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California University of Pennsylvania women’s basketball ends emotional season with Division II national championship

Kaitlynn Fratz lifted her arms once to call for the ball as the time ticked down on the Division II national championship in South Dakota.

The California University of Pennsylvania senior guard brought her hands down as the pass went to the other side of the court, then raised them back up again as the final buzzer sounded and teammate Mikki Glenn tossed the ball into the air.

Freshman Shatara Parsons burst off the sideline and lifted up Fratz, who kept her hands up high and her thumbs down, holding up four fingers to represent 44: the number of Shanice Clark, the teammate that the Vulcans lost more than two months ago and honored in every part of their season up until the championship round.

Shout out to Penn State grad and Vulcan coach Jess Strom, who in the third year, led the program to their second title and, more importantly, help hold the team together in the face of Clark’s death.

“People probably think I’m crazy for not calling a timeout but I’ve figured out that they will come back,” Strom said of her patience at the beginning of the game. “We’ve gotten down a lot early this year, but we fight.

“I know they’re fighters so I don’t worry too much.”

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What’s exciting about the first round is not so much the winners/losers but the margins of victory. Upsets – or upsets avoided – often come on last second shots. Margin of victory often comes down to size & physical fitness or skill level/coaching. So much fun to see teams go head-to-head for the first time.

Squeak!

The Great Danes may be kicking themselves over this during the off season – #4 Duke by 2 over #13 Albany, courtesy of a last second Greenwell three.

The Duke women’s basketball team was staring at the abyss. Which is pretty much what an NCAA tournament first-round loss at home at Cameron Indoor Stadium would have felt like for the Blue Devils: a bottomless gulf.

Fortunately for Duke, though, Rebecca Greenwell was there to fill up the bucket.

“Kudos to her,” Albany coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson said of the redshirt freshman’s 20 points, six coming on 3-pointers. “I mean, she killed us. That’s the game: It’s her.”

The #12 Toppers couldn’t top #5 Texas, as the Longhorns escaped with a 2-point win, 66-64.

“I told the players after the game this was a hard-fought win and there’s no shame it went down to the wire,” Texas coach Karen Aston said.

Imani McGee-Stafford had 24 points and 14 rebounds as sloppy Texas overcame 19 turnovers — including one that could have cost the Longhorns the game — and erased a late seven-point deficit.

Missing key players for extended parts of the season has toughed up both #9 Nebraska and #8 Syracuse. Only the Orange move on, though, by a slim three-point margin.

Timber!

#9 Depaul came back from a big deficit to get the win over #8 Minnesota. Bruno is a damn good coach. And Stollings is going one SO happy to add a healthy B to Zahui B. ZB notched a mere 21/22 in this game.

After making only two of 20 three-point attempts in the first half, DePaul started to connect as the Gophers faltered. They made six of 14 in the final 20 minutes, including three during their rally.

“I actually didn’t think our defense was particularly good in the first half and at the beginning of the second half,’’ Bruno said. “Maybe the 15-point deficit was the best thing that could have happened to us, because it really showed [his players] that our backs were going to be up against the wall, and they were going to have to fight to have a chance to win.”

#11 Miami built a nice first-half lead over #6 Washington, and rode Motley’s 30 to the upset win, 86-80.

Motley — who had 32 points in Miami’s biggest win, a 78-63 win over Notre Dame that likely sealed a tournament bid — hit a jumper in the lane to give Miami a 73-71 lead. Four free throws put the Hurricanes up six with a minute left.

“Her pull-up, when she goes to shoot it, the person on the bench keeping score is already writing two,” Miami coach Katie Meier said about Motley. “She’s just so consistent.”

#10-why-did-they-get-a-bid Arkansas was down 13, but came back to tripped up #7 Northwestern by 2, 57-55.

“Big boost of confidence in our first year to be in the NCAA and then to win a game like we had to win,” said Dykes, the former Razorbacks player and ESPN analyst. “We just kept saying this is a fight more than a basketball game. Our guys love that. They love that theme.”

I warned ya the WCC was tough. #11 Gonzaga took down #6 George Washington, 82-69.

With George Washington storming back within six points and the shot clock winding down Friday night, Gonzaga forward Sunny Greinacher didn’t think. She let it fly.

The ball went through net with 3:15 left to play and the 3-pointer turned to be the game-winner as No. 11 seed Gonzaga upset No. 6 seed George Washington 82-69 in the first round of the women’s NCAA tournament. 

“I loved the way we battled,” Zags coach Lisa Fortier said. “I’m very happy with our performance.”

Phew!

The #14 ‘wabbits had a 2-pt lead over the #3 Beavers at the half, but Oregon State pulled away the second for the 74-62 win.

#5 Mississippi State had just enough to keep the #12 Green Wave of Tulane at bay, 57-47.

As it should be in 10 v. 7 games, the higher-seed Dayton kept Iowa State at arms length for the 11pt win.

Nice showing by #14 American in their first tourney, as they gave #3 Iowa quite the tussle, finally falling 75-67.

#13 Wichita State proved it was no slouch as they kept within striking distance of #4 Cal for most of the game with Harden matching Gray’s 22/9 output. But the Bears had too much team support, and ended up with the 12-point win, 78-66.

Just sayin’….

Yah, #1 South Carolina stomped #16 Savannah State, 81-48 – but just think: The upset MEAC champs scored 30 first-half points on the SEC champs…

Yah. #2 Baylor stomped Northwestern State but… hmmm… No buts. NWSt got stomped.

Same thing happened to #15 Tennesseee State when they faced #2 Kentucky, 97-52.

None of the Irish starters played more than 29 minutes as #1 Notre Dame cruised past #16 Montana, 77-43.

In WNIT news, Round 1 is done. Round 2 starts Sunday.

Wednesday, March 18
Michigan 72, Cleveland State 50
East Carolina 74, Radford 52
Ole Miss 80, UT Martin 70
Arkansas State 61, Western Michigan 49
Eastern Washington 67, Washington State 65

Thursday, March 19
Old Dominion 69, Virginia 62
St. John’s 64, Army 56
Fordham 70, Central Connecticut State 67
Penn 65, Hofstra 58
Temple 67, Marist 54
NC State 73, ETSU 58
West Virginia 84, Buffalo 61
Hampton 45, Drexel 42
Duquesne 72, Youngstown State 54
Georgia Tech 69, Elon 47
Middle Tennessee 69, Ball State 58
Southern Miss 79, Texas Southern 69
TCU 85, Stephen F. Austin 80
Kansas State 86, Akron 68
Missouri 69, Northern Iowa 61
South Dakota 68, Creighton 58
Northern Colorado 53, Colorado State 48
San Diego 63, Long Beach State 56
UCLA 70, CSU Bakersfield 54
Sacramento State 87, Pacific 79
Fresno State 79, San Francisco 73

Friday, March 20
Toledo 72, Wright State 64
Villanova 71, Maine 60
Richmond 67, Stetson 66
Tulsa 78, Missouri State 72
Eastern Michigan 80, Drake 70
Saint Mary’s 92, Hawaii 88 OT

ROUND 2

Sunday, March 22 (all times ET)
Temple at Penn, 2 p.m.
Fordham at St. John’s, 2 p.m.
Old Dominion at Villanova, 2 p.m.
TCU at Southern Miss, 3 p.m.
Missouri at Kansas State, 3 p.m.
Arkansas State at Middle Tennessee, 3 p.m.
NC State at ECU, 4 p.m.
UCLA at San Diego, 5 p.m.
Eastern Michigan at Tulsa, 6 p.m.
Georgia Tech at Ole Miss, 7 p.m.
South Dakota at Northern Colorado, 7 p.m.

Monday, March 23
Michigan at Toledo, 7 p.m.
Eastern Wash. at Sacramento St, 10 p.m.
Fresno State at Saint Mary’s, 10 p.m.

Tuesday, March 24
Hampton at West Virginia, 7 p.m.
Richmond at Duquesne, 7 p.m.

In NCAA Division III, the finals are set. It’ll be Thomas More going to their first championship game, courtesy of their 62-52 win over Tufts.

Friday night’s victory (30-2) helped the Saints (32-0) forget a rather difficult anniversary. A year ago Friday, Thomas More’s 2014 season ended in the quarterfinals — and Moss tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee. “I had surgery and I was ready to come back when we started practice in October,” said Moss, who bears a black brace on that knee. “I’m not 100 percent though, I’d say more about 85. I’m still a little slow,” she said with a sly grin. “It’s still hard to move side to side sometimes; I have to slide my feet.”

They’ll face off against George Fox, who returned to the title match with their 70-58 win over Montclair State.

“We are just elated to be going to the national championship game,” head coach Michael Meek said. “We have had nothing but fantastic support from our community back home and we use that as motivation when we play. This is just an awesome experience for these women and I can’t wait for us to play tomorrow night.”

From the good folks at D3Hoops: Title game is two perfect

Thomas More defeated Tufts on another record breaking night for Sydney Moss while  George Fox’s full court press wore down Montclair State, setting up an national title game between two undefeated teams.

You can catch the game here at 7:30pm.

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Mark Trakh – New Mexico State. Hired in 2011, his first year with the Aggies his record was 6-24. His second, 15-16. Last year, 11-20. This year…well, if you’ve been reading the WHB, you know about what’s been happening: they’re going’ dancin’!  FOB Dave was glad I left my mitts off him, mostly because he wants Trakh to stick around. (I claim it was because the folks in N.M. were so kind to me, I didn’t want to give away both their coaches.) It’ll be interesting to see where the Aggies go from here — and it’s hard not to wonder what might have happened if he hadn’t “resigned” from USC in ’09.

Mike McLaughlin – Penn. Back when I had enough time to follow/scan all the different divisions of women’s basketball, I noticed McLaughlin’s success at Division II Holy Family. So, when he was named Penn’s new head coach in April of ’09, I wasn’t totally taken off guard. But, did anyone really expect him to raise the quality of Quaker basketball so quickly?

McLaughlin has revitalized the Penn women’s basketball program. The Quakers have improved their win total every year under his guidance and the climb from the bottom to the top of the Ivy League culminated on the final day of the regular season in 2013-14 when the Quakers clinched their first Ivy League title and NCAA Tournament berth in 10 years. 

Tory Verdi – Eastern Michigan. FOB coach T suggested I take a deeper look at coach Verdi. The MAC has given us some great basketball these past few years, but in 2012, things unravelled quickly for EMU. Verdi stepped into a program in disarray and quickly established a new winning tradition: EMU finished 18-14 in the 2013-14 season with an increase of 10 wins and a nine-game improvement in overall record. But what coach Verdi and his team did after junior Shannise Heady was killed in a car crash was extraordinary. Looking forward to see what EMU does in the WNIT.

 

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and while it doesn’t get the attention the DI – top 25 folks do, it’s still played with skill and a ton of passion.

NCAA Division III – They’ve reached the semis and four teams are headed to Grand Rapids Michigan.

March 20th, 5pm: Thomas More v. Tufts

About the Saints: 

By winning the program’s first sectional championship, these Saints have cemented their place in Thomas More history. They are far from satisfied, and remain focused on their mission to bring a national championship to Crestview Hills. In the midst of the celebration, 2014 graduate Katie Kitchen emotionally embraced her close friend and former teammate Wainscott.

“That’s what it’s about, keeping that tradition and playing for the people before you,” said Wainscott. “To accomplish something that she wanted so bad, nothing beats it.”

About the Jumbos:

The Tufts University women’s basketball team earned a return trip to the NCAA Championship “Final Four” with a 58-52 victory over defending national champion FDU-Florham in the quarterfinals today at Cousens Gym. “We’re so excited to be heading back to the Final Four,” said coach Carla Berube. It’s been a long journey from the end of last year, through the summer and in to pre-season.We’ve worked extremely hard, always together. It’s like a big family. We’re just so excited and so proud of the team.”

March 2oth, 7:30pm: George Fox v. Montclair State (Or, Scott Rueck’s former team v. Carol Blazejowski’s former team)

About the Bruins:

Morris drained five 3-pointers and finished with 21 points to help the George Fox Bruins win a battle of 30-0 teams on Saturday. No. 3 George Fox beat No. 6 Calvin College, the host school, 78-63 to advance to the NCAA Division III Final Four.

“We’re super excited about this opportunity,” Bruins coach Michael Meek said. “We knew this was going to be a difficult task to play Calvin. They have such a great program. I have so much respect for them.”

About the Red Hawks:

MSU (30-1), which also set a new single-season record for victories, will take on undefeated George Fox University (31-0) at 7:30 pm with unbeaten Thomas More (31-0) meeting Tufts (30-1) at 5:00 pm. The winners meet in the national championship game on Saturday, March 21 at 7:30 pm.

It will be the first appearance in the NCAA Division III Final Four for the Red Hawks. Montclair State played in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) Final Four in at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles in 1978 and placed third.

NCAA Division II – Third Round

Monday March 16th, 8pm: Union (TN) is baaaack… and they’ll face Nova Southeastern in a battle of 1 v. 2 seeds.

Monday, March 16th, 7pm: California (PA) is baaack…and they’ll face Bloomsburg in a battle of 1 v. 3 seeds.

Monday, March 16th 7pm: Stonehill will face New Haven in a battle of 4 v. 2 seeds.

Monday, March 16th, 11pm: Cal Poly Pomona will face Cal Baptist in a battle of 7 v. 5 seeds.

In the other half of the bracket:

Monday, March 16th 8pm : They’re baaaaack… Emporia State will face Fort Hays in a battle of 1 v. 2 seeds.

Monda, March 16th: West Texas A&M will face UC-Colorado Springs in a battle of 1 v. 2 seeds.

Monday, March 16th, 7pm: Limestone will face Anderson (S.C) in a battle of 2 v. 3 seeds.

Monday, March 16th, 7pm: Ashland will face Lewis in a battle of 5 v. 2 seeds.

The quarterfinals start March 24th in Souix City, South Dakota.

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Spent the morning meeting a second cousin, visiting the Coronado Historic Site and the ruins of Kuaua Pueblo and eating yummy food at Sophia’s Place.

Should now be working on that keynote thing, but decided procrastination was necessary because of the wins by St. Peter’s and San Diego.

As a reward for their upset over Rider, Patty Coyle’s team gets to face Marist.

The Marist College women’s basketball team has not lost a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament game since March 6, 2005, exactly 10 years ago on Friday.

Now, all the Red Foxes want is to make that streak last four more days.

This weekend, and this year’s MAAC tournament, may be the greatest test Marist has faced since its string of nine consecutive titles and nine consecutive automatic bids to the NCAA tournament began.

(BTW, Patty’s sister Mary’s team, is doing well: Knight’s career-high 24 helps Rutgers Prep advance past Gill St. Bernard’s)

USF entered the WCC tournament “brimming with confidence,” and that showed with their 74-64 upset of Pacific.

“I’m really, really proud of the team. This was a huge team win,” said USF head coach Jennifer Azzi. “They defended, they had a look in their eye tonight like ‘we are going to win this game,’ and it was fun to see them out there and be able to just pull things together. They’ve really come out strong at the end of the season. They’ve bought into continuing to work and continuing to improve throughout the season.”

Next up: the winner of San Diego v. Santa Clara.

Gonna watch’em play on the 10th: Penn women’s basketball’s senior class is four-ever a winner – Quakers bid adieu to winningest class

The year was 2011.

The Dallas Mavericks had just won their first NBA title. Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” was named the number one song of the year. Nearly all of America had woken up at 5 a.m. to watch the Royal Wedding.

And four talented freshmen joined Penn women’s basketball, eagerly hoping to make their mark on what was, at best, a mediocre — if not downright dismal — program.

Da Bears: International cast re-establishes UMaine women’s basketball team as title contender

The Black Bears have achieved their recent success with a roster that includes seven international players.

“It’s a lot of fun. It’s never boring because you’re always learning something new,” said junior Liz Wood of Catlett, Virginia.

Fourth-year head coach Richard Barron has assembled the group during the last three years, including seven players recruited in 2012. The European contingent features players from Austria, Finland, Sweden, Germany, England, Serbia and Greece.

UMaine, the league regular-season co-champs, includes two players each from Maine and California and one apiece from Virginia, Kentucky and Utah.

In Charlie’s bracketology, there are no easy answers.

After delving into some more history and the underlying stated goals of earlier committees, it seems the commitment to the S-curve takes a distant second place to keeping teams as close to home as possible. So Oregon State, as the last team on the No. 2 line, is back in the Spokane Regional, paired with the final No. 1 seed, Maryland.

That also means the top No. 2 seed, Tennessee, is now with Connecticut, the No. 1 overall seed. That isn’t exactly even at the top, but with the right mix of 3- and 4-seeds, and geography still a priority, the overall regional balance is there.

It’s not ideal for some, but it accurately follows what past committees have done and honors what the NCAA has said is the hope of the individual institutions — to enhance the experience by playing closer to home even if it means a more difficult path.

At Swish Appeal, Mike Robinson argues that Why the Atlantic Sun deserves two teams in this year’s NCAA tournament

No more clockgates? Division I men’s and women’s basketball championships to use advanced timing and replay technologies

Know Your KU History: Tamecka Dixon

Tamecka Dixon is one of only three women’s basketball players to have her number hung in the rafters at Allen Fieldhouse. That’s how good she was.

The Linden, New Jersey native came to Kansas in the fall of 1993 and immediately got started on an impressive Kansas career. As a freshman, she only started six games, but averaged 17 minutes per game off the bench. That year, she averaged 6.8 points per game and helped KU to a second round NCAA tournament appearance. The 22-6 Jayhawks were a nine seed and lost to the top-seeded Penn State Nittany Lions in the second game.

Former Southwood star Alana Beard still on center stage

Watching Alana Beard with a basketball in her hand, while sporting the orange, blue and white uniform of the Southwood Lady Cowboys from 1997-2000, was the sporting equivalent of Princess Odette slicing through the air at the Bolshoi Theater.

“Alana was so smooth in her movements. Great body control,” is how former Southwood head coach Steve McDowell described her.

Ironically, the ballerina-like Beard would more than likely turn down an invitation to ply her trade at the famed Moscow venue…for climatological reasons.

Thanks for losing, Knicks! From the New York Times: The Shy One? She’s the Red Storm’s Fiercest Rebounder – St. John’s Amber Thompson Transforms Herself and Her Team

When Amber Thompson arrived at St. John’s four years ago as the recipient of a basketball scholarship, her body language was not promising. She would hold her hand in front of her face when she spoke. She would look away from others to avoid eye contact. She was so painfully reserved it raised questions about her ability to assert herself on the court.

But then practice began and Thompson unveiled a strikingly different persona, that of a fierce, no-holds-barred competitor intent on succeeding.

Also : F.D.U.-Florham, Division III Champion, Sets Its Sights on Repeating

Marc Mitchell was born and raised in Newark. Now 46, he has coached New Jersey basketball teams — recreation league, middle school, high school and college — for more than 20 years.

Still, he had never heard of Fairleigh Dickinson University, Florham, before applying for the position of women’s basketball coach there in 2009. A few days before interviewing, he called the admissions office and set up a campus tour. He wanted to learn about the college, which is in Madison, about 15 miles west of Newark.

Six years later, Mitchell has helped make F.D.U.-Florham a recognizable name in Division III athletics. The Devils were 33-0 last season and became the first team from New Jersey to win an N.C.A.A. women’s basketball title. This season, their only loss came on Feb. 7, in overtime, when Eastern University ended their 53-game winning streak, the longest in the nation at the time for a men’s or women’s team, regardless of division.

A little W news:

Someone’s cranky: The 2015 Mystics: A lot like the 2014 Mystics

LeanIn.Org Launches “#LeanInTogether” Public Service Campaign

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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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Congrats to coach Jim Foster, who’s coached his fourth team into the top 25.

#22 Georgia suffered two losses against #5 Tennessee –  first  leading scorer Shacobia Barbee, then the game.

Tennessee went more than eight minutes without scoring to start the second half Sunday afternoon.

The Lady Vols shot poorly from the floor (34 percent) and committed 18 turnovers.

But they did make free 20 of 21 free throws. Their uncanny performance from the foul line saved a 59-51 SEC women’s basketball victory before a crowd of 13,428 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

#17 Florida State dispatched Wake Forest, 110-80.

Sue Semrau almost always has a good basketball team. That’s nothing new.

But what the Florida State head coach has this year is something entirely different. What she has this year is a team that is quite capable of winning the ACC. What she has this year is a team that is capable of reaching the Final Four.

Simply put: What she has this year is the most talented team in school history.

Again, bad Big Ten Mojo for Northwestern, as they fall to Penn State, 76-75.

The Sycamores have lost their groove in the MVC, falling to Northern Iowa, 57-56. That puts the Panthers at 6-1 in their conference – but they host conference leader Wichita State next.

So, it’s looking like #7 Maryland may toddle through the Big 10 unscathed. Rutgers, #15 Nebraska and  Iowa look to pose the biggest threat.

Along with Jones, sophomore Lexie Brown added 21 points and fellow sophomore Shatori Walker-Kimbrough finished with 18 points. The seventh-ranked Terrapins 11-game winning streak began after losing at then second ranked Notre Dame on Dec. 3.”We thrive off energy, feeding off of each other and celebrating each other,” Brown said. “That’s when we’re at our best, when our bench is energized and coach B is energized and everyone is pumped up. Obviously today we didn’t show (energy). It definitely wasn’t the best that we’ve played, but top to bottom we had a lot of great moments throughout the team.”

OT in D.C. produced a Debbie Antonelli Special: Seton Hall over Georgetown, 99-85.

No OT needed for this DAS: North Dakota over Eastern Washington, 96-82.

Double-OT gives us a third DAS: Eastern Kentucky over Tennessee Tech, 97-93. EKU features sophomore guard Michaela Hunter,  named the National Mid-Major Women’s Basketball Player of the Week by College Sports Madness.

Don’t blame me, blame Mike Guardabascio (twice: You Should Be Watching Long Beach State Women’s BasketballLong Beach falls to CS Northridge, 67-52.

The CSUN Matadors defeated the current first place Big West team, California State University, Long Beach, 67-52 Saturday night, delivering the first conference defeat to the 49ers this season.

The Matadors battled Long Beach for the lead throughout the two halfs before getting a sufficient lead cushion late in the game and sending the 49ers home with their first loss in two months.

Interesting sequence of games coming up for Maine in the America East: they’ll face the Wildcats (6-1/conf w/ 3-time Rookie of the Week Carlie Pogue) and the Great Danes (7-0/conf. and a rematch of the Bears’ conference opener loss).

George Washington is still rolling through the A-10 (We see you, Jonquel). I’m sure they’re eyeing the Dayton game (Feb. 8th) and the Fordham game (Feb. 22nd).

But, hold on… the Rams lost to the Billikens? Huge win for St. Louis, coming back from 10 down in the first. And congrats to freshman guard Jackie Kemph, who was named the Atlantic 10 Conference women’s basketball Rookie of the Week

Akron escapes the fire of the Chippewas, 74-72, and now leaps into the pan of Ohio.

A poor second half did in Missouri against #14 Kentucky, 83-69.

Iowa State’s Nikki Moody seems to enjoy slaying Texas, bad ankle or no. The Longhorns Texas lost for the fourth time in five games as Lang couldn’t replace all that the Texans have lost with leading scorer and rebounder Nneka Enemkpali going down to the dreaded ACL.

It took overtime, but #15 Duke upset #12 North Carolina behind Williams’ 33. Is it just me, or did anyone else more from Williams day in and day out?

Not so fast there, you – Army gave American U their first Patriot League loss, 68-60, behind League Player of the Week Kelsey Minato. (Wow. In her freshman year, the Californian was the first in Patriot League history to be voted Player and Rookie of the Year.) Rematch on Feb. 21st.

They may not have impressive out-of-conference records, but once they get into SWAC play, it’s all about Texas Southern and Southern.

Don’t want to put the hex on’em, but New Mexico State is now 5-0 in the WAC.

So the dumping of Beth Burns… how’s that workin’ for ya, San Diego State?

Minnesota didn’t get the win against Rutgers, but 36 points from Amanda Zahui B. gets people’s attention.

Zahui B. grew up playing soccer and tennis, singing in the choir and taking theater lessons. She even learned what her mother called “circus acts,’’ such as juggling. “It was nothing for her to pick up something new, and be good at it,’’ her mother said.

She was taller than most of the boys in her class. She began playing basketball when she was 10. By 13, Sweden had added her to its 16-and-under national team and her father was bringing a drum to her games, becoming a one-man pep band.

“I remember when I was younger, people would say, ‘Wow, you are taller than all of the boys,’ ’’ Zahui B. said. “But I’ve never been insecure about my height. My parents always taught me to walk with my back straight.

“When it came to basketball, pretty much my parents begged me to play. They said, ‘We know this coach, go to practice,’ and I stuck. Every practice, I had two or three coaches working with me. It took me two or three weeks to figure out you could only take two steps on a layup.’’

Yes, Green Bay, the Horizon seems to be yours for the taking.

In the “marquee” matchup of ranked teams, the Beavers’ size and on-court execution made the difference:

No. 9 Oregon State proved that they are the team to beat in the Pac-12, defeating the No 13 ASU women’s basketball team 68-57.

“For some reason we were really struggling to play together today on offense,” ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “We were just… not outwardly focused.”

OSU’s long defenders forced ASU to change its offensive flow.

Snap! goes the Toppers 14-game win streak. It was a heartbreaker, with free throws and a waved off basket, as UTSA comes back to take down #24 Western Kentucky, 64-63. It was the program’s first win in history over a ranked opponent.

Who stole the wheels off Oklahoma State’s wagon? TCU carried off their carburetor, 71-62.

That’s 11-straight for Fresno State.

Practices have gotten a little shorter for the Fresno State women’s basketball team.

That doesn’t mean they’ve gotten easier. If anything, practices have gotten more intense for the winners of 10 in a row and off to a perfect start in Mountain West play.

“We’ve got to replicate the game and replicate the scout and make sure that we are going against it at an even higher level than we’ll see in the game,” coach Jaime White said.

In a battle for second place in the WCC, it was BYU over San Diego, 54-50.

“I am really happy we got the win tonight,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “This game reminded me so much of Saint Mary’s where we had a good lead the first half and played really well defensively but came out a little flat and stood around. I think Xojian’s [Harry] 3-pointer that she hit was a big basket for us to kind of take the lid off the basket and loosen us up.”

Countdown watch: In NAIA D1 news, Vanguard’s Russ Davis is 9 wins away from 500.

With another runaway win against Cincinnati, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis moved into 10th all time in Connecticut scoring. UConn’s Geno Auriemma is on his way to 900 wins.

Bracketology, anyone? Charlie says No. 4 seeds are toughest to identify – One seed line means more in 2015 as tourney shifts back to top 16 teams hosting

As discussed in this space a week ago, the No. 1 seeds in women’s college basketball remain unclear after South Carolina and Connecticut. Notre Dame seems to be gaining a stronger hold, but Baylor replaced Tennessee on the top line in the past seven days.

Despite the change, the same teams remain in the conversation for a top seed: Baylor, Tennessee, Maryland and Oregon State (thanks to its huge win at Arizona State this weekend).

In fact, choosing the top three seeds in each region this week was relatively easy. Though their order was tough to distinguish, teams 1-12 were fairly evident.

However, the picture got a whole lot murkier after that.

In W news, John Klein asks: If wins start coming for Shock, will fans follow?

Entertaining is great. Certainly, the Shock has done everything it can to promote its players and the WNBA in Tulsa. Diggins and Sims are among the best female basketball players on the planet.

Still, to really gauge the impact of the WNBA in Tulsa it will take more than scoring a lot of points (the Shock was second in the league last year).

What the Shock needs most to give Tulsa a chance to really appreciate women’s basketball is victories.

You know, you gotta love when the classics are quoted as part of girls basketball coverage. From Cory Olsen at MiLive:

When victorian-era poet Lord Alfred Tennyson said “Trust me not at all, or all in all,” it’s doubtful he had girls basketball in mind — the game was invented just one year before he died in 1891.

Yet that principle of trust is being instilled into the Wayland girls basketball team by head coach Marty Howard and judging by their double-overtime win over visiting Catholic Central Friday night, they’re taking to it very well.

On the flip side, this sounds unpleasant. From San Francisco: Controversy mars girls tournament

A great day of basketball at the Corner Bakery Showdown in Lafayette took a turn when Berkeley’s girls basketball coach Cheryl Draper took her team off the court with 1 minute, 20 seconds left in a game in a loss to Miramonte-Orinda, claiming she and her players heard racial slurs. 

Miramonte led 68-50 at the time, and a second technical foul in a span of a minute — three in all were called against Berkeley — was called against Berkeley point guard Jaimoni Welch-Coleman (20 points) when Draper called timeout and had her players leave the court.

Finally: Just awful news from Michigan: 2 EMU students, including women’s basketball player, killed in overnight Ypsilanti Township crash

Eastern Michigan University has identified two students as the individuals killed in a head-on crash overnight in Ypsilanti Township

Shannise Heady, 21, from Hazel Crest, Ill., and Jordan Hopkins, 23, of Dexter were killed in a crash shortly before 1 a.m. Jan. 25 on Hewitt Road near Midvale, the university said in a press release.

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We’ve been watching this, but it’s lovely to see “mainstream” pick it up. From the West Coast,  Mike Guardabascio of the Press-Telegram writes about the work Long Beach State coach Jody Wynn has done with the 49ers.

Wynn, now in her sixth year as the 49ers’ head coach, grew up in Southern California — Brea — and was a successful swimmer in her youth.

The child of two college athletes — her mom golfed at UCLA and her dad played football at Occidental — Wynn loved to compete from an early age, enjoying the feel of lining up in the starting blocks at junior nationals and big-event swim meets.

“Being something other than your best was not acceptable,” Wynn says. “I was in the water every day before school, after school — I always really wanted to compete to be the best.”

Good news for the Gophers: Injured star Rachel Banham to return for one more season

Speaking of the Gophers, the Scarlet Knights are their next opponent, and they need to pay attention to Cynthia Hernandez, who fills 3-point void for Rutgers women’s basketball
The Rutgers women’s basketball team is no doubt thankful for all those hours Hernandez spent in the park as the first-year junior college transfer filled a longtime void in the offense last game by becoming the first player in almost four years to make as many as five 3s in a game. She did it without missing.
Her indefinite departure is the latest in a series of player losses for USC. Deanna Calhoun left the team last year, and in November, leading scorer Ariya Crook was dismissed for violating team rules. Shortly after that, guards Destine Gibbs and Chyanne Butler also left the team.
A win AND school record: Washington’s Jazmine Davis had 25pts in a win over Colorado and becomes leading scorer in program history at 2,047.

When McKeown took the job at Northwestern seven years ago, Wildcat fans hoped he would have an immediate impact.  They were disappointed.  His first few teams were better fundamentally on the court, but that did not translate to victories. He has recruited better than his predecessors, but transfers and injuries hurt his efforts.

The real turnaround began on Nov. 15, 2012, and it happened in an office and not on the court.  On that day, McKeown signed what will likely be ranked as the best recruiting class in Northwestern history.  The class included four players – three who have become monsters on the court:  Nia Coffey, Ashley Deary, and Christen Inman. After they walked on to campus and into the starting lineup, and the Wildcats haven’t been the same since. 

Dishin’ and Swishin’ returns to cover the start of The Jenny Boucek era in Seattle

Boucek was previously a head coach from 2007 through 2009 in Sacramento, and like the Monarchs, she is inheriting a team long on veterans, that needs to get younger quickly. In this case, however, her team holds the number one overall pick in the upcoming college draft; albeit a draft many do not consider particularly strong, with no clear cut top choice.

Other questions abound, beginning with the health and return of Jackson, and the future of unrestricted free agents Tanisha Wright and Noelle Quinn. There is no denying that this year’s Storm could look significantly different than last year’s team.

Mechelle added: Boucek will lead Storm into new era – Alisha Valavanis, team’s chief operating officer, also in her first year with Seattle

New Seattle Storm coach Jenny Boucek has watched players such as Sue Bird grow up as professionals in the sport of basketball. So have I … but I’ve also watched Boucek grow up, too. When asked earlier this week about moving from her assistant’s role with the Storm, replacing Brian Agler, she talked about her evolution as a student of the game.

“This is ironic — you would understand why, because you watched my playing career — but my specialty has become more offense than defense,” Boucek said.

Boucek started in the WNBA as an unpaid assistant for Nancy Darsch and the Washington Mystics in 1999. She’s spent her career coaching in the WNBA because, she said,  “It captured my heart.” After four years starting for Debbie Ryan’s Virginia Cavaliers, graduation in 1997 found her back on the court, this time wearing a Cleveland Rockers WNBA uniform.

“Just being part of the inaugural season and seeing the potential of this league to impact the country culturally really hit home with me as a young lady. Grown women were crying at our games,” remembered Boucek. “Little girls, who were wide-eyed, now have a different perception of themselves and their potential, their dreams and their opportunities, not just in sports. They see women getting opportunities that they only knew men to have.”

Tough news for the Connecticut Sun: Chiney Ogwumike undergoes the knife
After a 2014 season that often seemed like nothing more than a comedy of errors, the Connecticut Sun received even worse news for the 2015 campaign on Thursday when forward Chiney Ogwumike underwent microfracture knee surgery. Dr. Walter Lowe, the renowned orthopedic surgeon and team physician of the Houston Texans, Houston Rockets, and University of Texas Longhorns, performed the surgery.
Oh, about those games – I’m really looking forward to #9 Oregon State v. #12 Arizona State, aren’t you? Especially now that ESPN has realized the State of Oregon is a Hoops hotbed again

It is, Mandy Close admits, like the proverbial story about the catch of a lifetime, the one in which the fish grows bigger and the catch more legendary with each telling.

Not the details of the play, mind you. Those are right there in the official record, forever immune to embellishment. There really were nine seconds left when Oregon State’s Tiffany Ducker rebounded an Oregon miss and made an outlet pass to Close in the waning moments of the game on Jan. 25, 2006. And Close, her team behind by a point, really did drive the length of the court and, with two seconds remaining, hit a layup at the same time she was fouled.

She hit the free throw, and the Beavers really beat the Ducks 63-61.

What has changed in years of spinning the story — and the story still is spun when Close and former teammates get together — is the backdrop against which it took place. 

We continue to reap the benefits of the Knicks’ losses: School Returns to Dominance, Cranking Up Music and Offense  – Levelland Loboettes Have Regained Their Winning Ways in Texas

 A large sign greets visitors to this small, windswept city in West Texas. Planted on the side of State Highway 114, about 30 miles west of Lubbock, beyond the oil rigs that rise from fallow cotton fields, the sign has borne the brunt of harsh winters and searing summers.

“Welcome to Levelland,” it reads across the top, with twin basketballs framing the words. “Home of the Loboettes.

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After their nice piece on Kansas powerhouse Emporia State, boom, they drop to #3 in the DII polls after a one-point loss against Central Missouri. It’s especially painful ’cause they were outscored 9-1 in the closing minutes of the game.

Lewis University (Ill) moves into first, Pittsburg State University (Kan) second. The Pitt State Gorillas. How can you not cheer for a team like that!?!?!

Granted, it’s been a while since I’ve had an opportunity to indulge in some DII scanning (ain’t doing laundry grand!), but it’s interesting to see that all but two teams have one loss.

BTW, here’s a story that might explain the sudden surge of women’s basketball coverage from the Gray Lady:

Before last Tuesday night, I had never heard the name Scott Cacciola. 

Twenty-four hours later, I’m not certain that I could have been any more excited at the notion of meeting him. Cacciola is in his second year of covering the New York Knicks basketball franchise for the New York Times.

Due to the Knicks’ dismal start (OK, with a 5-35 record at the moment and having won only once in their past 26 games, perhaps atrocious would be more appropriate), the NYT sports editors decided to have mercy on their beat writer and send him around the country to view winning basketball. They fielded hundreds of suggestions from readers and, through a collaboration of sorts, are picking each trip one game at a time.

So, for the next couple of months, he’s become a modern sports version of “On the Road” with Charles Kuralt.

And he started with the nation’s top-ranked program in NCAA Division II.

Lose, Knicks, lose! (Can you tell I moved from Boston to NYC?)

In the DIII poll, last year’s champeens, Farleigh Dickinson U – Florham (N.J) are going strong at 13-0. Wonder if their governor knows they exist? Perennial top-position teams lurk below: Thomas More College (KY) (love their headline, “Tomas Uses Big Second Half Run to Veto Presidents.” And forcing 43 turnovers against Thief college? Love it.), Amherst College, Washington University – St. Louis and University of St. Thomas, (MN). Lots and lots of familiar names fill out the ranks.

The Jeffs better be careful, though… the NY Times just wrote about them, though this time it’s Jere’, so maybe they’re safe: At Amherst, Division III Team With No. 1 Ambition

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Nice story from Lauren Kirschman: When Beaver Falls won a women’s basketball national championship

Joy Jeter still remembers sitting on a bus to Boston in 1987, reading and then passing along positive sayings as the University of New Haven women’s basketball team made its way to the NCAA Division II national championship game.

The Chargers needed the extra boost of confidence. They were the underdogs, after all. Cal-Poly Pomona was the two-time defending national champion. New Haven, on the other hand, had just earned the program’s first NCAA Tournament win that season.

Speaking of history and legacy: Storm’s Karen Bryant, first executive of women’s basketball in Seattle, starts a new life

Karen Bryant pulls a poster out of a half-full box. It’s an 18-year-old Seattle Reign ad promoting the defunct American Basketball League.

IT’S ABOUT COMMITMENT.

IT’S ABOUT RESPECT.

IT’S ABOUT REWRITING HISTORY.

IT’S ABOUT !&+%*! TIME.

She laughs at the audacity. She finds another ad.

On October 27th, God will look down from the heavens and see women playing professional basketball.

There are so many boxes, so many memories. Cards from Seattle Children’s Hospital patients. Letters from dads who took their daughters to a WNBA game for the first time. Thank-you notes from women proud to watch other women live their dreams on a basketball court.

WATN? WNBA old timers will remember this name: Albright announces the addition of Rousseau to coaching staff

Speaking of assistants: Ex-Michigan State women’s basketball star Lindsay Bowen coaching now

Bowen, who is entering her second season as an assistant at Florida International, would like to duplicate the success she had in East Lansing when she helped the Spartans win a Big Ten title and reach the 2005 national championship game.

“I would love to put a program on the map or take them to a national championship or win championships,” Bowen said. “That’s what I dreamed about when I was a little girl and it came true in the playing days, so hopefully it comes true in the coaching days, too.”

Nice to know she’s still playing: Polish club Basket ROW Rybnik has announced the signing of American power forward Drey Mingo.

Fox News’ Shepard Smith is cool: (‘CAUSE HE CHALLENGED RACHEL MADDOW!!!)

Wilkes University President is cool.

The Lady Devils are cool:

Fort Hays State is cool.

High schools are coolNFA girls’ basketball is Chillin’ 4 Charity

But some high schools are NOT: Inglewood Girls Basketball Coach Says School Raided Account

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even after my fabulous trip to Omaha (with a drive by workshop with the amazing folks at the Omaha Community Playhouse), visits with various parental units book-ending an intense Summer Professional Development Institute with Early Childhood educators…and then my cable/internet access goes out (Thanks TWC!) …I find that nothing much has changed in the W. Folks are still pounding the heck outta each other and nothing seems guaranteed. Unless you’re Phoenix. (Now if that doesn’t put the kibosh on ’em, NOTHIN’ will…)

Catching up on the games I missed with Richard at WNBAlien.

On the good news side: Catch is back. (No, the pun wasn’t intended, but I’ll take it!)

Faith, fitness and a new pregame routine are allowing Tamika Catchings to perform as if she is 25 again — not 35, which is what she turns on her birthday Monday.

She scored 14 of her 25 points in the fourth quarter Thursday night, leading the Indiana Fever to a rare 82-64 blowout of the Chicago Sky at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

On the bad news side: Delisha is out. How is it possible that she is 39? Yes, I know she didn’t start with the league in ’97, but I still group her and Becky as “one of the originals.” Totally sucks. 

And yes, I was surprised when Milton was switched out of Cash. Really? Why? But, Swin Cash is happy to be in New York

On the “huh!” side, just when I thought Cappie and the Lib were on their deathbed, the revive enough to annoy the heck outta the Dream. Still, my eyes aren’t shining with joy when I think about NY.. sigh.

Looking at the standings, it’s a bit shocking to see where Chicago has landed – even with all their injuries. (I point to Indiana and coach Dunn’s effort.) The Sky has a helluva a lot of talent, and yet??? (Oh, and Delle Donne won’t attend WNBA All-Star Game.)

The same could be said for LA – and they don’t really have an injury excuse. Makes me wonder about chemistry and coaching.

It just shows that coaching in the W IS important — and hard to quantify/qualify. Just like Donovan hasn’t been the “disaster” that some folks presumed, Mike hasn’t been the Mystics’ miracle worker (yet?). Albert Lee wonders: Who will be the Washington Mystics’ best player over the next several years?

Lots to look forward in the second half of the season — especially if Augustus and Brunson return. Ditto for EDD. Games I’m looking forward to:

  • July 22: Atlanta @ Minnesota (How does the Dream hold up against the West second time through?)
  • Juy 24: Phoenix @ L.A. (This is the time for LA to make their push)
  • July 29: L.A. @ Phoenix (see above)
  • August 5: Atlanta @ Phoenix (Deja vu West Coast Test)
  • August 7: Chicago @ Minnesota (If they have their full compliment, and they’re making a run at the playoffs, this game could be key)
  • August 8: Connecticut @ New York (This game could be about draft picks and/or a playoff spot.)
  • August 10: Atlanta @ Chicago (Again, health and a run for a playoff spot could be at stake)
  • August 16: LA @ Phoenix (These two teams don’t like each other… the end of the season is approaching… playoffs are at stake…. what’s NOT to like?)

From Mechelle: WNBA first half: The good, the bad

Right now, there is no WNBA team flying higher than Phoenix, which has the best record in the league and is host to the All-Star Game on Saturday (ESPN, 3:30 p.m. ET). Now there’s some serendipity.

When the 2014 season began, defending champion Minnesota appeared to be the favorite, and the Lynx are still a threat to win it all. But they need to get healthier, and they know that the Mercury’s confidence is brimming.

Phoenix and Minnesota also have Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore leading the MVP race, along with Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry. The Dream are atop the East but are thinking bigger than that. After coming away empty-handed from three trips to the WNBA Finals, Atlanta — with Michael Cooper now as its coach — wants to get past that ceiling. 

In terms of the schedule, we are actually already past the midway point of the season. Seattle, in fact, has just 10 games left. But it’s still a good time to assess where every team is and  hand out some grades. Considering most of the league is around or below .500, it stands to reason that there’s a pretty big gap between those earning A’s and everyone else.

From Swish Appeal: How is each WNBA team faring at the All-Star break?

Speaking of the All Star Game: Albert is cranky at these decisions: 2014 WNBA All-Star Game: Sue Bird and Ivory Latta named as injury replacements. Which is a little goofy (infuriating?). Mostly, I think, because, even when they DON’T intend to, it always seems folks are blaming the players for the selection process. (Flashback to Sue Wicks’ selection). ‘sides, Sue herself is honest enough to wonder how she got the nod to attend. But, USA Basketball thinks she’s still got enough to do a feature on her: Before They Made It: Sue Bird

Nate points out the “snubs.” (Another word I dislike, ’cause it brings it to the personal, where there are always so many intangibles involved…)

Obviously, folks on Twitter weighed in about the selections almost immediately. Swish Appeal readers have already commented and voted about the matter. And I pre-emptively posted a table of statistics that should make it pretty easy to glean who I think the biggest snubs, er, candidates for replacement spots are.

With some time to think things over, let’s try to bring that together to see who are the players most deserving of a replacement spot.

Oh – and it bloody-well be a sellout so the West Coast franchises will stop ducking the responsibility for hosting the beast. (And West Coast fans can stop whining about it “always being on the East Coast.”) Put your money and your organizational skills where your mouth is, I say….

More on the game:

Can’t avoid it: Diggins an All-Star on, off the court

Not even Drake’s infatuation can throw Skylar Diggins off her game.

From Elliot: Stanford graduates Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike meet again as WNBA all stars

Nneka Ogwumike could afford to play the charitable big sister last weekend when her Los Angeles Sparks demolished Chiney Ogwumike’s Connecticut Sun 90-64 in basketball’s version of Family Feud.

While running down the court in the second half, Nneka told Chiney, “Hey, tie your shoe.”

Always the protector, Chiney recounted this week as she and her sister prepared for round two Saturday in the WNBA all-star game at US Airways Center in Phoenix.

More on the sisters from Doug: Ogwumike sisters headline WNBA All-Star reserves

Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike became the first pair of sisters to be chosen to participate in the WNBA All-Star game when the league announced the reserves on Tuesday night.

“It means the world to me because, honestly, I didn’t expect to come to the league and be able to feel like a confident player,” Chiney Ogwumike said of the honor. “You expect rookie struggles, and I have struggled at times, but I have great teammates who lift me up, and I have an organization that gives me so much confidence. And to be there alongside my sister. … I think it’s just awesome and I feel blessed.”

The sisters are amazing enough for the NY Times to have given them some space: Rivalry Begins for Sisters With Ambition – Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike, Sisters and No. 1 Picks, Face Off

Shortly after she was selected in April as the No. 1 overall pick in the W.N.B.A. draft by the Connecticut Sun, Chiney Ogwumike moved into her own apartment. During her first visit, Ify Ogwumike, Chiney’s mother, presented her second-oldest daughter with a housewarming gift that carried a not-so-subtle message, a study guide for the Graduate Record Examination.

“She put it purposely on my night stand,” Chiney Ogwumike said this month. “It’s ominous, watching me all the time.”

Brittney Griner set for 1st healthy WNBA All-Star Game

Around this time a year ago, Brittney Griner wasn’t in a good place. The Mercury center was struggling to recover from a sprained left knee and brooding over the realization that she would have to miss the 2013 WNBA All-Star Game.

Sitting out any game is no fun for an athlete. Sitting out your first All-Star Game after being voted in by the fans in your rookie season — that takes disappointment to another level.

“It sucked,” Griner said. “It definitely sucked, not being able to play and having to sit there and watch everybody else. It was horrible.”

And yes, we noticed: Griner blossoming in WNBA after rough first year

Which is why Swish Appeal has a Q&A with Diana Taurasi: Phoenix Mercury’s hot start, Brittney Griner’s improvement, the WNBA title chase

What about those Merc? Deflecting Brondello leads Mercury rise

Right, the players make the plays and it’s wise for a coach to keep everyone aware of it.

“Obviously, the organization and detailed work that Sandy’s put in every day has kind of made us really focus going into games,” Taurasi said of Brondello, a former world-class guard from Australia whom she played for in Russia the past two winters. “Knowing what we’re doing on both sides of the ball … that’s really helped.”

VIDEO: From Ben and the .com: Taurasi and Catchings (Please, please, pleeeease let them both be in Turkey!!!)

From Jayda: The Storm’s Brian Agler talks about his team and its struggles

Q: The roster has suffered a few setbacks. How do you think the team has handled adversity headed into the All-Star break?

Agler: There’s been a lot of inconsistencies with our team this year. Like a lot of teams, we haven’t had a lot of time to practice because the season is 2½ weeks shorter. … I don’t think our defense has been up to par with the (Storm) teams in the past. I see that as a lack of court time because there are some things that need practice repetition. But we talk about it and understand the importance. So, that’s our focus, to become consistent on the quality of our play.

Shoni rules the World of Jersey. (The jersey that you wear, silly!)

Speaking of Shoni, from the Journal-Courier: Schimmel, McCoughtry stick with U of L roots

Shoni Schimmel and Angel McCoughtry are enjoying their first season as teammates on the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, and the partnership of the two greatest alumnae in University of Louisville women’s basketball history will reach new heights on Saturday when they both start in the league’s All-Star Game in Phoenix.

From USA Today, David Woods asks: Who is the greatest women’s basketball player ever?

It’s easy to ignite discussion in a bar or chat room on who’s the greatest male basketball player of all time. M.J. or Kareem? Wilt or Russell? What about LeBron?

What about the female players?

That might be a more difficult conversation. Not because there aren’t candidates, but because it’s a list that can’t easily be pared.

“It’s just like the NBA or the NFL. You can’t say there’s one player because that’s how good the game is, and that’s how much it’s evolved over the years,” said Kelly Krauskopf, president and general manager of the Indiana Fever. “That’s the way it should be.”

In other news:

Catching up with Texas Tech’s “no tolerance” policy: Texas Tech reinstates Nigel Bethel II and Video of Nigel Bethel Punching Amber Battle During Texas Tech Pickup Basketball Game Emerges After Grand Jury Dismisses Charges

Cool: Sugden makes history at the Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championships

From Paul (who I hope to cross paths with in Istanbul): Waiting for the youth scene to catch fire in 2014

Having written last week about the various shortcomings on court at the FIBA U17 World Championship for Women, I have to confess my spirit was barely lifted by the U20 European Championship Women.

The play seemed to me at least, to be of an inferior quality to many previous editions. The Final itself, between eventual winners France and their opponents Spain, was exciting in terms of its conclusion due to the fact it went to overtime.

But, whichever way you dress it up and even taking into account the mitigation of some excellent defense – which was highlighted by Spanish senior team boss Lucas Mondelo – it was not the spectacle you would expect and epitomised much of the tournament.

From Connecticut: KML ready for senior moment

For three years, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis has talked about looking up to the likes of Kelly Faris, Bria Hartley, and Stefanie Dolson on the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team.

But the tables have now turned on the Anaheim Hills, Calif., native. She and Kiah Stokes are the only seniors on the Huskies’ 2014-15 roster.

“There is definitely a lot more pressure, and a lot more responsibility,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “But the people on this team, they take care of themselves.”

Oops and ouch: Naje Gibson, a talented women’s basketball recruit, will not attend Pitt this year as she is academically ineligible.

From the Ames Tribune: “Fab Five” freshmen add versatility, depth to ISU

Rare has been the year in Iowa State women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly’s tenure that he could call upon nine or 10 players in a given game or even play a proper five-on-five scrimmage without one team blowing out the other.

That may change this season.

More from Iowa: Polish team takes a chance on injured Poppen

Chelsea Poppens knew that her stock was down after rupturing her ACL in January during her stint in Australia and that any overseas professional team picking her up for the upcoming winter season would be taking a chance.

Lublin of the Polish league took that chance on the 6-foot-2 former Iowa State forward this week, signing Poppens for the upcoming season that starts in September, about one month after she is tentatively projected to fully recover from her injury.

More international basketball news: For Fort Gibson ex, this move requires a passport

Slowly, over the course of time, Carissa Crutchfield has drifted away from home.

That current joins with a tidal wave in a few weeks.

From Fort Gibson to Oklahoma State to the University of Arizona, Crutchfield will head to Krasnoyarsky Russia, to begin a pro basketball career. It’s Russia, but smack-dab in the middle of Siberia, 2,500 miles or a five-hour flight from the capital city of Moscow.

From the Daily Californian: Cal women’s basketball must develop role players

Depth was a major issue for the Bears last season, and it was evident in their lack of a second-string point guard to back up Boyd. When Boyd left the floor to rest or because of foul trouble, Gottlieb was forced to play Afure Jemerigbe at point guard. The Bears also had little depth behind Gray and hit lulls in scoring whenever she left the floor.

Despite losing a major cog in Brandon, Cal projects to bounce back, improving its role players as well as its main stars. Gottlieb’s quick-paced tempo complements Boyd and Gray with the Bears running up and down the court every chance they get. Gottlieb plays to the team’s strengths, allowing Boyd and other wings to gamble and trap around the perimeter to force turnovers, leading to easy buckets in transition.

Tough news from down the road:

Former Campbell Hall girls’ basketball standout Lauren Holiday has taken a medical retirement from basketball at UCLA.

She will remain with the team as an undergraduate assistant.

Holiday suffered from multiple concussions and was the subject of a Times’ story last February looking at head injuries among women athletes.

Fun stuff: Central Kitsap’s new girls basketball coach Nikki Nelson a dribbling phenom

Nelson, a Chewelah native (that’s about an hour north of Spokane if you didn’t know) was a ball-handling wunderkind and can probably still get it done today.Check out this video of Nelson performing at halftimeat a Seattle SuperSoncis game (remember them?) on April 4, 2014

More from the Courier-Journal crew: Walz ready to replace U of L women’s vets (and congrats on the munchkin, Jeff!)

On Tuesday, U of L coach Jeff Walz said his program is on task and headed in the right direction, despite the challenges presented by the departures of WNBA All-Star Shoni Schimmel, standout forward Asia Taylor and two other key seniors.

Having five freshmen ready to play is a big factor in that transition, Walz said.

“I’m really excited about where they are now and even more excited about where they’ll be in two or three months,” Walz said.

The freshman class is built around wing Mariya Moore, a McDonald’s All-American who will play for the USA under-18 team this summer. Walz is an assistant coach for that team.

A little more from Louisville: Jeff Walz summer Q&A, WNBA, newcomers, more

All right, I’m going to admit something. University of Louisville coach Jeff Walz held a news conference to update some news with his women’s basketball program today, but I got distracted by his 13-month-old daughter, Lola, during the news conference and only caught about half of what he said.

So here’s a transcript of a portion his news conference from today — with the obligatory Lola photo gallery attached

Good news in Nashville: Vanderbilt’s Rebekah Dahlman back after health scare

“I stepped off the court and I was like, ‘Something is wrong,'<TH>” Dahlman said. “I took off my arm sleeve and I just noticed that my arm was completely black and blue and very swollen. Like double the size of my left arm.”

What happened next is a blur in Dahlman’s memory. Trainers rushed her to the emergency room at the university’s medical center.

“I’m kind of freaking out,” Dahlman said. “I didn’t know what to think and didn’t know what to do.”

From Georgia’s Telegraph: Lady Vols’ Massengale eager for comeback

Tennessee is preparing to welcome back a senior point guard while monitoring the status of an ailing post player.

Ariel Massengale is looking forward to returning for her senior season after missing the final 16 games of the 2013-14 season with a head injury. Massengale, who also underwent offseason surgery on her right knee, says she’s hoping to be 100 percent by the start of the school year next month.

While Massengale awaits her return, sophomore center Mercedes Russell is recovering from offseason surgery to her right foot. Lady Vols coach Holly Warlick said Russell is out kind of indefinitely right now” and was uncertain whether the injury would affect the 6-foot-6 center’s status for the start of the season.

Sports Illustrated on a former Vol: Where are they now: Catching up with Chamique Holdsclaw

She turned herself in to the police two days later and spent a night in jail, where heckling inmates challenged her to  games of one-on-one. Holdsclaw finally decided to deal with her depression. “This wasn’t the court saying that I had to do therapy or anything of that sort,” she strains to note. “This was all me trying to get things right in my life.”

On her lawyer’s recommendation, she hired a forensic psychologist to audit her medical records; he referred her to another psychologist who, after a 15-minute review, revealed that she didn’t just have clinical depression she also had bipolar II disorder. “And I’m like, Man, you got all that in 15 minutes?”

The news was upsetting but also came as a relief. Now there was and explanation for the the emotional swings she had experienced. Furthermore, the psychologist noted, Holdsclaw was not only taking the wrong drugs to treat the wrong ailment, but also taking them at the wrong times. After switching to a new drug, Depakote, a mild mood stabilizer, and a new therapist with whom she meets with once a week, she has noticed a major difference. “Looking back,” she says, “I really should’ve been in therapy more. It’s changed my life. It’s like you come in one person and leave another.”

The fabulous Nancy Fahey and her amazing Washington U (St. Louis) program goes dunlin‘.

Dicky V is all wet:

And are the stripped shirts!

Signing off! Thank you, oh Coffee Shoppe, for your internet access….

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Florida:

For the past few days, dozens of women’s basketball coaches across the country have willingly let their players, fellow coaches, or administrators dump buckets of ice cold water over the heads.

Friday, Miami coach Katie Meier became one of the latest to let herself get soaked as part of the #Chillin4Charity campaign that is raising money for the Kay Yow Fund

Here’s how it works: 

After being called out be a fellow coach, a coach has 48 hours to complete the Cold Water Challenge by allowing a bucket of ice water to be dumped over their head. Once the challenge is completed, the challenging coach donates $50 to the Kay Yow Fund. If a challenged coach fails to complete the challenge within 48 hours, he or she must donate $250 to the charitable fund, named in honor of former N.C. State women’s basketball coach Kay Yow who died in 2009 after a third bout with breast cancer.

You can follow the Icey Cold Water Dumpings on twitter at #Chillin4Charity. (Hmmmm…. I’m surprised there is the @Chillin4Charity… hint, hint)

Jayda:

Red Raiders:

Michigan

Seattle Storm:

Will The Bun chicken out??

And speaking of the Land of the Bun, the Land of the Sun and fundraising opportunities: What are folks doing during the WNBA All Star Game in Phoenix? They SHOULD be CHILLIN4CHARITY!

Oh, and speakin’ folks who could be chillin’ – Where’re my Division II, Division III and NJCAA champeens at?

FDU-Florham: You were the first women’s team from New Jersey ever to win a national collegiate basketball championship AND you were perfect in your run to the top. How else would a New Jersey team celebrate a championship but make coach Marc Mitchell “swim with the ice fishes”?

Bentley: YOU were perfect in your run to the top. Doesn’t your coach, Barbara Stevens, deserve to “chill” after you had to come back from a 9-pt deficit to win?

Trinity Valley: You had one blemish on your run to the top, but have won back-to-back-to-BACK titles. Take a load off and chill with your championships, coach Elena Lovato.

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By yours truly, over at Full Court: Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2014: Yolanda Griffith – Perennial underdog arrives at pinnacle

Tracing Yolanda Griffith’s route to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, one sees a career that might have been de-railed but was, instead, constantly re-railed. Those who watched the 6-4 center play in the ABL and WNBA will remember her as fierce, focused competitor. But, said Griffith, “That happened later.”

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First and foremost, a huge shout out to Barb Stevens and her Bentley University team. Not only did they earn the Division II crown, they went undefeated, AND they came back from 9 down with less than six minutes to go.

With her team down nine points with 51⁄2 minutes left in the NCAA Division 2 championship game, Bentley coach Barbara Stevens allowed herself a moment of consolation.

“I had a fleeting thought looking up at the clock at one point where I said, ‘OK, it’s been a good season,’ ” Stevens said.

It was about to get much, much better.

****

“We looked at each other with six minutes left and knew we had to give it everything we had,” grad student Courtney Finn said. “We had our backs against the wall and really had nothing to lose down nine points. We had six minutes left in our careers and we had to give it everything we had.”

That’s  No. 917 for coach Stevens – and her first national championship.

“I can’t tell you what a tremendous ride this has been for our coaching staff and the Bentley community,” said Stevens. “What a ride for these young ladies and proud of them doesn’t begin to describe how I feel. We’ve gone through so much together and they are truly champions.”

From John Dudley at the Erie-Times News:

The banner above Barbara Stevens in Bentley’s small sea of blue Friday night at Erie Insurance Arena read “Finished Business.”

Some business takes longer to finish.

Stevens, Division II women’s basketball’s winningest coach, finally won a title on her second try 37 seasons into what’s already been a Hall of Fame career.

The last 28 of those seasons have been with the Falcons, with whom she’s been to nine NCAA semifinals, two finals and, now, one mountaintop.

Not such good news for two coaches: Rhode Island is looking for a new leader, as is Minnesota. Rhodie looking of a new boss was not surprising, but for some, Borton’s firing was. Not for those around the program, though.

Jonathan Hawthorne writes: Paul Westhead’s time with Oregon women’s basketball inconsistent but impactful

The team, who was saddened by the news of his departure from Eugene, clearly enjoyed his style of play and mentorship.

“To play for a coach like him, who’s coached NBA players and won championships, it’s probably the highlight of my career because he has taught me so much,” Jillian Alleyne said after the game. “He taught me ultimately to believe in myself, that I can be any kind of player I want to be. So it’s been a great honor and a great pleasure.”

Speaking of coaches in unhappy situations, Kate Fagan dives into the rabbit hole that is the she said/she said of BU’s Kelly Greenberg: Two Distinct Portraits of Greenberg

Kristen Sims, a former Boston University women’s basketball player, remembers how head coach Kelly Greenberg supported her unconditionally before and after her knee surgery, taking Sims to doctor’s appointments and constantly checking in to see whether she needed anything.

Jacy Schulz, another former BU player, remembers the time she entered Greenberg’s office and the coach placed a box of Kleenex on the desk to signal what was to come. “She said I was a waste of life, and that I should never have been born,” Schulz told espnW.com.

Both Sims and Schulz speak with the conviction that comes from personal experience. This is exactly how it happened for me. And according to more than a dozen interviews conducted with former BU players, each of the above interactions reflects the dramatically divergent experiences of the young women who have played for Greenberg over the years.

Joan Venocchi at the Boston Globe writes: A bully, or a booster

Who’s the real Kelly Greenberg?

The two sides to her story sound like parallel worlds of a college hoops universe.

From Allie Grasgreen at Inside Higher Ed: Equal Opportunity Bullying

It’s clear that bullying and emotional abuse by coaches of any gender has deep roots. But several complaints and lawsuits in recent months focused more attention on behavior that people would historically expect to see more from men.

In WNBA news:

You stay put:  Atlanta Dream re-signs All-Star C Erika de Souza after career-best season

You also stay put: Quigley & Warley Re-sign with Chicago and Sun Sign Hightower, Greene

You go back: Katie Douglas leaving Fever as for Sun

You come here: Fever announce signing of Marissa Coleman and Sky sign free-agent forward Breland

Will you come here? Phoenix Mercury today acquired the rights to Polish center Ewelina Kobryn from the Seattle Storm in exchange for forward Charde Houston

And yah, WNBA Makes If Official: 2014 Draft At Mohegan Sun On April 14

WATN? Kelly Mazzante: Mazzante’s return to Hershey for state finals brought back a lot of memories; and not all were good-The former Montoursville High and Penn State star worked the state basketball finals for PCN.

WATN? Keri Chaconas: Former WNBA player settles in Huntersville

Holm grew up in northern Virginia, where she began playing basketball at a young age. Her prowess in the sport as a prep player landed her a scholarship at George Mason, her home school, in 1992.

She took advantage of the opportunity.

While Holm didn’t get a chance to play in an NCAA tournament game during her time with the Patriots, she almost single-handedly vaulted George Mason into a contender for the Colonial Athletic Association title.

Holm’s success as a 3-point shooter – her 218 treys have her tops in school history – helped drive George Mason to the CAA championship game in 1994, where the Patriots fell to powerhouse Old Dominion and their star freshman Ticha Penicheiro, 78-61.

From the AP’s Paul Newberrry: Szabados inspiring but women deserve more

 

But the fact that Szabados’ only real playing option after Canada’s thrilling victory was to sign on with the low-level Southern Professional Hockey League shows just how far women’s sports still lags behind, despite all the progress in the last four decades under Title IX.

At the very least, Szabados and so many other female athletes deserve leagues of their own.

Outside of the WNBA, there’s virtually no conduit for women to make a decent wage in North American team sports after their high school and college careers are over. That’s why Szabados eagerly joined the SPHL for a few games, even though some viewed it as nothing more than a publicity stunt for a team averaging less than 3,000 fans a game. That’s why Jen Welter – all 5-foot-2, 130 pounds of her – is playing in a men’s football league, taking on guys more than twice her size.

They have no choice, their options are limited.

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WBCA consultant and longtime CEO Betty Jaynes dies at 68

Betty Faith (Jump Shot) Jaynes, who for 38 years was a leading figure nationally in the sport of women’s basketball and the first executive director of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), died today. She was 68.

Jaynes died at St. Mary’s Hospice House in Athens, Ga., after a brief illness.

Jaynes was named the WBCA’s first executive director in September 1981. Her title was changed to CEO in September 1996. Under Jaynes’ leadership the WBCA established itself as a leading resource, voice and advocate for coaches of women’s basketball, growing from 212 members in its initial year of existence to more than 3,000 at the time of her retirement as CEO in November 2001. Jaynes also was a staunch advocate for and defender of Title IX.

“We are all deeply saddened by the loss of Betty Jaynes,” said Florida State head coach and WBCA President Sue Semrau. “She built the WBCA from the ground up. She helped give coaches of women’s basketball a voice and successfully fought for those of us in this profession to be treated equitably. Each of us who coaches women’s basketball owes Betty a huge debt of gratitude.”

 

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From Michelle: Rivals team up for a cause – Cal’s Lyles, Stanford’s Kokenis work to support LGBT inclusion in sports

During a week when rival teams dig in and prepare, Mikayla Lyles and Toni Kokenis are reaching out. During a week when programs with a history might be talking a little trash, Lyles and Kokenis want to start a dialogue.

Lyles, a senior guard from Cal, and Kokenis, who played three seasons at Stanford before concussions forced her off the court, carved out time this week — in the run-up to the annual back-to-back games between the Bears and Cardinal — to create a shared space for inclusion and a conversation about acceptance.

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UConn’s Morgan Tuck To Have Surgery, out for season, leaving the Huskies with 8 scholarship players for the rest of the season. (7 for their next game: Banks is out with an ankle sprain.)

You can hear coaches game planning: “What we need to do is get them into foul trouble.” True, but not as easy as it sounds. UConn has adjusted nicely to the new rules, especially considering the fierce defense they play. Things could get interesting in the paint!

Speaking of interesting:

Gaels are now 9-0 in the MAAC. Their biggest threats the rest of the (conference) season lurks at the end of their schedule: Quinnipiac and Marist.

As mentioned, big win for Cynthia Cooper as USC takes down #19 California. (Somebody stop Ariya Crook, writes Nick Kranz) With some nice recruits coming in next year, things are looking good for the Trojan program.

Staying with the Pac 12, Oregon surprised Washington State and earned their first conference win.

The #14 Sun Devils needed free throws to escape the Utes and, in the battle of great names (Nyingifa v Ogwumike), it was close in the first half but #4 Stanford pulled away in the second for a 17pt win over UCLA.

In the Battle of CAA Unbeatens, JMU returns to the Beast of the CAA role with 74-47 win over Drexel.

Upcoming games of interest:

Sunday brings us a little SEC “legit” road test: #10 South Carolina v. #16 Vanderbilt (2pm ESPN2) followed by #11 Tennessee v. #17 Texas A&M at 4pm. BTW, Dave’s podcast asks: #WhyNotVandy? Melanie Balcomb & Vanderbilt host South Carolina in a battle of SEC upstarts.

“Big Monday” means USC v. Stanford for the top spot in the Pac 12. Which means  Tina Thompson and Candice Wiggins will do a little Twitter ‘Smack Talk’

From Todd Carton: Can the Terps stop the Irish Invasion?

Glenn Logan worries about Kentucky:

I hate to say it, but right now, the women’s Kentucky Wildcats basketball team is just not very good. They are shooting the ball extremely poorly, and the object of the game of basketball, or at least one of the two main ones, is to put the ball into the basket. Kentucky is defending well enough to win, but when they simply cannot score.

Better, but a lot of ground to be made up: Texas women’s basketball still struggling to reinvigorate fan base – Over past decade, average home attendance has declined by half

Spotlight #1: Dunbar’s Rowe poised to become Middle Tennessee’s all-time scoring leader

Also the school’s all-time rebound leader, Rowe is averaging 22.2 points and 11.7 rebounds this season. She has 16 double-doubles, including 10 in a row, and a school-record 69 in her career.

“I’m not the fanciest, I can’t do the best moves, not the quickest, can’t jump the highest. But I’m just in a system that all five people on the court know what to do, and we work so well together.”

Spotlight #2: UNC’s Diamond DeShields dares to dream

UNC’s leading scorer can splice two defenders, perform pirouettes on her way to the basket, make passes that some point guards would never dare try to make. When she makes a routine play by her standards, a highlight reel, “did-you-see-that?!” play by layman’s standards, DeShields, 18, simply smiles, a cheek-to-cheek glow that lifts her 6-foot-1-inch body off the hard court.

“It can make me very happy,” DeShields said of basketball, “but it can also make me really mad.”

Spotlight #3: Jersey girl Mabrey boosts Irish

In WNBA land, Nate has: 2013 Tulsa Shock season review: What kind of talent did Fred Williams inherit?

In the “Please Buy The Sparks” vein, it’s James Bowman with Sparks Watch Day 24: The Vetting Process

SPOILER ALERT!!! That’s 900 wins for Bentley’s Barb Stevens. BTW, the Falcons are undefeated this season, and sit atop the DII poll.

Up next, Jim Foster going for #800.

Don’t have Netflix? Check this out! “Off The Rez,” the documentary about Louisville’s Shoni and Jude Schimmel from the Umatilla reservation, will finally be available for download TODAY, Jan 24, on iTunes and VOD platforms.

Great excuse to remind you of more good stuff (though it’s old): Eight Native Basketball Players You Need to Know Better: Cliff Johns the first Native American to play for legendary NCAA coach Lute Olsen at the University of Arizona; Kenny Dobbs, the all-universe dunking star; University of Kansas and WNBA star guard Angel Goodrich; Hall-of-Famer Reyneldi Becenti who was the first Native American to play in the WNBA; Two-time Continental Basketball Association champion with the Yakama Sun Kings Richard Dionne; GinaMarie Scarpa, cofounder of the Native American Basketball Invitational basketball tournament.

And did you catch this piece from Graham? Green Bay’s Tesha Buck embraces heritage

To understand her is to understand the universality of a father’s influence on a daughter. Her struggles with separation from what was familiar are the same as those of freshmen across the country. So, too, her ability to eventually adapt and thrive in that new setting. It is a story of someone who aspires to live up to the words tattooed above an ink basketball on her torso: Strong Hearted Woman.

To understand why that is only part of the story is to understand that “Strong Hearted Woman” is merely a translation of the words inscribed permanently on her skin. The words themselves are written in the Dakota language. The language of those who came before her. Of where she comes from. A language and a history rarely represented on Division I basketball courts.

Back in November, Brent Cahwe’s 10 Native American Basketball Players to watch this College Basketball season included Tesha and also named Lakota Beatty, Oklahoma State; Keli Warrior, Kansas; Abby Scott, New Mexico State; and Shauna Long, Lamar University.

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(Is that the laziest, over-used, faux adjective of the 20-teens or what!?!?!), it’s just that when I look at the Dream’s 10-1 record, I’m not impressed. Yes, Angel IS On Fire, but as I mentioned earlier, it’s July 9th (ESPN2, 8pm and, Hello .com, the link to Ticketscalper doesn’t work) that I have circled on my schedule. ’cause until then, I still have Chicago (they who stomped the Sparks without a dinged up Syl) and Minnesota (they who also stomped the Sparks, but tomorrow ought to be interesting)  in a very entertaining Finals.

San Antonio reeeeeeally needs to get their team healthy. As do the Fever.

Seattle reeeeeally has to think about who they want to take with the first pick. Though I would agree with this: KeyArena: the WNBA’s best venue

Okay, so maybe Corey’s seat is not so toasty any more. Ah, the taste of victory. And the arrival on court of an Aussie. And the help of NBA friends saying “What the frack are you running?” CT Post’s Kevin Duffy writes: Griner’s time coming, but Saturday belonged to Taurasi

In 2006, Taurasi averaged 25.3 points per contest, the first of her five scoring titles. The following year, she made her playoff debut, guiding the Mercury to the WNBA title. In doing so, she became the seventh player in history to capture championships at the collegiate, professional and Olympic level.

At the time, Griner was in her second year of organized basketball. And she was already the subject of her first Sports Illustrated article.

“(Taurasi) has seen and done it all,” Griner said before Saturday night’s game at Mohegan Sun. “It just makes it easier when you come in and have a leader like that on the court.”

It does, especially when the leader shoots fadeaways off one foot, hits cutters with no-look passes and dominates a pro game with a casual offensive flair you’d expect to see in pick-up.

Hey, Van and Mike are now tied!

Speaking of the (almost) past: From Patricia Babcock McGraw: Thompson’s long ride about to end

Daily vitamins have helped.

So has a healthy diet and a relentless fitness regimen.

But the seemingly ageless Tina Thompson is still 38, no matter how many times she denies herself fast-food French fries. In WNBA time, or by any standards for a professional athlete, that’s pretty old.

What hasn’t gotten old is Thompson’s game, which is why the announcement of her retirement at the end of this season is sad for the WNBA, even though, at the same time, it is completely understandable and somewhat expected.

Speaking of the immediate future, I’m sure tired of the “Three to See,” aren’t you? I mean, what GOOD is it doing? Fan Interest In Rookies Leads The WNBA To Unprecedented Viewership Numbers.

Oh. Never mind!

Speaking of “Oh, never mind,” John at the Courant mines familiar territory: WNBA Roster Size A Problem For Connecticut Sun and Opponents.

Yes, I realize it’s a money issue. (Do the math: 12 teams. $100,000 per team. Approx $1 million from ESPN. It doesn’t add up) And I guess you can’t find players on the road to help you (I mean, ’cause why would you organize this across the league? ’cause it would make too much sense?). But I’ve said this before and I’ve said it again: are you looking for bodies or for actual talent? ’cause there’s a reason the starters +1/2 play all the minutes: the pool of talent isn’t that deep.

If young (or medium young) players want to play in the W and get cut.. do they deserve to be dragged across the country, not playing, maybe not working on their game.. just because you need a body to practice against? Or, because the players want 24 more people to get jobs (therefore not putting the pressure on THEM to perform and survive?)? Or should they, just like officials do, pay for their own professional development and earn a place on the roster?

This is cool!” Staten Island Ballers girls shoot to donate 10,000 basketballs

“We’re hearing the average player doesn’t have a basketball,” said Pete Lisi Jr., owner of Staten Island Paramount, the league’s biggest sponsor. “They can’t play on their own. They can’t practice on their own. One of the missions of the organization is to distribute basketballs to the youth of Staten Island.”

Looking forward to next “$20 if you can name all the teams in the Conference” college basketball season? Notre Dame is: Balanced powers await Irish women

Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw has enjoyed the view of the Atlantic Coast Conference the past two seasons.
 
That view has been from the top of a ladder as McGraw was cutting down nets to celebrate the Irish advancing to the Final Four.
Seung Lee tries to stir up a little outrage, and then seems to agree with the number: Power Rankings: No. 5 women’s basketball

The fact that the Cal women’s basketball team, fresh off its first Final Four appearance, is only No. 5 in the power ranking is, personally, hogwash.

Upon further introspection, however, I do think the Bears landing No. 5 is fairer than it seems at face value for two reasons. First, it is just a testament to how successful 2013 was to Cal athletics as a whole. Second, the graduation of the seniors leaves the team thinner and more unknown, making it hard to gauge its potential.

Some coaching spots filled:

Katarski Named Seton Hill Women’s Basketball Head Coach

Packard Chosen to Lead TU Women’s Basketball Program (Those of us who follow coach Packard know she suffered a horrible loss recently. Hopefully this will be a healthy outlet for her and her family.)

Jessica Mannetti named Sacred Heart Women’s Basketball Head Coach

Another secured: Stewart shows faith in Heard with proposed raise

A little WATN? (Even though they added an “s” to her name, Yo can’t hide from us!) Lafayette hired ex-WNBA star Griffiths

Laura Keeley at the News Observer thinks Collegiate women’s basketball is at a crossroads

There was another notable conclusion from Ackerman’s work: there is a tremendous appetite for change.

And that thought was echoed locally.

“What’s happening, it’s really a welcome thing,” said Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie. “I don’t want it to stall in any way.”

The NCAA began to act on the Ackerman report this week. The NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee announced it will immediately allow regional host institutions to play on their home courts, which was among the suggestions contained in the report.

BTW: For Women’s Coaches, Time No Longer Freezes in Summer

Suzie McConnell-Serio, the new women’s basketball coach at Pittsburgh, was excited to get a jump on the season.

Because of a new N.C.A.A. rule, she does not have to wait until the fall to get a chance to work with her team. Coaches are now allowed to work out with their players for eight hours a week — including two on the court — if the athletes are enrolled in summer school or have met certain academic benchmarks.

The rule took effect for men last summer. In the past, teams could work out with coaches in the summer only if the team was taking a foreign trip.

In International news, ‘ware the Turks! Turkey’s ‘basket fairies’ clinch bronze medal at Eurobasket

Turkish women’s basketball confirmed expectations, as the national team won the bronze medal at the FIBA European Championships held in France, dominating Serbia 92-71 in yesterday’s game.

Go Guam! Guam finishes strong to win gold medal

Happy Trails To You? WNBA star open to visit Manila

WNBA guard Kara Lawson said the other day she’s agreeable to visit Manila someday and encourage girls to play basketball in showing by example how it can lead to a career.

From USA Basketball: ‘ware, World, the US Hoop(eristsa)s are coming! (USA vs Mali  – July 8, 2013 @ 12:30 pm ET) A little Shoni. A little Hooper. And some more: Hooper overcomes anxiety, set to play on World Games team

“She kind of just blended in with everybody else at the beginning,” Coale said. “That happens a lot of the time due to nerves. Kids just aren’t comfortable with the situation. But Jordan did assert herself more and more, and she had a really good last day. She was very aggressive and has been ever since.

“We knew she could really shoot it and she was versatile. At Oklahoma, we refer to her kind of player as a ‘long, tall shooter.’ She’s just been fantastic for us.”

Next up in Colorado? The U19ers.

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Ashland University (OH) Eagles. This is the first national championship for AU in a “team” sport.

From the New Philadelphia Times Reporter: 

Ashland came up short of a national championship a year ago.

The Eagles did not let history repeat itself.

River View High School graduate Kari Daugherty scored 26 points and hauled down 12 rebounds as the Ashland University women’s basketball team claimed the NCAA Division II National Championship with a 71-56 win over Dowling (30-4) in San Antonio on Friday night.

From Pat Turner at the Express-News: 

“It was a great game,” Ashland coach Sue Ramsey said. “I couldn’t be more thrilled with their performance, not only in this game but the past 365 days. After losing last year, they made it their commitment to come back. They deserve this.”

Said Dowling coach Joe Pellicane: 

“If you’re going to lose, it’s better to lose to the best team in the country. They are a great team. They deserve to be national champs.”

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Westmont College, which took down Lee University (TN), 71-65, for their first national championship.

The Warriors were led by two-time NAIA player of the year, Tugce Canitez who posted her 17th double-double of the season with 25 points and 20 rebounds, earning the Tournament MVP honors.  Teammate Kelsey Sampson, a freshman, also posted 25 points, the duo accounting for the majority of Westmont’s scoring. 

“This is the best year of basketball of my life,” said Sampson after the win. “To be able to experience it with the most amazing players and amazing coaches is just an honor.”

At Full Court, Sharon Crowson says Farewell to the Foster era at Ohio State

Last year, the Buckeyes showed more cohesion but failed to nail either the regular-season or the conference tournament titles, and their postseason ended with an early exit in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

For much of the season, this year’s edition of the Buckeyes seemed to be going through the motions, leading arch-rival Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant to note that “they don’t always play hard.”

In Division II NCAA, they’ve reached the Elite Eight set to be played San Antonio on the 26th:

#6 Augustana (SD) will face #1 Clayton State (GA) at 1PM

#3 Dowling (NY) will face #1 Colorado Mesa at 3pm

#1 Nova Southeastern (FL) will face #1 Western Washington at 7PM

#1 Gannon (PA) will face #1 Ashland (OH) at 9:30PM

A little somethin’ somethin’ on the teams:

Ashland University women’s basketball looking for return trip to national title game and Land Of Hope And Dreams? Ashland Women’s Hoops Program Learns Faith Will Be Rewarded

With three minutes left in the first half of a game against the University of Findlay, Kari Daugherty of Ashland, the best rebounder in all of Division II women’s basketball — and one of the best scorers too — went up for the ball. At the same time, though, a Findlay player’s foot hit her knee. Nine players sprinted down the court, and within nine seconds, Findlay had scored on a layup and drawn a foul.

But nobody was watching. Just about every fan — all 1,072 of them at Kates Gymnasium — was watching the one player who didn’t sprint down the court.

Augustana’s postseason run providing redemption and Augie women are simply elite

A controversial ending led to a historic triumph for the Augustana women’s basketball team Monday night.

Emporia (Kan.) State was clinging to a one-point lead against the Vikings in the NCAA Division II Central Region championship game when Hornets guard Laura Patrick was whistled for a foul that appeared to be simultaneous with the sounding of the buzzer.

Clayton State Women’s hoops are “Picture Perfect”

 As tournament time approaches the Clayton State Womens Basketball team is gearing up for another run at the NCAA Division II Championship. 

The Lakers are a perfect 24-0 and ranked #2 in the nation.

March Mav-ness – Fans turn out in droves to support Mesa women’s basketball team and Can’t spell Colorado Mesa without the ‘D’ – Defensive focus has been key for Mavs all season

Dowling take down – Bentley Falcons fall in final :05

The Dana Center on the campus of Bentley University has historically been a graveyard for postseason opponents of the Falcons.

But last night, Dowling snapped the Bentley women’s basketball team’s 28-game home winning streak and handed the Falcons their first tournament loss at the Dana Center since 2001.

Former players show support for Gannon women in run to Elite Eight

Thirteen players are listed on the Gannon women’s basketball roster. But there might as well have been two dozen, including the alumni who attended the Division II Atlantic Regional at the Hammermill Center.

When the Lady Knights won their second regional in four seasons Monday night, completed by a hectic 50-47 win Monday over PSAC West rival California (Pa.), several cheering former players and coaches watched the 2012-13 winners cut down the nets. They hung around long after the game was over to celebrate the Maroon and Gold victory.

They all played for 11th-year coach Cleve Wright, who talked at length in the postgame news conference about their support.

Former South Broward standout Robinson starring for Nova Southeastern

When Nova Southeastern University women’s basketball coach LeAnn Freeland took over a program that needed reviving, she found a guard from South Broward High as her first signee.

Two years later, that player, Danielle Robinson, is a major reason the Sharks are the No. 1 seed and host of the NCAA Division II South Regional.

Western Washington reaches first Elite Eight since 2000

“It’s unreal,” Waltrip said of reaching the Elite Eight. “We’ve been working so hard for this our entire career, the whole year. … We’ve had a great season, and every win from here on out is icing on the cake. It’s a great feeling to know that we’re in the top eight in the country.”

The Final Four will play on the 27th. The Championship game is scheduled for March 29th, 8pm.

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Diana Taurasi reflects on her road to London

Diana Taurasi knows it could have been all different.

Had her suspension for a banned substance in 2010 not been thrown out, odds are she would still be fighting it in court. Instead, she’s heading to London on Wednesday for her third Olympics with the U.S. women’s basketball team.

“That whole experience has helped me appreciate things more,” Taurasi said over breakfast Tuesday. “You wake up and whether it’s the Olympics, your parents, loved ones, friends or your family you learn how fragile everything is. We all kind of appreciate every little moment a little more. Sometimes it takes things like that to help you think that way.”

The Auriemma/Hardwick story isn’t over yet, so I’m not drawing any literal parallels, but you’ve got to wonder if Doug might be writing a similar story in six months or so.

A little somethin’ somethin’ on Diana’s friend and teammate, Sue: Bird simply loves playing in Seattle

 A long way from the Pacific Northwest, Sue Bird learned that one of the mainstays of Seattle sports was gone.

Ichiro Suzuki, who had been in Seattle since Bird arrived in 2002, was traded from the Mariners to the New York Yankees on Monday. That leaves Bird as the second-longest tenured athlete in the city behind Storm teammate Lauren Jackson.

“That’s pretty crazy, I never would have thought to check that out,” Bird said. “I actually really love that. I love that I’ve been in the same place, developed a relationship with the community and the fans and the ownership. It’s a place I want to be. I feel like they’re loyal to me and I’m loyal to them. It’s a very comfortable situation.”

Thank goodness Doug made the trip — ’cause, have you noticed? Mechelle seems to be missing.

Which made me want to take an unscientific look (serious study is THEIR job) at the coverage so far. Let’s take a look at the NYTimes Olympic/Basketball section: There are 15 links (two are basically repeats).

Three are devoted to the US women, all by the AP (don’t know if Doug did’em)

Complainant Headed to Games (87 words, by AP. Not about the team)

Atlanta Coach and Player Are Eager to Get to London (682 words by AP)

Americans Travel Great Distance for a Few Warm-Ups (615 words, by AP)

11 are devoted to men’s basketball, 10 the US men

U.S. Olympic Basketball Roster Is Versatile, but Not Tall (774 words, by NY Times employee Nate Taylor)

N.B.A. Title Adds to James’s Credibility as U.S. Team Leader (915 words by NY Times employee Nate Taylor)

Nigerian Men’s Basketball Team Makes Olympics (113 words, by AP)

Hanging Out With Olympians (part of NY Times’ Google+ hangout  –  with Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks and Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers)

Blake Griffin Off Olympic Team With Knee Injury (86 words, by AP)

U.S. Gets Past Brazil but Struggles Down Low ( 776 words, 40 devoted to the women’s game, by Adam Himmelsbach, NY Times employee)

U.S. Men’s Basketball Team Routs Britain in Exhibition (506 words, by Reuters)

An Eye-Opening International Education (1023 words, by Jake Appleman, NY Times employee)

Krzyzewski, at Scene of 1992 Victory, Harks Back More to 2008 (781 words, by Greg Bishop, NY Times employee)

With One Tuneup Left, U.S. Has Biggest Test Yet (827 words, by Greg Bishop, NY Times employee)

Only a Tuneup, but One the U.S. Takes Seriously (862 words, by Greg Bishop, NY Times employee)

Wouldn’t it be cool if every single NCAA Division I, II, III, NAIA Division I, II etc. coach dropped a “6623 words v 1424 words? It doesn’t add up!” email to the NY Times Sports department? Sports@NYTimes.com

And no, we don’t have Tom Jolly to kick around anymore. Instead it’s Joe Sexton, who admonished Karen Crouse publicly for voicing her opposition to the Augusta National’s gender discrimination policy. Hmmmm… Illuminating, no?

You could also try:

Public Editor

Arthur Brisbane, our public editor, represents our readers. You can reach him by e-mail or by calling (212) 556‑7652.

Write to the Publisher or President

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There have been some concern that, with Kim closing her womensbasketballonline.com site (and it is just that – closed) that the Women’s Basketball Timeline she hosted (and I put together in a fever induced summer of googling) would disappear.

Kim and I have chatted, and she sent over the files. I’ve turned them in to a new page (see here) on the blog.

It was fun reviewing the Timeline (and it’s cool that, because the site is searchable, so is the Timeline), but I shudder to think how many of the links are broken and/or missing. And, of course, there are odd gaps in the contemporary history because neither Kim nor I had the time or brain space to keep it up these last few years. Now? Well, I guess I know what my summer 2012 project is…

I invite any and all of you to peruse the beast. Send me links. Make corrections. Suggest additions. Forward it to your Athletic Directors! On my way back from Kentucky, I ran into the very personable AD of a DIII college — he was on his way to Denver to talk alcohol and drug abuse policy. We got to speaking about what he’s finding on his campus — women team athlete’s dropping from teams, if they’re not playing during games (and occasionally becoming superb solo athletes). I brought up the history of female athletes being pushed away from team sports in to solo sports — using Gertrude, Sonja and Babe as examples, and contrasting it with women’s basketball…No surprise, he had NO idea of the history of women’s basketball, much less the “one step forward, two…maybe three steps backward” process its been simply to offer women the same right to play basketball as men do. Consider this little gem from 1919:

Tennessee: Dr. Mary Douglas Ayres Ewell, graduate of Sophie Newcomb College for Women in 1917, played under Clara Baer. Mary Ayres returned to Knoxville in 1919 and was named coach for the University of Tennessee girls’ basketball team. In March 1920, UT women students, with Ayres’ approval, requested “equal rights and privileges” with male athletes including team travel to other colleges for athletic events, increased funding for the women’s program, and representation on the Athletic Council.

Happy birthday, Title IX.

By the way, I’ve asked Kim if I can host some of her fabulous resources: the women’s basketball library and Media Tips in particular. If there’s anything else you’re going to miss, holler (womenshoopsblog @ gmail.com) and I’ll see what can be done to fill the void.

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Kim Callahan has decided to shut down her site, womensbasketballonline.com.

I would classify Kim high up in the ranks of what a friend recently identified as “amateurs who are more professional and passionate about the women’s game than most who are paid to cover or work in it.”

Those of her who’ve known her since the site was called “Chicks with Balls” can only gape and the number of early morning hours she spent gathering all the articles published online and organizing them in to one, readable page. And let’s not forget the endless extra hours she spent tabulating attendance, hunting down wnba media and team contact information, crafting her “lessons for advocacy” know as Media Tips, or hosting the women’s basketball timeline (information that has been sourced by various media outlets, big and small, not to mention numerous college students and a diverse group of history-curious individuals).

Ask her a question, and Kim has never failed to respond, either offering her information or directing you to the person who could offer you an answer.

Most people are lazy about their passions. They’ll indulge in them, but they rarely advocate for them. Kim did nothing BUT advocate.

I will miss her presence on the ‘net as much as I’ll miss her pointed humor and her constant support. The loss to women’s basketball is immeasurable.

Hey, Kim? “Chicks with Balls” rules!

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and not so….

Hmmm, Minny’s looking good. *thunderous knocking of wood by Lynx fans*

Tina “It’s fun to score” Charles had a good time with the Mystics.

No, I’m not thinking you called Prince as the scoring leader (so far) or Prahalis as the assist leader (so far). I do call, “WTF with the hair” in that picture of rebounding leader (so far) Big Syl, though.

Is there something about Stanford players and last second baskets? And, no, L.A., you can’t play Seattle for the rest of the season and geez, Roman, sensitive much? :-)  wnba.com showing West Coast bias by hyperventilating over L.A. Sparks

CP3 confusion ends, though there is a need for a copy editor: Dream Waives Courtney Parris (sic) To Make Room For Jessica Moore

40. It’s the new XI: Sky, WNBA to honor Title IX on uniforms

COLLEGE:

Thank you, Sherri: The Write Space and Time: June 3 – Leave your story better than you found it.

As coaching careers go, mine was born lucky. My grand introduction to women’s college basketball coincided with the collision between the old Big Eight and the Southwest Conference. Football power conference plus women’s basketball hotbed equals the Big 12 Conference, a new concept and a fertile breeding ground for explosive growth. Nationally speaking, women’s basketball was poised for a coming out party. New programs and personalities were on the scene, attendance was rising, television was flirting…lightning was begging to get captured in a bottle. I was new to the collegiate scene, barely cognizant of the perfect storm I had landed in the middle of, and yet there I sat at the table with the giants of our game.

I was young and dumb in 1996 and yet smart enough to be quiet (read: keep opinionated mouth shut) and pay attention. Pioneers in their prime were running the room. Marsha Sharp was the captain of this juggernaut known as Lady Raider Nation. She coached Sheryl Swoopes (who scored 47 points in the National Championship game and would become an Olympic Gold Medal winner) and together with their throng of faithful followers they won a National Championship and took west Texas and the country by storm. Jody Conradt sat at the table–a national title, an undefeated season, the architect of Texas Women’s Basketball and a figure so respected, and at times so imposing, that she could have run for governor in that enormous state. And she would have won. Across from her sat Ceal Barry, the Colorado coach whose teams won four Big Eight titles and whose tenacious man-to-man defense and post player development had been building blocks of my high school teams for years. I loved watching her win and I so admired how her team did it. Talk about being in the right place at the right time! At those early Big 12 spring meetings held in the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, it was often hard to tell if my shortness of breath came from the altitude or the luck of my draw for getting to be a mouse in that room.

I’m not sure what’s going on with the Tennessee athletic department, but it sounds unpleasant and hurtful.

Oh, Canada! Natalie Achonwa Named To Canadian Women’s Basketball Olympic Qualifying Team

Cheerio, mate! Harvard’s Fagbenle on Verge of Making British Olympic Team

There’s a new boss in Sioux Falls: Amy Williams named USD’s women’s basketball coach

Ditto in Charleston, IL (EIU Introduces Lee Buchanan As Women’s Basketball Head Coach) and almost in Edwardsville (Buscher or Brown will be new SIUE women’s basketball coach)

Tambien in the land of the Thundering Herd: Daniel named Marshall women’s basketball coach

Aussi in New York City: After helping build SHU women, NYU a natural for Hall-Gregory

Central Arkansas taps Delta State for their new boss: Cent. Arkansas announces Sandra Rushing as women’s basketball coach

Delaware (no, not the Blue Hens) State picks Tamika Louis As New DSU Women’s Basketball Head Coach

Still waiting at Tennessee Tech: Coaches chime in on TTU search

Need one in Buffalo: Buffalo women’s basketball coach Hill-MacDonald’s contract will not be renewed

The former coach with a towel has a new gig: Associate Commissioner of the A-10

Interesting. As the WBHOF welcomes its newest inductees, (Go, Red Heads!) it also has an expanded board that’s rather… orange. :-)

OTHER STUFF:

Leveling the playing field even more

Girls-only sleep-away camps and suburban athletic clinics have been around for decades, of course. DePaul University women’s basketball coach Doug Bruno has run a basketball camp for girls at North Central College in Naperville since 1980, for example. What’s different is that these businesses are run by women who personally benefited from the changes wrought by Title IX and see their for-profit businesses as having an overt social mission.

Barb Lazarus was cheering her son’s baseball game several years ago when she noticed girls on the adjoining field didn’t really know how to play. Their lack of skills spurred Ms. Lazarus, 52, to make a business of multisport instruction for girls. Her Game On Sports Camp 4 Girls, in Lake Forest and Chicago and a sleep-away camp in Michigan, is in its sixth year.

Yes, I’m worried that Taurasi might not be able to play in London (I think we’ll be okay if she doesn’t, but it would stink for her), but I have no concerns about the future of USA Basketball:
Speaking of USA Basketball: Women’s basketball: Geno lifts Meier higher
Despite the 28-year age difference, their relationship has leveled. The mental pummeling Taurasi endured as an 18-year-old at Connecticut is over.
“When we’re together, something’s got to give,” Auriemma said. “When she was 18, I win, you lose. Now? She wins, and I lose.”
Auriemma’s ease of concession is surprising. It’s not a duo known for capitulation.
“I got to say that because I need her for the next month,” Auriemma said with a laugh. “Check with me after August.
* * *
Taurasi’s chance for her third gold medal almost didn’t reach this point of give-and-take. A false-positive test for a banned substance while playing in Turkey in 2010 nearly derailed everything. Taurasi says she’s never taken anything illegal, and the lab admitted it screwed up, then was stripped of its accreditation. She almost lost basketball.
“I don’t know how that makes a person feel,” Kathy Auriemma said. “It’s devastating. She’s not a casual person, she feels things very deeply. She cares and she loves strongly, and I think she was very lost [afterward].”

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but that doesn’t mean stuff isn’t happening across the age groups.

I’m already planning my July trip down to DC to watch the USA play on the 16th (are you?), and obviously I’m making plans for the Maggie Dixon Classic Dec. 9th (ya wanna help push our group to over 50? Email me at womenshoopsblog (at) gmail.com) ’cause Spoon’s back in town:  Weatherspoon returns to Garden as coach of Louisiana Tech at Maggie Dixon Classic in December

In the land of the Olympics:

Nate writes: 2012 Olympics Significant To Tamika Catchings Because It Could Be Her Last Opportunity

Catchings happy to be playing again as US women’s basketball training camp opens

“It’s not ideal since other teams have been practicing for a lot longer, but it’s what we have,” said Bird, who will also be playing in her third Olympics. “Every time you put the USA jersey on it’s an honor. I’m lucky I have had the opportunity to represent my country. Growing up there was no WNBA to look forward to, for me my dream was always playing in the Olympics.”

U.S. women’s basketball team in Seattle for Olympic tuneup

“I don’t think I have ever been as stressed out or as nervous, anxious, scared to death as I was whenever you are coaching in a medal situation for USA basketball because the expectation level is, ‘Of course we are going to win,'” Auriemma said. “That’s good and bad. … That’s great because we are the United States of America and we are supposed to win. It’s bad because sometimes people don’t appreciate how hard it is to win.”

Whirlwind Time For Lindsay Whalen, Maya Moore – WNBA Season Begins; Olympics On Horizon

From Jayda: Seattle a growing hotbed for women’s hoops

…to explain Seattle’s emergence as a center of women’s basketball, you have to go back, way back. Before the WNBA’s Storm and its passionate fans were born, before the Seattle Reign tipped its toe in the water of women’s pro hoops, before even the Washington Huskies women were outdrawing the men’s team at Edmundson Pavilion.

The story of how Seattle has become a hotbed for women’s hoops dates way back to pioneers like Cathy Benedetto and Joyce Walker, the women who showed the way. They made it possible for a couple of 13-year-olds emulating their hoops heroes in their hometown to believe it had always been that way.

The Cardinals have a new coach: Ball State University women’s coach Brady Sallee has lofty vision for program

“I remember watching the television when (Ball State) beat that team down south that wears orange (Tennessee),” said Sallee, invoking the style of Brady Hoke by refusing to acknowledge an arch-rival by name. “I’m excited to bring those opportunities and moments back to Ball State University.”

The Seawolves need a new coach: UAA women’s basketball coach says it was time to move on

Tim Moser, one of the most successful coaches in the history of UAA athletics, is leaving his job as the school’s women’s basketball coach, saying it’s time for something new.

Moser molded the Seawolves into a national powerhouse in his six seasons in Anchorage. He finished the most recent season with a 30-5 record and was one victory shy of making a third NCAA Division II Final Four appearance.

High Point needs a new coach: Wake Forest hires Jennifer Hoover as new women’s basketball coach

Jennifer Hoover, Wake Forest’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder, was hired as the Demon Deacons’ new women’s basketball coach on Wednesday.

Hoover, a long-time assistant who went 20-13 at High Point in her first try as a head coach this past season, was a three-time All-ACC honoree during her playing career at Wake Forest.

The Hoyas have a new coach: Georgetown introduces Keith Brown as women’s basketball coach

The Norse have a coach: NKU names new women’s coach
Former Michigan associate head coach Dawn Plitzuweit has been chosen to lead Northern Kentucky University’s women’s basketball program into Division I.

Toledo will have extra space next season: UT gets NCAA waiver – Women’s basketball team allowed to exceed scholarship numbers

Mikaala Shackelford has a new team: UWGB women’s basketball: Prized Minnesota recruit to leave after all

WNBA champion Lynx welcome back motherly leader (The next article in the hopper: As the NBA season opens, the 28-38 Trailblazers welcome back fatherly leader)

Taj McWilliams-Franklin led this bonding process like only a mother could. The 41-year-old, 6-foot-2 center with three daughters of her own has returned for another year with the Lynx. Her teammates couldn’t be happier to have the lanky lady they call “Mama Taj” back in the fold

Depth, Luck Major Part Of Repeat Hopes

Depth, camaraderie and health are the three main ingredients to a title defense. Look no further than the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks’ bench play during last year’s 2011 NBA Finals and its inability to replace JJ Barea and Tyson Chandler during this year’s first round playoff exit.

The Minnesota Lynx understand how important all three are to their goals this year, and they met two of those three objectives during the offseason by holding on to nine of their 11 team members from a year ago. And with coach Cheryl Reeve rolling out essentially three capable units during training camp, Minnesota has the depth to make another title run.

pilight has Three things the WNBA could do better

Now, most articles like this focus on things that cost money. Wouldn’t it be great to pay salaries competitive with those in Europe, have the players flown on chartered jets, and have massive advertising blitzes during the NCAA tournament, and so on. The WNBA doesn’t have tons of money, so today we’re going to focus on things they can do that cost nothing.

Speaking of “doing better”: What Can We Expect Kelley Cain To Contribute To The New York Liberty?

The New York Liberty announced via Twitter yesterday that first round draft pick Kelley Cain has arrived in training camp, which is perhaps the first step in calming the fears among some fans that they completely wasted a draft pick.

Surely we’ll learn more about what she offers the team as she spends more time in camp, but what might her numbers tell us about what she offers?

Well, not that much.

From a team who ought to do “real better”: Penicheiro has the right kind of mileage for Sky

Mix of veterans, youth encourages Silver Stars’ Hammon

If only basketball was played four-on-four: The Recker Crew – Mom knew best that hoops-playing quadruplets were destined for on-court success

Deidre Recker has been to every Ohio girls’ basketball state tournament since 1978. She’s proud of that fact, and mentions it often. She started bringing her children to those state tournament games when they were barely old enough to follow the action.

This is where you want to be, she’d tell them, and point to the court. This is where you’ve got to be.

Deidre stops, and she corrects herself. She hasn’t been to every state tournament since 1978. Once, in 1993, she had to watch the games on television instead.

Deidre was eight months pregnant that year. With quadruplets.

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and picks the Maroons’ Aaron Roussell as their next coach.

Chicago’s been making a lot of noise in the DIII/UAA ranks.

In less happy DIII news: Kean’s punishment handed down

Kean University lacked institutional control and failed to monitor its women’s basketball program, leading to impermissible financial aid and extra benefits for its student-athletes, according to findings by the NCAA Division III Committee on Infractions.

The former women’s head basketball coach, Michele Sharp, failed to establish an atmosphere of rules compliance, according to the committee, and Kean also was cited for providing financial aid packages in violation of NCAA legislation, which impacted student-athletes across four sports.

Penalties in this case, many of which were instituted by the university, include four years of probation, a four-year show-cause order for the former coach and postseason bans for four teams.

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Kate Fagan and Luke Cyphers: Women continue to shatter stereotypes as athletes. So how come they can’t catch a break as coaches?

Since 2000, NCAA programs have added 1,774 women’s head coaching jobs. Men have filled 1,220 of the openings.

Women have entered the rest of the workforce at all levels and now make up 57 percent of college students. Sports are bigger than ever for them too, with an average of 8.73 women’s teams per school.

And yet female coaches continue to be sidelined. Stanford women’s basketball coach Tara VanDerveer is only half-joking when she says, “We’ll have a female president — and one woman coaching women’s college basketball.”

It’s not as if women are finding new opportunity in the men’s game: Only about 3 percent of men’s teams are coached by women, the same percentage as before Title IX’s passage. Coaching is a man’s world.

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but readers of this blog wouldn’t be surprised at all: Texas, Karen Aston talk

In another “who knows if this is going to happen” vein, at Auburn looks like they’re talking to Georgia Tech’s Joseph and North Carolina State’s Harper.

In other coaching news, big shoes to be filled: Time for Northern Kentucky coach Nancy Winstel to move on after building Norse

“I’m a 100 percent-type person, and I tell my players, you’ve got to be 100 percent in,” Winstel said. “I think I was starting to feel like maybe I wasn’t 100 percent in all the time. And when the leader may be thinking that, then it’s time to take a good, hard look at what you’re doing.”

The Norse evolved into a national power, tallying 636 victories and winning the 2000 and 2008 NCAA Division II national championships, under the six-time Great Lakes Valley Conference coach of the year.

She retires with a 675-255 record in 32 seasons. That makes her the third winningest coach in NCAA Division II history.

Wow. Trinity Valley coaching duo leaving for Ole Miss

Side by side they helped lead Trinity Valley Community College to its sixth women’s national championship.  Side by side Michael and Kenya Landers will leave for assistant coaching positions at the University of Mississippi.

The husband and wife who acted as co head coaches the last two years in Athens, submitted their resignations on Thursday.  The resignations are effective Friday.  TVCC President Dr. Glendon Forgey said the search for a replacement to lead the women’s basketball program would begin immediately.

Hmmm… seems all this “coach talk” as got people thinking about the future: Stanford assistant Paye could succeed VanDerveer

Every once in a while a large bug crawls around on the court at practice. Stanford assistant coach Kate Paye loves to see who’s the first to jump, since she’s the one who planted the plastic creature.

Last year she had the whole team thinking she had crossed some kind of threshold and gotten her arm tattooed. They kept getting a glimpse of her body art during practice. Finally they surrounded her to find out if it was real. It wasn’t, and she relished hooking them in.

Otherwise, Paye is the real deal.

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Division II Champeens Shaw University.

Shaw came back from an 11-point deficit to take the lead late. Then Ashland University took the game to OT courtesy of Jenna Stutzman’s (their only senior, so look out next season!) three-pointer with four seconds left. But, Shaw pulled ahead early in the extra session, and stayed there for the 88-82 win. It’s Shaw’s first national championship in any sport.

“This is what Coach recruited us for,” said Shaw senior center Aslea Williams.  “I wasn’t going to finish my senior year with a loss. Even when I didn’t play well, my teammates had my back.”

Senior guard Brittney Spencer echoed her sentiment.  “This feels awesome.  This is what I dreamt about.  This is what I play basketball for.”

“It’s a surreal feeling right now,” said senior forward Kyria Buford.  “After all we’ve gone through, it just feels unreal.”

Small world note: Yesterday I’m sitting in Louisville, chatting with some Ohio-based strangers  over breakfast. Women’s basketball is mentioned. Mrs. Breakfast companion says, “Our daughter’s schools is competing for the championship.” “I say,  Ashland?” “Yes,” says Mrs. Breakfast.”

Mr. Breakfast adds, “We went to the games last weekend. It was really exciting. I’ve got to say, I enjoy the women’s game more than the men’s.”

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#1 Ashland (OH) v #2 Shaw (N.C.) in San Antonio on CBS Sports Network. To win, Shaw’s going to have to stop Kari Daugherty (a transfer from DI Dayton), who averages 21.2 points and 14.0 rebounds per game.

Those Ohio Eagles have been bloggin‘. Find out more about those N.C. Bears here.

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