wait for me…”
Waiting on the trip to the plane…how smart was I to not do a 6am flight! Means I get to do some early morning reading.
The age-old question in any sport is, do you learn more from winning or from losing? Maybe the reason we have such a hard time answering it is because we look at the experiences as separate instead of related. Muffet McGraw and Notre Dame are in their fifth straight women’s NCAA Final Four, and on four previous occasions they’ve suffered defeat. But here’s the thing about finishing second: It means you could have been first.
Each loss is its own brand of pain and has its own cause. McGraw and the Irish have become connoisseurs of heartbreak.
Tim Casey, New York Times: Notre Dame Doubles Down on the Mabrey Family From New Jersey
This fall, Mabrey will be joined by a familiar face on campus and on the court: Her sister Marina has signed with Notre Dame. On Wednesday night, Michaela Mabrey drove to Chicago and watched Marina share most valuable player honors in the McDonald’s All-American Game after recording 12 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals in 17 minutes.
Marina Mabrey is also a guard, but she is more aggressive and competitive than Michaela, who led Notre Dame with 71 3-pointers this season and is known for her outside shooting. The sisters honed their skills by playing one-on-one against each other at home in Belmar, N.J. They also competed with their older brother, Roy, who averaged 17 points a game this season as a senior for St. Anselm College in New Hampshire.
Isabelle Khurshudyan, Washington Post: South Carolina Coach Dawn Staley has cooled her fire and forged a contender
Dawn Staley could be a frustrating chess opponent for Stanford Coach Tara VanDerveer. The two would often play when VanDerveer was Staley’s coach on the 1996 U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team, and after VanDerveer had clearly won and declared checkmate, Staley would stubbornly refuse to accept it.
That competitive fire pushed Staley to take her first head coaching job at Temple in 2000, even though VanDerveer and Debbie Ryan, Staley’s college coach at Virginia, advised her against it. Staley was still in the middle of a professional playing career, and her two mentors told her coaching would consume her. It was that sliver of doubt that convinced Staley to do it. She would go on to lead the Owls to six NCAA tournament appearances in eight years while playing in the WNBA for all but the past two.
Antonya English, Tampa Bay Times: Dawn Staley: Turnaround artist at South Carolina
“I was at N.C. State (as baseball coach) when Kay Yow was the coach,” Tanner said. “I had a chance to watch Dawn up close and personal, and I sat near the court. And I remember to this day when she would come in as a point guard for the Cavaliers, she ran it. She was in charge. And it was tenacious. It was fun. It was fun to watch. And of course, she was great as well.
“But there was no question who was directing traffic. And she’s still directing traffic.”
Final Four is USC’s party, but women’s hoops still UConn’s world, Charleston Post and Courier
It’s an irresistible story — the head coach who reached basketball’s promised land three times as a player, now leading her up-and-coming program into its first Final Four. Dawn Staley and South Carolina are the darlings of Tampa Bay this weekend, but they also fall under the long shadow of the team everyone expects to cut down the nets Tuesday.
The days leading up to this Final Four may be South Carolina’s party, but women’s college basketball remains Connecticut’s world. The nine-time and twice-defending national champions are back again, their supremacy burnished by blowout victories over two of the other three teams that reached Amalie Arena, their head coach pursuing a 10th title which would tie John Wooden for most in major college basketball history.
Jonas Shaffer, Baltimore Sun: Maryland coach Brenda Frese gets creative when motivating her players
Two weeks ago, just days before the top-seeded Marylandwomen’s basketball team would play undefeated Princeton in the second round of the NCAA tournament, Brenda Freseshowed up to a team meeting with a can of salt-and-vinegar Pringles. The flavor was important, considered. Like so many of the flourishes in her motivational mosaic, it was no accident.
Around the room the Terps coach went, talking about disrespect and rankings. Then she reached into her tube of stackable snacks, took out a single Pringle and stood before a player, like a priest offering host during Communion.
“We were just kind of like: ‘What’s going on?'” redshirt junior guard Brene Moseley recalled thinking Thursday.
Gene Wang at the Washington Post: Maryland women’s basketball is in Final Four with a new formula
For years, the winning blueprint for Maryland women’s basketball Coach Brenda Frese has been to assemble her roster from the inside out. Front-court stalwarts Alyssa Thomas, Alicia DeVaughn and Tianna Hawkins were the most important parts when the Terrapins consistently punished opponents in rebounding, points in the paint and interior defense.
With those foundational players gone, Frese had to adjust how Maryland would operate this season with a youthful roster comprising mostly guards and wings.
Jim Fuller, New Haven Register: Maryland’s Brenda Frese got to the top much quicker than Auriemma
On the surface it would seem the coaching journeys of Geno Auriemma and Brenda Frese have almost nothing in common.
Auriemma was bitten by the basketball bug growing up in Norristown. Pennsylvania, a mere 20 miles from hoops-crazy Philadelphia. Meanwhile, Frese cut her teeth in the Mid-American Conference coaching circles, first as an assistant at Kent State and then a two-year run as the Ball State head coach.
However, a timeline of their rise to national prominence displays a much faster trajectory than either one could have possibly imagined.
Roger Cleaveland, Republican-American: Coach Frese likes Maryland’s title chances
From Matthew Zemek at Full Court: Final Four preview: Can Maryland surprise Connecticut?
It is a rite of spring – Sunday night at the NCAA Women’s Final Four, with the Connecticut Huskies playing the second national semifinal to give ESPN a ratings bump when going up against the season premiere of Mad Men and the other shows that make their way onto the airwaves at this time of year.
Baylor, Stanford, Notre Dame – they get the late semifinal only if they play the current colossus of women’s college basketball, the program that has taken the baton from Tennessee to give the Final Four its most central box-office attraction. Maryland gains the honor of sharing the stage with Connecticut in the second semifinal this year.
I grew up in Connecticut where college basketball reigns over our dark New England winters, and, having hit 5 feet 11 by sixth grade, found my way onto a basketball court, where I stayed until I left for college.
The guy then asked if the women’s tournament was going on now, too. Bracing, I smiled and said, “Yeah. Yeah, it is,” the Connecticutian’s equivalent to a public diatribe. The conversation was over.
The kid didn’t deserve my anger — for all I know he was only along for a beer — but he received a dose of my larger unease, which has been approaching its boiling point since the start of this year’s March Madness.
Undesized for her position, Tuck has connected on the majority of her shots this year, shooting 61 percent.
“The only thing wrong with Morgan is she’s not 6-4,” said head coach Geno Auriemma.
What she make lack in post-size, the 6-2 forward makes up for in poise, hand eye coordination, and footwork. She has enough back-to-the-basket moves to make her head coach gush.
“All those little up and unders, that’s old time basketball, she’s got that,” Auriemma said. “She doesnt score on you because she jumps over you and overwhelms you with her athletic ability. She’s smart.”
So where does the poise and footwork come from?
“I guess I’ll credit my dad,” Tuck said. “He’s a pretty laid-back guy, he’s the one who got me interested in basketball.”
UConn Won’t Apologize for Success, NBC Connecticut
Hamilton native Kia Nurse charges way to the top as a UConn freshman, Hamilton Globe and Mail
Pressure to be best is unrelenting at UConn, Tampa Tribune
The AP gives us Coach McCallie’s analysis of women’s Final Four
Also from the AP: 3 women’s Final Four teams from 2014 return
The women’s Final Four will have a familiar feel to it with three of last year’s teams back in the national semifinals.
UConn, Notre Dame and Maryland all return to the Final Four while South Carolina is making its first appearance.
It’s the third time in the history of the Final Four that all four of the top seeds made it this far.
“That’s the way it is in women’s basketball,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “The absolute best teams get to the Final Four. I’m not one bit surprised Notre Dame and South Carolina are there. That’s the way it is in our game. The best teams go to the Final Four every year.”