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Bob Corwin offers his 1st impressions from opening weekend

Having followed the league since inception, I decided to watch the six WNBA openers and write down some first impressions (many to be proven wrong) from these games.

A WNBA season is a combination of a soap opera and a marathon.  Information can be hard to come by as players listed as “day to day” can, in reality, be out a month.  What impression you get today, particularly very early in a season, may be viewed as very wrong by the next week.

For young players, announcers tend to cling to how the player was as a collegian, especially if she had “rep” at that level.  Above all else, be cautious not to draw too much from a game or two.  Again think marathon, not sprint!

How about this? Draymond Green says he learns more from watching the WNBA than the NBA

In between the time he works on his game, Green also finds time to relax. Of course, Green chooses to chill out by watching basketball, mostly the WNBA.

“In the NBA there’s always a guy who is only around because he can jump,” Greentold Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins in a wide-ranging profile. “He doesn’t have a clue about the fundamentals. I learn more from the WNBA. They know how to dribble, how to pivot, how to use the shot fake.”

Lindsay Gibbs @ Excelle: Washington Mystics point guard Natasha Cloud is finding her voice

In the lead-up to the launch of the WNBA’s 20th season, Washington Mystics’ coach Mike Thibault repeated a few loud and clear messages to his young team: take ownership of the game, get rebounds, play until the whistle, and, above all else, communicate on the court.

The latter message was particularly directed at point guard Natasha Cloud, the Mystics’ second-round pick of the 2015 draft.

From the .com (and points for coming up with a snazzy title, “Web Editorial Associate”): Practice Report | The Importance of the Second Unit

One of the big reasons why the Lynx were able to pull away and maintain a nice lead after that first quarter was the play of their second unit.

“Coach talked about really trying to elevate the second-team’s play in order so there’s not a drop off when anybody comes out from the first unit,” Janel McCarville said. “We had a great first game against Phoenix, it wasn’t much of a drop off at all. Today in practice it was a little bit of a drop off with all of us out there together (the second unit). I don’t think we have the cohesiveness that the first-team has. Hopefully within the next couple of weeks we’ll come together as a second-squad and pick it up in practice and it’ll carry over into games.”

Paging Ms. Whalen: Minnesota’s Hometown Heroes

Seattle Times: Stewart set for big WNBA step

Swish Appeal’s Power Rankings

Barbara Barker: How the WNBA ‘changed everything’ for girls in first 20 years

“Symbolically, you have all these women who are role modes for young girls to be able to look up to and say, ‘Those people look like me. They are stars. They have money and a career. I want that too,’” said Mary Joe Kane, the director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota. “If you aren’t playing basketball, you can take pride that someone who looks like you can achieve at the highest levels.

“Achievement and performance in America, it’s hard to top that right. For your girls to see that, it sends a very powerful message.”

The league opened its 20th season this weekend with more media coverage than I personally can remember seeing before. It’s an anniversary year, sure, but also I think most people didn’t expect the NBA’s sister league to come this far or last this long. Take a look at the women’s soccer professional league, which has had three different iterations, the most recent of which is only four years old.

Not only that, but the WNBA is now also filled with a number of household names – not just one or two token players used in Under Armour campaigns and Lean In ads. This is a competitive league with players comparable to their male counterparts in both ability and in some cases name recognition.

The concept of ability has come into contention while I’ve written this article, but I think it comes down to how you define it. Personally, I don’t think ability means how often or ferociously you can dunk. When I think of how able a person is to play basketball, I think of the sport as a whole.

Wait, they heard and acted? WNBA to offer advanced box scores after each game.

Cool. Now… about that hideous website, might I make a suggestion? Set up a “So you think you can code” competition working with suggestions from fans. Anything folks came up with would be better than the hot mess we’re slogging through today.

From Mel: Guru’s Addendum and Context to ESPN Magazine’s Story on Founding and Growing the WNBA

In reading Mechelle Voepel’s very fine piece with voices on the creation and development on the WNBA the Guru’s memory was jogged to some of the discussions people had with him prior to rolling out the league.
Also clues exist from comments in the narrative to recent discussions so here is a combo of Guru comments, some recollections, and further interpretations.
We begin right from the top with this comment in the piece from Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner. To avoid confusion in the thread, Guru will be in front of items that are his remarks, etc.

NCAA

Bonjour: Mickie DeMoss Joins Lady Tiger Basketball Staff

Au Revoir: Kentucky’s Mitchell tweets letter to fans denying rumored ‘scandal’ as UK resignation letters, personnel file offer little insight into women’s basketball turmoil and  Chanin Scott gets her release and opens recruiting process

The Minnesota Athletics Department may be a mess, but the  Gophers women’s teams have no shortage of star power

By the time she took the mound for her 24th inning pitched in two days, Sara Groenewegen’s right arm was running on fumes. Nearly 400 pitches in the Big Ten softball tournament — 395 to be exact — tested her physical limits.

**

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 Her display of individual domination was not uncommon for Gophers women’s sports this school year. Those who didn’t pay close enough attention, myself included, missed one heck of a show.

Nine Gophers women athletes in seven sports rank among the best nationally in their respective sports.

Any Olympics is special and Rio 2016 could be incredibly so, on the simple basis that some of the biggest names in the women’s game are ready to step out at the event for the first time.

Ahead of what promises to be a spectacular showcase of women’s ball, I have had some real fun drawing up a list of 12 players from around the globe who are likely to tread their first ever Olympic boards.

Random thought about the Zika virus: has anyone thought about all the non-athletes working the Rio Olympics?

 

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but I’m a little worried about the Lib’s tall folks.

Tina looks fantabulous, but where is Kiah? Sugar is already making a bid for the “Most Improved” as Old Big Easters will recognize the form they’re seeing on the court (and, do you remember her Player’s Tribune piece?). Intrigued to see how our elder guards contribute – really want an announcer to get the chance to say Z-to-Z for the nice give-and go. The Dallas visitors say Skylar is day-to-day, but even without her, the Wings are proving that they’re not going to be a pushover this year. Looking forward to see what happens for the newly-transfered franchise. Home wins, I hope.

Swish Appeal: ‘Pinch of Sugar’ goes a long way in Liberty victory

Queenie:

Dallas really misses Skylar Diggins. They really don’t have a consistent second option without her. Without her, Plenette Pierson and Odyssey Sims were both forcing the issue a lot, especially in the first half. Diggins tried to give it a go in warm-ups, but that knee is still braced, and she was walking very gingerly. She would have been at maybe quarter speed if she’d had to play, and I don’t think she was very happy about it; when she came out of the tunnel, she was with the trainer and there was a virtual thundercloud over her head. (It also really doesn’t help their rotation.)

On the West Coast, Los Angeles picked up where it left off last year… as did, unfortunately,  Seattle. Behind Parker’s 34, the Sparks easily handled the Storm. L.A. Times … dabnabbit! You use the AP report!!?!?! And oh, snap, the Sparks aren’t in your header or your dropdown menu. So. Not. Cool. At least Mechelle wrote somethin’

There were five No. 1 picks on the floor at Staples Center on Sunday, all of whom could tell you their own stories of what it means to them to be in that club.

When the game was over, 2008’s top pick — the Los Angeles Sparks’ Candace Parker — had the biggest day and her team got exactly the start it wanted: a dominant, 96-66 victory over the Seattle Storm.

There actually were some positives for the Storm, particularly regarding two of their No. 1 picks who look to be the foundation of a bright future: 2016 top pick Breanna Stewart, in her pro debut, had 23 points, while 2015 top pick Jewell Loyd, last season’s rookie of the year, had 20.

Swish Appeal: Candace Parker’s Sparkling performace engulfs Storm

Sue: Parker, Stewart both shine in Sparks dominating opening win

Hoopfeed: Candace Parker spoils debut of Breanna Stewart with 34-point explosion as Sparks beat Storm 96-66

The local paper hasn’t stopped paying attention: Breanna Stewart makes WNBA debut, experiences something new: Losing

Did you catch this from Stewie? Day One, Again.

Downtime? I have none. Just the way I like it.

Last week I was in Seattle trying to figure out if I could pull off the trip back to Connecticut for graduation. My new teammates asking, “What time do you have to be there?” Meanwhile I’m thinking, What if I get there and they forget to call my name? But being able to graduate in person from an institution like UConn, in front of a community that gave you so much, is an opportunity you can’t pass up. I made it, and squeezed in a visit to the White House with my UConn teammates; it was worth it.

Swin back in?

From Mike DiMauro at the Day: Motto for new-look Sun: Humble, but hungry

Kelsey Bone, center for the Connecticut Sun and never a candidate to mince words, offers the following overview of the 2016 season:

“We gotta make the damn playoffs,” she said, alluding to a locale that has eluded the franchise since (gulp) 2012.

Diana Taurasi learned a lot by watching her Phoenix Mercury teammates, at least when she wasn’t yelling at her monitor.

“I turned into that fan. ‘Why aren’t we rebounding? Why aren’t we executing down the stretch?,’ ” she told Excelle Sports Saturday at shootaround, prior to the Mercury’s season-opener 95-76 loss to the Minnesota Lynx.

Watching was the only thing Taurasi could do following her choice to skip the 2015 season, a move that reverberated fiercely within the WNBA community; Taurasi had won her third championship with Phoenix and her second Finals MVP award the year before.

On Saturday night, Taurasi could call herself a player again, competing against the Minnesota Lynx at Target Center, a venue where fans generally love to hate anything that has to do with purple and orange, especially the player wearing the No. 3 jersey. In Minnesota’s lean years,

If you haven’t purchased ESPN the Magazine, might recommend you get out and do so. WNBA oral history: Moving the ball forward

DAVID STERN WALKED down the hallway of the NBA offices in Manhattan and paused as he approached Val Ackerman’s office.

The then-NBA commissioner poked his head in the doorway.

“This would be a summer league, right?” Stern asked.

“Yeah,” Ackerman recalls saying, “that’s the plan.”

THE WNBA WASN’T launched by one landmark meeting. Rather, it evolved from a series of brainstorms, serendipitous circumstances and casual conversations: It was the right people working together at the right time. The NBA had reached a zenith of popularity and marketability in the early 1990s thanks to megastars such as Michael Jordan and collaborations with other organizations, such as USA Basketball. All of that delivered the Dream Team for the 1992 Olympics.

 Great job by Delle Donne (and, I’m assuming, a little assist from the Sky PR folks) – she’s been all.over.Chicago.In Chicago Magazine: The New Superstar in Town

In the glittering heart of Gotham, at a swank TriBeCa gala fit for a tuxedoed Bruce Wayne, a newly minted superhero soars toward an unseen basketball hoop, a flaring silk of blond hair trailing like a cape.

A few feet away, in heels and a form-hugging gown, a very tall blond woman who more than passingly resembles the leaping figure mulls the Marvel poster like a patron at a gallery, examining the main image of the subject cradling a basketball like a deity palming a planet, her hair swept back like Athena.

A small grin, then a full-on smile blossoms as she reads the character’s name.

“I hadn’t seen this,” she says to a friend. “Pretty cool, huh? Full-Court Goddess. I’ll take that.”

Speaking of which, fingers crossed: Sky’s Elena Delle Donne practices, expected to play Wednesday

About friggin’ time. From Excelle: WNBA.com dramatically expands stat, historical video offerings

This doesn’t suck: ESPN posts highest WNBA overnight rating for a regular-season game since 2011

A little college:  

With rumors circling about an extension, On the Banks writes: C. Vivian Stringer’s Impact Upon Women’s Basketball is Legendary

From the Sentinel: Next recruiting class crucial to Lady Vols’ future

Bye: Nebraska sharpshooter Natalie Romeo to transfer to UW women’s basketball team

Romeo leaves Nebraska after the abrupt resignation last month of Huskers coach Connie Yori over allegations that the coach mistreated players. Romeo has denied those claims.

“It was pretty difficult there,” she said. “I just think it’s the best thing for me to move on.”

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Silly me. I think it’s safe to unplug, catch up with family, friends and that thing we call work ’cause its “Down time in women’s basketball!”

But, nooooooooooo……

So, in order of loudness: Parker and the Olympics

Obviously, there’s a there’s a ton of stuff that we don’t know… and will never now. What makes the story even more fraught is that, like an onion, there are layers and layers of people around the story.

Seems to me there are a couple of narratives swirling around:

  1. The Selection Committee of USA Basketball (Carol Callan (USA Basketball), Reneé Brown (WNBA), Dan Hughes (WNBA), Chris Sienko (WNBA), Katie Smith (Athlete Representative)) made a decision on who should or shouldn’t be on the team based on several factors. In one of the most challenging decision years ever, they made a choice that several people have opinions on. For instance: 

Doug: Candace Parker disappointed, will not be on US hoops roster
Mechelle: Omitting Parker is a bad call by USA Basketball and USA Basketball’s failure to offer answers fuels speculation around Candace Parker’s exclusion
Sporting News: Candace Parker’s Olympic snub ushers in new era of women’s hoops

2. USA head coach Geno Auriemma has a grudge against Tennessee and Pat Summitt, so  he demanded that Parker not be on the team.

For instance: All for Tennessee: Was Candace Parker Railroaded from Team USA by Geno Auriemma?

This narrative makes the most sense to me. Yes, USA Basketball has stated ad nauseam that “the Committee makes the decisions,” but they’re lying. Contrary to what Tara wrote, it’s the USA basketball head coach who decides who wears the red, white and blue – which is why Parker is not on the team.

Sure, it’s been since January 7, 2007 that the Huskies faced the Vols, but Candace Parker was on. that. team. And they beat UConn, 70-62. And Parker scored 30. AND she dunked. And you know what is it they say: Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Auriemma couldn’t keep Parker off the 2008 team (he wasn’t the coach), and couldn’t keep her off the London team (probably didn’t have the power yet). Worse, when in London, he couldn’t stop her from taking over during the gold medal game against France. That must have been what set him off on his plotting. Now, four years later, he’s gotten exactly what he knows will make his career worthwhile: no Parker on the Olympic team.

Sure, he’s just coming off winning his 11th National Championship.
Sure, he’s just won four Final Fours in a row.
Sure, he just had his seniors be pick 1-2-3 in the WNBA Draft.
Sure, he’s so fried he ended up in the hospital.
Sure, he knew there would be a fan and player and coach and media firestorm that would pull the attention from the team he was going to coach in Rio….

But it’s all worth it. That kid who graduated from Tennessee in 2008 is not going to Rio. NOW his coaching resume is complete.

Just in case: sarchasm. the gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’ t get it. 

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#MoreThanMean – Women in Sports ‘Face’ Harassment

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and booked ended by cats. Life is good.

Sending out congrats to coach Verdi and his new job at UMass. I knew he was poachable, but a little surprised that he went to this program. Verdi has recent experience resurrecting the Eastern Michigan program, so I’m hoping this means there’s a new commitment to women’s basketball in the Pioneer Valley.

Fallout: Eastern Michigan coaching change may impact two NE Ohio girls basketball players

Former star Andrea (McAllister) Gorski will take the reins at Bradley.

Gorski replaces Michael Brooks, who was dismissed last month after posting a 37-84 record in four years as head coach.

Prior to SIU, Gorski was a 17-year head coach at the high school, AAU and small college level. She spent the last five years before her move as the head coach at Concordia University in Ann Arbor, Mich., where she transformed a sub-.500 club into a national tournament team.

Movin’ up: JMU Promotes Sean O’Regan to Women’s Basketball Head Coach

“The group of finalists for this position was as strong as any hiring process that I’ve seen at James Madison,” Bourne said in a statement. “It speaks highly of Sean that he stood out among that group as best prepared for this opportunity.”

O’Regan has been on the coaching staff at JMU for the past nine seasons. A JMU alumnus, O’Regan began as an assistant coach during the 2007-08 season.

Movin’ up: McNeese State promotes Cryer as new women’s basketball coach

McNeese State promoted assistant women’s basketball coach Kacie Cryer to head coach Friday, one day after Brooks Donald Williams resigned to take an assistant position at Alabama.

Athletics director Bruce Hemphill said Cryer has the work ethic and tenacity to quickly make this team her own.

Syracuse.com continues their good work: Hearts of Orange: For Syracuse men’s, women’s basketball it was truly March Madness

It was the best kind of gift. Unexpected and unique, a rare and impossible-to-replicate bounty of basketball.

It came in the form of gold shoes and wispy mustaches, custom eyewear and three goggles, a sting from losses that will fade and a glow from memories that never will.

The Syracuse men’s basketball team celebrated its freedom from NCAA investigation by reaching the Final Four for the sixth time in program history. The women’s team, long unable to grow in the successful shadow of the men, climbed to new heights by reaching its first.

OSU women’s basketball: Beavers look to build off most successful season

Even though the Beavers played against a team that may go down as one of the best ever in women’s college basketball — the Huskies won a fourth straight title — the loss was tough one to take.

Senior and West Albany High grad Samantha Siegner said in the locker room it was tough to sum things up so quickly after the loss.

“I just look at all we accomplished this year and especially in the four years we’ve been here, it’s been really incredible to be a part of it,” she said.

Check out: Sydney Wiese’s Oregon State diary: ‘I’m going to just remember the feelings’ of Final Four run

Hello: Forward Taya Reimer has chosen to transfer to Michigan State.

About the Draft April 14th, 7pm:

Powers looking to be DCD’s first WNBA player

ESPN Analysts Carolyn Peck, Rebecca Lobo Break Down the WNBA Draft

Transcript: Head Coaches on Next Week’s Draft

Prospects Imani Boyette, Tiffany Mitchell, Jonquel Jones Talk Draft

Bleecher Report: 2016 WNBA Mock Draft: Analyzing Elite Prospects and Hidden Gems

The .com is doing a whole bunch of Draft Previews, but it’s ridiculously hard to find them all in one place. Scroll down in the News tab.

From the Boston Globe Ex-WNBA star Chamique Holdsclaw details mental health struggles

This is as good time to remind of the piece on Cassie Kerns in the Indy Star:

The photo looks happy. It’s not.

At that moment, on that court after beating Louisville 76-54, Kerns was in a downward spiral of self-loathing.

Not even a national championship in the sport she had once loved could bring her joy. She was so far in the depths of depression and mental illness, she says, that she was numb.

She smiled and celebrated in that photo, but it was a masterful cover-up. It was all a big act — a front she put on for much of the four years she played for the powerhouse team and coach Geno Auriemma.

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(Hello Houston, site of so many Liberty heartbreaks… at least your airport has free wifi! And at least we were able to find a hotel for our unexpected overnight due to bad weather.)

So, to the big news: Blue Devils/Buffalo roots (tinged with a little Hotlanta) bring Lisa Borders to the presidency. Mechelle says, Lisa Borders’ biggest challenge: Proper exposure for WNBA

She’s 58 and a part of the Baby Boomer generation that lived its entire young adulthood before social media. The players in her league are late Generation Xers and Millennials. The oldest of the active WNBA players have no memory of a world before Title IX; the youngest have no recollection of a world without the WNBA.

Even so, the main question WNBA players, coaches and fans of all generations ask is the same: How can the league be better marketed? No one is looking for NBA-type exposure, of course. But can the WNBA, or at the very least a few of its more prominent players, break through to the mainstream?

From the Times: By Hiring Lisa M. Borders, W.N.B.A. Gets a Leader Who Follows the Game

“Sometimes I’m literally screaming at players to box out, move their feet or drive the lane,” she said by telephone. “And I’m asking, ‘Whose man is that?’ ” She added, “I’m the No. 1 fan.”

Borders is essentially looking for more fans like herself as the W.N.B.A. heads into its 20th season in May. Average attendance peaked well above predictions at 10,864 in the league’s second season, but it fell last season to 7,318 a game, a record low. Viewership on ESPN and ESPN2 tumbled 15 percent last season and declined 21 percent during the finals, which were on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC.

In the other news: Just what you expect from the WCC: 40-foot jumper by Lexi Rydalch secures BYU’s improbable 65-62 win over San Francisco. Then, of course, San Francisco takes down San Diego.

Top Dogs: UAlbany women’s basketball defeats New Hampshire in front of 3,016 fans

Not so fast: The Q overcomes deficit, tops MAAC-leading Iona

Post-game unpicking: Maryland women’s basketball learning hard lessons from turnovers. Still learning, as they had 24 in their win over Northwestern.

Resurgence: Multi-threat Utes aiming for surprise postseason berth

Anyone else impressed with the noise Oklahoma State is making late this season?

And what about their in-state rivals, #21 Oklahoma taking down #6 Texas, 74-56.

#16 Florida can’t make up its mind who it wants to be, falling to Auburn 80-58.

Coaches across sports consistently preach about the importance of a renewed focus in games following losses.

Florida, however, did a poor job of taking that wisdom to heart on Sunday.

In their worst loss of the season, the No. 16 Gators were defeated 80-58 on the road to unranked Auburn.

The same might might be said for #17 Michigan State, who got schooled by Nebraska, 73-66.

Sunday provided another example of the ever-changing emotions of a college basketball season.

On Thursday, Nebraska got drilled 110-73 at Minnesota in one of the worst losses in program history. Nebraska coach Connie Yori said in that game the Huskers looked like they didn’t want to be there.

Three days later, Nebraska got its best win of the season, defeating No. 17 Michigan State 73-66 in front of a season-best crowd of 8,338 at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Told you about this game: Maine tipped Albany, 65-53.

There was a distinct postseason atmosphere at the Cross Insurance Center on Sunday afternoon.

And the University of Maine women’s basketball team gave a playoff-caliber performance for a crowd of 3,231 at the Cross Insurance Center. 

Coach Richard Barron’s Black Bears played suffocating interior defense, limiting two-time conference player of the year Shereesha Richards to eight points while grinding out a 65-53 America East victory.

Huge win for UNC-Asheville as they win their re-match with Liberty, 56-51, claiming sole possession of first place in the Big South and clinching its first 20-win season since 2006-07.

Huge upset, as UMass earned its first A-10 victory by taking down the Bonnies, 69-60.

Almost as big: Though senior forward Nathalie Fontaine became only the second Cardinal in program history to reach the 2000th career point after scoring 28 points,  Ball State stumbled in the MAC, falling to Kent State, 59-50. Meanwhile, Ohio and Central Michigan look to be on a collision course.

Okay, so I’ve been keeping my eye on Wake Forest, and what do they go and do? Beat Duke, 64-58.

In what was the worst loss of the entire McCallie era, Duke had its 44-game win streak against Wake Forest snapped, 64-58. Pick a Duke problem and it showed up in this game. Being outrebounded by a smaller team? Check. Giving up easy looks on the perimeter? Check. Inexplicable scoring droughts? Check. Missed free throws? Yup. The fact that it came against a team that has been an ACC doormat for a long time, one that Duke beat handily earlier in the year, is an indicator that the program is very much at a tipping point this year.

Boink! Canisius took advantage of a nightmare 3rd quarter by Marist to squeak out a 2-point win, 71-69.

Nice: Greenland has built storied girls basketball program

Sporting a black Greenland Lady Pirates pullover, greatness encircles him. High on the gymnasium walls, Kelly green and white banners detail the school’s dominance in girls basketball for the past 15 years. Hardware from the program’s six state championships since 1999 stuff the trophy cases in the foyer.

Barton said while the winning is nice, that’s not his ultimate goal as a coach and leader of one of Northwest Arkansas’ most successful girls basketball programs. Success to him goes beyond the hardwood court.

“Winning, developing habits, being a strong personality, that’s all part of it,” Barton said. “But for them to tell me I’ve made a difference in their lives, man, that’s everything.”

Nice: Miami’s Octavia Blue to have her jersey retired

North of the Border: Canada’s women’s basketball team ready for high Olympic expectations

And South of the Border I’m seeing this:

PICT0263 (1).jpg

And this!
PICT0244.jpg

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So, no, James Madison may not have the Dawn Evans star-power that brings them national attention – but they’re still serious about winning the CAA. They dispatched the Pride with ease, 71-54. BTW, keep an eye on the growth of conference-mate Elon.

Iona moved to 11-2 in the MAAC. Nipping at their heels: Quinnipiac, Siena and, of course, Marist (11-2).

As expected, it was a battle – one that went to OT. Missouri State defeated Northern Iowa, 78-75, to tie for the top spot in the MVC.

Penn looks to rule the Ivy this season… Princeton will have a chance to say something about that on March 8th.

The undercards made it interesting, but the higher ranked teams prevailed in each of the match ups.

#5 Maryland by 9.

#8 Arizona State by 4.

#9 Oregon State by 8.

#15 Stanford by 5.

Games you might want to pay attention to this weekend:

Bucknell, at 9-1 in the Patriot, faces Holy Cross.

Jacksonville will try and rebound from their loss to FGCU as they face Stetson. The Hatters aren’t strong this year, but they have a history in the conference.

Abilene Christian looks to bounce back from their first in-conference loss when they go up against Southeastern Louisiana.

(Current) top dogs in the WCC will battle: Saint Mary’s will face BYU.

Who want the top spot in the OVC? Tennessee-Martin (8-1) battles SIU-Edwardsville (9-1).

How about in the C-USA? UTEP (9-1), coming off their first conference loss, goes up against the Hilltoppers (9-1).

Big Sky conference leaders Montana State will go up against conference scorer, Sacramento State.

Sunday

#13 Louisville is on a hot streak going into their game against #3 Notre Dame. A win sure would help distract folks from the mess their men’s program is in.

Duke is no longer ranked, but maybe they’ll get riled up v. #16 Miami.

In the Big East, St. John’s v. Seton Hall go after each other in a good local rivalry.

#21 Missouri may be fighting to continue to be ranked as they go up against #11 Mississippi State. 

Can Missouri State continue their winning ways against Drake (8-2)?

A little right-the-ship time for #23 Tennessee, as they travel to College Station and face the #12 Aggies?

Interesting: Girls basketball team at Pike receives visitor from NCAA following season-ending brawl

A major player for women’s basketball in the NCAA gave the Girls’ Basketball team from Pike High School a lesson they’ll likely never forget following a season they don’t want to remember.

It was going to be a promising season for the Pike Girls’ Basketball team. Two of the players had already committed to play basketball at D-1 schools. That is until January 15th, the girls’ big game against Ben Davis. Sportsmanship was noticeably absent from the court. The girls’ basketball teams from Ben Davis and Pike High Schools erupted in a mid-game brawl, with all of it caught on camera.

Looking at the future? WNBA star Tamika Catchings interns at NBA offices

WNBA’s Angel McCoughtry dispels same-sex stereotypes

Angel McCoughtry, the star forward for the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream and Olympic gold medalist, came out as gay with fiancée Brande Elise last year after an alleged dispute with her overseas team during the U.S. off-season. “With all the energy I felt this was something I had to do and I wasn’t thinking about the effects it would have on my career,” she said.

Since coming out, she has lost friendships and disappointed family members, but despite the ongoing chaos, McCoughtry has continued to push forward with her life. 

In anticipation of Monday’s South Carolina game…

Charlie offers: Childhood home is where it all started for Breanna Stewart

The sound of leather on pavement was all too familiar to the residents on an otherwise quiet street marked with brick houses and finely groomed landscape in this town just north of Syracuse. One by one, neighbors popped their heads out of front doors as the noise instantly took them back in time.

And sure enough, Breanna Stewart was dribbling a basketball on a nearby driveway.

From the Garnet and Black: South Carolina Gamecocks vs. UConn Huskies: The UConn Blog’s Aman Kidwai gives his take

From The State: Dawn Staley on upcoming game against UConn

Also from The State: Now we can talk about it

ABC Columbia goes One-on-One with Dawn Staley

From Mechelle: South Carolina seniors Mitchell, Sessions savoring the moment

Sessions and Mitchell are trying to absorb it all and then file it into that vivid section of long-term memory … while also attempting not to be overwhelmed by the emotions and difficult tasks ahead. There already have been plenty, with more to come. The Gamecocks have an SEC matchup with visiting Kentucky on Thursday (SEC Network, 7 p.m. ET), and then their long-anticipated showdown with No. 1 UConn on Big Monday (ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET) at Colonial Life Arena.

The game against the Huskies will be the most spotlighted women’s basketball game — and perhaps women’s sports event of any kind — ever in the Palmetto state. This is the vision coach Dawn Staley had when she took the job eight years ago, and it’s what she sold to incoming recruits: “Come be a part of building this. I have the blueprint.”

Also from Mechelle: How UConn senior Breanna Stewart makes it all look so easy

Breanna Stewart has got it all down now. In a way that’s both friendly and business-like, she anticipates the media’s questions before they’re asked, and then answers in complete and polished sentences. She wears the cloak of “best player in women’s college basketball” not just comfortably, but even effortlessly.

Surely, though, it’s not that easy. Coach Geno Auriemma’s UConn “system” has produced 10 NCAA championships and a group of elite players whose personal accomplishments have become a part of basketball lore.

But this, too, is one of the program’s hallmarks: The superstars shine very brightly without seeming to bask in their own limelight. (Or at least not too much. Diana Taurasi might have done a little basking, but not at the expense of her team’s goals or her own growth.)

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