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#MoreThanMean – Women in Sports ‘Face’ Harassment

… now you know who to blame. Hello, Mel: Four decades of the women’s college basketball poll: History and impact

Eighteen years earlier, Greenberg created what became the AP women’s college basketball poll ahead of the 1976-77 season at the Inquirer. The poll, which completed its 40th season in 2015-16, helped market and grow the women’s game at a time when coverage of women’s sports was minimal.

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Greenberg didn’t buy into the idea of a poll for women’s basketball when Philadelphia Inquirer sports editor Jay Searcy wanted him to start one from scratch. With team information and schedules not readily available, Greenberg contacted the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, which ran women’s college sports until the NCAA assumed control in 1982.

The AIAW responded with a position paper: “In the middle it says, ‘Women should not get involved in newspaper games and things like polls because it will lead to the evils of men’s athletics,’” Greenberg recounted.

The poll was seemingly dead before it could even get off the ground.

Speaking of polls….Charlie says Notre Dame leads way in way-too-early preseason top 25 rankings

The season that the rest of women’s basketball has waited for will finally arrive. The reign of Connecticut, at least as the dominant, immovable force in the game, is over. The 2016-17 season looks to be as wide open as any season in more than a decade (even in 2011, when Texas A&M and Notre Dame met for the championship, UConn and Baylor entered the season as big favorites).

Certainly teams can change before next season tips off, with player transfers, coaching changes and injuries. But it’s time to start looking ahead.

Let the housecleanning and heart-healing begin: Louisiana Tech hires Brooke Stoehr to replace Summitt. Longtime WHB readers will remember the good job she and her husband Scott have done as co-head coaches at Northwestern State.

Congrats: ODU women’s basketball assistant Trina Patterson named UNCG head coach

BTW: I’m worried about the depth of the NBA: We Just Saw The Most Lopsided Playoff Openers In Modern NBA History Maybe they should reduce the number of teams playing…

 

(Thank you, Emily Langer, Washington Post) Nera White was an early superstar in the world of women’s basketball

“Did I have game?” Nera White once remarked. “You know that move Jordan made on the Lakers, switching the ball from one hand to the other? I was doing that in the ’50s.” 

White, who dominated women’s basketball in the 1950s and 1960s and who was widely regarded as one of the best players in the history of the sport, died April 13 at a hospital in Gallatin, Tennessee. She was 80.

1396725863000-Nera-White-01

(Thank you, Mike Organ, The Tennessean) Basketball icon, Tennessee native Nera White dies

“Nera is probably the greatest athlete, man or woman, to come from this part of the country, certainly from this state,” said longtime Tennessean sports writer Jimmy Davy. “She probably did not get her due because she was a woman and women in athletics weren’t looked up to in her day like they are now. And Nera did not have a big ego. She kind of kept to herself and valued her privacy. She was a great, great softball player, but was more accomplished in basketball.”

Some coaching gigs filled:

Hartford’s Jen Rizzotti moves up into the George Washington job. She did a fine job at Hartford, but it seems that she’s hit some recent roadblocks. Clearly the Colonials have returned to paying attention to women’s basketball, and previous coach Tsipsis had everything to do with that. Time will tell if Rizzotti can keep the momentum going.

Hello, Ravens coaching tree! Heather Jacobs Named Wagner Women’s Basketball Coach

Jacobs is a 2006 graduate of Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, NH, where she earned magna cum laude honors with a Sports and Recreation Management major, and a minor in Marketing. 

Interesting side note. Is Adelphi the new Maine?  Jacobs is leaving Division II Adelphi…which is the same institution Kim Barnes-Arico left to move to St. John’s…

Great Dane! UAlbany hires Joanna Bernabei-McNamee as women’s basketball coach

McNamee, from Weirton, W.Va., led Pikeville to the NAIA Final Four in what was her third season. It was the team’s second consecutive National Tournament berth. She also has Division I experience as an assistant at Maryland and West Virginia.

Santa Clara hires Bill Carr as new women’s basketball coach…and he has no women’s basketball experience. Cool.

More on UMass’ Tory Verdi

“The culture that surrounds this program will change. Expectations will be on the rise. Accountability will be apparent and a winning attitude will be instilled,” he added. “Our team’s image will be unselfish, tough, hard-nosed, disciplined, prepared, composed and lastly, relentless. It’s time to gain respect from the Atlantic 10 Conference and the rest of the country. It’s time to win and win big.”

Ouch: Luke Decock @ the News Observer: Women’s basketball in the Triangle bottoms out

From the trendsetting tenure of Kay Yow at N.C. State to North Carolina’s three Final Fours and national title under Sylvia Hatchell to Duke’s late-’90s ascendance under Gail Goestenkors, these three programs sat at or near the epicenter of the sport for a long, long time. Decades.

And now? Women’s basketball in the Triangle has reached maximum irrelevancy.

Opposite: Women’s basketball back on the rise in the Northwest

Mark it down. The months of March and April of 2016 are when the sport of women’s basketball regained a position of prominence in the Puget Sound Region.

When, at 4:11 p.m. PDT Thursday afternoon, WNBA president Lisa Borders announced Breanna Stewart as the Seattle Storm’s selection with the first-overall pick of the WNBA draft, it was the final incantation in the resurrection of a sport that not so long ago found itself forgotten on a dusty shelf in the back of the local sports closet.

But like a family heirloom that was rediscovered while packing up for a move, women’s hoops will once again find its place on the living room mantle.

 

From Ann Killion: USF’s Azzi, basketball’s lone out LGBT head coach, draws support

Blair Hardiek was taking a picture. Through the camera lens, she saw University of San Francisco women’s basketball coach Jennifer Azzi standing on stage and taking a deep breath. Hardiek sensed something big was coming. 

She was right. As she watched, Azzi told a crowded ballroom at the Fairmont Hotel that she and Hardiek — her associate head coach — are married. With that statement on March 31, Azzi became the only publicly out LBGT head coach working in Division I college basketball.

The moment wasn’t planned. It wasn’t intended to make history.

“You just get to the point where it’s so stupid to not be honest,” Azzi said recently at the Mill Valley home she and Hardiek share with their bulldogs, Izzy and Ella. “When you’re with someone who gives you so much courage there’s no reason to be afraid.”

WNBA:

MavsMoneyball: The new Dallas Wings should get you excited about the WNBA

So I know we’re all focused on the NBA Playoffs, but before long the Warriors will be back-to-back champs and the NBA season will be finished. And at that point, we’ll all need something fun to do. Luckily, there’s a new basketball team in town: the WNBA’s Dallas Wings.

Thursday night was the WNBA draft, and I went to the draft party at UT Arlington’s College Park Center, which is the new home of the Wings. First confession: I do not love having to drive out to Arlington, even though the arena is plenty nice. I would’ve much preferred SMU’s Moody Arena as the home of the Wings, but I guess not everything can be perfect. Speaking of which, everything else about the Wings is perfect.

The first event on the schedule tonight was the unveiling of the new team’s new uniforms. Check out this majesty:

NBPA: Q&A with Top Pick Breanna Stewart: ‘It’s a New Challenge and New Chapter’

It will likely be a while until we see another women’s player like Breanna Stewart. Standing at 6’4″, the Syracuse native is coming off six straight championships—two in high school and four at the University of Connecticut—and on Thursday, the Seattle Storm selected her with the No. 1 overall pick.

The NBPA’s Michael Goldsholl caught up with the UConn legend at the WNBA draft as she prepared for the next step in her already storied career. Their conversation touched on draft week highlights, memories with the Huskies, preparation for the WNBA, how the ladies’ game is changing, Kobe’s Bryant legacy and her off-the-court interests.

Tuck Realizes Her WNBA Dream, Drafted By The Sun At No. 3

“This day means so much,’’ Tuck said. “The first time I thought about it I was in fourth grade. I loved Lisa Leslie. She was my favorite. I did a project on her in school. And since then I knew that I wanted to play in the WNBA. And then to now to get drafted into it it’s kind of surreal that it’s actually happened just because at such a young age of wanting to do it and now I’m able to. So it’s great.’’

Thank you: Saxony Lutheran girls basketball coach Sam Sides reflects on 38-year Hall of Fame career

It was March 8, 2014, and the Saxony Lutheran girls basketball team had just walked off the floor following a Class 3 quarterfinal victory over Lutheran St. Charles. The result sealed a first trip to state for the program, which had only been in existence since 2006. It was a good feeling; the Crusaders were feeling good. Into the locker room they headed.

“So we were going to state and making history,” recalls Brianna Mueller, now a senior, “and we go down into the locker room and Coach Sides starts to dance. He did the worm. He got down on the ground and did the worm, and we’re all like, ‘What is happening right now?'”

On Saturday, Saxony girls basketball coach Sam Sides will be one of an 11-coach class inducted into the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame following the 38th year of his coaching career. His basketball coaching resume has earned respect and accolades. His dancing?

“I’m not a very good dancer, but I get emotional,” Sides says. “I get a lot more emotional as I get older. I get fired up on occasion, but I try not to do that in public.

Thank you, Pt. 2: Burleigh retires after 42 years

Girls basketball has certainly gone through changes over the last four decades.  However, at South Burlington High school, one thing has remained constant, head coach Sheila Burleigh.

“The girls are great athletes,” Burleigh said.  “They’re bigger, faster, stronger, because they’re understanding that you really need to lift. You need to train year round. You don’t just pick it up in November and expect you’re going to do well.”

After 42 seasons, nearly 600 wins and five state titles, Burleigh announced her retirement on Thursday.

Do you like the things that life is showin’ you? Where are you goin’ to? Do you know?”

(Sing it, Diana!)

Wondering if the tune is running through some young folks’ heads this morning. Some surprises, switches and a little history in yesterday’s draft. Of course, everyone knows that getting selected it one thing. Snagging a roster spot is totally different. I’m really excited to see how this crop shows up.

Mechelle writes: Storm, Sun, Wings dominate the WNBA draft

The 2016 WNBA draft is in the books, and there wasn’t any enormous or surprising drama. The first round featured the most expected picks, and those players are the ones who have the best chances of making an impact as rookies.

Here are five takeaways from the draft. (Editor’s note: For draft day interviews, please click on each player’s name below.)

Mel: UConn Senior Trio Picked 1-2-3 to Bring Their Rewrite of History to the WNBA Draft

University of Connecticut superstar senior Breanna Stewart was just getting started to respond to questions in the media area here Thursday night as the newly-minted overall No. 1 pick of the WNBA Seattle Storm.
Suddenly a big roar arose from the Mohegan Sun’s actual arena venue where the picks were being announced to the hopefuls, their families and coaches, and to the general public seated in the stands.
It was already known that Moriah Jefferson, one of Stewart’s two Huskies classmates, had quickly followed as the No. 2 pick of the San Antonio Silver Stars, sending the all-American point guard back to her native of Texas.
But the roar could mean only one thing, the confirmation that all-American Morgan Tuck, the third of the specially talented UConn trio involved in the draft, had gone overall No. 3 to the local WNBA Connecticut Sun.

More: WNBA DraftCast: Pick-by-pick analysis and draft board

Swish Appeal: 2016 WNBA Draft takeaways: diversity and promise

Seattle Times: Seattle Storm selects UConn star Breanna Stewart with top pick in WNBA draft

For the Win/USA Today has the Inside Story on the Draft Day Fist Bump

BTW: WNBA’s Seattle Storm, Swedish Medical Center Ink Largest Partnership Deal In Team History

Also, from Fortune: Meet the Former Coca-Cola Exec Now Leading the WNBA

TICHA!! (Podcast) FIT015: WNBA legend Ticha Penicheiro about life as a pro athlete abroad

BASKETBALL: WNBA All-Star, WNBA Champion, EuroLeague and EuroCup Champion, WNBA Top 15 players of all time….the list of Ticha Penicheiro’s successes is endless.  But when you ask her about the highlights of her professional basketball career, she looks back at all the international memories and friendships she has created and maintained over the years. For her, this is what will last way beyond her professional athlete life.

Was just talking about the greatness of this woman: Women’s basketball pioneer Nera White dies at 80

A pioneer of women’s basketball, White was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992.

“Nera White was a true pioneer and trailblazer of the women’s game,” said John L. Doleva, president and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame. “Her skill and athleticism was undoubtedly ahead of her time, and she paved the way for the generations of tremendous female athletes that have followed in her footsteps.”

White also entered the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999 as part of its inaugural induction class.

On the flip side…

Welcome: Former Mercury exec Parry joins WNBA as COO

.com: Face of the Franchise: How Number One Picks Have Defined WNBA History

Fox: Storm analyst Elise Woodward breaks down WNBA Draft on “Q It Up Sports”

.com: Déjà Vu In Seattle: 14 Years Later, Storm Poised for Another Rapid Rebuild

Countdown to WNBA Draft 2016: Rachel Banham

St. John’s: Grant and Handford Gear Up for WNBA Draft

BulletsForever: 2016 WNBA Draft Preview Part 1: The Mystics’ current needs heading to Draft Day

Sue at SlamOnline: WNBA Draft Index, Vol. 3

UConn’s Big Three Seniors Looking Ahead To WNBA Draft

Howard Megdal: WNBA Mock Draft 10.0: Pencils down

The posturing is over. The scouting, the evaluating, the pre-draft meetings and workouts—all the information is in front of the 12 teams who will gather Thursday night at Mohegan Sun Arena and pick the next 36 potential players in the WNBA.

Notice potential—there’s no guarantee that draft picks can make their teams, with a source at one WNBA team expressing skepticism that even a first-round pick could make that team’s roster.

However, this deep draft offers an array of players with virtually every skill imaginable. So much comes down to fit, to small gradations of difference. And the moment it’s all over, the fun starts—figuring out how and the way 36 new players integrate with their new teams.

College

Syracuse.com: Being Breanna’s parents: Skittles, Santa, shoes and the basketball journey of a lifetime

The two-day respite between the NCAA Regional and Final Four offers a fleeting moment to breathe. There is, however, no rest. Heather and Brian Stewart squeeze in a couple of days of work at Upstate University Hospital jobs, then returned to their home in North Syracuse for a blur of errands. That is, until basketball breaks out.

On a spectacular early evening when temperatures climb into the 70s, Conor Stewart is working on a two-handed reverse jam on the basketball goal in his family driveway. The goal is lowered several feet to allow Conor access above the rim. The opportunity is too alluring for Brian, who finishes a job sweeping the garage and is soon dunking way with his 14-year-old son. Heather asks if anyone needs her alley-oop feeds from the front porch. The family moment is filled with joy and routine, all worked into the window of March Madness.

The next day, the Stewarts are off to Indianapolis for the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship.

Siroky’s Musings: A Return to the Women’s Final Four After a Long Absence

For the first time in a long while I took a trip by myself.

When the women’s NCAA basketball tournament started 35 seasons ago, I was one of 37 accredited media. 

Two of my best friends were also there as broadcasters, I had a photographer and knew three other national writers. That’s seven of the 37. It was a small group then.

I thought of many of them, the departed and the living, coaches, players and media I had shared a time with. 

There are not a lot of us left. In fact, there are but two media.

You may remember that the Seawolves had some “issues” a while back. Now? A shift in culture: Coach McCarthy transforms women’s basketball program

At 38-3, the UAA women’s basketball team just completed their best season in school history, and were arguably the greatest team Seawolf Athletics has ever assembled. From placing as the runner-up in the national championship game, to shattering 32 school records, to breaking five NCAA Division II records (including the 38 wins), the Seawolves had what one might call a dream season.

However, the team was living more of a nightmare just four years ago, when the program was slammed with several sanctions by the NCAA.

Hartford Courant: With Big 3 Gone, What Are The UConn Women Left With Next Season?

“With these three leaving, the rest of the players coming back are in for a rude awakening. But you can’t disregard what the impact [this season] has on the players coming back. And it will last for a while. But then obviously it will [fade] and they’ll have to earn it like these other guys.

“But we don’t have anybody in the program right now that’s a Stewie or a Tuck or Moriah coming back. So it’s going to be really, really one of the more difficult adjustments that we’ve had in the time that I’ve been here. But it’s OK. I’m kind of looking forward to it. I really am. There’s a lot of new stories to be written by our group.”

Here’s a look at what the Huskies might look like next season:

Courant: Program Foundation Geno And CD Laid At UConn In 1985 Is Holding Up Just Fine

Kerith Burke, SNY: A behind the scenes look at UConn’s fourth straight NCAA championship

Forbes: 3 Ways to Convert Losses Into Wins From A ‘Defeated’ Basketball Coach

Buff Zone: CU women’s basketball: Buffs buy in to Payne’s positive message

Whenever Kennedy Leonard encounters one of her new basketball coaches — and that’s been happening a lot lately — she’s asked how her family is doing, or how she’s doing in school.

“You can tell she really cares about us — all of them do,” said Leonard, who recently completed her freshman season with the Colorado women’s basketball team. “It’s a different kind of feel, a positive feel.”

NC State: Moore looks to take team to next level

Chris Crowder: Wolverines’ WNIT streak ends next year

After four seasons at the helm, Michigan women’s basketball coach Kim Barnes Arico has made the NCAA Tournament only once — her first season when she took over the head coaching job in the 2012-13 season. However, over the past three seasons, the Wolverines have failed to make the Big Dance, instead settling for the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.

Now in Barnes Arico’s fifth season, she’ll finally have a team consisting solely of players she has recruited. And in the 2016-17 season, Barnes Arico will have the right pieces to lead Michigan back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013.

Hello: Justice named head women’s coach at Prairie View A&M

Bye: UWGB junior Latesha Buck granted release

Well, carp: Players’ Departures Bring Swoopes’ Demeanor Into Question

Betting Runner’s SportsChat asked me a few questions and I typed the answers.

Rain, rain, go away…

Kinda feel like the rain outside is symbolic of what’s been happening to our game in the last few days….

Mechelle weighs in: Tyler Summitt’s fall crushing to Louisiana Tech and Tennessee

The school saw bringing him on board despite his inexperience as a calculated risk. Louisiana Tech was willing to roll the dice on that.

Every time I interviewed him over the years — starting when he was still in high school — about his potential future in coaching, I came away impressed, too, with his passion for the sport and how polite and well-spoken he was. I’d bet most journalists had a very favorable impression of him.

But the biggest key to coaching is managing people, and that’s something Summitt apparently wasn’t prepared for.

USA Today adds: Tyler Summitt’s favoritism divided Louisiana Tech team, say parents

I’d say “congrats” to South Dakota’s Amy Williams for being named the new head coach at Nebraska (agree with Mechelle), but one still wonders what exactly went on behind the scenes.

On the heels of that, we have this from Swish Appeal: Duke launches investigation into possible player mistreatment

And this: Illinois reaches a settlement with former women’s basketball student-athletes

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reached a proposed agreement with former women’s basketball student-athletes who had filed a lawsuit against the university. The students alleged racial discrimination and mistreatment that included verbal and emotional abuse from coaches. Associate coach Mike Divilbis left the program in May 2015 but head coach Mike Bollant remains at Illinois.

Yikes!