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but the folks battling it out for the WNIT post-season championship are hanging out at the Charleston Civic Center, WV.

How they got there:

 West Virginia over Temple, 66-58 (OT).

The story book post-season run for the Temple women’s basketball team came to an end in the WNIT semifinals on Wednesday, as the Owls fell to West Virginia, 66-58, in overtime. Temple closes the 2014-15 campaign with a 20-17 overall mark. 

“I’m proud of my team, I’m proud of the way they fought tonight in a hostile environment,” said head coach Tonya Cardoza following the game. “We have some young guys and we let the game slip away, but I know this whole experience will help this program in the future.”

It’s not been an easy ride for the Mountaineers.

a month ago Carey refused to let the team practice in West Virginia gear because he was so upset with their effort and passion for the game.
 
“We had people who didn’t care if we won or lost. We had people that weren’t playing hard and we had people, in my opinion, that didn’t care about the state of West Virginia or West Virginia University,” said Carey.
 
“Sometimes you have to challenge people and as a lot of you know, I’m not afraid to challenge people because I’m very passionate about this state and this university,” he continued. “And if somebody’s not, I’m going to go at them.”

The West Virginia will host UCLA, who defeated Michigan, 69-64, in Michigan.

The entire second frame was a tense, back-and-forth affair. Trading baskets, neither team was able to find separation for the bulk of the half.

But with UCLA just one step quicker, Michigan couldn’t extend its season.

“They hit big shots down the stretch, and that’s definitely a credit to them,” Smith said. “They would hold the ball for 28 seconds then hit the last shot with 2 seconds left on the shot clock. … It’s frustrating but you’ve gotta continue to play.”

From the WNIT folks:

When UCLA and West Virginia square off Saturday for the WNIT Championship (3 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network), each team has already banked the kind of insight that can only come from games played under pressure. For the Bruins (18-18) and their roster of 10 new players, the tournament has been almost reassuring – the stress and hard days of learning how to survive a Division-I campaign are more in the background, and now the team plays with confidence and a real sense of purpose about the future.

“Our non-conference schedule might have been a little ambitious for a young team like this, and we’ve learned a lot about the mental side of building a team,” said UCLA coach Cori Close, whose team won a tight semifinal game at Michigan on Wednesday to reach the finals. “It takes longer to rebuild confidence than it does to just keep it. But we have a confidence now that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. Now, we want to take advantage of every opportunity, and capture these pieces of the foundation to build the program.”

About that thing going on in Florida…

A list of Final Four events in Tampa.

After savoring the moment, women’s teams become all business, Tampa Tribune
That lasting memory: 2008 Final Four proved to be Summitt’s last, Tampa Tribune
Final Four teams in familiar territory in women’s tournament, ND Insider
UConn-Maryland primer, ESPN
Notre Dame-South Carolina primer, ESPN
Dishin & Swishin 04/02/15 Podcast: Doug Bruno helps break down the NCAA tournament and Final Four

Maryland:
Second-generation stars give Maryland women added experience, Baltimore Sun
Did Brenda Frese push her way into the discussion of D.C.’s best coaches?, Washington Post
Frese Admits Maryland Will Have Its Hands Full With UConn, Courant
Testudo Times: Maryland women’s basketball: Final Four vs. Connecticut preview
CBSLocal: Maryland Women’s Basketball Team Creating A Buzz On Campus

Jon Meoli at the Baltimore Sun: Second-generation stars give Maryland women added experience

By the time they’re through at Maryland, they all emerge into their own players.

But on a team loaded with players whose parents competed in sports either professionally or collegiately, the Maryland women’s basketball team benefits plenty from its cadre of second-generation stars, led by point guard Lexie Brown, daughter of former NBA star Dee Brown.

Diamondback Online: Maryland women’s basketball readies to play Connecticut
Stephanie White: How Maryland can pull off the upset over UConn, Big 10 Network
Baltimore Wire: Maryland Women’s Basketball: These Sophomores are the Real Deal
Gene Wang at the Washington Post: Laurin Mincy savors Final Four sendoff for Maryland basketball

Laurin Mincy’s final practice in College Park as a member of the Marylandwomen’s basketball team took place at Xfinity Center’s auxiliary gym rather than the main court. Not exactly an ideal way for the redshirt senior to bid farewell to the arena where she spent five seasons forging a career notable for perseverance and revival.

A high school robotics convention had forced the Final Four-bound Terrapins to their secondary practice facility Thursday afternoon, but for Mincy, the minor inconvenience wasn’t about to spoil another opportunity to be with her teammates.

More from Gene: Maryland relies on Brown’s big shots
Former NBA Star Dee Brown Joins Daughter Lexie at Final Four

UConn:

Geno Auriemma on Moriah Jefferson: ‘I haven’t seen anybody better’, Register
A Quick Point Guard’s Unconventional Path to UConn, NY Times

“I’m so glad I was home-schooled,” Moriah Jefferson said. “I loved it. It gave me a good competitive edge.”

At 5-foot-7, the skinny and well-mannered Jefferson does not look like a typical star athlete. Still, she is one of the nation’s quickest players and one of the most valuable members on a team filled with former high school all-Americans.

A junior, she averages 12.3 points a game, leads UConn with 4.9 assists and 2.5 steals a game and shoots 59.5 percent from the floor and 50.5 percent on 3-pointers. She was named a second-team Associated Press all-American this week.

Even at eight straight, Final Fours don’t get old for UConn, Channel 8
Final Four flashback: Auriemma coaches beyond buzzer, Tampa Bay Times

They’re all still chasing UConn at Women’s Final Four
, USA Today
Virtuoso Geno Playing Everyone Like A Violin, Boneyard Blog
UConn women used to tough competition…in practice, Register
If It’s April, UConn And Mosqueda-Lewis Must Be In Final Four, Courant
UConn players trying to live up to program’s legacy, Tampa Tribune

UConn’s Stewart Halfway to Her Goal of 4 National Titles
Mighty UConn women not looking ahead of themselves, Marietta Daily
Paul Doyle: Auriemma: UConn Women are ‘Not invincible, Not unbeatable’

Notre Dame:

Taya Reimer a calming voice for Notre Dame women’s basketball
Philly Flavor At Women’s Final Four: Cheesesteaks, Anyone?, Allentown Morning Call
Notre Dame, SC basketball coaches share Philly background
AP: Notre Dame takes different attitude into women’s Final Four

Notre Dame isn’t planning business as usual this Final Four.

Coach Muffet McGraw realized after the Fighting Irish clinched the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season title for a second straight season that the team didn’t seem to celebrate much. Then it happened again when they won the ACC tournament.

”They were excited, but then I watch other teams and they’re jumping all over the place,” she said.

ND Insider: Does Notre Dame have the size to win it all?
Notre Dame Press Conference Quotes
Irish Illustrated: Notre Dame preps for another Final Four

South Carolina:

South Carolina, In First Final Four, To Face Notre Dame, Courant
The evolution of Dawn Staley, ESPN
WLTX: Coach Staley: Final Four is a Business Trip
Notre Dame offensive ‘machine’ awaits Gamecocks in Final FourCharleston Post Courier
David Cloninger: The men behind the USC women – Gamecocks’ practice squad contributes to Final Four run 

They won’t get rings.

They do get pink sneakers.

“I got these last year, but I never busted them out,” South Carolina senior Kevin Clancy said. “This week, I was like, ‘OK, gotta wear them.’”

More David: USC women’s team finds different heroes on different nights – Deep bench lets Gamecocks count on production from many players

“We’re not fazed as much by Tiffany Mitchell not having a great night because of the depth we have on our basketball team,” coach Dawn Staley said during the SEC tournament. “This particular year, (our bench) has been in situations where they had an impact on the game. They can draw on those experiences if Tiffany Mitchell had a night like tonight.”

Staley was speaking of the Gamecocks’ semifinal win against LSU, where Mitchell was 1-of-6 for four points and had five turnovers. Yet, USC won by 20.

“We’ve been playing in situations all year long where we were in the driver’s seat,” USC coach Dawn Staley said. “I think that’s no longer the case. In the Final Four, we’ll go back, probably, to being the underdogs because we’re the new kids on the block.

“But we won’t act like the new kids on the block. We will definitely (prepare) to take advantage of the moment, because we never know when we’ll get back to the Final Four.”

From the AP’s Pete Iacobelli: Tiffany Mitchell, her WNBA idol Dawn Staley lead South Carolina to Final Four

Cheryl Mitchell wasn’t sure what project her third-grade daughter was working on when she asked to go to the store to pick up poster board. Tiffany Mitchell created a collage of WNBA star Dawn Staley, beginning a trek that’s landed the South Carolina coach and the Gamecocks’ standout in the school’s first Final Four.

She scored the go-ahead basket to beat North Carolina, 67-65, in the Sweet 16, then followed that with seven consecutive points to put the Gamecocks ahead for good in an 80-74 victory over Florida State in the Elite Eight.

Now the All-American and the rest of the Gamecocks (34-2) will square off against Notre Dame (35-2) in the national semifinals Sunday night in Tampa, Florida. 

Akilah Imani Nelson: Proud high school coaches following journey of USC women’s basketball stars -Long, O’Cain are their former players’ biggest fans

Getting behind the hysterical reaction to the headline: UConn’s Geno Auriemma says men’s game is ‘a joke’ to Geno Auriemma is totally right to call men’s college basketball ‘a joke’

He isn’t talking about playing basketball the “right” way or whatever, he’s talking purely about entertainment. He’s right: college basketball this year hasn’t been entertaining to watch. It hasn’t. Scoring is down, and like it or not, most Americans like sports where people can score.

He continues:

Every other major sport in the world has taken steps to help people be better on the offensive end of the floor. They’ve moved in the fences in baseball, they lowered the mound. They made the strike zone so you need a straw to put through it. And in the NFL you touch a guy it’s a penalty. You hit the quarterback, you’re out for life. You know, in the NBA, you touch somebody in the perimeter, you whack guys like they used to do when scores were 90 to 75, they changed the rules.

Again, Auriemma is right. Every other American league has worked to improve scoring, and to make the game more enjoyable for fans.

Who ya got? Bleecher report and ESPN

In important stuff: Auriemma Hopes Indiana Lawmakers Come To Their Senses

“I’ve got to tell you, I’ve always been fascinated by people who care so much about what other people are and what they do in their personal lives,” he said. “Like, how small-minded do you have to be to care that much about what other people are doing? Life is hard enough trying to live your own life. What do you care about what other people are doing if it doesn’t affect you.

“And hiding behind this religious crap? That’s just the most cowardly thing that I’ve ever heard.

Dick Weiss, NY Daily News: NCAA, NFL, NBA and WNBA should raise their voices, condemning Indiana’s religious freedom law  

What are we doing here?

The NCAA Final Four is scheduled for Lucas Oil Stadium this weekend in this state capital. But college basketball’s biggest celebration likely will be disturbed by a series of protests over a new Indiana religious freedom restoration law that critics say could allow businesses to turn away gay and lesbian customers in the name of religious freedom and open the door for legalized discrimination.

Bigotry is apparently alive and well here in the heartland. I thought this ship had sailed with the passing of the civil rights laws in 1965.

Bigotry, the Bible and the Lessons of Indiana

THE drama in Indiana last week and the larger debate over so-called “religious freedom” laws in other states portray homosexuality and devout Christianity as forces in fierce collision.

They’re not — at least not in several prominent denominations, which have come to a new understanding of what the Bible does and doesn’t decree, of what people can and cannot divine in regard to God’s will.

And homosexuality and Christianity don’t have to be in conflict in any church anywhere.

That many Christians regard them as incompatible is understandable, an example not so much of hatred’s pull as of tradition’s sway. Beliefs ossified over centuries aren’t easily shaken.

But in the end, the continued view of gays, lesbians and bisexuals as sinners is a decision. It’s a choice.

Big Business’s Critical Role on Anti-Gay Laws

Big corporations like Walmart, Apple, Salesforce.com and General Electric and their executives have done the right thing by calling on officials in Indiana and Arkansas to reject “religious freedom” laws designed to give businesses and religious groups legal cover should they deny service to gay couples.

But the business response to these laws raises a larger issue about the role companies play in the political process. If corporate leaders are serious in opposing discrimination, they should refuse to finance the campaigns of lawmakers who want to deny civil rights to gays and other minority groups.

Will Indiana law force 2016 women’s Final Four to relocate? (short answer: Yes.)

The men’s Final Four is in Indianapolis this weekend and could not have been moved on short notice. But officials have made it clear there is enough time to consider relocating future events, and that they want an environment welcoming to all athletes and fans.

”What’s going on in Indiana is troubling,” NCAA vice president of women’s basketball championships Anucha Browne said Wednesday.

”We will assess all our championships in the state of Indiana. We do anyway. We want to ensure that student athletes have a positive experience wherever we take them and our fans to. It’s the right thing to do.”

In that vein, Mazel Tov! WNBA’s Angel McCoughtry Comes Out, Is Engaged

Angel McCoughtry, the star forward for the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream and an Olympic Gold medalist, came out as gay through her Instagram account on Tuesday after an apparent dispute with the Turkish team she played for during the U.S. off-season..

Other NCAA teams are thinkin’ and pondering’ and changin’:

UF searching for success in women’s basketball

Few doubt Butler’s work ethic, or her passion for Gator basketball that dates back to when she was a point guard at UF under Carol Ross from 1990-94. But her eight-year tenure at Florida has produced mixed results. Butler’s 153 wins are second-most in school history, and she’s averaged 19 wins per season at UF. She’s led the Gators to three NCAA Tournament appearances in eight seasons, but never past the second round, and her career NCAA Tournament record is 3-3. Her career SEC record is 56-68.

Nebraska: Husker women’s basketball final grades

The 2014-15 season had its share of highs and lows for the Nebraska women’s basketball team. When the team capped off a 7-0 start to the season with a home victory against No. 9 Duke before a raucous Husker crowd on Dec. 3, it seemed to be the sort of tone-setting win that would carry over to the rest of the season. Instead, the win didn’t even carry over to the next game, as the Huskers fell on the road to a sub-par Alabama team that would go on to post a 2-14 conference record in the SEC. This wild swing of performance and fortune seemed to define the rest of the season for a Nebraska team that struggled with injuries from start to finish.

Indiana: A Look Back: Indiana State Women’s Basketball –  Meghan McKeown sat down with head coach Joey Wells to talk about the season.

Princeton: Women’s basketball completes season for the ages

Senior guard Blake Dietrick, however, commented on a different side of the team: a group of women hungry to win after not qualifying for the tournament last season.

“Last year, losing the Ivy [League title] was a reality check for us, since we had won it the past four years, then to be the team that broke the streak and let everyone down,” Dietrick said. “We were so intent on that not being the legacy that was left from this season.”

Even with this extra motivation, the level of success this team achieved was surreal even to them.

Stanford: Was this a rebuilding year for women’s basketball?

Despite the Cardinal losing winnable games this year and not playing like one of the best teams in the nation at times, this was not a rebuilding year. The Cardinal lost one elite player last year in Ogwumike and another key player in Mikaela Ruef. Losing only two starters didn’t mean that the team needed to be rebuilt — reshaped a bit, perhaps, but not rebuilt. The Cardinal made it just as far this year as they did two years ago despite the absence of Ogwumike, muffling the gossip swirling that the team wasn’t living up to the Stanford women’s basketball brand of recent years.

Purdue: Banquet recap

Coming off the program’s worst season in 31 years and a fan base which has become restless, Daniels voiced his full support for coach Sharon Versyp and the coaching staff.

“We have, in my opinion, the finest coach we could have for Purdue women’s basketball,” Daniels said. “Sharon, you and your outstanding staff that you have assembled, just set a terrific standard. We know more such years are coming. Not every season can be a national championship season but you’ve given us plenty; you’re going to give us more. This program has such a proud history and it has a proud future. I can’t wait for next year to get here and I know everybody in this room feels the same.”

Marist: Marist women ‘shocked’ by exodus; team faces ‘biggest challenge’

One by one, they came to Brian Giorgis.

“You’re in shock with each one,” the Marist College women’s basketball coach said, after the school announced four Red Foxes, including all-league forward Madeline Blais, would be transferring following the spring semester.

The exodus places a program that has reached the NCAA tournament in 10 of the last 12 seasons in a precarious position, “beating the bushes” to fill out a roster that currently will have eight scholarship players and 10 total next season.

In high school news:

Ohio: New Riegel’s Lucius retires with 542 victories

Steve Lucius always appreciated the little things in life: the closeness of a small town, the grass-roots work ethic of middle America, the competitive intensity of backyard rivalries and some of the best barbecued ribs he ever sank his teeth into.

All of those little things added up to one huge career for Lucius, who announced on Tuesday that he was stepping down as New Riegel’s girls basketball coach after 30 years running the program.

“I grew up on those ribs,” said Lucius, a 1970 New Riegel graduate.

And a lot of young girls grew up on New Riegel basketball as Lucius built the Blue Jackets into one of the top small-school programs in the state.

Oklahoma: Carl Albert girls basketball coach Tim Price resigns

One of the state’s most successful girls basketball coaches has decided to make a change.

Carl Albert coach Tim Price officially resigned last week, bringing to end a very successful tenure with the Titans that included 10 state tournament appearances in his 11 seasons.

“It just got to the point to where I really felt like it would be best for me and possibly best for the program for me to go down a different path,” Price told The Oklahoman. “There’s been some building frustrations with some things going on and it just got to the point where I didn’t enjoy this past year as much as a coach should. I just didn’t want to go through it again.”

Pondering the WNBA draft, Swish Appeal Community 2015 WNBA Mock Draft

MSTU’s Cheyenne Parker Seeks Rehab, Sets Sights on WNBA Combine

It has been a little over a month since former MTSU star Cheyenne Parker was dismissed from the Lady Raiders basketball team for multiple failed drug tests.

Despite her removal from the Blue Raiders on Feb. 27, Parker still plans to complete her mission of making a WNBA roster. Parker has been going through an intense workout program with a focus on heavy lifting, cardio and skill training.

The main objective of Parker’s arduous workout regime: impress WNBA coaches and scouts on April 4 at the ProHoops WNBA Combine in Tampa, Florida.

Former WNBAer Ruth Riley was traveling – take a gander at her blog: Shining Light On A Global Misconception

Imagine a woman covered head to toe in a loose fitting black robe (Abaya) with her head covered by a hijab so the only part of her body that you can see is that by which she is looking back at you . . . her eyes. 

It is against the law for her to drive. She cannot travel by herself without the consent of a male relative. Almost every public place is segregated, with one door for women/families and one for men. Marriages are often arranged on her behalf. Her only knowledge of sports is that by which she sees on T.V. or on the internet because there are no opportunities for her to partake as a spectator, let alone as a competitor.

This image is representative of what we know of Saudi Arabian women. While I agree that a picture is worth a thousand words, I want to share with you some of the stories beyond that image that we so often evoke. I want to share stories of the girls and women that I met in my recent Sports and Women’s Empowerment Envoy with the State Department and the NBA/WNBA throughout The Kingdom. Becky Bonner and I went from the conservative capital of Riyadh to Dammam and finished our trip in the more liberal city of Jeddah conducting clinics with elementary to college-age players, as well as meeting with some amazing groups of women.

Good to hear: Feature Doc on Trials & Triumphs of Former WNBA Player Chamique Holdsclaw Nearing Completion

The film, titled “Mind Game,” will also capture Holdsclaw’s recovery as she speaks out openly about the disorder that almost killed her, shedding light on mental illness and helping to open up conversation on the subject.

“It’s been like a mental prison because it was real uncharacteristic of me,” Holdsclaw told ESPN in a June 2013 interview. “It was real uncharacteristic of me and everybody judging me from every different angle.” 

She now runs her own basketball academy with camps nationwide, adding, “I hate that this situation occurred… I feel like I’ve hurt my family and also the victim’s family, but it’s been a great thing in helping me move forward. Now I’m on the right medication. I’ve been able to get the right treatment, and it’s really improved my quality of life night and day.” 

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In the New York Times, KW revisits Christ the King: For an Elite Girls’ Basketball Team, the Same High Standards Amid New Challenges

After the cruelty of a 5:30 a.m. wake-up, a ride to the St. George Terminal with her father, a 6:20 Staten Island Ferry, the J train to the M train, Dominique Toussaint finally arrives at Christ the King High School in Middle Village, Queens. From her home on Staten Island, the trip can take two hours.

So is it worth it?

“This is my future,” said Toussaint, all of 16.

On the flip side, Jonathan Czupryn’s lazy story on parity – or the lack thereof – in the women’s game just makes me cranky. I mean, really, you want to compare the men’s and women’s games with numbers and you don’t mention Title IX and the ridiculously uneven funding of the two sports? Or the fact that the men have a 50-year head start on the women because folks BANNED girls high school state tournaments? Or the fact that the low scoring/slow play of the men increases the chances of upsets… or the fact that… I mean, the list goes on, but only if you are serious about your subject.

How about we celebrate the upsets that DID happen on the women’s side? How about we celebrate the growth/rebirth of programs these last five years? How about you convince your NY Times brethren to write about the game NOT because the Knicks are losing, but because it deserves some thoughtful coverage…

Grrrrr… off to stare at my crushed bracket….

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Missed this one from March 5th: Not the Knicks – Success Runs Deeper Than All the 3-Pointers

 About an hour before the start of an afternoon practice last week, Kaneisha Atwater shot dozens of 3-pointers as a wall-mounted computer called the Noah Instant calculated the trajectory of each attempt.

The Noah, as the machine is known around Alico Arena, has become a rudimentary part of life for the women’s basketball team at Florida Gulf Coast University. The Eagles love to shoot 3-pointers — few teams in the country make more — and they spend hours trying to perfect the craft.

And this on the Tigers: Like Kentucky Men, Princeton Women Close In on Perfection

Courtney Banghart, the women’s basketball coach at Princeton, believes one pivotal defeat has put the Tigers on the cusp of a historic regular season.

That loss, 80-64 at home to Penn, came in the regular-season finale last year and denied Princeton a fifth consecutive Ivy League title. Afterward, Banghart acknowledged, “The moment was a little big for my youngsters.”

Still, she thinks the Tigers grew immensely from that setback, which became a rallying point.

Apparently CBSports will be broadcasting the 5pm game. I’ll be taking Amtrak down to Philly for my first trip to the Palestra.

On the opposite side of the coin – really bad decisions have really bad consequences: SWAC suspends 15 over fight

Texas Southern imposed its own penalty on the women’s basketball team, withdrawing from the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament that begins Wednesday.

That move Monday night came hours before the conference handed out suspensions for 15 players involved in the bench-clearing fight between the Lady Tigers and Southern on Saturday night. It’s believed to be one of the biggest number of suspensions in NCAA women’s basketball history.

Job openings at

Kansas: Bonnie Henrickson fired after 11 seasons

Utah: Utah fires women’s basketball coach after two injury-riddled losing seasons

Austin Peay: Austin Peay State University Lady Govs Basketball Coach Carrie Daniels contract not renewed

Cool! N.D. CLASS B GIRLS BASKETBALL: Mother coaches daughter, Minot Ryan to state championship

Kindred came out firing on Saturday night.

Still, it couldn’t be sustained against the well-oiled machine that is the Minot Ryan girls basketball team.

The Lions made their move late in the first half, eventually securing their third consecutive Class B state championship with a 68-52 victory at the Minot State Dome.

Ryan (26-1) joins Bottineau as the only programs to win three straight.

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A couple of nice primetime games last night.

#8 Louisville hung around for a while, but the combo of  Loyd (2opts) and Reimer (8-8 & game changing blocks) plus poor shooting (33%) doomed the Cardinals against #4 Notre Dame. (Great crowd for TV.)

As usual, junior shooting guard Jewell Loyd led the way for Notre Dame, finishing with 20 points and seven rebounds, but this performance was more about guts than flash.

“I think everybody’s going to try to be physical with us,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “That seems to be the game plan. It was a really physical game. That was something you could see we needed to get better at.”

#2 South Carolina v. #6 Tennessee was mighty entertaining – and heartening for the Vols. When South Carolina remember that Izzy was out, they scored. When they didn’t, Tennessee kept it close. It came down to the wire – or, should I say, the endline. Dozier sealed the deal and the Gamecocks, who hadn’t beaten the Lady Vols at home since 1980 and stand 4-47 all-time against them, got the win. (Another great crowd.) Writes Mechelle: 

You hear all kinds of crazy things coming from the stands when you sit on media row. But sometimes, you also hear the absolute truth.

In Monday’s intense, riveting, entertaining, “March-is-right-around-the-corner” game between South Carolina and Tennessee, the Gamecock fans were doing all they could to emotionally power their team to firmly gain the upper hand on the Lady Vols.

Then a fan said, “This is Tennessee. They don’t go away.”

Indeed, even against the No. 2 team in the country, even without their top scorer and rebounder, even with a rotation that realistically went no deeper than six, the Lady Vols pushed South Carolina right to the wire.

But that made the Gamecocks’ 71-66 victory even a little more special. This was a high-level game with a lot on the line: the SEC’s two best teams, both unbeaten in league play, battling it out.

The SEC gave us one upset for the night, as a tight game eventually went to Mississippi, beating #13 Kentucky for the first time in six tries.

“It is a very special victory. It is a program victory,” coach Matt Insell told reporters. “I can’t put into words how satisfying it is to beat a ranked-team like Kentucky. They have had unbelievable wins all year and we beat them by eight. Our team just really went out there and took control.”

Samford gave us the second, as they took down #2 in the Southern Conference, East Tennessee State, 69-46.

“I was really pleased with our preparation,” Samford head coach Mike Morris said. “We have really good young women with good character. And when you have that, you can really challenge them in different ways and their character comes out in their work ethic and how they work through different things. I thought we did a great job of just taking care of the ball tonight. And then, when they made a run, we didn’t fold, and I thought that was big at end of the first half.”

Speaking of the Southern, the conference’s top team, #20 Chattanooga, had its second loosy-goosy game in a row, having to fight off the Mercer Bears, 56-51. The Mocs, who won their 19th SoCo title,  face ETSU next.

#5 Maryland squashed Penn State like a bug, 65-34, and got a nice, shiny Big 10 trophy for their efforts.

I’m really, really proud of this group,” coach Brenda Frese said. “Going into this season there were a lot of unknowns — young team, new conference. To be able to come out and play the way they have in these first 16 games is not easy.”

The NEC got nice and tight as Robert Morris couldn’t shake off its 3-point loss to Bryant and fell to Sacred Heart, 69-60. Bryant and Central Connecticut St. continued their winning ways.

The Central women’s basketball team took control of Monday night’s home game against St. Francis Brooklyn the way it has taken control of most games.

Trailing 16-10 and facing the second-best defense in the Northeast Conference – only Central’s own defense is better – the Blue Devils outscored the Terriers 17-2 over the final 10 minutes of the first half and cruised to a relatively easy victory, 61-43 at Detrick Gymnasium.

Graham offers up a little somethin’ somethin’ on Iowa:

“I feel we have beaten teams that are more talented than we are,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “But because we do those little things better, we have come out on top.”

This is far from the first place wherein it is suggested that what we call chemistry when it comes to sports is much closer to alchemy. It is more magic than science. It can’t be measured. It can’t be quantified. It can’t be tested. Its existence might not be a matter of faith — almost all of us have been part of a workplace, athletic team or club where people got along and have likely experienced the same when such harmony was absent. But its place in the equation of success, whether it resides closer to cause or effect, is entirely a matter of belief. The basic conundrum remains.

Do teams win because they have good chemistry?

Or do teams have good chemistry because they win?

Did you catch this piece on The real Diamond DeShields

The world might never know why Diamond DeShields left the University of North Carolina, but we do know she is ready for a new start at Tennessee.

The 2014 national freshman of the year sat down with espnW recently to discuss her decision to transfer, her relationships with Tar Heels coach Sylvia Hatchell and the Lady Vols’ Pat Summitt and Holly Warlick, and explains why she initially committed to North Carolina.

More than anything, DeShields is eager to bring closure to her decision to transfer to Knoxville. Speculation ran rampant when DeShields left the Tar Heels after her freshman season. 

Oregon State’s gain wasn’t George Fox’s loss:

Kylie Dummer was in tears following her freshman basketball season at Southridge High School in 2010, where the Skyhawks had won their fifth state title in six years.

That was when coach Michael Meek announced to the team he was leaving for a college coaching opportunity at Division III George Fox University in Newberg. The team’s previous coach, Scott Rueck, had left to take the same position at Oregon State – giving Meek an opportunity to bring his success to the collegiate level.

Now in his fifth season leading the Beavers, Rueck has taken that program to new heights. In the same time span, Meek has maintained and built upon the legacy Rueck first created at George Fox.

And in the “no, you really don’t get the idea of ethics”: Riverdale, Smyrna girls basketball teams removed from postseason

The TSSAA removed Riverdale and Smyrna from the high school girls basketball postseason on Monday following a report from a high school referee in charge of their District 7-AAA consolation game held Saturday where he said that both schools “played to lose the game.”

Both Rutherford County schools were placed on restrictive probation by the high school association for the rest of the school year and probation for the 2015-16 school year.

Both schools were fined a total of $1,500 apiece.

In the “we let our play do the talking” news: Neumann-Goretti tops Archbishop Wood for PCL title

FWIW, I’m tossing this out with a h/t to Slam: Filmmakers Seek Crowdfunding for Doc Series on Evolution of Women’s Basketball.

A feature­length documentary, Concrete Rose will use stylized interview portraits of the men and women who are the games trailblazers to tell a universal story about women’s basketball. Thematically organized around on the court play that reflect a wide range of human emotion and experience, the film seeks to reveal a larger more complex portrait of our shared love for basketball.

To be honest, the description is a little fru-fru for me.

In other history news, Ray is Catching up with Carol Blazejowski: Youth basketball, the WNBA, and reflecting on women’s basketball history

The moment stood frozen in time.

“Hi, I’m Carol glad to meet you.”

Over the years I frequently met a new officiating partner in this manner, but this was one of those situations in which I met a former player whose games I covered – a player of legendary proportions whom I virtually idolized for her achievements both on the floor and off of it in the women’s game.

“Hi, I’m Ray nice to meet you,” was the simple response.

Where do you even start when discussing the career of Carol Blazejowski?

On the Aussie front: Canberra Capitals skipper Abby Bishop signs with WNBA side Seattle Storm and

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…waiting to go to the airport and return to the “bitterly cold” northeast. Will say that, whatever weather comes to mind when you think “the Bahamas,” it’s not what we’ve had this week. Nothing like scuba diving w/ a 25mph wind and 65 degree weather. Fleece alert! (and no, I’m NOT complaining, ’cause I’m on vacation! :-)

On the hardcourt:

Don’t wanna jinx’em, but the A-10 regular season title is George Washington’s to lose. (They’ve beaten Dayton both times they’ve played). Tough to beat a team three times in a row, though, so keep an eye on the Conference Championship.

With a win over a Bradford-less Central Michigan, Ball State moves to 10-3 in the MAC, easing in to the top spot in the West. Overall MAC leader Ohio was stunned by Eastern Michigan, 73-61.

That was unexpectedly close: Maine Slips Past Vermont in Women’s Basketball, 57-54 And yes, Women’s basketball risen in standings from two years ago

Two years ago, Maine was one of the worst teams in women’s basketball. Now, Maine has won 10 consecutive games and is ranked no. 23 in the Mid-Major poll.

It is amazing what you can accomplish when everybody is working together and when everybody has the same goals and dreams. It almost took us two years to get to the point where we are right now, and we are not even close to reaching our potential.

People keep asking, “What happened? How can you go from winning four games total to having one of the best seasons a Maine basketball team has had in a long time?” I don’t think there is a simple answer to this question.

A Debbie Antonelli Special: Troy needed OT – and every single one of Ashley Beverly-Kelley’s 46 points – to escape Sun Belt cellar-dwellar Georgia Southern, 99-93. BTW, this is Troy’s first winning season since 2008-09.

Boink! WHB Curse in effect: Rhode Island loses a lead, and then the game, to LaSalle, 47-45.

Speaking of losing leads: Miami must be kicking themselves – they were up 18 at the end of the first half, then lost to NC State courtesy of a last-second three by Len’Nique Brown-Hoskin.

Whomp! The up-and-down #15 Aggies were up against #11 Kentucky, 81-69.

James Madison, #5 Maryland and FGCU are sailing through their conferences. So’s Gonzaga (clinching their 11th straight)  but it’s not been a lark.

It’s been a tough one: SMU women’s basketball already with second-most losses in school history; Can team recover?

When your women’s team is playing six freshmen, your point guard bolts and your go-to player is gone for the season, you celebrate small victories, such as getting three male students through the NCAA Clearinghouse to fill vacancies for scrimmages.

Change has been the lone constant for SMU.

For a young team in a rebuilding year, adjustments have become routine. Each game seems to open a new chapter in the crash course.

Speaking of tough ones: The Gauchos are still win-less.

Hawaii seems to be pulling away in the Big West.

Wondering how probation will impact West Virginia.

No surprise, Debbie likes Kelsey (Mitchell).

“Why isn’t Kelsey Mitchell on the @BigTenNetwork promo on great (freshmen) in the @bigtenconf,” Antonelli tweeted Tuesday night. “She leads nation in scoring!”

Mitchell’s resume is quite lengthy. And her scoring numbers has made Antonelli start to consider if Mitchell has an opportunity at all-time career leading scorer Jackie Stiles (3,393 points). Antonelli has been calling women’s basketball games for 27 years and can’t recall another player to cause her to look at Stiles’ numbers.

“If you are a fan of women’s basketball how could you not like that?” Antonelli told Cincinnati.com.

Yup: Injuries wreak havoc on SEC women’s basketball season

Not an unexpected job opening: Portland State fires Sherri Murrell as women’s basketball coach with five games remaining

In W news: One Knight for another: Breaking Down the Epiphanny Prince-for-Cappie Pondexter Blockbuster and The age-old thought process behind Liberty’s WNBA megadeal plus, what’s really cool: Epiphanny Prince to finish Rutgers degree after trade to NY Liberty

When she stunned the basketball world in 2009 with an unprecedented decision to leave Rutgers one year early to start her pro career, Epiphanny Prince vowed that she eventually would return to school.

That time has come following a WNBA trade Monday that sent two former Rutgers stars back to their homes as Prince was dealt to the New York Liberty, while Cappie Pondexter is joining the Chicago Sky.

In high school news: Two high school girls basketball legends combining to make history at Gilmour Academy

It started with a phone call, seemingly out of nowhere.

That’s how a legendary high school girls basketball coach ended up at Gilmour Academy. That was 10 years ago.

And a second totally unexpected phone call led to the daughter of a former Ms. Ohio Girls Basketball Player of the Year playing for that same coach at the Catholic prep school in Gates Mills.

That’s how Bob Beutel, with 644 career victories, ended up coaching Naz Hillmon, one of the top freshman girls basketball players in Northeastern Ohio. Hillmon is already receiving attention from Division I colleges. The 6-foot-2 center is averaging 18 points, 14 rebounds and more than four blocks per game.

How about this: Alden-Hebron makes history with 5-player roster

Alden-Hebron’s “Fab Five” huddled on the bus ride home and talked strategy after winning the school’s first postseason title for any Giants basketball team – boys or girls – since 1957.

Hannah Behrens, Bailey Ogle, Hannah Warren, Tally Lalor and Emily Webber have played exclusively for the past 13 games as the Giants’ roster has dwindled from eight players to five. Kelsey Baker, A-H’s tallest player at 6-foot-2, moved away, and sophomores Brittany Standish and Sam Mendez suffered knee injuries and cannot play until cleared by doctors.

Congrats: Swin Cash earns Chuck Cooper Award for ‘extraordinary’ service

Admittedly, Swin Cash once had no clue who Charles “Chuck” Cooper was or what he represented.

She grew up in the same region and played the same sport, but as someone born nearly 25 years after Cooper played his final professional basketball game, the name of the first African-American player drafted into the NBA didn’t resonate.

So last year, when Cash was told that she was going to be honored with an award named after Cooper, she did some research. What she found was a legacy that she works to this day to strengthen and uphold.

WATN? TV spot highlights Markham basketball star Sutton-Brown

Tammy Sutton-Brown has a true story to tell.

It’s one the 37-year-old Markham native revealed that changed her life — all for the better — when she elected to attend a high school that offered a well established girls’ basketball program rather than go to one closer to home.

Thus began the road for the 6 ft. 4 in. centre in becoming one of the top Canadian basketball players hailing from the Greater Toronto Area that tipped off when she was a Grade 9 student at Markham District High School and then earning a collegiate athletic scholarship south of the border at Rutgers University.

But that’s not where it ended.

A little history: Women’s basketball pioneers honored at UAF

It’s no surprise Nanooks women’s basketball players Victoria Elleby and Stephanie Toumson asked Linda Dolney for her autograph after Saturday’s game.

Forty years ago, Dolney and her teammates paved the way for the current women’s basketball team.

That moment in history and several others were recognized Saturday at a remarkable gathering of women.

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From the folks in Colorado: USA Basketball is excited to announce the launch of three youth development initiatives

Youth basketball coaches and organizations in the United States now have the opportunity to become USA Basketball licensed coaches and accredited organizations with the launch of two USA Basketball youth development initiatives. Additionally, USA Basketball has made available online its newly completed Youth Development Guidebook that establishes national standards for all facets of youth basketball, including robust and progressive teaching and playing standards for all levels of the game. Information about the USA Basketball youth development programs and the Youth Development Guidebook are available online at usab.site-ym.com.

            “The USA Basketball youth development mission is to promote, grow and elevate the sport. One of the ways to do this is the establishment of national standards in the area of youth development. Our vision is to bring more structure to the youth space. We believe these programs will help launch us down that path,” said Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball chairman. “USA Basketball’s goal is for young players to have the opportunity to play in a fun, safe and supportive environment, while being taught the fundamentals by USA Basketball licensed coaches.”

USA Basketball’s youth development initiatives already are being utilized. USA Basketball worked in partnership with the NBA to train and license coaches and instructors across New York City to implement these standards throughout the 100 clinics taking place at schools during this weekend’s NBA All-Star 2015 festivities.

            Within the basketball model is the player development pathway that is designed to promote ‘basketball for life.’ The curriculum is designed to teach and learn the game based on mastery of skills rather than limiting aspects such as grade, age, position, size or gender.

To become licensed by USA Basketball, coaches must:

  • Complete the USA Basketball online course
  • Complete SafeSport certification
  • Pass a background check

To become accredited by USA Basketball, organizations must:

  • Require all coaches and administrators to obtain their USA Basketball coach license

Speaking of coaches, Arizona Central’s Paola Boivin says, “It’s time to give ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne her due”

Charli Turner Thorne never craved the spotlight. She took satisfaction from the victories, the growth of the Arizona State program and the character of her athletes.

But after 17-plus seasons, nine NCAA Tournaments and two Elite Eight finishes, it is time to acknowledge Turner Thorne for what she is: One of the top women’s college basketball coaches in the country.

Speaking of Arizona: Whoops, we lost another WNBA star

Quite frankly, we’re lucky Taurasi has hung around for this long. She could have left a long time ago to make more money playing in Europe, but instead, she remained in Phoenix and allowed Mercury fans to enjoy a solid decade of entertaining basketball. She has been a loyal member of the Phoenix Mercury since she entered the WNBA, and for that I will always be grateful. I will continue to wear my faded University of Connecticut women’s basketball shirt with pride.

I want to be angry, but I’m not. If I had the opportunity to play basketball in a country that would respect my abilities, on a team that would pay me 15 times more money, I would leave, too.

If the U.S. won’t respect its female athletes like Taurasi, it doesn’t deserve them.

Speaking of Arizona losing stars, LA is loading up: Sparks sign guard Erin Phillips, winner of 2 WNBA titles

Speaking of Australians: Ex-WNBA player finds way to share skills with Carmel Parks and Recreation

Tully Bevilaqua had a long run in the WNBA and other professional women’s basketball leagues.

Now it’s time for her to share what she learned with youngsters.

“I enjoy it,” she said. “I’ve had my day of playing and I’ve had a lot of people help me. So I’m kind of going into that role of giving back now. Being a coach myself and helping other kids that were in my situation.

Speaking of north of LA: Chico State alumna prepared to build for WNBA Seattle Storm

Each day is different for Alisha Valavanis, the president and general manager of the WNBA’s Seattle Storm.

Whether it’s leadership meetings, crafting a marketing plan or making the best effort to assemble a championship team, Valavanis has her hands full.

But, for the Chico State alumna, Valavanis’ experience within the walls of Acker Gym prepared her for the position she holds today.

“I had an incredible experience as an athlete, being involved with the community and being a representative for Chico State,” Valavanis said.

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Superb win for a program that’s been rebuilding under Lisa Stone: St. Louis upsets #20 George Washington. It was Saint Louis’ first win over a ranked opponent since defeating No. 20 DePaul 73-71 in overtime on Jan. 24, 2003.

Don’t include me? (NCAA’s top 20 reveal holds surprises. Reax from Mechelle.  Why we do this? An explanation. ) Fine, we’ll just go out and stomp all over some Sooners. Baylor wins its 22nd straight, 89-66, behind Nina Davis’ 31pts.

Another program showing huge signs of improvement under first year coach Daynia La-Force: Rhode Island over Saint Joseph’s in OT, 63-61. URI snapped a 10-year losing streak against the Hawks. They’ve also got a five-time Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week in Charise Wilson.

Ohio is having a happy time in the MAC. Bowling Green not so much. And Miami (OH) is just glad to have gotten their first MAC win.

American keeps rollin’ (though the were down early by 11) and Army is looming behind.

The Skyhawks are skylarking through the OVC.

Still not back on track – New Hampshire falls to its neighbor Vermont, 63-60.

I may regret saying this, but it’s hard to imagine Maine and Albany not being co-champions in the America East.

Tough year to be a Penn State or Purdue fan.

Better to be a New Mexico fan: Lobo women’s basketball is on a roll

Grrrrrr: Fresno State women’s basketball: ’Dogs focused on UNLV after loss

Well, hello! USF women’s basketball team crashes the Top 25

The University of South Florida women’s basketball team has made history.

For the first time in the program’s history, the Bulls are ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 women’s basketball poll.

Bu-bye: Longtime Pennsylvania girls basketball coach resigns amidst ugly allegations of recruiting interference

A longtime head girls basketball coach in the Philadelphia region resigned on Monday in the aftermath of a scandal focused on his alleged attempts to scare collegiate recruiters away from opposing athletes in the area.

As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Archbishop Wood girls basketball coach John Gallagher tendered his resignation Monday after his name was entered into the public record during a lawsuit filed by former Neumann-Goretti girls basketball coach Letty Santarelli, who has sued her predecessor for a sum of $50,000, citing slander, defamation of character and libel.

Games of interest today:

Revenge Part Deux? FGCU v. Northern Kentucky.

Revenge Part Uno? Marist got Quished by the Q last time they met, 73-55. The Red Foxes get to host the Bobcats and hope to return the favor.

Rebound Part Uno? #1/2 South Carolina v. LSU.

South Carolina players broke from a meeting after practice with smiles, laughs and goofy poses.

Bothered by their rout at Connecticut? Not this group.

#6 Tennessee looks to stay undefeated in the SEC until they meet fellow undefeat-ee USC (Feb 23rd).

Green Bay (8-1) looks to maintain their spot atop the Horizon when they face Wright State (7-2).

The Horizon League goes 20 deep for rebounding leaders on its women’s basketball stat sheets.

In the latest report, it took a scan of the entire list to find a University of Wisconsin-Green Bay player. Megan Lukan is No. 20 with an average of 5.0 rebounds per game.

Chalk it up as another example of how stats can be misleading.

Some top WCC teams going up against each other: San Diego v. Pacific and BYU v. Saint Mary’s.

#7 Florida State goes up against #17 North Carolina, as the Seminoles try and keep up with Notre Dame (7pm ET ESPN3).

#11 Duke goes up against Virginia, as the Blue Devils try and keep up with FSU.

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