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Hopefully it stays gentle and doesn’t interfere with flights to Dallas. Always enjoy flying backwards in time. Means when we land we’ll be wicked ready for the BBQ at the Pecan Lodge…

In the meantime:

NCAA.com: Women’s college basketball: Six storylines to follow at the Final Four

Get your vote on: Which teams will advance to the national championship game?

Geno Auriemma had some pointed words today about ESPN’s role re: the Women’s Final Four schedule:

Listen up: Locked On Women’s Basketball Episode 43: Rebecca Lobo, Doris Burke of ESPN and Final Four talk with Debbie Antonelli

Sally Jenkins in the house! You’re about to play U-Conn. in the women’s Final Four. This is what you tell yourself.

What do you tell yourself, when you have to play the colossus U-Conn.? You start with your last double-digit butt whipping at their hands, and you watch the film on it over and over again, the lowlights and the highlights, not once or twice, but enough times that it becomes grooved in your mortified psyche. Then you tell yourself that at least you don’t have to live through that one again. You tell yourself you’ve grown from it, and now that you’ve seen their standard up close, their unrelenting headlong speed on every possession, their habitual purposefulness on every single play, maybe you can meet it.

Maybe it will all be different next time. 

Wendy Parker at Blue Star Media: A ‘sleeping giant’ awakens at Mississippi State, on and off the court

USAToday, Will Sammon: Willingness to take charges behind MSU’s toughness

 Mississippi State’s road to the Final Four hurt and the Bulldogs fell down a lot.

That wasn’t meant to be interpreted as a philosophical statement or metaphor. For MSU, the path to Dallas and a semifinal against UConn Friday night (9 p.m., ESPN) was literally painful.

NCAA.com’s Rebecca Harris:  Last year’s meeting with UConn driving Mississippi State

Catch a little DawgTalk from the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Texas

Cool: Schaefer father-daughter duo leads Mississippi State to first Final Four

Players Tribune: The (singular) William: The Reason I Play

I’ve had a lot of people come up to me the past few days.

“What’s it feel like?” 

“How’d you do it?”

This is the first time Mississippi State has ever reached the Final Four. I scored 41 points in the game that got us there, our 94–85 upset of Baylor on Sunday. After the game, someone even told me it was the most points scored by any SEC player in the history of the women’s tournament.

I’m still letting it sink in because it doesn’t feel real to me. I was just playing basketball. So how did I do it? To really understand, I’d have to take you back to when I was growing up. 

Back to Birmingham.

Michelle Smith: Dawn Staley to take on mentor Tara VanDerveer in Final Four

Dawn Staley rubs her thumb and index fingers together as she talks about the minute level of detail she employs when she watches video and prepares scouting reports — practices that she learned from Tara VanDerveer.

“It really is down to this,” Staley said, looking at her fingers. “Those are the things she taught me. Watching film, breaking down film, little nuances that create edges that can win you a basketball game.”

Make no mistake, those edges have landed both of their teams in this position.

Matt Connolly, The State: Staley no stranger to Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer

Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer was the head coach when Stanford beat Virginia in the 1990 Final Four during Staley’s playing days for the Cavaliers. 

And VanDerveer coached Staley in the 1996 Olympics as Team USA won the gold medal. The two have remained friends.

“I’ve always had a very good relationship with Dawn,” VanDerveer said Thursday. “I always have respected Dawn’s competitiveness, her work ethic, her absolute passion for the game of basketball. She’s everything you could look for in a coach and a friend.”

After South Carolina defeated Florida State in the Elite Eight to reach the Final Four and advance to face Stanford, VanDerveer reached out to Staley.

Mechelle: A’ja Wilson has taken leadership role ‘to another level’ for South Carolina

For the previous two years, Melanie Balcomb — as Vanderbilt’s head coach — was trying to slow down South Carolina’s A’ja Wilson. This season, as Balcomb moved over to join the Gamecocks’ program, she has been working with the 6-foot-5 junior forward. And now you won’t find too many bigger Wilson fans than Balcomb.

“I think the game has slowed down for her. She was always very skilled, but she did everything very fast,” said Balcomb, South Carolina’s director of offensive analytics. “Now I see her reading the defense, seeing the help, and she’s more efficient offensively. She’s not just using her speed, quickness and size. Now she’s more cerebral.

Sue Favor: Carly Thibault carrying on winning family name with Bulldogs

Elliot Almond: Stanford has tall task to stop South Carolina

Now Stanford (32-5) has one of its biggest challenges of the season in trying to stop All-American forward A’ja Wilson and third-ranked South Carolina.

Wilson, a 6-foot-5 forward from Hopkins, South Carolina, is the kind of player who attracts defenders. 

“She’s obviously one of the greatest players in the nation, there’s no debating that,” Stanford forward Kaylee Johnson said.

Gene Wang, Washington Post: Stanford’s team approach suits point guard with eight siblings

During Marta Sniezek’s high school years playing basketball at National Cathedral School in the District, circumstances at times were such that even when she scored 40 points, her team still lost the game. 

The sophomore point guard at Stanford recalled such an instance the other day, less than 24 hours after helping the Cardinal rally past Notre Dame, 76-75, to advance to the women’s Final Four.

More Elliot: March Madness: Dad tries to manage sweet sibling rivalry at Final Four and Follow Jon Samuelson’s three-day odyssey to watch daughters play

Channel 8: Geno Auriemma says confidence UConn has played with is “remarkable”

Aaron Johnson, Connecticut Post: Stubborn vision grows clearer for ex-Huskies turned coaches, Post

538 blog: UConn And Gonzaga Are Very Different Kinds of NCAA Favorites

Adam Minichino, Commercial Dispatch: Finding right players has helped UConn remain gold standard

Newsday: UConn coach Geno Auriemma doubted his team, for a bit

Mechelle: Napheesa Collier becoming more comfortable — and only getting better — at UConn

Collier’s success now competing for a perfectionist coach like Geno Auriemma makes it especially funny to hear this story. When Napheesa was in second grade, her parents got a note from her teacher.

“It said, ‘She’s too aggressive playing foursquare,’ ” Sarah said, laughing. “And then a couple years later, when she was playing third base in softball, they said she was throwing too hard to the first baseman.”

Putting a damper on this whole thing: Women’s basketball regional attendance at 20-year low

Speaking of dampers: Erps. Geno Auriemma On Decrease In Female Basketball Coaches: Ladies Just Don’t Want To Coach, Duh and from AP : Auriemma, VanDerveer differ on decline in female coaches and Jere’ Number of Women Coaching in College Has Plummeted in Title IX Era  (and me, in 2006, for the WBCA)

My response? Gotta echo Michelle:   

And, his daughter: Geno Auriemma’s daughter calls him out over “women don’t want to coach” comments

Other stuff:

AP Doug: Plum and Auriemma are AP Player and Coach of Year

OSU women’s basketball: Beavers feel future remains bright

Ooooo, finally, some WNBA draft location news. It’s in NYC!!! Oh, you can’t attend. Nevermind. (WNBA marketing brilliance in action, folks!)

Big brains: UW professor: The information war is real, and we’re losing it

It started with the Boston marathon bombing, four years ago. University of Washington professor Kate Starbird was sifting through thousands of tweets sent in the aftermath and noticed something strange.

Too strange for a university professor to take seriously.

“There was a significant volume of social-media traffic that blamed the Navy SEALs for the bombing,” Starbird told me the other day in her office. “It was real tinfoil-hat stuff. So we ignored it.”

Same thing after the mass shooting that killed nine at Umpqua Community College in Oregon: a burst of social-media activity calling the massacre a fake, a stage play by “crisis actors” for political purposes.

“After every mass shooting, dozens of them, there would be these strange clusters of activity,” Starbird says. “It was so fringe we kind of laughed at it.

“That was a terrible mistake. We should have been studying it.”

Before Title IX, only one in 27 girls played sports. Today, that number is two in five. This shows a dramatic increase in participation rates of over 900%. Girls want to play too. Let us continue to celebrate these historical achievements for women in sport while ensuring every girl has access to sports and the lifelong benefits they offer.

This month, join us in celebrating the incredible achievements of women in sport since the passing of Title IX in 1972, as we honor them across our social platforms and here on the S.H.E. Network. Below we have compiled just a few of the outstanding accomplishments in the last 45 years since Title IX’s passage.

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UConn and South Carolina were all about NO drama (Unlike work the last couple of days, but no need to dwel.

1) The Huskies did the Husky thing, leaping out to a huge lead early, and then cruising to a dominant win over the young Ducks.

Four Tradition: UConn Making Trip Again
UConn Gives Little, Shuts Down Oregon Offense,
Jeff Jacobs: UConn Dominance Is Thunder Clap Heard Around The World
UConn Women’s Notebook: Capacity Crowd Attends Elite Eight Win Over Oregon
Ducks’ Magical Run Leaves Them Hungry For More
Four UConn women’s basketball stars earn All-American honors
UConn women headed to 10th straight Final Four after racing past Oregon
Napheesa Collier, Katie Lou Samuelson break record for combined points by UConn duo
Women’s Basketball: UConn throttles Ducks for 10th-straight Final Four appearance
Women’s Basketball Analysis: Collier joins the 1000 point club in Elite Eight blowout
UConn routs Oregon 90-52 to advance to Final Four
Brian Koonz: UConn cuts down Oregon, but not the nets
UConn women’s notebook: It’s not a rematch for Geno
UConn Women Pound Oregon on Their Way to the Final Four
UConn Forward Feels the Pull of the Family Name
Napheesa Collier scores 28, UConn easily advances to Final Four
UConn’s defense dominates Oregon from beginning to end
UConn women’s basketball: The Huskies’ record 111-game win streak (and counting) by the numbers
Oregon Ducks fall to UConn in Elite Eight of NCAA women’s basketball tournament
As Oregon Ducks women lose in NCAA Elite 8, Sabrina Ionescu sees her team’s future in UConn
Whether it’s the UConn dynasty or the field, history will be made at the women’s Final 4 in Dallas

Interesting post-game note: Geno on Vic – “I think he should have been coach of the year.”

2) South Carolina got itself a nice cushion, and then push the Seminoles away every time they tried claw back into the game.

A superb performance: Gamecocks junior dazzles at Stockton Arena
With best player on the bench, USC didn’t skip a beat
Davis rules as USC returns to Final Four
South Carolina holds off Florida State, head to second Women’s Final Four in three seasons
South Carolina stops FSU rally to make Final Four return
South Carolina holds off Florida State to reach Final Four
Final Four Bound: South Carolina women knock off Florida State again for trip to Dallas
South Carolina women’s basketball rolls into Final Four after beating Florida State
Make it two: Gamecocks heading back to Final Four
Gamecocks overcome adversity, distance en route to Final Four
WATCH: See the amazing way South Carolina celebrated its win over Florida State to go to Final Four
Lil Wayne shouts out Dawn Staley, South Carolina women after Final Four bid

Lots of other stuff to catch up on while you start packing for Dallas.


The Tourney
Women’s Final Four: 10 things to know
There’s a great women’s hoops tournament going on. Has anyone told the NCAA’s website?
If you haven’t been watching the NCAA women’s tournament, here’s 4 reasons you should
Women’s basketball: 10 things to know ahead of the Final Four

The Games
South Carolina vs. Stanford Final Four Preview and Prediction
Why each Final Four team could win it all in Dallas
Women’s Final Four preview: Analyzing UConn-Mississippi State, South Carolina-StanfordWhy South Carolina Will Win the National Championship

The Coaches


Mississippi State Has Grown Since Last Year’s Regional Loss To UConn

Mississippi State’s Final Four matchup against UConn is set
Facing a familiar Goliath: Bulldogs still feel sting from last year’s loss to UConn as they leave to face Huskies
Mississippi State out to take best shot vs. UConn
Mississippi State versus Connecticut Round Table Discussion
Where does Morgan William rank among the 10 greatest women’s NCAA tournament performances?
Kellenberger: Next step is hardest for Mississippi State
Mississippi State looks for redemption
Coach who came close vs. UConn says what MSU should do
Mississippi State women’s basketball coach impressed with UConn’s defense

All Aboard: UConn Women Head For Final Four
UConn’s Geno Auriemma Hits On Number Of Topics During NCAA Call
Numbers work better than words when trying gauge UConn women’s dominance
UConn Women’s Basketball and that winning streak
Nurse takes her game to another level
Kia Nurse addresses crowd at rally, saying UConn players excited to ‘finish what we started’
Business as usual as UConn enters Final Four undefeated once again
Column: Auriemma continues postseason domination with 10th Final Four appearance
UConn women turn focus to Mississippi State
Auriemma on Final Four: It Gets ‘Harder and Harder’
Numbers work better than words when trying gauge UConn women’s dominance
112 wins and counting
Sullivan: UConn women are perfectly good for the game
From the Vine: The story of Geno and Lynne’s venture to Lodi

WNIT: Michigan defeats Villanova, advances to WNIT championship

The Michigan women’s basketball team (11-5 Big Ten,  26-9 overall) was in this exact position a year ago, and a year previous to that, making this the third-straight attempt at crossing over into the finals of the WNIT. 

And finally, this year, they did just that, winning 65-61. 

The Wolverines hosted the Wildcats (11-7 Big East, 20-14) at Crisler Center for the semifinal of the WNIT on Wednesday, where Michigan has gone 19-1 on the season.

They’ll play Georgia Tech, who defeated the FEISTY Washington State Cougars. Which explains coach Joseph’s hair.

Congrats!Florida hires Cameron Newbauer to coach women’s basketball team. Seems to be a great hire and, FWIW: While it would have been cool, I don’t know that Becky Hammon is ready for a college head coaching gig. HUGE difference between picking folks from the draft/trades and running around the country recruiting. I call wise decision by Becky.

Congrats! Pepperdine Promotes DeLisha Milton-Jones to Head Coach

Good luck! Woodard Pledges To Turn Around Women’s Basketball Program During Introductory News Conference

Interesting: Wichita State will hire UTEP’s Keitha Adams

Well done! Precious Hall ends career as a JMU women’s basketball legend

Oregon State women’s basketball turns attention to future

Just don’t call it chai tea…. WNBA star Tamika Catchings’ new job: Running a tea shop?

Staying put: Tennessee star Mercedes Russell to return, forgo WNBA Draft

Staying put, too: Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell says she’s returning

Excelle: WNBA Mock Draft Monday, version 3.0

Building the Dam: Draft Site 2017 WNBA Mock Draft: Sydney Wiese Projected As #15 Overall Pick

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Holy kamole, is the Elite Eight well named or WHAT? The Monday folks are going to have to step it up to top these two games.

#2 Stanford v. #1 Notre Dame

It was exactly the chess game you’d expect from these two coaches – a back and forth game that suddenly bloomed into a 16-pt lead for the Irish. And then, the Cardinal made a monster run in the third to tie and take the lead, creating a chess game to the finish. How fitting that it should come down to a last second shot/block.

“It took us a while to get going,” [Vanderveer] said, “but then when we got going, we were charging down that stretch and came across that finish line.”

Brittany McPhee’s career-defining performance sends Stanford to its 13th Final Four
Stanford Women’s basketball heads to the Final Four after defeating Notre Dame 76-75
Stanford defeats Notre Dame in Elite Eight to advance to Final Four
For the Stanford women, NCAA hoops win was in the details
Frantic Fourth Quarter Sees Irish Fall to Cardinal
Notre Dame falls short of Final Four, drops heartbreaker to Stanford
Lesar: Regret clutters Notre Dame women’s basketball locker room

“It all went downhill for us (in the third quarter),” said Irish sophomore Marina Mabrey. “We started changing up our defenses and we’re not on the same page. Some people thought we were in one defense, some people thought we were in another.

“(Stanford) had open 3s. That was a problem.

#2 Mississippi State v. #1 Baylor

It’s almost as if Baylor and Mississippi State looked at the earlier game and said, “That was fun. Let’s do it one better!” And the 5’5″ Morgan William went OFF for 41 points (and 7 assists and no turnovers) AND the game went into overtime. Mercy!

In a game that featured two players that were 6 feet, 7 inches, it was the smallest kid on the court who stole the show.

William, Mississippi State women earn 1st Final Four berth
Emotional Morgan William scores 41 to lead Mississippi State to first Final Four

Four-gone conclusion: William, Bulldogs end Baylor Lady Bears’ Final Four dreams, 94-85
Baylor misses chance at Final Four in Dallas as Mississippi State forces turnovers, an upset

Monday Night – no pressure, y’all

#10 Oregon v. #1 UConn

Upset-minded Oregon sets sights on No. 1 UConn

“We’ve played against a lot of really good teams,” Graves said. “We’ve played them tough. We’ve won a few. I think our kids — the more you win these close games and these big games, they start to believe. Like they said, they really don’t have a lot to lose.”

UConn women’s coach Geno Auriemma isn’t surprised by Oregon Ducks’ NCAA Tournament success
Oregon Ducks women’s basketball team gets its shot at UConn Huskies juggernaut
Oregon Ducks women’s basketball team hopes to join the men’s team in the Final Four
Oregon women need monumental upset to reach Final Four
Inside the Pac: The Oregon Women Keep on Dancing
How Oregon took over March Madness

Auriemma: Attendance woes can be fixed
Scott Hamilton: Never seen anything like UConn
Oregon hopes for monumental upset of UConn to reach Final Four
Elite Eight notes: Graves and Auriemma admire each other, another large crowd expected

#1 South Carolina v. #2 Florida State

Dawn Staley not sleeping much as South Carolina women prepare for physical Florida State in Elite Eight
Notes from Stockton: USC women go bonkers for men’s win, Kaela Davis’ family all over the map

Michaux: Gamecocks toast of basketball world

Florida State coach Sue Semrau is quite aware of South Carolina’s strengths. The teams have been scrimmage partners the past two years.

One South Carolina player who won’t be on the floor Monday is senior center Alaina Coates (ankle). While Staley said Coates’ presence is missed, particularly on rebounds and defense, the Gamecocks are more than holding their own in her absence.

Florida State gets another shot at South Carolina with Final Four on the line
Florida State, South Carolina like to scrimmage in preseason
Final game deserves respectable crowd

 

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Oregon/Maryland

It started slowly but, after an even first period, the Ducks inexorably pulled away from the Terrapins. The freshmen played just like everyone said they were playing – NOT like freshmen – and Kelly Graves’ #10 Oregon team recorded its third upset of the Tournament, 77-63, becoming just the third double-digit seed to make the Elite Eight.

Freshmen lead 10th-seeded Oregon to upset of Maryland

“We’re just excited about everything,” Ionescu said. “None of our kids have experienced anything like this. So, I think we’re just excited to advance and be able play another day and see where that takes us.”

Oregon women on way to Elite Eight after upset of Maryland
Oregon Ducks women stun Maryland, will face UConn in Elite Eight
Cinderella still dancing: Oregon Ducks shock Maryland to advance to NCAA women’s tournament Elite 8
Oregon women’s basketball upsets Maryland to advance to Elite 8
Ducks women’s basketball coach delivers intense postgame victory speech

The third-seeded Maryland women’s basketballteam almost always had been able to lean on Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Brionna Jones during the most meaningful moments this season. Uncharacteristically, the senior duo was not up to the task in a 77-63 loss to No. 10 seed Oregon on Saturday, bouncing the Terrapins from the NCAA tournament’s round of 16.

Brionna Jones and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough saw their legendary Maryland careers meet a sad end against Oregon
Maryland Falls Short In NCAA Women’s Tournament

Florida State/Oregon State
The Seminoles joined that Duck, as they found their defensive chops and ignited a comeback from 17 down to upset the #2 Beavers.

Ivey Slaughter stands corrected. And she will probably continue to stand there for the next couple of days.

Sitting in front of a microphone after her game-changing performance Saturday in the Sweet 16 against Oregon State — an 11-point, eight-rebound, nine-steal effort that led the Seminoles to a 66-53 comeback win over the Beavers at Stockton Arena — she tried to demur.

The senior forward tried to say that she isn’t the best defensive player on the Florida State team. But teammate Leticia Romero and coach Sue Semrau weren’t having it, and they cut her off before she could finish her thought.

Florida State brings its defense to defeat Oregon State

UConn/UCLA

Don’t let the score fool ya – UCLA v. UConn was a dogfight, especially in the second half. Close’s team has learned from their previous NCAA experiences, and there’s no doubt that the program is on the move up.

After an Uncharacteristic Early Stumble, UConn Breezes to Win

“We like to say that, you know, to play with us, it’s a marathon; it’s not a sprint,” said Gabby Williams, who had 17 points and 9 rebounds for UConn. “They came out hard. They came out aggressive. But there was 37 minutes left to play.”

UConn Women’s Basketball Holds Off UCLA, 86-71
UConn beats No. 4 UCLA for 12th-straight Elite 8 appearance
UConn Storms Back From Early Deficit, Beats UCLA; Geno Ties The Great Pat Summitt
Connecticut women turn back UCLA, 86-71
UConn women march past gritty UCLA team, into Elite Eight
UConn women rout UCLA in Sweet 16 showdown in Bridgeport
110 in a row for U-Conn. women’s basketball, and a record 112 for Geno Auriemma
UConn beats UCLA 86-71 to advance to regional final in Bridgeport
Analysis: Chong’s all-around performance key to help Huskies beat UCLA
Brian Koonz: In her senior year, Chong isn’t letting go
In a Twist, It’s Saniya Chong Powering UConn Women’s Basketball

Saniya Chong fell hard after a rattling foul late in Connecticut’s 86-71 victory over U.C.L.A. on Saturday. She made two free throws, then soon jogged to the sideline. She rinsed a small cut on her lip with a swig of water and spit into a cup, as if the game were being played by rounds instead of quarters.

After rolling through the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, UCLA’s (25-9) season ends after making consecutive trips to a regional semifinal for the first time in program history.

“I don’t want it to end,” UCLA Coach Cori Close said after the game as her voice cracked and tears welled in her eyes. “I thought they fought their guts out.”

South Carolina/Quinnipiac
The Gamecocks soared early against the Bobcats, barely giving Cinderella a chance to put on her shoes, much less dance.

“It doesn’t matter what name is on the jersey, we come out to play. Obviously they had a good run, but we’ve still got a mission to complete, and that’s to make it to the Final Four and national championship,” Allisha Gray declared.

“I second that,” Davis followed.

South Carolina women’s basketball easily moves to Elite Eight
Elite Again: South Carolina women romp Quinnipiac out West
South Carolina destroys Quinnipiac in NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament: Score, stats, live updates recap
A dominant performance in Stockton: South Carolina women roll past Quinnipiac in Sweet 16
Siroky’s SEC Report: South Carolina Eases Into Elite 8
Keys for Gamecock Women to Make the Final Four

Tears Fell But Martucci Helped Lift Bobcats Program

As these things go, tears tend to fall. There was no shortage of that from Martucci.

“You’re going to make me … water-works over here … Indescribable, life-changing, the best years of my life,” Martucci said in talking about her experience at Quinnipiac and her voice cracking. “I’m just so proud to be a Bobcat and to be a part of this family. It’s really hard to describe my five years here because it’s been so amazing and just the growth that I’ve witnessed with our program and within myself, it’s life-changing.”

1-2, 1-2, Testing the 1-2s…

#1 Notre Dame v. #2 Stanford, 12:06

Graham: Notre Dame, Stanford meet again with Final Four trip on the line

“I think the NCAA committee just really likes this matchup,” Stanford’s Erica McCall said. “They want to see it time and time again. So it means it must be pretty iconic.”

That sounded at least a little tongue in cheek, but she’s right.

Notre Dame women’s basketball set for Stanford chess game in Elite Eight
Elite Eight Collision With Cardinal
Notebook: Defending Arike Ogunbowale a challenge for Stanford
Notre Dame, Stanford meet for 3rd straight year in NCAA
Irish downplay revenge factor vs. Stanford in duel for Final Four berth
Irish look for revenge against Stanford in Elite Eight
Notre Dame, Stanford meet with Final Four on the line (Mar 25, 2017)
Lesar: Can Erin Boley deliver big again for Notre Dame women’s basketball?

#1 Baylor v. # Mississippi State, 7:36

Mechelle: Finding the perfect fit will be key for Baylor, Mississippi State

Victoria Vivians led Mississippi State in scoring average this season, while Baylor’s Alexis Jones was second on her team in that statistic. But when Sunday’s Elite Eight game begins at Cheasapeake Energy Arena, both guards could be on the bench. Or … neither could. Both might make a huge difference. Or … neither could.

Baylor hoping to get back to Final Four with win over Mississippi State
Mississippi State, Baylor battle for Women’s Final Four berth Sunday
After rolling to 3 wins in record fashion, Lady Bears face tower of power in Mississippi State freshman
Kellenberger: How MSU’s Vic Schaefer built an Elite 8 team
Mississippi State’s success all about conditioning
Kellenberger: MSU makes history, focuses on next game
Baker wears many hats, helps keep MSU women’s basketball program going

BTW: Yes, we see you, Michigan Women’s Basketball going to the WNIT semis, notching your 26th win of the season.

ICYMI: How Kelsey Plum and Sydney Wiese transformed their programs

A few weeks ago between games at the Pac-12 women’s basketball tournament at Key Arena, I popped into the bathroom and witnessed a scene that perfectly encapsulates women’s basketball on the West Ccoast right now.

At the sink, a young mother washed her hands while her toddler daughter, who looked to be 3 or 4, dribbled a small basketball underneath the paper towel dispenser. “Look mama!” she said. “I’m dribbling! I’m dribbling like Kelsey, I’m dribbling!”

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Wanna get to the Elite Eight for the first time? Teaira McCowan says, “Follow me!”

McCowan’s career night pushes MSU to Elite Eight
Kellenberger: MSU makes history, focuses on next game
NCAA women’s basketball: Mississippi State tops Washington
Teaira McCowan leads Mississippi State into Elite Eight; Kelsey Plum has 29 points in final NCAA game
Veteran Nina Davis and youngster Teaira McCowan drive Baylor, Mississippi State to Elite Eight
MSU Notebook: Sophomore center shines in win
MSU women advance to Elite Eight for first time
Dillingham’s defense helps Mississippi State advance

Huskies fall to Mississippi State 64-75
Washington Huskies fade in fourth as their NCAA women’s tournament run ends
Women’s basketball’s season ends after loss in Sweet Sixteen
Huskies fall to Mississippi State as Kelsey Plum’s record-setting career ends
How Kelsey Plum Took Over Women’s College Basketball
Washington’s Kelsey Plum: ‘I think everyone can learn a lot from UConn’s success’
After delivering surprise joyride of a season, these Huskies will never be forgotten

“Think you can outscore us?” Ogunbowale and Da Yoots say. “Just try.”

Notre Dame women’s basketball puts on a clinic to beat Ohio State
Ogunbowale leads Notre Dame women to Elite Eight
Irish Elite in Historic Victory Over Buckeyes
NCAA Women: Top-Seeded Irish Rout Buckeyes
Notre Dame rolls to Elite Eight
Lesar: Glass is half-full for Notre Dame women’s basketball
Lesar: Jackie Young a key part of re-tooled Notre Dame attack
Notre Dame Sizzles Into Elite 8

Buckeyes bounced from NCAA Tournament by hot-shooting Notre Dame
Ohio State’s season ends with 99-76 loss to Notre Dame in Sweet 16
Ohio State eliminated in Sweet 16 by Notre Dame
Ohio State women’s basketball falls to Notre Dame, 99-76
2017-18 recharge begins with Kelsey Mitchell’s decision
Ohio State star Kelsey Mitchell undecided on senior year return

“Want our seat?” Stanford asks. “Can’t have it.”

Erica McCall leads Stanford women past Texas for Elite Eight berth
Stanford women hold off Texas for 77-66 win in NCAA Sweet 16
Stanford women seek the win at the end of the rainbow
Hot-shooting Stanford rallies to stop Texas, ending UT’s season

This Just In – Texas Fans Tired of Stanford
No. 14 Women’s Basketball Falls in Sweet Sixteen to No. 6 Stanford, 77-66

ESPN: Confident stars carry Irish, Cardinal to Elite Eight

Baylor says, “Oh yeah, we remember you…”

OKC notebook: Lady Bears paint Louisville into a corner
Rocket-fast start pushes Lady Bears past Louisville, 97-63
Baylor women roll into Elite Eight, crush Louisville 97-63
Baylor rolls past Louisville 97-63 to reach Elite Eight
Baylor too much for women’s basketball, Cards’ season ends in Sweet 16

UofL Sweet 16 loss a lackluster final
Louisville women can’t slay the giant again, Baylor r – WDRB 41 Louisville News
No. 13 Women’s Basketball Falls to No. 5 Baylor in Sweet 16
The Louisville’s women’s basketball team saw its season come to an end on Friday night, a 97-63 loss to top seed Baylor

ON TAP

Oregon v Maryland

Maryland women’s basketball is fueled by regret ahead of Sweet 16 game vs. Oregon
NCAA Tournament 2017 preview: Maryland takes on Oregon in Sweet 16
Maryland women’s basketball will arrive in Bridgeport with plenty of motivation
Former Courant Player Of Year Gillespie Back In State With Maryland At Bridgeport Regional
Mountain View grad Destiny Slocum is the talk of the town for Maryland women’s basketball
Maryland Women Face Tough Task In Bridgeport Regional
Women’s basketball tournament: Maryland women ride rails to NCAA regional
Maryland-Oregon to face off in Sweet 16
Maryland’s Brenda Frese sees similarities between Oregon and her 2006 title team
Maryland women embrace Ashlyn Barrett, the youngest Terrapin

Oregon Ducks women’s basketball set to face No. 3 seed Maryland in Sweet 16: Game preview
Oregon’s rebuilt women’s basketball team prepares to face Maryland
Sweet 16 notebook: Ionescu and Slocum to square off, Maryland fans shut out of ticket allotment
Starting for Oregon, Three Freshmen Who Don’t Play Like It
Oregon Ducks women’s basketball team feels like it’s playing with house money entering Sweet 16
Oregon Ducks go to the land of the Huskies for their first women’s basketball Sweet 16
Bridgeport Regional: Oregon Not Shying Away From Mighty Maryland
Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens has memories of hiring Brenda Freese

UCLA v UConn

Tipping Off: Reaching the Sweet 16 Commonplace for UConn
Collier, Samuelson at forefront of UConn’s quest for another national title 

UConn women’s notebook: UCLA’s Ally Rosenblum goes way back with UConn’s Katie Lou Samuelson
Women’s basketball gameday capsule: Sweet 16, UCLA vs. UConn
UConn Women’s Basketball Exceptional at Passing the Ball
UConn’s Recipe for Success Is to Run, Run and Run Some More
Bridgeport Regional Capsule: UConn Vs. UCLA
UConn women’s basketball lives for tournament pressure
The Auriemmas and the UConn dynasty: Its Philly roots, and why they stayed
UConn’s Collier isn’t flashy, but she’s a ‘nightmare’ for opposing defenses
Bent does jersey number 10 proud at UConn
UConn Invades Bridgeport’s Webster Bank Arena For Regional Semifinals
UConn Women’s Basketball Team Dynasty Reveals Sexism in March Madness
UConn women’s basketball one win away from holding longest winning streak ever in a college team sport

Pac-12 NCAA Feature: What UCLA has to do to stop UConn
Bruins building solid foundation
How Smart Is UCLA’s Cori Close? She Chose Wooden, Geno As Mentors
UCLA women facing tall order vs. mighty UConn in regional semifinal

Quinnipiac v South Carolina

Sweet 16 Has All 4 Top Seeds, 2 State Schools In UConn, Quinnipiac
 Meet Quinnipiac, the NCAA Tournament darling
Quinnipiac women on bigger stage against South Carolina
Gamecocks wary of Quinnipiac, the Cinderella story of women’s NCAA Tournament
Quinnipiac is a team with a story to tell
From LI to Quinnipiac, Jen Fay has No. 12 seed dancing in Sweet 16
Quinnipiac women eye another NCAA basketball tourney upset
Quinnipiac women’s basketball focused on Sweet 16 matchup against South Carolina
Quinnipiac women’s basketball ready for not-so-sweet task of playing South Carolina
Quinnipiac women’s basketball takes on South Carolina in Sweet 16

South Carolina women’s basketball not going to ‘sleep on’ Quinnipiac
Staley transforms South Carolina into elite program
South Carolina Stands In Way As Quinnipiac Women Try To Reach Elite Eight
South Carolina players love coach Staley’s Lifesaver habit
Candy girl: Gamecocks dish on Staley’s courtside habit
Unspoiled by success, Gamecocks keep on striving
Allisha Gray’s injury stressed USC fans, but not her
USC broadcasters help fans make Sweet 16 memories

NCAA Notebook: UConn sends love to Quinnipiac
Quinnipiac Coach, Daughter Will Look Back On The Magical Run Later
Geno Auriemma says Quinnipiac reminds him of UConn back in 1991
Jeff Jacobs: Geno Shows He’s A Big Quinnipiac Fan, And Dresses The Part

Florida State v Oregon State

WBB Preview: #2 Oregon State v. #3 Florida State – Q&A With Tomahawk Nation
Meet Oregon State
Beavers playing with sense of urgency for seniors
OSU women’s basketball: Brown focused on the present
For Love of the Game: Tudor returns home for Sweet 16
Breanna Brown making impact in possible final NCAA Tournament run with Oregon State
Oregon State women’s basketball winning with grit, experience

Florida State no stranger to the Sweet 16
FSU women’s hoops in familiar territory against somewhat familiar foe
Seminoles arrive at third consecutive Sweet 16
Here and Now
FSU women’s hoops pushes for first Final Four bid
Our View: Sweet hoops: NCAA regional a highlight for Stockton
Women’s Hoops vs. Oregon StateRomero breaks out of slump at right time for Florida State

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Mind the Gap

Listen up! LaChina Robinson is joined by espnW writers Michelle Smith, Graham Hays and Mechelle Voepel to discuss Kelsey Plum, key injuries and break down the regional brackets.

Listen up, too! Locked On Women’s Basketball: First Weekend Recap with Gabriella Levine

A little something from Howard: TAKEAWAYS FROM THE WOMEN’S TOURNEY

The first weekend of the women’s NCAA Tournament is in the books, and as you’d expect once 32 games are played, we’ve learned quite a lot about the shape of both the season so far and what to expect over the next two weeks, when a champion will be crowned. Here are the biggest takeaways from the paring down of 64 teams to the Sweet 16, which resumes this Friday night, beginning with Notre Dame vs. Ohio State at 7:06 p.m. ET (all games air on ESPN and ESPN2).

Parity is real

Notre Dame v. Ohio State

Stinky news: Those who saw, knew…. Notre Dame women’s basketball loses top scorer Brianna Turner

And so, Injury might change landscape for Lexington Regional in Rupp Arena this weekend

When Notre Dame’s women’s basketball team opened the season ranked No. 1 in the nation — ahead of even mighty UConn — an appearance in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 16 seemed a certainty.

After what the Fighting Irish went through to get to Rupp Arena, taking the next step might be significantly more difficult.

When the Notre Dame women’s basketball team took personality tests earlier this season, Lindsay Allen wasn’t surprised by her results.

Her color was green, an appropriate choice — not just because of the lime shade she and her Irish teammates wear on their fingernails during the NCAA tournament.

“Greens” are eminently disciplined, precise, logical and analytical. They aren’t overly expressive or dramatic. “Low-key” is the most fitting description.

“That’s Lindsay!” teammate Kathryn Westbeld said. “She’s that calm, cool, collected person we all enjoy being around on and off the court.”

Buckeyes in better position in return to Sweet 16

“No question. We’re deeper, we’re more experienced, and we’re just better,” McGuff said. “I think we’re in a much different place this year. I like where we are, and I like the opportunity that’s in front of us.”

Buckeyes catch a break against Notre Dame

South Carolina v. Quinnipiac

Quinnipiac Women’s Basketball Team Headed for Sweet 16

Bruce Saulnier has been teaching in the School of Business at Quinnipiac since 1972, long before it was known as a university as opposed to a college, long before many of its current structures were built.

And he has been following the women’s basketball team nearly as long, rarely missing a home game — a season ticket holder, he says, “ever since they moved up to Division I and started selling season tickets.” The Bobcats hadn’t kept him up past midnight, though, until Monday.

“Stayed up past my bedtime,” said Saulnier, 70, as he noshed on a soup and sandwich in the student center. “Watched the game the whole way and it was just amazing. We’ve come a long way.”

Quinnipiac takes 12-seed, good omens and great shooting into Sweet 16

“It’s honestly addicting,” Quinnipiac guard Adily Martucci said of the wins. “There is something about this tournament. You just want more and more and more. And we’re going to try to get some more.”

AP: Quinnipiac: Tough to say, hard to beat

Quinnipiac women’s basketball team returns home after making their first ever Sweet Sixteen

Good news: Allisha Gray gets nod to play for South Carolina in Sweet 16 and After a scare, Gray full-go as Gamecocks head to Stockton

South Carolina the toast of tourney

More news: Fearless freshman Tyasha Harris is playing beyond her years as South Carolina’s point guard

South Carolina point guard Tyasha Harris said before the SEC tournament final in early March that she expected to have a few jitters, considering she was playing for a championship. But they never showed up.

“I live for big moments,” she said, smiling. “I thought I would get nervous, but nothing came. I was ready to go get that ring.”

Ah, the life of a freshman. Much of what you encounter in college basketball is new. But depending on your personality and how your coaches and teammates respond to you, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It can be exciting.

Oregon and Quinnipiac crash women’s Sweet 16 field

Pac-12 making statement with 5 teams in the Sweet 16

Louisville v Baylor

Meet U of L’s Sweet 16 opponent: Baylor

Mechelle offers: First impressions of the Sweet 16

Probably the most anticipated regional semifinal matchup will be No. 1 seed Baylor versus No. 4 Louisville in Oklahoma City. Those teams met in 2013 in the same round on the same Chesapeake Energy Arena court, when Baylor was the defending national champion with one loss, and Louisville a No. 5 seed with eight losses. But the Cardinals upset the Lady Bears 82-81 in an epic game, and went on to the NCAA final.

Both coaches might downplay that 2013 game — Baylor’s Kim Mulkey almost certainly will — and the key players from that matchup are all graduated. But the fact that it’s in the same building, with the Lady Bears again as a No. 1 seed … it’s natural to look back on what happened then

Baylor heads to Oklahoma City, site of both cheers and tears

Washington v. Mississippi State

Schaefer’s bold strategy moves Bulldogs to second straight Sweet Sixteen

Mississippi State thriving with father-daughter combo

Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer and guard Blair Schaefer established the separation between father-daughter and coach-player nearly a decade ago when Blair was in seventh grade.

The coach watched from the stands as his daughter turned the ball over multiple times during an AAU game. She was nearly in tears at halftime. He said at that moment Blair had a decision to make — did she want him to talk to her as a coach or a father? She said a coach.

“Then stop turning that dadgum thing over,” he said.

Victoria ViviansHow We Do It in Mississippi

I am pretty sure you’ve never been to my hometown, but there’s a chance you’ve driven past it and not even known. It’s called Forest, Mississippi. Five different highways crisscross through Forest — the biggest one, Interstate 20, runs west toward Jackson and east toward the Alabama border. The other four are state highways. People are always either coming or going in Forest, but hardly anybody ever stays. The population there is less than 6,000. 

I know about the highways because since before I was born my dad has been a truck driver, cruising all over the South in one of those big 18-wheel rigs. My dad was on the road a lot when I was a kid, and when he was gone I’d always try to envision him driving his truck on those highways. I bet you’re thinking I’m really country —being from a tiny town with a big rig in our driveway — but oh well. 

To this day, I’m really grateful to my dad for making it a priority to come to my basketball games

UW Women’s Basketball confident about return trip to the Final Four

When the Washington Huskies Women’s Basketball Team made the Final Four as a #7 seed during last year’s NCAA Tournament it was seen as an aberration to many outside the program.

“I think a lot of people wanted to think that was a fluke,” Washington head-coach Mike Neighbors said. “I heard that a lot during the offseason. That it was a fluke year, blah, blah, blah.”

Loved this: Players put on impromptu dance-off during Oklahoma-Washington NCAA tournament game

Although Washington went on to win 108-82 to advance to the Sweet 16, star guard Kelsey Plum admitted defeat on the dance-off. “When they really started going at it,” Plum said, “the girl from Oklahoma did some crazy stuff.”

Osahor attributed that to the lineup on the court. “They were very fortunate that Aari [freshman guard Aarion McDonald] was in the game because if she wasn’t, it would have been over,” Osahor said.

She also appreciated the message the friendly competition sent.

UCLA v. UConn

UCLA women’s basketball team warms to the idea of facing mighty Connecticut

“[UConn is] a great team; they obviously have our respect,” Close said after the Bruins, the No. 4 seed in the Bridgeport Regional, routed No. 5 Texas A&M, 75-43, Monday at Pauley Pavilion. “But my team has my respect and I need to lead them the same way that we’ve done it all year long.”

What’s Bruin Show – Episode 128 – UCLA Basketball in the Sweet 16!

UConn is dominating women’s basketball by realizing it takes more than just talented players

UConn Is 1 Win From Being The Streakiest College Team Ever

Up next for the Huskies is No. 4-seed UCLA, a team that was ranked 15th at the end of the season and that UConn hasn’t played since 2014. If UConn wins that game, it’ll have 110 straight wins, moving it clear of Penn State’s 109 consecutive wins in women’s volleyball in 2007-10 — acknowledged as one of the longest winning streaks in collegiate sports history.

Both streaks are over twice as long as the next-longest streak by any other entity in their sport.

Carl Adamec: Huskies don’t pass up opportunities for assists

BTW: Auriemma, UConn haven’t lost consecutive games in 24 years

Maryland v. Oregon

Oooops: Sold-out Connecticut regional leaves ‘furious’ Maryland fans boxed out

The school did, in fact, get its usual NCAA allotment of 100 tickets. That’s been the allotment for schools in the women’s basketball tournament for years, although typically schools are given the opportunity to purchase more, which Maryland has usually done. (Their regional request has been about twice the 100-ticket allotment in recent years.)

Bridgeport, though, features a smaller venue — Webster Bank Arena seats just 7,881 fans. And with Connecticut’s women’s team in the midst of a historic win streak and certain to be playing regional games in Bridgeport, the arena sold out of inventory on March 9, four days before the brackets were even unveiled.

Maryland fans, of course, were not about to buy tickets at four different regional sites in early March, just in case.

Maryland women’s basketball to play Oregon in Sweet 16

Oregon college basketball’s historic week: What to know

Oregon Ducks wait for another chance to play road warriors in NCAA women’s basketball tournament

“The Pac-12 and the season prepared us for this moment,” Graves said after Oregon handed the Blue Devils their first home loss of the season. “Duke is a great team, there’s no question about it. But so is Oregon State, who we had to play twice. So is Stanford, who we had to play three times. They’re both two seeds. Washington we played a couple times, and they were a three seed. UCLA was a four seed.

“I think that’s what made these guys better. They couldn’t take a night off.”

Oregon alums say NCAA Tournament run has brought them together

Oregon State v. Florida State

Ducks and Beavers would love an all-Oregon NCAA championship

Gazette Times: Beavers will see familiar teams in Stockton

For seniors Sydney Wiese and Gabby Hanson, their desire to face Florida State is finally going to be a reality.

“There are some schools that when you’re in college you want to play them and somehow you hope that you will,” Wiese said.

Semrau, third-seeded Seminoles focused on Oregon State

Semrau’s message throughout the tournament – really, since the end of the regular season – has been about the “now.”

“It’s so easy to spend way too much energy on the wrong things,” Semrau said. “We have to spend energy on focusing on our film today. We have to put energy in our practice today. We don’t have time or space for anything else.”

Stanford v. Texas

Janie McCauley/AP: Travel challenges just part of NCAA Tournament for Stanford

Nadia Fingall took her three-hour economics final Wednesday while stationed in the hotel dining room. Erica McCall and Briana Roberson were set up in different conference rooms for their psychology exams.

Brittany McPhee and Karlie Samuelson each had chemistry finals — biochemistry for McPhee, organic for Samuelson.

When the charter plane for Sweet 16-bound Stanford never arrived Monday night in Manhattan, Kansas, because of a parts issue, Tara VanDerveer and her staff decided the best course would be to head to the next game destination without a trip first to the Bay Area. The coach checked with a few players and the plan was a go: onward to Lexington, Kentucky.

Texas women’s Basketball to face No. 6 Stanford in NCAA Regional Semifinals

Development of Joyner Holmes culminates in re-match with Stanford

Texas seeks revenge in rematch with Stanford

The season-opening loss for Texas at Stanford in November seems so long ago that the five newcomers for the Longhorns no longer seem like freshmen.

Joyner Holmes, a guard, is one of those top recruits who had more fouls (four) than points (three) in the 71-59 loss to the Cardinal in Palo Alto, Calif. She enters the rematch with the Cardinal on Friday night in the Sweet 16 averaging 12 points and 8.2 rebounds.

A sweet (16) look at Texas women’s postseason history

Other news:

Dan: Lady Vols need to pay more attention to consistency and John Adams: Holly Warlick could be coaching for her job next season

The last game of a season, no matter when it occurs, invariably leads to a question about the next season.

Monday night was no exception. Moments after Tennessee’s 75-64 loss to Louisville in the second round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, UT coach Holly Warlick was asked: “What is the message for the offseason with the No. 1 recruiting class coming in?”

Said Warlick: “These kids know what they’re getting into. It’s Tennessee. You’ve got to be on your A game every game.”

That also could apply to the season that had just ended, short of the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2009.

Syracuse women’s basketball faces massive rebuilding job to remain among the elite

Congrats to coach Fahey, new head coach at Illinois. Lucky program. D-III says farewell to Fahey

At times, her teams were unbeatable. At their worst, they were still a threat to reach the NCAA Tournament and advance. But if you learned nothing from Nancy Fahey’s 31 years coaching Division III basketball, know this: She, and her teams, never ducked a challenge.

Now, Fahey will be taking on another challenge: Division I basketball. 

Spurs Asst. Coach and WNBA Legend Becky Hammon In Running For Florida WBB Job

Excelle: WNBA Mock Draft Monday, version 2.0

Moriah Jefferson’s Emergence Gave Stars’ Coach Hughes Second Thoughts On Retirement

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Moving on, Pt. 2

Honestly, ESPN techs – as a techie myself, I gotta say: You only had ONE job… And for the producers who decided which games to broadcast when? YOU only had one job….Fix this, @CStiffESPN

As for the games…anyone notice there’s a lot of history being made this Tourney? Amongst the fantabulous player performances, the equally fabulous  informs us that

We will have our third with two double-digit seeds. 1996: (11) SFA, (12) San Francisco 2007: (10) Florida St., (13) Marist

(Seriously, @WNBA, HIRE THIS TWEETER!!!!!!!)

MAAC ATTACK, Pt. 2. Not satisfied with their first NCAA tournament win, the Bobcats raced out to a 15pt lead over the host Hurricanes, then held on for dear life as Miami clawed its way back into the game. But Quinnipiac did. not. fold. Helllllloooooooo, the (other) team from Connecticut makes their first Sweet Sixteen!

PAC ATTACK: Yes, #2 Duke was without guard Kyra Lambert, but that doesn’t diminish #10 Oregon’s accomplishment – winning on the Blue Devils‘ home court. With all the pieces finally healthy, the Ducks are really clicking. Boom – a 74-65 victory means the program is going to its first Sweet Sixteen.

#4 Louisville kicked it into high gear in fourth to put away #5 Tennessee, 75-64. Fouls and free throw shooting hurt the Vols, and Mariya Moore’s perfect night of three-point shooting really helped the Cardinals. Anyone feel like Jeff has his team cruising, shark-like, under everybody’s radar?

So, how does that old Jim Croce song go, “You don’t tug on UConnGuards’ cape…” #1 UConn crushed the #8 Orange#8 Orange, as Kia Nurse made like Katie Lou Samuelson and went 9-12 from three (tying the NCAA Tournament single-game record). Rest of the Huskies weren’t too shabby, neither: 62% shooting, 30 assists on 33 made baskets.

The Cal Bears were no match for the Baylor Bears who look loaded for…bear on their way to an 86-46 win.

#2 Stanford proved to be rude guests as they declawed the #7 Wildcats, 69-48.

Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer has been doing this a long time — 37 seasons as head coach, to be exact — and so when she gets a feeling a player will have a big game, she’s usually right.

And she had a feeling about guard Brittany McPhee on Monday. The 6-foot junior set the tone for No. 2 seed Stanford in an NCAA tournament second-round matchup with No. 7 Kansas State. By the time she’d finished a 21-point, seven-rebound, five-assist night, McPhee had helped break down the Wildcats’ zone, and her team’s post players had done their thing, too.

Down 21 at the half, #5 Texas A&M simply didn’t have another run in’em. The Bruins kept pouring it on, earning a 75-43 victory. With its win, #4 UCLA adds to the Pac 12 Sweet Sixteen total of FIVE.

So, ya gotta believe before the game Osahor turned to Plum and said, “You’ve never had  double-double? What’s wrong with you?” Pluminator goes out,  breaks Jackie Stiles’ women’s NCAA D-I single-season scoring record AND notches her first double-double. ’bout time, woman! Oh, yah, and Washington mauled the Sooners, 108-82.

So you know what all this means (beyond some of us being able to catch up on our sleep):

Friday, March 24th:

#5 Ohio State v. #1 Notre Dame (7:06pm)
#3 Washington v. #2 Mississippi State (7:11pm)

#4 Louisville v. #1 Baylor (9:00)
#3 Texas v. #2 Stanford (9:00)

Saturday, March 25th

#10 Oregon v. #3 Maryland (11:36am)
#4 UCLA v. #1 UConn (1:30pm)

#12 Quinnipiac v. #1 South Carolina (4:06pm)
#3 Florida State v. #2 Oregon State (6pm)
:

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Moving on, Part 1

and boy did we have some doozies. And it’s only the 32! (And no, I am not going to discuss officiating, unless you read this first and then come at me with some action plans.)

So, yeah, Destiny just turned “Rise and Fire” into “Turn and Toss.” What an amazing shot, no? #3 Maryland as a whole didn’t look too shabby, neither, as their firepower allowed them to surge away from the #6 Mountaineers for a comfortable 83-56 win.

Destiny Slocum stood frozen, as if she had just fumbled a dish and watched it shatter on the kitchen floor.

The Maryland women’s basketball team’s freshman point guard could not process what she’d done until teammates crushed her in a group hug and the bellows of an ecstatic home crowd washed over her.

High octane offense met higher octane offense as #2 Mississippi State tamed #7 DePaul, 92-71.

“I felt like they didn’t have an answer for anything,” Blair Schaefer said.

That was because MSU again received production from its entire rotation against slick-shooting DePaul (27-8), which worked with a rotation of mostly seven players.

Vic Schaefer has said a few times recently, “I don’t think you want to get into a track meet with my team.” DePaul did and experienced some success, making MSU use 10 different players in the first quarter.

After a slow start, #3 Florida State found their groove and galloped away from #6 Missouri,

Sunday’s win was head coach Sue Semrau’s 400th career win.

“We just continued to remind them it’s about the now,” Semrau said about her message to the team at halftime.

“When we had the run, it was important to say, ‘Let’s go have another one.’ It’s not, ‘Stop their run.’ It’s, ‘Let’s go have another one.’ This team feeds off that.”

Hot and cold #4 Ohio State was scorching in the first, behind Kelsey “The Kid” Mitchell’s breath-taking offensive display. Got a little chilly in the second half, but #5 Kentucky never really threatened. Buckeyes finish the Wildcats off with an 82-68 win.

“Yeah, we escaped with a win! Crap, now we’ve got to wait on news of Allisha Gray’s injury….” Ah, the life of #1 South Carolina’s journey through the tourney. Arizona State proved to be far greater test than most presumed. #8 Arizona State’s stifling defense, the lead, losing the lead and it seemed, the momentum, only to surge back… but just not enough time left to pull the upset. Gamecocks advance, 71-68.

“It’s relief, it’s elation,it is being battle-tested and winning another war,” Staley said. “And it is thankful, thankful that we got a chance to play at our place because I don’t think the results, and I say this a lot, I think the results would be different if we were at another gym. 

“That’s what we play for.”

Crap, too. #1 Notre Dame held off #9 Purdue, but the status of oft injured  Brianna Turner is up in the air as she landed awkwardly. Injury aside, who is this Purdue team and where have they been hiding? They pushed the number one seed all game… and into overtime (don’t they KNOW I have to teach in Brooklyn early tomorrow?!) before falling to the Irish, 88-82.

This was gong to be the “Game of the day”, but the ND/Purdue happened. Even so, it was pretty awesome. In a back and forth battle where they kept swapping quarters, #3  Texas and #6 NC State put on a great show. 84-80 tells you how close it was, but the game tape will show you how heartfelt it was.

“Really, really proud of our team,” said Aston. “I wrote on the board ironically enough today before the game that it didn’t matter what it looked like that we just needed to win. That was a good thing to write, probably, today. But our group never gave in. They showed a lot of resilience and toughness and just really proud. It was a complete team effort, I think, from our part.”

#7 Creighton stumble out of the block in the first quarter and never quite got their footing. In a fitting final game at the Gill, Sidney Wiese guided #2 Oregon State into the Sweet Sixteen over a stubborn Blue Jay team, 64-52.

Monday Madness includes:

#8 Syracuse v. #1 UConn, 6:35pm
Freshmen Gabby Cooper, Crystal Dangerfield in the spotlight as UConn hosts Syracuse
UConn Women Well Aware Of Syracuse’s Big-Time Backcourt; Huskies, Orange Meet Monday At 6:30,
Syracuse Coach Quentin Hillsman Wants To Be Just Like Geno Auriemma
Women’s basketball NCAA Tournament gameday: Syracuse at UConn,
Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman wants to be ‘bad for basketball’ like UConn’s Geno Auriemma,
Syracuse women’s basketball has best backcourt in the country? We’ll see, UConn says,

#7 Kansas State v. # Stanford, 6:35pm
Stanford looks to shake off rust vs. Kansas State (Mar 19, 2017)
K-State women ready for Stanford with Sweet 16 on line
K-State not afraid of Stanford in NCAA Tournament matchup

#10 Oregon v #2 Duke, 6:40pm
Without Lambert, Duke ready to face Oregon
Duke ready for Oregon in 2nd round of women’s NCAA tourney
Inside the Pac: Ducks Upset Temple, but Duke is Ready
Oregon Ducks women’s basketball secures future, lands international star
The gamble: Oregon Ducks women’s basketball coaches draw up 3-year rebuilding plan

#5 Tennessee v. #4 Louisville, 6:45pm
Lady Vols need shipshape effort in NCAA showdown with Louisville
U of L, Tennessee, set for marquee matchup
No. 4 seed Louisville, No. 5 Tennessee meet in second round
Tennessee, Louisville rely on pressure defense
Lady Vols, Cardinals to clash in second round
Louisville, Tennessee seek consistency as they meet (Mar 19, 2017)
John Adams: Georgia players could decide UT-Louisville matchup

#6 Oklahoma v. #3 Washington, 9:05pm
Huskies hold court, will host familiar foe Oklahoma in second round
Sooners to face Washington, super scorer Kelsey Plum
Win and Return Home: OU Takes on Washington
Sooners Meet Washington in Seattle for Trip to OKC
Matchup inside will be key when Oklahoma faces Washington
Why Huskies basketball stars Kelsey Plum and Chantel Osahor are the game’s greatest weapon
Thiel: Huskies have it semi-easy; Oklahoma next

 

#9 Cal v. #1 Baylor, 9:10pm
Lady Bears Meet Golden Bears Monday
Women’s basketball notebook: Wallace’s family travels from down under to watch the Lady Bears

#12 Quinnipiac v. #4 Miami, 9:10pm
Another mid-major will be test for Canes women’s basketball
UM women seek second Sweet 16 berth in program history
Women’s basketball NCAA Tournament gameday: Quinnipiac vs. Miami
#12 QU Women’s Basketball Continues With NCAA Second Round Matchup at #4 Miami
Miami, Quinnipiac ready for shot at Sweet 16
Meier, team break down Quinnipiac challenge
History made, Quinnipiac women’s basketball team looks to scale second step
Miami happy to be alive ahead of matchup vs. Quinnipiac 

#5 Texas A&M v. #4 UCLA, 10:05pm
Aggie Women’s Basketball Takes On UCLA In NCAA Second Round On Monday
Texas A&M and UCLA set for second round matchup
Texas A&M comes off record rally to face UCLA 

FO

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Read: Sunday will be tough for many in Beaver Nation

Even though I was on vacation, I decided to head out to practice and cobble together a preview story before the team hit the road to take on the Los Angeles schools.

It was also the first day my daughter, Abby, accompanied me to a practice.

I never could have imagined just how impactful those few minutes would turn out to be for Abby, who was 5 years old at the time.

After conducting a couple interviews, I looked over to where I had told Abby to sit and wait for me.

But she wasn’t there.

I started to look around, a bit of panic beginning to form. As I turned to look across the court in the practice facility, that feeling of panic quickly melted and turned to one of pure joy.

There was Sydney Wiese, dribbling the ball at center court while Abby did her best to try and take it from her.

LA Daily News: Great chemistry helps UCLA women’s basketball do the dirty work

One reason why the UCLA women’s basketball team is 23-8 is because it has a solid offense that averages 73.9 points. But defense, and all that it entails, is probably more responsible.

The Bruins allow only 64 points. They out-rebound opponents by an average of 2.5. They harass teams into 17.5 turnovers per game while committing only 12.1, they average 10.2 steals to just 6.6 for their opponents and they average 5.0 blocks while giving up 2.7.

It’s tough to get teams to buy into doing all those little things, because they’re not as sexy as a 3-point basket or a sweet dribble-drive and dazzling finish. 

Quinnipiac women’s notebook: Jen Fay shines bright on big stage

Are ya wondering? Could These 5 Mid-Major Stars Make a WNBA Roster?

Geno Auriemma, Albany assistant Yolanda Griffith share bond

The mere mention of Geno Auriemma’s name elicited a playful cackle from women’s basketball legend Yolanda Griffith.

Sitting in the locker room inside Gampel Pavilion used by 16th-seeded Albany, the Great Danes’ first year assistant coach probably could have spent the next hour repeating some of the classic stories from the wise-cracking Auriemma from their time together helping the United States to the 2000 Olympic gold medal. Perhaps some of those stories could even be printed in the newspaper, but Griffith wasn’t quite ready to spill the beans.

“A lot of his stories he used to tell …,” Griffith said.

Still battling cancer, ESPN analyst & U. grad Holly Rowe embraces the madness of her busy schedule

She was speeding toward an airport last month when, somewhere between Tuscaloosa and Atlanta, a patrol car’s lights flashed and an officer would end up giving her a speeding ticket for driving 20 mph over the limit.

But here’s the thing about Holly Rowe: she can’t slow down, not right now.

The ESPN broadcaster’s calendar is swamped, just the way she wants it.

Rowe, a University of Utah graduate who still calls Salt Lake City home, has covered gymnastics in Alabama, the 2017 College Football Playoff national championship game in Florida and basketball in Kansas over the past few months.

In between, Rowe fights.

She is in her second bout with melanoma cancer that spread throughout her body. She underwent surgery last February to remove cancerous tumors, malignant tumors and 29 lymph nodes. The treatment she receives every 21 days staves off the disease.

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Whoopsies

1 MAAC ATTACK! Some folks were/are wondering where Quinnipiac is. (And SOME folks are wondering how to pronounce it.) But longtime readers have followed the growth of the program these last few years know the MAAC is no longer the Marist Red Foxes. The Bobcats (and the Rider Broncs) are solid programs. But, even knowing that, I’m betting most of us didn’t have the #12 Q over smokin’ hot #5 Marquette. I’m wondering if experience came into play… BUT, whatever happen in the minds and bodies of the players, the end result was Quinnipiac’s first NCAA tournament win in school history, 68-65.

“When we won the MAAC championship close to two weeks ago, I told my young ladies to enjoy the moment, because you never know,” said 22nd-year coach Tricia Fabbri. “We worked very hard to win that title. But I also said, don’t be satisfied. We weren’t finished yet. And then today we came down here to win a game and advance into Monday. It’s a goal that we started last year when we left for summer and we continued just to move forward with our mission. And here we are getting ready to play in the field of 32 come Monday night.”

So, what a story #9 Purdue is. Honestly, I had them pegged for toast earlier this season. Now they win their first tournament game, upsetting #8 Green Bay, 74-62.

Think about all the things you can do in six minutes and 57 seconds.

You can run a mile at a leisurely pace. You can microwave a Hot Pocket and eat it, too. You can listen to the vast majority of “Stairway to Heaven.”

Or, if you’re the Purdue women’s basketball team, you can defend. And defend. And hit a few shots, but mostly defend.

Heartbreaking/Heart stopping: #10 Oregon upsets #7 Temple, 71-70, courtesy of a last second shot by Ruthy Hebard, who then contested and Fitzgerald’s really last second shot. Warned ya Oregon was gonna be good.

Oregon’s three double-figure scorers — Hebard, Ionescu and McGwire — were all freshmen, and they combined to take 45 of the Ducks’ 67 shots. “I don’t think we consider ourselves freshmen anymore,” said Ionescu, the Pac-12’s freshman of the year. “We have to step up to the level of competition.”

I’m not sure I’m surprised. With something to prove, #9 Cal scored just enough to beat #8 LSU, 55-52, and put the Pac12 at 7-0.

Coach Lindsay Gottlieb’s baby boy might not wait until his due date in May to be born if there are many more heart-racing finishes like this for California.

“More games like this, he could come any day,” Gottlieb said after the Golden Bears held on for [the] win

Wake ups

Former USC/Pepperdine-now-New Mexico State coach Mark Trakh is familiar with Stanford. He’s also had great success with the Aggie program. His team proved that the #15s should not be taken for granted. They led the Cardinal into the fourth, but they couldn’t hold on. Stanford emerged victorious, 72-64.

USC’s search committee has got to have their eye on coach Jody Wynn at Long Beach State. Yet another program that has been on the WHB radar these last couple of years, they sure got #2 Oregon State’s attention as the Beavers escaped with a one-point win over the #15 49ers, 56-55.

the 49ers, who have three players on their roster from the state of Oregon, were not intimidated playing a Pac-12 power on its home floor. Long Beach State had the right personnel to give OSU problems – an athletic team that presses full court.

Had the last shot gone down, it would have been a disappointing end for OSU senior guards Sydney Wiese and Gabby Hanson, and senior forward Kolbie Orum, who have been part of March Madness every year in their college careers.

“No matter when this team ends their season, it’s hard to do better than what they’ve done,” OSU coach Scott Rueck said. “I don’t think they’re going to be defined by this tournament.”

Talk about attention getters? Yet another program that’s been in the (WHB) news: #13 Belmont. They matched #4 Kentucky basket for basket in the first half, but fell 3 points short in the second. Wildcats escape Bruins, 73-70.

While libraries the world over might prove that history is indeed written by those who win, their stories are often worth telling only because of those who lose.

So let’s give the first words of this history not to No. 4 seed Kentucky or No. 5 Ohio State, the two teams that won NCAA tournament first-round games Friday in Memorial Coliseum. Let’s start instead with No. 13 Belmont’s Darby Maggard, a sophomore generously listed at 5-foot-4 who had the ball in her hands with a chance to tie the score against Kentucky in the final seconds of regulation.

#12 Western Kentucky kept within arms length of #5 Ohio State, but could never quite grab the Buckeye’s jersey. Hilltoppers fell, 70-63.

I wouldn’t say #11 South Florida was mis-seeded – they’ve had too weird a season to get an accurate bead on them. BUT, they can be feisty as heck, as #6 Missouri found out. Tigers survive on Sierra Michaelis’s put back, 66-64.

Gotta love those – in-state matchups… and what’s a tourney without a little officiating controversy? Miami withstood Florida Gulf’s second half barrage of three’s to advance with a 62-60 win. Was that shoulder/clear out by Hayes a charge or a flop? But wait – I thought you said you wanted the PLAYERS to decide the game….

#12 Penn just straight up ran out of gas in the fourth, or they would have sent #5 Texas A&M packing. Instead, the Aggies roar back with (a record) 28 in the final frame to dispatch the Ivy League upstart, 63-61.

“That’s the biggest comeback I’ve ever been a part of,” said Aggies veteran coach Gary Blair. “The game is never over at A&M until we decide it’s over.”

Walkovers: No disrespect to the competition, but they were sorely overmatched:

#1 Baylor over Texas Southern, 89.

#2 Duke over #15 Hampton, 63 (but waiting on  sophomore point guard Kyra Lambert’s injury).

#1 UConn over #16 Albany, 61.

#2 Mississippi State over #15 Troy, 41.

#3 Maryland over #14 Bucknell, 42.

#1 South Carolina over #16 UNC Asheville, 50.

#1 Notre Dame over #16 Robert Morris, 30.

#3 Texas over #14 Central Arkansas, 28.

#3 Washington over #14 Montana State, 28.

#4 UCLA over #13 Boise State, 27.

#7 Creighton over #10 Toledo, 27.

#7 DePaul over Northern Illinois, 21.

#8 Syracuse over #9 Iowa State, 20.

#4 Louisville over #13 Chattanooga, 20.

#3 Florida State over #14 Western Illinois, 19.

#6 NC State over #11 Auburn, 14.

More like don’t trip, take a breath and step-over…

No surprise, it wasn’t a breeze for #6 West Virginia, as coach Smith has built a program to watch out for. Mountaineers pull away from #11 Elon, 13.

#7 Kansas State over #10 Drake, 13.

#6 Oklahoma over #11 Gonzaga13.

#8 Arizona State had #9 Michigan State right where they wanted them, then let them score 26 in the fourth. Still won by 12.

#5 Tennessee over #12 Dayton, 9.

Tasty Treats on Tap Sunday:

#5 Ohio State v. #4 Kentucky, 12:05, ESPN2
Linnae Harper all business in facing her former team
Ohio State Preparing For Second Round Matchup Against Kentucky
Fourth-Seeded Kentucky Faces Fifth-Seeded Ohio State Sunday
Ohio State’s Harper braces for challenge of facing former Kentucky teammates
Kentucky, Ohio St. to test mettle to gain Sweet 16 berth (Mar 17, 2017)
Kentucky and Ohio State prepare for first-time NCAA matchup

#6 West Virginia v. #3 Maryland, 2:35, ESPN2
Maryland women’s basketball is at same spot as last year’s NCAA tournament disappointment
#3 Maryland Hosts WVU in NCAA Second Round
Stopping Brionna Jones the challenge Maryland throws at West Virginia in NCAA second round
Maryland women’s basketball vs. West Virginia preview

#7 DePaul v. #2 Mississippi State, 2:35 ESPN2
Mississippi State looks to maintain edge against DePaul
MSU looks for second straight Sweet 16 berth today
Mississippi St hosts upset-minded DePaul in NCAA 2nd round
DePaul Faces Big Challenge on Sunday
LocaJac

#6 NC State v #3 Texas, 2:40, ESPN2
Texas women’s basketball faces No. 6-seeded North Carolina State
Road-tested Wolfpack eyeing upset over host Texas

#8 Arizona State v. #1 South Carolina, 7:05, ESPN
Sun Devils pose problems in paint for Gamecocks
South Carolina, Arizona St. aren’t same women’s teams as before NCAAs
ASU women’s basketball hopes to handle environment vs. South Carolina

#6 Missouri v. #3 Florida State, 7:10, ESPN2
Missouri women seeking another milestone vs. Florida State
Florida State, Missouri square off in next round

#9 Purdue v. #1 Notre Dame, 9:05, ESPN
Purdue’s Harris earns teammates trust
Purdue Women’s Basketball: Boilers NCAA second round tipoff set
Time to resume Purdue-Notre Dame series
WBB Ready to Face No. 2 Notre Dame
Irish Host Pajama Party at Purcell Pavilion vs. Purdue
Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw miffed over late tipoff time
Scouting Purdue women at Notre Dame

#7 Creighton v. #2 Oregon State, 9:10, ESPN2
Scouting report: Creighton women vs. Oregon State 

Some Writing:

In the NY Times: Jere’ is back! UConn Women Enter Tourney With 107 Consecutive Wins, But … and so is Howard Forget the Seeding. Maryland Feels It Can Beat Anybody, Including UConn.

From the Players Tribune: Holly Warlick, The Voice in My Head

The coaching dynamic between us — head coach and assistant — wasn’t all that different from the dynamic between us when I was a player and she was my coach. As a player, Pat pushed me a harder than others because she knew I could take it. She would give me the hardest defensive assignments, or yell at me a little louder than she would at everybody else. When I became her assistant, she kept challenging me. Our basketball philosophy was the same — how could it not be? But she knew when, how and just how far to push to me.

She called me Warlick. I called her Summitt.

Eventually, through all the time we spent together, especially traveling to road games or going on recruiting trips, that dynamic shifted to something more like friendship. Everyone knows about Pat’s icy stare and tough persona, but she was also a loving matriarch with a quick wit. She was someone you always wanted to be around because you never knew what was going to come out of her mouth or happen next.

Like, say, accidentally ending up in a strip club.

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From Howard, for VICE: WHICH TEAMS GOT JOBBED BY THE WOMEN’S NCAA TOURNAMENT SELECTION COMMITTEE

The NCAA revealed its women’s bracket, one day after the men’s slate drew relatively muted criticism (well, unless you are Jim Boeheim, and judging by your lack of whining and deep hatred of Greensboro, North Carolina, you probably aren’t). The same cannot be said for the women’s draw. Many teams have legitimate gripes within the NCAA’s own rules. Others were left to wonder exactly why they played the regular season at all. No one likes this bracket very much.

So: who got the worst of it?

More Howard, who has Locked On Women’s Basketball Episode 38: Bracket Spectacular with Gabriella Levine

We discuss the outrage of Maryland’s seeding, the strength of Bridgeport, what to make of Tennessee, how underseeded DePaul is, why Marquette is intriguing and much more! We make picks, we go out on limbs.

Detroit: Michigan women’s basketball snubbed?

From Richard at SI: The question that will decide the women’s NCAA tournament: Can anyone beat UConn?

Which teams are best positioned to pull off the upset? Start with Notre Dame, who has appeared in four of the last six national finals, including two in which it lost to UConn (2014 and 2015). Coach Muffet McGraw has a tremendous inside-outside attack with junior forward Brianna Turner, senior point guard Lindsay Allen and an emerging third star in sophomore guard Arike Ogunbowale. Allen is also a senior point guard, which is a huge advantage in the Tournament. The Irish have not lost since Jan. 16 and have faced quality competition over the last four weeks (wins over Syracuse, Florida State, Louisville and Duke). Notre Dame fell 72-61 to UConn at South Bend on Dec. 7 but the game was tied at 34 at halftime. The Irish will avoid UConn until the final but Stanford, Texas and Kentucky (in Lexington) will be tricky games.

The Daily Item: ‘Unprecedented’ moment for Bucknell hoops programs

NCAA Tournament committee puts Syracuse women’s basketball in eye of UConn storm

Injury update: Alaina Coates’ injury a blow to top-seeded South Carolina

One of the saddest things in college sports is when seniors get hurt and can’t play in their last competition for their schools. That’s happened to South Carolina center Alaina Coates.

The Gamecocks announced Tuesday that Coates is ruled out from competing in the NCAA tournament because of an ankle injury.

You’ve seen the pictures, now read the story: Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb gets engaged, then team gets into tourney

From Doug: There is low-ceiling for mid majors in women’s tournament

”We really were hoping for a neutral-court game and that’s what we got against Marquette,” Fabbri said. ”We had to play at Maryland a few years ago and that’s a really tough thing to ask any team do, beating a top school on their home floor.”

For mid-major programs, the Sweet 16 seems to be the cap lately for NCAA success, despite at least one team advancing to the second weekend in six of the past seven seasons. Over the past decade, only three mid-major teams have broken through to the regional final of the NCAAs – Xavier, Gonzaga and Dayton – and none have reached a Final Four since Jackie Stiles led SW Missouri State in 2001.

It might be tough to see either list grow this year.

Another opening: University of Illinois women’s basketball coach Matt Bollant fired

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Luckily, they’ll get to exorcise some of them on the court and some of them in the WNIT.

If you want to read about the committee’s process, chair Terry Gawlik answered questions in Indianapolis. (Thanks, ASAP):

Q. Just talk for a second on the last couple of teams that got in, I know it’s not one team or two teams you guys decide on it’s usually four or so. But seems like Michigan and Virginia were the two that got snubbed most than anyone else. Talk about the last two teams that got in.

TERRY GAWLIK: Certainly I can talk about that. We had obviously the last four that went in were in alphabetical order, Auburn, California, Purdue and UNI.

And the First Four out were George Washington, Michigan, South Dakota State and Virginia. In particular, you asked about Michigan. They had an overall 22-9 record, were 11-6 in conference. I think what set with the committee, in Michigan’s case, they only had limited wins in the left column. They had no top-50 — sorry, they didn’t have any wins in the left column. No top-50 wins at all. So no top 25, no top-50 wins, and their strength of schedule was 101.

They also had a bad loss to Xavier. At the time their RPI was 207, and they lost four out of the last five games. And as you know they lost to Michigan State in the Big Ten quarterfinals.

Folks who are shaking their heads…

Charlie: Puzzling decisions sprinkled throughout women’s NCAA tournament bracket

Some observations from the 2017 women’s NCAA tournament bracket:

Regular-season performance in conference play didn’t matter

The seeding of a number of teams indicates that this committee didn’t take regular-season conference performance into consideration much at all. And that is a bad message. Conference record is supposed to matter. It’s a posted criterion.

Mechelle: Finding some flaws in this year’s women’s NCAA tournament bracket

I come here not to bury the NCAA women’s selection committee, nor to praise it. More to say, “This 2017 bracket has some flaws.”

It seemed kind of a step backward after a good run of brackets that appeared to add up, if you will, for the past few years. There was a time when that wasn’t the case. Looking back to the early to mid-2000s, there sometimes were more questions about the committee’s decisions than there were good answers.

To its credit, the NCAA really worked on this, meeting with journalists who covered the sport in 2007 to talk frankly about what both sides were seeing as problems and how to try to solve them. Then the mock-bracket opportunities with both coaches and media, which started in 2008, helped clarify the process. There is no doubt the NCAA has improved its women’s basketball brackets in the past decade.

However, this 2017 bracket has just enough head-scratchers to puzzle you. Part of this, we understand, is that the women’s committee faces one big issue that the men’s committee doesn’t really worry about: attendance.

Staley believes Gamecocks deserve more respect

On the flip side:

UNI earns first at-large NCAA Tournament bid

A tense moment inside the Northern Iowa film room quickly turned into jubilation Monday night.

March Madness: Cal women get surprise

Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb announced her engagement Monday on Twitter to long-time partner Patrick Martin.

Later in the day, all she could talk about was the Golden Bears’ surprising ninth seed in the Oklahoma City region of the NCAA tournament.

“I’m trying to just keep it all together,” Gottlieb said Monday night.

From Doug: UConn, Irish, South Carolina, Baylor top seeds in women’s NCAAs

“I worry sometimes about being at home. I worry about the distractions that kids have,” Auriemma said. “When you are on the road you can just huddle everybody up and you can eliminate a lot of distractions. Sometimes the officials get funny against the home team in the NCAA Tournament.” 

While the Huskies won’t have to leave the state until potentially heading to Dallas for the national semifinals, the other No. 1 seeds aren’t as lucky. South Carolina is the top seed in Stockton, California. The Gamecocks are headed out of the Eastern time zone for the third time in four seasons. The Gamecocks’ lone trip to the Final Four came when they played a regional in Greensboro in 2015.

Expert picks: Breaking down the bracket

Hardest region

Oklahoma City: Baylor won’t have to travel far. Mississippi State was at one point this season considered a No. 1 seed. Washington has the nation’s best player in Kelsey Plum. Louisville has beaten Baylor in a regional before. And Tennessee has beaten two of the four No. 1 seeds this year. — Creme

Oklahoma City: From Mississippi State’s defense to Kelsey Plum’s singular talent to DePaul’s pace to the Siren-like one-game potential of Louisville and Tennessee, Baylor’s quadrant of the bracket is a maze of unique challenges. — Hays

Lexington: The top of this region looks much like it did last year, when it was also in Lexington, and No. 1 Notre Dame didn’t make it out then. Standing in the way this year for the Irish might be regional host Kentucky, and then possibly Texas or Stanford; the Cardinal ousted the Irish a year ago. — Voepel

For the Win has 5 important takeaways from the NCAA women’s basketball tournament bracket

4. Maryland got hosed.

The committee clearly wasn’t impressed with the Big Ten Conference in women’s basketball, either — Michigan not making the field is stunning — but the 30-2 Terrapins’ No. 3 seed is particularly stunning. One of their losses came in a close, memorable one to UConn, and the other was at Ohio State, the conference’s only other high-level team. The Terps didn’t have many great wins (No. 4 seed Louisville stands tallest), but their résumé was much less blemished than several No. 2 seeds.

FiveThirtyEight notes: UConn Is Facing Its Toughest Tournament In Years

The women’s NCAA tournament bracket is out, and the Connecticut Huskies have a 52 percent chance to capture their 12th national championship and seventh undefeated season under coach Geno Auriemma, according to our March Madness predictions.

You can check out their game-by-game predictions if you’d like some help filling out your brackets.

Graham offers Five burning questions off the women’s NCAA tournament bracket

1. How long will the tournament’s other headliner be around?

With apologies to Baylor, Notre Dame and South Carolina, No. 1 seeds all, there are two main acts in women’s basketball at the moment. One is Connecticut and its pursuit of a fifth consecutive national title, 113 consecutive wins and perhaps some viticulture awards for Geno Auriemma.

The other is whether someone who has already scored more points than any player in college basketball history can score sufficiently more points to again borrow some of the Final Four spotlight from those other Huskies. It would be one final way for Washington’s Kelsey Plum to get the best of Jackie Stiles.

Moving to the matchups…Mechelle: UConn is once again the heavy favorite — but what obstacles might await?

So, as we asked at the start, what could lead to UConn losing? The Huskies virtually never beat themselves, so it’s going to take an opponent having a very, very good game.

The Huskies could face an annoyed Syracuse team in the second round; the Orange can’t be happy with their No. 8 seed or their placement. Last year, these teams met in the national championship game, won 82-51 by UConn.

Still, the odds of the Huskies losing at home are pretty close to zero. So we move to the Bridgeport Regional, and this is where it could get interesting. Maybe.

USA Today offers up 2017 NCAA women’s tournament: Oklahoma City region capsules

 

In preparation: March without the madness: Maryland women’s basketball looks to strike a balance

On the last Thursday before their most important stretch of the season, the Maryland women’s basketball team held a brief practice and then scattered across the country. Guard Kristen Confroy visited her brother and his two kids in Nashville. Scoring star Shatori Walker-Kimbrough went to see her family in Pittsburgh. Destiny Slocum headed home to Idaho. Head coach Brenda Frese went on a weekend getaway with her husband to Miami, where they drank red wine, read books and walked along the beach.

This is the time for a frenetic overdose of basketball, not the time for wine and beaches, right? Why not stay in College Park and clean up some defensive principles?

“All you can do is grind your kids more,” Frese said by way of explanation. 

Dan says Hi, Flyers: Lady Vols get No. 5 seed, date with Dayton and John Adams: Lady Vols have proved they can’t overlook a No. 12 seed

Tennessee’s wins mattered more than its losses. How else can you interpret its No. 5 seeding in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament?

Again, if your team missed the NCAA, check out the WNIT.

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Clock watching….

Gives me time for D3 HOOPS!!!  Get more in the Locked On Women’s Basketball podcast where Howard Megdal is joined by D3Hoops.com Atlantic columnist Sarah Sommer to talk about the D-III Final Four, which plays out this coming weekend: Tufts, Amherst, Christopher Newport and St. Thomas.

Vote now to decide best HandClap Hoopla

FYI – if you’re cool (AND wanna show folks care about NCAAWBB) Sign up for the 2017 Women’s Tournament Challenge now:

Mechelle: There’s more to women’s NCAA tournament than UConn…Just like there’s more the the NCAA than the top 10….

From the Gazette Times: Pivec gives Beavers a spark

“Mik learns so fast,” junior center Marie Gulich said. “She’s not just a talent, she’s a fast learner and soaks everything in. Even when (the coaches) talk to the post players she looks and listens and she learns all positions.

“I like how she puts it all together. It’s hard as a freshman sometimes to put it all together and she’s able to. It’s obviously amazing and you can see what she’s doing on the court for us.”

Gulich is especially happy with the effort Pivec puts forth on the glass.

“She doesn’t fear contact or anything and that’s super important as a rebounder,” Gulich said. “She’s super athletic, she can hold people off, she can jump.

From the Super Syracuse Coverers at Syracuse.com: 12 years after last cancer treatment, Syracuse women’s basketball player readies for NCAAs

The pediatric surgeon put one hand on Abby Grant’s shoulder and told her to wait outside.

The paper he held in his other hand contained an analysis of the lump he removed from the back of her head of few days earlier. But Abby, only 8, wasn’t allowed to hear.

So the doctor addressed her parents for more than an hour as Abby sat alone in the waiting room.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” the surgeon said to Abby’s parents Dale and Joanie. “She has cancer.”

“Is she going to die?” Joanie asked.

“I don’t know,” the doctor said. He wasn’t an oncologist.

Silver Anniversary Award recipient Susan Robinson Fruchtl earned an exercise & sports science degree from PSU

80+ LGBTQ Organizations Join HRC and Athlete Ally in Urging NCAA to Reaffirm Commitment to Inclusion

The letter, addressed to NCAA President Mark Emmert and the Board of Governors, comes as the organization is deliberating about where to hold future championship tournaments and major events. HRC, Athlete Ally and organizations including the ACLU, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the National Black Justice Coalition and Campus Pride, are calling on the NCAA to continue to prioritize localities or states with inclusive non-discrimination laws and avoid those that explicitly discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

“The NCAA has stood strongly behind their commitment to building inclusive events, and we ask that they reaffirm that promise,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “With anti-LGBTQ bills advancing in dozens of states across this country, athletes, fans and workers must know that the NCAA will continue to have their backs and avoid locations where the safety and wellbeing of any person is put at risk.”

FIBA: When Trooper met Staley

As she walked from the far end of the arena where the locker rooms were, Staley sized up the lean, dark-haired guy rolling around, putting up shot after shot from distance. Atlanta would be the second of four Paralympic teams for Trooper Johnson, then 32, a certified gym rat who had dedicated himself to the game after an accident during his freshman year in college left him paralyzed.

She was about to find out how much.

After a brief introduction, the camera man asked them to just shoot around for a bit. The ball was tossed to Staley who casually dribbled towards Johnson who immediately hand-checked the former two-time player of the year at the University of Virginia.

Ugly? Daron Park exits Cal State Fullerton women’s basketball amid allegations of misconduct

Eight former players talked to the Daily Titan in recent days detailing allegations, including threats to take away scholarships and verbal abuse.

Saturday, the athletic department announced that Park was “stepping down” from the team and that the two sides “mutually decided to part ways.”

One of Park’s former players said phrasing his departure as “stepping down” was letting him off too easy. 

“I think it’s a huge cop out,” said former CSUF women’s basketball player Jessica Palmer. “It’s all, excuse my language, but bulls***.”

Over at Excelle, Sue’s got her WNBA Mock Draft Monday, version 1.0 (And wherever the draft is held, it won’t be at the Mohegan Sun… ESPN studios, anyone?)

So you think you can coach? Hoopfeed has a list of openings. *sigh* I remember when the WBCA (and ESPN) would do this, too.

So you think you can write? Sports in American History: Call for Submissions: Title IX at 45 Blog Series

In 2012, celebrations of Title IX’s 40th anniversary included cultural analyses of how the law impacted women’s sport. Prominently, ESPN produced a Nine for IX series (in the vein of their 30 for 30 documentary series) that explored the advances and challenges faced by women athletes, coaches, and journalists. This blog series aims to continue these conversations about the impact Title IX has had on girls’ and women’s sport, physical education, and exercise.

The editors of this blog series seek submissions for posts that examine a wide variety of topics regarding Title IX. Submissions may include, but are not limited to, posts that look at specific athletes or teams directly affected by Title IX, the challenges still facing women and girls in sport, the legal implications of Title IX, controversies that have arisen in the 45 years since the law’s implementation, and how differing impacts of Title IX work together (e.g., sexual harassment and sport).

Full post submissions should be 1,500-3,000 words, written for a general audience, and include hyperlinked and/or endnote citations. Posts will be reviewed by guest editor Colleen English and the Sport in American History editorial team. For full considerations, please submit posts by May 26, 2017. Questions and submissions should be emailed to SportinAmericanHistory@gmail.com.

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Aaaaand that’s a wrap!

Last, but not late, to the Dance – and there was plenty of drama:

Holy Free Throws, Batwoman! Just check out this opening paragraph from the AP:

Bronaza Fitzgerald, a 47 percent free-throw shooter who had missed her other four attempts, made two from the line with five seconds left, giving UNC Asheville a 49-48 victory over top-seeded Radford on Sunday for a second straight Big South Tournament championship and trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Bucknell is back: It took overtime, but the Bison are going to the Dance for the first time since 2008 courtesy of a 79-71 win over Navy.

“Right now I think it’s all about enjoying this,” Bucknell head coach Aaron Roussell said. “We’ve worked so hard for this. I am very much indebted to the three seniors. They committed to a program that was 5-25 and they came here because they wanted to win. From day one they have made an impact on this program. A lot of players came through here before this that helped build this, too. They should feel like they are a big part of this, too.”

Coaching: Down 1 with 14 left, gets the block. UNI calls a timeout, draws up a play. Ellie Herzberg hits a clutch 3 to give the Panthers a 2-point lead with 5 seconds left. Drake time out. Draw up a play. Caitlin Ingle hits a game-tying 2 with one second left. OT. Then it was “Ingle Time” as the Bulldogs pulled away, sealing their bid to the NCAA with a 74-69 win.

Ingle led a group of four Bulldogs in double figures, an effort which included 15 points from Becca Hittner, 13 from Wendell and a double-double from Jonas.

The Missouri Valley’s career assists leader dished out seven of them Sunday and grabbed three rebounds.

“We talk all the time about what Lizzy and Caitlin do for our team. Everybody saw it today,’’ Drake coach Jennie Baranczyk said. “Caitlin does[n’t] care if she has five points and 11 assists or if she scores like she did today. That’s senior leadership. They willed us to this win over a great UNI team that deserves to be in the NCAA tourney. We both deserve to hear our name called (tonight).’

Stephen F. Austin was no match for Central Arkansas, as the Bears cruised to a 60-35 win.

“They’ve worked hard all year and never lost sight of the goal,” said Central Arkansas head coach Sandra Rushing, the 2017 Southland Conference Coach of the Year. “To do it back-to-back says a lot about this group of young ladies. We beat a very good basketball team in SFA, and I have a lot of respect for the job that they do there. The second one was harder. A lot harder. You win the first one, and people are hungry. You wonder if your players are still going to have that hunger in their gut – and they did.”

Bryant tried to come back in the fourth, but Robert Morris had built too much of a lead. The Colonials move on to the Tourney behind Anna Niki Stamolamprou. The guard from Greece was MVP.

“It was our last game at the Sewall Center,” said Stamolamprou, the tournament MVP who added nine rebounds and five assists and chucked the ball to the rafters at the final buzzer. “We couldn’t let (the lead) go.” 

Sewall Center, home to men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball since 1985, will be razed this summer and replaced by the $50 million UPMC Events Center.Howard believes the facility will increase the school’s profile. 

“Winning also does that,” he said. “You need the facility, and you need the people who have the heart and soul.”

FGCU had to comeback against Stetson to get back to the NCAA’s for the fourth time in six years. Interestingly enough, it was not threes but rebounds that got the Eagles the 77-71 victory.

The FGCU women’s basketball program has won 404 games in its 15 years of existence. None sweeter than this.

Bigger? Yeah, maybe a couple. But to fully grasp the significance and richness of this, you have to go back a year. For it was in this game on their home floor, that the seemingly invincible Eagles lost and did not go to the NCAA Tournament. The best team in school history had fallen short and nine seniors walked out the door.

There were more scholarships available than unavailable 11 months ago as this premier program was suddenly very vulnerable.

Heck, just getting to the conference title game was fairly remarkable.

In the first Ivy league tournament, it was Penn grabbing an early lead and holding on for the 57-48 win. Next up: the Big Dance.

Penn coach Mike McLaughlin had a front-row seat for almost every minute of the five Ivy League tournament games that preceded the women’s final. He watched a weekend full of tight finishes, big shots and ample drama. 

When his team’s turn came Sunday evening, there was almost none of that.

Troy held off upstart UL Lafayette 78-64 to repeat as Sun Belt champs and earn a spot in the Dance.

“I feel like we wore (Louisiana-Lafayette) down, but their hearts wouldn’t let them stop,” said Troy coach Chanda Rigby, a former Loranger High School coach. “We identified what we needed to do last year, and rebounding was it.”

As we prep for Made It In Monday…and wonder about these Five Questions Charlie has….

WHWorld: Six Pac-12 teams expected to make NCAA field

Detroit Free Press: Despite late slide, Michigan women’s basketball should make NCAAs

For the first time in three years, Kim Barnes Arico and her team should be able to enjoy the NCAA tournament selection show.

Even though the Wolverines lost four of their final five games, they enter Monday’s announcement (7 p.m., ESPN) confident they’ll be in the field.

Where they land is less certain.

Orange County Register:  UCLA women’s basketball team prepares for Selection Monday

espnW: McCallie mother and daughter are both headed to the NCAA tournament

More on Debbie: A female analyst on men’s NCAA hoops doesn’t need to be the angle

If timing is everything, Antonelli has waited things out right under the bosses’ noses. With CBS for this event recently as a sideline reporter, and working for years on women’s games for CBS Sports Net, she should have been on the network’s radar long ago. She’s thankful the call has come now, because it’s not something she’s been lobbying for.

“You know, I don’t even have an agent, and I never have had one,” said Antonelli, who started three seasons at North Carolina State under coach Kay Yow and graduated with a double major in business management and economics. A masters in sports administration came at Ohio University, where she met her husband-to-be, Frank, and she then began a career in marketing. That led to her pitching a package of Ohio State women’s games to a local TV station that included her as the game analyst.

Tough news for a program on the rise: Marshall women’s basketball coach Matt Daniel resigns

Bye: Cal State Fullerton: Daron Park steps down as head coach

From Blue Star: Accelerating the women’s basketball coaching carousel

A couple of things that are interesting about what’s taken place thus far: First of all, this is a lot of jobs coming open so quickly. Last year there were 53 changes in Division I, surpassing the 40+ openings in two of the previous three seasons.

More importantly, none of the coaches leaving thus far has taken another coaching job. The lateral or upward head coaching moves figure to come later, when power conference jobs are filled, likely sparking another round of openings.

 

Funny what happens when you get serious about something: BSU women’s athletics embracing culture, producing historic year of championship success

The basketball team upset top-seeded Colorado State en route to its second Mountain West title and NCAA Tournament trip in three years. Senior Brooke Pahukoa became the second player in league history to be named tournament MVP more than once.

The same day, the 10th-ranked gymnastics team defeated No. 8 Denver and is on track to make its first team trip to the NCAA Championships in program history.

The Mountain West champion swimming and diving team is sending four athletes and five relay teams to NCAAs this week.

The volleyball team won the Mountain West last fall and went to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.

And it doesn’t end there. 

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Start packing your bags, kids!

You’re going to the Big Show!

For the first time in program history, Texas Southern win the SWAC title, upsetting Grambling, 77-66. Lucky them, they’re now going to the NCAA’s and, says Charlie, likely facing UConn. They don’t care!

After years of close calls, the Texas Southern women’s basketball team is finally going to the NCAA Tournament.

Joyce Kennerson had 29 points to lead the second-seeded Tigers to a 70-66 win over top seed Grambling State in the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship game on Saturday at Toyota Center.

“They’ve done something special,” TSU coach Johnetta Hayes-Perry said after the Tigers clinched the school’s first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament. “These ladies have had a few firsts this year and I’m excited to be a part of their first opportunity.”

Another first: Coach Charlotte Smith has completed the rebirth of the Phoenix program and is taking them to their first NCAA tournament. Elon did it the right way, going through the perennial CAA champs James Madison, 78-60.

“I’m hardly ever at a loss for words, but I’m still pinching myself because it still has not quite sank in yet,” Elon coach Charlotte Smith said. “I’m so extremely proud of this team and the efforts that we put forth in every single game in this tournament.”

It’s the culmination of Smith’s six years of program-building, highlighting the current senior class as the group that led Elon over the top. For the former national title-winning player at North Carolina, getting her team to taste success at this level has been driving her.

Make it two WNBAers-as-head-coaches in the NCAAs: For the second time in program history Montana State is going to the Dance. Their first time? When coach Tricia Binford was playing at Boise State – 1993. They took down a feisty Idaho State team, 62-56.

“When you talk about tournament time, it’s when your experience and your seniors need to carry your team and they did that today,” Binford said moments after guiding her team to a program-record 25th victory.

Ferris and Nordgaard did more than carry their team to a single victory. They reestablished the benchmark for program success. They shook off a heart-breaking loss to the Bengals on the same court here a year prior. They helped shepherd a young roster burgeoning with talent and came through time and again when the Bobcats needed them most.

Boom, there go the Rockets. Toledo upset their way through the MAC tourney, then used a strong fourth quarter to dominate Northern Illinois in the finals, 82-71.

Toledo won its first MAC Tournament title since it defeated Kent State in overtime in 2001. It was the Rockets’ first appearance in the title game since 2010.

“It’s been far too long,” said Toledo coach Tricia Cullop.

Tournament MVP Mikaela Boyd led the Rockets with 27 points. She had 14 rebounds, one block and two steals.

‘ware the Pirates. They upset Bethune-Cookman, who’d dominated the MEAC all season, 52-49.52-49. Hampton is now dancing, and so are all the folks lucky enough to hear their band.

“I thought the defense was sensational the whole game,” Six added. “That’s what won the championship for us.”

It was “unlikely. Improbable,” he added. “We’ve got three starters sitting on the sideline, and then Lupoe gets hurt. And we still find a way.”

Now, the quest is to find a way to win their first NCAA tournament game – something not done in eight tries.

Alllllllmost. The Gauchos did everything they could to take down Long Beach State, but Madison Montgomery’s clutch three late in the fourth made sure the 49ers moved on to the NCAA tournament.

The 49ers went from a 19-point second-half lead to trailing by a basket with under two minutes left, but the 49ers made huge plays down the stretch and then saw a potential game-winning shot from the Gauchos miss as Long Beach State claimed the championship and a spot in its first NCAA Tournament since 1992 with a 56-55 victory.

The celebration left 49ers head coach Jody Wynn completely overcome with emotion.

“This is why I came to Long Beach State,” she said. “I wanted to bring back a championship to the Beach.” 

Coach Trakh and New Mexico continued their dominance of the WAC, keeping Seattle at arms length throughout the game.

New Mexico State led 33-18 at halftime but was aware of the danger of becoming complacent.

“We do probabilities, what’s the percentage that we’re going to win this game, and it was about 75 percent,” Aggies coach Mark Trakh said. “And I said, weren’t the Atlanta Falcons 99.9 percent going to win that Super Bowl game? And they lost it. So it doesn’t always work.”

New Mexico State punched a ticket to the NCAA Tournament after winning its school-record 17th consecutive game. The Aggies will be looking for their first NCAA Tournament victory. “They’ve done an amazing job. I told them this was their legacy,” Trakh said. “They’re going to remember this forever. They’re going to come back and see those banners in the gym.”

Who’s left! If you forgot to “spring forward,” you’ve missed the start of the last day of qualifying.

Patriot: Bucknell v. Navy, CBSSN – now!

Southland: Central Arkansas v. Stephen F. Austin, CBSSN – 1pm.

Northeast: Bryant v. Robert Morris, ESPNU – 2pm.

A-Sun: Oooo…green and white rivalry! Florida Gulf Coast v. Stetson, ESPN3 – 3pm.

Missouri Valley: Under pressure! #20 Drake v. Northern Iowa, ESPN3 – 3pm.

Ivy: Deja vu all over again: Princeton v. Penn, ESPNU – 4pm.

Big South: Radford v. upset minded UNC Asheville, ESPN3 – 4pm.

Sun Belt: Courtesy of their upset of top-seed Arkansas-Little Rock, it’ll be UL Lafayette v Troy.

Well, yes: Drake women’s basketball deserves better

Corvallis Times: Putting together tournament field one big puzzle

Having the No. 1 conference based on the RPI has been a source of pride for the Pac-12 women’s basketball coaches this year.

Most of the conference coaches have bought in to trying to schedule better nonconference opponents in an effort to increase the conference’s standings around the conference.

And while that has been the case, that won’t necessarily mean conference teams on the bubble will have a better chance of getting into the field of 64 when the brackets are announced beginning at 4 p.m. Monday.

My Dayton: ‘Nerve-wracking’ wait almost over Dayton women’s basketball team

UConn Women’s Insider: Experts Take An Early Look At The Bracket

Whichever team lands in Stockton will face an adjustment if it prevails and returns to Dallas for the Final Four.

“If you go to Stockton, you go out and you get acclimated to that time zone and you play,” ESPN analyst and former Georgia coach Andy Landers said on the teleconference. “That’s a challenge, but that’s not as great a challenge as returning back and preparing for, let’s say a Final Four when you advance to that point. … The time zone presents a challenge.”

.com: By the Numbers: Can Anyone Slow Down Washington’s Kelsey Plum

OSU women’s basketball: Beavers get a much-needed short break

Open: Smith dismissed as ISU women’s basketball coach

Val Ackerman on The rise of women’s sports

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Best Worst Kept Secret Revealed

Dawn Staley will coach the USA Basketball Senior team.

Mechelle: Dawn Staley was destined to take over U.S. senior team — but it’s a barrier-breaking hire, too

Staley has never talked a great deal about being a trailblazer, even though she is. It’s certainly not that she’s unaware, but she has usually wanted to focus more on being judged on her merits, which is understandable. Her many credentials are manifest, and they’re why she got this job. But it’s still an important and inspiring milestone that hopefully serves to keep dismantling barriers that never should have existed.

She now will have to balance being head coach of two entities, as Auriemma has done the past eight years, but she has plenty of practice multitasking. 

The State: Staley ready to lead the Red, White and Blue

Staley learned of her appointment last week when she received a call while scouting a game at the SEC women’s basketball tournament in Greenville.

“I was elated, but calm,” she said. “I didn’t want to bring any attention to it, but I was shocked. It was a surreal moment. Even though you put your name in the hat, you never know what’s going to happen. Needless to say, I didn’t continue to scout that particular game. Thank God for assistant coaches because they were paying attention to the game.”

Philly.com: Dawn Staley ‘honored’ to take USA Olympic women’s basketball reins

“I am incredibly humbled and honored to be head coach of our U.S. national team,” Staley said at the USA Basketball press conference Friday afternoon. “It means a great deal to me to represent my country, to wear the red white and blue.”

Growing up in Philadelphia, Staley, who was a high school star at Dobbins, didn’t initially dream she would reach this position with USA Basketball. Through hard work, dedication, and perseverance to her craft, her role in the organization blossomed.

“I didn’t see this moment ever happening because I just wanted to be a part of one Olympic Games,” Staley said. “And through dreams arise other dreams.”

NBA Olympics: Dawn Staley believes Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird will try for 2020 Olympics

Read. These. Two. Books: Shooting from the Outside and Venus to the Hoop.

Speaking of barrier (re)breaking, Juliet Macur at the NY Times: Another Woman at the March Madness Mike? That Only Took 2 Decades

When Debbie Antonelli got the phone call from CBS Sports a month ago, asking her if she was interested in working this year’s N.C.A.A. men’s basketball tournament as an on-air analyst, she said, “Yes, of course.” How could she not be?

After 29 years as a sideline reporter and analyst at hundreds of games, after thousands of miles traveling and thousands of hours studying teams and plays and players, Antonelli, 52, was being asked — finally — to be a leading voice at what she considers basketball’s Super Bowl.

Her husband, Frank, congratulated her. Her three sons were excited, too.

“My sons said a few ‘wows’ and ‘Ooh, I hope you get this team and that team,’” Antonelli said Wednesday in a phone call from the car-pool line at her youngest sons’ high school. “But my coolness factor lasted about three minutes.”

Syracuse.com: It’s been a ‘rocky year’ as Syracuse women’s basketball prospect adapts to college game

Syracuse women’s basketball freshman guard Desiree Elmore isn’t used to asking for assistance when it comes to issues involving the sport.

And why would she be? Elmore was a five-star recruit coming out of high school in Hartford, a jewel of head coach Quentin Hillsman’s recruiting class.

“It’s always been hard for me to ask for help. I’ve always been very independent,” she said.

But Elmore has picked up many important lessons as a new student of the college game this year. One of them came by necessity: when things aren’t going your way, you better start reaching out for some guidance.

Walk-on getting more love: UConn’s former walk-on Lawlor shooting for her fourth title

ESPN Award Time! Green Bay’s Mehryn Kraker, Drake’s Jennie Jennie Baranczyk earn espnW honors

When she first took the court to play in the Green Bay women’s basketball summer pick-up games, Mehryn Kraker thought she had made a mistake. She thought maybe she wasn’t cut out for this.

These people were out of their minds.

Five years later, the espnW mid-major player of the year is the embodiment of a particular brand of obsession that has produced at least a share of 19 consecutive conference titles.

Trio of Huskies headline espnW All-America first team

UConn had a big three last season. Although the names have changed, the Huskies have a big three again this season. And none of them are seniors. That’s scary for everyone else.

No surprise: Washington senior Kelsey Plum is espnW’s national player of the year

Washington‘s Kelsey Plum became the leading scorer in NCAA-era women’s basketball this season, breaking Jackie Stiles’ 16-year-old record. That alone would be qualification for her to be named our espnW national player of the year.

But let’s be frank: For the first time in a few years, this award wasn’t a foregone conclusion before the season started. That was pretty much the case the last three years as Connecticut’s Breanna Stewart was the best player on the best team.

Good news for the Ducks: UConn’s Geno Auriemma is espnW’s coach of the year, while Oregon’s Ionescu named top freshman

A year ago at this time, it was unknown where Sabrina Ionescu would be going to college. In fact, it wasn’t until June 2016 that the multifaceted 5-foot-10 guard announced she would play for Oregon.

Ionescu, who is from Walnut Creek, California, took her time — and then some — reaching that conclusion, wanting to be absolutely sure of her choice. On court, her decision-making is more of the lightening-fast variety, which contributed to an astonishing four triple-doubles in her rookie season.

Also: Bracketology braces for 16 bids over the weekend

Want some insight on the committee’s process? What is a team sheet? Inside the March Madness selection tool

And more: 10 Questions With Women’s Basketball Committee Member Mary Ellen Gillespie

The biggest challenge is the pressure to get it right. I have a sign at my desk that I look at every day, and it says, “For the good of the game, let’s get it right.” So preparation is key. And that brings on the second biggest challenge, and that is time. On top of regular committee meetings and calls, I need to make time to watch games, time to gather intel on teams through conference liaisons, time to digest information from coaches on regional calls, time to analyze the additional data that is available to us. The volume of information available is incredible and very helpful to us in getting it right. Last year was my first year on the committee, and it is overwhelming just trying to organize yourself, manage time, etc. That’s probably why it’s a five-year commitment — it takes one whole year just to figure it all out!

Speaking of bids… They’re baaaaaaaaack! Albany over Maine, 66-50.

“It was night-and-day the first and second quarter,” said Albany coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee. “There was no panic in our game.

“(Maine) came out of the gate hard and had nothing to lose. We played tight, with everything to lose. Nerves calmed down and we played lock-down defense … we started to play more like us.”

Also dancing, Boise State, courtesy of a 66-53 win over Fresno State.

The Broncos have won 10 in a row and a program-record 25 games. Pahukoa was named the tournament MVP while fellow senior Yaiza Rodriguez was named an all-tournament selection.

“She is someone that I’ve talked about a lot that has competitive greatness,” Boise State head coach Gordy Presnell said. “She has the ability to be great when you have to be great. And that’s Brooke Pahukoa.”

*Semi* Upset: Southern Mississippi roared back in the fourth to knock off Middle Tennessee State, 59-54.
Upset: UNC-Asheville hasn’t had the headline-making season they had last year, but the did overcome the Fightin’ Camels of Campbell, 64-55, to move into the semis of the Big South.
Very much an upset: UC Santa Barbara exploded in the second half to take down UC Davis, 73-59.

Gotta run a professional development in the morning, but you should check out these Saturday Games:

MAC Finals: Toledo v. Northern Illinois, 11am, CBSSN

MEAC Finals: Bethune-Cookman v. Hampton, 3pm, ESPN3.

SWAC Finals: Grambling v. Texas Southern, 3pm, ESPN3.

Big Sky Finals: Montana State v. Idaho State, 3:05pm, ESPN

C-USA Finals: Western Kentucky v. Southern Mississippi, 5:30pm, CBSSN.

WAC Finals: New Mexico State v. Seattle, 6:00pm, ESPN3.

Big West Finals: Long Beach State v. UC Santa Barbara, 7pm. Why is this not on TV?

CAA Finals: Elon, looking very, very strong v. JMU, which fought back to defeat Drexel. 7pm. Why is this not on TV?

Wondering what’s Mike’s team doing while they’re waiting?

WNBA: Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Mercury Name Penny Taylor Director of Player Development and Performance – Phoenix Mercury

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Games On Tap Today!

So, while teams with mascots everyone knows have punched their tickets, there are still some great programs with committed coaches and hard working athletes looking to put on their dancing shoes.

Finals: The Mountain West features one that started hot, then stumbled v. another team that stumbled and then got hot.
Broncos (Boise State) v Bulldogs (Fresno State), 3PM EST… and no TV coverage?!!?

BSU women’s basketball team has talent, but a love for teammates makes bigger impact
Bulldogs women again playing for title, with history as guide

Finals: America East teams are staring at each other and saying, “So we meet again.”
Black Bears (Maine) v Great Danes (Albany), 4:30PM ESPNY

Interim coach builds on Barron’s foundation, guides UMaine women’s basketball team to title game
UMaine women will rely on defense if they’re to dethrone Albany
UAlbany women remembered they are Great Danes

Semis:

Upstarts in the MAC semis:
Broncos (Western Michigan) v. Huskies (Northern Illinois), 11AM, ESPN3
Rockets (Toledo) v Bulls (Buffalo), 1:30PM, ESPN3

Yes, the path looks clear to the MEAC title for Bethune-Cookman, but let’s not make any assumptions, shall we?
Rattlers (Florida A&T) v Wildcats (Bethune-Cookman), 12PM, ESPN3
Aggies (North Carolina A&T) v Pirates (Hampton), 2PM, ESPN3

SWAC features some old friends:
Jaguars (Southern) v. Tigers (Grambling), 1PM
Hornets (Alabama) State v Tigers (Texas Southern), 7PM EST

WAC Semis feature a little David v. Goliath.
Talk about upstarts, it’s 9-21/3-11) Wolverines (Utah Valley) v. Redhawks (Seattle), 5:30PM ESPN3
Undefeated in conference play, it’s the Aggies (New Mexico State) v the ‘Roos (UMKC, 4-10), 3PM ESPN3

Big West semis features an old friend…
Gauchos (UC Santa Barbara) v (Aggies) UC Davis, 3PM ESPN3
CSU Northridge v Long Beach State, 5:30ESPN3

Big Sky
Vikings (Portland State) (8-10) v Bengals  (Idaho State) (10-8), 2:30PM, ESPN3
(Eagles) Eastern Washington v Bobcats (Montana State), 3:30 ESPN3

CAA
Tribe (William & Mary v. Phoenix (Elon), 4:30PM
Dragons (Drexel) v Dukes (James Madison), 7PM

Patriot
Eagles (American) v (Bison) Bucknell, 5:ooPM
Black Knights (Army) v Middies (Navy), 7:30PM

C-USA
Lookee here, it’s the Techsters (La Tech) v. the Hilltoppers (Western Kentucky), 5:30PM
Southern Mississippi v Blue Raider (Middle Tennessee State), 8:00PM

 

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Come on back, y’all…

What a (two) seasons it’s been for Marquette coach Carolyn Kieger. Last year picked to finish last in the conference, this year her team team toppled the Blue Demons to earn their first (new) Big East title and a trip to the NCAAs . (Nice SportsCenter moment by Natisha Hiedeman at the end of the first, too.). Like UConn, with their win over #17 DePaul the Golden Eagles are now 6-0 when playing a ranked foe.

“I think the thing I think of right now is our players are going to remember this for the rest of their lives and I am so happy for that,” an emotional Marquette head coach Carolyn Kieger said. She is the second youngest coach to win a BIG EAST Championship. “To do it at my alma mater in front of people that I love and care about really is a dream come true.”

It was a battle, but rough second period by Detroit Mercy guaranteed Green Bay persevered to win their third straight Horizon title. The Titans’ impressive season shouldn’t be done:

“We could make a run in the WNIT, especially with how we’re playing right now,” said Ristovski, a senior forward from Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett. “We’re pretty confident, even though we lost (Tuesday). We still beat every team in the Horizon League this season.”

Talk about battles: Down 4 with 13 seconds left, IUPUI went went ahead, only to see Western Illinois’s  Taylor Hanneman hit a three to send the game into overtime. The Leathernecks then pulled ahead of the Jaguars, ultimately securing a trip to the NCAA by winning their first Summit League tournament title since 1995. (Great reaction by the WIU men’s baseball team)

“We’ve had so much heartbreak here, not only this team but this program I think deserves a break,” WIU coach JD Gravina said. “At the same point, some crazy things happened for them to get the lead in regulation, a backboard 3, we miss free throws and whether you felt it was a fluky way to lose or a flukish way to win, sometimes fate favors the good at heart and that definitely doesn’t mean anything against IUPUI, they’re one of my favorite teams in the conference but, again, I can’t talk enough that this team deserves something good to happen.”

Upset alert: Colorado State women’s basketball knocked out of Mountain West tournament

The Colorado State women’s basketball team has owned the Mountain West recently, winning the past four regular season titles.

But the Rams’ reign hasn’t always been dominant, especially this season.

Having one of the nation’s stingiest defenses helped cover up a lot of their deficiencies throughout the regular season, but not in Wednesday’s semifinals of the Mountain West tournament.

Fourth-seeded Boise State managed to catch fire offensively in the second half, leading to 65-61 upset over the top-seeded Rams at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Another upset (MAC): Women’s basketball folds in final minute, bounced from MAC Tournament by Western Michigan

This time around it was WMU’s Najee Smith who crushed CMU’s dreams with a long 3-pointer at the top of the key. The Broncos snapped a five-game losing streak to the Chippewas and advanced to take on the winner of No. 4 Northern Illinois and No. 5 Ohio in Friday’s semifinals.

“It’s tough to swallow,” said head coach Sue Guevara. “Last year was hard, last year was hard. This year is worse.”

Despite her team’s short comings down the stretch, Guevara said WMU played well when it mattered most and that was the difference.

“I give Western Michigan a lot of credit,” she said. “I thought the last five minutes of the game their defense was the difference and big players make big shots and Smith hit a big fat one.”

Also upset in the MAC, 14-4 Ball State by 10-8 Buffalo.

In the last 33 seconds of Wednesday’s game, UB junior point guard Stephanie Reid was sent to the line four different times.

Ball State brought the game within one possession twice in the last 15 seconds, but every time they scored, Buffalo put the ball back in Reid’s hands.

Reid responded by hitting seven of eight free throws down the stretch to put the game on ice.

And another (MEAC): Howard falls to North Carolina A&T .

“I’m extremely proud of my team and my hat goes off to coach Ty Grace and the Howard Lady Bison, who had a tremendous season,” said head coach Tarrell Robinson. “For us, it feels good to be back in familiar territory as far as being in the semifinals and these seniors want to make the most of it.”

More upsets: Bryant upset Sacred Heart to set up their first-ever final in the NEC: They’ll go up against the perennial powerhouse, Robert Morris.

And yet another: In the Big Sky quarters, Portland State took down North Dakota, 65-62.

“Our length got to them,” said Portland State coach Lynn Kennedy. “They started to scramble around. We match up pretty well with them as far as length. They were stopping short of going to the rim. We had to protect the rim, especially after our game with them last week. They would try to attack and get the ball to their post players.”

Yes, I’m sounding like a broken record: In the WAC quarters, Utah Valley  (3-11) defeated USC Bakersfield (10-4).

“I told the girls I knew we could win this game and they made it happen,” said Cathy Nixon, who’s in her 22nd year as UVU head coach. “Every season’s a journey and this one’s been a rocky one in a lot of ways. But these girls stuck together and knew they could win. Tonight I could not be more proud of them.”

Guess what? Another upset. Big Sky saw Idaho State (10-8) squeak by Northern Colorado (14-4), 60-59.

A bucket with two seconds left from Idaho state University sends the UNC women’s basketball team home, ending their season and a chance to play in the NCAA tournament as they lose 60-59, in Reno.

ISU sophomore Saylair Grandon was able to maneuver through the top of the key, before pulling up and hitting the game-winning jumper.

“It was just a typical postseason game against two evenly matched teams. A lot of credit to Idaho State for coming into Reno with confidence and believing they can win here every year. We had the opportunities to stretch the lead out, but just couldn’t,” said head coach Kamie Ethridge.

And finally: In the Mountain West semis, Fresno State rallied in the fourth to upset UNLV, 53-51.

Almost an upset in the A-SUN- in what’s becoming a nice little rivalry – FGCU escaped Jacksonville, 68-64.

“Overall, today is a really exciting day for our program,” said head coach Karl Smesko. “It’s great to get back to the championship game and have a chance to get back to the NCAA tournament if we can beat a very good team.”

In other news:

From Harvey Araton: UConn’s Tierney Lawlor: ‘Rudy’ With a Ponytail

When the fateful telephone call came in the fall of their daughter’s freshman year at Connecticut, their beloved alma mater, John and Eileen Lawlor heard three prideful, empowering words from the big campus in Storrs.

“I did it,” she told them.

Immediately they knew exactly what she had done.

Tierney Lawlor had made the team. 

This ESPN article (The truth about juco women’s basketball, from players to coaches to pros)

The plaques glimmer across the walls in Rigby’s office at Troy. There is a framed newspaper clipping from 2011 when she guided her previous team, Pensacola State College, to the junior college nationals for the first time since 1985.

When Rigby looks, she sees more than wins.

She sees her former players, beaming and screaming, raising fists to the sky. Women whose ankles she taped, whose uniforms she washed, whose English papers she glanced over. Women she told day after day: You will become a college graduate. Women who eventually became four-year graduates. Division I players. Teachers. Pro ballers. Social workers. Coaches.

“There have been ups and downs, but they persisted,” said Rigby, who guided Troy to the NCAA tournament last season for the second time in school history and regularly recruits juco players. “A lot were first in their family to get a college degree.”

reminds me a bit of a piece I got to write for the WBCA back in the day (’07, Junior Colleges: Where Opportunities Knock)

Lin Laursen is pondering the opening to her Hall of Fame induction speech in Knoxville, and it goes something like this: “I’d like to thank my shoe sponsor, Payless…”

Curl knows whereof she speaks. “When you go in to a junior college as a coach, you learn very quickly that you’re going to drive the damn bus, you’re going to have five bucks a meal, you’re going to have a brown bag lunch on the way to the game,” said Curl. “You’re going to drive from Paris frickin’ Texas to Houston in six-and-a-half hours, get off a bus and play. Then drive back home that night and expect those kids to be in class the next day.”

“We’re paid to teach at this college,” said Laursen. “Coaching is a side stipend. But that’s why the coaches are here. Everybody always says, ‘Well, how many full rides do you have?’ No. We have money and I have to divide it up. I have to be an accountant and banker. That’s why we’re perpetually having fundraisers. Coaches come in and say, ‘What’s your per diem?’ I don’t even know what that means,” she deadpanned.

As for her players? “They get it all here – free tutoring. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday night they’re in study hall. They’ve already run this morning at 6am, and lifted. And I will see them on the floor at 3pm. And that’s the way it is.”

Congrats! DeWanna Bonner To Miss 2017 Season Due To Pregnancy

Hello! WNBA star Delle Donne brings message to South Bend

Speak up! Former WNBA player Kayte Christensen discovers her voice as a role model for sports-loving girls

As a gangly girl, the 6-foot-2 basketball player was a self-proclaimed “tomboy,” although no one would call her that now.

“The word ‘tomboy’ had a different connotation then,” Christensen said. “It didn’t have the same stigma on it that it does now. It was empowering in a way.”

Now, “tomboy” is primarily a put-down, a term meant to discourage girls from playing sports and “acting like boys.”

Christensen is featured in “Tomboy,” a new hour-long documentary produced by Comcast SportsNet California. Through first-person interviews, “Tomboy” explores the obstacles young girls encounter in sports, including stereotypes, language issues and cultural disparities. Its title strikes through the word “tomboy” to emphasize an end to its use.

Flashback to a story I missed by Alissa Solomon (longtime fans will recall her coverage of the Liberty for the Village Voice): LETTER OF THE LAW: HOW UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN WOMEN GOT THEIR VARSITY JACKETS (A FEW DECADES LATE)

The package arrived toward the end of July, containing a weighty blue woolen garment: the jacket I’d earned in the fall of 1974, playing varsity field hockey at the University of Michigan. Its cool and creamy leather sleeves gave the box the faint aroma of a new car, and when I eagerly put it on—despite the 92-degree heat—I felt my middle-aged heart pound with pride beneath its big yellow block ‘M.’ As the ecstatic postings on a two-month-old Facebook group page for Michigan Early Women Letter Winners suggest, the hundreds of alumnae who received varsity jackets this summer, decades after meriting them, felt such hammerings in their own chests.

It was precisely those sleeves and that ‘M’ that had delayed delivery long beyond the days when I’d last whacked a ball downfield or needed my shins taped up. In the mid-70s, when Michigan established varsity women’s teams, the men then in charge of athletics pitched a fit over the idea that women should earn the same awards as male athletes. The storied football coach, Bo Schembechler, whined that women wearing the leather-sleeved blue letter jackets would “minimize the value of the ‘M’ in the eyes of not only our players but the public who place such a high value on it.”

Inspired by yesterday, some more reading/viewing on women’s sports: A Hero For Daisy:

The speech read by Chris Ernst to Joni Barnett during the Yale women’s demonstration on March 3, 1976 starts:

Mrs. Barnett: These are the bodies Yale is exploiting.  We have come here today to make clear how unprotected we are, to show graphically what we are being exposed to.  These are normal human bodies.  On a day like today the rain freezes on our skin.  Then we sit on a bus for half an hour as the ice melts into our sweats to meet the sweat that has soaked our clothes underneath.

BTW, then freshman Ginny Gilder was there that day. Now part of the Force 10 who owns the Seattle Storm, you can check out her book “Course Correction: A Story of Rowing and Resilience in the Wake of Title IX/”

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kicking off (on purpose? by happenstance?)C5sCZOeWcAAjSrI.jpg

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So cool to see programs grow/recover/rise…

Detroit Mercy (12-6) won their first Horizon League conference game to get to the semis. They enjoyed it so much they just won their second HLC game. This time, they upset Wright State (15-3). Next up, Green Bay for the ‘ship.

“This past week has really proven that we’re ready to be in the championship,” said Detroit Mercy senior guard Rosanna Reynolds, who finished with 19 points, six rebounds and five assists. “Now, we just have to focus one more day.”

IUPUI has been revitalized, too. They take the Jackrabbits to OT in the Summit Semis and emerge victorious, 65-61.

…for the Jaguars, it was a long time coming.

“We were the team to beat, or the team people looked past, but this year our name is big now,” said senior Mikale Rogers, who scored 16 points and grabbed 18 rebounds.

“It means a lot to coach P (Austin Parkinson) and our team that IUPUI is the in the finals now. And we’re somewhere to fear now.”

Almost, but not quite. Another program that’s taking itself seriously is Omaha. They pushed the top team in the conference, Western Illinois, to the brink.  The Leathernecks responded, though, mounting a comeback and stealing a win, 84-82.

In a fast-paced, back-and-forth finish, Western Illinois coach JD Gravina’s offense came through.

“We hit big 3 after big 3, and hit six 3s in the fourth quarter, to go win a game,” he said. “Just to have the ability to do that, to have that firepower, is nice because you never feel like you’re out of the game.”

Hello three-bid Big East? With it’s upset of #23 Creighton, Marquette is knocking on the Tournament door. A win over #17 DePaul would seal the invite. The birder in me appreciates that the Blue Jays and Golden Eagles are soaring again.

“We’ve been talking about this since the beginning of the season. It’s just exciting to be a part of and to be actually playing in a championship game this year,” guard Amani Wilborn said.

Has any team had this kind of tournament run? West Virginia fell out of the rankings, adding some WTF losses and wins, then entered the Big 12 tourney ready to rumble. They knocked off #19 Oklahoma, then took down #12 Texas, then stunned #2 Baylor to earn themselves a trip to the Dance. (The Bears have beaten WVU twice this season: 91-56, 79-63). Let’s all say “hello” to Tynice Martin, shall we? From Mechelle:

“We had to peak now, or we wouldn’t be going to the tournament,” West Virginia coach Mike Carey said, adding that he was optimistic enough about the Mountaineers’ sticking around that he brought three shirts to the Big 12 tournament.

“But only two suits,” he said, grinning. “At least I didn’t have to go to the cleaners on this trip.”

The last time Mike needed extra suits was when he was in the Old Big East and went on a ridiculous run to end up facing UConn in the finals. Mountaineers were far tougher then than USF were last night against the Huskies. UConn came out like gangbusters and torched the Bulls. Samuelson went 10-10 on threes, her teammates were almost as perfect, and the rout (100-44) was on.

“There’s not much you can say, really, when you see something like that the way that it transpired,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “There’s really no way to adequately describe it because it’s just a feeling. We just had something going on that’s kind of hard to capture and we were able to capture it and hold on to it for a long, long time. It started off the first three, four possessions defensively and set a tone on how we wanted it to go. We hardly made any mistakes at all defensively and that got everything going down the other end.

More open positions:

Florida: UF women’s basketball coach Amanda Butler fired after 10 seasons

“Amanda obviously loves the University of Florida,” Stricklin said in a statement. “She worked tirelessly trying to grow this program and help it achieve consistent success, and her efforts will always be appreciated. These decisions are always difficult, and more so in this instance because of the person Amanda is and how well she is liked throughout our department.

“I believe this program has the resources and support to achieve sustained success and compete for championships.”

Florida Atlantic: FAU fires head coach Kellie Lewis-Jay

What’s going on at Cal State Fullerton? Leading scorer Iman Lathan becomes latest player to leave

Crap. I take some comfort in hearing the words “early stages.” Purdue’s Versyp diagnosed with breast cancer

“I feel incredibly blessed to have caught this in its earliest stages, and cannot stress enough the importance of regular screenings and mammograms,” said Versyp. “With an incredible support group around me from my family, my staff and our Purdue community, I know that I’ll beat this and come back stronger.”

A little W audio from Howard: Indiana Fever’s Marissa Coleman talks about the role of the WNBA player in media and politics, the WNBA draft age rules, the Women’s March, her Synergy defensive ratings and much more.

Up next:

NOW (stooopid work): Summit final – IUPUI v Western Illinois, ESPNU.

4pm WCC: Seems like (not so) old times… Gonzaga will battle St. Mary’s (who upset BYU), ESPNU.

9pm Big East: Depaul v. Marquette, FS1.

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Punched/Punched Out

So, nope: Chattanooga was not going to let Belmont go to the Dance this year. The Mocs roared back in the fourth  and took care of their So. Con. business, 61-59.

“We became tougher [throughout the season].” Foster said. “We did not start this game well, and we did not play well for a long time, and [Mercer] played very well. But when we made a basket or two and changed defenses, it energized us. You could see it, and you feel it. The baskets started to come after that.”

Again, nope: Dayton let the Dukes have their fun in the first, but came on strong in the last three quarters to seal their spot in the NCAAs, 70-56. Again, can’t state enough how impressive this season has been for the program – both the players and coaching staff (Graham? Where’s your pen at?).

Dayton junior Jenna Burdette stood near midcourt and raised her arms, and the Flyers bench went crazy as Kelley Austria hit a 3-pointer with 3:18 left to give her team a 66-52 lead.

The top-seeded Flyers, who trailed by nine points in the first quarter, toughened up their defense after that and defeated No. 7 seed Duquesne 70-56 on Sunday before 3,166 fans at the Richmond Coliseum to clinch a berth in the NCAA tournament.

“I felt like that was the dagger. I’m really glad it was Kelley,” said Burdette, named the tournament Most Valuable Player.

Again, nope, that’s not yours (yet). Maine (9-7) stunned New Hampshire (15-1) 61-52, denying the Wildcats an opportunity to go to the Dance. Shout out to the Black Bears, who’ve had some coaching absences this season. The America East Finals is a case of deja vu all over again, as the Albany Great Danes earned that right by escaping Hartford, 67-65.

More noping (and hoping coach Carey brought enough clean shirts. Shout out to the Old Big East!) as West Virginia clawed back to take down the #12 Longhorns, 62-59. Fair warning to Baylor: Mountaineer band plans for distractions ahead of championship game. And good news for WVa and the brackets.

In another upset, Central Connecticut (9-9) moved in the the semis of the NEC by defeating perennial power St. Francis (PA) (13-5), 65-57.

Lookee here: the feisty Mavericks of Omaha (8-8) toppled South Dakota (11-5), 64-58, to move into the Summit semis!

Been there. Done that. And now they’ve done it again.

But unlike last season, when they upset IUPUI in their Summit League tournament debut, the UNO women were all business after knocking off South Dakota 64-58 in Sunday’s conference quarterfinals.

Maverick coach Brittany Lange said she could tell immediately that her team was here for more.

“There was one person in the locker room celebration that acted like they hadn’t been there before, and it was me because I was so excited,” she said. “I saw the girls. They were so happy, but they were ready for the next. … They’re not selling themselves short. They’re ready to be focused for tomorrow.”

Rider unleashed the hounds in the fourth, outscoring Fairfield 24-8 in the fourth quarter (let’s not talk about the first three, shall we?) The MAAC finals will feature the two top teams in the league as Broncs will face off against Quinnipiac, who shook off Iona, 64-59.

Yes, both these winners and losers are going to the NCAA, but some of the games sure lacked for (offensive) style points.

#6 Mississippi State only scored 4 points in the fourth. Four. That helped #5 South Carolina earn their third SEC title in a row, 59-49. On again – and mostly off again – Kaela Davis was on.

With senior center Alaina Coates sidelined with an ankle injury, and junior forward A’ja Wilson battling the Bulldogs’ 6-foot-7 post Teaira McCowan, South Carolina needed someone else — along with Wilson — to have a huge performance. They got it from Davis.

“With Alaina out, we have to compensate and fill that hole,” said Davis, who had 23 points, five rebounds and three assists in a 59-49 victory over the Bulldogs.

(And no, Nell, you shouldn’t done a South Carolina/SEC champs on television. Love ya, but give at least the illusion of net-neutrality.)

Up by 10 after the first quarter, Oregon State couldn’t hold back the stubborn Cardinal. Stanford wins, 48-43, denying the Beavers a second straight Pac12 title. Got a great couple of quotes out of the game:

“It’s super satisfying,” Erica McCall said. “It’s like tasting your favorite candy.”

And from Tara:

“It wasn’t pretty, but it was gritty.”

Begone! Notre Dame let Duke hang around for the first part of the game, then turned on the afterburners. Irish earned their fourth consecutive ACC Tournament title.

“It’s the kind of thing you don’t really appreciate in the moment, but dang four straight years, we’ve done pretty well,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said.

Slow and steady won the race: #4 Maryland inched their way to victory over a persistent Purdue team, 74-64. Brionna Jones was spectacular (27 points/12 rebounds), but it’s interesting to note the shooting percentages: Terps 51%, Boilermakers 38%. How was this only a 10pt win? Maryland wins their third straight Big 10 title:

“They’re all indescribable,” coach Brenda Frese said 45 minutes after claiming the Big Ten’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. “What it means is we continue to take championships back home. I know they make it look easy, but it’s not.

Turn on the tube for:

Horizon Semi-Finals:
Milwaukee v. Horizon, 1pm EST, ESPN3

WCC Semi-Finals:
San Francisco v. Gonzaga, 3pm EST
St. Mary’s v.BYU, 5pm EST

Summit Semi-Finals:
South Dakota State v. IUPUI, 3:30
Omaha v. Western Illinois, 1pmEST

Horizon Semi-Finals:
Green Bay v. Milwaukee, 1PM ESPNU
Detroit Mercy v. Wright State, 3:30, ESPN3

MAAC Final:
Rider v. Quinnipiac, 5:00, ESPNU

Big East Semi-Finals:
Marquette v #23 Creighton, 4:00, FS1
St. John’s v. #17 DePaul, 6:30, FS1

American Final:
FSU v. #1 UConn, 7:00, ESPN2

Big 12 Final:
West Virginia v. #2 Baylor, FS1

 

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UPSETS

Purdue, who’s had a “what the heck is going on?” kinda season, topples #9 Ohio State, 71-60. (Charlie says that this gets the Boilermakers into the Tourney.)

McGuff was asked about Mitchell, who was held to single digits in scoring for the first time this season.

“She didn’t have a good game,” McGuff said. “She’s a spectacular player, one of the very best in college basketball and tonight wasn’t her night. But no one is going to work harder. No one will be in the gym more than she will. She’s going to make sure having an off night doesn’t happen again this year. I can assure you of that.”

Speaking of “what the heck?” seasons, West Virginia demolished #19 Oklahoma, 82-58.

Oregon couldn’t sustain their momentum after taking down #11 Washington, but did give #10 Stanford some food for thought in the first quarter.

They’re not yet to the Conference tourney, but Drake did manage to rack up the first undefeated MVC regular season.

Off to the side, coach Jennie Baranczyk was in a good mood. This team has always had big goals, she said, but after Saturday, she felt the need to take a moment and recognize the biggest one to date.

“Today’s a day for celebration,” Baranczyk said. “It’s awesome.”

A-10 tough. Shout out to a Dayton coaching crew that regrouped through sudden changes and injuries and got the Flyers past a strong St. Louis team and into the the Conference Finals. They’ll face the Dukes, who upset St. Joe’s, 78-63 at 12pm on ESPNU.

Speaking of moving on in the conference tourney – in her first year Coach Abe has UCF on the American semis. The Knights took down Tulane (yes, the team that pushed UConn.) 61-57. Lucky them – they get the Huskies next.

First ticket punched: Belmont completed their second consecutive run to the NCAA tournament by rolling over Eastern Kentucky, 94-64.

The Belmont University women’s basketball team (27-5) emphatically punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament for a second-straight season, defeating Eastern Kentucky, 94-64, Saturday afternoon in the 2017 Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Championship.

It was a near mirror image of the Bruins’ record-setting 95-63 victory over the Colonels one year ago.

Fun games today: 

The aforementioned Dayton v. Duquesne game. 12pm ESPNU.

Dukes Make Back-to-Back Appearances in Championship Final with Win Over SJU
 (BTW, cool: Duquesne to Make Major Investment in Basketball Program)
The Flyers Head To Their Fifth A-10 Tournament Final

The Southern Conference final features an old hand v. a relative newcomer: Chattanooga and Mercer. Both sport 12-2 conference records, but the Mocs beat the Bears by double digits during the regular season. 1pmESPN3.

Daniel Shirley: Chattanooga again standing in Mercer’s way of NCAA berth

“Like I’ve been saying all year, it just shows how we’ve evolved and grown as a program, how Coach has elevated this program to new heights, and it’s a really good testament to her,” Lawrence said of the program’s second straight championship appearance. “Obviously just the experience of being there last year will help us this year. We’ve gone over a lot of things that we didn’t do well, that we did do well. We’ve been watching a lot of film. We’re going to do some stuff (Saturday) in practice, and it will really help us out with the game plan going into (Sunday).”

Mercer gets another shot at Chattanooga
Chattanooga women roll into SoCon final

#11 Duke v #3 Notre Dame battle for the ACC title, 1pmESPN2. Clearly coach McCallie has gotten something right this season. Will it hold? The Irish held off the Blue Devils by 4 IN South Bend. Vicki (hi!!!) says Duke must find way to solve Notre Dame to return to top of ACC

Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie lauds her players for being very much in the moment, but they are also conscious of this program’s legacy in the ACC and what another conference title would represent.

“We walk around our locker-room hallways and all you see is history — the pictures hanging up and the title banners,” said sophomore guard Kyra Lambert. “People came before us and we’re just trying to fill those shoes and put up another banner.”

Jessika Morgan: Duke’s Lexie Brown reemerges on top after year off
Cole Winton: A familiar foe: Duke women’s basketball looks to dethrone top-seeded Notre Dame in ACC tournament title game

Time for  little regular-season revenge (who’re the refs? <g>) Mississippi State go up against South Carolina (minus Coates. Fingers crossed she’ll be back for the Tourney) for the SEC title. 3pm ESPN

Mississippi State playing for first SEC Tournament title
MSU notebook: Depth proves calling card for No. 6 Bulldogs
Keys to Repeat as SEC Tournament Champions
A’ja Wilson looks to lead South Carolina to third straight SEC title

Can the Mountaineers keep their groove going against the #12 Longhorns in the Big 12 semis? FS1 5pm.

Explosive Mountaineers Advance to Big 12 Semis
Texas Women’s Basketball Wins at Big 12 Tourney – Who’s Next?

See above, but substitute Purdue and #4 Maryland and make it the Big 10 finals. 7pm ESPN2.

Maryland women’s basketball to play for third straight Big Ten title after beating Michigan State
#4 Maryland Meets Purdue in B1G Championship
Purdue women take down OSU; face Maryland for title

Nine championships – the most of any conference program. A majority of those titles were expected. Others developed when the Boilermakers were underdogs.

Granted, Purdue hasn’t won a championship – it has to take down fourth-ranked and second-seeded Maryland in Sunday’s title game – but Saturday featured one of those scrapbook moments for the program.

Tonya Cardoza has her Temple Owls in to the semis of the American. They’ll face the conundrum that is USF at 7:30pm on ESPNU.

BULLS RALLY PAST SMU TO REACH CONFERENCE SEMIS
Fitzgerald Sets American Tournament Scoring Record (30pts) in TUWBB Win over Houston
Temple to Meet USF in Tournament Semifinals

So we meet again…. Oregon State will battle Stanford for the Pac-12 title at 9pm on ESPN2.

2017 Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament championship preview: Stanford vs. Oregon State
Top-seeded Oregon State reaches final of Pac-12 women’s basketball tournament
No. 10 Stanford women’s basketball marches on to final
Top-two seeds play for Pac-12 women’s basketball tournament title

Off the court:

ByeCooper-Dyke resigns as USC basketball coach. Coop has hopped from program to program, finally landing at her alma mater. Unlike Aston at Texas, she’s not been able to build roots. I called her a “script doctor” – someone who inherits a bit of a mess, makes some tweaks, sees some immediate improvement… but she can’t create her own script. Here’s hoping she takes some time to reflect and then, maybe, returns to college coaching with more stamina and vision. She’s been too important to the game to NOT have her around.

ByeDykes steps down as Arkansas women’s coach. Welp, that turned out the way folks thought, even when they were saying, “Give him a chance.” That being said, I wouldn’t want to scare Athletic Directors away from taking risks. Sometimes they DO turn out (witness Kim Arico Barnes at St. John’s. Everyone poo-pooed her ’cause she came out of Division 2 Adelphi, thinking the admin was disrespecting women’s basketball… the rest is history.) So, the questions for Arkansas, which has been in a freefall since the Collen era: what’s you’re commitment to your women’s program?

Don’t buy the cry: Tearful Mulkey ‘sorry’ for word choice in rant

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So, yeah, I’m at work but…

that doesn’t mean I’m not sneaking a peek.

First, about yesterday…

Truly, really, how does a Tennessee team that’s already lost to Alabama twice this season OVERLOOK them? That’s just a bad coaching/playing culture. Yes, the Vols will make it to the NCAAs, but this is the kind of bid that ticks me off. A less talented, more consistent team in a non-Power 5 conference won’t get the experience – and they deserve it a heck of a lot more. Boo.

Pretty amazing that Northwestern made it into the Big 10 quarters – but #9 Ohio State had no pity. 

#14 Louisville squeaks out a win over #17 North Carolina State, 59-58.

No Coates? No problem for South Carolina.

Big wins for Purdue and St. Louis to move into the semi-finals of their conference tourneys.

Trying to figure out what to follow?  espnW can help: Championship Week: Who will clinch an NCAA tournament spot?

Yep, we’ve noticed! Pat Caputo – OU women’s basketball, Jeff Tungate and turning a mess into success

It’s been a quick recovery for OU’s women’s program in the aftermath of scandal. Previous coach Beckie Francis was fired in 2013. Allegations surfaced Francis abused her players emotionally, and forced her religious beliefs upon them. Her husband, longtime OU president Gary Russi, resigned the same day.

Tungate, who was raised in Clarkston, was an assistant for OU men’s coach Greg Kampe. He was hired to pick up the pieces to the women’s program by former athletic director Tracy Huth and retained by current AD Jeff Konya. Oakland was 15-15 and 7-11 in the Horizon League last season, and 12-18 and 6-12 the season before.

‘’We’ve got a team with great chemistry that is committed to winning,” Tungate said.

WNBA

WNBA’S Diggins celebrates girls basketball and WNBA Star Skylar Diggins Spotlights Young Star Athletes on ‘Little Ballers Indiana’

2017 WNBA Mock Draft: Dallas Wings look to build quickly with three top-10 picks

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After Plum breaks Jackie’s record, ESPN Science breaks down the Pluminator’s silky smooth shooting.

No surprise: Washington’s Kelsey Plum headlines Starting Five

Gina Mizell: Sydney Wiese’s path to Oregon State stardom shaped by faith, family and basketball

Stepping inside Sydney Wiese‘s childhood bedroom also means stepping into “controlled chaos.”

Posters of icons ranging from former NBA and college stars Steve Nash and Jimmer Fredette to Hollywood heartthrob Robert Pattinson are plastered all over the blue walls and ceiling. Strategically placed motivational messages are handwritten in various colors. At least 20 basketballs, many of them flat after an unfortunate encounter with a cactus, are stuffed under the bed.

It’s a time capsule of sorts, since Wiese has not lived here full-time in nearly four years. But it gives a glimpse inside the Oregon State senior point guard’s mind and heart while morphing into one of the nation’s premier women’s basketball players for a team aiming to make another deep NCAA Tournament run.

From the Undefeated’s Andrew Maraniss: Diamond DeShields, daughter of former MLB player Delino DeShields, wants to be the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft

What have you done that’s different from what people expected?

For one, transferring. Life was good for me, I was playing well, but [North Carolina] just wasn’t for me. I wasn’t about to settle for a situation that looked good from the outside but wasn’t good for me. Also, a lot of times reporters and people talk about how well-spoken I am and it is almost as if they didn’t think I would be. I don’t know if that’s the case or not, but I really do pride myself on my speaking ability and the way I come off to others. I always try to make a good impression.

Do you feel like that response has a racial undertone?

Possibly. Especially being that I come from a family of athletes … We’re all working to break those racial stereotypes.

Alexis Peterson’s time has come: honor rewards patience of Syracuse women’s basketball star

As great a player as senior guard Alexis Peterson is for the Syracuse women’s basketball team now, it wasn’t that long ago when her primary view of the team’s games came from the bench.

Peterson was a four-star recruit out of Columbus, Ohio, but as a freshman she played only 12.3 minutes per game for Syracuse. She started just one game.

Her potential was clear, but, to hear her tell it, it took awhile for her to understand the college game and for her window to open.

Yea, Sherri’s kid: A MESSAGE TO A YOUNGER SELF – The lessons learned after four years can be numerous. Seniors Peyton Little, T’ona Edwards, Derica Wyatt, Shaya Kellogg and Gioya Carter tell their younger selves the valuable lessons they’ve learned in their Sooner career.

Florida’s Martin Fennelly writes: Yes, UConn’s winning streak is good for women’s basketball

It’s good for the game. We wouldn’t even be talking about women’s college basketball, ever, without UConn. OK, maybe when Baylor coach Kim Mulkey opens her mouth and something idiotic comes out. But mostly we wouldn’t care. The UConn women are another story.

You just have to accept that there are two worlds. There is the world of women’s college basketball that is wildly competitive. “There’s much more parity, that’s for sure,” USF coach Jose Fernandez said. Then there is UConn’s world. There is the Big Blue Machine.

Two hours before Monday’s game, Tony Russo and his wife were setting up a tailgate out of the back of their car.

A tailgate for a women’s basketball game in Tampa.

Only for UConn.

Looking ahead at a crowded awards field: The 2017 Naismith Women’s College Player of the Year Semifinalists have been selected

Doug has some input: A look at possible award winners in women’s hoops

Did you hear this? ESPN Commemorates Women’s History Month with Full Slate of Original Content and Programming throughout March

Did you watch this? ESPN’s “When I Play”

How about Devereaux Peter’s fabulous “Down and Dirty“? Love her humor and analysis.

Thanks, coach! Nevada head coach Jane Albright announces retirement

As we go into Conference Tourney time, it’s lovely to see two new names rising: Drake and Belmont lead way in final espnW mid-major poll of the season

The teams listed below have played nearly 300 total games, providing a pretty good sample size to assess them. Yet in most cases, each respective season now depends on what happens in two or three games in the days ahead. Such is the mid-major existence, when three days in March can either confirm or erase four months of work.

So for one last time before the NCAA tournament, let’s get to the rankings.

Wanna know a little more about coach Jennie Baranczyk’s Bulldogs? Ask Graham, who writes Seniors Lizzy Wendell and Caitlin Ingle are a class to remember at Drake

Caitlin Ingle and Lizzy Wendell didn’t know each other when they committed their basketball futures to Drake University. Little did anyone else know that the partnership they forged would outperform just about every other recruiting class in the nation.

A trip to the NCAA tournament is all that’s missing for two players who, at least as measured by points and assists, have done more than almost all of their peers. And they’re working on that tourney appearance.

Mechelle’s excited about the Competitive Power 5 conference tournaments about to tip off Championship Week

Charlie Creme, espnW’s bracketologist, is projecting eight teams each from the ACC and SEC will get bids to the NCAA tournament. With that many likely headed to the Big Dance, it should mean very competitive league tournaments coming up this week — and also some teams that could really help or hurt themselves.

Some coaches love conference tournaments; some hate them. And how the NCAA committee weighs the results isn’t always consistent year to year. But from the fans’ standpoint, the league tournaments can be a fun time to see a lot of teams in the same place, and maybe a few surprises.

Let’s take a quick look at the tournaments for the Power 5 conferences, all of which decide their champions Sunday or Monday.

LA Times: Pac-12 has a No. 1 rating in women’s basketball, and now it’s conference tournament time

While Connecticut rolls along with a 104-game winning streak and reigns as the No. 1 team in NCAA women’s basketball, the Pac-12 Conference has its own No. 1 ranking, as in Rating Percentage Index, making it the toughest conference in women’s basketball.

And the conference is basking in the positive publicity surrounding Washington’s Kelsey Plum, who became the NCAA all-time scoring leader after  getting 57 points last week against Utah to accumulate 3,397 points in her career.

So get ready for lots of suspense and unpredictability when the Pac-12 tournament begins Thursday at KeyArena in Seattle.

Here’s Charlie’s Bracketology so you can see where your teams are…

Thanks, LaChina, who goes “Beyond the Power Five”(ESPN, you might want to fix the link), but more importantly, she has a GREAT conversation with Mechelle Voepel about Kim Mulkey.

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