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

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

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

It was about to get much, much better.

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

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

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

From John Dudley at the Erie-Times News:

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

Some business takes longer to finish.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who’s the real Kelly Greenberg?

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

From Allie Grasgreen at Inside Higher Ed: Equal Opportunity Bullying

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

In WNBA news:

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

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

You go back: Katie Douglas leaving Fever as for Sun

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

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

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

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

WATN? Keri Chaconas: Former WNBA player settles in Huntersville

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

She took advantage of the opportunity.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

They have no choice, their options are limited.

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

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

Speaking of interesting:

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

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

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

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

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

Upcoming games of interest:

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

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

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

Glenn Logan worries about Kentucky:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spotlight #3: Jersey girl Mabrey boosts Irish

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

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

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

Up next, Jim Foster going for #800.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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polls:

NCAA Division III: Cool to see Montclair State up in the top five.

NCAA Division II: Bentley and Barb Stevens = consistency.

NCAA Division I (Coaches): Not a lot of surprises, except maybe with that one vote….

As we wait:

From LSU: United States Marines help train team

From Wisconsin: New-look UWGB in same old No. 1 spot

It is the sixth straight season the Phoenix has been picked preseason favorite.

“I guess I didn’t expect that,” UWGB coach Kevin Borseth said. “We lost five seniors off the squad and four starters. … I don’t know.

From North Dakota: NDSU Women’s Basketball Preview

From Oklahoma: Guards Morgan Hook, Maddie Manning injured at intrasquad scrimmage

From Pennsylvania: Penn State women’s basketball: New faces shine in Lady Lions’ exhibition romp

From North Carolina: Duke women’s basketball opens season with Blue/White Scrimmage

From Full Court:

The sport is not going away any time soon, though at the same time it’s clear there are some fundamental issues that need to be thoughtfully considered. The powers that be in women’s basketball have taken the first step by recognizing that there are some problems, and commissioning the Ackerman Report. And last week the NCAA women’s basketball committee also approved taking some steps to solve them, though their compromises on the recommendations of the White Papers Summit are a bit of a mixed bag. Having top seeds host the first two rounds of the tournament, for example, is a virtual no-brainer that can only help improve attendance in the early rounds, while at the same time rewarding the best, rather than the richest, programs.

Get out your calendar and mark these downs: Women’s College Basketball On ESPN

Speaking of calendars: Women’s basketball committee suggests changes for tourney, moving Final Four to Friday-Sunday

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The Boston Globe’s Marvin Pave writes about Bentley’s Barbara Stevens.

I received an e-mail from Elyse Darefsky, one of my first players at Clark University, who had been researching women’s athletics there,’’ said Stevens, “and she told me that my first win was on Dec. 1, 1977, at Western New England College.

“I don’t remember the details, but I’m sure I was scared to death. I was 23 years old and had just one year’s experience as a Clark assistant.’’

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Finn Nets Game-High 12 as Bentley Rolls to 78-51 Exhibition Win over New Hampshire

D-II Bentley is no slouch, as the Wildcats (and longtime readers of the blog) know. Led by coach Barb Stevens, who’s only 7 wins away from joining the 800-club, the Falcons are ranked 24th in preseason polls, and face #5 Holy Name next.

The lucky Wildcats have Notre Dame next.

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