The Florida Gulf Coast University women’s basketball team relied on its seniors, shooting and swagger during its energetic postseason run.
But in the WNIT championship game, FGCU ran into a team just as experienced, just as offensively gifted and with just as big a chip on its shoulders. And this time it was the Eagles’ opponent that was spurred by a wild home crowd.
Saturday was a special day for the University of South Dakota.
In front of a capacity crowd of 7,415 at the DakotaDome, the South Dakota women’s basketball team closed out its final game in the 37-year old facility in historic fashion.
Daily Republic Editorial Board: OUR VIEW: SD’s success in women’s basketball tough to ignore
Collectively, the accomplishments of South Dakota State, the University of South Dakota and the successful hosting of major postseason games are all really impressive for our state.
Nationwide, there is a lot of room to help the popularity of women’s basketball grow. But we hope NCAA officials realize that our state can make a strong influence on that.
The successes this year are just too hard to ignore.
A little south of them, more folks are playing basketball…
Gene Wang, Washington Post: Look past U-Conn., and women’s Final Four is full of surprises
With the Syracuse women’s basketball team having reached uncharted territory in the Final Four, Coach Quentin Hillsman couldn’t help but recall how his early years contributed to his professional development.
He grew up in suburban Washington, where his high school coach, Aaron Holder, showed how to build a champion from scratch at Forestville. In 1985, Hillsman’s freshman year, the Knights won the Maryland Class B title three years after the school opened its doors for the first time.
“Forestville High School was a special, special place, and Aaron Holder really instilled in me doing things the right way, being a hard worker, and was responsible for me becoming a basketball player and becoming a good coach,” said Hillsman, 45, the first African American male head coach to the reach the women’s Final Four. “What he’s done for me has been so big. That’s where it started with me.”
John Kekis, AP: Syracuse women reach for new heights
When Syracuse point guard Alexis Peterson talks about filling the lane, she might not be talking about basketball.
“I love to bowl,” Peterson said Saturday. “I have my own ball, my own bag, my own shoes, my own towel. I am a great bowler.”
Paul Shepherd, Newsday: Syracuse women looking to get takeaways from Washington
The Syracuse and Washington women’s basketball teams have faced each other just one time.
Who knew in November that the 66-62 Syracuse win in the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout in Las Vegas would be a preview of their second matchup in the same season?
Early in her coaching career, Morgan Valley faced a dilemma.
The Vermont native and UConn graduate had coached at Holy Cross and New Hampshire. She had an opportunity to pursue a job at Towson University in Maryland, but it would be far from her New England roots.
She sought the advice of UConn associate head coach Chris Dailey, a mentor.
“CD said you can’t be afraid to move around if this is what you want to do,” said Valley, now in her first year at the University of Washington. “That’s kind of been my attitude.”
Nice to be in Indy so we can get some of David Woods’ writing: What do Chantel Osahor and Steph Curry have in common?
In summer basketball, Kelsey Plum’s team once played against Chantel Osahor, her future Washington Huskies teammate. Plum’s coach told the team to drop into the paint against Osahor, a 6-2 post player who surely would not shoot from outside.
Osahor stayed out there and never left her feet. Her left-handed set shot is a throwback to the 1930s.
“Whack, whack, whack. First three shots of the game. Nailed them,” Plum recalled. “I said, ‘Coach, we should get up on her, right?’ We lost by like 30, and she kicked my butt. Definitely made an impression.”
And more David: The remarkable parallels between UConn and Oregon State
In one sense, Moriah Jefferson is a curious candidate to embody why the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team continues to make and accumulate history at a pace unlike almost anything else in sports.
As a recruit, readying to speak in person with Geno Auriemma for the first time, Jefferson listened as friends asked if she was nervous about the encounter. It struck her as an odd question. She was just going to be talking to someone about basketball, a sport she had played her whole waking life, minus perhaps two weeks many years earlier when she quit in protest after her dad told her she couldn’t play in leagues against boys any longer.
These folks are good: WBCA All-Americans: UConn’s Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson, Morgan Tuck; South Carolina’s A’ja Wilson; South Florida’s Courtney Williams; Oregon State’s Jamie Weisner; Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell; Baylor’s Nina Davis; Notre Dame’s Brianna Turner; Washington’s Kelsey Plum.
WBCA Defensive Player of the Year: Moriah Jefferson
AP Coach of the Year: Geno Auriemma
Jim Fuller, New Haven Register: Emotional day as UConn players, coaches are honored
A little more than three hours after exuberantly cheering as three of their teammates walked onto the Bankers Life Fieldhouse court as members of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s All-American team, the Huskies sat in stunned silence as their wise-cracking quote machine of a head coach ran out of one-liners to deliver and words to utter.
The weekend might prove Connecticut is invincible in the moment, but the coach who built the dynasty seems painfully aware that there is no such thing as immortality in sports.
“The longer I’m at this, the more I’m starting to understand it might not happen again,” Auriemma said. “And you really need to appreciate what these people do every day, to make it work.”
Kevin Baxter, LA Times: Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma keeps making a case to be considered the greatest basketball coach
From Excelle Sports: The Canadian guide to defeating Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson
You’ve heard it countless times by now—Connecticut hasn’t lost since November 18, 2014, an 88-86 defeat to Stanford.
But Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson, the two best players for the Huskies, did suffer a loss this past summer while playing for the United States in the Pan Am Games, an 81-73 defeat to Canada.
The parallels and overlaps from that game to this one are nearly endless. The two best players for Oregon State, center Ruth Hamblin and guard Jamie Weisner, are both Canadian national team players (though neither played in that game). And Oregon State coach Scott Rueck served as an assistant for the U.S. during the Pan Am tournament.
Blue Star Media: Women’s Final Four upstarts relish unlikely journeys
Jamie Weisner had no good reason to hear out to first-year Oregon State coach Scott Rueck when he made his first recruiting visit to her home on Valentine’s Day, 2011, when she was a junior in high school.
Most of the other Pac 12 schools were already interested in the fine-shooting guard with plenty of swagger. So where some local schools near her home in Clarkston, Wash., and a few more in the Midwest.
Oregon State was mired in the depths of the Pac 12. After inheriting two scholarship players following a wave of defections and the firing of his predecessor, Rueck held tryouts to fill a roster, adding soccer and volleyball players to get to 11.
The Beavers were in the midst of what would become a 9-21 season, with only two wins in conference play.
Yet Weisner not only listened to Rueck, she followed him to Corvallis.
Michelle Smith: Kelsey Plum learned to lead, and wins followed
At the center of it is a man who lives with heart issues that, before he turned 30, made him take stock of everything he knew about life. “I was not a very independent thinker,” Neighbors said. “I had a heart attack at 29. It was an eye-opening moment that your life’s really, really short.”
He evaluated himself and everything around him. He recognized he wasn’t a very fast or comprehensive reader, and immediately set about changing that. He left teaching and coaching at the high school level to go into college coaching, despite it initially being a drastic pay cut. He began to write down his philosophies on living and working, then passed them around for people to read.
Jamie Weisner and Sydney Wiese helped lead Oregon State from the bottom of Division I to the top of the mountain, only to find a volcano beneath their feet.
A volcano from the otherwise rolling hills of New England that erupted 120 of the past 121 times it rumbled.
Harvey, NY Times: UConn’s Seniors Are 2 Wins From a Feat Never Accomplished
Beware of the bubble! No, not the usual bubble referred to in the NCAA tournament. But the UConn bubble. It is made of some very powerful stuff. No women’s basketball team has more outside “noise” to deal with, yet nobody deals with it better.
Whether it’s praise or criticism — and UConn has been so consistently great, sometimes the praise actually sounds like criticism — it seems to have no effect on the undefeated Huskies, who are seeking to become the first women’s basketball team to win four consecutive NCAA titles.
Don’t forget, Monday’s games… Meet the Alaska Anchorage Hoosiers
Alaska Anchorage’s Seawolves are about as “Hoosiers” as you can get, considering their campus is more than 3,000 miles from Indiana.
The 33-year-old women’s basketball coach, Ryan McCarthy, loves the movie and fulfilled a lifelong goal Friday — he shot a jumper at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The men’s record-holder for scoring average, the Seawolves’ Jesse Jackson, is from Indianapolis. A former basketball coach and athletic director, Harry Larrabee, is from Shelbyville. Basketball icon Oscar Robertson is the great-great-uncle of Anchorage women’s guard Kiki Robertson.
And you thought the rural domicile of Hickory’s “Shooter” Flatch was in a remote location?