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(Just a little shout out to my co-workers and some of the fabulous teachers I’ve worked with this year.)

That groan of relief is every single team enjoying the approach of All Star Weekend (though the All Stars themselves will not be gettin’ a ton of rest.). LA is looking forward to the return of Parker, Minny is looking forward to…no more injuries. Tulsa is (not so much) looking forward to packing their bags for Texas. Unfortunately for my friends in Arkansas, I have to agree with Mechelle: Hard To Argue With Relocating Shock From Tulsa To Dallas.

The Liberty ended on a high note, finishing their west coast trip on a win streak. While a 12-5 record is lovely to look at, I’m not quite ready to drink the koolaid (and this headline makes my stomach turn). “Why so cynical, Helen?”

Well, yes, they’ve won five in a row for the first time since 2010, and they have a bench, and there’s excitement in the Garden, and winning means coverage – a rarity here in the Big Apple. But.. yes, they beat the “surprising” Mercury, but they barely beat the undermanned Storm and Sparks. That being said, this is a season where everyone is down a player (or two. or three) and so everything is up for grabs. I’m really looking forward to the Libs’ two games against Chicago (Away August 7, Home August 11th), ’cause yeah, Elena Delle Donne takes game to even higher level. USA takes notice, too! (though I’m having some issues with the headline (Maybe I’m just feelin’ cranky? See below). Gives me an opportunity to post this:

College: 

Idiots: Multiple IPFW women’s basketball players cited for alcohol possession.

At least they weren’t driving. This past season, Eastern Michigan’s incredible resiliency after the death of teammate Shannise Heady in a car crash earned national attention. What seems to have stayed local was the reason for the crash: Heady was speeding. And drunk. Drunk after celebrating a victory with her teammates.

Kentucky’s Epps was in a car.

I’m waiting for colleges to really take underage drinking seriously and driving-while-drunk doubly serious. Yah, yah, yah, everyone does it. So what?

So people get killed. A scholarship, whatever the form, is a privilege. You damage your university, your team, yourself or, worse, someone else….you make the call.

International/USA Basketball: The U-19 Quarters are on tap Friday via Youtube

Spain vs Belgium
Russia vs France
China vs Australia
USA vs Canada

BTW, congrats to Kia Nurse (and Canada) who beat Moriah Jefferson and Breanna Stewart (and the US) for PanAm Gold.

“She was unbelievable,” Stewart said of Nurse. “That’s what she does, she attacks. And whether it was the 3-point shots or driving for the basket, that’s what she does, and that’s what she does at UConn. She put Canada on her back tonight and led them to this win.

“From start to finish, she was scoring, and we didn’t have an answer for her.”

The Canadian women’s basketball program has made HUGE strides these past few years. And I imagine UConn’s early practices will be full of trash talking, eh?

Speaking of trash talk: Interesting… 

Even though North Carolina likely won’t respond to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations for another few weeks, one of the school’s former women’s basketball players fears she knows what’s coming.

 Meghan Austin expects the Tar Heels athletic department to sacrifice its tradition-rich women’s basketball program in hopes of avoiding serious punishment for its two biggest revenue producers, football and men’s basketball. 

Austin, a 2008 North Carolina graduate currently coaching at Montreat College, penned an editorial for the Raleigh News & Observer on Monday accusing the Tar Heels athletic department of already showing signs of making its women’s basketball program “the scapegoat.” Austin noted that men’s coach Roy Williams got a contract extension earlier this summer but women’s coach Sylvia Hatchell has thus far not received the same show of support.

Speaking of another program that’s got worries: Experts: UI women’s basketball allegations unusual in scope

Two leading sports diversity experts say racism can be found across women’s college basketball, but not to the extent alleged in a federal lawsuitfiled earlier this month by seven former Illini.

“It’s something I haven’t seen before,” Richard Lapchick told The News-Gazette. “It’s pretty stunning.”

And a little post kerfuffle fallout: South High’s Ericka Mattingly withdraws women’s basketball commitment from Wichita State

On the flip side, here’s some leadership by Khadija J Head: SAME-SEX MARRIAGE AND COLLEGE COACHING

MY EXPERIENCE

I remember when I was hired at Pittsburgh. Coach Berenato asked me if I was coming by myself or was my partner coming with me.

I was floored.

But because I hadn’t told Coach Berenato that I was gay. It was the first time a Coach cared about me as a person and my happiness. It was an amazing feeling…one I hope everyone gets a chance to experience.

You know what I always hated. Using the phrase…oh, that’s “my FRIEND”. Really what in the hell is that?

We have all used that verbiage to describe our partners in order to avoid awkward conversations. That’s borderline disrespectful and grounds for breaking up lol.
Yet, they stay by our sides and endure “the FRIEND” zone because you are a college coach. It’s unspoken law (career suicide) that you do not openly admit that you are in fact NOT just “FRIENDS”.

Well, the U.S. Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, says Love is Love.

So I say again, now this is interesting or should I say this will be interesting. How many college coaches’ bios will change in August now that same-sex marriage is legal throughout the United States.

Oooooo, this ought to be a fun weekend! AP Source: Sherri Coale to Enter Women’s Basketball Hall. Great crew joining her (Missouri State guard Jackie Stiles, Olympic gold medalist Natalie Williams, longtime official June Courteau, Texas girls high school coach Joe Lombard and the late AAU girls basketball official Bill Tipps. The 1996 U.S. women’s basketball Olympic team will receive the Hall’s trailblazer award.) but I would walk to Knoxville just for the opportunity to hear what Sherri writes.

Thank you (N.J.): Attridge retired having played a large role in girls athletics

Kevin Attridge, who this school year ended 43 yeas of coaching four different girls sports at Mater Dei Prep when he retired as outdoor track and field coach, remembers his early years of coaching when gender equity and Title IX first came into practice in the early 1970s.

“It was seeing the kids adapt to change. That was the cool part of coaching,” Attridge, 68, said.

Attridge said he decided to retire from outdoor track and field in December, the last of the four sports where he built his coaching legacy. A year earlier, he decided to stop coaching indoor track and field after reviving the program in 2000. He stopped coaching cross-country three years ago and also ended a 27-year run of success in girls basketball in 1999 with a 485-187 record.

WATN? Los Gatos, Saratoga: Former WNBA All-Star, two-time Olympic gold medalist Bolton visits Golden State Warriors camp

Speaking of where are they now, did you catch John Altavilla’s tweet: Geno also says participation in this year’s Maggie Dixon Classic looking doubtful because no opponent has been found.

*Cue sound of chickens clucking* Hey, coaches, this is the MAGGIE DIXON Classic. It honors an amazing woman had has become a huge event at Madison Square Garden, ushering in the return of college women’s basketball. Who’s going to show some spine and step up?

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Allisha Gray leaving North Carolina. Remember that great 2013 #1 Recruiting Class of Diamond DeShields, Allisha Gray, Jessica Washington and Stephanie Mavunga? Mavunga is the last one standing.

For folks (read UNC athletic staff) who aren’t taking this whole academic scandal thang seriously (who, us?) you all better stand up and take notice. Speak up, clear the air… or your athletic program may implode.

Speaking of transfers: Former Terps guard Lexie Brown to transfer to Duke

Thank you: Lester Galyon leaving Gordon Lee after successful 14-year run

After one of the longest and undoubtedly the most successful runs in the program’s history, Lester Galyon is leaving the girls’ basketball program at Gordon Lee High School.

Galyon came to Chickamauga 14 years ago and inherited a program that was just starting to get back to the top. He arrived at Gordon Lee one year after the Lady Trojans broke a long state playoff drought.

His teams would go on to be in the state tournament in each of the first 13 years of his tenure, winning over 300 games, averaging 21 wins a season and never having had a losing season. He helped coach the Lady Trojans to six Region 6-A championships and the Class A Public School state championship in 2013.

Thank you, too: Lusinger leaves Summit girls basketball for MISD office

Summit girls basketball head coach Tammy Lusinger has resigned to accept the position of assistant athletic director at the Mansfield ISD office.

Lusinger, who helped guide the Lady Jaguars to state championships in 2009 and 2012, leaves the program after 13 years, the last eight as head coach. She served the first five years as the program’s assistant coach, dating back to the opening of the school.

Her record at Summit was 229-65 and 330-142 overall, which includes time spent at Dripping Springs, Richland and LaPorte before arriving at Summit.

The Lady Jaguars also collected four district championships and six regional appearances in addition to the two state titles.

In W news:

Do not even pretend you had this marked in your prediction book: Surprising Sun sit atop the Eastern Conference in WNBA

“I think we are (shocking people), but I don’t think we are shocking ourselves,” guard Jasmine Thomas said. “I think that this is exactly what everyone wanted, what we were fighting for and what we were expecting to be doing.”

That said, the Sun will be tested this week as they head West for a three-game swing against the Seattle Storm, Los Angeles Sparks and Phoenix Mercury.

One of the reasons: Bone-Jarring: Sun Post Player Likes To Mix It Up Underneath

Kelsey Bone were a hockey player she would be an enforcer. That seems clear.

“Listen, if I was coordinated enough to skate, I would have tried my hand at hockey,” Bone said. “And if it meant I would end up in the penalty box, well, I’m fine with that.”

That’s because Bone, as solid a 6 feet 4 as there is in the WNBA, does not shy away from the physicality that often defines low post play. In fact, she’s often a spoon that stirs it.

And don’t even TRY to say you had THIS marked in your prediction book: There are a lot of good vibes from new-look Mercury

What has been discussed most about the WNBA’s defending champions is all that has changed for the Mercury from a year ago. But especially after a big victory at home Sunday, it’s a good time to talk about who the 2015 Mercury actually are, not who they aren’t.

So let’s look at that through the eyes of two veteran players — guard Leilani Mitchell and forward Monique Currie — who until this season spent their WNBA careers in the Eastern Conference. Now they’re in the Mercury’s starting lineup.

Chicago ouch: Tamera Young out after thumb surgery.

New York ouch: Dabnabbit! There goes our Aussie!

Thank you: WNBA’s Indiana Fever Pay Tribute to Lauren Hill

Thank you: Tina Charles donates half WNBA salary to her foundation

Soooooo, can Cooper recapture the Dream or is Atlanta joining San Antonio’s race for Stewart?

Finally, longtime WHB readers remember this story. Thank you, Danielle: Green to receive Pat Tillman Award for Service at the ESPYS

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John Ourand at Sports Business Journal: Top sport on cable last week: NCAA Women’s Basketball final on ESPN drew 4.24M viewers. Masters on ESPN drew 4.05M on Fri; 2.66M on Thurs.

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is there’s no parity. What kind of excitement can you create when everyone knows who’s going to be in the Final Four or play in the Championship game?

I mean, who’s gonna watch that?

Psych!

NCAA women’s basketball championship game draws highest television rating since 2004

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(check out Kim’s site for stuff) but this particular pair of pieces stands out: Kim Mulkey bothered by tauntsand Mechelle’s follow up: On and off court, Griner rises above – From physical play in the paint to personal attacks on the Internet, junior perseveres

Regularly in practice, Baylor makes a point of ganging up on Brittney Griner. She gets pushed and pulled, double- and triple-teamed. There’s no such thing as a foul on her. She’s just supposed to figure out how to deal with it.

The same thing goes, really, when it comes to comments that range from mocking to horribly hateful that are made about Griner on message boards and other public forums. Her teammates, coaches and family tell her not to look at them.

“They don’t want me to, but I still do,” said Griner, who Monday was named winner of the Wade Trophy, the Naismith Player of the Year and the WBCA’s defensive player of the year. “I go search my name sometimes and see what people say. They’ll tell me not to, because people are kind of mean, but it doesn’t bother me.

“I know things they say aren’t true. They are trying to get into my head and try to stop me. It’s not going to work.”

This is bullying. I’d appreciate coaches and the NCAA and the WBCA stepping up and making their voices heard.

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Baylor will feed off Mulkey’s actions – On-court chemistry and leadership from players more important than ever

Mulkey is getting great care, and she will do everything she can to be on the sidelines against Stanford on Sunday in Denver and keep this from being any distraction for the Lady Bears. But the players are human, and one of them is Mulkey’s own daughter, Makenzie. Still, you can bet Mulkey will tell them very convincingly not to worry about her.

All teams tend to get their emotional compasses from their coaches. And in Baylor’s case, Mulkey provides a great deal of confidence. It radiates off her.

Plus, she’s the one who makes the strategic decisions. Some head coaches hand off elements of offense or defense to assistants, to the point of relying on them to be basically in charge of that. There’s nothing wrong with that system; for some programs, it works very well. But at Baylor, while Mulkey listens to her staff, she is always the one who makes the call.

If you missed Mechelle’s chat, check here for the transcript.

Graham Hays on Dailey and Geno: an incredible team – ‘Longest running odd couple in basketball’ has won seven NCAA titles

University of Connecticut associate coach Chris Dailey is either one of the longest-tenured assistant coaches in women’s college basketball or its most frequently rehired.

It kind of depends on how seriously you choose to take head coach Geno Auriemma when he talks about the person who, among many duties, works with the Huskies’ post players.

“With this group that we have right now, and our post players and who they are right now, she’s gotten fired at least once every practice, maybe twice every game and she won’t leave,” Auriemma quipped a day after he and Dailey advanced to their 13th Final Four together. “So I’m kind of thinking that she really likes these kids. I was trying like hell to get rid of her because I didn’t think our post players would ever amount to anything this year.”

Debbie and Beth have their Final Four Preview Podcast. They talk about the year in review, COY, and All-Americans.

Charlie has his UConn-Notre Dame breakdown and his Stanford-Baylor breakdown.

From Hoopfeed: Final Four coaches preview Denver – Coaches of the Final Four teams talked with the media yesterday about the upcoming weekend giving their opinions on everything from their expectations to how to handle the high altitude of Denver.

Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma

On the altitude
I don’t know what you can do about it. It’s not like there’s one team out there that’s waiting for us, and we’re visiting, and they have a huge advantage. I think all four teams are having to go through similar scenarios. But we’ve talked to our team doctor and he’s let us know how to best prepare for it. I suggested turning the oxygen off in the plane on the way over there for about an hour and get them used to sucking for breath, but he advised us not to do that. So I guess we’ll have to deal with it when we get there.

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Kim Mulkey has Bell’s palsy

More info on Bell’s Palsy

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*I will not get a John Denver song stuck in my head. I will not get a John Denver song stuck in my head. I will… DABNABBIT!*

From Mechelle: The upside to predictability – Four 1-seeds are fun to watch offensively and play very strong defense

From Michelle: Stanford ready for challenge – Cardinal look forward to playing Griner, Baylor in semifinal

CHAT ALERT: Mechelle’s looking for questions for tomorrow’s 2pm EST gig.

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forecast? Will I see you in Colorado?

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some speed reading:

From the DC Basket Cases: The Raleigh Natty Regional

Whether you’ll be catching all the action in person at the RBC Center PNC Arena on Sunday, or at home (or at a sports bar) glued to your TV . . . if you aren’t excited about tomorrow’s games in Raleigh, the BCs respectfully suggest that you check your pulse.

Nate’s got some 2012 NCAA Women’s Sweet 16 Predictions: Kingston Bracket

Rebecca’s Breaking down Raleigh’s Sweet 16

Fagans says the Terps relaxed, ready for Aggiesand the AP says the Aggies have to keep Terps off the boards in NCAAs

If they do, Viv says Gary is threatening to dance again.

Graham has a couple: Taelor Karr finds home in Spokane – K-State transfer rediscovered love for basketball at Gonzaga and PSU’s Maggie Lucas diversifies game

Curt takes note: Notre Dame women’s basketball: Irish on way to free throw shooting mark and warns the Irish better beware of the Bonnies

St. Bonaventure knows they’re about to Take On a Women’s Basketball Titan and the Buffalo News’ Amy Moran thinks Irish talent can trump Bona defense

Al Lesar says Time, players have softened McGraw’s approach

The fans offer encouraging sendoff to Gonzaga women‎ but they are losing home-court advantage in regional‎.

Meanwhile, UK Hoops tries to put Gonzaga in the forefront, avoid side stories‎ as they feed off those other Cats.

In Kingston, Jim Fuller says the Huskies, Penn State are ready to run as the Lady Lions hope to continue charmed season against No. 1 seed Connecticut.  Bentley says “I don’t think they’ve played against a real, true scoring team.” and Faris says, “I think any player would take that as a challenge,’’

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Video

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for those multi-taskers amongst us:

From Swish Appeal: NCAA Women’s Sweet 16 Predictions: Fresno Bracket, NCAA Women’s Sweet 16 Predictions: Des Moines Bracket

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution: MaChelle Joseph’s development mirrors Ga. Tech’s

The last time the Georgia Tech women’s basketball team visited Des Moines, Iowa, the Yellow Jackets were in a hotel so close to the interstate that they found earplugs on their pillows.

“So I was like, ‘Not a good sign,’” coach MaChelle Joseph said this week.

They are stationed this time in quieter environs. It isn’t only Joseph’s ear canals that recognize that the Jackets have attained a loftier status. The NCAA bracket can do that, too.

I remember speaking with coach Joseph a while back about officiating. I had no idea about what her coaching skills were, but it was obvious to me she was willing to put in the time and effort needed to understand the WHOLE of the game.

This past fall, for example, when Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph was on her “just before practice starts” vacation, she got an invitation from Struckhoff to participate in a coaches/officials discussion panel during the NCAA’s Division I Regional Officiating Clinic. She immediately cut her vacation short and flew back to attend.

“For me it was a no-brainer because I felt like it’s our responsibility to give back,” said Joseph. “Officials have done so much for our game. [It] couldn’t continue to keep growing at the pace that is if the officiating hadn’t improved as much as it has over the years. [Coaches] want the officiating to continue to grow and improve and get better. Well, the only way we can do that is for us to exchange ideas and thoughts and address issues.”

During the afternoon session, coaches and officials discussed and debated questions across a wide range of topics: travel fatigue, assessment and evaluation, recruitment, attitude and communication.

“Having that experience has really changed my approach this year with how I deal with the officials,” noted Joseph. She cited an instance when she asked how refs wanted to be approached during games. “A veteran official, someone I’d known for a while, said, ‘We just want to be respected. We want to be treated like you could talk to anybody else.’”

“And you don’t think about that,” admitted Joseph. “Sometimes I think with coaches we’re in that mode we use with players: ‘Take what we are saying, not how we are saying it.’ That kind of thing. And you have to shift gears right in the middle of the game — you got the intensity level of the coaches and the competition that’s going on — and then you have to shift gears how you’re approaching the official. I think that’s a pretty good point.”

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Beth and Debbie (will) preview the Sweet 16 (as soon as the ESPN site loads the podcast). Wait, now it’s up on the top of the page links, but not updated on the big ole “click here for the podcast.” What up with that?

We got picks! (From the ESPN folks.) And there are some landslides happening.

Oh, and Mechelle chatted.

Levi: After seeing St. John’s in person, I think the President may be spot on picking St. John’s for a final four berth. I was really impressed at the grit of this team. There will be a lot of WNBA prospects off this team. I don’t think Stanford has it too easy as some have claimed out there. This region actually may be the toughest of the four. It seemed every time St. John’s got knocked down in Norman they rose like the Phoenix. The pressure they put on teams is unreal. If a number one seed doesn’t make I would say it would be Stanford.

Mechelle Voepel: I was impressed, too, with St. John’s gumption. Creighton was a very tough test in the first round, which was to be expected because the Bluejays consistently play a tough non-conference schedule. Then beating a gutsy Oklahoma team on the Sooners’ home floor … very impressive. Three of the teams in the Fresno regional – St. John’s, Duke, and South Carolina – all won their second-round games on their opponent’s home floor. And Stanford had to go across the country for its early-round games. So everyone has worked to earn their spot in Fresno.

I’ll fess up — I quoted that q/a ’cause Mechelle threw down the work gumption. Love it.

OT: Nice to be back in Cleveland, albeit for a plane change. Good memories of the Final Four. Also nice that the airport provides free wifi. As I visit Louisville for the day, I’m suddenly wondering how big the YUM! Center is and might it vie for a Final Four hosting gig….

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Mechelle previews the Des Moines Sweet 16 games:

Florida coach Amanda Butler had a bemused look on her face Tuesday night when someone asked if she was pleased that her Gators seemed to have had Baylor flustered at least a little bit in the first half of their NCAA second-round meeting.

“Really?” Butler said with a wry smile. “OK. If you say so.

Graham Hays previews the Kingston Sweet 16 matchups:

The smallest state in the country could play host to some of the biggest scores of the tournament’s second week.

Top-seeded Connecticut, No. 2 seed Kentucky, No 4 Penn State and No. 11 Gonzaga make for a geographically disparate quartet in Kingston, R.I., but the four teams there still dreaming of Denver share a propensity for scoring points. All rank in the top 20 nationally in points per game. The other three regions feature just six such teams among them.

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Mechelle: Sweet 16 first impressions – Georgia Tech, St. Bonaventure and St. John’s all playing in first regional semis

Kate Fagan: Raleigh Sweet 16 breakdown

Michelle: Fresno Sweet 16 breakdown

Vote! at SportNation

Chelsea Gray isn’t busy enough, so she’s blogging.

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courtesy of BG v. FL.

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and what happens?

KState forgets how to score.

The Terrapins tip toe past the Cardinals.

TAMU squeaks by the Razorbacks.

Kentucky eased by Green Bay.

The Cardinal roll and the Volunteers rock.

Dawn gets her team to the sweet 16. (upset)

Gonzaga took down Miami (upset) and you’ve got to believe the game would have looked different if Riquna Williams had been on the court. You’ve got to admire coach Meier’s principals and courage.

The ESPN folk weigh in:

Fagan: Terps survive Cardinals, advance

Mechelle: Depth carries Tennessee past DePaul

Michelle: Stanford beats WVU at own game

Graham: Half of Sweet 16 set — and Gonzaga’s in again

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like Annie Meyers?

That means she (and the other 100%-ers) id’d the one upset of the day/night: Gonzaga v. RU in Spokane. (Is the seat getting warm in New Jersey?)

The results of the rest of the games, ESPN-link-free:

As anticipated, Texas was one and done.

Dawn had no trouble with James and the Eagles.

No reason Navy shouldn’t be proud of their effort against Maryland.

Close, but not quite for Princeton against K-State. Tweet of the night from Coach B: And our #32 takes a mid-term on the way back to Princeton. Tough day. http://yfrog.com/esf17pnj

It Fresno, Purdue was singing “It’s rainin’ threes!

Louisville kept Michigan State at a safe distance throughout the game.

Stanford (by 22) and UConn (by 36) move on.

A tale of two halves for Dayton, as Arkansas pulled away in the second.

There was a moment when the “other” Tennessee was led “that” Tennessee, but then the Vols said “enough.”

If Kentucky fans weren’t already concerned about their team, the fact that they “escaped” McNeese State, a 15-seed, should start them worrying.

Nice battle between DePaul and BYU, but Ms. Martin & Co. made sure the Blue Devils advanced.

Texas A&M kept the Great Danes at bay.

Even down a star, Miami had little trouble with the Bengals.

Green Bay ripped through the Cyclones.

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take a Sherri Coale “The Write Space and Time” break: March is when everyone can find a team to root for and all 64 have a change.

Advertise bowl games all you want — folks in two camps get all wound up and posture and provoke — but the rest of the country knows they’re playing for third or fourth or 18th or 27th. There simply is no hope. It’s factual to a fault. But when the NCAA tournament dance cards are handed out, all 64 teams on the floor have a dream. And the campuses and the cities and the towns they represent carry that dream around on a pillow like a crown. The race may not be wide open, but every single squad has a sliver of hope. And I want to know, seriously, does it get any better than that? Rhetorical question, of course; but if it does, I gotta tell you, I want in on it.

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Swish Appeal has 2012 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Kingston Bracket Preview: Who Can Challenge The Connecticut Huskies?

At Hoop Feed it’s: Dishin’ on the Brackets: Kingston Region and Dishin’ on the Brackets: Raleigh Region and the 3/15/12 Podcast: Come dancing with the annual NCAA tournament roundtable which includes Mel, Dough, LaChina, Jayda, Angela Taylor, Wendy Parker and Orin “the DWHoops King” Day

At ESPN, Mechelle chatted today…yesterday… geez, traveling and time sure is confusing. Here’s the wrap.

Terri: Bill Plaschke of the LA Times was on Around the Horn on ESPN the other day and he came down hard on the women’s selection committee for their mind-boggling draws for the tournament. He pointed out how Stanford was a No. 1 seed but had to go all the way to Virginia to play Hampton. Do you think if the media shines a spotlight on the committee’s ineptitude they will ever do a better or more logical job of putting together the bracket?

Mechelle Voepel: I wonder how much Bill understands about the history and background of the committee and the different challenges that the women face with their bracket. I’ve been writing about the committee/bracket for 16 years for ESPN.com, and I actually think they do a better job now than they did in the early 2000s. But to some degree, as long as there are pre-determined sites, their hands will be tied. It makes putting together the bracket that much tougher when you add in that element. There were only so many options of places to send Stanford, and they opted to ship the Cardinal far away but have them on a neutral court. Pre-determined sites do not increase attendance, they make it easier for TV to televise all the games. I think having top-16 seeds host is still the best answer for attendance and for fair distribution on the bracket. But I don’t know that we’ll ever go back to that. So every year, there are these problems. The committee, no matter what they say, can’t solve the puzzle they are presented without making some decisions that seem ridiculous to the average person who doesn’t closely follow the sport. For that matter, they sometimes seem ridiculous to those who *do* closely follow it.

From Julia Savacoo at the W, or is it ESPN women’s basketball page? there’s a video. Khadijah Rushdan has will to succeed

Not much else new on the ESPN site. Heck, even the headlines are several days old…. well, actually, when I check the “required to be used by announcers twitter feed hashtag” I found a ton of stuff. Why isn’t the main page defaulting to a Tourney page. Where IS the link to the Tourney page? Oh, I found it... waaaaaay down below. Oh, and look, it’s sneakily put in the upper right hand corner. That’ll get people’s attention! I am glad they put Rebecca’s face where it belonged.

Anyhoo, go check out the stuff that’s up:

  • Voepel: Year later, teams still chasing Baylor
  • Analysis: Des Moines » Fresno »
  • Analysis: Kingston » Raleigh »
  • Voepel: Stricklen seeks consistency »
  • Hays: BYU’s Steed worth the wait »
  • Fagan: How teams will try to stop Griner »
  • Hays: All the pieces in place for Princeton »
  • Hays: Delle Donne finds way back home »
  • Student-athlete blogs »

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Tournament Has a Different Feel for Lady Vols

Another women’s N.C.A.A. basketball tournament approaches and Tennessee is seeking to hang a ninth championship banner in the rafters. But the usual postseason excitement is tinged with somber uncertainty, given that this year’s tournament might be more about departure than arrival.

Don’t forget to check out Kim’s Daily News page for tons of links. Some that stood out for me:

Albany: Coach Abe has a winning way
BYU: Knee failed 3 times, but Haley Steed had heart
Eastern Michigan: Eagles head toward NCAA tournament
Florida Gulf Coast, St. Bonaventure: Three will be key for Eagles, Bonnies in NCAA Tournament game
Fresno State: Bulldogs women’s basketball team can hear ghost of Michael Jordan
Middle Tennessee State: Lady Raiders unfazed by stage
Navy: Latest Navy Women’s Basketball NCAA Tournament Diary
Penn State: Washington Hasn’t Lost Sight of Portland’s Success on Court
St. Bonaventure: St. Bonaventure living the good life as FGCU awaits
UTEP: ‘Hard work pays off’: UTEP assistant draws on experience
UW Green Bay: Green Bay Way makes mid-major one of country’s top women’s programs

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with his bracket.

I shall not, for I do not wish to to embarrass myself more than I usually do.

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Seems you should rely on the team information provided by ESPN for the women’s bracket challenge. An intrepid Rebkellian asks, what’s wrong with these stats?

Baylor
(34-0)
Seed: 1
Conference: Big 12
Conf. Record: 10-5 Shocked
AP Rank: 13 Shocked
PPG: 74.6
Opp. PPG: 63.7
Vs. Top 25: 0-4 Shocked
Last 12 Games: 7-5 Shocked
Notable Results: UConn (W by 5), ND (W by 13), @Tenn (W by 9), Tex A&M (won 3 times)

Stanford
(31-1)
Seed: 1
Conference: Pac-12
Conf. Record: 8-7 Shocked
AP Rank: NR Shocked
PPG: 70.1
Opp. PPG: 62.7
Vs. Top 25: 0-1 Shocked
Last 12 Games: 6-6 Shocked
Notable Results: @UConn (L by 10), Tenn (W by 17), Gonzaga (W by 15), Cal (won 3 times)

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Top NCAA women’s seeds could be tested on road

Putting together the NCAA bracket is one giant jigsaw puzzle. The selection committee tries to make every piece fit using a certain list of procedures and principles.

This year, the group was in a bind because many of the host schools for the opening two rounds were going to be seeded in the lower half of the bracket. Only three of the top 16 teams in the tournament were sites for the first two rounds, leaving many of the higher seeds left to potentially play on opposing floors.

The committee spent hours trying to avoid that situation. They actually had three brackets working at once, but in the end it was impossible to make it work.

From fellow-APer Tim Reynolds: Florida Gulf Coast’s long-awaited NCAA trip awaits

More 3-pointers made than any team in the country. One of only four teams ranked among the nation’s top 15 in both points scored and points allowed per game. Owners of the third-longest current winning streak in women’s basketball, along with the fifth-best record in the nation.

Yes, Florida Gulf Coast’s resume is catchy.

Forgive the Eagles if they’re not impressed.

Florida Gulf Coast—which is headed to NCAA tournament in its first season of eligibility, five years after playing in the Division II championship game and then transitioning to the top level of college sports—isn’t that keen about keeping up on all its numbers, even though many of those stats have the Eagles in line with the nation’s elite.

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Bleecher Report, but this one hasn’t exploded into anything ugly (yet).

Tim Daniels has 5 Bold Predictions for the 2012 NCAA Women’s Basketball 

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over at Swish Appeal: Revisiting The 2012 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Bubble: Deserving Bids, Snubs, & Surprises

Although most analysts seemed to believe that the Texas Longhorns were pretty certain to get a bid in the 2012 NCAA women’s basketball tournament, Jessica Lantz has made the point (here and here) that they should not have gotten a bid, particularly not over the Oklahoma State Cowgirls.

Of course, whatever we feel about Texas and their recent tournament history of first round exits, the question that has to be answered is who exactly should get in over Texas if people don’t buy that OSU should get the nod. Jessica made a few suggestions that I took a closer look at over the weekend but she might have gained a new ally in her doubts about Texas’ tournament worthiness after Selection Monday: Tim Mulholland of SB Nation’s Streaking the Lawn thought the absence of his Virginia Cavaliers in the field of 64 was a “shocking and a massive snub, nothing less.”

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When looking at the 1/16s and 2/15s, it’s amazing to see how many regular season conference winners aren’t involved. Random first round games I’m looking forward to:

Georgetown v. Fresno State: Can’t wait to see the Bulldog on Bulldog battle. The Cali-dogs have been more consistent than the Eastcoast-dogs, and they’re seriously threatening from beyond the three-point line.

Nebraska v. Kansas: Nebraska’s been up and down. I’ll be intrigued to see which Husker team shows up a Kansas team that hasn’t been to the Tourney since 2000.

Delaware v. UALR: Who doesn’t want to watch a first round match-up that doesn’t feature a member of the “Big 6” conferences? CAA v. Sun Belt. Let’s go!

BYU-DePaul: Coach Bruno has done a great job cobbling together a team out of spare parts. BYU is trying help out its new conference.

Tennessee-Tennessee-Martin: Coach Summitt goes up against her high scoring alma mater.

Cal-Iowa: It’s an important game for a program that wants to show that Stanford ain’t it for the Pac-12.

St. Bonaventure-FGCU: Two “Cinderella” stories. Again, two non-6ers clashing. How will the Bonnies handle the Eagles’ flurry of threes?

Georgia-Marist – This isn’t coach Giorgis’ best team, but they’re also going up a rather confusing Georgia team. Interesting match-up.

Louisville-Michigan StateTwo teams with talent but confusing results. They’ve both fought hard to get to the Tournament.

West Virginia-Texas: Considering how much I picked on Texas, they’ll probably make a run at the Final Four.

South Carolina-Eastern Michigan: EMU’s point guard Tavelyn James played for USA Basketball, the first MAC player to be selected.  How will legendary USA point guard Dawn Staley plan against her?

Green Bay-Iowa State: Watching the selection show last night, my non-follower of wbball friend (who’s gotten vaguely interested now that the Huskers are makin’ noise) said: “Wait, 30-1 and they get a 7-seed?!?!” This’ll be Green Bay’s chance to show folks they were underrated.

LSU-San Diego State: Shhhh! There’s a baby in the house! (I feel a drinking game coming on!) Because of her time at UCLA, Caldwell is  familiar with Beth Burns’ team and their feisty guards.

Princeton-Kansas State: Tigers first AP ranking followed by the highest seed in the Tourney? My grandpa would have been proud. Take down a Big 6 team? Wow.

Queenie has her own unique take on the First Round Dance Cards.

At Swish Appeal, 2012 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Links: Reactions From Around SB Nation

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Lynn Zinser does a little Bracket Review with lots of links:

Leading Off: The New Superpower

In the N.C.A.A. universe, the women’s basketball tournament continues to operate as its own smaller galaxy, its stars not quite as shiny, its bracket creating no madness. It’s through no fault of the women players, who have developed in great leaps and now boast another level of star in Baylor’s Brittney Griner, but as the men’s tournament fills our sky, you need a telescope to find the women.

Baylor, though, does represent the best psychological study either tournament can offer. At 34-0 and with a seemingly unstoppable star, the Bears have yet to bridge that gap that separates a great team from a championship one. Yes, they have elbowed their way into the top echelon, which is no small feat considering the powerhouse schools that have hogged it for so long, but now, as Jere Longman writes in The Times, it’s all about whether they can win. (WHB note: I’m assuming the implied is “a second time and as the prohibitive favorite.”)

A little reminder/observation:

1) By clicking links on this blog and within other articles, you are reminding sports editors that there IS an interest — a growing interest — in the women’s game. It’s just really hard it hear it above the cacophony that surrounds men’s sports. So, as the women’s hoops version of March Madness hits, I urge you to make a concerted effort to read, forward, facebook, & twitter, whatever any links on this blog. Ditto with any stories of interest you find on your own (and feel free to forward them to me: womenshoopsblog @ gmail . com).

2) Fill out some dang brackets. Think about it obsessively or just make random picks, I don’t care. It’s another way to show ESPN (and any other site) that you’re interested. On the men’s side, sixty-two billion million folks fill out brackets. On the women’s side? Last I looked, about 250,000. Come on folks, this blog had a “career high” of hits yesterday. If you’ve got time to visit, you’ve got time to bracket. There are already 900+ folks who think they know more than the ESPN crew. You’re telling me you don’t think you know more than them?

3) Advocate. It goes beyond reading articles. If you can comment, do (please don’t feed the trolls, though.). If you can email, do. It’s amazing how often a writer will respond. Read Kim’s Media Tips if you want more suggestions. Be the squeaky wheel. It far more fun than being a whiner.

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