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Sporting News: For Team USA women, the element of surprise fuels dominant offense

 As a coach, there can be a challenge in dealing with designing an offense around what are 12 of the 15 or 20 best players in the world. So what Team USA women’s coach Geno Auriemma—whose team takes on Spain for the gold medal on Saturday—prefers to do is let his players work out their own offense.

Auriemma gives them structure, sure. But in his view, if his players are not out there doing things he is not expecting on the offensive end, he’s not particularly happy.

AP: Sue Bird back in practice with U.S. women’s basketball ahead of gold-medal game

There was a calm, relaxed atmosphere at the final practice for the U.S. women’s basketball team. Maybe it’s because injured guard Sue Bird was able to participate. Or maybe because many of the players have been in this position before — a win away from another Olympic title. 

“I understand it’s a gold medal game, we’ve approached it like any other game,” said Bird, a Syosset native who has helped the United States win the last three golds at the Olympics. “At the start of this entire month, every single practice and game we approached it like it was a gold medal game. Today’s no different.”

Hartford Courant: Taurasi, Bird Nudged Geno To Coach U.S. Women Again

“I think it will be, maybe, after the fact because it’s unusual that you get the opportunity to do it in the first place and here I’ve had the opportunity to do it twice for eight years and it does bring back a lot of great memories,” Auriemma told reporters, according to USA Basketball. “It’s a special time in my life that just as my coaching career winds down I get to somewhat end it with the players who, if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here. So I guess it’s just fitting that it worked out that way.”

In case you were wondering: 10 teams whose dominance rivals that of USA women’s basketball

Nina at USA Today: 1988 gold medalist Teresa Weatherspoon on why USA basketball will win another gold

“If you look at who they have on the team, they’re dominating individuals all by themselves,” she said. “But when you have a coach like Coach Auriemma who can put them together and have them work toward one common goal, that’s success in itself.”

It’s success that’s likely to bring home a seventh gold medal and a perfect bow on two weeks of memories, Weatherspoon said — even if it didn’t come with new friends from the Olympic Village.

The Medium: What I did on my Summer Olympics Break, by Alana Beard – Taught kids to swim, did some coding, built a house … you know … the usual

She is already the definition of a Renaissance woman — not only kicking butt at Duke, being selected as the second overall draft pick in 2004 for the Washington Mystics, and achieving four-time All-Star status with the L.A. Sparks — but also because she always has something cool going on beyond basketball. This hustler always has a side hustle. Take coding, for example:

“Coding is something I have always been intrigued by,” she says, after learning the skill last fall. “I would always come up with app ideas, but knew I would have to depend on someone else to build it for me. So, I decided to teach myself. From the moment I sat down at the computer, I was in love.

NCAA: 

Have been keeping an eye open for this: SDSU’s Coach Burns refused to remain silent

A judge will begin the civil trial in Burn’s 2014 lawsuit against San Diego State University. In her complaint, Burns, who coached the women’s basketball team for 16 seasons and is the winningest coach in San Diego State history, claimed the university forced her resignation less than a year after leading the Aztecs to a school-record 27-win season.

Burns claimed the university fired her in retaliation for her insistent demands that the women’s program be given the same treatment as the men’s basketball program.

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they must play the rest of their games with their shoes tied together…

@NDsidMasters: During pregame radio interview, Coach McGraw announced Taya Reimer has left @ndwbbfor balance of 2015-16 season for personal reasons.

But never fear, Muffet is here:

It’s been almost 15 years since the University of Notre Dame women’s basketball team won its first — and so far only — national championship, and began a journey that has cemented the Irish as one of the most respected programs in the country. The number of All-Americans who don the blue and gold jersey has become constant. Loyal fans still pack into Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center to cheer on their favorite squad. The wins continue to accumulate.

And leading the way is Notre Dame’s Karen and Kevin Keyes Family Head Women’s Basketball Coach Muffet McGraw, who still paces the sideline and stomps her high heels to get her team’s attention during games. But plenty has changed — and some hasn’t — in that decade and a half. Universal changes to women’s basketball itself and personal changes for McGraw that have molded her ability to coach on and off the court.

“I think overall there have been a lot of great changes to women’s basketball, and we’re heading in a really good direction,” McGraw says. “At least here we’re heading in a good direction.”

Of course, she probably felt a little different near the end of the #18 DePaul game, having watched her team squander a huge lead. Yes, they won, but this will not be a comfortable season… though it might be one of her best coaching jobs.

#1 UConn rolled through Colgate, and then used a series of runs to take down #11 Florida State. “Under-appreciated” will become an overused word when it comes to UConn’s Tuck – but I can’t imagine opposition coaches feel that way about her. Certainly, Auriemma doesn’t: ‘She’s pretty special’

Gotta love in-state games: Cyclone Comeback Topples No. 23 Iowa, 69-66

Speaking of in-state games, weird: Analyst: ‘Quite unusual’ for UK defectors to be behind bench

Perhaps television analyst Brenda VanLengen summed up best what many fans were thinking as they watched Kentucky top Louisville on Thursday night.

“This is quite a surprise honestly,” the ESPN play-by-play announcer said just before halftime as the cameras zoomed in on two specific fans among the 14,425 at Rupp Arena.

Didn’t distract the Wildcats, though, as they took it to struggling (Walz: Cards women have talent, not work ethic) Louisville, 72-54. Graham says that With big win over Louisville, Kentucky quiets any talk of a crisis in Lexington. I say, it’s still early in the season…

Speaking of the “defectors,” the Hilltoppers get a nice pickup: Former Kentucky guard Kyvin Goodin-Rogers transferring to Western Kentucky

Texas Tech is continuing its rise from the ashes, defeating the not-to-be-triffled-with Vandals, 78-62.

Sigh. BU is still 0-fer.

Ummm… things are NOT good in the land of the Hartford Hawks. BC humbled them, 62-28.

Good: Texas ramps up efforts to sell women’s team to fans

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: How much does San Diego State miss Beth Burns.

You know, UNC Asheville has been pretty awful for a while… and I don’t want to jinx them, but…. they were 6-1 for the first time in 31 years. And now they’re 7-1. AND they have a junior named Knuckles. What’s not to love?

Winning is important, but so is handling the expectations of the coaching staff and not getting too caught up in the early season success.

“The thing I’m most proud of with this team is their commitment to the process,” Kirkpatrick said. “I really think they’ve bought into treating each game separately and getting better with every opportunity.”

Super congrats to Army’s Kelsey Minato. In their win over NJIT, she became the first Army women’s player to reach the 2,000-point milestone. The 8-1 Black Knights look particularly fierce this season – might they return to the Big Dance for the third time since that fateful 2005-06 season? (watch this space for more on that team.)

Speaking of Army….#5 Maryland is 10-0, but Syracuse is the only ranked team they’ve faced. Looking forward to see how they hold up against UConn in the Maggie Dixon Classic at the Garden Monday, December 28th. (This year, I have 189 folks joining me! Come visit sections 10, 11, 12 if you want to say hi. I’ll be the shy, quiet, demure one… not!)

“Ruff!” says Gonzaga to Dayton, “we should be the top-dog in the mid-majors.”

Banham gets some love from the Star Tribune: 

Banham was 107 points shy of the record when she collapsed at the end of a fast-break layup on Dec. 10, 2014, in Grand Forks, N.D. She had torn her ACL and suffered a partial tear of her MCL, forcing her to spend the next three months watching from the bench as the Gophers returned to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009.

 

That gave her plenty of incentive for a rehabilitation period she described as the hardest thing she ever has done. Her doctors followed a strict, cautious timetable, prohibiting her from jogging until three months post-surgery and forbidding any basketball activities for seven months. As she healed, she worked with the Gophers’ new strength coach, Ralph Petrella, and began reshaping her diet.

Good to hear: Texas A&M’s Jordan Jones rebounding well after injury

Gary Blair’s plan early in the season was to lighten the load for senior point guard Jordan Jones, who was coming off knee surgery. But when the Texas A&M women’s basketball team played at 14th-ranked Duke in the second week of the season, the Aggie head coach leaned on Jones for 41 minutes to pull out a 72-66 overtime victory.

“She had played 15 minutes in her first game, 22 in her second game, and she just came in [at Duke] and kept going,” Blair said. “I did not want to play her that many minutes just coming off of that ACL, but she is the heart and soul of our team.”

BTW: That’s 700 for Mr. Blair.

Dishin & Swishin 12/10/15 Podcast: Miami leads group of upstarts changing the guard in the ACC

Notre Dame, Duke, North Carolina, Louisville are the teams we expect to be at the top of the ACC every year. In the last couple of years Florida State became a regular to the discussion too. This year? It is early, but Miami at 10-0, Virginia Tech at 8-1, and Boston College at 7-1 are crashing the party.

One of the reasons Missouri is 9-0: they generating more steals, fast-break chances

If the Lady Vols seeking to reverse tailspin on the road, their performance against a short-handed, shadow-of-its-former-self Wichita State can’t be seen as a good sign. Next up: Stanford (who must deal with Texas) followed by Oregon State. Seatbelt time, y’all.

Speaking of the Beavers: Weisner in a groove offensively

Jamie Weisner entered last Thursday’s game at Marquette hitting 60 percent of her 3-point attempts through the season’s first five games.

But Weisner, No. 7 Oregon State’s senior sharpshooter and leading scorer, for some reason couldn’t find the range against the quick and aggressive Golden Eagles.

She missed all seven of her attempts.

Earlier in her career, that may have led to a bit of frustration for Weisner.

But last Thursday, she wasn’t fazed.

The New York Times: A Life on the Move Molds a U.C.L.A. Basketball Star

Home for Nirra Fields these days is a room in a five-bedroom suite on the U.C.L.A. campus. It is not luxurious: Fields has decorated it with basketball and family pictures, and she shares a common space and a single bathroom with four other students. But the space is clean, and it is organized, and — this is most important — it is all hers.

After the route Fields took to get to it, that is enough.

Ah, high school:

Louisiana: Mothers of Salmen High School girls basketball players who were kicked off team make emotional appeal to School Board

Pittsburgh: West Jefferson Hills school board retains controversial girls basketball coach

Mississippi: Parent puts girls basketball coach in hospital

Seattle: Review of Bishop Blanchet football, girls basketball confirms recruiting violations, self-imposed penalties

Not high school:

Hello, Nancy Lieberman: Sacramento Kings assistant coach nails backward one-handed half-court shot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s 11-straight for Fresno State.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Blizzard!

Snow day! (but not for me!) and a trip to D.C. for an Early Childhood Symposium.

Frozen doors on the Amtrak train up and back.

Leading my first “STEM” infused professional development with some amazing early childhood teachers (STEM and Storytelling – a match made for teaching!).

There was a Polar (Bear) Vortex.

I walked into a room and got a(nother) grant.

My mom called to say that the next time we have an argument, she’s going to order a traffic jam in my neighborhood. (Lucky for my neighborhood, we don’t argue much.)

Oh, and some basketball with more “TIM-BERRRRRS.”

#11 Oklahoma State lost to West Virginia, 71-67, giving the Cowgirls their first loss of the season. When the Mountaineers went up against Baylor, though, they couldn’t beat Sims.

NC State took down #20 Syracuse. That got the Wolfpack ranked 20th, but a horrible first half doomed them against #13 UNC. Even so, they’ve earned attention from  the AP and Mechelle: Wolfpack off to winning start

Florida took down then #6 Kentucky (and made the players cranky). And then #10 South Carolina added to the #9 Wildcat’s misery, defeating Kentucky 68-59.

Ignore’em at your peril: Texas A&M defeated #12 LSU, 52-48. Can I just say “Ick.” Aggies shot 34% , Tigers shot 26%.

They had a close call against Pacific, but #24 (ranked for the first time in program history) San Diego righted the ship and got a win. Not so lucky against Portland, which stomped the Toreros 72-52.

Michigan State took it to #16 Nebraska, 70-57.

Missouri defeated #25 Georgia. Yes, the Dawgs over-indulged on cupcakes.

Northwestern over #21 Purdue by a whisker.

Oh, and just a reminder… there are no upsets in women’s basketball…..

In other news, UConn continues to roll with wins over Memphis and Houston. Temple is next, but I’m sure folks are looking ahead to the Baylor game IN Waco.

The Irish are smiling. The Terps are too, probably ’cause they don’t face Notre Dame until the 27th.

Duke rolled the Orange.

Howard’s 27/18 helped Florida State escape Miami, 68-63.

Yes, that’s the Dons at 7-7.

Is anyone paying attention to the job coach Austin Parkinson is doing at IUPUI?

Hey! VCU looks to have recovered from the loss coach Cunningham. They’re at 14-2 (cause they lost to LaSalle?!?!).

Delaware hasn’t collapsed into nothing with EDD’s graduation. They’re now 10-3.

Army is putting together a nice season. As is Navy. Oh, oh…look out on January 11th!

Gosh, “my” Penguins are missing their old coach Bob Boldon. Who is, but the way, 6-7 over at Ohio. That matches their win total last year but, more importantly, they’re 3-0 at home, which is cool.

And yes, 3-9 San Diego State misses Beth Burns.

And yes, 1-14 UNC-Wilmington misses Cynthia Cooper.

How long will T-Spoon stay a Louisiana Tech?

Maine is 7-8. I’m just sayin’: Richard Barron.

Even though I’m still not sayin’ nothin’ about Fordham and Erin Rooney, the Rams did slip up v. Duquesne. But it’s lookin’ like a showdown with the Hawks is looming’.

Rutgers may have found their footing.

Ditto with Texas.

Look at that! The Quakers are atop the Ivy League. Princeton is up next. (Dum de dum, dum)

Debbie missed her game of the week: St. Francis (PA) v Central Connecticut State, 106-97.

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Busy as all get out, but I got to see the mom for Thanksgiving – so it’s all good.

Speaking of good, it was wicked scary, but it seems better: Antonita Slaughter collapses on bench

At 9:57 Tuesday night, U of L player Tia Gibbs posted a picture on Twitter of a text message Slaughter had sent to her teammates saying she was doing OK and congratulating them on the victory.

“I’m good,” Slaughter wrote. “First thing I (asked) was how many turnovers we had.

Things are getting somewhat clearer in the land of women’s basketball. Certainly the very anticipated game between Duke and UConn (Dec. 17th in Durham) got more interesting with the news that Morgan Tuck and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis are well on the way to mending.

On the topic of “anticipated games,we’ve got the Wildcats v. the Bears looming (Hmm? So much for the Sooner Supplanting?). Whoops!

Speaking of interesting match ups, after some intriguing back-and-forth, it looks like there is a chance Notre Dame will continue to play Connecticut.

Speaking of Notre Dame: nice homecoming for Natalie Achonwa in Toronto.

“She’s done so much for our program and really for all of Canada basketball, being the youngest member of [the 2012 Canadian Olympic women’s basketball team],” McGraw said of Achonwa. “She’s very well known in Toronto, and it was just great that her family, friends, teammates could all come out and see her play. We were just so happy to be able to do that for her.”

In a random survey of things missed, I will say Ohio State is proving a stubborn out.

Putting the lie to the old saw, “There are no upsets in women’s basketball:

Spartans defense stunned by IPFW

(Now ranked) Syracuse over Texas A&M – but, of course, it may be the Aggies don’t like (burnt) orange.

In Mexico, ASU took down UNC.

UCLA knocked off Oklahoma on the Sooners’ homecourt.

Washington State got a huge win over Nebraska. And Nebraska also lost to UNC — which might be called an upset.

Too early to know if Kentucky over Louisville was an upset — but when state bragging rights are on the line, it’s all about the emotions.

Speaking about state bragging rights: Northwestern over DePaul.

How much is San Diego State missing Beth Burns?

Yes, I noticed!

Dem Great Danes are sitting pretty at 7-0.

ACC is chock full of undefeateds: Duke, Syracuse, Notre Dame.

Ditto in the Big 12: Baylor is joined by Iowa State and Oklahoma State.

Yup, that’s Villanova at 7-0 in what used to be the Big East. And congrats to co-captain Jessica Wamala, who was named a Rhodes Scholar.

Yes, it’s early, but the Big 10’s Indiana is 8-0.

C-USA could be fun: UTEP and East Carolina are both 7-0.

Hello, EMU in the Mid-American. The Eagles are 5-0.

There have been some tests, but Colorado is 7-0 in the Pac-12.

With a 6-0 record, Holy Cross seems to have regained its mojo.

The SEC has several in the ranks of the unblemished: Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee. Three one-loss teams lurk behind them, so much will be revealed during conference play.

West Coast looks like it’s going to be fun: San Diego (Congrats, Coach Fisher: best start in school history), BYU and St. Mary’s are spotless.

In a world often full of coulda-shoulda-woulda’s, here’s an interesting story: SDSU coach Johnston has no regrets about UWGB decision

It’s been six years since Aaron Johnston called former University of Wisconsin-Green Bay athletic director Ken Bothof from a Minnesota airport to inform him he was having second thoughts about replacing Kevin Borseth as the women’s basketball coach.

He ended up boarding his flight to Green Bay. But by the time he arrived, he had made the decision to return to South Dakota State University.

It’s not been easy in the land of the upstart Eagles, but coach Smesko is encouraged by last victory

No matter how you cut it, 900 wins is extraordinary. Belated shout out to Tara VanDerveeer who, despite her ridiculous record, seems to fly under the radar.

She believes her style is a reflection of her parents, who were both teachers.

“I think I knew from the beginning that coaching is really teaching,” VanDerveer said. “You have 30 public exams a year. I am a student of the game. I know the more I learn, the more there is to learn. I keep studying players and games and try to learn from everyone I’m around.

“I just try to get better every day. Tomorrow, I hope I do a better job than today.”

“I just try to get better every day. Tomorrow, I hope I do a better job than today.” Now that’s a role model.

Bits and pieces from the W:

In a WATN? moment:Adrienne Johnson – Injured Former WNBA Player Loses Comp Case

The Shock, amongst others, are hoping for top prize as WNBA draft lottery is set for next Tuesday, Dec. 10th, 3:30EST on SportsCenter. So, it makes sense that Nate at Swish Appeal has Five guards to watch

I begin this “watch list” with a look at Hartley because she was one of the hardest prospects on this list to “figure out” after the way she played last season – the harsh reality is that the WNBA’s current 11-player rosters aren’t forgiving enough to assume a player will automatically make a roster based on pedigree. But all those challenges she had during her junior season leave us with questions for her senior season, which frame the purpose of a “watch list”.

It doesn’t really matter what league you look at: in most years, the top 10 prospects for any draft are going to change over the course of a season, even if the top three remains the same from start to finish. In the WNBA in particular, we know that players can’t just leave when their stock is high or the moment they show upside, meaning scouts get the added benefit of watching a player for four years – from a prospect with upside to a finished (college) product.

So this “watch list” is the set of players who showed something statistically in their junior season that put them on pace to possibly make a WNBA roster after they leave the collegiate ranks if they stay on pace or improve.

Speaking of guards, Kate Bennert at the .com says Skylar Diggins  is Working Harder Than Ever in the Off Season

Speaking of hard workers, WNBA Tamika Catchings Talks About Giving Back to Community

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From California: Burns files wrongful termination claim

“SDSU fired her,” the claim says, “in retaliation for her unwavering demands that SDSU put women’s basketball and men’s athletics on an equal footing … Coach Burns refused to remain silent in the face of the inequities she witnessed. She regularly complained regarding the department’s disparate treatment of the women’s basketball program.”

From Massachusetts: Holy Cross coach steps aside during abuse lawsuit

Holy Cross women’s basketball coach Bill Gibbons has voluntarily stepped aside from his coaching duties, one day after he was accused in a lawsuit of verbally and physically abusing his players at games and practices. The college said in a statement this afternoon he will be on administrative leave with pay and his assistant coaches will assume all coaching duties. 

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, a former student athlete alleged that Mr. Gibbons physically and verbally abused his players and the college perpetuated a culture of denial and feigned ignorance over his actions. 

 

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to this… ’cause if there ain’t, the Aztec Administration is peopled with cowardly idiots and women’s basketball has lost an important leader because of their idiocy.

From Kevin Acee at UT San Diego: Is what we see really what got Burns fired? – Women’s Basketball Coach struck assistant in video

If that’s all there is, what am I missing?

That’s the only plausible reaction after viewing the video at the center of the surprising and possibly scandalous departure of a record-setting college basketball coach.

There is much wisdom in acknowledging you might not know everything, and that may well be the case in the retirefirement of San Diego State Women’s Basketball Coach Beth Burns.

She’s not saying, and SDSU is not saying.

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but it ain’t me: SDSU INTERIM WOMEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH LEAVES FOR USC

Jualeah Woods, the interim women’s basketball head coach at San Diego State following the unexplained retirement of Beth Burns, was hired as an assistant on Cynthia Cooper-Dyke’s staff at USC. Technically it is a downgrade for Woods, who spent eight years at SDSU and held the title of associate head coach under Burns.

Speaking of Cooper: Texas Southern names new head women’s basketball coach

Ella Vincent writes:  Brittney Griner Is Revolutionizing Women’s Basketball – Will Brittney Griner’s coming out break down the “feminine” wall of women’s sports?

Basketball star Brittney Griner is one to watch for many reasons. She came out and revealed she was gay before she had her first professional game aft for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. She is one of the rare athletes to come out as an active player. It was a moment that showed how far America has progressed-but also how far it still has to go. Google her and “Brittney Griner man” shows up as often as her dunks when she played for Baylor University. More disturbing than the comments about her being a man are the attempts to make Griner feel ashamed for preferring pants over dresses. However, with Griner set to debut on the national stage this summer, can butch female athletes be free to express themselves?

Angela Hattery offers: Homosexuality and Professional Sports: A lesson from Brittney Griner to the NFL

On April 15 th , 2013 Brittney Griner, arguably the best player in women’s college basketball, was selected as the number one pick in the WNBA draft; she was drafted by the Phoenix Mercury and will play alongside the legendary point guard Diana Taurasi.   Three days later SportsWorld buzzed with the news that Brittney Griner had “come out” as gay.   

Critics pondered how Baylor, as a conservative Baptist institution, would deal with Griner’s announcement given that the Baylor student handbook reads in part:

The University affirms the biblical understanding of sexuality as a gift from God. Christian churches across the ages and around the world have affirmed purity in singleness and fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman as the biblical norm.

  Her coach, Kim Mulkey, while acknowledging that Griner was taunted and harassed during her career “professed ignorance” of her players’ relationships.

The official Baylor comment is that they will not “call out” Griner given that she has brought so much positive attention to the university.

Anyone else callin’ “bull” on Mulkey and  Baylor’s “ignorance”?

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Welcome: Coop introduced at USC

Weclome? I kinda think Missouri State was thinking they’d catch a Kim Barnes Arico, snagging Milleson from DII Drury. Then they felt it hadn’t work out. Maybe she’ll have better luck at George Mason.

Wow: Beth Burns retires from San Diego State?

In a sudden, unexpected, even bizarre announcement, San Diego State women’s basketball coach Beth Burns retired Tuesday, just eight months after signing a five-year contract.

On a better note: Susan Dufrane to be honored by Indiana Basketball HOF

Susan Dufrane can trace girls basketball’s timeline to when there wasn’t a timeline, when fastbreaks were considered unladylike.

“It’s kind of funny when you look back at it,” Dufrane said of a version of girls basketball played back during her youth and maintained in some pockets of the country until the mid 1990s.

“It was called ‘basquette’. You had three girls on offense in the front court, and three girls on defense in the back court,” Dufrane said of a game that resembled a pair of 3-on-3 contests played on opposite sides yet sharing a single ball.

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Texas Tech is 17-10, and all 10 of their losses, the latest one against a staggered Kansas, are in the Big 12.

Okay, so I jinxed’em. Tulsa (11-3, MAC) gets stifled by Eastern Michigan (12-2), 54-33.

What if the Big East Coach of the Year wasn’t Geno or Muffet, but Jamelle?

Amongst the many things I didn’t (and don’t) know: Pittsburgh is the youngest team in D-1 bball. They have nary a junior or senior. They might get a win against Seton Hall. Didn’t have a chance against a cranky UConn.

You know, when Ellenburg can give’em 23, the Sooners have a chance to beat ranked teams. Like tonight, in Norman, against #11 Texas A&M.

#25-with-a-bullet St. John’s keeps truckin’, taking down West Virginia, 63-54.

I know they were playing Baylor in Waco, and that is never a fun time for opponents, but really, Debbie? You think Gail is not in trouble? (True, Texas may not want to buy her out, but they do have the money.) Longhorns drop to 15-12 (5-10, Big 12) as the Bears earned the outright Big 12 title with an 80-59 win.

Double-take moment: Ms. Brittney “Player of the Year” Griner gets a double-double 4 out of every 10 games she plays.

Oh, and thanks to Hoopfeed: Coach Kim? Where’d ya get dem shoes? Fort Knox? (On edit: How did I miss this musical reference from Kirsty MacColl!)

Aaaand: Sonja Hogg in the House! (Hey! Where’s the white mink coat!)

But it’s not all grins and giggles in the arena: Baylor will be waiting on knee news for sophomore Shanay Washington — someone who’s had too much knee news already.

Coach Burns has her team sitting at 12-1 in the MWC. San Diego State’s five loses? Four were early in the season (one head shaker at Portland). I’m not going to jinx them by talking about how good their chances are in their conference tournament.

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last night’s game in Jersey was either gutty or gut-wrenching.

Depleted DePaul rode the hot hand of Anna Martin to a nice lead over Rutgers. Then turnovers, a missed field goal and Khadijah Rushdan’s end of game scoring streak spelled disaster for the Blue Demons: the Scarlet Knights win.

Hard to cheer against Gary Blair. Harder to cheer against Oklahoma State. Cowgirls pull off the 57-53 upset of # 14 Texas A&M.

Mechelle says the Big 12 about more than just Baylor, but I’m not sure of the overall (NCAA-level) quality of the teams.

Graham has his mid-majors poll and, picking up on Doug “The APWBall King”‘s theme, notes: Zags, BYU give WCC two entries

Speaking of the Zags: from the Spokesman-Review: Gonzaga’s Redmon proves her dedication

Ooops. Will this undermine the Miners? 2 UTEP guards suspended indefinitely

So, has there been some shaky play this season, or do we get to pull out the p-word? LSU had to go to overtime to escape with a 71-68 win over East Tennessee State.

From the Observer: ND’s Peters comfortable in her role and I missed this Hoops Across America entry from espnW: Love of the Irish drives volunteers

Xavier’s misery continues: Temple 64, Musketeers 38.

About those Idaho State Bengals: Ashleigh Vella: the wonder from “down under”

Ouch: BG coach Miller’s health ‘not 100 percent’

San Diego State remains undefeated in the MWC, and Nick Canepa writes: SDSU women’s basketball deserves show of support

What Beth Burns needs is a show to call her own. To be square, not necessarily The Show, the roaring, cunning group of San Diego State’s men’s basketball wackos, but maybe something along the lines of The Showups.

Speaking of San Diego — a little WATN? with Charity Shira of then-Southwest Missouri State’s Final Four team of 1992: Elliott has her NCAA Division II California-San Diego Tritons ranked No. 1 in the country

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From Jeremy Rosenthal: Team Chemistry Key to Fever Success

Rookie Jené Morris realized the strength of the team bond before she even practiced with her new teammates.

It was the day of the WNBA Draft and after being selected, nearly every Fever player called or e-mailed Morris to welcome her to the team.

Of course, I’m the kind of person who asks, “How’d they get her contact info so fast?” :-)

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