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No rest for the weary over at USA Basketball:

USA Basketball Women’s World University Games Team Roster Features Five USA Basketball Gold Medalists

The 12-member roster for the 2015 USA Basketball Women’s World University Games Team, which was announced following three days of trials that featured 51 athletes at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, features five USA Basketball gold medalists, including Jordin Canada(UCLA/Los Angeles, Calif.); Diamond DeShields (Tennessee/Norcross, Ga.); Rebecca Greenwell(Duke/Owensboro, Ky.); Erica McCall (Stanford/Bakersfield, Calif.); and Mercedes Russell(Tennessee/Springfield, Ore.).

Playing on their first USA Basketball team will be: Nina Davis (Baylor/Memphis, Tenn.); Chanise Jenkins(DePaul/Chicago, Ill.); Brionna Jones (Maryland/Havre de Grace, Md.); Aerial Powers (Michigan State/Detroit, Mich.); Courtney Range (California/Manteca, Calif.); Sydney Wiese (Oregon State/Phoenix, Ariz.); and Courtney Williams (South Florida/Folkston, Ga.).

Northwestern University head coach Joe McKeown will lead the 2015 USA Women’s World University Games Team, and he will be assisted by Holly Warlick from the University of Tennessee and Tanya Warren from the University of Northern Iowa.

Nneka Ogwumike Has Memories And Aspirations From The 2011 World University Games

During the competition, often alongside her sister, Chiney Ogwumike, Nneka observed many other sports, some of which she had never seen before, as a way to support the USA and her alma mater, Stanford University, which had several athletes competing in various events.

“I was lucky in that my sister and I met up with 10 other Stanford athletes. We saw a lot of our classmates. We actually watched them compete in their sporting events, which was really cool. I was really excited to watch our men’s volleyball team, because we had three Stanford athletes on that team. The games were super exciting.”

In addition to meeting up with classmates, Ogwumike made new friends in the village, which is something she advises the participants of the 2015 World University Games to do.

Roster Named For U.S. Pan American Games Women’s Basketball Team

Following three days of trials that featured 51 athletes at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the 12-member roster for the 2015 U.S. Pan American Women’s Basketball Team today was announced and features seven players who have won at least one gold medal with USA Basketball.

The retuning gold medalists include: Linnae Harper (Kentucky/Chicago, Ill.); Moriah Jefferson(Connecticut/Glenn Heights, Texas); Stephanie Mavunga (North Carolina/Brownsburg, Ind.); Tiffany Mitchell (South Carolina/Charlotte, N.C.); Kelsey Plum (Washington/Poway, Calif.); Taya Reimer (Notre Dame/Fishers, Ind.);and Breanna Stewart (Connecticut/North Syracuse, N.Y.).

Playing on their first USA Basketball team will be: Sophie Brunner (Arizona State/Freeport, Ill.);Alaina Coates (South Carolina/Irmo, S.C.);Caroline Coyer (Villanova/Oak Hill, Va.); Shatori Walker-Kimbrough(Maryland/Aliquippa, Pa.); and Courtney Williams (Texas A&M/Houston, Texas).

The University of Iowa’s Lisa Bluder will lead the 2015 U.S. Pan American Women’s Basketball Team, along with assistant coaches Michelle Clark-Heard of Western Kentucky University and Scott Rueck of Oregon State University.

Some nice “Catching up with…videos on their site.

In the crossover world of NCAA and USA sits Doug Bruno, who reflects on 29 years and looks to future

From Georgia: Retirement looks good on Andy Landers. Casual is his color.

Andy Landers, former Georgia women’s basketball coach and current caretaker of cows, announced his retirement in mid-March, leaving Georgia women’s basketball not only in search of a new leader but also a new identity.

“When you have been as good as they have been for so many years, you become synonymous with your school and it’s really hard to differentiate Georgia from Andy,” University of Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma said. “If you were talking about Georgia basketball, the conversation always started with Andy. He was unique. In the women’s basketball circles, there just weren’t many guys like him.”

Landers spent 36 seasons developing a program, players and personal relationships with everyone he encountered. He was the Lady Dogs.

Yikes. This is sounding ugly: Illinois women’s basketball assistant coach leaves program under storm of accusations

The Daily Illini obtained letters addressed to Chancellor Wise that were sent by the families of Jacqui Grant, Taylor Tuck and Taylor Gleason, which detailed verbal and emotional abuse on the part of Bollant and Divilbiss.
**
One of the claims made by the letters, which was echoed by Lydia Tuck and LaKeisha Coleman — Amarah Coleman’s mother — was that Bollant and Divilbiss enforced what was called the “Dog Pound.” The “Dog Pound” was the team’s group of nonstarters, and was required to go to extra practices.

“I told him the dog pound is where strays go,” Lydia Tuck said. “It would be different if Illinois’ mascot was Huskies or Wolves.”

Lydia Tuck’s other daughter, Morgan, was a starter for the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team, which won the 2015 National Championship. Lydia said Morgan’s time at UConn has been “night and day different” from what Taylor has experienced at Illinois.

The Hartford Courant has All The News You Need To Get Ready For WNBA Season

From Jayda: Jenny Boucek in ‘natural spot’ as Storm’s coach

Jenny Boucek loves redemption stories.

She can relax on the couch with a glass of wine and freely ride the emotions of a favorite flick such as “Dirty Dancing.” But before you characterize Boucek’s return to head coaching in the WNBA as redeeming, know this is not that. (WHB history note: Remember this and this from Mechelle back in ’09?)

 “It’s not about me at all,” she said of being named the Storm’s fourth coach in the franchise’s 15-year history. Boucek was an assistant in Seattle from 2003-05 and the past five seasons under previous coach Brian Agler.
“People are feeling it is right for me to be here right now, and I feel it’s right, so I’m here,” she said.

Mixed news for the W’s Shock: Glory Johnson absent from Shock training camp, but Riquna Williams back from injury

From the Republican American: Being best takes on new meaning for Taurasi

Shortly after her college career ended, she was selected first overall in the WNBA Draft by the Mercury. That first season she not only won Rookie of the Year honors but was also named to the All-WNBA first team, and then she finished up 2004 by winning an Olympic gold medal and an ESPY for being the best female athlete in the world.

Her career hasn’t slowed down since then. She’s won three WNBA championships (2007, 2009, 2014), two more Olympic gold medals (2008, 2012) and five EuroLeague titles (four with Spartak Moscow, 2007-10; one with EMMC Ekaterinburg, 2013).

“It may sound corny, but from the day I graduated I said, ‘I am going to totally give myself to this, and I want to make sure that at home and around the world everyone knows how good I am,'” Taurasi said. “There was no way I was going to be part-time. I am a full-time basketball player and have been the 10-11 years. I always believed that if you are not playing basketball, you are not getting better.”

Ddd you catch Diana on Grantland?

Cool: Schimmels, McCoughtry part of seminar panel

Former University of Louisville women’s basketball players Angel McCoughtry, Shoni Schimmel and Jude Schimmel will be among the speakers at next Thursday’s Inspiring Women ENERGY Seminar Series at the KFC Yum! Center. The event is hosted by the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream – McCoughtry and Shoni Schimmel’s team.

The luncheon, scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., is being held in advance of the May 23 WNBA preseason doubleheader at the arena. The topic for the luncheon will be “The Future of Women in Sports Leadership”

Not so cool, as the beat(down) goes on, this time from the Boston Globe: Isiah Thomas, WNBA a disturbing match

Now, the WNBA Board of Governors will decide whether Thomas is ownership material. Asked about the approval process, WNBA president Laurel Richie said the league would “collect background information” on Thomas, but she declined to discuss whether that would include a reexamination of the sexual harassment case. Richie emphasized that she had “great respect for the process and great respect for our Board” and anticipated thoughtful discussions.

That’s the restrained and responsible thing to say. But even with the process barely under way, the right and responsible thing to do is clear: Keep Thomas out of the ownership ranks. 

Arizona Central: Boivin: Just say no to Isiah Thomas, WNBA

No. No. No.

Approval would send a horrible message to young girls who look up to a league that has been groundbreaking in terms of giving female athletes opportunities.

Sexual harassment should be punished.

Not rewarded.

Fox Sports says Phil Jackson reportedly ‘not happy’ with Isiah Thomas’ hiring by Liberty (Though I have a funny feeling it’s more about PHIL’s future, not the message the hiring sends)

I wish some of these “non-ESPN folks” articles would mention the elephant in the room. Blocking Dolan’s idiotic wishes will likely cost the league the New York Liberty…

On the opposite side of the spectrum: Thank you: Retirement awaits for longtime girls sports advocate Marie Sugiyama

As a young woman, Marie Sugiyama would take any game.

Pickup softball? Sure. Field hockey? Yup. Even that weird thing they called girls basketball that wasn’t really basketball? That game with 12 players on the court and rules about who could and who could not cross the half-court line?

Sure, Sugiyama said yes to those offers, too, but that version of basketball had to rankle. Sugiyama, 79, never did like people telling her or other women where they can go, what they can do, what line they can cross.

Sugiyama, who next month will retire as the commissioner of the North Bay League after 42 years on the job, started her journey as a tomboy who liked to play whatever sport was out there. But she finished as a local hall of fame coach, athlete, administrator, teacher and champion for all young athletes, but especially female athletes.

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Andy Landers Announces Retirement

 Andy Landers, the only full-time women’s basketball head coach in University of Georgia history, announced his retirement on Monday. Landers recently completed his 36th season in Athens, during which he recorded his 850th win with the Lady Bulldogs.

“I feel blessed to have had the privilege of working at the University of Georgia for the past 36 years,” Landers said. “Athens is a wonderful community where I have raised my family and had the unwavering support of my wife Pam, my daughter Andrea and my son Drew. I appreciate the support of a wonderful Bulldog Nation…our loyal fans…and the Fastbreak Club members. I owe a special thanks to Coach Vince Dooley for entrusting me with the challenge of building a successful program 36 years ago and to Greg McGarity for continuing that trust and support. A big thank you to Hugh Durham for being a young coach’s mentor…to Presidents Davison, Knapp, Adams and Morehead for their guidance and leadership…to all my former and present staff members and coaches who worked tirelessly to help make the success that we have a reality.

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(Sunday and the season.)

The ESPN/AP headline says #22 West Virginia “rolled” past Fairfield, and if you’re Mike Carey you gotta love that the Stags only scored 11 in the first half. But when your Mountaineers are outscored 42-35 in the second by a 1-5 team? Not so happy.

June is bustin’ out all over – and so is Galdeira (33pts). As a result, Washington State knocked off #10 Maryland, 70-64.

In what seems the umpteenth double overtime game of this young season, the battle of Chicago went to Northwestern as the Wildcats took down the #18 Blue Demons, 97-91.

As expected, the Bulls gave those other Wildcats everything they could handle. Not a beautiful shooting night for either team, but Thompson and Goss’ free throws sealed the game for #9 Kentucky.

#5 Stanford started out slowly… and I mean slowly, against Hawai’i, but Thompson heated up and the Cardinal breathed a sigh of relief after their 86-73 win.

No sighing involved:

#25 Mississippi almost doubled up UNO (the Privateers, not the Mavericks.).

#22 Georgia caged the Golden Eagles, giving coach Landers his 850th win with the Bulldogs. Landers joins Pat Summitt (1,098 wins at Tennessee), Jim Boeheim (953 wins at Syracuse), Mike Krzyzewski (916 wins at Duke), Geno Auriemma (882 wins at Connecticut), Dean Smith (879 wins at North Carolina) and Adolph Rupp (876 wins at Kentucky) in reaching 850 wins at one Division I school.

#20 Oklahoma State dismissed Texas State.

#19 Beavers escaped the Cougars.

#14 California over Creighton.

#13 Baylor tipped the Hatters.

#11 North Carolina pounded Prairie View.

#3 Connecticut just threw fastballs at Vanderbilt.

Upcoming:

#8 Duke v. #7 Texas A&M. The Blue Devils handled Stony Brook, but it might have cost them Williams (yup) and Stevens. Not sure we’ve figured out who the Aggies are yet. (WatchESPN @ 1pm)

#4 Tennessee v. #6 Texas. Yup, it’s early in the season, but this feels like two “statement” games for the individual head coaches. Can Aston’s team stand up to the limelight. Can Warlick’s team recover from a stunning setback. (FOXS1 @ 6pm)

I’m intrigued by #2 Notre Dame v. Kansas, mostly ’cause the Jayhawks are 5-1 and it’ll be nice to get a inkling if they’re “legit” this year.

It’s a battle of the undefeateds as Lehigh faces off against Sacred Heart.

In another battle of the undefeateds, #15 Nebraska meets 4-0 Northern Colorado.

It’s a battle of the defeateds, as 0-3 Canisius goes up against 0-3 St. Francis (PA)

Fun IN-state rivalry game: 5-0 Indiana v. 4-1 Indiana State.

Marist got its first win of the season, (Yah!) Now they get to go up against Baylor. (Gulp)

5-1 Green Bay will get a good sense of themselves when they go up against #3 UConn.

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for the first time since 2004.

Graham reflects: Since the last time we were in New Orleans …

Let’s see, the last time the women’s basketball world gathered in New Orleans for a Final Four, Andy Landers and Georgia lost a regional final played in the state of Washington; Duke lost a regional final in Norfolk, Va; Tennessee lost a regional final against a program that wore a lot of yellow and had never reached a Final Four; and Connecticut extended a long streak of semifinal appearances without having to leave the Nutmeg State in the first four rounds.

 Oh, and the Phoenix Mercury were expected to use the No. 1 pick on a player with both uncommon ability and mass name recognition. 

So, um, clearly a great deal has changed since 2004.

But if some things stay the same, there are at least a few ways in which women’s basketball looks different on this visit to New Orleans.

Graham sings Kayla’s praises: Irish in good hands with McBride

One of college basketball’s more perplexing puzzles involves finding a shot Kayla McBride can’t hit.

Hand in her face? Please, you’re going to have to do better than that. Off-balance jumper from a tough angle? Child’s play for the Notre Dame junior. On the move, in traffic — with the shot clock winding down? Been there and done that.

But while opposing defenders and coaches have largely come up empty this season, freshman Jewell Loyd long ago discovered her teammate’s shot-making kryptonite.

Congrats to Sky: Diggins Named the 2013 Nancy Lieberman Award: Top Point Guard

From Curt: Big East goes out in style

Notre Dame, Syracuse and Pittsburgh are heading to the Atlantic Coast Conference next season. West Virginia already left for the Big 12.

DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova split away from the Big East, but took the name with them.

Rutgers, in another season, is heading for the Big Ten. Louisville, in another season, is going to the ACC.

Connecticut, Cincinnati and South Florida are staying in the league, welcoming in, among others, Southern Methodist, Memphis and Tulane. The league will have a new name, the American Athletic Conference.

But the last hurrah for the current Big East Conference in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament promises to be remarkable.

A little number counting from Norfolk: Notre Dame, Duke helped Norfolk Regional draw animated crowd

Jim Fuller writes, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis has become much more than just a shooter

There was no questioning that Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis’ majestic jump shot was going to be her calling card the moment she arrived on UConn’s campus.

However, even after a brilliant debut season where she set the program record for most points by a freshman, the sweet-shooting Mosqueda-Lewis was clamoring for so much more.

In case you need it, John Altavilla has a Short Refresher On The UConn Vs. Notre Dame Women’s Basketball Rivalry

Clay at Full Court thinks that, UConn-Notre Dame: Just this once, tactics may trump talent

From the Cal Bear blog: 

Observing Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb and her players this afternoon was a good illustration of just how far women’s basketball has come.

Gottlieb and her five starters spent two hours at New Orleans Arena today going through a series of interviews and photo shoots to promote the Final Four. It was attention fit for royalty, and the Bears appeared to have a lot of fun doing it.

Elliott says, Cal women’s basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb knew destination early

The Mama Bear has used a gentle touch to get her players to believe in each other like a family. It has helped the Cal women survive two overtime games to reach their first Final Four in history — and 53 years after the last appearance by the men’s team.

“She’s always been a people person,” older sister Chris Gottlieb said. “Since she was a kid bouncing around with a ponytail, it was ‘everybody loves Lindsay.’ “

Elliott and Stephanie Hammon add, Confidence is soaring for Cal women’s team

Clay also is busy Breaking down Cal and Louisville

As for the Louisville articles: *crickets* Nice Job, Kentucky papers.

Looking to the future:

A Moc is now a Wolfpack: NC State hires Wes Moore as coach

Sooners return three starting guards next season

And, from FOB Ellyn, this cool news:

‘Throwing open the door’ for female athletes

Lincoln Presidential Library explores the growth of women’s basketball in Illinois through oral histories

SPRINGFIELD – With basketball fever in the air, it’s easy to forget that the thrill of the game was denied to many Illinois girls less than 40 years ago. A new oral history project by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum chronicles the early struggles for girls and young women who wanted to play basketball.

Illinois didn’t host its first state high school basketball tournament for girls until 1977, five years after Congress passed Title IX. That landmark education law succeeded in “throwing open the door” to growth in girls’ and women’s sports, dramatically changing American culture.

The oral history project – entitled “What About the Character of the Girls?: Girls’ and Women’s Basketball in Illinois, 1968-1977” – includes 18 interviews, with many more to come. Participants include Sue Strong, whose Sterling team won the state’s first girls’ basketball tournament; Jill Hutchison, the winningest basketball coach in Illinois State University history; Linda Gollan, the first girls’ basketball coach at Hinsdale South High School, and Lorene Ramsey, former head coach at Illinois Central College.

The title of the project comes from Ramsey, who was only allowed access to the gym one day a week when she was coaching in Pekin decades ago. Her request for more gym time was turned down by administrators who said sports helped develop the character of boys. Ramsey responded by writing “What about the character of the girls?” in red letters across the rejection memo and sending it back to the school’s athletic director.

The oral histories can be heard at http://tinyurl.com/GirlsBasketballHistory. Additional oral histories are featured at www.OralHistory.illinois.gov.

The interviews were conducted by Ellyn Bartges, who knows firsthand about the difficulties facing female athletes. Bartges played in Illinois’ very first girls’ high school basketball tournament. She later coached basketball and softball at the collegiate and high school levels. Her own memories are part of the project, thanks to an interview conducted by Mark DePue, head of the oral history project at the Lincoln Presidential Library.

“These interviews capture an extraordinary time in the history of Illinois and the nation,” Bartges said. “Women, joined by some forward-thinking men, were working hard to give girls something that is taken for granted today – the same athletic opportunities that boys routinely enjoy.”

Bartges began conducting the interviews while working on her master’s degree at Western Illinois University. The project originally focused on the Illinois scene but expanded to incorporate stories from throughout the country while Bartges pursued her Ph.D. in the Kinesiology Department at the University of Illinois. The interviews now include people who influenced or impacted players and coaches in Illinois.

Bartges is now an affirmative action administrator at St. Cloud State University. She is available for interviews at320-308-5123 or via email at elbartges@stcloudstate.edu.

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catch up on last night:

Louisville took care of Tennessee in an eerily similar manner to their take down of Baylor — race out to a lead, then tire (or do dumb stuff) in the middle of the second, then win.

Dan writes: Louisville stops Lady Vols’ run to Final Four, 86-78

Tennessee’s problems began on offense. Louisville used multiple defensive alignments to thwart the player and ball movement that was so prevalent in the Lady Vols’ regional semifinal victory over Oklahoma.

Tennessee had just one point to show for its first seven possessions.

“It may have rattled us some,” UT assistant Dean Lockwood said. “But that’s where you respond at the other end of the floor and we couldn’t do that.”

In the end, there was too much Jude and Shoni. Says Mechelle: Schimmels lead Cards to Final Four

Louisville’s Schimmel sisters, Shoni and Jude, recall watching a movie called “Double Teamed” when they were in middle school. It was about identical twins Heather and Heidi Burge, who went to the Women’s Final Four three times while playing at Virginia in the early 1990s.

The film is hokey, but it’s still a sweet, triumphant story of the sisterhood and athletic success of real people.

“When we were younger, the movie seemed very realistic to us,” Jude Schimmel said. “What they did was our dream, too.”

Shoni added, “Yeah, that was us.”

Duke tried copy Louisville, but couldn’t hold on in the second.

It was an angry glare that could have melted steel.

It certainly melted No. 2 seed Duke’s hopes of pulling off an upset against No. 1 seed Notre Dame in the Norfolk Regional final of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

Just a quick glance at the daggers beaming out of Skylar Diggins’ eyes early in the second half let Duke know it was in trouble.

Adds Graham: Sky’s the limit for Notre Dame

The dances in the middle of the court were complete. Those members of the crowd not clad in green already had begun to drift off into the Norfolk night. But there was one last bit of official business to take care of before Notre Dame left the court for the final time.

By unanimous decision, the announcer intoned, the regional’s Most Outstanding Player award went to Skylar Diggins.

Close, but not quite. There wasn’t any need to go to the judges on this one. Diggins won by knockout. 

From the News Observer: 

Just getting to a regional final was probably accomplishment enough for a Duke women’s basketball team that endured much adversity this season.

That did little to salve the pain the Blue Devils felt as Notre Dame cut down the nets at Old Dominion’s Ted Constant Convocation Center on Tuesday night.

From the Chronicle:

“Our first half was pretty good,” Liston said. “We held them to 31 points and we were right on pace for the [defensive] goal that we wanted to keep them at for the game. I thought we did a great job and we had great focus on the shooters and the go-tos that we wanted to shut down, [but I] wish we could have had that same focus in the second half on defense.”

At the Rockdale Citizen (GA), Darrell Huckaby says hes A fan of women’s basketball and Andy Landers

I was a fan of women’s basketball long before it was cool. I coached girls’ basketball in high school for about 25 years. It made sense to follow the college game. Besides, I liked it. It was a game of strategy and shooting and defense.

In 1985, my Woodward Academy team won its way to the state tournament for the first time in school history. I decided to reward my team with a trip to the women’s Final Four in Austin, Texas. In those days the women’s tournament was played on Friday night and Sunday afternoon, so on the last Thursday in March, we piled into two school vans and headed west.

Yes. We drove to Austin, Texas, for the games.

Tom Goldman at NPR says, Baylor’s Departure From Women’s Basketball Tournament Leaves Huge Hole

Also at NPR: Notre Dame, Louisville Triumph To Round Off Final Four

From Kate Fagan: Big East trio finds way to Big Easy

The right side of the Women’s Final Four bracket looks just like you’d expect it to. But if you shift your glance to the other side, you see one of the most unexpected matchups in recent memory.

Michelle says: They’ve got next

Of this year’s 3 To See, only one remains standing. Notre Dame’s title-craving Skylar Diggins carries the torch for this year’s crop of extraordinary women’s basketball talent into the Final Four in New Orleans.

But if this year’s unpredictable, thrilling tournament has taught us something, it’s that there are other players worthy of our time, attention and admiration all over the top ranks of the game.

And with the Final Four set — Notre Dame and Louisville joined the party on Tuesday after Cal and Connecticut earned their spots on Monday night — this next group of young players already has reached star status as they make their Final Four debuts.

From the experts, Picks (Now that we’re in New Orleans …)

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Why, yes, it is, and I believe it’s the Cal Bears who are singing it! (Or, maybe it’s “Started From the Bottom”)

From Elliott: Cal women’s basketball team reaches its first Final Four

These Cal Bears just don’t quit.

Cal reached its first Final Four in history Monday night with another overtime victory — this time a 65-62 thriller over Georgia in front of a crowd of 5,863 at Spokane Arena.

The Bears (32-3) will play either Tennessee or Louisville in the national semifinals Sunday at New Orleans Arena.

Don’t count out Cal to reach the finale April 9. Not with a senior-led roster buoyed by gritty guard Layshia Clarendon, who had 25 points, including five in overtime, against the Lady Bulldogs.

From the AP:

 California coach Lindsay Gottlieb was in elementary school the last time a West Coast women’s basketball program not named Stanford reached the Final Four.

Gottlieb understood the drought and the difficulty in getting to the national semifinals. That’s partly why the grin on her face was so wide Monday night when Cal finally snapped that 25-year streak, sending the Golden Bears to New Orleans for the Final Four.

“These kids are brought in,” Gottlieb said. “So many things go into it and then you have to get a little lucky and then things have to go right, so I’m really conscious of this is special.”

From the Daily Californian:

All year long, head coach Lindsay Gottlieb wanted the Cal women’s basketball team to be recognized as an elite team. On Monday night at Spokane, Wash., the team took one step further in solidifying its rising recognition.

Seung Lee adds: A new era begins for California basketball

Breathe it in. Soak it up. Because, possibly, you’ll never see anything quite like this.

For the first 36 minutes against Georgia Monday night, the Cal women’s basketball team did not play Cal basketball. Star forward Gennifer Brandon couldn’t make a single shot. The offense was stuffed by Georgia’s zone defense.

Then it all just clicked at the most pivotal time.

From the Spokesman Review: Gritty Bears in Final Four

The University of California women’s basketball team didn’t expect anything less than a tug-of-war Monday night.

Earning its first trip to an NCAA Final Four couldn’t have been more difficult. And, in the end, more rewarding.

From David Lassen at the Alumni Report: Clarendon, Cal reach Final Four

Layshia Clarendon (San Bernardino Cajon) scored a game-high 25 points and Cal survived its second overtime game of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, beating Georgia 65-62 in Spokane, Wash., on Monday to advance to the Women’s Final Four in New Orleans.

Writes Michelle:

There might not be a cooler customer left in this NCAA tournament than the Cal senior with the sweet jumper. She is a patch of still water, an island of poise and surety.

Even her coach follows her lead.

“That kid is something special,” Lindsay Gottlieb said. “To have a guard like Layshia, who can look at her teammates and say, ‘It’s going to be OK,’ who handles the pressure she handles … there’s no question, you don’t get this far without a player like that.”

How far exactly? To New Orleans.

More praise from the AP: Cal senior Layshia Clarendon comes up clutch in leading Golden Bears to Final Four

Layshia Clarendon was smiling when California was trailing, was smiling when leading the Golden Bears rally, and couldn’t wipe the smile from her face after leading her team to its first Final Four.

“This is why you play basketball, for these big moments. Really enjoy them and just relish them,” Clarendon said.

What’s the Bear’s Winning Formula?, asks Cathy Cockrell, Aim high, don’t forget to dance

Gottlieb: I see it as my mission to take Cal basketball to the next level, and make this one of the premier programs in the country. There’s a lot of ways to do that. Obviously you have to put great players on the floor, and run great plays.

But I feel like there’s a shift going on in women’s basketball, where many of the pioneers of the game are getting close to retiring. So there’s an opportunity to help shape what this program looks like going forward.

But, there’s also the other side of winning:

Georgia seniors Jasmine Hassell and Jasmine James arrived at the interview room of the Spokane Arena with reddened, tear-filled eyes that told the story of their final college basketball game more than any stats sheet ever could.

Only minutes removed from a 65-62 overtime loss to California, Hassell and James tried to explain their emotions after the Lady Bulldogs blew a 10-point lead in the second half and fell one win short of the Final Four in the NCAA tournament.

Said coach Landers:

“I think, for the most part, this was a game that played out somewhat the way we thought it would,” UGA coach Andy Landers said. “We felt it was very important to get back in transition, that it was very important to keep the ball out of the lane, and to rebound the ball defensively, and when we were doing those things well, we were in a good position. When we broke down defensively and allowed that penetration and allowed them to rebound the ball on offense, we got in trouble. They’re a very good basketball team and have a lot of nice pieces. They made more plays than we did, and they deserve to win the game.”

There was another game last night and someone is singing “Aerosmith” (for the sixth time in row), ’cause what happened to the Wildcats was simple: A dreadful 9 minutes:

Connecticut whipped us in every way imaginable,” Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said. “It was a rough 40 minutes for us tonight and they had a lot to do with that. They’re a very good team and I thought their players played extremely hard. We congratulate them.

Kevin Duffy: UConn fulfills obligation 6 years running, Post
Rich Elliott: Freshman Stewart earning raves, Post

UConn Puts The Hammer Down, Earns Sixth Straight Trip To Final Four, Courant
Jeff Jacobs: Baylor’s Loss Could Be UConn’s Gain, Courant

Huskies reach record sixth straight Final Four with rout of Kentucky, Register
Mike DiMauro: UConn women headed to Final Four for record sixth straight time, Register

Narratives change in sports much like cabbies in Manhattan: quickly, sometimes astonishingly and occasionally without much warning.

And so we present the UConn women, the belles of wouldas, shouldas and couldas all season, the owners of all the forlorn looks three weeks ago after another brutal loss to Notre Dame.

Could this have been the same group awash in utter joy Monday night?

Huskies advance to Final Four, Daily Campus

UConn 83, Kentucky 53, ESPN

“It definitely doesn’t get old,” UConn senior Kelly Faris said. “Each year is different, special in its own way. This is our last go-around, we want to go out with a bang. I’m fortunate to be part of this program where we make it every year. We never are satisfied until we get to that final game.”

Stewart leads way for UConn, ESPN

In one corner of Connecticut’s locker room, senior Heather Buck played a game of UNO with three teammates. The players were still wearing their uniforms, legs crossed, each holding a handful of cards, occupying themselves as they’ve learned to do.

Across the room, a ring of media encircled freshman Breanna Stewart, the reporters peppering her with questions about her 21-point performance, about how it feels to help the Huskies advance to the Final Four — their sixth consecutive — next weekend in New Orleans.

Between these two groups wandered some familiar faces — guard Caroline Doty, forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, center Stefanie Dolson — who were eating chicken fingers and teasing Stewart, happily distracting their younger teammate by occasionally calling out things such as, “Breanna is the best player ever!” and “We’re no good! We can’t talk!

Connecticut women roll to 83-53 win over Kentucky in Elite Eight, Lexington Herald Leader
UConn ends Kentucky’s bid once again, Lexington Herald Leader

Last season, Connecticut’s big run came midway through the second half, but this season it came early and often, including a 26-3 spree to end the first half and any hope of a Kentucky comeback at Webster Bank Arena in front of 8,594.

In that span, Kentucky managed just one basket, a banked in three-pointer by little-used reserve Jelleah Sidney, in the final 10 minutes of the first half. UK missed 13 shots in that second part of the second half.

Mark Story: UK women hit a class ceiling in effort to make Final Four, Lexington Herald Leader

So, now the questions start.

Any talk that Mitchell “can’t win the big one” is wildly premature. In its now three Elite Eight losses on his watch, Kentucky has faced opponents that were seeded higher and had more talent than the Cats.

However, it is hard not to wonder if the style of play that has turned UK into a consistent NCAA round of eight team might need to be tweaked a bit for Kentucky to take the proverbial next step. Can a team as reliant on full-court defensive pressure and points off turnovers as Kentucky break through against teams as skilled as UConn?

Finally (and Diggins can blame GH if things don’t go the way she wants tonight), Graham has: Five who got the last laugh

He or she who laughs last, gets closer to New Orleans. Maybe that’s not exactly how the phrase goes, but the second week of the NCAA tournament served as an opportunity for players, coaches and even conferences to make a point.

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Now that Baylor is gone and everybody’s brackets have gone boom! (except for Mom and Dad Cardinals), Fagan has Elite Eight: Five points to ponder

She also says Kentucky ready for UConn rematch

Kentucky says it isn’t scared of Connecticut — not at all.

On Monday night, we’ll discover whether that’s empty rhetoric or reality, but the Wildcats were emphatic Sunday afternoon about how unafraid they are to face top-seeded UConn, arguably the greatest program in women’s college basketball history. In this way, Kentucky is borrowing a page from Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins, who told reporters earlier this year, “I think a lot of people are afraid of the name on the front of the jersey, and I don’t think we are anymore.”

From Full Court, A’Dia Mathies and Kentucky are “focusing on what we need to do”

Doug at the AP has a UConn/KY preview

Matthew Mitchell is trying to build Kentucky into a women’s basketball power. Getting to the Final Four for the first time will be a huge step in reaching that goal.

Mitchell’s team is one victory away, and Connecticut stands in the way for the second straight season. The two teams played last year and UConn came away with a 15-point victory. They’ll meet again Monday night in the Bridgeport regional final.

UK women: ‘We beat ourselves’ vs. UConn last year, Lexington Herald Leader
Mark Story: ‘Bigs’ will determine Kentucky’s fate versus UConn, Lexington Herald Leader
Auriemma heaps praise on UK’s Mitchell, Lexington Herald Leader
Kentucky worked to put time on their side, Louisville Courier Journal
The clock is ticking for Kentucky, Post

The biggest theme in the UConn Horde coverage is injuries — especially to Dolson, who is very hobbled.

Dolson is laughing in the face of pain, Hour
Despite injuries, UConn one win from Final Four goal, Post
UConn In A Good Spot, But It Hasn’t Come Without Pain, Courant

Huskies can make record sixth straight Final Four appearance with win over Kentucky, Register
Bria Hartley will square off against good friend Jennifer O’Neill of Kentucky, Register

One last test for Huskies, Day
Huskies set to battle Wildcats for another Final Four berth, Hour

Out west, Michelle has Georgia, Cal seniors still being tested

Ask Andy Landers about his senior class and then get ready. He’s about to start telling the story about a program that wasn’t what it once was and how one of the game’s legendary coaches planned to get it back.

“Let’s set the stage,” Landers says, as he begins the tale of a senior class, five kids who came into his program four years ago and needed a history lesson. So Landers gave it to them.

“High school kids don’t really know a lot about what they are signing up for,” Landers said. “They don’t understand that it’s a big-time commitment if you are going to win, if you are going to be the best you can be. So the first thing we wanted to do was educate them.”

At the Advocate, Scott Rabalais says

Andy Landers pulled no punches. The Georgia coach never does.

Georgia women’s basketball, in his estimation, was broken. Not shattered — the Lady Bulldogs were still reaching the NCAA tournament every year and occasionally making a run.

But nothing as deep as Georgia’s five Women’s Final Fours, the most recent one in 1999, or its previous trip to the Elite Eight against LSU in 2004.

That began to change when his current seniors were freshmen. And that team will square off with California in Monday’s Spokane Regional final.

The APs Tim Booth offers up Georgia women’s basketball to take on California in tonight’s Spokane Regional final

Thanks for sharing Killion’s piece: Cal women’s bond forged from tragedies

The summer after her sophomore year, Eliza Pierre was full of information from her African American studies classes at Cal. Then 20, she came home to Southern California for a visit and shared the sobering facts she had learned about young black men in America – statistics about the homicide rate, gun violence and incarceration.

She warned her 22-year old brother, Wilson, to be careful and joked with her mother that they needed to keep an eye on him.

That was the last time Pierre saw Wilson. He was gunned down at a party a few weeks later and died at the hospital.

Pierre is one of three members of Cal’s basketball team whose lives have been changed by homicide. Gennifer Brandon’s father was shot and killed by police when she was 6 – mistaken for an armed-robbery suspect. Tierra Rogers’ father was shot to death on a San Francisco street corner during halftime of one of her high school games.

One basketball team. Three players. Three tragedies.

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Not really a surprise: Kelly Harper out at North Carolina State.

From the Tulsa World’s Guerin Emig: OU’s Aaryn Ellenberg thrives and succeeds quietly

Aaryn Ellenberg could be the Marshall Henderson of women’s college basketball.

The Oklahoma guard has such a blustery game. It’s all movement, agility and a school record book of 3-pointers, distance-defying torpedoes that often win big games, like the four she buried UCLA with in last week’s NCAA Tournament second-round upset, a result that propelled the Sooners into Sunday’s Sweet Sixteen matchup against fabled Tennessee.

She has a glitzy nickname, “Vegas,” a moniker OU coach Sherri Coale pinned on her around the time she arrived in Norman from Sin City three years ago. Henderson, the Ole Miss star who shoots off his mouth as often as his rapid-fire long-range jumpers, doesn’t even have that going for him.

Elliott Almond at the Mercury News writes: Cal women’s basketball team perseveres through tragedies

Second-seeded Cal has passed some agonizing tests to reach the Sweet 16 where it expects another big challenge Saturday night against Louisiana State. The Golden Bears (30-3) escaped the second round Monday with an 82-78 overtime victory against South Florida after squandering a 10-point lead with a minute left. They also endured four close victories in Pac-12 play.

The perseverance, however, isn’t surprising on a team with three members carrying burdens no one should have to bear. Gennifer Brandon, Eliza Pierre and Tierra Rogers have leaned on each throughout their careers while dealing with the grief of family members suffering violent deaths.

“They don’t just survive, they thrive,” Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said Friday before the team’s practice at Spokane Arena.

WDEL’s Sean Greene: Delle Donne hopes for WNBA and Olympic future

First, though, writes Kate Fagan: Delle Donne, Delaware face pressure – Kentucky’s defense will test the Blue Hens in their first Sweet 16 appearance

The Delaware Blue Hens don’t appear to be in danger of freezing under the spotlight.

In the minutes before their practice Friday, the players were busy fashioning a headband made out of pre-wrap for assistant coach Jeanine Radice. They were laughing, taking pictures and soaking it all in.

After all, this is Delaware’s first trip to the Sweet 16, and coach Tina Martin has encouraged her players to have fun. Martin even began her news conference by saying, “After I wake up from the dream I’m in …” As in, she can’t believe her little mid-major program — Martin is in her 17th season at Delaware — is making such big waves. “I’m not worried about them being uptight,” Martin said of her players. “If anything, they’re enjoying it and taking in everything they can.”

Charlie gives us Five things to look for in the Sweet 16

5. Which No. 6 seed has the best chance of pulling another upset? An unprecedented four 6-seeds are still playing (along with a No. 12 in Kansas). Oklahoma and LSU have recent tournament pedigree even if that doesn’t include any current players to look to. Nebraska was here in 2010 and that’s it. Delaware is in completely uncharted waters. None of that experience or lack of it probably matters here. It really comes down to matchups.

Nebraska, despite the dynamic duo of point guard Moore and versatile forward Jordan Hooper, might have a difficult time dealing with Duke’s depth and length, not to mention the relative proximity of Durham to Norfolk. Kentucky is even deeper than Duke, and the Wildcats’ athleticism greatly exceeds Delaware’s. The Blue Hens could have some problems dealing with the relentless Kentucky pressure.

Mechelle writes, Landers back in the Sweet 16

Georgia coach Andy Landers stood just outside his team’s locker room at the SEC tournament earlier this month, grinning broadly.

“Listen to them in there,” he said of his players after their quarterfinal victory. “They’re in there high-fiving, chirping, laughing. I still enjoy that so much.”

Landers is the dean of the SEC women’s hoops coaches now that Tennessee’s Pat Summitt has moved into an emeritus role. And he’s one of the longest-tenured, most experienced college basketball mentors, men’s or women’s, in the country.

Michelle writes, Gottlieb carves own path of success

Lindsay Gottlieb jokes that she is the “black sheep in her family.” Except that nobody brags this much about the “black sheep.”

In her father’s courtroom in New York, the court reporters, officers, clerks, they all knew about Judge Stephen Gottlieb’s daughter, the successful basketball coach.

In the hallways of New York University where Chris Gottlieb is a law professor, people always stop to ask how the Bears are doing.

Graham has the Norfolk Sweet 16 breakdown

Fagan has the Bridgeport Sweet 16 breakdown

Mechelle has the Oklahoma City Regional breakdown

Michelle has the Spokane Regional breakdown

And here are espnW’s Sweet 16 picks

John Klein at the Tulsa World says: Draft choice could help Tulsa Shock’s resurgence this season

It could be argued the WNBA Draft has never had three players in the same season capable of changing the fortunes of a franchise.

And, no franchise in recent history of the WNBA has needed a change of fortune more than the Shock.

“We’ve been trying to dig ourselves out of that hole,” said Tulsa coach Gary Kloppenburg. “We’ve been inching our way up.

Didja hear? WNBA and ESPN Broaden Partnership Through 2022 *if the league has a new logo, why does the article use the old one?*

Shelly DuBois of CNN Money explains Why ESPN thinks the WNBA is worth watching

Speaking of the W, Parker Leads UMMC to EuroLeague Crown

Oh, and Curtis Coach Barbara Farris taking some time off to serve as WNBA assistant

A nine-year WNBA veteran, Farris plans to return to Curtis by mid-October to resume her teaching and coaching responsibilities. The exact date of her return, however, depends on whether the Liberty makes the playoffs.

Farris directed Curtis to a second consecutive Class 2A state championship this year in her third season as coach of the Lady Patriots.

A little DII news: Watterson grad in Division II final

Almost a year ago, Daiva Gerbec sat on the end of the bench and watched Ashland lose in the Division II championship game.

Her season had ended before it could begin when her left Achilles tendon snapped during a running drill in the first workout of the preseason. Not being able to contribute during that 88-82 overtime loss to Shaw was difficult.

Dowling women to play for NCAA Div. II title

The magical ride for the Dowling women’s basketball team continues.

In their first trip to the NCAA Division II Women’s Elite Eight, the Golden Lions will play for their first national title tomorrow night after they powered their way to a 76-54 semifinal victory over Augustana (Ga.) Wednesday at Greehey Arena.

In future news: CU Buffs’ Lappe already looking ahead

Inside the office of Colorado women’s basketball coach Linda Lappe hangs a dry-erase board.

Just a few days after the 2012-13 season concluded, the players on the 2013-14 roster were already written on that board. In the world of college basketball, there is little time to waste. One season ends and it’s on to the next.

“It’s a process to be consistent,” Lappe said. “It starts right after the season.”

From the Daily Wildcat: Whyte looks back on Arizona women’s basketball career with no regrets

Four years go by fast. For women’s basketball senior Davellyn Whyte, it hasn’t quite set in that her career as a Wildcat is over following the team’s 66-48 loss to Utah in the Pac-12 tournament.

Arizona’s second all-time leading scorer, with 2,059 career points has had a bumpy four years. Being one of the greatest women’s basketball players in school history certainly hasn’t been easy, but she said she reflects on her time in Tucson with no regrets.

The WNIT is at the Elite Eight stage (always interesting to look at the early rounds, since it’s really the only time we get to compare “major” v. “mid-major” conferences). Saturday you’ll see:

Florida at JMU, 4 p.m. ET

Utah at Saint Mary’s, 5 p.m. ET

Illinois at Kansas State, 5 p.m. ET

Drexel at Auburn, 7 p.m. ET

The WBI ended for the Quakers, but Even in loss, Penn women’s basketball shows growth

Mike McLaughlin didn’t know much about losing.

That was the first line of a Daily Pennsylvanian article written on March 24, 2010, after the Quakers finished the season with a program-worst 2-26 record. They set the program record for losses in a single season. They nearly became the first Penn team to lose every single Ivy game, only escaping in the final weekend after a victory at Dartmouth.

“There are times I thought, ‘Am I doing everything within my ability to make them better?’ McLaughlin said in 2010 interview. “They needed a strong leader in adversity.”

Today that feels like a distant memory

In the “this is what scholarships are about” vein: Four Coconut Creek girls basketball players headed to college

For the sixth consecutive year, the Coconut Creek girls basketball is sending a player to college. This year, actually, the Cougars will send four players to the next level. 

Guard Shamari Josey, who averaged 9.3 points per game this season, has signed with St. Augustine in North Carolina, while guard Joelle Patterson, who averaged 6.6 points and and 4.5 assists per game, has signed with Johnson and Wales. Forward Jasmine Watson is headed to Southestern Community College in Iowa. 

Coconut Creek’s other signee was team leader Andrekia Thompson, a first-team All-County selection who averaged 12.3 points per game and reached the 1,000-point career mark, signed with Thomas University, an NAIA program in Georgia. 

In the “what were they thinking!” vein: Missouri high school girls basketball team drinks urine in water cooler prank pulled by rivals

In the “thank you for all your time” vein: St. Peter’s girls basketball coach steps down

Bill Tomsich thought about stepping down last year as the head girls basketball coach at St. Peter’s.

After making another run to the Final Four and being named Division IV Co-Coach of the Year in the state, the stage was set for a grand exit.

“I’m glad I stayed an additional year. I wasn’t ready emotionally to step down,” he said Tuesday afternoon after announcing publicly that he was resigning after 18 years in the program, spending the last nine as head coach.

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Big East Finals? Yes, please, thank you!

Meanwhile, there’s a lot of basketball being played, including BG going all “Simple Minds” on us as she drops 50 and a dunk. La-di-dah.

From Lynn Zinser at the Times: In Women’s Basketball, a Season of the Powerhouses

If there was ever a year when men’s and women’s college basketball were more different, well, it’s hard to remember it, and Monday summed it up in one nice little package. The women’s game is all about powerhouses, about Baylor’s Brittney Griner’s being one in and of herself, scoring 50 points and dunking on Kansas State; about Notre Dame elbowing Connecticut out of its usual spot atop the Big East hill; about UConn hyperventilating because it hasn’t won a national title in three whole years. Gasp.

Lots of experts chiming in on what’s going to happen over the next week and a half or so:

Mechelle on the SEC: Tennessee is No. 1 seed in SEC tourney

Tennessee’s seniors had their moment Thursday in Knoxville, Tenn., when the Lady Vols clinched the program’s 17th regular-season SEC title with a win over Texas A&M. Kentucky’s seniors had their moment Sunday, when they defeated Tennessee in front of a packed Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Ky.

So which seniors will be the ones celebrating next Sunday in Duluth, Ga., at the conclusion of the SEC tournament? Those from Tennessee, Kentucky, or another school?

Might that other school, asks Mechelle, be wearing purple? Red-hot LSU heads to SEC tourney

There are a great many things more strenuous for a soon-to-deliver pregnant woman than coaching at the SEC tournament. LSU’s Nikki Caldwell didn’t seem fazed by it last year as her team made it all the way to the championship game.

Still, a couple of us reporters — admittedly nonparents and so a bit squeamish about such things — kept nervously looking over at Caldwell back then in Nashville, Tenn., as if her little one might just suddenly appear on the sideline.

It turned out, though, that this baby knew exactly what she was doing. Justice Simone Fargas was born exactly a year ago — on March 6, 2012 — which was three weeks earlier than her projected arrival time.

Slightly hidden (thanks, ESPN.com) Cara Capuano notices It’s TOURNAMENT TIME for SEC Women’s Basketball!

“Anybody who loves basketball… loves this time of year.”  That, the opening comment from Georgia head coach Andy Landers to the media who participated on Monday in a conference call leading up to the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament.

Kelly at Full Court riffs on a similar theme: Race for SEC tournament title is wide open

One thing is clear heading into this year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament: There is no clear favorite. The conference has six teams ranked in the top 25 — No. 7 Kentucky, No. 9 Tennessee, No. 12 Georgia, No. 17 South Carolina, No. 13 Texas A&M and No. 22 LSU — and any one of these squads has a legitimate chance of winning the tourney.

Busy V also has: PSU out to end Big Ten tourney drought

Penn State ran into an emotional senior night last Thursday at Minnesota … and the Gophers handed the Big Ten leader just its second league loss.

Penn State was in a similar situation Sunday in the regular-season finale at Nebraska. It wasn’t just the seniors that the Huskers were bidding a fond farewell to (although they still have the Big Ten and NCAA tourneys to play, of course).

Sharon Crowson at Full Court asks, Can the Big Ten stick to the script in the conference tournament?

Usually, it’s hard to recap a season in less than a long article – but this year’s Big Ten conference play can be summed up in one word: Strange.

All right, maybe three words: Very, very strange.

Maggie Blogs: I bonded with my dad over love of game

At FullCourt, Rob offers up: ACC Tournament has contenders but Duke and Maryland on course for rematch

There are a lot of wild cards in this year’s ACC tournament. Sure, Duke dominated the regular season at 17-1 and finished three games ahead of the nearest competitor, but they did most of that with Chelsea Gray at the helm. Gray is now an unpaid but highly vociferous assistant coach, making it her personal mission to channel her energy and savvy into frosh Alexis Jones. Still, Duke has looked highly shaky at times, especially on the boards. Teams like UNC and Maryland feel like they have a real shot at knocking off Duke, while regular season underachievers Georgia Tech and NC State lurk as potential dark horse teams. For those latter two squads, winning the ACC tournament is the only way they’ll be playing in the NCAA tourney.

Michelle’s on the West Coast, and offers up this: Huskies hope for home turnaround – Washington holds Pac-12 tournament advantage at Seattle’s KeyArena

Washington coach Kevin McGuff insists his team didn’t circle these dates on the calendar, that they stayed focused on what was immediately in front of them, not way ahead on the horizon.

But that horizon is now what’s next, and Washington has a distinct opportunity to disrupt the balance of power in the Pac-12. Summoning the ability to take advantage of that opportunity is the trick.

The Pac-12 tournament is moving to Seattle’s KeyArena, home of the WNBA’s Seattle Storm and one of women’s basketball’s most dedicated fan bases, this weekend. The Huskies are hoping to take advantage of the hometown crowd.

Sue Favor at Full Court adds: Cal or Stanford? Rivals expected to decide season series in Pac-12 finals

The Pac-12 Tournament is in a brand new city this year, and for the first time in many seasons, there could be a new champion too.

Seattle, with its large women’s basketball fan base, will play host to the 12-year-old tournament March 7-10, and though Stanford has won nine of the previous 11 titles, unlike years past, the Cardinal are not necessarily the favorite this time.

Since conference play began, Stanford and Cal have spent most of it ranked side by side in national polls, as numbers five and six or six and seven. They split the regular-season series, and both teams are surging lately, with loaded benches. In the end, each team ended Pac-12 play Saturday at 17-1, which gives Cal a share of the title for the first time in program history.

The Buffs are eager to begin their postseason

Graham ponders the mid-majors and says, Gonzaga remains as consistent as ever

There were 60 teams from the six major conferences that did not advance as far as Gonzaga in the 2012 NCAA tournament.

There were 62 teams from those same conferences that averaged fewer fans per game than the Bulldogs drew to the Kennel, as the 6,000-capacity McCarthey Athletic Center is affectionately (at least to home fans) known.

We might be a long way from a mid-major No. 1 in women’s college basketball, but there is at least equal distance between many, maybe most, supposedly major programs and the dynasties that rule the rest of the country.

As a freshman newly arrived from Germany a season ago, Gonzaga’s Sunny Greinacher had a rather visceral reaction to one of the best atmospheres in women’s college basketball.

Time for the WBH “WhadoIknow” Conference Champeen Prediction/Thoughts:

America East: Yes, it is hard to beat a team three times in a season, but I think Albany could have. Since BU ain’t invited, it’s the Danes.

Atlantic 10: Play it safe, say Dayton. But the 49’ers have intrigued me all season….

ACC: It feels like Duke has regained its equilibrium. I’m not sure it’s going to help them in the NCAA tournament, but it feels like they’re ready for the ACC. Unless UNC can kick it up a notch or three.

Atlantic Sun: What, you think I’m going to bet against the Eagles? Don’t make me laugh.

Big 12: Baylor is 18-0 in the conference. The #2 Iowa State team is 12-6. ’nuff said.

Big East: So, will three be the charm? Dunno – but Hartley is the key. Gold wins out in the BEast – but don’t know if it’ll happen in the NCAAs.

Big Sky:…is just a hot mess. Common sense would say Montana, but Northern Colorado has this edge about them.

Big South: This was “everybody else’s year,” and then Liberty said, “I don’t think so!.”

Big Ten: Machine Gun Maggie rules, especially if Co can keep the rest of her team present. (Congrats, coach Yori)

Big West: Pacific should win, but Hawai’i has been coming on strong.

Colonial: There are several bubble teams pulling like heck for Delaware. James Madison has proven to be a serious threat, but a healthy EDD is quite a force of basketball.

Conference USA: Will SMU hold up under the pressure of being in the spotlight, or with coach Stockton reclaim her Conference?

Horizon: I know it’s the Phoenix’s to lose, so I’m pullin’ for the Penguins.

Ivy: Yup, it’s the Tigers.

MAAC: “Down” year, my azzz… Marist rules.

Mid-American: Toledo should rule easily, but I’m guessing next year, Ball State will be exacting some revenge.

MEAC: Hampton and their band will be in the Tournament.

Missouri Valley: I’m going for the Blue Jays. It’s a birding thing.

Mountain West: Beth Burns has San Diego State at 13-1 in the conference, but my gut says Fresno.

North East: There are a lot of letters between Quinnipiac and the rest of the teams.]

Ohio Valley: You’d have just as good a chance making the correct guess using research as trying ernie-meenie-mynee-moe. Which is how I chose Tennessee Tech.

Pacific-12: Stanford has lost Kokenis for the tournament. That might just throw them off their stride enough for Cal to win the title.

Patriot League: There’s no doubt it’s going to be either Army or Navy. I refuse to pick, and think both should win.

SEC: Tennessee has had an amazing season, but injuries are the constant theme. That’s why I’m saying Kentucky.

Southern: The Mocs are back on top.

Southland: If they can survive the WHB curse, they (Sam Houston) can win the championship.

SWAC: I didn’t bet against her when she played for Houston, and I won’t bet against her when she’s coaching Texas Southern.

Summit: As in the MAC, the Jackrabbits should win, but next year they better keep an eye on IUPUI.

Sun Belt: There have been some surprising stumbles, but Middle Tennessee has the experience Western Kentucky lacks.

West Coast: The boys are #1 and the women will win the WCC

Western: Don’t yell at me, Jayda, but I’m going with Utah State.

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for basketball programs and their players:

Long Beach SU’s second leading scorer granted release from scholarship – Women’s basketball guard Brandi Henton quits team to “seek other schools.”

Landers dismisses Ransford

Georgia coach Andy Landers has dismissed Ronika Ransford and placed Arieal Johnson on indefinite suspension.

And there’s this from Lady Swish: Virginia Tech’s Kyani White transfers to ECU

More fallout from Virginia Tech’s coaching switch – freshman guard Kyani White has transferred to East Carolina in search of a more uptempo style of play.

Lady Swish is doing a great review/preview of the CAA, an exciting conference to follow. On JMU:

High point: Defeated Virginia 82-80 (Dec. 20) behind 42 points from Evans; Won second straight CAA championship and first on neutral court, defeating Delaware 67-61.

Low point: Lost to Monmouth 69-66 (Dec. 18)


Stock: Consistently rising

There was a time when it was difficult to imagine Old Dominion without Ticha Penicheiro, Virginia minus Monica Wright, Drexel with no Gabriela Marginean.

Sometimes players are so etched in a program, they become part of its fabric. So be it with Dawn Evans, the CAA’s all-time leader in points and 3-pointers.

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Pester Graham at 4pmEST, see if he can untangle the Bracketology mess the Baylor loss has made.

Also, make sure you check out EPSN2 tonight when Georgia goes after #4 Tennessee (7pm EST) followed but the Big 12 match up between #23 Iowa State and Texas.

Ryan Black says the Lady Dogsare trying to ‘shut up’ the Lady Vols (not a very lady-like headline), Carroll Rogers of the AJC says Georgia is “looking for rarity against Vols — a win streak,” and Coach Landers thinks his team is ready for the “raucous arena.

Maria Cornelius at Inside Tennessee previews the game and Vol fans will be happy to know that Angie Bjorklund will be back in time for this SEC showdown.

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Pseudonymity shows up with the SEC links and starts by saying:

Congratulations to Andy Landers on his 850th career win as Georgia defeats Alabama handily.

I didn’t see this one coming: Mississippi State gets first SEC win against Auburn, beating them at home.

Vanderbilt gets a road win against Florida in 2nd overtime.

The first meeting between LSU and Ole Miss was a 78-43 LSU rout. The second was much the same, a 76-38 LSU victory.

South Carolina edges Arkansas in overtime on the road.

Some thoughts on tonight’s Tennessee-Kentucky game.

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Happy Holidays: Ball State, Georgia Embody Holiday Spirit Off The Court

There are plenty holiday videos from women’s basketball teams around the web and to be honest it was difficult to find anything better than Cal’s 2009 rendition of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, primarily because all five participants were actively engaged in the song as though they wanted to do it instead of merely following some ambitious SID’s instructions.

But obviously, the holiday season can be about more than Christmas alone and I thought a video posted by Ball State women’s basketball “in the spirit of giving this holiday season” captured that better than almost anything else.

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a beautiful Saturday with a head cold.

Just as WHB gave a shout out to Georgetown, the work of Nikki Caldwell at UCLA and Sylvia Crawley at BC is making us stand up and cheer.

On the East Coast, there’s the Eagles. With the (odd) departure of Kathy I, the knock on’em was that the team has flourished only because of her drive, not because the Athletic Department had any real interest in anything that didn’t involve football and money (hence the awkward shift to the ACC). But, after some readjustment time, their with a win over Hartford, may mean Dunkin’ Syl is finding her groove. That being said, the schedule is pretty sugar-laden (Vermont isn’t what it was last year). But, I’ll admit, I’d like to see a player like (and named) Swords advance in the Tourney.

Out on the West Coast, the knock on UCLA was that they had some great talent, but coach Kathy O couldn’t coach’em up. The fabulous battle between the Bruins and the Irish showed the impact of Caldwell’s work. Young players making key shots (and yes, of course, omigodwhattheheckwereyouthinking choices), but they pulled out a double OT win against the perennially strong Irish. At South Bend. In front of 6000 screaming fans.

Watch out Tara. You might not be feelin’ so giddy in a couple of years.

Speaking of the Cardinal, there was no N.O., but Stanford still managed to quiet the Utes (hi, coach Elliot! Enjoy the season off!). Tara is five wins away from 800.

Andy Landers coached his 1000th… 1000th!!!! game, and the Bulldogs made it a victory.

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