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As the No Longer Big East Commissioner.

A little flashback from Jayda: WNBA Talk: Ron Rothstein

Times reporter Jayda Evans will have a weekly conversation with a newsmaker in the WNBA. This week it is Miami Heat assistant coach Ron Rothstein, who won his second NBA championship in 2013. He was the inaugural coach of the WNBA Miami Sol until the WNBA team disbanded in 2002. He had a 48-48 record from 2000-02.

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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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tonight’s game is going to a hot, Husky mess.

We will have to see, as Graham asks,“Exactly which team is the underdog?Irish have never won Big East tournament; Huskies haven’t beaten ND in a year

A trophy waits for the winner of Tuesday’s Big East championship game between Notre Dame and Connecticut (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET), an encounter that likely marks the final time the teams will play for conference hardware.

But gleaming statuary is only part of what’s at stake when the rivalry renews for the 14th time in the past four seasons. There is more on the line than an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Plenty of press in anticipation of the game:

UConn beats Syracuse in Big East semis, AP article from the Post
Game in a nutshell: No. 3 Uconn 64, No. 22 Syracuse 51, Post
Rich Elliott: KML, Huskies target Irish, Post
UConn Women Beat Syracuse, Earn Rematch With Notre Dame In Big East Final, Courant
Jeff Jacobs: UConn vs. Notre Dame, One Last Time, Courant
Pictures: UConn vs Syracuse, Courant
Anne Donovan Talks About A Coach’s Impact, Courant
Notre Dame Tops Louisville To Make It To Big East Final, Courant
Huskies beat Syracuse, will meet Notre Dame in Big East championship game, Register
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL GAMEDAY: No. 2 Notre Dame vs. No. 3 UConn, Register
Huskies, Irish advance to Big East final, Day
Notebook: Freshman Stewart could be UConn’s X-Factor at the XL Center, Hour
Semi-charmed, Daily Campus
Huskies aim for sixth straight Big East title, Daily Campus
UConn hopes third time’s the charm against Irish, Daily Campus

Notre Dame women’s basketball: Diggins drains big shots to propel Irish into Big East final ,South Bend Tribune
Notre Dame women’s basketball: Irish dispatch Louisville, await clash with UConn, South Bend Tribune
Notre Dame Tops Louisville To Make It To Big East Final, Hartford Courant
UConn and Notre Dame, the perfect script, Examiner.com

Perhaps the most important news story: Notre Dame Women’s Team Decides To Do Away With New Adidas Uniforms, College Spun

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Got to write my first player profile in a looooong time. It’s on St. John’s Shenneika Smith. She was a delight to speak with.

Shenneika Smith hopes to guide St. John’s back to NCAA

Coaching change notwithstanding, the program began the 2012-13 season with high hopes. The Red Storm had gained national attention the previous season when, courtesy of Smith’s last second three, that simultaneously snapped the University of Connecticut’s 99-game home court winning streak and gave the Huskies their first home loss against an unranked opponent in 19 years. Then came St. John’s first-ever Sweet 16 appearance. There was every expectation that Smith, who had been named to the 2012 All-Big East first team, along with fellow seniors Nadirah McKenith and Eugeneia McPherson, would continue to elevate the program. The fact that St. John’s was to host first round of 2013 NCAA tournament on their home court was going to be the cherry on the top of their college career.

Things didn’t go quite as planned.

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from Full Court:

Jim Clark: Notre Dame, UConn rule the Big East, and its last tournament as a major conference

I hate college football.

Greedy college presidents looking for football TV money have eviscerated the Big East, arguably the best basketball conference in the country over the last ten years. Boston College, Virginia Tech, and Miami wandered away in the last decade. Now the seven catholic institutions are seceding together. Rutgers is going to the Big 10 in 2014 (or sooner if they pay an exit fee), Louisville and Notre Dame are off to the ACC.

When “re-alignment” is over, UConn, Cincinnati and South Florida are all that will be left of the conference that has sent eight teams to the women’s NCAA Tournament the last two years. Nobody knows what that conference will be called. No one is quite sure what additional teams will be added and no one knows yet which conference will get the Big East automatic bid to the tournament. I’ll leave explanation of all the machinations still pending to the football writers.

Clay: NCAA seeds at stake in Big 12 tourney

It doesn’t matter to Baylor – but the Big 12 Tournament could make the path to the Sweet 16 a lot easier for teams that play well.

The Bears are going to be a top seed no matter what happens in their first-round game Friday against the winner of the Thursday’s Kansas State-Texas game. Even should one of the Big 12 bottomfeeders pull off an upset for the ages, it won’t affect Baylor’s chances of winning a national title at all – and it wouldn’t even help Kansas State or Texas unless the winner rode that momentum all the way to the conference title.

Paul Gackle at the SF Examiner says Cal, Stanford women’s basketball appear destined to meet this week in Pac-12 women’s tourney

James Kelley says, Arizona women’s basketball must dominate Pac-12 tournament to reach NCAA’s

Seattle’s Q13 has this story: Husky women’s basketball: Overcoming odds on and off court

The Husky women’s basketball team heads into the Pac-12 Conference Tournament after posting their best record since 2007.

And they’re ready, to say the least.

“I think it’s a real testament to the competitive character of our players that they didn’t accept that we had some limitations; therefore, couldn’t have success,” head coach Kevin McGuff said.

Marcus Fuller at the Pioneer Press wonders:  Gophers women’s basketball: Pam Borton’s secret deal a big deal for Big Ten tourney?

From the outside looking in, Pam Borton’s job status no longer appears tenuous, her team’s performance entering tournament season apparently no longer critical to the immediate future of Minnesota’s women’s basketball coach.

When Gophers athletics director Norwood Teague revealed last week that predecessor Joel Maturi had quietly given Borton a two-year contract extension last June, the women’s basketball coach no longer had to worry about a deal that would expire after next season. A new buyout clause was more university-friendly, but Borton needed a new deal to focus on rebuilding.

FC also has some player features.

Cal – Gennifer Brandon
Colorado – Chucky Jeffery
Maryland – Tianna Hawkins
Notre Dame – Natalie Achonwa
Penn State – Maggie Lucas

Time to revisit Vickie “Just Call Me Winner of the WBCA Mel Greenberg Award Media Award” Friedman’s look at the Mid-Majors:

We’re betting you’ve heard the name Elena Delle Donne.

But how about Naama Shafir, Jerica Coley or Victoria McGowan? You might not be as familiar with their credentials, but the Toledo offensive machine, the explosive Florida International guard and the Stetson floor general (who set an impressive Division I mark last season) have plenty of them.

Learn move below, along with info on several other monster resumes in a list we’ve compiled of this year’s best players from the non-BCS conferences.

Graham focuses on EDD: Elena shines in and out of spotlight – We rarely see Delle Donne play, but her story and game are as good as it gets

Most of the country didn’t experience Elena Delle Donne’s final regular-season home game.

There wasn’t a national television audience for the Colonial Athletic Association game between Delaware and Georgia State as there was when Skylar Diggins and Notre Dame played Connecticut on Monday night.

What transpired wasn’t likely to become part of any national conversation, as it did when Baylor’s Brittney Griner went for 50 points in her regular-season home finale the same night as the triple-overtime thriller in South Bend.

Basketball operates on a smaller scale in the second-smallest state.

Beth, Debbie and the Nell-ster discuss the upcoming NCAA tournament on their podcast.

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while work has been kickin’ butt?

A whole lotta Griner and Baylor kickin’ Big 12 butt.

Oklahoma is continuing to win, despite injuries, and continuing to make Aston’s welcome to the Big 12 miserable.

TCU ain’t enjoying the Big 12 much, neither.

Texas Tech getting a nice, and somewhat surprising win, over #23 Kansas — unless, of course, KU ain’t all that, or TTU is something more than that.

Sacred Heart got a little of it’s swagger back, and handed St. Francis (PA) its first NEC loss.

Those Stetson Hatters are now 7-0 in the A-Sun (school record 10 wins in a row). They meet up fellow 7-0ers, FGCU, on January 26th, in Florida. Looks to be fun game.

It’s been a tough year so far, but the Bonnies can still beat UMass.

The Big South is kinda feisty. Winthrop took down Presbyterian. Liberty beat the Fightin’ Camels, and face Conference leader Longwood (who came back from 17 down to get a victory) next.

With a squeaker over New Hampshire, the Terriers have moved to 6-0 in the America East. They face 5-0 Albany next.

I’m not reading too much in to it, but it looks like the youngsters at Villanova have gotten some seasoning — they’re 4-0 in Big East play.

I’m still not reading too much in to it, but St. Francis (NY) won another game. Yes, wins in the past have been that rare that I notice. Credit new coach John Thurston.

Central Michigan stomped all over Northern Illinois, and is now 4-0 in the MAC. Akron got surprised by Western Michigan, but Toledo took care of Buffalo.

Looks like coach Michelle Clark-Heard learned a lot at Louisville:  The Hilltoppers are now 8-1 in the Sun Belt. They’ll meet fellow 8-1ers MTSU in a couple of games, January 27th AT Murfreesboro..

Hampton had a nice second half over Morgan State, and is now 4-0 in the MEAC.

In the Battle of the Big Sky, Tricia’s Montana State took down Robin’s Montana, 58-49.

Gonzaga has put together three straight wins since its lost against the Gaels of St. Mary.

Nice win for IUPUI and coach Parkinson (remember when they were a hot-coaching mess?) as they handed the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State their first Summit Conference loss, 57-56.

In the battle of the birds, the Phoenix took down the Penguins, and Green Bay is now 4-0 in the Horizon.

Boink: The Shockers moved to 4-0 in the MVC, after they gave Creighton their first Conference loss, 67-45.

Hmmm… that’s Seattle U at 7-0 in the WAC. Not looking too far ahead, but… they’ll go up against Utah State (currently 5-2) on Feb 2.

Chattanooga gave Davidson just enough hope to keep the game interesting, but exited with the win, 60-56, taking them to 6-1 in the Southern. That helps them keep pace with Samford and Elon.

In the past two days, two Elon University basketball players had something special happen to them on the hardwood in Alumni Gym.

One of them started most of their first two seasons. Then after suffering an injury two games into their junior season and missing the rest of the year, their playing time lessened, all the way to playing just 42 minutes in ten games this season.

Another one played two games of their sophomore season before tearing their ACL and missing over a year of basketball before returning to action this week.

Both played efficient minutes in their respective teams’ most recent games, helping to spark their teams to victory.

Marist may not be making national noise, but their still winning in the MAC. They held Canisius to 9 points in the first half.

Win or lose, Ohio State still has the Dispatch’s Jim Massie’s fine writing to fall back on. He reflects on the Buckeye’s struggles: Ohio State wants to add to success

As the Big Ten losses mounted, the Ohio State women’s basketball team had to develop the kind of tunnel vision that spelunkers need while exploring a cave as confining as a coffin.

At 0-4 in the conference, the only direction the Buckeyes could move was forward. And even after Ohio State trounced Indiana 68-45 on Thursday to end its losing streak, the single-mindedness couldn’t change.

While Nate considered Three things we learned about Stanford from the Battle of the Bay, Chiney made sure UCLA didn’t get any ideas, and led Stanford to a Bruin-stomping, 75-49. Writes Michelle:

Maybe playing Stanford on Friday night was a little like stepping in front of a freight train.

The Cardinal stared at the business end of a three-game home losing streak, something that hadn’t happened since way back in the 1986-87 season when Tara VanDerveer was a second-year Cardinal coach and parachute pants were all the rage.

Tomorrow, undefeated Duke goes to Connecticut to play the Huskies. At DWHoops, Rob Clough has a preview:

UConn’s top priority will be disconnecting Chelsea Gray from the rest of the team. They’ll face-guard her in an effort to get her to give up the ball or never get it in the first place. They’ll flood passing lanes in an effort to pick off passes made under duress. They’ll let her take contested jump shots all she wants, especially if Gray hesitates before shooting. If you hesitate before taking a shot against UConn, then they’ve already won.

As for UConn, Hartley was better against Louisville, but rolled her ankle (again) against Syracuse.

At Mel’s blog, Mike Siroky has his SEC Report: New Uniform for Bone – Still an SEC Star

Kelsey Bone is used to coming out parties.

Maybe all children born on New Year’s Eve arrive with great expectations.

She is back in the SEC after once playing at South Carolina and earning Newcomer of the Year honors with nine double-doubles. She transferred to Texas A&M and sat out the required year, but stayed busy. Last season, as a sophomore, she was the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and a member of the conference all-tournament team.

A good, but hard read, from Lady Swish: You’re Old Dominion’s Sara Jones, and here’s what that means

The doctor didn’t believe that the cancer had come back.

“For that to be so,” he explained to Sara Jones, “it would have to have eaten through the bone.”

Somehow, it did.

For the third time, Sara Jones had cancer. For the third time Sara Jones, 40 years old, has cancer. Metastatic cancer, and metastatic — the cancer has spread to other parts of the body — is one of those words —malignant, chemotherapy, tumor — that it hurts to say. Especially when you think you’ve beaten cancer not once, but twice. Remember, you weren’t supposed to even have it in the first place. That’s what the doctor said not once, but twice.

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Notre Dame survived a post-big win let down, but it took overtime.

Connecticut failed to lose two games in a row for the zillionth time, but there was some serious butterfingers involved.

In the battle of the Reds, Rutgers gave Louisville a scare, but the Cardinals pulled away in OT.

The Longhorns started the year strong, but Big 12 competition is proving to be another matter. Newcomer to the Conference West Virginia wrangled them good, 53-49.

Seton Hall still doesn’t care their coach is leaving for the W. They take down the Bearcats, 64-56.

Stanford thought about it… and then said, no, we don’t want California to win.

The Buffs got back on track against Utah. The Cowgirls did, too.

Speaking of big cats, the Tigers aren’t going away: Rookie quintet making early contributions

Every season, there are always uncertainties about how the freshmen on a team will adjust to college-level play and the extent to which they will be able to contribute. For the five freshmen on the women’s basketball team, however, these questions have hardly been an issue. Despite the presence of a talented senior class, the freshmen quintet, consisting of guards Amanda Berntsen, Michelle Miller and Annie Tarakchian along with forwards Alex Wheatley and Taylor Williams, has received considerable playing time and provided an offensive boost in scoring and rebounding for the Tigers. The Class of 2016 has combined to score nearly a quarter of the Tigers’ total points so far this season, with each member averaging at least five minutes per game.

A full-strength Baylor continues their demolition of the opposition. This time, Iowa State.

Hmmm… UTEP looks to be strong again this year. We have to wait until Feb 7th for their game against Tulane.

Keeping an eye on Cal-Northridge and Fresno State — both still undefeated in conference play.

Nice check in from the “local paper” on Iowa’s freshman: Ex-Mainstreeter great acclimates to being a Hawkeye

No, it wasn’t the dreaded three letters: Stokes relieved injury not worse

Given the alternative, Ohio State women’s basketball team co-captain Amber Stokes didn’t complain yesterday about needing a pair of crutches to reach the practice gym in Value City Arena.

The fifth-year senior suffered a sprained left knee near the end of the first half on Sunday in a 79-73 loss to Illinois. The possibility that she had suffered a season-ending ligament tear crossed her mind.

Jim Massie at the Dispatch writes about Ohio State’s 0-2 Conference record: Buckeyes’ slow start must end with stops

Tough times for the Catamounts: Overwhelmed by the first-place women’s basketball team in the America East Conference, the University of Vermont suffered a 58-30 defeat to Boston University.

Still tough times for the Black Bears: Hartford hands University of Maine women’s basketball team 11th straight loss

Looks like Williams-Flournoy got outta the Big East when the going was good. Writes Mechelle: Coach Flo has plan for Auburn

Terri Williams-Flournoy had been here in Missouri before, but this was the first time in her new role as Auburn coach. In her 12-year apprenticeship as an assistant, she spent two seasons at Missouri State.

Williams-Flournoy — known as Coach Flo by her Tigers — has paid her dues in the profession she was practically born into. Part of a basketball family in Virginia that includes brother Boo Williams — he’s one of that state’s most influential youth hoops gurus — Williams-Flournoy climbed the coaching ladder with a purpose and a plan.

And now, she’s in her first season in what is a new era for the SEC. Pat Summitt is in an emeritus role at Tennessee, but not head coach of the Lady Vols for the first time since 1973.

Have you noticed? FSU women’s basketball quietly excelling – With recent winning ways, Seminoles may soon cast shadow on other sports

The women’s basketball team has silently tip-toed to a 12-2 record and have placed themselves among the game’s most elite programs. The Seminoles are No. 5 in the nation in scoring, averaging 82.3 points per game and their field goal percentage of 49 percent only trails Baylor and Connecticut, two perennial National Title contenders.

The .com says that Angel McCoughtry wants you to trust and believe.

Speaking of Angel, from Mechelle’s chat:

kevin (macon ga): Angel McCoughtry said on wnba.com that she had “nothing to do with the coaching change”. Should we believe her?

Mechelle Voepel: Maybe that means she actually wasn’t the one to call Marynell Meadors to tell her she was fired? :) Of course she had something to do with it. But, anyway, it’s water under the bridge now. Fred Williams is the Dream’s coach, and Angel will be back as his star player. These things happen in pro sports … look at the NBA and coach firings and players saying, “Oh, I had nothing to do with it!” Meadors, I believe, would still like to return in some capacity to the league, but if not, she’s had a long career in the sport with a lot of accomplishments. I feel bad for her that things ended in Atlanta as they did, though. She deserved better. Now Angel and Fred will have a revamped East – at least in terms of the new coaching hires – to deal with.

Congrats are in order: U.S. Men’s, Women’s Olympic Teams Honored By USA Basketball and Taurasi Is Named USA Basketball’s Top Female Athlete (sorry anti-tank-Merc fans)

Oops! WNBA’s Maya Moore’s Olympic Ring Stolen, Sold to Gold Buying Store and Phew! Man charged with selling ring stolen from WNBA player Maya Moore

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