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:
Get your vote on: Which teams will advance to the national championship game?
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
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.
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.
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.
Aaron Johnson, Connecticut Post: Stubborn vision grows clearer for ex-Huskies turned coaches, Post
Adam Minichino, Commercial Dispatch: Finding right players has helped UConn remain gold standard
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: Michelle Smith @macsmith413
Covered Geno 4 years. He’s thoughtful, opinionated, unafraid & advocate 4 women. All true. But this was a weird swing-and-miss for him.
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.