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Archive for November, 2014

(Sunday and the season.)

The ESPN/AP headline says #22 West Virginia “rolled” past Fairfield, and if you’re Mike Carey you gotta love that the Stags only scored 11 in the first half. But when your Mountaineers are outscored 42-35 in the second by a 1-5 team? Not so happy.

June is bustin’ out all over – and so is Galdeira (33pts). As a result, Washington State knocked off #10 Maryland, 70-64.

In what seems the umpteenth double overtime game of this young season, the battle of Chicago went to Northwestern as the Wildcats took down the #18 Blue Demons, 97-91.

As expected, the Bulls gave those other Wildcats everything they could handle. Not a beautiful shooting night for either team, but Thompson and Goss’ free throws sealed the game for #9 Kentucky.

#5 Stanford started out slowly… and I mean slowly, against Hawai’i, but Thompson heated up and the Cardinal breathed a sigh of relief after their 86-73 win.

No sighing involved:

#25 Mississippi almost doubled up UNO (the Privateers, not the Mavericks.).

#22 Georgia caged the Golden Eagles, giving coach Landers his 850th win with the Bulldogs. Landers joins Pat Summitt (1,098 wins at Tennessee), Jim Boeheim (953 wins at Syracuse), Mike Krzyzewski (916 wins at Duke), Geno Auriemma (882 wins at Connecticut), Dean Smith (879 wins at North Carolina) and Adolph Rupp (876 wins at Kentucky) in reaching 850 wins at one Division I school.

#20 Oklahoma State dismissed Texas State.

#19 Beavers escaped the Cougars.

#14 California over Creighton.

#13 Baylor tipped the Hatters.

#11 North Carolina pounded Prairie View.

#3 Connecticut just threw fastballs at Vanderbilt.

Upcoming:

#8 Duke v. #7 Texas A&M. The Blue Devils handled Stony Brook, but it might have cost them Williams (yup) and Stevens. Not sure we’ve figured out who the Aggies are yet. (WatchESPN @ 1pm)

#4 Tennessee v. #6 Texas. Yup, it’s early in the season, but this feels like two “statement” games for the individual head coaches. Can Aston’s team stand up to the limelight. Can Warlick’s team recover from a stunning setback. (FOXS1 @ 6pm)

I’m intrigued by #2 Notre Dame v. Kansas, mostly ’cause the Jayhawks are 5-1 and it’ll be nice to get a inkling if they’re “legit” this year.

It’s a battle of the undefeateds as Lehigh faces off against Sacred Heart.

In another battle of the undefeateds, #15 Nebraska meets 4-0 Northern Colorado.

It’s a battle of the defeateds, as 0-3 Canisius goes up against 0-3 St. Francis (PA)

Fun IN-state rivalry game: 5-0 Indiana v. 4-1 Indiana State.

Marist got its first win of the season, (Yah!) Now they get to go up against Baylor. (Gulp)

5-1 Green Bay will get a good sense of themselves when they go up against #3 UConn.

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First, Matt Bollant’s resurgent Illinois program takes down #9 Kentucky, 77-71 in Paradise. The Wildcats recovered for a win against Oklahoma, but it did take them overtime.

Then #5 Stanford (yikes, what an opening schedule of games!) only manages to score 19 in the first half against #11 UNC on its way to a 70-54 defeat.

#17 Iowa was up two at the half over Arkansas, then the Razorbacks made mincemeat of them in the second, earning a 77-67 win.

#15 Huskers were down 7 at the half, but rallied to defeat UCLA, 71-66.

#1 USCar was down 4 to #22 Syracuse, but rallied for four-point win.

On the flip side:

#14 Cal scored 61 – yes, that’s right, 61! –  in the first half against San Diego Jose (thanks, Melanie!) State, on its way to a 110-87 victory.

#3 UConn routed. #13 Baylor routed. #12 Louisville routed. # Duke routed (with a strong second half).

#10 Maryland handled James Madison, 80-64.

Betnijah Laney tallied her fifth double-double as #21 Rutgers defeated Colgate… but the Scarlet Knights only managed to score 60 pts.

In other games:

Washington took down Florida State, 80-68.

Princeton gave Wake Forest their first loss of the season, 72-55, and then easily dispatched Montana.

Wonder if the Tigers will need to pay attention to Big Green: Dartmouth moves to 3-0 with a win over Cal Poly.

South Florida came up with a nice win for the program, taking down Oklahoma, 83-68. They then took down the Wildcat-slaying Illini, 67-61. ‘ware the Bulls?

Green Bay dispatched Georgia Tech, 71-50.

We’ll see how significant this win is as the season progresses: Michigan over Washington State, 76-64.

The Hatters are 4-0, courtesy of their win over Marist.

American surprised previously undefeated Gonzaga, 59-56.

Not my fault: a last-second three means Virginia goes down to Toledo, 64-62.

Western Kentucky’s been playing a LOT of basketball… but they still managed to defeat Tulane, 69-64.

Yup, it was quite a game: Fresno State 93, San Diego 88. The kind of game that makes Debbie smile.

More injury news for Ohio State, as they lose Beach in the loss against Wichita State.

Trouble in Puerto Vallarta: Santa Clara women have two games canceled at tournament in Mexico

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Don’t let Rebecca Lobo say anything nice about your team… Tennessee visits Jim Foster’s Mocs in Chattanooga and boom, down goes the #4 team in the country. Coach Warlick must have been having deja vu all over again.

Other than that, it’s sorta been a quiet week in Lake Womensbasketball, though New Mexico DID try and steal Texas’ thunder by taking down Stanford. Cardinal escaped, though, with a five-point win.

LSU is still having a really, really tough season. They fell to Santa Clara, 69-67.

Ditto with Penn State, who lost to the Bonnies, 56-54.

Notre Dame is just stomping everybody. And, btw, shame on you, South Bend Tribune. The Irish football team ain’t ranked. The Irish men’s basketball team ain’t ranked. But the Irish women’s basketball team is ranked #2 in the country with an amazing player in Loyd and an up-and-coming star in Turner… and you drop the fabulous and respected Curt Rallo. I guess you figure fans would rather read about a bunch of men losing than read about a bunch of women winning. That’s just sad.

Yes, they defeated the Hilltoppers to win the pre-season WNIT. Yes, they’re 5-0. And yes, For Whom the Cowbell Tolls, I understand “Why you need to be paying attention to Mississippi State women’s basketball this year.” But the #24 Bulldogs had a hot start last year, too…let’s talk  after the Jan 2 game v. #22 Georgia.

Speaking of Western Kentucky, they kept even with Louisville in the second half. It was the first half that did them in. And Bria Smith’s triple-double. Cardinals win, 89-67.

Duke is 4-0. True, they haven’t really faced anyone significant, and perhaps they enjoy “flying below the radar,” but they have a nice set of games coming up: TAMU, Nebraska, South Carolina. I’d suggest they not overlook an improving Stony Brook, even though it is at Cameron.

Ouch. Don’t count the Gauchos amongst the UC teams having a good year. They’re 0-5.

Wow. Hampton AND Howard are both 0-fer?

Not to get ahead of myself, but #21 Rutgers DID score 81 points in their win. Over Wagner.

Penguins win!!

That was win number 600 for coach McKeown.

Penn might not be as strong as they were last season, but the still smacked New Hampshire, giving the Wildcats their first loss of the season.

While San Diego State is not having much fun this year, San Diego is. With their defeat of Montana State, the Torreros move to 4-0 atop the WAC. And yes, that’s San Francisco lurking behind them at 4-1.

Little bit of a reality check for the Wolf Pack, as the Green Wave of Tulane dealt them their first loss of the season, 60-51.

Yes, that’s Marist starting the season 0-3. And St. John’s starting 3-0.

Elon is 4-0 for the first time in 17 years.

Haven’t seen much talk about the #10 Terps, mostly ’cause they haven’t been challenged early in their schedule. Fun game opening game for them in San Juan – James Madison. (Notre Dame’s up on December 3rd). Graham has Green Bay ahead of the Dukes in his Mid-Majors poll.

Streaking the Lawn is happy – Virginia has started off well.

Michelle and Mechelle talk South Carolina, Stanford and Texas.

When I had more time, readers knew all about the fabulously strong program at Amherst. Now more know about it: Amherst women break UConn’s record

A little W off season stuff:

Chillin’ in Chile with Candice Wiggins.

Delaware 87ers hire Elena Delle Donne as spokeswoman

On a completely different note, an offering for this Thanksgiving weekend:

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

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First Green Bay goes into West Lafayette and takes advantage of a missed free throw in the first overtime to push the game to a second overtime and the upset win over #24 Purdue.

Then, after an interesting first half that saw the #10 Texans stake themselves to a 6-pt lead over the Cardinal at Maples, it looks like Stanford was going to eek out a win. But NO! It goes to overtime! And this time — for the first time in thirty-three years — the Longhorns take down the temporarily #1 Tree. (That’s also Texas’ first takedown of a ranked team in 6 years.) What are pollsters going to do with their votes next week? It’s  so much easier when there  are no upsets in women’s basketball….

So, what is up with the California State schools? Northridge takes down BYU, 63-54. (Could be a tough year for the Cougars) and UC Riverside rolls over San Jose State, 100-80.

Keepin’ the ranked teams honest — #11 North Carolina edged #21 Oklahoma State by 2, 79-77.

The Hatters are off to a 2-0 start, with Marist in their future and Baylor looming. They don’t play conference rival FGCU until January 10th. The Eagles fell to Auburn, 72-69, in spite of Haas’ 30.

Debbie’s game of the night: George Mason over Delaware State, 110-91.

Notre Dame’s Brianna Turner was still mighty efficient (5-10 in 23 minutes), but she has to be careful of fouls. Lucky for the Irish, Jewell Loyd knows nows how to fill up a stat sheet (and shoot free throws). #3 Notre Dame over #15 Michigan State, 71-63.

Susie’s Panthers righted the ship with a school record 13 3-pointers against Michigan, but JMU’s up next.

That being said, JMU had a tough time against American, escaping with a 69-65 win.

A strong second half helped propel #24 Georgia over Ohio State, 67-59.

After scoring 50 points in the first, #8 Maryland eased up in the second, ’cause it could have been wicked ugly final score. Instead it’s just Terps 85, South Florida 67.

Even at home, Princeton continues to pound Pennsylvania.

Well, yes, LSU, it’s going to be that kind of season. The Tigers get rolled by the Green Wave.

After wins over Dayton and Idaho State, Washington State got handled (in the second half) by #16 Nebraska, 82-61.

Well, hello there, Mississippi State, you’re going to the preseason WNIT finals! They take down #17 West Virginia, 74-61 in a game full of ugly shooting. The Bulldogs will face off against the Hilltoppers because, after jumping to the #3 spot in the College Insider mid-major poll, Albany encountered the “Red Wave” of Western Kentucky… and fell,

#2 South Carolina got to iron out some of the kinks out while stomping all over Clemson, 99-41.

Speaking of stomping, there go the Cardinals.

That was Ka’lia Johnson tallying the seventh triple-double in Duke history as the # Blue Devils overcame Old Dominion, 82-66.

Can I ask “what’s happened to Florida” or is that too dismissive of the Red Storm?

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Something that might be said to the Kentucky-Baylor teams (43 Turnovers! ) and all those who have already conceded the 2015 championship to UConn (Hello, Tree!)

Let’s just spit it out before either of these Hall of Fame coaches can say it first: “It’s only November.”

While real statements aren’t made until April, Stanford still said something rather important in its wholly unexpected 88-86 upset of top-ranked Connecticut in overtime at Maples Pavilion on Monday.

Stanford opened the season with a new offense and a new identity. But different can be very good, both for the sixth-ranked Cardinal and maybe for the landscape of an entire sport.

*no pressure*

Other things that caught my eye…

LSU barely surviving Jackson State. (62 total turnovers! 52pts in OT!)

University of Texas Pan American scaring the you-know-what off of (too highly ranked) Texas A&M.

Gonzaga spotted (too highly ranked) Dayton an 11-point halftime lead, and then exploded in the second half for the 75-65 win (new head coach Lisa Fortier‘s first).

Did I not tell you? Albany over Penn State, 54-53.

Ok, Central Michigan – are you going to have a tougher year than folks predicted or is the UMass team going to surprise some folks?

Eastern Michigan kept #14 Michigan State  honest.

Eyes on Seton Hall, as they keep Carey’s Mountaineers honest – #17 West Virginia escapes with an 89-87 win and moves into the semifinals of the WNIT against Mississippi State.

So, Middle Tennessee loses to Arizona State and then defeats Miami. Interesting.

FWIW, the Roadrunners took down Arizona. Look out, WAC.

No, it’s not time to start OT tracking… yet… but Vandy did need OT to take down Green Bay…

…and the Toppers used OT to defeat Colorado 79-78. Is this season about the continued rebirth of the Western Kentucky program? They’re playing in the WNIT and Albany is next up.

Richmond defeats Georgetown and moves to 2-0.

Hello, Sacred Heart! (Down go the Gaels!)

Hello, Delaware! – though Bell is gone. (Down go the Red Foxes!)

Debbie is happy: Ohio State 113, St. Francis (PA) 97.

Princeton laying waste to Pennsylvanian teams.

Hmmm…. watch out for Long Beach this year – they take down San Diego State.

I’m noticing Winthrop and High Point have early season losses… and the Fightin’ Camels do not.

North Carolina tarred the (too highly ranked) UCLA Bruins.

Yah, USA Today/Coaches poll gets the benefit of a day… but why on earth was JMU not ranked in the AP poll?

What do Dallas, Columbus, New Orleans and Tampa Bay have in common?

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Things we’ve noticed so far:

Suspensions hurt: LSU, missing Ballard, lost at home. To the Trojans. Now, the Trojans are no slouch…within the Sun Belt Conference, but the taking down the Tigers was huge.

“This type of win gives the kids instant belief in what you’re trying to accomplish especially when you do it against a top-25-caliber team,” Coach Joe Foley said. “There are a lot of ups and downs in the season. It’s a long season. You want to get off to a good start and that helps.”

Suspensions don’t hurt (for the moment): Oregon rolled over Utah State.

Suspensions don’t hurt (and, hopefully, neither do injuries): Tennessee pulled away from Penn to earn a 97-52 win.

Courtney Banghart’s still got a team, Susie McConnell-Serio is still working on it: Princeton over Pittsburgh, 59-43.

Ya, James Madison knows how to duke it out — especially at home. They roared back in the second half, pulling out the overtime win over #23 UCLA. JMU shot poorly, but the Bruins’ offered up a generous 26 turnovers  to help the Dukes to their first win over a ranked team since 2009. From Lady Swish: 

Now just as we weren’t going to make a huge deal had JMU lost, well, we won’t get too carried away with the win. After all, we don’t really call it an upset. JMU advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year. UCLA didn’t have a winning record. But this will no doubt an eye-opening win for the Dukes, who bested the team that boasts the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation in a trio of freshmen who are McDonald’s All-Americans.

There is an “I” in team, as Iona sends an early message, taking down Fordham, 72-51, in their season opening. Nice to see Bowling Green, KU, UCF and Rutgers on their schedule (though Bowling Green lost a bit of a shocker – Bucknell defeated the Falcons, 54-52.).

I’m thinking it’s going to be a bruising season for Penn State.

Well, hello, Washington State! The Cougars proved to be unfriendly hosts to #22 Dayton – forcing 30 turnovers and come away with a 76-60 win. The Flyer’s Andrea Hoover did all she could, but WSU’s Lia Galdeira got more support from her teammates.

Richmond won their first game of the season.

Joe Doyle, a northern New Jersey resident, never missed his sister Ginny’s basketball games — not the games she played for the University of Richmond Spiders from 1990-92, nor the games she coached for 15 seasons as a beloved and respected assistant for the women’s team.

So for Joe to return to the Robins Center on Friday night for the Spiders’ home opener, six months after Ginny and women’s director of basketball operations Natalie Lewis died in a tragic hot air balloon crash, was both fitting and hard.

“It was very emotional,” Joe said afterward. “It was difficult to see [their photos] in this venue, at the first game of the season, without them being here. It’s tough and devastating. Every day, we think of Natalie and Ginny, from the minute we wake up until the minute we close our eyes. And it doesn’t get better.”

Freshmen are fun: Louisville’s Mariya Moore (announcers are going to have to be very careful when identifying her, no?) opened her career with 22 points in the #12 Cardinal’s win over IUPUI. Notre Dame’s Brianna Turner only played 19 minutes, but managed to take 18 shots…and made 13 of them.

Ah, a game Debbie Antonelli would have enjoyed: San Diego State over Sacramento State, 99-91.

Beth Mowin’s Leopards start of the season well with a win over Delaware.

The big dogs are still big: Albany over St. Francis, 90-47. Penn State is up next.

Wings Up! FGCU opens the season with a win over George Washington and – surprise! – shoots 46% on threes.

Yah, it’s early in the season, but a nice 2-pt win for the 49ers over Liberty.

Arizona State opened strong…. strongly?… well with a 81-67 win over Middle Tennessee.

Ohio State opened their shorthanded season against Virginia and couldn’t hold a first half lead, falling 87-82. Shout out to the Cavaliers’ Sarah Imovbioh for setting a new single-game rebound record (24).

Win #400 for Sherri Coale. How is it possible that she’s been coaching for 19 years at Oklahoma??? Ahem – I can’t think of a better reason to produce a new Write Space and Time, can you? (HINT, HINT!)

UConn’s 47th win in a row for was also an opportunity for Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis to remind folks how ridiculously good a three-point shooter she is: she scored 30pts on 10-13 shooting.

#5 Texas A&M needed a 10-2 closing run to take down #18 DePaul, 76-68.

Are we going to call her Double-Double Davis? Nina got off to a good start in that quest in Baylor’s game against Oral Roberts.

Hmmm…. South Dakota State over BYU, 75-65. Watch out for the Wabbits.

Penguins win!

Quinnipiac wins their opener against a stubborn Army team, 79-64.

In a season full of expectations, #9 Texas got off to good start, keeping UT-San Antonio to 15 points the first half and cruising to a 68-48 win.

Was USC-east bending under expectations in their match up against USC-west? Only time will tell, but the short-handed Trojans sure gave the Gamecocks a run for their money. South Carolina pushed through for the 70-61 win.

Every career starts with a first step. Tyler Summitt’s at La Tech started with a 76-69 win over SF Austin.

In kindergarten, when classmates wanted to be firefighters, police officers and doctors, Tyler always had the same unflinching ambition: “I want to coach basketball.”

It drove his mom crazy. Be an astronaut, a scientist, anything but a coach.

So, are you ready to look a the brackets yet? Charlie is. (Remember,  all top 16 teams (seeds 1-4) play at home for the first 2 rounds before the winner of each site is sent off to “neutral” regional sites.)

Mechelle wonders if  North Carolina be even better?

While DeShields seemed naturally suited for the spotlight, Gray has the kind of low-key, low-maintenance personality that made her too easy to overlook last season. But that probably won’t happen as much this year. The 6-foot Gray should be one of the top players in the ACC and a leader — albeit still a fairly quiet one — for the Tar Heels.

“I know more of what to expect, and more how to handle different situations,” Gray said. “I think our offense is way more balanced, and everybody knows what everybody else can and can’t do. It’s more of a team this year.”

As always, Graham shines some light on the mid-majors:

Like the videos we no longer watch or the records we no longer listen to, mid-major is a term that might be in the process of outliving whatever it was that it was originally supposed to describe.

Are there five major conferences or seven? What is Dayton that Butler is not? If a tree falls in the forest near Storrs, Connecticut, does it make the American Athletic Conference important? And if we have high majors and mid-majors, where are the low majors? All reasonable questions that philosophers could ponder on windswept Himalayan peaks.

Check out his top player list. 6. Damika Martinez, Iona, guard

Martinez is the only one of last season’s top 10 scorers nationally who returns this season, so that’s a place to start. She’s also one of the more efficient high-volume scorers you’ll find. It takes a lot of shots to average 24.9 points per game, but Martinez connected on 44 percent of her nearly eight 3-point attempts per game. Only DePaul’s Megan Rogowski connected on a better percentage among players who hit at least 100 3-pointers. Martinez also shot 88 percent from the free throw line and 47 percent on her two-point attempts. If you prefer big moments to big numbers, it was her jumper with 2.9 seconds remaining on the road that ended Marist’s 36-game MAAC winning streak.

Mel writes up wins by the Scarlet Knights and the Temple Owls (amongst others).

Did you catch David’s Dishin & Swishin 11/13/14 Podcast: The roundtable returns to preview the 2014-15 NCAA DI season?

So, there’s this game on Monday night, ESPN 9pm: Stanford v. UConn.

From John Altavilla: Chiney Ogwumike On What It’s Like At Stanford

 “It was a pleasant surprise for me to be asked to write about the upcoming Stanford-UConn game. As a recent graduate and former Stanford player (and a very outspoken, opinionated, biased Nerd Nation minion) that request comes second nature to me. 

 “Basketball is a game of respect. If Wilson or Spalding created college hoop commandments, the top ones would be: respect your school, respect your coaches, respect your teammates and most importantly, when the ball is tossed up, respect your opponents because if you don’t, you will feel their wrath.

Get ready for some stuff from ESPN: Experienced Core of Commentators & New Faces Enhance ESPN’s Women’s College Basketball Coverage

“3 to See” & “Need to Know”
ESPN will continue to promote the top players in the women’s game through it’s’ “3 to See” and “Need to Know” initiatives. The two brands will be present all season long on ESPN platforms with additional content on espnW.com.

  • Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Breanna Stewart (Connecticut) and Jewell Loyd (Notre Dame) make up the “3 to See” brand.
  • “3 to See” will be integrated in games involving Mosqueda-Lewis, Stewart and Loyd.
  • “Need to Know” players include: Nina Davis (Baylor); Brittany Boyd (Cal); Moriah Jefferson (UConn); Elizabeth Williams (Duke); Lexie Brown (Maryland); Rachel Banham (Minnesota); Tiffany Mitchell (South Carolina); Aleighsa Welch (South Carolina); A’ja Wilson (South Carolina) and Isabelle Harrison (Tennessee).
  • The “Need to Know” brand will used throughout all women’s telecasts, and also include the “3 to See” players.

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the playbook?

Texas A&M: Junior Courtney Williams Suspended Indefinitely

Oregon: Oregon women’s basketball dismisses leading scorer for rules violation

Tennessee: Tennessee suspends 4 Lady Vols for 1-2 games

LSU: Women’s Hoops Ballard Suspended Indefinitely

As to what might happen ON the court, the ESPN ‘xperts make their preseason picks. Hmmm… Huge for Aston if it comes true…. and wow, the Pac12 looks to be very, very interesting!

Here’s espnW’s Top 25 and their preseason AAs and  espnw’s Top 25 players.

The folks at ESPN have been burning the midnight oil:

Mechelle: Stewart is preseason player of year – Connecticut junior repeats as the top player heading into 2014-15 season

Sometimes I think of UConn’s women’s basketball program as a giant version of one of those rock-polishing tumblers. You know, where you put stones in with the coarse grit, the fine grit, the pre-polish and the polish as part of the process that makes them look like gems.

That is what’s supposed to happen, anyway. It never worked very well for me. Maybe because 1970s rock-polishing kits for kids were a little on the cheap side. Or maybe I was hit-and-miss about precisely following the directions.

Or maybe I just wasn’t patient enough. You had to run the tumbler for what seemed like forever to me — it might have been only a week — but I would get bored, open it, be disappointed it still contained rocks instead of priceless jewels and then go do something else. It was hard to stay committed to the process.

Charlie: South Carolina sets standard in SEC – Gamecocks predicted to win second consecutive regular-season title

The SEC once again is the deepest conference in the country. Four teams appear to have Final Four potential. Last season, South Carolina came out of nowhere to win the regular-season championship and now has become the favorite.

Mechelle thinks the Gamecocks are ready to take next step, but Is South Carolina capable of unseating two-time defending champ UConn?

What South Carolina’s women’s basketball program is attempting to do is an exhilarating process, but it also usually involves some scar tissue.

In short, the Gamecocks are climbing, and “the top” is a realistic goal. But it is, by no means, a guaranteed destination. And nobody knows that better than the person leading this expedition, coach Dawn Staley.

Greenville: Wilson ready to make an impact on USC women’s basketball team

A’ja Wilson finally got a chance to take the basketball court, donning a University of South Carolina uniform, Sunday.

The most decorated high school player to ever join the Gamecocks women’s basketball team admitted she was nervous before the team hosted Coker in an exhibition game.

Mechelle also posits that the Keys of past may be Tennessee’s future – Lady Vols could look like the best Tennessee teams of old on defense, boards

For the longest time — decades, in fact — there was no question about Tennessee’s identity in women’s basketball. The Lady Vols played aggressive, physical defense that wore down opponents. They were exceptionally motivated to control the boards. They could be a very good offensive team, but they also could survive those games in which they struggled to score.

And, most important of all, they believed at their cores that when the stakes were the highest, they would be the ones walking away from the table with the biggest pile of chips.

Post Dispatch: Ultimate goal for Mizzou women’s basketball is postseason

Missouri women’s basketball coach Robin Pingeton doesn’t waste much breath talking to her players about the program’s ultimate goals. But it’s obvious what the Tigers crave: a trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Mizzou hasn’t been there since 2006, when Pingeton’s oldest players were in seventh grade.

Don’t overlook the Irish. Writes Graham, Stars come and go, Irish just reload  – A fifth consecutive Final Four won’t be enough for Jewell Loyd and Notre Dame

A crowd waited outside the Joyce Center when the Notre Dame women’s basketball team returned to campus shortly after losing to Connecticut in the national championship game this past April. The loss in Nashville a night earlier marked the Fighting Irish’s first in a calendar year. But Muffet McGraw focused neither on that bitter defeat against an old rival nor on the 37 wins in a row that preceded it when the coach spoke to those who greeted the team.

McGraw wanted to talk about the new season, the one she said started that day. A new opportunity awaited.

And what about those Terps? Graham thinks their season hinges on many ‘ifs’ – Maryland must adjust to life without Alyssa Thomas, competing in Big Ten

 Like a lot of us facing a move, Maryland couldn’t bring everything it wanted to a new home in the Big Ten. In the case of the women’s basketball program, it wasn’t a matter of running out of cardboard boxes or a shortage of space in the back of the rental truck. All-American Alyssa Thomas simply didn’t have any eligibility left.

Now the Terrapins hope that moving on without Thomas won’t mean they fit in a little too well in their new surroundings.

Making the argument that the West Coast is the “one to watch” this season, Michelle asks: Is the Pac-12 better than ever?

June Daugherty has been in this conference for nearly 30 years. The Pac-12’s designated eternal optimist has never sounded more encouraged.

“This conference is going to be better than it’s been in a long time,” said Daugherty, Washington State’s coach. “Let’s stop talking about getting five or six teams in the postseason and talk about eight or nine.”

Charli Turner Thorne, who has banked almost as much Pac-12 time as Daugherty, agrees wholeheartedly.

“On paper, this is the best the conference has ever been,” Arizona State’s coach said. “We were young for a couple of years, but we aren’t young any more. This is exciting. This is what we work for.”

Other previews:

Graham: UConn well out in front of AAC

Mechelle: Irish favored to repeat in ACC

Dishin & Swishin 11/05/14 Podcast: Coming off a record-breaking season, Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw gets ready to do it again

When the season came to a disappointing conclusion though, the loss to also undefeated Connecticut while playing without injured star center Natalie Achonwa, McGraw and her staff did not sit back and say “what if?” As she says on this week’s Dishin & Swishin podcast, the 2014-15 season began the next day.

What a season it could turn out to be the preseason third-ranked Irish! Graduation took McBride, Achonwa, and starting forward Ariel Braker from the team, but a heralded freshman class joins the returning players to give the Irish one of their deepest teams ever.

Duke Chronicle: Changing of the guards for Duke women’s basketball

Duke knows the importance of strong point guard play. After all, it was season-ending injuries to point guards Chelsea Gray and Alexis Jones injury that dashed the Blue Devils’ national title aspirations a year ago.

Just one year later, Duke finds itself in the same position—without Gray, now in the WNBA, and Jones, who transferred to Baylor following her ACL injury. But these Blue Devils are confident that a replacement for the former top-tier point guards lies on this year’s highly-touted roster.

Miami: Women’s basketball season kicks off with six new members

Mechelle: Longhorns should lead way in Big 12

The Daily Texan: Women’s basketball gets ready for new season

After a strong finish last season and a long off-season, Texas is now the preseason favorite to win the Big 12 conference title for the first time since 2004. The Longhorns have an impressive No. 3 preseason national ranking from SLAM Magazine and are ranked No. 9 by ESPN.

“I’m really, really looking forward to seeing what this team is capable of doing,” head coach Karen Aston said.

OColly.com: Cowgirls Focusing on Filling Void Left by Tiffany Bias

Tiffany Bias was the glue that held Oklahoma State together last season. This year, though, the Cowgirls will have to learn to cope without their star point guard. Bias, who led the team in scoring and assists a season ago, is now gone to the WNBA.

“It’s really different,” Roshunda Johnson said. “She was the leader of the team last year. But now that she’s gone we have other people stepping up. We all just come as one and we have to be leaders now that she’s gone. It’s a big factor, but it’s all working together.”

 

From Mechelle’s old newspaper: Women’s basketball season preview: KU, K-State, Mizzou and the nation

The biggest thing coach Jeff Mittie is looking for in his first year at Kansas State is progress.

The Wildcats are coming off their first back-to-back losing seasons in the Big 12 since 2000 and 2001 and finished with an 11-19 overall mark a year ago.

“I don’t think there has been a winning identity and we are trying to get our team to buy into an offensive identity that is more efficient,” Mittie said. “We do believe that we are going to have to play inside-out basketball with our front line and that is different than they’ve done in the past.”

Post-Gazette: West Virginia women’s basketball preview

Mike Carey’s program is at an all-time high. In 2013-14, West Virginia won 30 games, captured a share of its first Big 12 regular-season title and made another NCAA tournament appearance, its fifth in a row and seventh in the past eight years. The Mountaineers open the season ranked No. 17, but face the tall task of replacing five departed seniors — including three of the top four scorers in center Asya Bussie (12.9ppg points per game), guard Christal Caldwell (12.5 ppg) and guard Taylor Palmer (9.8 ppg) — and bringing seven newcomers into the fold. Still, having three starters back this fall should help keep West Virginia at the top of the heap in a competitive Big 12.

Michelle: DePaul will dominate Big East again

Charlie: Big Ten is even deeper this season

AP: Nebraska women count on recruits for hoops success

 Nebraska coach Connie Yori gathered her team on the first day of preseason practice and handed out Big Ten tournament championship rings to her returning players.

”Not like there was a big drum roll,” Yori said. ”It was like, ‘Here’s something we accomplished, and it’s something we’d like to do again.’ ”

Post-Gazette: Penn State women’s basketball preview

Centre Daily: Mazzante makes return to Happy Valley

Kelly Mazzante admits it was a little strange walking into the visitor’s locker room on Sunday at the Bryce Jordan Center.

She also had to sit on the wrong bench.

But as far as Mazzante was concerned, there couldn’t have been a more appropriate place to unofficially begin her college coaching career.

Michelle: Cal trumps Stanford as early pick

Dishin & Swishin 10/30/14 Podcast: Lindsay Gottlieb & Cal look to take the next step

The Press Democrat: Cal women’s basketball gets an assist from Stanford

Sleep-deprived and feeling a bit down, coach Lindsay Gottlieb took a stroll last March a day after California’s season ended in the NCAA tournament. She was still absorbing being abruptly thrown into the offseason.

Her phone buzzed with a text message. Hall of Fame Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer, whose team was still playing, wrote: “Do you have any scholarships left?”

Stanford Daily: Freshman class ushers in the new age of Stanford women’s basketball

Let’s address what’s on everyone’s mind: This is the first season in six years that the Stanford’s women’s basketball team has not had an Ogwumike sister on the roster. Yet instead of letting this fact define the upcoming season, the team has instead looked to the very-promising future: to its new offensive scheme, to seeing Amber Orrange and Lili Thompson step up as offensive powerhouses and perhaps most importantly, to see how the freshmen — Kaylee Johnson, Taylor Rooks and Brittany McPhee — will shape the next few years of Cardinal basketball.

San Jose Mercury News: Stanford aiming to speed up tempo

Should Stanford reach the NCAA women’s basketball Final Four for the seventh time in eight years, coach Tara Van Derveer may do some serious celebrating. Stanford, which hasn’t won an NCAA title since 1992, lost to eventual champion Connecticut in the semifinals last year.

“It’s really hard to get to the Final Four,” said Van Derveer, in her 29th season. “If I’m talking about that with this team, I’ll buy you a beer and I don’t even drink. This is going to be very challenging. We’re young, but it will be fun to see how much we improve and stay together.”

From the USC Trojan’s site: USC Women’s Basketball Season Outlook

The Ivy: Quakers and Tigers look like top contenders

A10: Women’s basketball forwards poised for dominant season

Entering this season, George Washington women’s basketball head coach Jonathan Tsipis has an advantage that no other coach in the Atlantic 10 can claim: two all-conference forwards who compete against each other every day in practice.

After impressive debuts for both players put them on the conference radar, Caira Washington and Jonquel Jones head into their second seasons together as the starting frontcourt for Tsipis. The two combine to form arguably the best one-two punch in the Atlantic 10, an element that only helps the duo day-in and day-out at practice.

Interviews and video mash ups:

Finally, in case you’re wondering about what is or isn’t important….

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falls on Arkansas Pine Bluff

Over five academic years, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff failed to monitor and control the administration of its athletics program, according to a decision issued by a Division I Committee on Infractions panel. The university wrongly certified 124 student-athletes for competition, including nine student-athletes that competed before the NCAA Eligibility Center certified their amateur status. The university learned of deficiencies in its eligibility certification process in 2009, but failed to correct the deficiencies, which allowed ineligible student-athletes to continue to compete until 2012.

Penalties include five years of probation; a postseason ban for the football, men’s and women’s basketball and baseball teams; a vacation of all wins in which ineligible student-athletes participated; and scholarship reductions for 11 of the university’s teams.

Meanwhile, in the land of Chapel Hill, crickets are chirping….

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Lauren Hill….

Lauren Hill takes the court for a game no one will soon forgetB1dRfOaIgAABvH2

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what might be…

Top 25 celebrates 20th anniversary as writers poll

This season marks the 20th anniversary of the AP women’s basketball Top 25 poll’s shift to voting by writers and broadcasters.

Before the 1994-95 season, the poll was determined by coaches and compiled by Mel Greenberg, who started it in 1976. Here’s a look at some of the highlights over the past 20 years

AP Division I Poll

USA Today Coaches Division I Poll

…and what might have been.

From Tennessee: Lady Vols’ DeShields discusses transfer from UNC

From Cincinnati: Senior guard Alyesha Lovett, the team’s best returning player, injured her Achilles tendon and will miss the season.

From Ohio: And then there were seven: Injury knocks Chelsea Mitchell out for season

“It stinks,” McGuff said before adding. “It stinks. It stinks. It stinks. It stinks.”

Freshman forward Makayla Waterman already had knee surgery to repair meniscus and ACL injuries that she suffered during the first official practice of the season. Chelsea Mitchell will join Waterman as a redshirt freshman next season.

That puts 40 percent of McGuff’s highly regarded recruiting class from last November on the shelf before the team has played a game. Nearly two months will have to pass before transfers Shayla Cooper or Kianna Holland are eligible to play per NCAA rules

From Iowa: Iowa State guard Nikki Moody suspended indefinitely

“Nikki’s attitude in the team setting has become a distraction to our learning environment,” Fennelly said in the release “We have high behavioral standards to allow us to develop our team in a way that we can have success on and off the court and her behavior has been inconsistent with those values. Nikki can return to team activities if/when improvement is seen.”

Nearby, Ryan Murken says the Iowa women’s basketball team has depth to match talent

“I think this is the deepest we have been in a long time, if not maybe since I’ve been here,” Bluder said Thursday at Iowa’s annual media day. “We have 14 women on scholarship right now — which that alone is going to give you more depth — but it’s really the quality of the depth.”

From Arizona: ASU women’s basketball returns enough to contend

I’m fine about being the only one of 35 voters to include Arizona State women’s basketball in the Associated Press preseason top 25.

It’s not a homer pick because I believe ASU returns enough to build on last year’s surprising 23-10, NCAA second round season. The Pac-12 is good, that’s why the Sun Devils are picked to finish sixth by the media and seventh by the coaches. But they have more offense that stats suggest given the loss of leading scorers Deja Mann and Adrianne Thomas and more size than their starting lineup will indicate.

An editing note: I’d love to give credit to the author, but I can’t seem to find a name attached to the article.

Go Behind the Scenes during the 2014-15 BGSU Women’s Basketball Media Day

From the land of the Cavaliers: UVa women’s basketball team’s freshman trio making quick adjustment

UVa is into its fourth week of practice as it prepares for its Nov. 14 opener with Ohio State at John Paul Jones Arena.

Come that Friday, everybody will still be more than a tad raw on the defensive end of the floor.

“When you teach it for the first time,” Boyle said, “it’s a two-year process.”

That should suit her four-year players just fine.

Down the road, Lexie Brown takes on leadership role for Maryland women’s basketball

…the season-ending loss soon became a learning experience, one that Brown is taking with her as the Terps enter their first season of Big Ten play. And after logging big minutes in the 2014 NCAA tournament — including a team-high 38 against Notre Dame — the sophomore guard has emerged as what teammates call “a natural leader.”

“She just understands what things to say when we’re going through adversity, and how to get out of it,” center Malina Howard said.

Across the thruway: New Lady Lion players have high expectations and Penn State women’s basketball: 5 takeaways from media day

The expectation of the Lady Lions—to win—doesn’t change with the lineup, Coach Coquese Washington said. The standards are still set as high, even with the graduation of all but one starter from last year’s  24-8 squad that won a third consecutive Big Ten title and made it to the Sweet 16.

“How we do those things, what it looks like on the court may change depending on our personality from year to year, but the expectations certainly don’t change,” she said. She got that advice from women’s volleyball coach Russ Rose.

Heading south to the home of the Blue Devils: Duke women’s basketball ready for new faces to step up

Today’s scrimmage showed the Blue Devil faithful that though they lost familiar faces, change can be a good thing.

At the Blue-White Scrimmage at Cameron Indoor Stadium Sunday, Duke’s highly touted second-ranked incoming class—along with redshirt Rebecca Greenwell and transfer Mercedes Riggs—made their first public appearance. Combining for 63 points, more than half of all points scored all afternoon, the Blue Devil newcomers are ready to make their presence felt in the ACC and beyond.

From the west coast, the Cal Bears’ blog previews The supporting cast

Previous WBB season preview installments: Part 1: Boyd and Gray, the best duo in the west. ; Part 2: Predicting the Pac-12 standings + previews with Rosalyn Gold-Onwude.

Before we get into the preview content, some important pieces news:

David speaks with the Bears’ coach: Lindsay Gottlieb & Cal look to take the next step

Sue has been previewing the Pac 12:

The good news for Oregon State is the bad news for everyone else: the team that roared to a 24-11 record, tied for second place in the Pac-12, played for the conference tournament championship and made it to the NCAA Tournament’s second round last season is the only team in the Pac that returns all five starters this year.

Sophomore guard Sydney Wiese (14.3 points, 4 assists per game), junior guard Jamie Wiesner (12.5 points, 5.3 rebounds per game), junior center Ruth Hamblin (9.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4 blocks per game), senior guard Ali Gibson (9 points per game) and junior forward Deven Hunter (8.8 points, 7.4 rebounds per game) are all back, as are four reserves. Three promising newcomers round out a solid roster that already has both players and coaches chomping at the bit to begin play.

About that elephant in the room… “I know no-think!” (Yes, I’m a tad cynical): Hatchell says she was unaware of academic fraud, lauds Boxill

The report indicated that women’s basketball players were steered to the classes by Boxill, the academic counselor for more than 20 years beginning in 1988 and the faculty chair from 2011-14. Boxill acknowledged editing some athletes’ papers, and a review of her e-mails disclosed several instances where she made specific grade suggestions so that women’s basketball players could stay on track academically.

In one exchange, Deborah Crowder – the AFAM secretary who issued grades for the illegitimate classes – wrote Boxill to ask if a D would be okay for a specific player, since her final paper had no sources and had “absolutely nothing to with” the class.

A little WNBA stuff…

Out of Minnesota: Taylor Does Little Things Needed To Win

Asia Taylor certainly wasn’t the flashiest player on the Lynx last season. She was last pick in the 2014 WNBA Draft, and while she saw tons of collegiate success as with Louisville, she was by no means a lock to make the team at the start of Training Camp last season. 

Until she was. 

Taylor showcased her skills as a versatile swingman throughout Training Camp and caught the attention of coach Cheryl Reeve. Reeve saw a lot of value in some of the things Taylor brought to the team and ultimately decided to keep her on the roster. 

“I knew I was an underdog coming in,” Taylor said at the start of last season. “They basically say third-round picks are just here until the veterans get back and … wanted to prove differently.” 

Pierson used career crisis as springboard to success

In the early part of the 2001-2002 basketball season, Plenette Pierson wasn’t thinking about her legacy at Texas Tech. She was thinking about whether she wanted to finish her Texas Tech basketball career at all.

A star player who was suspended for most of her junior year, Pierson sandwiched a pair second- and third-team all-America seasons around that one and wound up one of the leading scorers in Lady Raiders history. The center from Kingwood was inducted Friday night into the Texas Tech Athletic Hall of Fame.

From the Nigerian Tribune: Nigerian-American basketball star sisters celebrated in US

Nneka and Chiney are award-winning basketballers based in the United States of America (USA). Not forgetting their roots, they have decided to give back to their country of descent, Nigeria, by raising funds for girls, who are either denied or lack access to qualitative education. 

Looking to the future, Swish Appeal’s Albert has 3 key differences between two of the WNBA’s and NBA’s oldest teams

Last week, Conor Dirks of Truth About It wrote about the transformation of the Washington Wizards NBA team from one of the league’s youngest teams in 2010-11, to the oldest team based on average age at one point during the 2014-15 preseason.

This caught me off-guard at first, as I recently criticized the Seattle Storm and their team building strategy. Like the Wizards at that point (they are now second oldest per RealGM), the Storm was the league’s oldest team based on average age during the 2014 WNBA season. While it’s easy to just look at average age and simply say that the Storm and the Wizards are old teams in their leagues, they don’t share that much in common based on how they are currently constructed.

Speaking of the WNBA & NBA: NBA, WNBA legends with Olympic ties to run New York City Marathon relay

WNBA rallies around Lauren Hill

Elena Delle Donne had chills when she first heard about Lauren Hill.

The WNBA star was brought to tears the more she read about the Mount St. Joseph freshman, who has inoperable brain cancer.

Delle Donne will attend Hill’s game on Sunday as a fan, moving a speaking engagement to make sure she could be there.

“It’s a once in a lifetime thing for her and I want to be there to support her,” Delle Donne said.

The game will be streamed:

The matchup with Hiram College at Xavier’s 10,000-seat arena will be available for free on FOX Sports Go online and through the app, even for users who usually can’t access the service. FOX announced Friday the game will also air on FOX Sports Regional Networks, including in Ohio, and FOX College Sports.

The Big East is producing the game, which starts at 2 p.m. EST.

Says Cincinnati.com: Lauren Hill’s game now the nation’s

Lauren Hill’s college basketball debut is here.

At 2 p.m. Sunday, Hill and the Mount St. Joseph women’s basketball team will tip off against Hiram College at Xavier’s Cintas Center. The sellout crowd of 10,250 will be there to see Hill realize her dream of playing for the Lions.

Hill’s story, by now, is everywhere. Nearly 60 media members from local, regional and national outlets will continue documenting the aspirations of No. 22, the forward with an inoperable form of brain cancer called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. Tickets were snapped up in 30 minutes for the player with a positive outlook and a terminal diagnosis.

Lauren Hill fundraiser invites schools to donate basketball jerseys for auction

From across the ocean: Basketball more than just a game for Saudi women

Women’s basketball is gaining in popularity in a kingdom rife with public restrictions on female movement and activity. With the help of some U.S.-trained coaches, female enthusiasts are using basketball to push for greater rights for women on and off the courts in Saudi Arabia.

“We are an activist team,” said Lina Almaeena, who started the first women’s basketball team here 11 years ago. That led to the creation of Jiddah United in 2006, the first sports club in Saudi Arabia to include women. “We took it upon ourselves to really promote the sport at a time when it was a big time taboo … when there was a self-imposed censorship on women’s sports.”

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