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
“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
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
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
#24 Oklahoma v. TCU, 3pm
LSU (11-2) v. #5 Mississippi State, 3pm
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.