggins in Monday’s WNBA draft

Nate reminds folks that Tianna Hawkins leads this year’s group of scoring interior forwards

Roger Cleaveland at the Republican-American warns: Sun not in position to draft impact player

From Virginia’s Daily Press, David Teel has Suffolk product Sugar Rodgers awaits Monday’s WNBA draft

Sugar Rodgers set Georgetown career records for points and steals. She was the nation’s No. 4 scorer this season and exited the college game with a 42-point epic in the Big East tournament.

So it’s no surprise to hear Mike Thibault, the Washington Mystics‘ coach and general manager, say Rodgers is among the top four perimeter players available in Monday’s WNBA draft. And it’s no surprise to read mock drafts — yes, such shenanigans have trickled down to professional women’s basketball — that project Rodgers as a top-10 lock, a perhaps a top-five selection.

Yet Thibault, whose team owns the No. 4 pick, has some reservations about Rodgers, a 5-foot-11 guard from Suffolk’s King’s Fork High.

The writer who makes me wish I were an Ohio State fan wonders: Ex-Buckeye Hill should go early, but to which team?

“She is not afraid,” said Laimbeer, who has the fifth and seventh first-round picks. “I think that’s the thing. She will attack the basket at will and can get to the free-throw line. She creates contact. Those are good characteristics to get to the next level. We’ve definitely eyeballed her.”

Speaking of Ohio State, the job that no one seems to want (According to a message from Wendy Parker on Mike Flynn’s Twitter page, Jeff Walz said this about the Ohio State job rumors: “The only person who has offered me a job job is Geno at his restaurant.”), here’s something on the Search for the Next OSU Women’s Basketball Coach: A Progress Report

Some interesting discussion of skill building in the women’s game: Nebraska’s Connie Yori: Game is ‘overcoached, undertaught’

Nebraska women’s basketball coach Connie Yori recalls a telling conversation with a seventh-grade girl who was on hand for one of Yori’s camps a few summers ago.

Yori told the girl that she hopes the camp is a good experience for her, and that she learns a lot.

“She said, ‘I played 100 games this summer,’” Yori said. “In other words, she thought she really didn’t need to work on her (individual) skills. Here’s a kid playing all these games and basically thinking she has it all figured out.”

Perhaps what Nebraska men’s basketball coach Tim Miles says about youth boys basketball — that it has become game-heavy and skill-light — also applies to the girls game.

Said Yori: “I’m not saying this about all kids, but there are some kids who are just not working on their individual skills enough. So, therefore, it isn’t as commonplace for people to make open shots.”

And finally, who says players are the only ones who can do videos? Check out this rockin’ ‘tube by the Trainers. (I mean, ATHLETIC Trainers – get it right, get it right).

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draftees have a better chance to surprise this year.

Mechelle says the WNBA draft hinges on the No. 4 pick

Last September when the WNBA draft lottery was held, Washington president/managing partner Sheila Johnson couldn’t hide the look of frozen horror when the Mystics got the No. 4 pick. Fourth was the “tough-luck” spot in a draft where there were perceived to be three prizes.

Washington’s woes were not Mike Thibault’s worry that day. He was still coach of Connecticut and focused on the playoffs. But almost seven months later, the No. 4 pick doesn’t look as bleak as it did last fall, and now it’s Thibault’s choice to make.

Remember when Swish Appeal set up their 13 to Watch? Now Nate offers up A preliminary draft board for the 2013 WNBA Draft

Last year, I posted an essay about the evaluation of draft prospects in terms of minimizing risk, drawing from principles outlined in the widely-read book Moneyball. Since then, I’ve set out to see if there are tangible ways to weigh a prospect’s value by their level of risk relative to past prospects based upon a set of red flags and similarity ratings. The following is a partial draft board based what I’ve been able to put together.

From the Des Moines Register: Iowa State’s Prins, Poppens bullish on WNBA teams’ interest

From the Daily Princetonian: Rasheed looks to go pro after Princeton

From the Bleacher Report: WNBA Draft Order 2013: Teams in Best Position to Acquire Elite Talent

Here’s the espnW’s first-round mock draft

Full Court offers up their WNBA 2013 draft preview: One, two, three, and then…

Some interesting dribs and drabs on the college season:

From Zach Neiner at Penn State: Breaking the stigma of women’s basketball

In December 2011, I sat in the Ernie Davis dining hall at Syracuse University with a friend watching, for a moment, Syracuse battle West Virginia in an empty Carrier Dome.

We made jokes about the game, itself, and attendance. Before this school year, I carried the same stigma as most do toward women’s basketball.

“Women’s basketball?” we thought. “What’s that? It’s certainly no men’s basketball.”

A lot has changed since that day.

For more than six months, I have covered women’s basketball, quickly learning to admire the beauty, the athleticism and the competition of the game. And how can one not?

From Fort Myers: FGCU ready to move on after disappointing end to season

Sharing the same facilities every day at a small school, the Florida Gulf Coast Universitymen’s and women’s basketball teams also share a close bond.

So it’s not that the women weren’t happy when the men, whom they consider brothers, made a historic run in the NCAA tournament last month. It’s just that seeing the program achieve unprecedented success was bittersweet after the women’s own promising season ended in disappointment.

From the AP’s Gary Graves: Louisville expects to grow from title-game loss

Add Lee Michaelson: For Louisville, season may be over but the magic lives on

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crowds?

Don’t know how it came across on TV, but it seemed the energy and reactions of the fans during the two games mirrored the teams. During the game game between the two young pups, fans were pumped and enthusiastic and energized in a “Wheee! We’re here! We’re a little nervous, but BOY-O, it’s a new experience!”

During the second game between the two old dogs, fans seemed tense and anxious, weighed down by history and expectation. It was as if they were afraid to invest too much in the outcome, since so much seemed already invested. In made for quiet, nervous viewing from both blue and neon-green clad fans.

Anyhoot-and-any, that’s what if felt/looked like from the nosebleeds. Now from the view at court level:

Louisville Women A Step Closer To Goal, Courant
Antonita Slaughter makes it a distance run, Louisville Courier Journal

Louisville women continue to shock college basketball, CardinalSports.com

Analysis: Louisville 64, Cal 57, ESPN

Party crashers? Sorry, Jeff Walz, your team remains the life of this postseason party. 

Louisville’s coach had T-shirts printed up for his traveling party that had “#partycrashers” emblazoned on the back, a reference to his team’s role in denying the Final Four either a final appearance from Brittney Griner or a familiar face in Tennessee. That was the attitude the Cardinals brought with them, an us-against-the-world mentality that invited people to fuel their fire by doubing them. But after a wild second-half comeback and a 64-57 win against California, the Cardinals are going to have to deal with the fact that they’re the life of this party.

At Full Court: Cinderella season continues for Cardinals, ends for Cal

Cal Bears women’s basketball team falls to Louisville in the NCAA semifinals, Mercury News

With Cal stinging from defeat in the semifinals of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, senior Layshia Clarendon immediately offered her teammates positive words to put the 64-57 loss to Louisville in perspective.

“Don’t hang your heads, we’ve come too far,” was the message Clarendon said she delivered to her teammates. “I just can’t help but smile because what we’ve done is beyond amazing.”

Cal comes up just short, San Francisco Gate

Cal disappointed, but not devastated, ESPN

UConn defeats Notre Dame to advance to national title game, Register
Fourth time’s the charm, Day
UConn breaks curse of the Irish, Day
Dolson has become a media star, Day

Dolson is a budding media star, answering questions with corresponding facial expressions and voice intonations that match her wit. When NBC Connecticut’s Dianna Russini asked Dolson about her expectations for New Orleans last week, Dolson shot back, “wait til you see my dress.”

Dolson unloaded a few four-letter words after collapsing to the deck in the regionals last week, fearing her aching legs and feet might have finally endured the big one. She grinned when asked about it later and in a high pitched voice, said, “awkward.”

Stewart has entered rare air, Day
Rich Elliott: New, improved Huskies get better of Irish this time, Post
Kevin Duffy: Freshman Stewart rises to occasion, Post

Twenty nine points later, after an all-time great individual effort, Breanna Stewart was the hero, swarmed by her teammates. It looked, though, that she didn’t want any part in the celebration.

“That’s Stewie,” joked Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis. “She’s very emotionless.”

Outwardly, yes. But on the inside, Auriemma suggests that Stewart — who hit the inevitable freshman wall a few months ago — is hardly “emotionless.”

Huskies Break Notre Dame’s Spell, Winning 83-65, Courant
Jeff Jacobs: Behold The Metamorphosis Of Breanna Stewart, Courant

As she put her hands about two inches from Auriemma’s hair, fake massaging the most famous coiffure in women’s basketball at the postgame news conference, Stewie, the simultaneously intense and goofball freshman, had shown America this was no joke at all.

“Stewie probably puts as much pressure on herself as any kid I’ve ever coached,” Auriemma said to ESPN after the game. “My God, she was amazing tonight.”

Pictures: UConn Women Vs. Notre Dame In Final Four, Courant
Video: UConn Women At The Final Four, Courant

From Mel: UConn snaps the Notre Dame spell — and gets Louisville’s wizardry next

Huskies Conquer Demons, and Irish, NY Times
UConn’s next star steps to the fore, NCAA.com
Stewart finds stride at right time, ESPN
Huskies turnaround keys: Stewart, defense, ESPN
Freshman Breanna Stewart takes charge for UConn, USA Today

Notre Dame women’s basketball: Irish dream denied, South Bend Tribune

“It’s been a dream come true, just having the opportunity to play for my hometown school and right in my backyard for coach (Muffet) McGraw, and just being able to learn from her every day,” Diggins said. “The experiences I’ve gone through, I’ll never forget. The people that I’ve met, I’ll never forget. It was just such a great time, and I had a great time going through it. I wouldn’t want a different group of girls in the locker room, I wouldn’t want a different group of coaches. “Just the people I’ve met … I know they will be a part of my circle of life. That’s just a blessing in itself.”

Notre Dame women’s basketball: Tough way to end a stellar career, South Bend Tribune

Bitter end for Notre Dame, Diggins: Irish’s season, star’s career finished at the hands of rival UConn, Chicago Tribune

Diggins denied, but still a winner, ESPN

Diggins ends legendary collegiate career, The Observer

Skylar Diggins exits stage as UConn advances to title game, Sports Illustrated

“We were a Sweet Sixteen team before she came here, and suddenly, we became a Final Four team,” said McGraw, teary-eyed in the Notre Dame locker room. “That changes the perspective nationally. Certainly, she is the main focus behind that. I hope there’s another one out there, but I think she’s one in a million.”

UConn is familiar foe … and has a 12-1 record against Louiville women, Louisville Courier Journal

Five thoughts for Tuesday’s final, ESPN

Queenie has some Notes, observations, and random things from New Orleans.

And in shocking news: BREAKING: Jeff Walz To Resign After Title Game To Work For Geno

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my trip last week to Nebraska and my trip this week to New Orleans: Nebraska was freezing, New Orleans is not.

Things that happened in New Orleans:

  • Sitting at the WBCA All-Star game and listening in a couple of SEC folks deconstruct the second half of Kentucky/UConn game.
  • Coming up with a new game to play: Guess which high school player is going to which program based on their style of play.
  • Watching Griner take a moment for a picture with a young fan. Griner standing on the arena floor, fan in the stands: Fan is almost as tall as Griner’s upper body.
  • Yummy, yummy po’ boys at Mothers.
  • Being stalked by friend Renee and her crew. Always good to see familiar faces — even if it’s only once a year.
  • Chatting with deeply-in-the-know-folks about certain coaches who make goofily loud statements about how they’d rather be in a place known for its pasta v. goin’ to New Orleans. Clue-free, much?
  • Walking. Lots of walking. Staying up on St. Charles — a little nearer than I was back in my youth hostel days, but still a walk into the center of the city. Beautiful buildings — brick being the specialty of the house.
  • Pelicans. Brown, that is, are all over the city ’cause, you know, it’s the state bird. And their NBA basketball team is renaming itself the Pelicans. (Guess they got jealous of the Stormy Petrels, huh?).
  • Actually, pelicans are a similarity to my trip to Nebraska, in that we saw a string of 9 migrating white pelicans. And we’re staying nearish to the Blind Pelican.
  • Teasing coach McCallie as you meet her walking the streets ’cause she’s got that “I lost my rental car in the parking lot” look. Liking the fact that she can go with the flow and approve of the sleek silver corvette I point out for her. (BTW, she did find time to provide some F4 analysis.)
  • Knowing my day is brunch, basketball, basketball, dinner. What could be better?

From those folks actually working:

About that Purple, Black and Neon-Green High School Game: Black Team Clinches Win in 2013 WBCA High School All America Game, and no, celebrity coaches Swin and Catch did not throw basketballs at each other. But they got close to throwing on a jersey to secure their team a win.

Sports Illustrated points out that In women’s Final Four, it’s a heated rivalry and two newcomers (even though I know Richard knows Walz has been there before.).

The Times-Picayune’s Trey Iles says, California women’s basketball a Bear of a team when it comes to rebounding, Rachel Whittaker says Connecticut freshmen adjusting to Women’s Final Four stage, hoping to give seniors one more shot,
Cal, Louisville feature tough teams looking to continue Women’s Final Four runs,and Terrance Harris writes, Notre Dame and UConn leaving past in the past as the rivals square off — again– in the Women’s Final Four

The entire state of Connecticut might be in frenzy these days trying to figure out just how deep No.1 Notre Dame has gotten into the heads of its beloved Huskies these past two years.

Arguably the best rivalry in women’s college basketball has become awfully one-sided these last 24 months, with the Fighting Irish winning seven of the last eight games over UConn.

But as far as Notre Dame senior All-American point guard Skylar Diggins is concerned, nothing in the past, not even the three wins over the Huskies this season alone, has meaning as the two powerhouse programs from the Big East get set to square off for a fourth time this year during the national semifinal round of the NCAA Women’s Final Four on Sunday night at the New Orleans Arena.

No surprise, a ton of stuff from the Horde (thanks, Nan):

Huskies believe they’re ready to avert failures vs. Irish, Post
UConn vs. Notre Dame: Who has the edge?, Post
Breaking down the women’s Final Four, Post
Incoming freshman Saniya Chong will get close up look at her future teammates, Post
Auriemma Says Whatever He Can (To Anyone) To Motivate Players, Courant
Dolson, Mosqueda-Lewis Join Exclusive Club Of All-Americans, Courant
UConn Women Face Common Dilemma Vs. Notre Dame – Not Letting Another Team Get Inside Your Head, Courant
Jeff Jacobs: UConn Women Will Win This One, In First 39 Minutes, Courant
Dolson, Mosqueda-Lewis named to WBCA All-America squad, Register
Roads for seniors Skylar Diggins, Kelly Faris lead to the same place, Register
Notre Dame vs. UConn, Register
UConn gets one last chance to beat Irish, Day
This is the one that counts, Hour

Kelly Whiteside at USA Today thinks that For Notre Dame, Connecticut, it comes down to crawfish:

It’s easy to be unnerved by a bowl of crawfish.

“It was looking back at us,” Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins said as she described her team’s experience sampling the local Final Four fare. “Had eyes in it still.”

In a way, the Notre Dame-Connecticut women’s national semifinal on Sunday is little like a bowl of crawfish. We’ve seen it more than once (or twice or thrice) but it’s still transfixing. You don’t want to look away.

From the Chicago Tribune: Loyd and Tuck: A tale of two seasons

Gene Wang, WaPo: Louisville women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz basking in Final Four

From the YouTubes, Notre Dame athletics is workin’ it: During the 2nd day of the Final Four, the Fighting Irish women’s basketball team practiced at Tulane University, had their head shots taken for the ESPN broadcast, and celebrated at the Final Four Salute dinner.

Congrats – and so well deserved – to AP COY McGraw (Gives me chance to shout out a former Lib player, WATN? COY: Vanessa Nygaard is girls’ basketball coach of the year)

Yup, AP Tom, McGraw, Auriemma have crossed paths for years

From the SBT:

From the Mercury News’ Stephanie Hammon: Brittany Boyd shows maturity in sophomore season for Cal women’s basketball team

“I knew that going with a very exciting, dynamic freshman point guard there were going to be some times where you say, ‘OK, that’s a growth moment,’ but a lot more times that you see the spectacular,” Gottlieb said. “I wanted to give her that rope and that empowerment to be her and she has continued to stay with us and try to get better every step of the way.”

“I grew up in a sense,” Boyd said. “I understand the game more.”

Hammon also adds: Cal women’s basketball team expects the unexpected from Louisville’s defense

“After our Baylor win, we went into the press room, and they’re all asking me how long are you going to enjoy this, and I said, ‘For a lifetime,’ ” Walz said by telephone from New Orleans, site of this year’s Final Four. “I said, ‘We’re going to talk about this the rest of the day, tomorrow, the next day, next week, next year.’ I’ve been doing this for 18 years now and really just come to the conclusion life’s too short. You have to enjoy your moments.”

The Louisville Courier Journal makes up for lost time:

Louisville’s Shoni Schimmel is shining bright in the NCAA Tournament

Q&A with U of L’s Monique Reid: Been there, done that, doing it again

Women’s NCAA: Cards’ defense can baffle Cards, too

If you find yourself puzzled as to what kind of defense the University of Louisville women’s basketball team is running, take heart.

Sometimes the U of L coaches and players don’t know, either.

The Cardinals’ shifting schemes have keyed their surprising run to the Final Four. They will switch defenses as many as three times in a single possession, and as you might expect, that occasionally causes confusion on both sides. During the Elite Eight victory over Tennessee, coach Jeff Walz’s assistants asked him what defense the team was in.

“I turned around and said, ‘I don’t know. Shut up,’ ” Walz said. “ ‘Who cares? They’re playing hard.’ They started laughing.

Inside the Louisville-California women’s matchup

Akoy Agau in his words on Louisville basketball in the Final Four

‘If it can happen three times . . .’ Auriemma’s Huskies face an Irish streak

Jere’ from the NY Times adds: Far From Reservation, Sisters Lead Louisville

Louisville had just advanced to the women’s Final Four, and the sisters Shoni and Jude Schimmel had helped cut the nets in celebration, a rare achievement for American Indian athletes. But it was not the biggest family news of the day.

NBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry and folks on “Women’s Basketball as a Model for the NCAA”

Griner says, “Why not, ” Swin says, “Why should she have to?”

Some chick offers The UConn perspective — historical, physical and emotional — on Sunday’s semifinal

From Harvey Araton at the New York Times: At Intersection of Fading Eras in Women’s Game

Donehew, who was a graduate assistant and director of operations for Summitt’s team from 2001 to 2008, was close enough to be inside the circle after the painful diagnosis came in the summer of 2011. She was part of a small group that included Summitt’s son, Tyler, meeting one day to plot a strategy with Summitt on how to proceed publicly.

“We talked about what she wanted to do moving forward: her career, her plans, her legacy,” Donehew said.

But what of the heritage of the Big East, where Donehew has worked for the past four years, joining the conference at a time when its women’s basketball fortunes had become very much the competitive equal of its acclaimed and soon-to-be-mourned big brother?

And, since there are folks on the gentlemen’s side who are all het up about the officiating in the Syracuse/Michigan game, I have an excuse to revive this brilliant April Fool’s from a few years back: 

Cleveland, April 1 (AF) – The NCAA and the Women’s Basketball Officiating Consortium announced new assignments for game officials in Tuesday’s women’s Division I national basketball championship game today, replacing the previously-assigned officials with a new group who had not previously officiated in this year’s NCAA tournament. The original crew, Sally Bell, Dennis DeMayo and Dee Kantner, will be replaced by University of Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma, Maryland coach Brenda Frese and Baylor coach Kim Mulkey.

Mary Struckhoff, the National Coordinator of Women’s Basketball Officiating for the NCAA, announced the new officiating crew at a press conference last night. “While we realize that many fans will be surprised by this change, we think it will make for a more exciting contest. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to seeing this group try to manage a basketball game. We’re particularly delighted that Brenda was able to take time out from updating her resume to officiate on Tuesday night.”

The reactions of the referees originally scheduled to officiate the game were surprisingly upbeat. “I think this is the finest group of coach/referees they could have assembled,” said DeMayo. “I know that every one of them has corrected my officiating mistakes dozens of times, and made sure I knew exactly how I had missed each call. It’s an honor to give up my spot in the national championship game for these outstanding individuals. I’m looking forward to reviewing the game tape with them so I can learn how someone can call a game so well from 30, 40 or even 70 feet away from the play.” (Click to continue reading)

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are here.

Vicki L. Friedman and Paul White offer up their Full Court mid-major All-Americans: Much more than Delle Donne

Given the nature of the American sports media, it’s easy to think that the only special players are the ones who play at the biggest schools. But special players can be found throughout the Division I ranks — and not just at Delaware — so the Fullcourt.com Mid-Major All-American team is our way of recognizing some of the talent that often gets overlooked.

Of course, as is the case with our Player of the Year, as every so often there’s a star so incandescent she manages to seize the spotlight no matter where she enrolls.

Mechelle has a nice piece on Griner.

Baylor’s Brittney Griner glanced up at the national championship banners inside the New Orleans Arena and winced a bit Saturday.

“I thought, ‘We should have another one up there. We should be here fighting for one more,’” Griner said. “It definitely makes it hard, but you can’t run from stuff. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

More from Mechelle: Final Four offers good mix - Favorites or underdogs, there is something for eveyone in New Orleans

If you’ve seen “Oz the Great and Powerful,” you know the most emotion-provoking characters in film are not actually humans. China Girl, the doll, and Finley, the helpful winged monkey, are voiced by real people, but they are computer-generated imagery. They steal your heart and steal the show from James Franco, Michelle Williams and Mila Kunis.

The Louisville and Cal teams are flesh-and-blood folks, but they have a fairy-tale quality that almost makes it seem as if they could have been manufactured in someone’s imagination.

Meanwhile, the box-office big names — No. 1 seeds Connecticut and Notre Dame — are also here, ready to live up to their star power.

She adds another piece: Diggins ready for final shot at title

It’s no easy trick: being focused on an ultimate goal, but not too focused. Notre Dame point guard Skylar Diggins has been thinking about winning a national championship for the Fighting Irish since she was a little kid and saw her hometown team celebrating the NCAA title in 2001.

That’s a long time to carry a very specific dream that an extremely small amount of Division I players actually get to realize. Diggins has been in the past two NCAA title games, with the Irish losing to Texas A&M in 2011 and Baylor last season.

Graham says, Jeff Walz keeps Cardinals believing

The old basketball adage about a shooter’s mindset holds that a player misses 100 percent of the shots she doesn’t take. A coach also loses out on the potential rewards of 100 percent of the gambles he or she doesn’t take.

And if you think it’s difficult to play for Walz, the bellicose, sarcastic sideline ranter, try figuring out what college basketball’s mad genius is going to try next. 

More Graham: Reid’s heart makes up for bum knee

Monique Reid might be limping toward the end of her college career, but she’s about to put some distance between herself and any other woman who has played basketball at the University of Louisville.

She grew up going to Louisville games long before her hometown school started playing games in a downtown NBA-style arena. She was the kid who attended all the basketball camps and sat in the front row when the Cardinals played. She was the ball girl who idolized players like Sara Nord. And Sunday, she’ll become the first player in program history to play in two Final Fours.

Michelle writes: There’s no place like home - Berkeley High star Boyd committed to Cal despite coaching change

Brittany Boyd arrived at Cal a year and a half ago knowing how to play at one speed — on your mark, get set, go — every outlet pass turning into a race to the rim on the other end of the floor.

Races, mind you, that she would usually win because she is the fastest player on the floor.

“She gets the ball, and you just have to book it down to the other end,” junior forward Gennifer Brandon said. “I just tried to stay close to her in case she wants to dish it.”

Fagan suggests Players, not past meetings, are key - Stewart, Jefferson could be the key to Huskies finally solving Irish this season

Finally, Fagan gives us Four storylines for the Final Four

The heavyweight matchup Sunday night is UConn-Notre Dame Part IV.

That game has the most buzz because the storylines are endless: the Big East rivalry, the last go-round for Notre Dame point guard Skylar Diggins, the up-and-coming play of UConn freshman Breanna Stewart. And, of course, the million-dollar question: Is it possible for the Fighting Irish to beat the Huskies four times in one season? Considering that between them UConn and Notre Dame have 19 appearance in the Final Four, it makes sense that Sunday’s second semifinal is overshadowing the first, between No. 2 seed California and No. 5 seed Louisville. The Golden Bears are making their first appearance in the Final Four, and the Cardinals are making their second.

But even though the Cal-Louisville game is flying under the radar, there are some interesting subplots to pay attention to when the two teams tip off Sunday (ESPN, 6:30 p.m. ET). So we start with that game as we break down the key things to watch going into Sunday’s national semifinals.

At Swish Appeal, Richard Kent has some 2013 Final Four tidbits from Louisville’s Jeff Walz: Griner, sideline style, and unexpected scoring

The S.A. Admin says Cal, Louisville a matchup of fun teams looking to take away each others strengths

Jessica Lantz picks up an old story thread: Native American heritage draws support for Schimmels, Louisville in Final Four run

I grew up in Oklahoma – no secret there. And Oklahoma, the literal end of the Trail of Tears means “Red People” in Choctaw. As a native Okie, these are things that you learn about when you take Oklahoma History, a required course in the junior high curriculum. But for other folks in other states, these things might be overlooked – like most of the small native population is.

Despite being in this country well before any of my ancestors, the Native American population is relatively small in the United States. Natives account for 0.8 percent of the population in the 2010 U.S. Census, but in Oklahoma the number is a “whopping” 8.6 percent. That makes the heartland of America (as some call the state) the fourth-most populous when it comes to identifying as American Indian/Alaska Native behind Alaska, New Mexico and South Dakota.

So when I was watching the NCAA women’s basketball tournament regional games in Oklahoma City, where a pair of Umatilla Indians were busy knocking of the No. 1-ranked team in the country en route to the Final Four, I wasn’t entirely surprised when the camera panned to a large contingent of smiling faces rooting for Jude and Shoni Schimmel.

In non-Final Four news, I guess we’ll soon find out if Gail’s at Ohio State, if Courtney or Cynthia is at USC, and what, if any impact, the Rice/Rutgers fiasco has on C Viv.

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In Louisville land: Mayor Declares Friday ‘Cardinal Red Day’

Mayor’s been busy: Louisville mayor bets bourbon on NCAA games

John Roach notes: Final Four ‘party crasher’ Louisville enjoys its run

From the Courier-Journal: Louisville women’s basketball team moving into elite company

Since 2009, six women’s basketball teams have made multiple appearances in the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four.

The University of Louisville joined that sorority with Tuesday night’s 86-78 victory over Tennessee to capture the Oklahoma City Regional. Connecticut, Notre Dame, Baylor, Stanford and Oklahoma are the only other programs to reach the sport’s premier stage twice in the past five years.

To put that in perspective, U of L (28-8) has enjoyed more recent NCAA Tournament success than Tennessee.

Stefanie Dolson is bloggin’: Off to New Orleans!

So’s Elena Delle Donne: I followed my heart, and it worked out

So’s Layshia Clarendon: We’re ready for beignets — and the Final Four

From the AP’s Janie McCauley (really short piece): Gottlieb’s upbeat approach leads Cal to Final Four

From the SF Examiner: Lindsay Gottlieb making remarkable impact on Cal in just her second year

Consider Barbour’s two big hires: Mike Montgomery and Lindsay Gottlieb. Montgomery’s men’s basketball team has reached the NCAA Tournament four times in his five years at Cal and Gottlieb’s women’s basketball team is getting ready to tip off in the program’s first Final Four appearance against Louisville on Sunday.

Montgomery’s success isn’t exactly surprising, but who other than Barbour believed that this fresh-faced 35-year-old from the East Coast would lead Cal to the Final Four in her second season at the helm?

This is a truly remarkable accomplishment and the exposure should elevate the program for years to come.

From Michelle: Now introducing … the California Golden Bears: Five things you should know about the upstart Bears

From Stephanie Hammon at the Contra Costa Times: Cal women basketball team prepares for Louisville, Final Four trip

From Curt at the SBT: Teammates get Diggins’ message

“I wear my emotions on my sleeve,” Diggins said. “I’ve always been a player who is very emotional. I think that gets my teammates going. When you have that look, people understand. ‘Oh, you better bring it.’ It gets my team energized, it gets the fans energized. It gets the coaching staff calm, because they know they can trust me. It gets me fired up. I don’t know if I do it for me or my team.”

Mike Lopresti at USA Today says there’s Nothing friendly but coaches in women’s UConn-Irish tilt

Rich Elliott says UConn’s Hartley thrives in new role off UConn bench

“Every decision you make, you make it with your fingers crossed and you hope that it works,” Auriemma said. “This particular decision, it was, `Hey Bria, we need some energy coming off the bench. We need some scoring. We need to change the way the game is played.’ You don’t know whether Bria is going to pout a little bit and feel sorry for herself and not be sure. But she’s come out and done exactly what we want her to do.”

Carl Ademac says Faris is getting what she deserves

Dueling writers:

From the Times-Picayune: 2013 Women’s Final Four features good storylines even without Baylor

From the Connecticut Post: No Griner a serious hit to Final 4 star power

The APs Brett Martel notices that the Old Big East is going out with a bang at women’s Final Four

Three of the four teams — Connecticut, Louisville and Notre Dame — hail from a league that has long thrived in both women’s and men’s college basketball, but which is breaking apart after this season.

“I guess the shout-out should go out to all the (university) presidents for having the foresight to tear apart the greatest basketball conference that ever existed,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma sarcastically said during a women’s Final Four coaches conference call Wednesday, noting that two teams in the men’s Final Four (Louisville and Syracuse) also are from the Big East. “But I guess it’s a great swan song.

Wondering What’s the buzz on Bourbon Street? Ask Charlie.

Mechelle has Five trendy topics for New Orleans

UConn’s Geno Auriemma and Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw are regulars. Louisville’s Jeff Walz has done this once before. Cal’s Lindsay Gottlieb is the boundlessly enthusiastic rookie.

All four spoke Wednesday during the annual Women’s Final Four coaches’ teleconferences, during which media are always scrambling for nuggets before everyone heads to the city where the national champion will be crowned.

This time around, fortunately, we had only one question about the ridiculous Brittney Griner/NBA nonstory. Auriemma got tossed that grenade, and he smothered it expertly. (Note to Mark Cuban: Here’s something about which we’d actually like to hear a “Why not give it a chance?” answer from you: owning a WNBA team.)

From Mechelle’s chat:

…does anybody else find it a little absurd – if that’s the right word – that we’re talking about whether Louisville’s women’s team – the No. 5 seed – was allowed to be too rough with Griner in the NCAA tournament and that disrupted her … and then supposedly also “debating” whether Griner could make an NBA roster right now?

Beth Mowins and Debbie Antonelli discuss the road to the Final Four on their podcast.

From Dishin’ and Swishin’: Doug Bruno of DePaul breaks down the three Big East teams, and Kevin McGuff of Washington breaks down Cal. 

Going to join me in New Orleans? Here’s the 2013 Women’s Final Four schedule of events

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catch up on last night:

Louisville took care of Tennessee in an eerily similar manner to their take down of Baylor — race out to a lead, then tire (or do dumb stuff) in the middle of the second, then win.

Dan writes: Louisville stops Lady Vols’ run to Final Four, 86-78

Tennessee’s problems began on offense. Louisville used multiple defensive alignments to thwart the player and ball movement that was so prevalent in the Lady Vols’ regional semifinal victory over Oklahoma.

Tennessee had just one point to show for its first seven possessions.

“It may have rattled us some,” UT assistant Dean Lockwood said. “But that’s where you respond at the other end of the floor and we couldn’t do that.”

In the end, there was too much Jude and Shoni. Says Mechelle: Schimmels lead Cards to Final Four

Louisville’s Schimmel sisters, Shoni and Jude, recall watching a movie called “Double Teamed” when they were in middle school. It was about identical twins Heather and Heidi Burge, who went to the Women’s Final Four three times while playing at Virginia in the early 1990s.

The film is hokey, but it’s still a sweet, triumphant story of the sisterhood and athletic success of real people.

“When we were younger, the movie seemed very realistic to us,” Jude Schimmel said. “What they did was our dream, too.”

Shoni added, “Yeah, that was us.”

Duke tried copy Louisville, but couldn’t hold on in the second.

It was an angry glare that could have melted steel.

It certainly melted No. 2 seed Duke’s hopes of pulling off an upset against No. 1 seed Notre Dame in the Norfolk Regional final of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

Just a quick glance at the daggers beaming out of Skylar Diggins’ eyes early in the second half let Duke know it was in trouble.

Adds Graham: Sky’s the limit for Notre Dame

The dances in the middle of the court were complete. Those members of the crowd not clad in green already had begun to drift off into the Norfolk night. But there was one last bit of official business to take care of before Notre Dame left the court for the final time.

By unanimous decision, the announcer intoned, the regional’s Most Outstanding Player award went to Skylar Diggins.

Close, but not quite. There wasn’t any need to go to the judges on this one. Diggins won by knockout. 

From the News Observer: 

Just getting to a regional final was probably accomplishment enough for a Duke women’s basketball team that endured much adversity this season.

That did little to salve the pain the Blue Devils felt as Notre Dame cut down the nets at Old Dominion’s Ted Constant Convocation Center on Tuesday night.

From the Chronicle:

“Our first half was pretty good,” Liston said. “We held them to 31 points and we were right on pace for the [defensive] goal that we wanted to keep them at for the game. I thought we did a great job and we had great focus on the shooters and the go-tos that we wanted to shut down, [but I] wish we could have had that same focus in the second half on defense.”

At the Rockdale Citizen (GA), Darrell Huckaby says hes A fan of women’s basketball and Andy Landers

I was a fan of women’s basketball long before it was cool. I coached girls’ basketball in high school for about 25 years. It made sense to follow the college game. Besides, I liked it. It was a game of strategy and shooting and defense.

In 1985, my Woodward Academy team won its way to the state tournament for the first time in school history. I decided to reward my team with a trip to the women’s Final Four in Austin, Texas. In those days the women’s tournament was played on Friday night and Sunday afternoon, so on the last Thursday in March, we piled into two school vans and headed west.

Yes. We drove to Austin, Texas, for the games.

Tom Goldman at NPR says, Baylor’s Departure From Women’s Basketball Tournament Leaves Huge Hole

Also at NPR: Notre Dame, Louisville Triumph To Round Off Final Four

From Kate Fagan: Big East trio finds way to Big Easy

The right side of the Women’s Final Four bracket looks just like you’d expect it to. But if you shift your glance to the other side, you see one of the most unexpected matchups in recent memory.

Michelle says: They’ve got next

Of this year’s 3 To See, only one remains standing. Notre Dame’s title-craving Skylar Diggins carries the torch for this year’s crop of extraordinary women’s basketball talent into the Final Four in New Orleans.

But if this year’s unpredictable, thrilling tournament has taught us something, it’s that there are other players worthy of our time, attention and admiration all over the top ranks of the game.

And with the Final Four set — Notre Dame and Louisville joined the party on Tuesday after Cal and Connecticut earned their spots on Monday night — this next group of young players already has reached star status as they make their Final Four debuts.

From the experts, Picks (Now that we’re in New Orleans …)

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You know I was being sarcastic, right?

’cause if you didn’t watch the late game last night: SPOILER ALERT!!!

Might I suggest you stop reading, find yourself a couple of hours, and go watch the game?

For those of us who did watch the game: Holy Carp, no?

Some random thoughts on the game before I link to those who know a whole heckuvalot more than I do:

  • Officiating: They let Louisville get away with murder at the beginning of the game. Thought it was amusing that Jeff was all het up about his players getting called for so many fouls. They deserved every one of them — and once they DID get called, the game settled down a bit.
  • I don’t remember a TEAM shooting so friggin’ lights out from three — yes, a player. But the whole team?
  • I don’t mind jawin’ on the court. Talk is talk, but Shoni could have gotten a T for in the face action she pulled on Griner. (Couldn’t tell if she got a warning. She should have.) Loved Griner look to the ref: “Really, ref? I need to put up with this $ht?”
  • Shoni’s jawin’ earned her a T/foul. And then she fouled out with that foolish left arm. That coulda cost her team big time.
  • Geno called himself a dumba$$ after the Maryland for getting T’d up. It cost his team 4 points. But that was at the half, with UConn up. Jeff cost his team four points with is T at 2 minutes. Perhaps it wasn’t a charge, but he needs to be smarter.
  • Perhaps there wasn’t a charge on the other end, neither, but how on earth does Kim not get a T for pulling a Cheryl Reeve?
  • For long time Big East fans who know how hard injuries have cut into a promising career, it was painful to watch Monique miss the front end of that of that one-and-one. (Great call by Kim to foul). But, it set up her game winning FTs beautifully. (Great call by Jeff not to call a timeout — and what happened to Baylor’s D that Griner wasn’t back in the paint?)

Wowza. What a game. And thanks, Kevin, for showing the players some love.

From the experts:

From ESPN.com’s “news services” (though a ton of the AP report is included) Louisville dashes Baylor’s repeat hopes with shocking upset

Mechelle offers some Instant Analysis.

All things considered, you might call it the biggest upset in women’s NCAA tournament history. Or at least very high on the list. Louisville, the No. 5 seed, took down defending champion Baylor 82-81 in the Sweet 16 after an other-worldly performance from behind the arc. And after surviving a frantic, riveting Baylor comeback.

The Louisville women shocked the world and, in this case, it is not hyperbole. The Cardinals made 16 of 25 3-point shots. Every coach has been asked how to best defeat Baylor, and all have said the same thing: Hit from the perimeter. Louisville did. Wow, did the Cardinals do that.

She follows it up with Game’s biggest upset stuns Baylor - Fifth-seeded Louisville knocks off defending NCAA champ to advance to Elite Eight

In the Baylor locker room, point guard Odyssey Sims, crying, clung to former Bears men’s player Perry Jones III. He’s now with the NBA’s Thunder, so the Chesapeake Energy Arena is his home. But it felt like probably the worst place in the entire world to Sims.

Finally, Sims broke away from Jones and sat disconsolately at her locker. Next to her came the sound of wracking sobs from senior teammate Kimetria “Nae-Nae” Hayden. A Baylor official, trying to comfort both distraught players said, “Take a deep breath. Just breathe.”

Breathing was hard for everyone — players, coaches, media, and fans alike — in the closing minutes of this insane, unpredictable, dramatic, thrill-ride of a basketball game.

John Adams at GoVolsXtra notes: Baylor not the only ones ‘stunned’ by upset

Dean Lockwood could have been speaking for the entire Baylor team Sunday evening.

“I’m stunned,” the Tennessee assistant coach said seconds after Louisville defeated No. 1 Baylor in the Sweet 16 round of the Oklahoma City regional at Chesapeake Energy Arena.”

“I’m just trying to process what I’ve just seen,” he added.

Nate at Swish Appeal talks about The perfect storm that helped Louisville upset Brittney Griner & the Baylor Lady Bears

What those two games had in common with the Louisville Cardinals‘ win today is that both of those teams got hot from the 3-point line to help them score over Baylor’s formidable defense. That part of the strategy to beat Baylor has been obvious for some time now, as written in the preview of the game today. The problem is that those other two teams – arguably inferior to Louisville’s team – just couldn’t sustain the hot shooting that included well-above average individual shooting performances.

Part of what went right for Louisville is that their shots just kept falling.

To that point, Mark C. Moore of SB Nation’s Baylor site Our Daily Bears made the point after the game that claims of Louisville employing a “masterful gameplan” were overstated and to some extent, when you look back at how some other non-elite teams have played Baylor, that’s very true: even if you argue that Louisville won the game for a number of reasons, 64% 3-point shooting by a 31% shooting team – yes, more than twice their season success rate – was a major, major reason that they were able to hang on for a one point win.

Clay at Full Court says, Cardinals stun the Bears – Louisville was just better

Baylor didn’t have a bad game.

The Bears scored 81 points against Louisville Sunday, shooting respectably from the field and the line. They controlled the boards. They forced 20 turnovers. They mounted an amazing comeback, worthy of any champion.

And they even got lucky. Jeff Walz drew an incredibly dumb technical foul with 2:01 left and his team up six. The Cardinals turned the ball over with 15 seconds left to set up two more clutch Odyssey Sims’ throws.

And yet … and yet.

Fagan offers up the Five biggest NCAA tourney upsets.

Check out the post-game comments from Kim, Odyssey and Brittney. You can go here for Jeff, Antonita and Shoni.

As her college career ends, Hays gives us Griner’s most memorable moments

Oh, right… there were other games.

Okay, first, I have to ask: Who forgot to take the highlighter out of their shorts before all the Notre Dame uniforms were washed? *Oh, come on! You know you were thinking the same thing!*

That aside, the Irish made quick work of the Jayhawks behind Diggins’ impressive leadership. Says Graham:

 Key player: Who else? A day before the game against Kansas, Diggins talked about trusting her instincts when it comes to the line any point guard must tread between setting up others and looking for her own shot. So it was only fitting that she put those instincts on display taking over a game in which she became Notre Dame’s all-time leading scorer. The scoring established, she picked up assists on three of the team’s first six field goals in the second half and put up seven of her nine assists after halftime.

Al Lesar at the SBT writes: ‘Sky’ just following orders

Curt notes: Diggins gets a record in Irish rout

“… Skylar owned the day,” McGraw said. “I thought she was great from start to finish, both ends of the floor.”

Curt says: Crowd enjoys Loyd’s specialty

Notre Dame freshman Jewell Loyd wowed the crowd at Old Dominion University’s Ted Constant Convocation Center Sunday with three brilliant alley-oops in which she soared out of a sprint, caught a pass while airborne and connected off the glass for a layup.

“Make or miss, they’re definitely momentum plays,” point guard Skylar Diggins said of Loyd’s alley-oops during the 93-63 rout of Kansas that put the Irish in the Elite Eight. “You get the crowd going. When she got fouled, it was like, ‘Ooohhhh. When she made it, the crowd was
‘Ooohhhh’ and ‘Ahhhhhh.’

Next up for Notre Dame: Duke, which had to battle to shake a stubborn Nebraska team (really tough to watch Hooper get hurt).

When a high-scoring team like Duke lays an egg offensively, it usually spells trouble for its tournament chances. But the second-seeded Blue Devils outlasted sixth-seeded Nebraska 53-45 Sunday, relying on stout defense and their stronger interior presence—including seven blocks from Elizabeth Williams—to advance.

From HuskerExtra: Bittersweet: Cold-shooting Huskers dropped by Duke

Two women’s-sized basketballs will fit through a hoop.

Not even one would fit enough times for Nebraska to back up a strong defensive effort against Duke on Sunday in the NCAA Tournament.

The No. 24 Huskers (25-9) hit just 30 percent of their shots, and only 3 of 24 three-pointers, in a 53-45 loss to fifth-ranked Duke in the NCAA round of 16 at the Constant Convocation Center.

There was still some consolation in playing Duke so close.

From Rob Clough: Duke Knocks Off Nebraska, 53-45

Once again, it’s survive and advance for Duke. In a game where the Devils shot just 32%, their aggressive defense held the Nebraska Cornhuskers to just 30%. Husker star Jordan Hooper was just 3-14 from the floor before she rolled her ankle late in the game, while star point guard Lindsay Moore shot only 5-18. Nebraska simply didn’t have the players to generate enough offense in other ways. In some respects, Duke got a berth into the Elite Eight the moment that Nebraska upset Texas A&M, because the Aggies would have matched up much better with Duke than the small and slow Huskers. Whenever Nebraska had a modicum of success in this game, it came because of a Duke turnover or a jumpshot that landed. Considering that Duke only coughed up the ball 9 times and the Huskers were a collective 3-24 from beyond the arc, much of their success was short-lived.

Graham offers some Instant Analysis.

Key player: Alexis Jones. It wasn’t the maestro’s command that Notre Dame point guard Skylar Diggins displayed in the day’s first game, but Jones more than held up her end of the bargain in a regional loaded with some of the best point guards in the nation, including her injured teammate Chelsea Gray. Jones finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and six assists. The freshman also had seven turnovers, but if her job was to manage the team on the floor, she succeeded.

It was close, for a while, but eventually Tennessee ran away from the short (and more during the game)-handed Sooners.

From Guerin Emig at the Tulsa World: OU women fall to Tennessee in NCAA women’s tourney

Oklahoma’s feel-good season ended this afternoon when the Sooners were knocked from the NCAA Tournament by deeper, more athletic and just better Tennessee 74-59.

Dan Fleser says, Lady Vols feeling at home in regional, advance to play Louisville

First, Tennessee took the pro-Oklahoma crowd out of the game.

Then, the Lady Vols ushered the Sooners out of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

John Adams adds, Kamiko Williams’ value increases as UT advances

Tennessee’s advance to the Elite Eight was distinguished by a changing of the guards Sunday afternoon at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Senior guard Kamiko Williams, not SEC co-player of the year Meighan Simmons, is starting to look like the Lady Vols’ most valuable player.

It was as obvious as hit-and-miss in a 74-59 victory over Oklahoma in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

Mechelle offers some Instant Analysis.

Ever since they saw the NCAA tournament bracket, Tennessee fans have been stewing about being in the same region of the draw as Baylor for the third time in the past four seasons.

After the No. 2 seed Lady Vols’ 74-59 regional semifinal victory over No. 6 seed Oklahoma on Sunday, the Final Four is just a step away. But it could be a very large step. If Baylor beats Louisville in the second semifinal here, once again the Lady Bears will stand in the way of Tennessee’s 19th Final Four appearance.

That’s probably especially galling to the Orange crew because even after Tennessee won the SEC regular-season title, the Lady Vols still got stuck with the defending champion and the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Post game for Oklahoma here. Post game for Tennessee here.

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From Full Court: Norfolk welcomes home Elizabeth Williams and Duke Blue Devils

Elizabeth Williams’ McDonald’s All-American uniform never looked so baggy.

On the 5-foot-6 Jenna Frush, the jersey hung like a queen-size bed sheet, the brilliant red shorts hung down to her ankles, and the No. 15 jersey resembled a nightgown.

It was just one of the treasures the Duke Blue Devils found while rummaging through their sophomore teammate’s bedroom, all thanks to the NCAA Tournament coming to Williams’ hometown.

Rob Glough has a preview of the Norfolk games.

And here’s a preview of the Duke-Nebraska game.

Nebraska has won 13 of 15 and believes it can play with anybody, especially after Monday’s 74-63 win over Texas A&M on the Aggies’ home court.

One key for the Cornhuskers, Moore said, is not getting psyched out by Duke’s resume.

“We understand that they’re a big name, but we have been playing successfully and having a good run,” she said. “So we just need to make sure we stay focused on the things that we’ve done up to this point and not necessarily psych ourselves out against a big name like that. Just play Nebraska basketball.”

Her coach, like all the others in the regional, trusts that her point guard can make it happen.

From KHAS-TV: Huskers anticipate Easter Sunday game with Duke

Meanwhile,  the Winston-Salem Journal says the Duke women intent on changing a trend while the Herald Sun says the Road beckons for Final Four-minded Blue Devil women

Curt at the SBT has: Clash features two of nation’s best guards

I think, when you look at (Notre Dame), again, my reference is back to when I was in the Big East, they pass as well as UConn,” Henrickson said. “If you look at the stats, 65 percent of their field goals are assisted. If you pass that well, that leads to a lot of uncontested shots.”

Notre Dame’s passing revolves around All-American point guard Skylar Diggins, but Kansas also has a stellar point guard in Angel Goodrich, and the Jayhawks have an assist on 61 percent of their field goals.

There’s a similar focus at the Lawrence Journal: Guards take center stage for KU-Notre Dame women’s showdown

Basketball?

This is more of a match-up of socio-cultural phenomena.

“Angel Goodrich was a rock star over in Tahlequah (Okla.),” Kansas University women’s basketball coach Bonnie Henrickson said Saturday on the eve of the 12th-seeded Jayhawks’ NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game against Notre Dame, top-seeded in the Norfolk bracket. “Literally a rock star. Thousands of people went to her home games and followed her around.”

Don’t think I caught this from Graham: Diggins, Goodrich take center stage

It’s a point guard’s responsibility to make sure a team gets where it’s going. None in the college game do that any better than the two who will square off Sunday when No. 1 seed Notre Dame plays No. 12 Kansas.

It might not be a coincidence that both Skylar Diggins and Angel Goodrich are conscious of where they came from.

 The Norfolk Regional features four of the seven finalists for the Nancy Lieberman Award, the honor given annually to the nation’s best point guard and named after the star who played her college basketball in this city (although only three of this season’s finalists will be on the court, with Duke’s Chelsea Gray sidelined by injury). But even in that kind of company, Diggins is in a league of her own. She’s the one with back-to-back trips to the national championship game, who mastered Connecticut and awaits a likely place among the top three picks in the upcoming WNBA draft. And, yes, the one with hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers and headband aficionados.

Mechelle says: No. 6 seed Sooners steal spotlight: Oklahoma, not top-seeded Baylor, will have home-crowd advantage

Defending NCAA champion Baylor — the overall No. 1 seed with the superstar who tweets about “needing” to throw down a couple of dunks and then does just that — is used to being the main attraction.

But while the Lady Bears certainly will not lack for attention here in the Sweet 16, they are kind of second-billed this weekend in Oklahoma’s capital city.

Oklahoma, with its campus just 20 miles down Interstate 35, is the star attraction for the locals. The No. 6 seed Sooners will meet No. 2 Tennessee on Sunday at Chesapeake Energy Center (4:30 p.m. ET/ESPN2), followed by Baylor vs. No. 5 Louisville (6:30 p.m. ET/ESPN2).

“It is fun to be in front of a home crowd in Oklahoma City,” Oklahoma senior Joanna McFarland said, “because it is a really good base for women’s basketball.”

From NewsOk: Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale reflects on last meeting with Tennessee

Guerin Emig at the Tulsa World thinks  OU must overcome Vols’ image

They don’t have Pat Summitt on the bench or Candace Parker or Chamique Holdsclaw in the lineup. Still, Tennessee, Oklahoma’s opponent in Sunday’s Sweet Sixteen matchup, can buckle your knees.

“You always will think, at least my generation will think, of Tennessee and UConn as those big teams, the best in the country,” OU forward Joanna McFarland said. “You’re like, `Whoa, stars in your eyes.’ “

Dan Fleser says Lady Vols will find out how well their game travels and adds: SEC good regional preparation for Lady Vols

Tennessee’s SEC opponents won’t lift a hand this weekend to help the Lady Vols at the Oklahoma City regional.

Still, they’ve received credit for helping during the season with the preparation.

“I think it’s faster-paced, more talent, teams are bigger this year,” said senior Kamiko Williams, who lauded the addition of Texas A&M. “I think that has helped us out.

From NPR: Defending Women’s Champs Baylor To Battle Cardinals’ Tough Defense

From the LA Times (ish): Brittney Griner: Baylor Legend Will Key Lady Bears to Dominant Win

From the NY Times: Brittney Griner, Me, and Four Amazing Years at Baylor

Covering the team that was the reason I chose my soon-to-be alma mater hasn’t hurt.

With my press pass, recorder and laptop, I have had a front-row seat to women’s basketball history these past four years, but being on campus to experience it all has made it even more memorable.

When you watch the Lady Bears on the court, you see that they are great role models and serious about the game they play. But when you walk around Baylor’s lush campus, you see another side of them.

Mike Grant of the Courier Journal says: One small obstacle in Louisville women’s basketball tournament road: Mount Griner

How do you stop a woman who dunked three times in her last game, an 85-47 rout of Florida State? How do stop a woman who has powered the Lady Bears to 74 victories in their past 75 games?

“I’m trying to put six on the floor,” U of L coach Jeff Walz said Saturday. “I’m hoping our officials are bad at math tomorrow night and we just get them real confused.”

BTW: Something to keep an eye out for:

Rebecca Lobo ‏@RebeccaLobo: We asked Louisville’s Shoni Schimmel what she would do if Griner tried to dunk on them tomorrow. She replied : “Pants her.

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tonight’s game is going to a hot, Husky mess.

We will have to see, as Graham asks,“Exactly which team is the underdog?Irish have never won Big East tournament; Huskies haven’t beaten ND in a year

A trophy waits for the winner of Tuesday’s Big East championship game between Notre Dame and Connecticut (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET), an encounter that likely marks the final time the teams will play for conference hardware.

But gleaming statuary is only part of what’s at stake when the rivalry renews for the 14th time in the past four seasons. There is more on the line than an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Plenty of press in anticipation of the game:

UConn beats Syracuse in Big East semis, AP article from the Post
Game in a nutshell: No. 3 Uconn 64, No. 22 Syracuse 51, Post
Rich Elliott: KML, Huskies target Irish, Post
UConn Women Beat Syracuse, Earn Rematch With Notre Dame In Big East Final, Courant
Jeff Jacobs: UConn vs. Notre Dame, One Last Time, Courant
Pictures: UConn vs Syracuse, Courant
Anne Donovan Talks About A Coach’s Impact, Courant
Notre Dame Tops Louisville To Make It To Big East Final, Courant
Huskies beat Syracuse, will meet Notre Dame in Big East championship game, Register
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL GAMEDAY: No. 2 Notre Dame vs. No. 3 UConn, Register
Huskies, Irish advance to Big East final, Day
Notebook: Freshman Stewart could be UConn’s X-Factor at the XL Center, Hour
Semi-charmed, Daily Campus
Huskies aim for sixth straight Big East title, Daily Campus
UConn hopes third time’s the charm against Irish, Daily Campus

Notre Dame women’s basketball: Diggins drains big shots to propel Irish into Big East final ,South Bend Tribune
Notre Dame women’s basketball: Irish dispatch Louisville, await clash with UConn, South Bend Tribune
Notre Dame Tops Louisville To Make It To Big East Final, Hartford Courant
UConn and Notre Dame, the perfect script, Examiner.com

Perhaps the most important news story: Notre Dame Women’s Team Decides To Do Away With New Adidas Uniforms, College Spun

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From Graham: Irish duo make perfect team - Big Monday’s clash with UConn (ESPN2, 7 ET) will be Diggins’ final home game

Skylar Diggins’ mother recalled a letter from Ball State when her daughter was in fifth grade. Notre Dame offered a scholarship before Diggins scored a point, let alone won a title, at South Bend’s Washington High School.

Monday night has been a long time coming.

And some other stuff (thanks, Nan):

Share of Big East title at stake for UConn, CT Post
No. 3 UConn women’s game day: Monday at No. 2 Notre Dame, CT Post
ND vs. UConn: A look at last 6 games, CT Post
It Comes Down To This: UConn Vs. Notre Dame, Hartford Courant
Notre Dame Has Had UConn’s Number, Hartford Courant
No. 3 UConn at No. 2 Notre Dame, Hartford Courant
Big East title on the line as Huskies face off with rival Notre Dame, New Haven Register
No. 3 UConn at No. 2 Notre Dame, New Haven Register
UConn women are playing for a share of Big East title tonight, New London Day
Getting past Irish UConn’s goal, Waterbury Republican (subscription required to read entire article)
Colossal clash with Connecticut means nothing, everything, South Bend Tribune
For Her Encore, Diggins Hopes to Lead Notre Dame to Championship, NY Times

She is not shy to break into song, around her parents’ house, around her team, whenever she likes. She raps. She sings. Sometimes she writes her own lyrics — about life, basketball, success.

If she were to write a song now, all three would be in harmony. She could sing about her mother and stepfather, who raised her. About being the hometown kid who led Notre Dame to two national championship games, who has the second-ranked Fighting Irish in position to win it all, and who will face No. 3 Connecticut on Monday in the regular-season finale.

She could sing about her budding fame or her bright future in the W.N.B.A. Her nearly 300,000 Twitter followers would listen. Her family might have no choice.

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“wearin’ o’ the pink,” but at least we don’t have women dressed as bumble bees, RuPaul rejects and… well, I’m not sure WHAT this is. Athletes as Skittles?

On to the important stuff:

It wasn’t easy, but the CU Buffs slipped past Oregon on road. CU has its longest conference win streak since an eight-game streak from Jan. 12-Feb. 6, 2002.

As for the Ducks, freshman Jillian Alleyne a bright spot for struggling Oregon

The 18-year-old has recorded a team-high 10 double-doubles this season, and is one of just 39 players in NCAA Division-I women’s basketball to be averaging a double-double (13.1 points per game, 12 rebounds per game). She is just 41 rebounds shy of the single-season rebounding record set by former Duck standout — and former Oregon coach — Bev Smith.

All this has led Ducks coach Paul Westhead to say that he thinks Alleyne could be the best player to ever come out of Oregon, a distinction usually given to Smith.

More on the West Cost teams: Cooper, Westhead struggle in Pac-12

From the NBA legacies that defined their careers, to the Los Angeles Lakers’ 1980 championship, to WNBA titles, to Pac-12 women’s basketball, Michael Cooper and Paul Westhead represent a bevy of basketball intersections.

And now one more.

Both find themselves occupying the same awkward space, the subject of disappointment and “evaluation” by their respective athletic directors, who have to be seriously contemplating whether either will still be head coach next season.

At Southern California, the Women of Troy are having the toughest season of Cooper’s four-year tenure.

From Ryan Dunleavy: Rutgers women’s basketball NCAA hopes precarious

When it snapped an ill-timed four-game losing streak Tuesday night by beating South Florida, the Rutgers women’s basketball team added a few believers to a following clinging to hopes of an NCAA Tournament berth. The nation’s leading expert on the subject isn’t part of the crowd, however.

Richard Kent asks: What is C. Vivian Stringer’s future at Rutgers?

Stringer’s team (15-12, 6-8 Big East) boasts 6 McDonald’s All-Americans, many more than no. 1 Baylor and no. 2 Notre Dame, yet they have fallen to 9-18 Seton Hall and 10-17 Boston College and lost by 16 to Princeton of the Ivy League.

Her mentor, John Chaney, former Temple coach says that she doesn’t have top talent and that some of her assistants should be fired. Former Stringer player at Iowa, Nadine Domond, now running HoopGurlz for ESPN called her talent good, but not at a UConn or Baylor level.

One of the top coaches in the game was not bashful in saying that if Geno Auriemma had Stringer’s talent, Rutgers would be a Final Four team and if Stringer had the UConn players, they would struggle in the Sweet 16.

There’s a lot of coaching on Beth Mowins and Debbie Antonelli’s podcast. They also interview Notre Dame players Skylar Diggins and Kayla McBride.

Another team hoping to be inside the bubble: UW women’s basketball team battling odds for NCAA ticket

In the past two weeks of a remarkable regular season, the Washington women’s basketball team played its worst game against Utah, lost consecutive road games and had three players suspended for its biggest game yet, Thursday’s matchup against No. 4 Stanford.

A finish with potential records and awards appears to be spiraling down faster than UW coach Kevin McGuff can put a plug in the drain.

Rob Clough at Full Court says: ACC scramble to the finish is critical for NCAA bids

As the ACC enters its final week, there’s not a lot of mystery regarding the top of the league. The only question left regarding Duke is whether or not they can run the table and finish 18-0. We’ll see how much motivation and emotion they can summon after beating Florida State and Maryland in the span of three days.  For the rest of the league, there’s still a good bit at stake, including jockeying for position in the ACC tournament and the potential for making statement wins to draw the eye of the NCAA selection committee.  I’ll also dole out my ACC awards. RPI information was culled from realtimerpi.com.

Also at FullCourt, Kelly writes: The last week will tell the tale in the SEC, Pac-12 and Big East

The final week of the NCAA regular season is kind of like the final episode of a reality show — a lot of drama is unfolding. Three major conferences (the Southeast, Big East and Pac-12) have yet to crown a regular season champion, which means the pressure will be on all through these final days.

Cal is close to sharing a title  in a tight PAC12 race.

They’ll will the Ivy regular season title, but Harvard made sure Princeton paid attention to the Crimson, giving the Tigers their first in-conference loss.

Yup: The Saint Bonaventure Bonnies: What a difference a year makes

In W news, as Bill rebuilds the Newark Shock, Mechelle says: Laimbeer puts personal touch on Lib – New York coach isn’t optimistic that Deanna Nolan will play this season

One thing you’d never call Bill Laimbeer is a sentimentalist. His Liberty team might have familiar faces from his days as Detroit’s coach. But that’s only because he thinks those players can help New York now. The past is past. He’s thinking of the future.

From Tulsa, Mike Brown has some words from the newest member of the Shock:

“I’m so excited to play in Tulsa,” Candice Wiggins said. “I want to thank the city of Minneapolis for all it’s given me. I want to thank the coaches, the players, the fans and people of Minnesota for their support. Tulsa is a warm place and I have always loved playing in the BOK Center. I’m excited be a part of this organization. I want to thank Tulsa for this golden opportunity for me to bring my talent to this righteous city.”

Nate says Tulsa scores in three team deal with Minnesota, New York

BTW: Sheeeeeee’s baaaaak: Mishicot High School graduate Wojta signs with WNBA’s Silver Stars

Need to keep up on the player movement? Go here.

And yes, it’s been One Nnek Of A Year

“The transitions have been quick and I’ve had to really get used to a different type of lifestyle so quickly,” Ogwumike said. “But it’s been so much fun going from playing my senior year, playing in the Final Four, then going straight to L.A. to play for the Sparks, then going straight from L.A. to Poland.

“It’s been quite a whirlwind.”

Did you know we’re Seven weeks away from WNBA history?

Mark your calendars: We’re exactly seven weeks out from the 2013 WNBA draft. For the first time in the league’s 17-year history, the draft will be carried live on prime time television (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2).

Speaking of history: Bingham coach Ramussen, one of the all-time winningest coaches in state history steps down.

Rand Rasmussen already knows his son won’t understand.

The Bingham girls’ basketball coach is 39 wins away from breaking the state’s all-time record for victories.That’s basically two seasons for the Miners.

Why retire? Why now?

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