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Biggest non-surprise of the WNBA off season: Delle Donne to Washington. Mechelle wonders, How good can the Mystics be with Elena Delle Donne? No doubt, EDD will be under a microscope. Lots of eye rolling, bad mouthing of her in the internet-sphere. Who knows if those folks have inside scoop or not (never appreciated the “oh, if you only knew what I knew” power play), but Mechelle does offer some insight:

That intersected with Delle Donne’s strong desire to be back closer to her Delaware home, which was augmented by her growing disenchantment with the Sky. She had thumb surgery and missed the playoffs last season, and her relationship with then-coach Pokey Chatman seemed strained. Chatman was let go after the season but was quickly hired by Indiana to replace Stephanie White, who went to coach at Vanderbilt.

The Sky organization’s philosophy, from some players’ perspective, might be called no-frills — or less charitably, nickel-and-diming. To be fair, the Sky have some financial challenges in not being affiliated with an NBA team and competing in a sports-saturated city that includes two MLB teams.

Howard kinda disses Big Syl and Tina in his NY Times article: Elena Delle Donne Is Traded on Eve of WNBA Free Agency

Speaking of Chicago: Hello! Carlene Mitchell Joins Chicago Sky as Assistant Coach

Other changes: WNBA: Swords to Seattle, Vaughn and Hartley to NY in three-team trade

Go, team! Breanna Stewart inspired after joining first protest at LAX

Congrats: Smyrna to honor former standout Betnijah Laney Friday night

And yah, there was some basketball played:

Gonna start taking offers for the WHB Diss – ’cause look what happens! UNC over NC State with threes. (Sue’s got Coach Hatchell in the Chair)

“We’ve played really well at times, but we haven’t been able to put a whole game together …” head coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “We had some breakdowns and lack of experience, but we’re getting better and better and better.”

Case in point #2? USC topples #16 Arizona State, 65-50.

#17 Miami 27 turnovers, Boston College 34. Hurricanes win.

No really, what.the.what with Tennessee? They pull off the upset of #4 South Carolina courtesy of (perhaps?) a little Mississippi State end-of-game karma. But still, can Tennessee fans trust the Vols with their heart? As for the Gamecocks? South Carolina women’s basketball gets a much-needed wake-up call against Tennessee.

Warned you about Syracuse/Va Tech. Orange with the upset, 82-72. And, um, ok? How is Syracuse WBB modeled after the Soviet Union hockey dynasty?

And yes, Temple is stronger. They battle #23 USF, only to fall 55-51.

Anyone notice that the Hampton v. Howard battle in the MEAC is back on? The Pirates are at 7-0 and the Bison are at 6-1. Nice work by second year coach Ty Grace.

The Plum-i-na-tor scored a ton against the #10 Cardinal, but her Washington teammates couldn’t dredge up a lot of support for her. Stanford rallied and got the upset. Now Tara is one away from 1,000 wins. 1.0.0.0.

Oregon kept it close against #11 Oregon State. Must make the Ducks feel better about their future, but I’m sure they’d rather the win.

Creighton roared back in the fourth to defeat Marquette, 80-77. Speaking of Marquette and new(ish) head coach Carolyn Kieger: Women’s basketball utilizing unique up-tempo offense

Fourth. Quarter. #22 West Virginia scored 9. #12 Texas scored 21. Longhorns win by 15.

Whack a newly ranked team continues as MU women’s basketball team gets first win against Kentucky since joining SEC

Congrats to Clemson, who got their first ACC win in for.e.ver.

Not quite there: Towson falls to Delaware. And William & Mary falls to James Madison.

Hmmm… Wright State’s at 9-1 in the Horizon. Only loss: Green Bay. Rematch on February 24th.

Dang, but Washington State is feisty! 84-79 winners over Cal.

NCAA.com offers up  7 of the most talented tandems in the country

It might not be the world’s purest form of basketball, but coach Joanne P. McCallie has implemented a clear plan for her Blue Devils this year: Give the ball to Brown or Greenwell and let them decide the rest.

The usage rates of the two have been staggering this year. They have combined to attempt 44 percent of Duke’s field goals, and a mind-blowing 83 percent of the team’s 3-pointers. Brown and Greenwell have combined to hit 101 shots from deep; the rest of the roster has made 20.

Matthew Giles: Kelsey Plum is Superb

Fresh off the program’s first Final Four run, Washington might be the most intriguing team in women’s basketball this season: a west coast outlier amidst the sport’s pseudo east coast bias. That rise is wholly due to Plum, who bypassed the WNBA for one more chance to win a national title. And if she breaks a record that had largely been deemed to be unbreakable, well then, she’s fine with that too.

“To be honest, I haven’t thought of the record at all,” says Plum, referring to Jackie Stiles’ NCAA-record 3,393 points. “It’s an honor, and it’s probably something I should relish a bit more, but that’s not where I want to spend my time. Right now, I don’t really care.”

Graham: Nared sisters draw strength from each other — but go their own paths

It isn’t easy to be Tennessee. It isn’t easy to be both iconic and unranked ahead of a nationally televised game against South Carolina (ESPN2, 6 p.m. ET). It is difficult to be both David in the moment and Goliath in collective memories. Yet as long as that challenge appeals to some, it will still be Tennessee.

Find the challenge that calls you. Try to meet it, whether it’s in the shadow of the Alps or, in the case of Tennessee junior Jaime Nared, the footprint of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Lady Swish has a Chit chat with William and Mary’s Alex Masaquel and with James Madison’s Hailee Barron

From Ray’s Daily Dose of (Big East) Hoops: Jim Crowley adapting to life in Big East during his first year at Providence

The scene is too familiar.

Pacing the sideline with the play under close scrutiny. Taking a moment for a teaching moment with a player. Grimacing for a second as a well-designed and executed play terminates with a ball being thrown out of bounds. Jim Crowley has changed jobs, but not demeanor.

The latest scenario has happened a little more in than in recent years. Crowley, in his first year at Providence, has found that life in the Big East can be unforgiving and demanding, not to mention an exciting challenge.

From the AJC: Georgia Tech forward’s compassion inspires shoe drive

They call her Auntie Elo, and they rarely stop trying to reach her.

Georgia Tech forward Elo Edeferioka once was one of them, a youth in Warri, Nigeria, wanting a pair of basketball shoes but unable to afford them.

“They send me messages on Facebook and Instagram, direct messages and stuff like that,” she said.

They reach out because Edeferioka, a junior, has blessed them with her thoughtfulness. In her returns home to Nigeria from the U.S. over the summer, she has made a practice of bringing her own sneakers and those of teammates to share with young players at the basketball academy where she learned the game.

FYI, something to consider as we move into the second week of the Presidency: Progress and Inequality: Women’s Sports and the Gender Gap

Editor’s Note: February 1, 2017 marks the 31st National Girls & Women in Sports Day, an observance of the outstanding achievements of athletes, coaches, athletic directors, parents and lawmakers committed to women and girls’ sports.

And finally, my dad and I watched the Watergate Hearings together, back in the day.  Dad, who was in the diplomatic corps, started Moody’s international bond rating, and then taught American history for 18 years, is proud of his membership on the White House Enemies List. I dropped him a note, asking if he was having flashbacks. “Cheer up,” he wrote me, “the worst is yet to come.”

Thanks, dad.

#resist

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So. Deep breath.

Today’s games of interest:

12pm EST: Temple v. #23 USF. The Owls are undefeated in conference play. Good test to see where they stand.

pm: #14 Duke v. Wake Forest. I’m paying attention not because I think the Demon Deacons can upset the Blue Devils, but because their program is doing the slow climb back to relevency.

2pm: Marquette v. Creighton. Battle for Big East supremacy.

2pm EST: The wheels have really come off for the #19 Hokies. Can coach Brooks right the ship against an inconsistent Syracuse team?

2pm: Who doesn’t like an in-state rivalry? Oregon v. #11 Oregon State. How “Civil” will it be?

2pm: James Madison v. William & Mary. ‘cause the Dukes‘ stranglehold on the CAA is under siege.

(Speaking of which) 3pm: Not quite ready to call this the rise of one program and the slow decline of another, but… #18 NC State v. North Carolina.

4pm: Aggies, thy name is Agita-causing. Which team will show up against the likely still-cranky #4 Mississippi State team?

4pm: The Big 12 Gauntlet continues: #12 Texas v. #22 West Virginia.

6pm: USC v. #16 Arizona State. So yeah, USC is (again) disappointing. What are they thinking as they watch their fellow Pac12 programs rise?

6:30: #20 Oklahoma v #2 Baylor. Sure, their athletic program is a disgusting mess… but the Bears are clicking on all cylinders. Expecting a Sooner Smackdown.

8pm: #10 Stanford v. #7 Washington. Both teams are 8-1 in conference play. AND, the Plum-i-na-tor has Jackie Stiles’ record in her sights.

While I was away…

Wowza! Iona shut down Quinnipiac, 58-44.

Look at the Fighting Camels of Campbell at 7-1 in the Big South! (And I see you Radford, surviving UNC-Asheville in OT to also move to 7-1)

Big Mountain West win for Boise State (5-4) over Wyoming (7-2), 64-54.

Ditto for UT San Antonio (6-2) over Western Kentucky (7-2) in C-USA.

Good things happening in the UT’s: Arlington’s up to 8-1 in the Sun Belt.

Remember when I said Omaha was going from a doormat to someone who you should pay attention to? The Mavericks beat the Wabbits!

Battle of the tops in the MAC saw Northern Illinois (8-1) over Ball State (7-2), 101-96. Did Debbie get the alert?

Northern Colorado is now 10-0 in the Big Sky.

After a rough out-of-conference schedule, New Mexico State is 7-0 in the WAC.

Same could be said for Dayton, who’ve found their A-10 footing. They’re 8-1 in the conference.

Not to be ignored, A-10 rival St. Louis (7-2) felled Fordham, 82-58.

Yup, the A-Sun will be fun this year. FGCU escaped with a 60-57 win over Jacksonville. They meet again on Feb. 4th.

Blinks twice. Furman beat Chattanooga?

Blinks thrice: Loyola Marymount beat BYU?

Whoopsie! Central Michigan (6-2) falls to Toledo (4-4), 74-72.

Whoopsie, too! Charlotte (7-2) falls to Rice (3-6), 55-52.

WHB jinx avoided: Harvard escapes Columbia, 70-68.

Little Rock at 9-0 in the Sun Belt.

With a 68-62 win over Army, Bucknell making their case for Patriot top dog.

Some Sunday reads:

Harvard Crimson: Hey America, Take Harvard Women’s Basketball Seriously and Harvard Magazine: “Unconditionally Relentless”

LAST FALLHarvard women’s basketball head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith gave each of her players a bracelet. These were not merely mementos; the significance lay in the two-word inscription printed on each band: “Unconditionally Relentless.” The coach was sending her players a message, and outfitting them with a constant reminder, about the mindset she expected from them.

Michelle Smith: Stanford’s Samuelson Is Putting In The Time

Washington Post: ‘That Brionna Jones, she’s a monster’ for Maryland women’s basketball. And: Everything’s in place for Brionna Jones

In her three years in College Park, Jones has become a player that her teammates can always rely on to get a bucket. She has over 1,200 points and 800 rebounds in her career, averaging 15.2 and 9.8 as a junior. She’s been named to consecutive All-Big Ten first teams and started in two Final Fours.

Jones is also a pre-med major who plans to be a pediatrician. She graduated in three years with a kinesiology degree. She’s a two-time academic all-conference selection in addition to being a two-time all-conference honoree for basketball.

Graham: Lexie Brown’s fresh start in Durham reinvigorates Duke, her passion for the game

If Duke goes far this season with Lexie Brown and Rebecca Greenwell, it will be a testament to how the two players push each other.

As part of preseason conditioning, the Blue Devils are tested with a series of sprints — a shuttle run. The test ends, at least in theory, when the player fails to meet the time constraint. Greenwell and Brown completed the requisite number of rounds necessary to pass. As others dropped out, they kept going. The goal Greenwell set for herself came and went.

They doubled the workload required of them and just kept going, neither willing to concede.

Hartford Courant: Jay Bilas Turns Up Volume On UConn Women, And Geno Appreciates It ’cause As Serena [rightly] Feted, UConn Women’s Dominance Hardly Noticed

We’ve been watching: Barnes Arico quietly builds Michigan into women’s basketball power

Projection: Pac-12 leads the way with five teams in espnW’s top-16 seeds

Really? Winthrop suspends basketball coach Kevin Cook for ‘personnel matter’

Really?!? UTEP player, 6 others indicted in bank fraud

.com: Senior Watch: Midseason Update

WNBA:

Athlete Ally and Shirzanan Publish Open Letter Demanding FIBA Overturn its Hijab Ban – Athlete Ally

Harumph: Petersen steps down as Lynx associate head coach

ABC News: For WNBA stars who play overseas, positives outweigh negatives

Dab-bug-it! Elena Delle Donne returning to U.S. after Lyme disease flare-up

Chicago Now: Before You Bid Us Adieu – Elena Delle Donne

Holla! North: Time for Bulls, Sky to get their acts together

Ciao: Atlanta Dream trade Reshanda Gray to Connecticut Sun

Yes! Crystal Robinson would be nice choice for Hall of Fame

I had the pleasure of covering Robinson during her prep career and during her many battles against East Central University when she was a SOSU Lady Savage. 

In December of 1994, she showed off to the tune of a 58-point outing in a win over the Lady Tigers of then-coach Kent Franz.

I watched many epic battles between Robinson’s Atoka squads and the Byng Lady Pirates, under the direction of head coach Rocky Clarke.

Of course, it was 6-on-6 battles back then and Byng had a great guard in Janelle Brewer (Brannon). I’ll never forget one time when Robinson was standing in the corner near midcourt with Brewer guarding her up close and personal. Brewer started yelling and waving her hands in Robinson’s face. Robinson remained stoic. It seemed like that moment lasted forever.

High School:

Saratogian: On The Record: UConn sets standard for girls basketball

LA – No rest for the weary: For the second time, Judi Edwards comes out of retirement to take over at Fairfax

Wisconsin: Madison East, Middleton girls basketball teams address negative social media remark

A Middleton player posted the following comment to her Instagram page: “I would say good game but a good game doesn’t involve intentionally trying to hurt two of our players and then laughing about it like it was a funny joke. Be aggressive not violent!! Thanks #youregonnaworkforusanyways.”

The Instagram page has been deleted.

The post has sparked a conversation on social media about the intent of the player’s comments. The Middleton student who posted the comment to her Instagram page is white, while the majority of the Madison East team are students of color.

This is not the first time race and class tensions have erupted between the two schools. In 2006, Middleton High School’s administration issued a statement apologizing to Madison East after Middleton students chanted, “food stamps, food stamps” during a boys basketball game.

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This is what you missed….
 The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, 
With conquering limbs astride from land to land; 
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand 
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame 
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name 
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand 
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command 
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. 
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she 
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, 
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, 
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Written by Emma Lazarus, the daughter of an immigrant.

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A day that will live in infamy…

closing-golden-door-january-28-2017.jpg

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Ears on Around the Rim: We Back Pat All-Orange episode.

Robinson first talks with former Lady Vols, ESPN basketball analyst Kara Lawson and new SEC women’s basketball announcer Tamika Catchings, on the impact Coach Summitt had on them as players and as women. They each share various memories of why they believe they are who they are because of Summitt.

In the second half, Robinson speaks with Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey on the state of the Lady Bears, the depth of their roster and how Mulkey was groomed into the person she is today because of the guidance from Summitt, both as a coach and as peer.

Robinson also profiles Tennessee guard Diamond DeShields and delves into her memories of Summitt and the coach played a part in her recruitment.

Eyes on freshman Sabrina Ionescu: She records her third career triple-double (14 pts, 13 assts and 10 bds) as the Ducks blow out Utah. That’s wins in the last 4 of 5 for Oregon.

Eyes on sophomore Katie Lou Samuelson:  First UConn player since Tiffany Hayes to record back-to-back 30-point games and tied Maya Moore’s program record for points in a three-game span. Huskies over Tulane by 46.

Eyes on junior Chantel Osahor: 30 rebounds, new Pac 12 record. The Huskies dispatched Washington State, 87-44. BTW: All-time scoring leader Jackie Stiles rooting for Kelsey Plum to break the record

Eyes on UCLA (thanks, Sue!): Kennedy Burke purposefully misses a FT, Bruins get the board, Canada is fouled, hits’em both. Bruins over USC.

Rude ACC awakening for coach Brooks: #17 Va Tech falls to #7 Florida State, 82-54.

“For the second game in a row, I just felt like we really lost our composure, what we were trying to get accomplished,” said Head Coach Kenny Brooks. “I was disappointed in the way we competed.”

The sweet and sour Orange squeeze #14 Miami big time, 81-48.

#20 Oklahoma had to come up big in the fourth to overcome Oklahoma State, 68-62.

Ditto for NC State who pulled away from Clemson for the 65-53. Yes, the Tigers are 0-7 in conference play, but they are SO much better. Keep an eye on this program in the next couple of years. Coach Smith needs some recruits.

Told you William & Mary is a rising program: the miss upsetting Elon courtesy of Lauren Brown’s free throws.

And ditto with Towson, who didn’t miss in their (2nd) upset of James Madison, 60-55.

MONDAY MATCHUP!!!!!

This ought to be fun: South Carolina v. Mississippi State. They have combined for one loss. Clearly, the Gamecocks have played a more challenging schedule…AND it’s a home game for them. Great test for coach Schaefer. Check out GHR for the keys to the game.

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Time keeps on slippin’…

into the future….

What a week (life), what a week (work), what week (basketball). Setting some time aside to review the last.

See, when they put it all together, they can be quite a force! #24 West Virginia gave #2 Baylor quite the run for their money (lets not talk about that call with three minutes left, shall we?). Bears win, 79-73.

Yesterday’s Debbie Antonelli special? Marquette over #19 DePaul in OT, 102-101. Which gives me a moment to remind folks that the Big East is a dogfight between the Golden Eagles, the Blue Demons and the Blue Jays.

#17 Va Tech reality check: they fall to #15 Duke, 84-59.

Whack-a-Ranked-Team (again): #22 Kansas State falls to Iowa State, 75-69.

Interesting MAC: Ball State over Bowling Green to move to 6-1. Buffalo gives the Chippewas their first conference loss, 67-56.

After their 58-61 stumble against Monmouth, Quinnipiac regained its footing with a 79-53 thumping of MAAC challenger Rider.

Hello, Belmont and their 8-0 OVC record.

This is what you call a double overtime ouch: UMass had the 15-point lead over George Washington, went 0-fer in the fourth, then lost the game in OT. Hard lessons learned for coach Verdi’s new team.

Tough 1-point loss for Norfolk State to Hampton. But the close call still highlights how far the Spartan program has come. Some sucky news for the Pirates, though: Here’s the word on Hampton’s Tate-DeFreitas and her knee

All eyes on the CAA, as James Madison’s win over Elon evens up the conference score. Fun times!

Honestly, if I were a Tennessee fan, I’d be bald right now. 79-61, Auburn.

I think I’d feel similarly about being a #25 Texas A&M fan, as the Aggies fell to Missouri, 78-76.

Programs that are having tough years? Montana, North Carolina, Fresno State.

Non-game writings:

This is some beautiful writing from Graham, and deserves the over-quote: 

They came in their largest numbers of the season. Despite the opportunity to slip away from campus for a long weekend, by tipoff Saturday against Indiana, Northwestern students filled the bleachers at either end of Welsh-Ryan Arena in matching seas of white shirts.

They roared when Nia Coffey scored for the Wildcats and did their best to hoodwink Indiana players into shaving seconds off the shot clock unnecessarily. They cheered like college kids. Northwestern coach Joe McKeown said they were worth at least 10 points in a 13-point win.

Yet those bodies could have filled not only the small arena but the larger football stadium next door. They could have spilled onto the streets of this suburb on Lake Michigan. It wouldn’t have mattered. No more than it mattered that there were exactly enough chairs on the sideline for the team’s players, coaches and staff. Not a single seat went unfilled. All of it was an illusion.

No matter how many were there, Jordan Hankins was not.

Daily Northwestern: Amber Jamison finds motivation in Hankins’ memory

“I am definitely playing with more energy and more confidence,” Jamison said. “I’m trying to do what I know she would do. Just trying to be like her.”

Sending good thoughts: MSU women’s basketball coach Suzy Merchant takes leave

Well, this is a hot mess: WSU holds out coach Jody Adams-Birch for two games; sources say team boycotted practice

NCAA.com: Perfect streak continues for Wright State junior forward Lexi Smith

“That kid has not missed a practice in three years,” Merriweather said. “She’s so extremely tough, and she plays herself into shape and she cares about being ready to play. You just have to love that kid. Most players miss at least one practice or two every year.”

It’s one thing to fight through the standard bumps, bruises, sprains and strains that arise over the course of a season and make it to every practice when you know you’re going to be starting every game. 

But that wasn’t the case for Smith when she showed up at Wright State, which was the only Division I offer she had coming out of the storied Homewood-Flossmoor prep program in Chicago as an undersized post player at 5-10 1/2 inches.

NCAA.com:  Katie Lou Samuelson thriving as UConn’s go-to offensive player

Hartford Courant: UConn Women Have Had No Trouble Finding Points Despite Loss Of Big 3

Where would the new-look Huskies find all of those baskets?

As it turned out, the are coming from all over the court and from multiple players. Seventeen games into the season, the unbeaten Huskies are averaging 84.1 points and they have two of the best scorers in the country: Katie Lou Samuelson (21.4) and Napheesa Collier (19.4).

As they go for #93, from Ron Sirak: Don’t let UCLA do to UConn what Tiger did to Annika Sorenstam

Here we go again. The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team is dominating opponents in an unprecedented way, yet there are those who bend over backward trying to devalue the team’s accomplishments. That’s not something new in women’s sports. I’ve been down this road a few times before.

Tough times for the Bears. From the Daily Californian: Cal women’s basketball hopes to stop recent skid against Arizona

Fans who have been consistently watching the Cal women’s basketball team this season have a plethora of reasons to be disappointed. If someone isn’t upset by the fact that the Bears haven’t triumphed over a top-25 team since Dec. 20 (which shows a distinct lack of high-caliber basketball), there are a wide range of other issues that could enrage a watcher.

Courier-Journal: Walz’s Cards aim to prove themselves on road

From Sue: Ability, work elevating UCLA’s Monique Billings to a new level

Finding the words to describe Monique Billings’ game isn’t easy.

First, there is the UCLA junior forward’s skill set. In Sunday’s game against Oregon, where she posted a career-high 30 points, Billings’ full cache was on display. She was 11-16 on turn-around jumpers, reverse layups, floaters and hook shots. She snatched a game-high 14 rebounds, which lead to many critical second-chance points. Billings stole the ball six times, had one block, and at the end of the game tried a dunk after running away from everyone else on the floor.

She missed, but the Pauley Pavilion crowd rose to their feet and cheered.

BYU women’s basketball freshman continuing the family legacy

Excelle: Generations: Why is Stanford’s Erica McCall so good? Take a look at who’s in her family.

Dayton Flyers: Women’s Basketball Has Turned Corner, Found Success in A10

Tallahassee.com: Culver: FSU women’s basketball team deserves packed house

NCAA.com:  No. 4 Mississippi State on a roll with 20 straight wins

Graham: Green Bay returns to top of mid-major rankings

In case you were wondering: DI Women’s Basketball Championship to maintain format

After reviewing survey results from NCAA member schools, in which almost 80 percent of Division I conferences felt the tournament should not change its format, the Division I Women’s Basketball Oversight Committee on Tuesday decided it will instead focus on ways to enhance the championship.

WNBA

Cool! Obama sent 2016 WNBA champions a letter

Round and round we go: Tayler Hill, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, and Leilani Mitchell enter WNBA free agency

But not you:  Dream put franchise tag on Angel McCoughtry

WNBA players starting to invest in food industry

Whether it’s to plan for their future once basketball is done, promote healthy living or just to have some fun, WNBA players such as Sue Bird and Maya Moore are getting involved in the food industry.

The key is to do it with people they trust.

Bird has invested in restaurants in the Northeast for over a decade, getting started when UConn coach Geno Auriemma presented the opportunity for his former players to buy into his place at the Mohegan Sun.

WATN: R.I native, retired WNBA player Brenda Atwater wants to build youth center for at risk kids

WATN? At UC-Riverside, January 24th: WNBA superstar Chamique Holdsclaw will visit UCR for the screening of “Mind/Game,” the documentary based on Holdsclaw’s life.

WATN? Penny Taylor on post basketball life

So can we get a HandClap?

 

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Tuesday tidbits

First: OUCH (and phew!) Breanna Stewart flying home from China to rehab sprained right knee

Also: “COME TO NEW YORK!” WNBA free agency begins

Speaking of “come to New York,” Kelsey Plum‘s at a lot of points. Oh, and #8 Washington  over #19 Arizona State, 65-54,

That was close! Ohio State 61, Purdue 56 as Buckeyes turn deficit into a win

Feisty, but hamstrung: Depleted Washington State loses at Arizona

The Ramblin’ Wreck has had moments of rumbling this year. This was one such momentCold-shooting Syracuse women’s basketball falls at Georgia Tech

#2 Baylor by 49.

Still A’ja-free, #4 South Carolina by 23.

#7 Florida State by… hold on, need more fingers…59.

Tight, ’cause it should be: #9 Louisville over #14 Miami, 63-59.

Tight, but it shouldn’t be: #11 Ohio State over Purdue, 61-56.

Tough time to be a Trojan. With their loss to #10 Oregon State, they fall to 1-5 in the conference.

0-5 in the SEC for Vandy, as they fall to Missouri, 74-68.

Whoops! #23 NC State takes down #12 Duke in a low-scoring slog, 55-52.

That’s the game they were hoping for! Utes over #24 Cal, 63-57.

All DePaul keeps doing is win.

It’s as weird not to be talking about Tennessee as it is to not be talking about UNC. Tar Heels are 1-4 in the ACC after Pittsburgh beats them, 68-48.

Of course, everyone is talking about the Lady Vols as they roar back from 15-down to beat the puzzling #6 Irish, 71-69.

Wake Forest gave’em a tussle, but #17 Virginia Tech escaped, 72-70.

Fordham’s at 6-0 in the A-10. They’ve got St. Louis on the 28th and George Washington on the 1st. The Billikens were dealt their first conference loss by Dayton, who’s holding it together post-Jabir.

Anyone notice that Iowa State is 1-5 in the Big 12?

If not Canada, then Billings. Monique’s 30 power the Bruins over the Ducks, 79-63.

NO, I’m NOT going to call the CAA, but Elon did stuff Drexel, 75-65. It’s early, but anyone looking for a new head coach? (That’s #100 for Smith.)

In case you were wondering, from the NCAA.com: UConn’s record win streak by the numbers

Bracketology: Bulldogs make big jump to top line

Mississippi State has never been a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. But in this week’s projection — and for the first time in Bracketology — the Bulldogs have risen to the top. The last remaining unbeaten team in the country that isn’t also riding a 91-game winning streak, Mississippi State slides to the top line past Maryland, which hasn’t fallen backwards. Rather, the Bulldogs’ overall profile continues to rise and get better as their winning continues.

Interesting: White: Fewer prep participants becoming bigger concern in girls basketball

Many factors have contributed to the decline of girls basketball participation. But coaches often point to one thing as the primary culprit: club volleyball. Club programs fire up during the winter and extend through the spring and sometimes summer months.

Said one western Iowa A.D.: “Single-sport athletes — club volleyball especially — is killing girls basketball.”

Congrats!

After six years of coaching junior high and junior varsity girls basketball at Bettsville and St. Wendelin, Randy Baker inquired about and received the head girls basketball coaching position at Arcadia.

“I didn’t go into this expecting to be a varsity basketball coach my whole life,” Baker, 65, said. “It just kind of happened.”

And quite a bit has happened under Baker’s watch as girls basketball coach at the little school on Ohio 12, more than simply 500 games the Redskins have won with Baker at the helm.

Ahem: CSU personnel management contributes to discrimination problems

On Sept. 28, a jury awarded $3.36 million to Beth Burns, the former head coach for the women’s basketball team at San Diego State University, in her wrongful termination suit. The jury found that the university had retaliated against Burns after she demanded that it comply with Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in schools. 

The Burns verdict comes nine years after the California State University system lost three similar cases filed by former Fresno State Athletic Department employees Diane Milutinovich, Lindy Vivas and Stacy Johnson Klein. Clearly, the CSU has a problem.

In part, this problem is rooted in the wider world of college athletics.

As he plans his transition and administration, like every sector of society, the athletic world considers how a Trump administration could alter its landscape. On issues such as immigrant players, visiting national teams, team and individual protests, White House team visits, and sexual assault and rape, how will the policies, cabinet, coverage, and reaction to the new president color one of the world’s favorite diversions?
Where will politics and sport blur, or collide? It didn’t take long after Election Day for clues to emerge.

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Sunday Stroll…

From the .com/aka Indiana’s Kevin Messenger (why you don’t blog no more, Kevin?): A Stroll Made Possible by Mel Greenberg

Mel will turn 70 in April. At 29, he initiated the first AP poll in November 1976, four months after the first Olympic women’s basketball competition and nearly 30 years after the first AP men’s poll in January 1949. He has devoted over 40 years to the sport as its chief print scribe, national publicist, historian and archivist. His current blog, Womhoops Guru, is aptly named. He is effectively retired, but he’s still the guru. He is the Godfather of American women’s basketball and was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Without Mel, our relatively short history of women’s basketball would be significantly shorter – at least lighter and less meaningful. Without Mel, my short stroll down memory lane would have had less substance.

Speaking of history: Wide ranging Q&A by Steve Serby with Auriemma:

Q: What did you tell your team after Stanford ended your previous 90-game win streak?

A: We deserved to lose. We sucked. That whole stretch took a lot out of us. We looked tired, we looked like we had used up a lot of emotional energy. There was a lot of media nonsense back then about UCLA, and this and that and the other thing. It was the first time that anybody had in that situation, and our kids were hearing all kinds of stuff: “Yeah it’s only women’s basketball, you guys suck, you’re not UCLA, you’re not this, blah blah blah blah blah.” And we never said we were. But we deserved to lose.

About #91:

UConn Women Put 91 In Books; Breeze Past SMU, 88-48, Courant
SMU Coach Uses No. 1 UConn As Program Model, Courant
UConn women set NCAA record with 91st win in a row, Register
UConn Women Win Their 91st Straight and Rewrite History Again, NY Times
It’s business as usual for UConn in record-setting win, Mechelle Voepel, ESPN
UConn Huskies’ NCAA-record win streak: 91 and counting, ESPN
UConn women win 91st straight to break their own NCAA record

Flashback: The UConn Women’s Basketball Dynasty Is Over

Gets a Debbie Antonelli “like”: #3 Maryland over Iowa, 98-82.

Really strong third period by #16 Texas beat a strong fourth by #18 West Virginia. Longhorns win, 73-63.

Say, what? Rutgers outscored Michigan State 13-21 in the fourth to grab a stunning win, 58-62.

Northern Colorado looks to dominate in the Big Sky, as their 66-58 win over Montana State runs their conference record up to 6-0.

Again, worth noting a program demonstrating culture change: Norfolk State is now 3-0 in the MEAC.

That fwap-fwap-fwap sound you hear is everyone in the WCC still beating up on each other. Early take? They’ll be going down to the fourth line in the tiebreaker rules to try and figure out conference tournament seedings.

With a win over Toledo, Northern Illinois stakes a claim to the MAC West. Current rival? Central Michigan (Feb 8th). What’s bigger than basketball? NIU women’s basketball team rallies behind teammate with cancer

She was set for surgery in mid-December when she inquired about a small lump on her clavicle that had become sore. Doctors thought it was an infection, and told Castro, a Harvest Christian graduate, that they needed to treat it and eradicate it before they could proceed with the hip surgery.

When the lump didn’t go away, doctors looked closer. Just before the Huskies went on holiday break, they determined that Castro, 19, has Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system.

Castro’s fight to save her career suddenly became a fight to save her life.

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Perspective…

Northwestern teammates grieve, honor Jordan Hankins in victory over Indiana

McKeown joked about Hankins’ shoot-first, shoot-often mentality and how men’s coach Chris Collins would rib her for blasting music on the court near his office when she was putting up extra shots after practice.

But more than anything McKeown remembers Hankins’ heart.

“I was walking down the hallways of her high school in Indianapolis. Everyone was talking to her. There’s this group to the side. They all said, ‘Jordan , Jordan, Jordan.’ It was a special needs class she worked with,” said McKeown, whose son Joey is autistic. “I said, ‘J, who are those guys? She said, ‘Coach those are my friends.’ I’ll never forget that moment with her.”

For more information on suicide prevention, visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org. For the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, call 1-800-273-8255.

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#3000AndCounting

Kelsey “Jackie Stiles I’m comin’ for your scoring record” Plum topped the 3000 point peak and is sailing towards 3,393. In the process, garnering herself (and her team) well deserved attention: Washington Women Paint a Target on Those Other Huskies

These Huskies do not overpower opponents as much as they sweep them up in their current. They score points in bunches, rattle opponents with pressure and pass the ball with flair. Blink, and they are up by 20 points. They went to the Final Four last season. This year, they expect to return.

But these are not the Huskies you usually hear women’s basketball fans talking about.

Did you catch Howard Medgal’s interview with the Plum-i-na-tor two months ago?

.com: WNBA Draft Senior Watch: Record-Breaking Week

What about them Blue Jays? Creighton women’s basketball: A Minnesota dream team

The running joke was created many years ago.

Maybe Steve Huber should get an apartment in the Twin Cities.

The former Creighton women’s basketball assistant coach was in town nearly enough to justify it.

It was Huber who convinced Creighton head coach Jim Flanery that the Bluejays needed to push more recruiting resources into Minnesota. With talent in the tundra and only one Division I university in the state, Minnesota was an area worthy of the staff’s time and effort.

Interesting: Distracting wall message covered up at Texas women’s basketball practice

Deep breath: Utah women’s basketball: After tough weekend, Utes renew focus ahead of ranked Stanford, Cal

Oklahoma State: Senior Diana Omozee’s patience pays off for Cowgirls

Culture! The Tall Girls, About Women’s Basketball Team, Premieres in Chicago

Shattered Globe Theatre continues its 2016-17 season with the Chicago premiere of Meg Miroshnik’s drama The Tall Girls, about five young women in the 1930s rural Midwest who discover a way to escape their crumbling town by playing basketball, at Theater Wit.

Directed by ensemble member Louis Contey, The Tall Girls plays through February 25. Performances began January 12 with an official opening set for January 15 at 3 PM.

Games

“Not so fast (to the Pac 12 top spot):” #17 UCLA snaps #10 Oregon State women’s basketball team’s 12-game win streak

Miss A’ja muchCuevas-Moore leads No. 5 South Carolina to 66-63 win

It was tight, but Florida State prevailed over Louisville, 72-65.

It wasn’t really tight, as Syracuse got a monster gamemonster game from Alexis Peterson (45) and topped #23 NC State by 10.

“Peterson just had an unbelievable game,” Moore said. “I feel kind of like an idiot sitting here having somebody score 45 points on us. We tried to double her. We tried to trap her. We tried to keep it out of her hands. We just couldn’t figure out a way. I’m disappointed we let one player really go off like that and be such a big difference in the game.”

Boom: Good win for LA Tech as they give the 49ers their first C-USA loss – with authority: 80-54. Nice history piece: How Tech’s ’82 title team revolutionized women’s basketball

There was a time, almost four decades ago, when Louisiana Tech ruled the world of women’s college basketball.

The program, led by future Hall of Famers and those considered pioneers of the game, helped revolutionize women’s basketball into the product it would later become and still is in the present day.

The Lady Techsters were that good, and it was evident to everyone.

Welcome to the SEC, Vanderbilt. With a loss to Auburn, they’re 0-4 in conference play.

In the WCC, everyone’s beating everyone.

This is not your last 4 years Ivy (sorta). Penn is 2-0, Princeton is 2-0 (hello, Brown!), but it’s Harvard I have my eye on.

*jinx alert* Thinking that the CAA is Elon’s – but their next two games will be key: Drexel and James Madison.

Lawsuit aside, Drake’s gotta be the heavy favorite in the MVC along, of course, with UNI (they  play January 27th).

Irish v. Panthers: No Big Mac, but Notre Dame women’s basketball satisfied with win

Ole Miss women’s basketball bounce back

The Tennessee women’s basketball team this year is not the same Tennessee women’s basketball team that was dominating the sport years ago.

But let’s not dampen the moment of what it feels like to beat Tennessee for the first time in 21 years.

WATN? Edna Campbell offers a little ABL and WNBA history.

WATN? UConn Women’s Insider: With New Job, Swin Cash Doesn’t Miss Playing

Upcoming games:

Saturday

  • 2pm MAC battle: Northern Illinois (4-0) v. Toledo (3-1)
  • 2pm WCC brawl: BYU v. San Diego and (4pm) Gonzaga v. Saint Mary’s (5pm) San Francisco v. Pacific.
  • 3pm Texas Tech v. #22 Oklahoma. Will the Lady Raiders build on their recent success?
  • 3pm Sun Belt Standoff: UT Arlington v. Troy. Both are 4-0.
  • Going for 91 at 3pm v SMU: UConn women’s basketball streak among best in sports history as the Mustangs wonder: Can the SMU women’s basketball team stop Connecticut from making history at Moody?
  • 4pm #16 Texas v. #18 West Virginia. Saying nothing about the state of the Mountaineers….but…
  • 4pm Big Sky Matchup: Montana (4-1) v. Northern Colorado (5-0).
  • 4pm: Mini MEAC Matchup: North Carolina Central v. Norfolk State. Both are 2-0.
  • 5pm Who moves up in the Mountain West? Colorado State (3-1) v New Mexico (4-1)
  • 5pm Good C-USA test: Charlotte (4-1) v. Southern Mississippi (3-1)

Sunday:

  • 12pm: A10 challenge: St. Louis v. Dayton
  • 1:30: #14 Miami v. #9 Louisville – it’s way early, but this game has conference tourney seeding implications.
  • 3pm: LSU is on a roll, #5 South Carolina is Wilson-less. Whaddaya think?
  • 3pm: #12 Duke v. NC State. An upset keeps the Wolfpack ranked?
  • 3pm: C-USA clash: Middle Tennessee State (4-0) v. Western Kentucky (4-1)
  • 3pm: As mentioned, Elon v. Drexel.
  • 4pm: #17 UCLA v. Oregon. Take a breath and refocus, Bruins – the Ducks are healthier.
  • 8pm: More Pac 12 fun: #8 Washington v. #19 Arizona State

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In case you missed it,

90 happened.

Honestly, if you can’t shake your head in awe at the amazingness of this accomplishment I can’t help you….

Oh for a muse of fire! ’cause then I could write like Graham Hays. What pressure? UConn has fun in matching 90-game win streak

There was ample statistical evidence. It wasn’t until midway through the fourth quarter Tuesday that South Florida finally had more points than UConn had assists. But the Huskies were smiling too soon — Samuelson grinning from ear to ear even before the ball was tipped — for the joy to be the product of the play. The joy had to be the source.

Players come and go, but UConn’s coaching staff remains same — and is the perfect balance to Auriemma, ESPN

More coverage (Huge h/t to DoggyDaddy):

“It really was more about the way the game went as opposed to whatever numbers, whatever’s attached to it,” Auriemma said. “The way the first 20 minutes were played. We just played like a team that was tonight on a mission to do something that was really important to them.
“There are very few moments like this when you can take a deep breath, take it all in,” Williams said. “We did a lot of things we like to do and I think that kind of threw them off and allowed us to make a lot of really good plays. Once we got that momentum, we didn’t stop.”

Gabby Williams has a sore hamstring and two surgical scars on her knee.

So if the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team’s junior forward had decided to pull up and not crash into the South Florida bench saving the ball in the third quarter of Tuesday’s game, no one would have faulted her. It also would not have mattered in the outcome as the Huskies already owned a 56-point lead.

But in her first two years, Williams had watched her elders, including All-Americans Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck, make those kind of plays, and the Sparks, Nevada, native wants her younger teammates to be ready to do the same things when necessary.

The largest home crowd to watch the UConn women’s basketball team this season and largest contingent of media of the year turned out for the Huskies’ date with destiny and they did not disappoint.

The 102-37 win over South Florida was the largest margin of victory in program history against a team ranked in the Associated Press poll and that final score makes it sound closer than it actually was.

Chalk Up Win No. 90 In A Row As UConn Blows Out USF, 102-37 Courant

UConn routs USF, ties own record with 90th straight win Inside Ottawa Valley

No. 1 UConn Routs USF, 102-37 UConn Site

“Some things you just can’t really explain; you just have to enjoy it,” Auriemma said after the game. “We don’t set out to do these kinds of things. We don’t set out to set records, break records or keep track of records. We set out to play as hard as we can.
“I did think someone would break it, and when I did I thought about keeping it in the family,” Hayes said after watching the Huskies beat Central Florida at CFE Arena in Orlando on New Year’s Day. “That’s what happening so I’m really happy about it. We took a lot of pride when we set the record and I hope this team is taking pride in what they’re doing. What they’re doing is great. And if they are going to do this, do it right.”

“Come watch film, I’ll show you why we should lose games and why I think we’re going to lose,” he said at the time. “You saw what happened (tonight): All we need is one of those kids to foul out earlier … we’re one thing away. I’m sure most teams are.”

Why?

Well for one thing, any coach in America will tell you it’s a bad idea to look past any game.

But here’s another simple explanation: In 2010, the Huskies set the record that the current team tied on Tuesday, before their then-historic win streak was broken by Stanford that December. Four months later, both UConn and Stanford found themselves watching the championship game from the sidelines after being upset by Texas A&M and Notre Dame in the Final Four.

You’ll hear it said often: Auriemma and his assistants don’t just go for talented recruits. They insist on the exact type of personality they want, too. They really won’t take chances on players who don’t meet the program’s iron-clad requirements of discipline, teamwork, responsibility, good attitudes and positive body language.

Because the UConn culture of excellence has been in place so long, it serves as a magnet for the exact type of player that will sustain it.

Four special admirers of Connecticut’s historic streak, ESPN

Other games of interest:

Riddle me this Ohio State: How do you spell defense? Michigan State’s Tori Jankoska scored 42 points (passing Ariel Powers’ record). Mitchell shoots 4/18 and as a team, the Buckeyes shoot 31%. The Spartans? 50%. Result? #11 Ohio State falls to Michigan State, 94-75.

#16 Texas is getting its groove on in the Big 12, downing Oklahoma State, 66-35.

Speaking of groove on, #2 Baylor splatted TCU, 77-54.

Keep an eye on Michigan – they beat Indiana, 78-74.

Also keep an eye on Maryland – they got all they could handle from Penn State, 89-83, and needed every one of Brionna Jones’ 42 points.

Undefeated no more. In their first test against a ranked team, #15 Virginia Tech falls to #14 Miami, 82-75. Hokies face Duke in two games.

Didn’t I say pay attention to Texas Tech? They upset #18 West Virginia, 75-66.

Billikens win! That being said, if they want folks to take’em seriously, they need to beef up their out of conference schedule.

Speaking of which, Buffalo’s now 1-3 in the MAC, falling to 3-1 in the MAC Toledo, 73-64.

Baby steps: Defensive struggles don’t surprise Badgers’ first-year coach Jonathan Tsipis

Heard this story before: OU women’s basketball: Ortiz reclaims joy in basketball

Talk about timing: WNBA’s new security app put to the test after Istanbul shooting

What was hinted becomes reality: Swin Cash Officially Moves From Court Into Liberty’s Front Office

Click bait, much? What is and isn’t working for the Washington women’s basketball team

But really, click here: For 40 minutes of fun, it’s hard to top Washington women’s basketball

Nice to be asking: Culver: Is this the best FSU women’s basketball team ever?

Cool: Women’s basketball: Tennessee’s Joan Cronan to receive Pat Summitt Award

Congrats: Oregon State earns Team of the Week honors

More congrats: Consuegra leads 7-member Quinn Hall of Fame class

It doesn’t get much harder than this: Northwestern women’s basketball player Jordan Hankins’ death ruled a suicide.

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87, 88, 89….

“I don’t want to minimize it, because it’s an incredible thing,” Auriemma said Monday. “To be in a position to do it once, much less twice. So I don’t want to minimize; I don’t want to discount it. But at the same time, I don’t want it to distract us from what we’re trying to do long-term, which is get us ourselves ready for March. And that’s way more important than whatever number it is or whatever the streak is at.
Over the decades, the wins have come at a fast and furious pace and the winning streaks earned entries into the NCAA record book. But the philosophy of staying true to the process has never waned even as the Huskies are on the verge of tying their own record with their 90th straight win when No. 20 South Florida comes to the XL Center on Tuesday night (7 p.m., CBS College Sports). The Bulls happen to be the only team to lead the Huskies for more than 10 minutes in a game twice during this current streak.
“We understand that we have an opportunity to do something special,” junior guard Kia Nurse said Monday. “We’ve said it, but we try not to focus on it. Tomorrow is a game that we want to win. It’s not about the streak right now for us, but the chance to make history is incredible and something a lot of people dream of.”

If not for UConn’s 88-86 loss in overtime at Stanford on Nov. 17, 2014, this streak would be 137 in a row. But that’s the thing: Losses like that one should happen, even to great teams. Yet they typically don’t happen to UConn.

With that one stumble, UConn went 38-1 during the 2014-15 season and outscored foes by an average of 40.7 points. In 2015-16, it was 39.8. This season, UConn has less experience and sheer star power. The Huskies are winning by an average of 24.7. And in their four games against top-10 opponents, the winning margin is 7.5 points. Yet the key word is still “winning.”

And I’ll say this about all that: past performance in not guarantee of future performance. Not saying that South Florida will beat them… and not ignoring UConn’s game against South Carolina, BUT – a winning streak does not equal a championship.

If anyone is thinking this team is invincible, they’re simply not paying attention. Its winning rests on a razor’s edge. To my mind, the Final Four is still wide open. More importantly, it’s likely that if UConn does make the April trip to Texas, any team they play  will have already faced them this season. Huge difference between studying the Huskies on tape and studying them on the court….

Next countdown to pay attention to? Plum-i-na-tor and Jackie Stiles.
Speaking of the Player of the Week Plum-i-na-tor… for some reason I just scrolled over that Sunday game that #12  Washington had against #8 UCLA . Musta been the snow glare. Didn’t distract Kelsey, who dropped 39 (Canada scored 12 on 4/16 shooting) to lead the Huskies to a 82-70 win.

In review:
2PM: Texas A&M v. #24 Kentucky – who shows up?
2PM: #4 Mississippi State v. Tennessee – who solidifies their journey?
  • MSU, I guess, winning for the first time at TBA. It was nip and tuck throughout the game. Not only was the team offense unimpressive, what’s with all the fouls, Bulldogs?
2PM: #18 Virginia Tech v. Clemson – undefeated v. rebuilding.
2PM: North Carolina v. Virginia – equivalent records… someone’s gotta lose.
3PM: LSU v. Alabamakansas– who’s trying to make a statement?
3PM: #13 Duke v #6 Florida State – top of the ACC anyone?
  • That would be us,” said Florida State, with aplomb and in front of a program-record 6,687 fans.
3PM: #7 Notre Dame v. #14 Miami – there sure are a lot of ranked teams in this conference.

4PM: Ole Miss v. Auburn – who are you two?

4PM: #20 Oklahoma v. #17 West Virginia – soaring v. stumbling.

  • Heard from Mike Carey’s office, “Wait, Wheelock said WHAT?” Mountaineers prevail, 83-73.

4PM: Oregon v. #20 Cal – can either team regroup?

8PM: #10 Stanford v. #16 Oregon State – time to stake an (early) claim to the Pac-12

BTW:
South Carolina rolled over Florida, but A’ja also rolled her ankle.
Georgia squeaked by Vanderbilt at the buzzer.
Arizona’s growing under Barnes, takes down the Utes.
Towson shows it’s no paper tiger, taking down James Madison, 54-51.
Wait – did Loyola (MD) just beat Army?
Washington State is still feisty, sending USC to a 74-57 loss.

For the past few years Princeton coach Courtney Banghart was nervous before the Penn game.

The Ivy League championship had come down to those two teams and losing the first one of their two meetings in early January would leave little margin of error for the rest of the 14-game conference season. Now with the league holding its first-ever postseason tournament, losing the opener to Penn on Saturday isn’t as bad as it used to be. Well of course except for losing to your rival that is.

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Snowy Sunday Stuff

If you were a ranked team, you won:
#2 Baylor (Bountiful Brown):
#3 Maryland (Super Slocum, Neutralized Nia),
#11 Ohio State ( Marvelous Mitchell-MavungaFeisty Flaherty),
#15 Texas (Accumulating Aston)

So, maybe we have to keep an eye on Northern Illinois in the MAC? They just took down Ohio, 88-80.

It’s a big (win) but it’s early,” Carlsen said. “It’s one of those things, a lot of people probably thought NIU wasn’t supposed to get this one. I feel like it’s the one you got that maybe you didn’t count on, so that’s a big win. Ohio is going to go beat a lot of teams and at the end of the year, they’ll probably be where they want to be. For us to defend home court against a team like that, it’s big.”

The Q’s rolling in the MAAC.

Yup, the WCC is wide open: BYU over Pacific, 68-55.

  • Games to keep an eye on today:
    2PM: Texas A&M v. #24 Kentucky – who shows up?
    2PM: #4 Mississippi State v. Tennessee – who solidifies their journey?
    2PM: #18 Virginia Tech v. Clemson – undefeated v. rebuilding.
    2PM: North Carolina v. Virginia – equivalent records… someone’s gotta lose.
    3PM: LSU v. Alabama – who’s trying to make a statement?
    3PM: #13 Duke v #6 Florida State – top of the ACC anyone?
    3PM: #7 Notre Dame v. #14 Miami – there sure are a lot of ranked teams in this conference.
    4PM: Ole Miss v. Auburn – who are you two?
    4PM: Oklahoma v. #17 West Virginia – soaring v. stumbling.
    4PM: Oregon v. #20 Cal – can either team regroup?
    8PM: #10 Stanford v. #16 Oregon State – time to stake an (early) claim to the Pac-12

Wildcat things: Kentucky’s ‘emotional leader,’ senior Epps finding fun on floor again

“She has a huge heart; she needs connection with people,” Coach Matthew Mitchell said of the guard, who didn’t seem like herself in recent losses at Duke and Tennessee. “She needs some time where we can just spend and talk.”

The breakfast chats were a product of Epps’ minor brush with the law several seasons ago. It was then that the player and her coach started spending more time getting to know each other outside of basketball.

Stupid things: Vicious brawl breaks out in Utah State-UNLV women’s game

Listening things: Locked On Women’s Basketball Episode 18: Bracketology with @CharlieCreme including my case for @SaintLouisWBB (Billikens!)

Good things: Drexel Women’s Basketball Star Uses Her Assists On Court To Assist Others Off It

Heartbreaking things: On New Year’s Eve, 13-year old Shamoya McKenzie, a young girl with dreams that included UConn, WNBA and being a business major, was killed by a stray bullet. Family members reached out to the program, and they responded:

UConn officially made Shamoya McKenzie an honorary member of the UConn women’s basketball program Friday, complete with a No. 30 jersey to match her number at Mount Vernon. A letter enclosed in a package ended with, “Once a Husky, Always a Husky.”

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Pac-12 Gonna Pac-12

and I’m getting flashbacks to the Old Big East….

Washington State’s been feisty all season. They finally got one to go their way, roaring back in the fourth period to overtake #9 UCLA, 82-73. Cougar frosh Chanelle Molina dropped 33.

Rest of their games held serve but –

The good news? Oregon got Ionescu back. Bad news, they were facing the Cardinal.  #10 Stanford over the Ducks.

The Plum-inator scored 34 to help #12 Washington rebound from their Oregon State loss.

#16 OSU showed their win over the Huskies was not a fluke, topping #2o Cal, 66-56.

Conference play’s proving a tough slog for the Utes. #19 Arizona State defeats them, 66-44.

Very much looking forward to Sunday’s games: Washington v. UCLA and Stanford v. Oregon State.

NC State couldn’t make it three in a row as #14 Miami escaped the Wolf Pack, 67-64. Lucky Hurricanes – they have Notre Dame next.

If you’re a #24 Kentucky fan, you’re happy for the win, but must be wondering what’s going on with your team.

I’ve got similar feelings about #8 Louisville, who needed OT to defeat Virginia, 86-81.

Meanwhile, #13 Duke’s the definition of a team climbing up the rankings as they get past Georgia Tech, 75-68. They get to face Florida State on Sunday.

#7 Notre Dame and #6 Florida State and #5 South Carolina (#200 for Dawn at USC)romped. The competition was a tad stiffer for #4 Mississippi State, who escaped Arkansas with a 59-51 win. Looking forward to the Bulldogs’ game against Tennessee on Sunday.

Charlotte making a run at the C-USA title, taking down Western Kentucky in OT, 89-85.

See what I mean about Texas A&M. They get a couple of good wins, then lose to Georgia, 69-59. Go figure.

And what about Ole Miss? They outscore Alabama 34-27 in the FOURTH quarter, and lose 90-80. Does this mean we need to pay attention to the Tide?

Clearly, IUPUI’s been listening to my press… but it is a nice win for Omaha. Mavericks over the Jaguars, 64-44.

So first Pacific beats Gonzaga, and they they top San Diego. Does anyone else think the WCC seems wide open this season?

Whoops. The Tribe (11-2) falls to Charleston (4-9), 70-60.

In the Ivy: Penn women’s basketball made progress in LA, but they’re not there yet

Need something to get you moving? These teams took the HandClap Hoopla Challenge

UConn Women’s Insider: Does Anything Surprise Geno? Yes, Nykesha’s Foray Into Coaching

Congrats! One of best players in Xavier women’s basketball history, Ta’Shia Phillips, headed to Hall of Fame

Thompson applauds Texas’ passion, attitude for rebounding the basketball

Interesting: Sue Bird Appears on Panel at Sports Business Innovation Presented by Turner Sports

Cool! Tamika Catchings to join SEC Network

Looking forward: What Angel McCoughtry’s absence means for Atlanta Dream

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Ho-hum.

UConn wins its 89th straight, is looking to tie its record of 90 straight against USF, and no one outside of a small core of folks give a sh@t. Thanks, Graham.

In many ways, the fascinating thing about this current group of Huskies isn’t the 89-game winning streak. It is the 14-game winning streak entirely of their own creation.

The season after Diana Taurasi exited with the last of her championships, UConn lost eight games. The season after Maya Moore departed, the team that remained lost five games. Even by UConn standards, those hardly qualify as lean times. All the same, the losses in each of those two seasons exceeded the combined losses in the three preceding seasons.

In other words, UConn’s standard of excellence over the past two-plus decades has proved difficult for anyone to match — sometimes even UConn.

Why? ’cause UConn already broke the record of wins-in-a-row-by-a-men’s team. That was news. This? Just a bunch of women doing the ridiculously amazing. Who wants to care about that? Because hockey: BREAKING: If the defeat the Caps tonight, we will televise their attempt to set the record for most consecutive wins. They’re currently on a 16-game winning streak… ’nuff said.

Speaking of ho-hum:

#2 Baylor throttled #17 West Virginia, sending the Mountaineers to heir second loss, 91-56.

“When you win by this large of a margin, yes, you have to say you’re surprised,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “But this team I get to coach this year, they do lots of things that surprise me. You can’t just pick one player tonight, because they all did something good.

“When you have that many unselfish kids, you’re going to win a lot of ballgames.”

#3 Maryland was equally dominating in their game against the struggling Huskers, 93-49.

“We all have to go look within ourselves tonight and really evaluate how bad we want this,” Shepard said. “That’s the biggest thing. We aren’t playing with any heart, or not hard enough.”

Shepard questioned the Huskers’ effort, but said she had as much to do with that as any of her teammates.

By the way, OPA! Maryland women land transfer Eleanna Christinaki, Florida’s leading scorer

Much closer:

#15 Texas eased by under-.500 Kansas, 66-54.

#22 USF struggledUSF struggled keeping Tulane at bay, but eventually got the 62-53 win over Tulane.

Poor #25 Kansas State, the moment they get ranked, someone whaps them on the nose. This time it took overtime, as the #20 Sooners grabbed the 85-80 win.

DePaul handled Creighton, 79-65, behind Brooke Schulte’s 30 points.

Congrats to Coppin State, who broke into the win column with an emphatic win over South Carolina State, 70-54.

It’s early yet, but methinks we might want to pay attention to Candi Whitaker and Texas Tech – the take down Iowa State, 75-66.

That’s 7 wins for Massachusetts.

Ohio says, “the MAC is ours” and knocks off Buffalo 83-55.

That’s 12 wins for Carolyn Kieger’s Marquette team.

I was much more pleased with our effort tonight and our focus,” Kieger said. “It was a great bounce-back win.”

“We had some real conversations the past few days,” Kieger said. “We watched a lot of film and we tried to fix what we need to — just be great teammates and play for the name on the front of the jersey.”

Wow. (4-12) North Dakota over (13-3) South Dakota, 83-73.

North Dakota State was down to eight healthy women’s basketball players and that’s a sight that was all too common in the past few years. Add to the pre-game skepticism: Into the Scheels Center at Sanford Health Athletic Complex marched the University of South Dakota with a 13-2 record and a No. 5 ranking in the latest CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major poll.

What the Bison did from there was something uncommon, however. Perhaps the poster child of the 83-73 upset win Wednesday night, Jan. 4, was the play of Anna Goodhope, a sparingly used true freshman who got more minutes only because of injuries to a couple of Bison players.

Equally wow: Down their point guard Nikki Wheatley, UNLV struggled to regain its equilibrium. They got it back just enough to give Boise State its second loss of the season, 58-55.

From the News & Observer: One big win after another for NC State women’s basketball team

The NCAA tournament selection committee wanted N.C. State’s women’s team to win more big games.

Challenge accepted.

From Sue: USC’s Kristen Simon breaks through for a break out

After Southern California’s first game in November, coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke was asked by a reporter if any of her players was poised to have a break out season. She pointed to junior forward Kristen Simon, who had put up 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the win, on her right and said, “this one.”

Cooper-Dyke was right.

From red to green… Former Stanford guard Lili Thompson announces graduate transfer to Notre Dame

She started 96 of 104 career games at Stanford, averaging 12.0 points per game while racking up 295 assists. Last season, Thompson was named Pac-12 Player of the Week three times and averaged 14.7 points and 3.5 assists per game.

In Stanford’s 90-84 Sweet Sixteen upset victory over Notre Dame last March, Thompson scored 11 points and added nine assists in 37 minutes.

 

WNBA

Did you catch this? Inside The W with Michelle Smith: Lisa Borders Q&A Part II

Tough news for Atlanta: Dream’s Angel McCoughtry Plans to Rest During 2017 Season

Better news: Nneka Ogwumike and Elena Delle Donne Make Forbes 30 Under 30

Fingers crossed: Stars Hope to Build From Within Under New Head Coach Vickie Johnson

AP Doug writes: Amid violence, WNBA players consider leaving Turkey

She lasted a month in the country town where she was living before returning to Virginia in November.

“I heard about a bombing that killed 17 people about two hours away and right there I was like I don’t want to stay,” Rodgers said. “The government shut off all lines of communication so I couldn’t get on Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp. It was pretty scary not to be able to communicate with anyone.”

 

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Down goes #6 Florida State as the Wolf Pack shows its bite is a bad as its bark. That’s the first time since 2007 NC State has beaten ranked teams back-to-back and earns them Team of the Week honors. Next up, #14 Miami.

Down goes #8 Louisville, and Duke is looking devilish getting the last laugh (Louisville women’s basketball dupes Duke into covering wrong basket, scores on easy layup). That’s (also) back-to-back ranked teams they’ve topped. Georgia Tech is next, followed by Florida State.

Wicked ugly, but #7 Notre Dame wins, 55-38. Yea! to defense, but how do the Irish only score 8 in the fourth quarter?

Missing January, #23 DePaul survives against the Friars, 61-56.

#14 Miami roared back from its from its loss against FSU and tamed the Panthers, 82-50.

Still undefeated, that’s #18 Virginia Tech topping the Tar Heels, 76-68. They’ve got Miami on the 11th and Duke on the 19th.

William & Mary is now 11-0. Don’t want to dismiss their next four games… but their game on the 22nd is against Elon. Nice measuring stick for a conference that seems to be raising its level of play.

Texas A&M rallies to get the win over Vanderbilt,77-72. After a couple of odd early losses (USC and SMU), the Aggies seem to have righted their ship. Looking forward to seeing what happens against a reeling Kentucky team on the 8th.

Speaking of reeling, Syracuse had to fight back to get the 54-49 win over Virginia.

Bucknell makes an early statement in the Patriot, taking down the Black Knights and snapping Army’s 22-game home win streak.

Hmmm… a bump in the road for Marquette as they lose badly to Creighton (9-4), 83-63.

Check out the latest polls and  Bracketology: Irish drop to 2-seed, but ACC dominates top 16

Check out Lady Swish: Remembering 2016: Kenny, Amber Brown, Precious, Jazmon, Malia, Kiana, Abby and so much more, including losing Pat

Check out TSL Leadership Series interview with  Christine Simmons, LA Sparks President and Chief Operations Officer Advocates for Other

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Upset-y Daisy!

A full slate of games gave us a full spectrum of results.

Upsets

That screeching sound you heard from the West Coast was the #21 Beavers holding on for the win over #9 Washington. The Huskies scored 31 points in the fourth, giving OSU fans agita as they watched their team have several “wtf!” moments. In the end, though, Oregon State got the 73-70 win.

Oregon State guard Gabriella Hanson said it was big to get a win against a Top 10 team that had been playing well, but the Beavers have bigger goals this season.

“This is one win. We’ve got a long ways to go,” Hanson said.

Kansas State got a first quarter lead over #12 West Virginia and kept on keeping on. Wildcats over the Mountaineers by 15, 86-71.

“I was not happy with our start,” Mittie said. “We seemed tentative early. I felt like I was screaming at them right away to get going. They kind of drive me crazy sometimes in that regard, because I feel like I’m whipping them from the start, and I don’t really want to do that.”

Tennessee held the lead throughout, topping #17 Kentucky 72-65. From John Adams: Tennessee’s Russell too much for Kentucky

Tennessee’s Mercedes Russell was at her best. Kentucky’s Makayla Epps was at her worst.

That’s a Twitter-sized analysis of Tennessee’s 72-65 victory Sunday afternoon at Thompson-Boling Arena. And those individual performances were only half-surprising.

 

Stompings

#1 UConn by 36 over UCF.

“The goal is to be one day as good as them,” Abrahamson-Henderson said. “But we’re gonna have to move as fast as them and they move really, really fast offensively. And they do a good job executing their plays in what they want to do and where they want to get the ball.”

#3 Baylor by 47 over Kansas.

“They can play so many different styles because of their personnel groupings,” Kansas coach Brandon Schneider said. “I thought we showed some fight in the first quarter, but eventually their ability to rebound and get out in transition wears on you.”

#5 Mississippi State by 26 over LSU.

When the lights come on and the games mean more, Victoria Vivians is at her best.

The Mississippi State junior forward showed that Sunday, scoring 24 points and grabbing 12 rebounds to help the No. 5 Bulldogs rout LSU 74-48 in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

“That’s how an All-American is supposed to play,” coach Vic Schaefer said. “You could tell on the defensive end that it just means something to her. That’s the difference in our team right now.”

#6 South Carolina by 48 over Alabama.

“I thought we took advantage of our strength,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said of the 6-foot-4 Coates and the 6-5 Wilson, who closed out the opening quarter with a 3-point play. Coates and Wilson each had two of South Carolina’s 10 blocked shots.

It was the fourth straight season that South Carolina, seeking its fourth straight league championship, started SEC play with a win.

#13 Stanford by 22 over Arizona.

Closer

#10 UCLA held off #20 Colorado’s fourth quarter push and earned a 87-74 victory.

UCLA forward Monique Billings was inspired by a recent phone call with Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike, the MVP of the WNBA. Then Billings put on a show like Ogwumike.

Iowa State pushed Texas all game, but the #16 Longhorns emerged victorious, 75-68.

After a tight first half, #24 Oklahoma pulled away for an 87-72 win.

The Gophers were feisty, but the Terrapins prevailed, 83-72.

“I was concerned coming into this came because of the emotion behind the last game and having a quick turnaround,” said coach Brenda Frese. “I thought we showed some uncharacteristic fatigue in the first quarter, but I thought in the second half we really came into stride.”

It took double overtime, but there’s one less undefeated team. #18 Arizona State over #21 Cal, 72-62.

Nice win for Texas Tech over Oklahoma State, 70-65.

Don’t sleep on the Utes – they just took down USC, 58-53.

The good news is Michigan State got the win. The concerning news, coach Merchant passed out during the game, recovered and is staying overnight at the hospital. Hopefully it’s just the flu, but….good thoughts on their way.

Temple’s win over Memphis moves coach Cardoza into “winningest Owl coach.”

Monday games I’m keeping my eye on:

 

There is still a poster of former University of Notre Dame women’s basketball legend Skylar Diggins adorning the wall in Jeremy Nelson’s bedroom in the Nelson family home in Buford, Georgia.

There are other Notre Dame women’s basketball artifacts that Jeremy, a budding basketball phenom, decorated his bedroom with after his sister, Kristina, announced she would be attending Notre Dame and playing for the Fighting Irish.

Herb Nelson, a former Grambling football player, finds comfort working in Jeremy’s bedroom. Herb and his wife Nanette have left everything the same in Jeremy’s bedroom since the day Jeremy went to play in a youth basketball game on Jan. 5, 2013.

Paul Nilsen offers up his 16 best women’s basketball moments of 2016

Seeing my fellow Brit Johannah Leedham win the EuroCup Women title with Tango Bourges. Being there in person at Le Prado was brilliant and she went on to be made captain of the French team which says it all. As does their current struggles while she is currently out with a foot injury. She’s a role model for young female ballers in the UK and also a genuine hero of mine.

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Happy New Year

First and foremost, our thoughts and comfort to the good people in Istanbul. The same breath that says “thank you” that no WNBA players were hurt acknowledges that too many others were.

So, no words of inspiration, just a promise and a hope:

  • to cover all of women’s basketball as well as I can
  • that you and I will do all we can to support and advocate for a more inclusive, thoughtful and generous space

To that first point:

Kick off the New Year with some activism: Pat Summitt fundraiser begins with SEC play (Hey, Dan, like the new “z” in your name!)

Win #100 for Cara Consuegra  as the ’49ers took down Mean Green, 78-63.

West Coast whoa! Women’s Hoops Posts Win At Gonzaga; 2-0 In WCC

Yup, it’s Boise State makin’ noise in the Mountain West as they take down Colorado State

“It was a great win for our program in an tough environment against a very strong program, they have won three straight conference titles, we were lucky to get out of here with the win,” said head coach Gordy Presnell. “The last two times we came here the game came down to the final minute and have not gone our way. So it is exciting for this one to go our way, especially for our seniors who have been a part of those games. 

Swish Appeal: Buckeyes score BIG win as Indiana struggles offensively. Dunno – 92-82 and Mitchell scoring 31 suggests it was a defensive issue.

From Kyle Fredrickson: Oklahmoma State junior forward Mandy Coleman’s production on the rise

It’s SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY!!!!

#1 UConn v UCF, 1pm

Despite growing up in a Midwest basketball family, Katie Abrahamson-Henderson had no intention of playing the sport competitively or becoming a rising star women’s college basketball coach.

She planned on using her long, 6-foot-1 limbs to propel her toward an Olympic swimming career. After that, maybe she’d run a fitness center or become a nutritionist. Her dad, Lee, kept an active lifestyle even after he finished playing college basketball at Coe College in Iowa. Her mother, Theanne, was an emergency room nurse.

Basketball wasn’t the plan, but it became the purpose and a much-needed outlet after her father unexpectedly died of a heart attack when she was just 12 years old.

Nykesha Sales’ office inside CFE Arena has some memorabilia from her days at UConn and with the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun but her focus is very much on helping change the culture of the UCF women’s basketball program than spending time pondering her incredible run of basketball success in Connecticut.

Tomorrow Sales, who is in her first season as an assistant coach on the staff of UCF coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, will be on the opposing sideline from her college coach for the very first time. So how does Sales think it will be seeing Geno Auriemma and UConn associate head coach Chris Dailey on the other bench?

Alabama (12-1) v. #6 South Carolina, 2pm ESPN2

South Carolina Women’s Basketball: #6 Gamecocks host Alabama in SEC Opener

No.6 USC will be hosting a hot Alabama team that is riding a 12 game winning streak. They are also holding opponents around 52 points per game.

Dawn Staley and the Gamecocks, who haven’t lost to the Crimson Tide in her tenure, have already been through a tough non-conference schedule which featured three wins over top 10 teams. They feel prepared to go into another season of SEC play despite being in the crosshairs of their opponents. 

#12 West Virginia v. Kansas State, 2pm

Pardee returns as WVU women ring in New Year at Kansas State

Mike Carey has had to deal with injuries from the moment he walked in the door and took over as West Virginia’s women’s basketball coach, and little has changed as he limps into another Big 12 season.

He played the conference opener at TCU with no fewer than five players out — three for the year — and two with recent injuries, yet managed to survive in part because he has a valuable do-everything forward in Kristina King.

#3 Baylor v. Kansas, 3pm

Preview and Game Thread

#24 Oklahoma v. TCU, 3pm

Another ranked opponent looms in Norman for TCU women

LSU (11-2) v. #5 Mississippi State, 3pm

MSU women open conference play at home with LSU

 It’s a familiar refrain, but it’s one Mississippi State women’s basketball coach Vic Schaefer will say a lot In January and February. 

“It’s great we are 14-0 in non-conference, but it doesn’t mean anything if we don’t take care of the next two months,” Schaefer said Friday in a media gathering to preview his team’s Southeastern Conference opener against LSU at 2 p.m. today (SEC Network) at Humphrey Coliseum. 

Surging LSU embarks Southeastern Conference play at No. 5 Mississippi State

Sunday is Jan. 1, so when LSU senior guard Rina Hill talks about she and the Lady Tigers putting last year behind them, it can be taken two ways:

There’s last year, as in last season, when Hill was the only player who started every game while teammates went down to injury, illness and other issues, resulting in a 10-21 record that was the program’s worst in 20 years and halted the school’s streak of NCAA tournament appearances at four.

And there’s last year, as in 2016, which Hill and the Lady Tigers, now at full strength, or close to it, finished on a high note — a seven-game winning streak which has pushed this season’s mark to 11-2.

Utah (11-1) v (10-2) USC, 3pm

#9 Washington v. Oregon State, 3pm

‘Sunday Swish’ women’s basketball preview: No. 9 Washington at No. 22 Oregon State

Beavers look to slow down UW’s Plum (maybe tie her sneakers together, make her play wearing mittens, super glue her feet to the floor, send her to Oregon, not Oregon State arena…)

“It’s a great challenge, a great test, that’s what we all want,” Rueck said. “It’s going to be a real battle on Sunday and stopping her, and I don’t think you stop her but you slow her down like we have in the past, is something we’re all looking forward to that chance.”

The Beavers have had success keeping Plum at bay for the most part in her career.

#17 Kentucky v. Tennessee, 4pm

Kentucky Begins SEC Play In Knoxville VS. Streaking Tennessee

Tennessee Lady Vols hosts #17/23 Kentucky, Sunday

Lady Vols look for better route in SEC play

Tennessee’s last women’s basketball trip through the SEC took an unusually bumpy route.

The Lady Vols lost a program-high eight games during regular-season conference play and tumbled from the national rankings. Their place in the NCAA tournament field was in question until they found a more familiar track by season’s end.

The memories could inspire caution or even dread. Yet Lady Vols coach Holly Warlick noticed a different reaction after Thursday night’s 90-54 victory over UNC Wilmington, when she broached the return trip with the players. They were unusually excited to be going back.

Also, from Jennifer Smith: Lady Vols teammates happy to be coaching together at Kentucky

Even before they became lifelong friends, Pat Summitt lumped them together.

The Tennessee coach had heard in the breeze that one of her players might have been spotted at the football dorm, a no-no for the Lady Vols.

So instead of summoning Kyra Elzy for an old-fashioned talking-to, the coach grabbed teammate Niya Butts instead.

“Coach Summitt comes to me and was like, ‘If she does anything else and gets in trouble, you’re going home,’” Butts recalled with a laugh some 20 years later. “I looked at her like: ‘What!?’”

For good measure, the Tennessee coach told Elzy the same thing about Butts.

#13 Stanford v. Arizona, 4pm
#20 Colorado v. 10 UCLA, 5pm
Ole Miss v Arkansas, 5pm

Ole Miss women’s basketball begins ‘tough’ start to SEC play with Arkansas

All the practice games are over and now the real test begins. Ole Miss hosts Arkansas to begin Southeastern Conference play Sunday (4 p.m., SEC Network) as they wrap up their longest homestand of the season.

The Rebels (11-2) are off to their best start under head coach Matt Insell since he took over the program four years ago. For the first time under Insell’s charge, they are also receiving votes in the Associated Press Top 25, earning three votes in last week’s poll. A lot of strides have been taken during the non-conference slate with their biggest feather in their cap being the win over then-No. 25 Oregon on Dec. 14.

#21 Cal v #18 Arizona State, 6pm
#4 Maryland v Minnesota, 6pm

The No. 4 Terps lost a thriller at home to No. 1 UConn Thursday, but Brenda Frese’s team has a lot of positives to take from that game. Maryland’s non-conference slate was still successful, with wins over No. 8 Louisville, No. 18 Arizona State and a Washington State team that beat the Terps two seasons ago.

The UConn loss did spark some debate over whether Maryland’s non-conference slate prepared the team for Thursday’s game. While the Terps did spend plenty of time throttling mid-majors, their early schedule was still respectable, especially compared to last year.

In other news

A few years back, Southern women’s basketball coach Sandy Pugh attended a coaching clinic seminar by longtime coach Jim Foster during Final Four weekend.

His advice, which Pugh has not forgotten: “If you want to be a great coach, get great players.”

Pugh couldn’t deny the logic: Having All-America players can make any coach look great. 

Southern opens Southwestern Athletic Conference play Monday against visiting Prairie View A&M. It’s Pugh’s 17th season in the SWAC, and she has never coached an All-American.

Darrell Williams, New Orleans Advocate: AAC’s plan to boost league’s RPI paying dividends so far
Jacobs, who had been with the Big East Conference since its inception, knew the answer was in limiting the amount of AAC games in which the very good teams played against the very bad ones. So, the 18-game regular season was trimmed by two games, with teams such as UConn, No. 23-ranked South Florida and Temple — the cream of the crop — playing the weaker teams once instead of twice.
“We’d done that in the old Big East to boost our conference RPI,” Jacobs said. “In 1991, we only got one team in the NCAA tournament,” she said. “When our top teams played our bottom teams, the top teams’ RPI went down. So, we did our rescheduling, and it boosted our conference.”

Seton Hall coach Tony Bozzella joked just before tipoff that he was going to apologize ahead of time for any colorful language viewers heard during Fox Sports’ innovative broadcast of the Pirates’ game against St. John’s on Friday night.

With a five-second delay in place, Bozzella had nothing to worry about. He and Red Storm coach Joe Tartamella wore microphones throughout the commercial-free telecast, giving viewers an unprecedented all-access look at both teams during the game. This was believed to be the first time there was so much unfiltered access for a live sports event.

“It was everything we hoped it would be for the viewers,” Big East commissioner Val Ackerman said after the game, which Seton Hall won 64-59. “It was a riveting behind-the-scenes look at what goes on in a game. It brought the passion and the range of emotions of the coaches to the viewers.”

espnW says it was  Year of Excellence for Women, but guess what Gabby found when she did some research: Amazing UConn Women Being Dissed On Lists

CNN, for its part, correctly noted that “when it comes to historic moments in sports, 2016 was a champ.” But in CNN’s 100 photos depicting the biggest sports moments of 2016, UConn was nowhere to be found.

The Huffington Post similarly compiled a list of the “joyful moments” in sports this year, filled with LeBron, Kobe, the Cubs and Peyton Manning, but no mention of UConn.

This is not a question of other athletes and teams being undeserving of appreciation rightfully earned. This is a question of why UConn isn’t deserving of the same appreciation, and why it’s become so easy to dismiss the women’s game as an afterthought.

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#Resist

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