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but I’m a little worried about the Lib’s tall folks.

Tina looks fantabulous, but where is Kiah? Sugar is already making a bid for the “Most Improved” as Old Big Easters will recognize the form they’re seeing on the court (and, do you remember her Player’s Tribune piece?). Intrigued to see how our elder guards contribute – really want an announcer to get the chance to say Z-to-Z for the nice give-and go. The Dallas visitors say Skylar is day-to-day, but even without her, the Wings are proving that they’re not going to be a pushover this year. Looking forward to see what happens for the newly-transfered franchise. Home wins, I hope.

Swish Appeal: ‘Pinch of Sugar’ goes a long way in Liberty victory

Queenie:

Dallas really misses Skylar Diggins. They really don’t have a consistent second option without her. Without her, Plenette Pierson and Odyssey Sims were both forcing the issue a lot, especially in the first half. Diggins tried to give it a go in warm-ups, but that knee is still braced, and she was walking very gingerly. She would have been at maybe quarter speed if she’d had to play, and I don’t think she was very happy about it; when she came out of the tunnel, she was with the trainer and there was a virtual thundercloud over her head. (It also really doesn’t help their rotation.)

On the West Coast, Los Angeles picked up where it left off last year… as did, unfortunately,  Seattle. Behind Parker’s 34, the Sparks easily handled the Storm. L.A. Times … dabnabbit! You use the AP report!!?!?! And oh, snap, the Sparks aren’t in your header or your dropdown menu. So. Not. Cool. At least Mechelle wrote somethin’

There were five No. 1 picks on the floor at Staples Center on Sunday, all of whom could tell you their own stories of what it means to them to be in that club.

When the game was over, 2008’s top pick — the Los Angeles Sparks’ Candace Parker — had the biggest day and her team got exactly the start it wanted: a dominant, 96-66 victory over the Seattle Storm.

There actually were some positives for the Storm, particularly regarding two of their No. 1 picks who look to be the foundation of a bright future: 2016 top pick Breanna Stewart, in her pro debut, had 23 points, while 2015 top pick Jewell Loyd, last season’s rookie of the year, had 20.

Swish Appeal: Candace Parker’s Sparkling performace engulfs Storm

Sue: Parker, Stewart both shine in Sparks dominating opening win

Hoopfeed: Candace Parker spoils debut of Breanna Stewart with 34-point explosion as Sparks beat Storm 96-66

The local paper hasn’t stopped paying attention: Breanna Stewart makes WNBA debut, experiences something new: Losing

Did you catch this from Stewie? Day One, Again.

Downtime? I have none. Just the way I like it.

Last week I was in Seattle trying to figure out if I could pull off the trip back to Connecticut for graduation. My new teammates asking, “What time do you have to be there?” Meanwhile I’m thinking, What if I get there and they forget to call my name? But being able to graduate in person from an institution like UConn, in front of a community that gave you so much, is an opportunity you can’t pass up. I made it, and squeezed in a visit to the White House with my UConn teammates; it was worth it.

Swin back in?

From Mike DiMauro at the Day: Motto for new-look Sun: Humble, but hungry

Kelsey Bone, center for the Connecticut Sun and never a candidate to mince words, offers the following overview of the 2016 season:

“We gotta make the damn playoffs,” she said, alluding to a locale that has eluded the franchise since (gulp) 2012.

Diana Taurasi learned a lot by watching her Phoenix Mercury teammates, at least when she wasn’t yelling at her monitor.

“I turned into that fan. ‘Why aren’t we rebounding? Why aren’t we executing down the stretch?,’ ” she told Excelle Sports Saturday at shootaround, prior to the Mercury’s season-opener 95-76 loss to the Minnesota Lynx.

Watching was the only thing Taurasi could do following her choice to skip the 2015 season, a move that reverberated fiercely within the WNBA community; Taurasi had won her third championship with Phoenix and her second Finals MVP award the year before.

On Saturday night, Taurasi could call herself a player again, competing against the Minnesota Lynx at Target Center, a venue where fans generally love to hate anything that has to do with purple and orange, especially the player wearing the No. 3 jersey. In Minnesota’s lean years,

If you haven’t purchased ESPN the Magazine, might recommend you get out and do so. WNBA oral history: Moving the ball forward

DAVID STERN WALKED down the hallway of the NBA offices in Manhattan and paused as he approached Val Ackerman’s office.

The then-NBA commissioner poked his head in the doorway.

“This would be a summer league, right?” Stern asked.

“Yeah,” Ackerman recalls saying, “that’s the plan.”

THE WNBA WASN’T launched by one landmark meeting. Rather, it evolved from a series of brainstorms, serendipitous circumstances and casual conversations: It was the right people working together at the right time. The NBA had reached a zenith of popularity and marketability in the early 1990s thanks to megastars such as Michael Jordan and collaborations with other organizations, such as USA Basketball. All of that delivered the Dream Team for the 1992 Olympics.

 Great job by Delle Donne (and, I’m assuming, a little assist from the Sky PR folks) – she’s been all.over.Chicago.In Chicago Magazine: The New Superstar in Town

In the glittering heart of Gotham, at a swank TriBeCa gala fit for a tuxedoed Bruce Wayne, a newly minted superhero soars toward an unseen basketball hoop, a flaring silk of blond hair trailing like a cape.

A few feet away, in heels and a form-hugging gown, a very tall blond woman who more than passingly resembles the leaping figure mulls the Marvel poster like a patron at a gallery, examining the main image of the subject cradling a basketball like a deity palming a planet, her hair swept back like Athena.

A small grin, then a full-on smile blossoms as she reads the character’s name.

“I hadn’t seen this,” she says to a friend. “Pretty cool, huh? Full-Court Goddess. I’ll take that.”

Speaking of which, fingers crossed: Sky’s Elena Delle Donne practices, expected to play Wednesday

About friggin’ time. From Excelle: WNBA.com dramatically expands stat, historical video offerings

This doesn’t suck: ESPN posts highest WNBA overnight rating for a regular-season game since 2011

A little college:  

With rumors circling about an extension, On the Banks writes: C. Vivian Stringer’s Impact Upon Women’s Basketball is Legendary

From the Sentinel: Next recruiting class crucial to Lady Vols’ future

Bye: Nebraska sharpshooter Natalie Romeo to transfer to UW women’s basketball team

Romeo leaves Nebraska after the abrupt resignation last month of Huskers coach Connie Yori over allegations that the coach mistreated players. Romeo has denied those claims.

“It was pretty difficult there,” she said. “I just think it’s the best thing for me to move on.”

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Under an enormous amount of scrutiny – both by the Secret Service and by grumpy Committee bashers – the #8 Tigers and #9 Phoenix put together a nice game. Princeton dominated the boards and nailed their free throws to secure their first NCAA tourney win.

Courtney Banghart had seen it once too often. It was not much more than a year ago and one more time than she could stomach watching Annie Tarakchian, then a sophomore, catch the ball in good position near the basket, hold the ball over her head and look to pass without ever showing the slightest inclination to propel a strong frame to the basket.

“Annie is about the most gentle soul on this earth, and she’s really kind,” Banghart said. “Those two, gentle and kind, are not great inside the lines. Inside the lines for the first year and a half at Princeton she was gentle and kind.”

So when Tarakchian was passive one too many times in practice before a key road trip to Harvard and Dartmouth a season ago, Princeton already in a hole in the Ivy League race by then, Banghart whistled proceedings to a halt and delivered a simple rebuke. 

It wasn’t just the Tigers who were roaring.

If you recall, Susie McConnell-Serio’s team opened the season rather inauspiciously. That’s all forgotten as #10 Pitt Panthers produced a HUGE win for the program as they upset #7 Chattanooga, 51-40.

“Walking up to hal court at the end of the game I said to him, ‘This is bittersweet,’ because I have so much respect for him,” she said. “I think he is one of the best coaches in the game, and I’m so happy that he’s still coaching because he just has so much to offer to his players.

“So as happy as I am for our team and our program, it was hard to look at him as I was shaking his hand.”

It’s fly like an Eagle time, as #7 FGCU defeats #10 Oklahoma State, 75-67. They move into the second round for the first time in program history.

Smesko said the men’s team’s run two years ago has been “fantastic” bringing recognition for the school, located on the outskirts of Fort Myers, in southwest Florida.

“We’ve been right on the precipice for a long time,” Smesko said. “We know our next game is going to be against one of the very best teams in the country.”

#13 Liberty has been a hard-nosed program for a while – as #4 North Carolina quickly re-discovered – but the Tar Heels pulled out the win.

 Latifah Coleman and Allisha Gray weren’t going to let Sylvia Hatchell’s return to the NCAA Tournament end so soon.

Gray scored 17 points and Coleman had 15 to lead North Carolina past Liberty 71-65 on Saturday in the first round of the Greensboro Region.

The fourth-seeded Tar Heels (25-8) shot 49 percent, led by 14 and withstood the Flames’ late push to give their Hall of Fame coach a victory in her return to the NCAA Tournament after a year away to fight leukemia.

“This whole week, I have been so stressed out,” Hatchell said. “It’s a good stressed because I’m so excited about the tournament.”

Taking lessons from their football team, #15 Boise State was not intimidated by #2 Tennessee – even on their home court. In the end, the Vols escaped the Broncos.

The Lady Vols were clinging to a 63-58 lead after Boise State’s Camille Redmon made the front end of a one-and-one with 2:51 remaining. But Redmon missed her second free throw, and Tennessee’s Ariel Massengale sank a 3-pointer 13 seconds later to spark a game-clinching 8-0 run.

“I’m satisfied we got the W, but we could do much better,” Graves said. “Our one-on-one defense has got to be tight right now. This is crunch time.”

Coach Trakh can be proud of the effort of his #16 New Mexico State team against host, and #1 seed, Maryland. The Terps ruled the Aggies, 75-57.

Maryland center Brionna Jones could only giggle at the comparison.

“Like PT boats attacking a battleship,” New Mexico State coach Mark Trakh said in describing the destruction the 6-foot-3 Jones inflicted on his shorter, slighter players as top-seeded Maryland won its NCAA tournament opener Saturday.

All season, the Terps have won by continually switching guises. As if to prove that versatility, they beat New Mexico State with a bruising inside attack in the first half and a barrage of jumpers in the second.

#12 James Madison and #5 Ohio State gave us the Debbie Antonelli Special, with the Buckeyes emerging victorious, 90-80.

The Buckeyes — who started three freshmen and bring sophomore Shayla Cooper off the bench — shot 58 percent in the second half and scored on seven consecutive possessions down the stretch.

“Obviously, when you get to this time of the year (and) you have kids who have experienced it, that can be beneficial,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. “But I also think for kids who haven’t, then have that youthful energy and that passion to be a part of it. … That can take you a long way.”

#12 Quinnipiac and #5 Oklahoma gave us the second DAS, combining for 97 points in the first half and 99 in the second. Sooners scored more, so they win and move into the next round.

When the Sooners were 5-5 in non-conference play earlier this season, it was tough imagining them making the NCAA Tourament, much less imagining them winning a game in it. But after finishing in second place in the Big 12, Oklahoma came ready to play in the NCAA Tournament. Their 111 points against Quinnipiac showed that despite their lack of experience you should never count out a Sherri Coale coached basketball team.

Sun Belt champ Arkansas-Little Rock battled #6 Texas A&M wire-to-wire, then the #11 seed made good on the upset, 69-60, earning coach Joe Foley his 700th win.

“Tops right now,” he said. “Top game. It’s unbelievable, playing against a friend, playing in the NCAA tournament. It was fun. And to play as well as we did. We played great, and we deserved it.”

Taylor Gault scored a season-high 25 points, Kiera Clark added a career-best 22 and 11th-seed UALR beat sixth-seeded Texas A&M in an opening-round game Saturday.

“The thought I had was to shoot and drive and do whatever I knew I could do best for my team,” Gault said.

#3 Louisville tamed #14 BYU, but the game may be remembered for this action by the Cardinals’ Mariya Moore than the actual score.

Meanwhile, Louisville’s inside presence out-muscled the Cougars from the opening tip. The Cardinals outscored BYU 44-30 in the paint, and added 11 second-chance points on 33 rebounds to net the win.

Barely two minutes into the second half, Louisville’s Mariya Moore drew a technical foul — and the ire of both coaches — leveling BYU’s Morrison with a hard push off a screen.

BYU leading scorer Lexi Eaton responded to the physical play of the game with an elbow of her own two minutes later, a move that went uncalled by the officials — though she did receive a foul on a push on the same play.

#2 Florida State was in their comfort zone, and easily handled #15 Alabama State, 91-49.

“This experience is huge for our program,” Alabama State coach Freda Freeman-Jackson said. “It’s been a while since we have actually had an opportunity to compete in the NCAA Tournament. We only have one true senior that actually played (Saturday). We’re extremely young.”

Alabama State was composed early but wore out, committing 32 turnovers against a stifling Seminoles defense.

#14 Ohio spotted #3 Arizona State 16 points in the first half, but the MAC played the PAC even in the second. Nice re-focuser for the Sun Devils.

Junior guard Elisha Davis increased the lead on the next possession, getting a steal and making the layup. In a 54-second span, ASU had gone on a 7-0 run.

ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne said the spurt was a result of ASU’s defense.

“When our defense is turning people over and we’re getting easy buckets in transition, that’s when we’re at our best,” she said.

Ohio coach Bob Boldon gave credit to that aspect of ASU’s game.

“They took us out of everything we wanted to do,” he said. “That really contributed to us getting frustrated on the offensive side.”

Speaking of “re-focusers” #16 Cal State Northridge sure as heck provided that for Stanford as what seemed like a blowout-in-the-making turned into a dogfight. Cardinal escaped, 73-60.

How many hard lessons is this year’s Stanford women’s basketball team going to have to learn?

The Cardinal have already learned that beating Connecticut doesn’t mean you can’t lose to Chattanooga, that knocking off Oregon State doesn’t mean you can beat Oregon, that winning Pac-12 titles isn’t a default status, that changing your entire offense and turning it into a well-oiled machine isn’t going to happen overnight.

And that hosting an NCAA tournament game isn’t the same as winning it. At least not if you don’t play well.

Stanford figured that last one out just in time Saturday.

Courtney Williams did what she does, as host #6 USF dispatched #11 LSU:

South Florida made the most of its first home NCAA postseason game.

Courtney Williams had 17 points and 12 rebounds, Alisia Jenkins added 15 points and No. 6 seed South Florida beat 11th-seed LSU 73-64 in an NCAA tournament first-round game Saturday night.

The announced crowd of 5,560 erupted as the final seconds ticked off.

“I took a moment and went out there (on the court) and was like `wow,” USF coach Jose Fernandez said. “This is what we’ve wanted and worked for.”

The Old Big East fans were having serious flashbacks in Storrs as they watched #8 Rutgers and #9 Seton Hall go after it in OBE style. 

“What a great game,” Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said. “We played hard. I thought that Seton Hall did an outstanding job as well and just played extremely hard. We’re glad to have gotten that game under our belts.”

One year after staging a double-overtime thriller in the third round of the WNIT, Rutgers and Seton Hall turned in another memorable affair. For the second straight year in the postseason — and for the 34th time in 41 meetings all-time — the Scarlet Knights prevailed.

The #16 Terriers knew what they were getting into when they drew the #1 Huskies for their first-round match. But the game, did prompt a nice story in the NY Times about St. Francis guard Sarah Benedetti :For a St. Francis Player, UConn, Long an Inspiration, Turns Rival

When Sarah Benedetti moved to Canton, Conn., as a fifth grader in 2004, she almost immediately started rooting for the University of Connecticut’s basketball teams. That year, UConn became the first Division I university to win the national titles in men’s and women’s basketball.

Benedetti began attending Huskies games with her family and teammates. She idolized the UConn stars Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore. She was so obsessed with the sport that she arrived at Canton High School at 6 a.m. each day to shoot for an hour before classes started. Her father, Sergio, rebounded the ball for her.

Now a senior at St. Francis of Brooklyn, Benedetti competed Saturday night against her former favorite team.

Benedetti did well.

They were smiling from the moment they took the floor, especially when UConn’s starters were being introduced. This was their moment. And Benedetti, with a large cheering section on the day that her old high school lost its bid for a Class S state championship, did her best, making three three-pointers in a first half in which the team’s hole progressively grew deeper. She scored 13 points.

Said coach Thurston post-game:

“This was an incredible experience for our program. This team is the first time that St. Francis has sent a team to the NCAA Tournament on either the men’s or women’s side. Coach Auriemma is a gentlemen. He said nice things about our team and that means a lot to these girls. I told the girls if we played anyone else, we would have beat them, but it would take the defending National Champions to knock us out.”

On the Saturday games: Charlie:

1. ACC flies high: In two days, the ACC went from filling one eighth of the field to representing one quarter of it. While other teams are disappearing, everyone from the ACC remains present and accounted for. No one in the conference has lost, and the league is 8-0 after another four-win day Saturday. Pittsburgh, Florida State, North Carolina and Louisville all cruised into the second round. The Tar Heels had to withstand a late push by Liberty, but otherwise, the games were not only wins but also comfortable ones.

Even Pittsburgh, a No. 10 seed, thoroughly controlled Chattanooga from start to finish in handing the Lady Mocs their eighth straight tournament loss. For the second straight year, Chattanooga had a 25-game win streak snapped in the first round of the tournament. Panthers freshman Stasha Carey’s 16 points and 13 rebounds were just the second double-double in Pittsburgh NCAA tournament history.

Now hurry up and turn on the TV!

12:00 #4 Duke vs #5 Mississippi State, ESPN 2
12:00 #3 Iowa vs #11 Miami, ESPN 2

2:30 #2 Kentucky vs #7 Dayton, ESPN 2
2:30 #2 Baylor vs #10 Arkansas, ESPN 2

7:00 #3 Oregon State vs #11 Gonzaga, ESPN 2
7:00 #1 South Carolina vs #8 Syracuse, ESPN

9:00 #4 Cal vs #5 Texas, ESPN 2
9:00 #1 Notre Dame vs #9 DePaul, ESPN

Oh, and thanks, pilight, for keeping official track of this:

Note that this does not include the men’s play-in games. This is round of 64 vs round of 64. 

UPSET is any lower seed winning 

BIG UPSET happens when an upset involves teams more than four seeds apart 

CLOSE means a game was decided by single digits or in overtime 

BLOWOUT means a game was decided by 20 or more points 

80-90-100 is the number of teams scoring that many points

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There’s a vocal constituency that’s mighty cranky about coach McCallie’s coaching and post-game style. One can only imagine what they’ll say now that #16 Duke has lost three in a row. This time Georgia Tech was the topple-er, beating Duke for the first time since February,  1994.

For what it’s worth, if Duke can’t handle #15 North Carolina at home on March 1, they will match the four-loss streak that ended the ’93-94 season. Perhaps the Blue Devils can take some comfort in the fact that UNC barely escaped Virginia – needing a last-second putback to avoid overtime.

Speaking of upsets – HUGE win for St. Peter’s. Patty Coyle’s team took down Marist, 66-58.

Yes, I’m calling this an upset: Wake Forest got its second ACC win by defeating Miami, 60-59 on freshman Amber Campbell‘s second buzzer-beater of the season.

#19 Stanford traipsed into Corvallis and said, “No, #7 Beavers, thou shalt not take down this Tree and use it as a torch. Cardinal win, 69-58, handing Oregon State their first home loss this season. BTW, missed this tidbit: OSU’s current total of 25 wins in the most in school history.

Just when you think Gary Blair’s got his team figured outMizzou’s Maddie Stock nails a game-winning 3-pointer with 0.1 seconds left to lift the Tigers to a 70-69 win over #12 Texas A&M.

Georgia showed a little more fight, but Tennessee prevailed, 70-59. The loss of Izzy seems to have made the Ledger’s Dave Link a little anxious: Lady Vols seem to be slipping off national stage

Speaking of fight: let’s talk Richmond battling back to take #22 Georgetown into OT. The Spiders ran out of steam, though, and were outscored 14-2 in the extra five. Colonials win, 81-69.

And still speaking of fight – ya, Wisconsin is 8-19, but these last few games they’ve proven to be a tough out. #17 Iowa escapes, 78-74. That’s the 300th career win for coach Bluder.

Glad Debbie wasn’t on hand to call this one:#13 Kentucky was just able to keep ahead of Arkansas, 56-51. 

I’m guessing Maryland got a bit more of a fight than expected from Indiana, but the Terps prevailed, 83-72, earning their 20th straight win as Laurin Mincy scored 28pts, a career high.

Florida State made sure North Carolina State wouldn’t repeat their upset ways. In front of the largest home crowd in four years, it was the Seminoles over the Wolfpack, by 20. Their 26 regular season wins ties the school record. One more game to break it: season finale at Miami.

Both coach Frese and Semrau are on the latest Dishin and Swishin podcast.

In the Sun Belt, Arkansas Little-Rock, Arkansas State and Troy kept rollin’.

So did #2 South Carolina.

So did #4 Notre Dame, who shot a breathtaking 62% against Pittsburgh. Mechelle has a little something on The Jewell:

In our best Marlon Brando voice, we’re going to make you an offer you can’t refuse. Settle into your seats, indulge in some popcorn … and read about the Jewell Loyd movie marathon experience. Hope you don’t mind if the line between film hero and villain is sometimes a little ambiguous.

“‘The Godfather’ is kinda our family movie,” Loyd, the Notre Dame junior guard, said of her parents, older brother and herself. “I like the concept of family, loyalty and getting the job done.”

Then Loyd laughed and added, “Obviously, we’re not going to be beating anyone up or anything.”

Loyd took part in a bit of “reel talk” recently at espnW’s request, as she’s a film, television and theater major at Notre Dame.

Jewell’s coach talks about Fighting Through February.

“February is a grind,” McGraw said before a recent home game at Purcell Pavilion. “You’re ready for the tournaments to begin, you want to see where you’re going to finish and what the seeds are going to look like, but you know you have to get through February to get to March.”

#20 Rutgers’ return to anemic offense and inability to defend doomed them against #25 Northwestern, 80-60. Kinda makes ya wonder, can ya justify C. Vivian Stringer making $1.6M in 2014?

Of note: the Knights’ loss, combined with Minnesota’s loss to Nebraska on Tuesday, means that Ohio State’s 88-70 win over Penn State moves the Buckeyes up into fourth place in the B10 standings. Seems like the Ohio State is not interested in waiting till next year to be good.

You know what’s notable about Tom Keegan’s column, End nearing for Bonnie Henrickson? The thoughtful, informed comments.

Ah, the joys of Senior Night and a reviving program: Making her first start of the season, senior Teneka Whittaker set career highs with 16 points and eight rebounds to help Rhode Island to a 68-53 win over St. Louis. With the victory, Rhode Island has clinched at least a .500 record in conference play for the first time since 2003-04.

Speaking of reviving: Hello, Hawai’i! Big West champs. First time in 21 years. Nice job, third-year coach Beeman.

Not only has #24 Cal inched its way back in to the rankings, but their 74-59 victory over Oregon gave coach Lindsay Gottlieb her 100th win at Cal. She’s the quickest to the milestone in program history.

This is nice news to read on a cold February day: Lauren Hill makes it through full season despite tumor

The Mount St. Joseph’s women’s basketball team held its postseason banquet in a hospital room warmed by Lauren Hill’s smile.

The 19-year-old freshman made it through a full season while raising more than $1.3 million for research into the type of brain tumor that will likely end her life. She’s occasionally hospitalized for treatment now, but still holding to each day as tightly as she can and urging others to appreciate their time together.

A little W news from Lois Elfman: Epiphanny Prince returning to her Brooklyn roots

“To be able to come home and try to win the championship with my home team and do it in front of my family and friends is very exciting for me,” said Prince, 27, who made her Madison Square Garden debut at age 12, playing a halftime exhibition at a Knicks game, and won four PSAL titles with the Murry Bergtraum Lady Blazers. She’s played five seasons with the Chicago Sky, which went to the WNBA Finals last year.

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“WOOT!”

So, the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony is coming up soon, and I got to talk to some of the inductees. (SO MUCH FUN). The results are starting to appear over at Full Court: Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2014: Michelle Edwards — The Miracle of “Ice”

If someone had told a young Michelle Edwards that 2014 would find her preparing to be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, she might have reacted the same way she did when she got the news in 2013: Disbelief. But, perhaps, for a different reason than you might expect.

Growing up in Boston in the mid-70s, Edwards’ sport of choice didn’t sound like the squeak of sneakers on a court, but rather the “swoosh” of skis hurtling down a mountain.

“I actually was playing tennis and skiing,” explained Edwards. “It’s funny because my initial dream was to become the first African-American downhill skier.”

Basketball didn’t become a focus until her teens.

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Clemson fires coach Coleman

In other news:

From Kelly Kline at Full Court: SEC’s fresh faces make an immediate impact (part I)

From the ACC Tourney: Preeeeeetty!

From SMU: Rhonda Rompola’s conference championship run 30 years in the making

In 1981, the SMU women’s basketball team welcomed a junior transfer from Old Dominion.

Rhonda Rompola led the Mustangs in points with 683 total points per game with 21.3 points per game and 8.8 rebounds per game during the ’81-’82 season. She set and still holds school records for season scoring and free throw percentage.

A year later she graduated with a business degree, but… she never left. After graduating, she remained at SMU and worked as an assistant coach for eight years.

Thirty years after her arrival on the Hilltop, Rompola is the head coach of the Lady Mustangs and the team is experiencing one of its greatest season to date.

It’s a different kind of run: Stringer not ruling out WNIT

Unlike the last time the Rutgers women’s basketball team was in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament, coach C. Vivian Stringer is not dismissing the idea of accepting a WNIT berth if that is the fate that awaits Rutgers.

“I’m not going to say that we’re not going to go,” Stringer said after Thursday’s practice. “I’ll need to talk with my athletic director and our school and see what is best should that be an option. But to be honest with you, it’s not part of my DNA so I have not given even two seconds worth of conversation. I can’t think about that now. You’ve got to always think about doing what you can at the highest levels.”

Yah, we knew this: Marist perfectly situated in MAAC

Eighteen down. Three to go.

Having already turned in only the third 18-0 regular season by a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference basketball team — men’s or women’s — Marist College’s women will look to take the next step toward a perfect league season today, when the Red Foxes open the MAAC tournament in Springfield, Mass.

“Oh, we’re definitely excited,” said junior guard Leanne Ockenden, whose top-seeded Red Foxes (23-6) play in today’s 1:30 p.m. quarterfinals against No. 9 Manhattan. “We just want to get there and start playing.”

What’s this from Bleecher Report? Could Baylor’s Brittney Griner Play on a Men’s College Basketball Team?

The women’s game and the men’s game are comparable on several levels. At the core, both games are about dribbling, passing, cutting, shooting and working as a team. 

However, the differences are obvious. The best explanation for why a woman cannot play in the men’s game is that the game moves much faster. The players are much bigger, much stronger and much more physical. Almost too physical at times.

Jayda gives us this “good news” tweet: Jayda Evans@JaydaEvans  #WSU coach June Daugherty released from hospital. Not attending shoot-around/questionable for tonight’s gm v No. 4 Card

and this WATN? Kate Starbird, former basketball star, chooses a different route — as usual

Kate Starbird does what she can to brighten her dreary fourth-floor office at Sieg Hall. A picture of her newborn nephew is above her desk. A cluster of succulent plants sits below a window looking out onto the University of Washington campus.

Starbird, 37, is a first-year assistant professor in UW’s Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering and director of the Emerging Capacities of Mass Participation laboratory. In English, that means she teaches how social media is used in crisis situations and how to design better applications for digital volunteers.

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“wearin’ o’ the pink,” but at least we don’t have women dressed as bumble bees, RuPaul rejects and… well, I’m not sure WHAT this is. Athletes as Skittles?

On to the important stuff:

It wasn’t easy, but the CU Buffs slipped past Oregon on road. CU has its longest conference win streak since an eight-game streak from Jan. 12-Feb. 6, 2002.

As for the Ducks, freshman Jillian Alleyne a bright spot for struggling Oregon

The 18-year-old has recorded a team-high 10 double-doubles this season, and is one of just 39 players in NCAA Division-I women’s basketball to be averaging a double-double (13.1 points per game, 12 rebounds per game). She is just 41 rebounds shy of the single-season rebounding record set by former Duck standout — and former Oregon coach — Bev Smith.

All this has led Ducks coach Paul Westhead to say that he thinks Alleyne could be the best player to ever come out of Oregon, a distinction usually given to Smith.

More on the West Cost teams: Cooper, Westhead struggle in Pac-12

From the NBA legacies that defined their careers, to the Los Angeles Lakers’ 1980 championship, to WNBA titles, to Pac-12 women’s basketball, Michael Cooper and Paul Westhead represent a bevy of basketball intersections.

And now one more.

Both find themselves occupying the same awkward space, the subject of disappointment and “evaluation” by their respective athletic directors, who have to be seriously contemplating whether either will still be head coach next season.

At Southern California, the Women of Troy are having the toughest season of Cooper’s four-year tenure.

From Ryan Dunleavy: Rutgers women’s basketball NCAA hopes precarious

When it snapped an ill-timed four-game losing streak Tuesday night by beating South Florida, the Rutgers women’s basketball team added a few believers to a following clinging to hopes of an NCAA Tournament berth. The nation’s leading expert on the subject isn’t part of the crowd, however.

Richard Kent asks: What is C. Vivian Stringer’s future at Rutgers?

Stringer’s team (15-12, 6-8 Big East) boasts 6 McDonald’s All-Americans, many more than no. 1 Baylor and no. 2 Notre Dame, yet they have fallen to 9-18 Seton Hall and 10-17 Boston College and lost by 16 to Princeton of the Ivy League.

Her mentor, John Chaney, former Temple coach says that she doesn’t have top talent and that some of her assistants should be fired. Former Stringer player at Iowa, Nadine Domond, now running HoopGurlz for ESPN called her talent good, but not at a UConn or Baylor level.

One of the top coaches in the game was not bashful in saying that if Geno Auriemma had Stringer’s talent, Rutgers would be a Final Four team and if Stringer had the UConn players, they would struggle in the Sweet 16.

There’s a lot of coaching on Beth Mowins and Debbie Antonelli’s podcast. They also interview Notre Dame players Skylar Diggins and Kayla McBride.

Another team hoping to be inside the bubble: UW women’s basketball team battling odds for NCAA ticket

In the past two weeks of a remarkable regular season, the Washington women’s basketball team played its worst game against Utah, lost consecutive road games and had three players suspended for its biggest game yet, Thursday’s matchup against No. 4 Stanford.

A finish with potential records and awards appears to be spiraling down faster than UW coach Kevin McGuff can put a plug in the drain.

Rob Clough at Full Court says: ACC scramble to the finish is critical for NCAA bids

As the ACC enters its final week, there’s not a lot of mystery regarding the top of the league. The only question left regarding Duke is whether or not they can run the table and finish 18-0. We’ll see how much motivation and emotion they can summon after beating Florida State and Maryland in the span of three days.  For the rest of the league, there’s still a good bit at stake, including jockeying for position in the ACC tournament and the potential for making statement wins to draw the eye of the NCAA selection committee.  I’ll also dole out my ACC awards. RPI information was culled from realtimerpi.com.

Also at FullCourt, Kelly writes: The last week will tell the tale in the SEC, Pac-12 and Big East

The final week of the NCAA regular season is kind of like the final episode of a reality show — a lot of drama is unfolding. Three major conferences (the Southeast, Big East and Pac-12) have yet to crown a regular season champion, which means the pressure will be on all through these final days.

Cal is close to sharing a title  in a tight PAC12 race.

They’ll will the Ivy regular season title, but Harvard made sure Princeton paid attention to the Crimson, giving the Tigers their first in-conference loss.

Yup: The Saint Bonaventure Bonnies: What a difference a year makes

In W news, as Bill rebuilds the Newark Shock, Mechelle says: Laimbeer puts personal touch on Lib – New York coach isn’t optimistic that Deanna Nolan will play this season

One thing you’d never call Bill Laimbeer is a sentimentalist. His Liberty team might have familiar faces from his days as Detroit’s coach. But that’s only because he thinks those players can help New York now. The past is past. He’s thinking of the future.

From Tulsa, Mike Brown has some words from the newest member of the Shock:

“I’m so excited to play in Tulsa,” Candice Wiggins said. “I want to thank the city of Minneapolis for all it’s given me. I want to thank the coaches, the players, the fans and people of Minnesota for their support. Tulsa is a warm place and I have always loved playing in the BOK Center. I’m excited be a part of this organization. I want to thank Tulsa for this golden opportunity for me to bring my talent to this righteous city.”

Nate says Tulsa scores in three team deal with Minnesota, New York

BTW: Sheeeeeee’s baaaaak: Mishicot High School graduate Wojta signs with WNBA’s Silver Stars

Need to keep up on the player movement? Go here.

And yes, it’s been One Nnek Of A Year

“The transitions have been quick and I’ve had to really get used to a different type of lifestyle so quickly,” Ogwumike said. “But it’s been so much fun going from playing my senior year, playing in the Final Four, then going straight to L.A. to play for the Sparks, then going straight from L.A. to Poland.

“It’s been quite a whirlwind.”

Did you know we’re Seven weeks away from WNBA history?

Mark your calendars: We’re exactly seven weeks out from the 2013 WNBA draft. For the first time in the league’s 17-year history, the draft will be carried live on prime time television (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2).

Speaking of history: Bingham coach Ramussen, one of the all-time winningest coaches in state history steps down.

Rand Rasmussen already knows his son won’t understand.

The Bingham girls’ basketball coach is 39 wins away from breaking the state’s all-time record for victories.That’s basically two seasons for the Miners.

Why retire? Why now?

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C Viv finally gets her 900th win courtesy of the USF Bulls. (Really, coach, you didn’t realize it?) Writes Mechelle

Sometimes it will surprise her young charges when Rutgers women’s basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer casually drops a pop-culture reference into conversation. Beyonce this or Ne-Yo that. It’s actually not calculated on her part, but rather stuff she has picked up.

“I think that in order to continue to relate well to young people, you need to be current,” Stringer said. “And developing those relationships — that’s not draining to me. While the job itself can be stressful, I’m always rejuvenated by working with young people.”

After Rutgers snapped a four-game losing streak Tuesday, Stringer picked up her 900th victory as the Scarlett Knights beat South Florida. It was a historical win for the Rutgers program and for Stringer, putting her in the 900-win group of women’s coaches, joining Pat Summitt, Jody Conradt and Sylvia Hatchell.

Speaking of legends: With the most recent Pat Summitt book hitting the stands, Mechelle says, UConn-Tennessee rivalry missed

In the end, barriers between Auriemma and Summitt went up, and the programs’ scintillating on-court rivalry was the casualty.

Deep down, though, you sensed they always knew they had pushed each other to greater heights. You wondered what it might take to bring just enough of a thaw for them to really talk again.

However … the sport went on without the UConn-Tennessee game, with the women’s hoops calendar finding other big clashes to take its place. UConn-Stanford, UConn-Notre Dame and UConn-Baylor, for example, have all gotten larger spotlights. And that has helped the growth of game, too.

Do we miss UConn-Tennessee? We miss what it was at its best: two coaching legends matching wits, some of the best players in NCAA women’s history facing off, and backed up by legitimately large fan bases who bring the best (and worst) of college sports fanaticism.

A side note on the excerpt from the book that was published in Sports Illustrated. It revisits the reason Summitt ended the series: recruiting.

“I didn’t itemize my complaints publicly then, and I’m not going to now,” she wrote. “I went through the appropriate channels and that’s how it will stay. I made my concerns known to UConn through our athletic director, Joan Cronan, and the Southeastern Conference. UConn responded that they saw nothing wrong with what they were doing. I made my concerns known again. Same response.

Anyone who follows women’s basketball recruiting knows the published facts behind this: A complaint was filed with the NCAA by the SEC (on behalf of Tennessee) and UConn was found to have committed “secondary” violations. Clearly, Summitt’s issues are not with the secondary violation, since

as defined in Bylaw 19.02.2.1, a secondary violations one that provides only a limited recruiting or competitive
advantage and is isolated or inadvertent in nature. If the Committee on Infractions determines that repeated secondary
violations have occurred and that the institution is not taking appropriate action to prevent such violations, a penalty
appropriate for a major violation may be imposed.

Tennessee, for instance just recently self-reported secondary violations.

So, what I don’t understand is why coach Summitt won’t itemize her complaints. If she had UConn dead to rights on violations, we can only hope the NCAA would kick their butt (witness the UConn men’s program.). But they didn’t. If there are behavior issues, call ’em out. Break the culture of silence. Without doing that all we have is more of the same “you know what you did” v. “why don’t you say what I did.”

Blick.

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Sylvia hits it and CViv nears it (though DePaul said, “not on our watch.“). From Mechelle: Stringer on verge of 900th win – Rutgers’ women’s coach will become fourth to reach accomplishment

Rutgers got victory No. 899 for Stringer on Saturday against Cincinnati, moving the team to 14-8 overall and 5-4 in the Big East. It has been a frustrating season at times for the Scarlet Knights, who are trying to avoid missing the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2002.

Stringer, in her 42nd year as a head coach, has been through countless highs and lows during successful runs at Cheyney State, Iowa and Rutgers. It’s a career marked by professional triumphs and personal tragedies, plus a few controversies — some of which, such as the 2007 Don Imus mess, were completely out of Stringer’s control.

Others, though, she has contributed to herself. Such as when her frustration boiled over Friday as she was questioned by Newark Star-Ledger columnist Dave D’Alessandro about her team’s difficulties, which follow three consecutive early-round exits from the NCAA tournament.

From Doug Feinberg: 900-win club will welcome a few new members soon

Sylvia Hatchell just got there. It’s only a matter of time before her friend C. Vivian Stringer joins her. But there won’t be many more coaches entering the 900-win club. Women’s basketball is getting more competitive, and the pressure of the job is growing, too.

There was a time when women’s basketball was an afterthought to athletic departments. Head coaches were hired right out of college and success on the court wasn’t necessarily as important as Title IX compliance. Now that’s not the case, and more money is at stake.

(Apologies for the crowded layout, but I seem to be in formatting hell at the moment)
Just sayin’: St. Francis (NY) wins again.
BTW, how did I miss that St. Francis (PA)’s coach had moved to Providence?  ‘Splains stuff.
Nice to see Fordham get a bounce back win.
St. John’s continues to fight to make their case for being inside the tourney bracket bubble.
Ooofta: American goes down hard to unheralded Lehigh. Looks like Navy is sailing away with the Patriot League, though Army is nipping on their heels.
A snow postponement only put off the inevitable: Quinnipiac moves to 11-0 in the NEC.
Speaking of inevitable: Princeton learns from Ivy blowouts
A sweet battle in the A-10 was settled in OT: St. Josephs 69, Duquesne 68. But folks better pay attention to Charlotte who, under second year coach Cara Consuerga, have recovered nicely from Aston departing for North Texas/Texas. They’re now 8-1 in the conference.
They had to come back from a 13-pt deficit, but Western Kentucky is still moving forward. They sit at 10-4 in the Sunbelt.
We’ve seen the pink, so we know what time it is: Play 4Kay: Feb. 17-18

Play 4Kay, formerly known as the WBCA Pink Zone and February Frenzy, will showcase an event-high 24 teams across ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3 and WatchESPN, including eight regionalized games in high definition within two telecast windows Sunday and a Big Monday doubleheader. In all, 12 ranked teams and 18 State Farm Wade Trophy hopefuls, including Baylor’s Brittney Griner and Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins, will take part in Play 4Kay games. Some of the featured contests include No. 4 Stanford at No. 15 UCLA, No. 9 Kentucky at No. 11 Texas A&M and top-ranked Baylor at No. 3 Connecticut.

Throughout the games, ESPN also will encourage fans to contribute to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund at Play4Kay.org.

We don’t want to get all “Steel Magnolias” on you here, but you can probably imagine this. Your best friend has recently found out she has cancer. You’re both reeling. But you’re also the fiercely optimistic “let’s figure out what to do next” kind of people.

Oklahoma women’s basketball assistant coach Jan Ross was diagnosed with breast cancer this past April. After an initial meeting with a surgeon, her boss, best pal and former college teammate — Sooners coach Sherri Coale — came by her house.

“Our conversation for about two-and-a-half hours would shift between going through these pamphlets with diagrams of what’s going on in your body and trying to understand all the medical lingo,” Coale said, “while there was some Tom Hanks movie on in the background.

“And a couple of times, we’d look up and say, ‘That was a great line,’ and she rewound it, and we’d watch a scene and laugh until we were crying. Then go back to this medical jargon. For us, it was just our friendship as usual … with this curveball thrown in.”

Amused that the dateline says “Notre Dame, Indiana”: Former Women’s Basketball Players Reunite At Pink Zone Game

As the clock ticked down on an eventual 64-42 victory for the University of Notre Dame women’s basketball team over Cincinnati, a very special group of onlookers got to soak in the growth of the program that they, themselves, had helped get its roots. All told, 27 former club players, coaches and members of the first women’s basketball varsity basketball team of 1977 made the return trek to campus to take in the festivities.

For a group that pioneered the game at the University, it was quite a sight to behold being back at the Joyce Center, but one that they knew could be expected once the growth of the sport was fully realized.

“You have to start somewhere,” said former Irish women’s club player Judy King. “When I was in grade school we were told that playing basketball wasn’t lady like. When I started playing in high school we played 6-man basketball. I was the first player at my high school to “rove” a complete game. No one had ever considered that possibility. It took Notre Dame a while to figure out what committing to co-education involved. I figured once they committed to scholarships and top notch coaching the program would excel. The fan base the team enjoys now is topping on the cake!”

About that Big Monday game — here’s a preview: Baylor vs. UConn. And another.

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we find that CViv is cranky: Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer blasts her critics as she nears 900 career victories

Stringer, who has an 898-326 career mark over 41-plus seasons, vigorously defended her program this afternoon, sprinkling in several expletives. She said the only opinion she listens to is that of athletic director Tim Pernetti.

“I could (not) care less about any of those people,” Stringer said of her critics. “The only thing that matters to me is Tim Pernetti. He needs to be who he is supposed to be and step up and declare who you are, and that’s it. I don’t care about anybody else. ”

There’s also a little Cviv flashback from the Des Moines Register: Another View: 1993 tested the rule on ‘no crying in journalism’

For athletes and sports fans, the seasons of glory tend to stay in your mind forever. Championships clinched, big games won and the chance to breathe some rarified air are what anyone who loves sports wants to experience.

In Iowa, 1993 was a year with plenty of that rarified air, and I’ve been thinking about that year — specifically the 1992-93 basketball season — a lot lately. Yet in my mind, I don’t remember it as a season of glory. It was a season of grief.

Another coach who is feeling the heat: Utes blow out Oregon

Another coach who is feeling the heat: No. 4 Stanford women’s basketball team routs Arizona 73-43

A coach that’s bringing the heat: No. 6 Cal women’s basketball takes down hapless Arizona State

With the way the Cal women’s basketball team has been playing, Arizona State would’ve needed more than a deal with the devil to win.

The Bears soundly defeated the Sun Devils, 66-53, in Haas Pavilion Friday night to cement their eighth consecutive win.

Coach G tweets: Lindsay Gottlieb ‏@CalCoachG Talia Caldwell is 1st Cal WBB player in Haas school of biz. She’s now 1st Haas student, male or female, to have 1,000pts. We are very proud.

From Greg Alan Edwards: UK Hoops, TV, and The Real World: A Mini Rant

As most of you know, we have been doing live blogs, in-game and post-game coverage of the UK Hoops Squad all season and back into last year. We have made a conscious effort to improve the coverage, do more insight work on the players, and to make Women’s Hoops a priority here at A Sea Of Blue.

On Tuesday, WKYM did a segment with Coach Mitchell about the fact that the UK women have been filling Memorial Coliseum in game after game as the team as climbed in national prominence. So what happens when the season hits it’s peak and the drive to the finish kicks in? We lose the TV coverage.

Speaking of TV, Mechelle previews: Terps’ season still full of potential – Game will help decide ACC — and which center is the best in the league

I was sitting courtside at the XL Center in Hartford in early December waiting for Maryland to take the floor for shootaround when something caught my eye. Looking like the Imperial Walker from the “Star Wars” movies, four very long crutches emerged from the locker room tunnel and clank-clanked their way to the court. Attached to the crutches was Maryland’s starting backcourt — Brene Moseley and Laurin Mincy — both lost for the season with torn ACLs. Behind them was another be-crutched ACL casualty, 6-foot-7 Essence Townsend. And attached to all of those crutches, I thought, was Maryland’s chance at an ACC title and run to the Final Four.

Speaking of the surprising Terps, Graham offers up: Little gets between Hawkins, rebound – When discussing nation’s top seniors, Maryland forward must be in the mix

The job Tianna Hawkins hopes to land when she is done with basketball is considerably more consequential than one in which success and failure are separated by points on a scoreboard. If her career plan comes to pass, her future team will be that of a presidential protective detail with the United States Secret Service, the federal law enforcement agency with which the University of Maryland criminology major interned two summers ago.

The skills that set her apart in one endeavor seem far removed from those she might need in the other, a smooth jump shot from the elbow or nose for the ball presumably not the first thing the Secret Service looks for on a résumé. 

Then again, nothing much gets between one of college basketball’s best offensive rebounders and her current inanimate protectee — not the thicket of bodies in the paint, not fatigue. Not anything.

Speaking of injuries: No. 11 Louisville thrives despite rash of injuries

Few teams can afford to lose one key player without damaging chemistry or competitiveness.

Louisville is down four and yet is two games better than this point last season minus two regulars. The No. 11 Cardinals (19-4, 7-2 Big East Conference) enter Saturday’s home game against Pittsburgh aiming to extend their five-game winning streak before traveling to No. 2 Notre Dame on Monday night.

Stuff on the W: Beth and Debbie discuss the latest WNBA news, get ready for a Big Monday doubleheader and talk to Connecticut Sun head coach Ann Donovan.

From Nate: What the Temeka Johnson and Noelle Quinn signings mean for the Seattle Storm

For years now, the Seattle Storm have tried to find someone to serve as an alternate distributor when Sue Bird is injured or needing to rest.

Yesterday’s signings of Temeka Johnson and Noelle Quinn are this season’s attempt to fill that role of distributor whenever Bird is off the floor.

From thewiz06: Washington Mystics Offseason: A roundtable with three fellow Mystics fans on what they would like to see for 2013

thewiz also looks at the Lib: How will Bill Laimbeer make his mark on the team?

M Robinson has an Interview with former USC guard Jacki Gemelos about pursuing her WNBA dream with the Minnesota Lynx

The .com has Five Games to Watch in 2013

The Messenger is back, and he’s Helping Americans Understand Overseas Leagues

Whenever I speak of our Indiana Fever players playing overseas — whether in China, Australia, Israel, Turkey, Russia or elsewhere in Europe — I frequently sense that the conversations lead to more questions than actual answers. Certainly the cultures and languages are often different; and certainly there are rules that are different and in many leagues, there are limitations on the number of foreigners or Americans that can play; and salaries, sponsors and attendance all vary greatly. Those discrepancies vary from league-to-league and from country-to-country.

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UNC got coach Hatchell her 900th win with a healthy stomping of Boston College.

North Carolina women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell never misses an opportunity to market her team, whether it’s printing shirts in her kitchen, buying ads in the student newspaper or driving a car that’s fully wrapped with promotional material.

When it came time to celebrate Hatchell’s own accomplishment Thursday, her players returned the favor. Sophomore guard Erika Johnson designed hats with the words “Sylvia Hatchell 900 wins,” which everyone on the team wore proudly after the Tar Heels defeated Boston College 80-52.

“I am so excited for her,” Johnson said. “It’s just cool to be in the presence of someone who has accomplished so much.”

Mechelle has Hatchell’s milestone moments.

Three ranked SEC teams had surprising battles on their hands, but prevailed.

In OT, it was Kentucky over Arkansas, 80-74.

Auburn served notice, pushing Georgia until the Bulldogs prevails, 61-58.

Graves continues to impress. Her steal and last bucket secured Tennessee’s two-point win over LSU.

Marist is rollin’, rollin’, rollin‘.

Woot! Woot! Da Penguins are at 6-2 in the Horizon.

Hello, Sam Houston — with their win over McNeese St., they get a little revenge (the Cowgirls gave them their only conference loss) and are now 9-1 in the Southland.

That sigh of relief may have come out of Michigan: the Wolverines get back on the winning side with their 72-69 win over Illinois.

Whoa! Lookee here! Ball State took down Central Michigan, 68-61! That puts them in a tie for the best record in the (entire) MAC.

Another upset: North Dakota (5-8 Big Sky) defeats Montana St (8-5).

Montana (10-3) kept pace, though, losing to Northern Colorado (9-3), 54-41.

A near upset: Green Bay(8-0, Horizon) squeaked by Loyola (IL) (2-5), 65-62.

The wheels seem to have come off the Presbyterian (8-4 Big South) bus: they lost to Gardner-Webb (4-7, Big South), 55-38. It was coach Reeves 400th win.

In a key C-USA match up, it was an undermanned Tulane (6-2) over UTEP (5-3). (Contrary to what the ESPN scoreboard said earlier.)

Ouch. Pacific  (8-2, Big West) got some national attention, but couldn’t take down Cal Poly (7-3).

Hawai’i is 7-2 in the Big West. I’m just sayin’.

Jen Azzi’s Dons still have a ways to go: Gonzaga (9-1) dismissed them, 84-46.

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So, anyone think that UConn’s Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis is the stealthiest Player of the Year contender out there? Consider her stats and ignore the fact that she’s a sophomore. It’s got to be Griner, KLM, and then the Big O.

In other Big East news, ‘nova gave Notre Dame fits until the end, but the Irish prevailed. That makes win #700 for McGraw. Rebecca has 5 Questions with sharpshooter Kayla McBride

Speaking of 900, Respected coach Stringer approaches milestone as she nears contract year

Hampton keeps rollin’ in the MEAC.

The Mocs are rockin’ in the Southern.

The Q is still undefeated in the NEC.

Speaking of the NEC, the LIU Blackbirds surprised the heck outta St. Francis (PA), with New Zelander Whippy (what a great name!) going for 14 & 15. And, no, I’m not calling turnaround, but heck, St. Francis (NY) won again! This time in overtime.

Now sitting at 11-0 in the conference, the Eagles took down the Ospreys by 16 behind nice games from two more great names: Iamstrong (think about it for a minute) and Chatzigiakoumi (think about pronouncing that after a minute). BTW, their coach is paid more than the FGCU men’s coach is.

Michigan State took Michigan down a notch or three, 61-46.

I’m thinking Texas A& M is liking the SEC, what with six wins in a row and all that.

Maybe tomorrow’s game will be the 900th charm. From Mechelle: Hatchell savors spot on sideline – UNC coach on verge of becoming just third women’s coach to win 900 games

To reach a milestone like 900 victories, you really need to relish what you’re doing. How much does North Carolina women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell — who goes for win No. 900 Thursday at Boston College — enjoy her job? We offer this: She actually loves running summer basketball camps.

Most college coaches do them each year, but some much more grudgingly than others. Hatchell, though, is always excited to see the campers, to watch even the least-skilled youngsters work on getting better, to experience the excitement that they still have about the game.

“She’s there when the kids show up, she’s eating in the cafeteria with them, she’s visible all the time,” said her husband, Sammy Hatchell, a fellow hoops coach. “We’ve been doing camps for over 30 years, and she still loves it.”

Helloooooo, Blue Jays! Graham has his mid-major poll: Near-perfect Nelson leads No. 4 Creighton

The perfect game is not an unfamiliar concept at Creighton, where the baseball team is a regular participant in the NCAA tournament and plays its home games at TD Ameritrade Park, home of the College World Series.

But what Sarah Nelson did Saturday against Drake is about as close as a basketball player can come to the elegant efficiency of a baseball pitcher retiring 27 consecutive batters.

Nelson finished with 19 points, seven assists, seven rebounds, three blocks and a steal in 28 minutes in her team’s 98-71 victory. That’s good on its own, but she put up those totals while hitting 8-of-9 shots from the field, including her only 3-point attempt, and both of her attempts from the free throw line. She also didn’t commit a turnover.

There were more prolific weekend scoring lines, but that’s as close to all-around perfection as one player is likely to come this season. It also came from a player used to working without much margin for error.

West Coast Michelle offers up some Golden Bear news: Cal’s Brandon transforms her game

On the court, Gennifer Brandon is tenacious, energetic, aggressive, even willing to curse when the occasion calls for it.

But sitting in front of you in her coaches’ conference room before practice, Brandon radiates a gentle spirit. She smiles broadly, speaks quietly, is unfailingly polite, and the pink headband she’s wearing, well, it only reinforces the image of a sweet girl who becomes something else when she walks onto the floor.

It’s a fitting contrast for someone whose life has been and remains full of transformations.

Beth and Debbie talk to Cal’s Brittany Boyd and Layshia Clarendon about their chances of dethroning Stanford in the PAC 12.

Jayda asks: Poll: Which team has a better chance of making it to the NCAA tournament   and says, Washington’s run helping conference grab more respect

At Full Court, Sue Favor asks, Is the Pac-12 actually worthy of respect?

Also at Full Court, Bob Corwin talks youngsters: Paging the Prairie for Prospects

Over at Swish Appeal, the SBN Roundtable ponders: How might we compare Cal, Kentucky, Maryland, Penn State, and Tennessee? (I’m thinking it’s not to a summer day…)

Zack Ward has an interview: Despite injuries, Thomas sees improved Terp team

So does M Robinson: Interview: Dawn Staley on S. Carolina’s 19-3 start

About the W. The Good News is: WNBA unveils 2013 game schedule

The Bad News Is: No LJ.

Swish Appeal is all over it: Lauren Jackson to miss season, Ann Wauters Cut and they wonder How can Seattle get younger and still contend?

Lots of other stuff happening with teams (Flurry of transactions prompt WNBA to update free agent pool), which prompts James Bowman to ask: How do you replace Lindsey Harding?

The Wiz06 asks What should the Dream do in the offseason?

In New York City and have nothing to do this Friday at 6pm?

 
Director: Angela Gorsica Alford
Run Time: 73 minutes, Language: English
Screening: Friday, February 8, 6PM
Barnard College, 3009 Broadway, Held Auditorium

Adult Tickets Student Tickets

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Synopsis: Granny’s Got Game is a documentary film about a senior women’s basketball team in North Carolina. These seven fiercely competitive women in their seventies battle physical limitations and skepticism to keep doing what they love. The film follows them for a year as they compete for another National Senior Games championship. After two decades together, these women are more than a team…they are a family.

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A Q&A with Coach Stringer about the 40th Anniversary of Title IX

When you think back on your life, how might it have been different with Title IX?

I didn’t have the advantage of a Title IX. As a result, I saw women in the more traditional roles (housewife, teacher, etc.). Now, you see women doing everything. They’re CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. I think, with Title IX, I might have been given a full scholarship to play basketball. Think about it, maybe I would’ve wanted to become a doctor. Who knows? But I couldn’t have done that. Look at how many women simply couldn’t afford to go to college. I was a poor kid.

Another Q&A, this time with Ann Meyers Drysdale: The former basketball star, the first female athlete to receive a four-year scholarship from UCLA, discusses the landmark equal-rights legislation Title IX (passed 40 years ago) and her new memoir

Q: What athletic performance — your own included — would you point to as the ultimate validation of Title IX?

“For me, it has to be my own. . . . We didn’t have enough money for me to ever attend UCLA, but because of Title IX, I got an education at UCLA. I think my Pacers tryout is part of the history of Title IX, as well. I know Lynette Woodard, an All-American at Kansas, told me it gave her the courage to try out for the Harlem Globetrotters, and I’d hope it gave others the courage to pursue their dreams.”

Michelle Smith writes about a couple of folks who’ve benefited from Title IX: Guard play puts Sun atop East

Kara Lawson, in her 10th season in the league, is experiencing the best start of her career. Through Sunday, she is averaging 13.8 points a game (second on the team) and has scored in double figures in 10 straight contests. Through 12 games, she has established career-best numbers in scoring, minutes played (29.0), field goal percentage (52.5), 3-point percentage (47.1) and free throw percentage (94.9).

Lawson, in the best shape of her career after switching to a vegan diet late in 2011, is also motivated to avoid being brought off the bench again as she was last season.

“It wasn’t something that I liked, but I don’t think anybody likes that,” Lawson said. “Nobody grows up dreaming of coming off the bench or wanting to be a role player. Everybody wants an opportunity to play a significant role and I would expect nothing less.”

Missed Mechelle’s chat from last week, and she was in rare form:

Judith (Broiling in DC):  After the Mystics’ loss to NY on June 8 that dropped DC to 1-5, Trudi Lacey required every player on the the team to write her a letter, at least one-page long, about why the team couldn’t finish and was losing. Since then, they eked out a 1-point win over Indy (scoring only 7 points in the last quarter), were blown out by LA, and last night couldn’t beat the Mercury bench. If you were a Mystics player writing a letter today to Trudi, what would it say?

Mechelle Voepel: “Trade me, please?” But that woudn’t take up a whole page, unless I wrote in first-grade script. I just think the vibe there is hard to overcome. Although I guess you could say there are a few other WNBA teams now that aren’t experiencing roses and sunshine, either.

From Richard (you can tell he’s an Alien because he insists on adding extra vowels.): WNBA Today, 06/24/2012: Favourites all cement their superiority. Just.

Sorry for the lack of post yesterday – it’s been a busy few days in WNBAlien-land. Everything should be back to normal next week. For now, we’re going to catch up on Friday night’s game, as well as everything that happened on Saturday. Everyone who was supposed to win eventually took care of business, but some of them did it with far greater ease than others.

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Pat Summitt’s career remembered by C. Vivian Stringer and Anne Donovan

“For such a long time, Pat Summitt has been the gatekeeper for women’s basketball,” said Rutgers coach C.Vivian Stringer, a longtime friend of Summit’s. Her contributions to the game go far beyond the 1,098 victories and eight National Championships. It’s about impact she has had on every Lady Vol that has come through that program to the countless others across the globe whose lives she has touched – those are things that make Pat special. She represents a pillar of strength and a source of inspiration for all of us.

“This news saddens me because I have personally shared so many conversations with her as it relates to everything from basketball to family life. I feel like a piece of me has left the game and there is no bigger loss to women’s basketball. Although the world will miss seeing her on the sidelines, I know Pat will continue to be a rock for the Tennessee program in her new role.”

**

“Pat Summitt has been the most significant coach in the women’s game to date,” Donovan said today. “In addition to her unparalleled success in coaching, Pat’s legacy is now about her courage, strength and class in one of life’s biggest challenges. Our game is losing a legendary teacher, mentor and role model. Even though she may not be on the bench, Pat’s impact will continue to be felt in the thousands of women and men whose lives she has touched, mine included. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to play for and work under the best, Pat Summitt.”

From Gene Wojciechowski at ESPN: Tennessee’s Summitt changed game

You can make the argument — without apology or hesitation — that Pat Summitt is the greatest college basketball coach of our time. At the very least, she’s in the starting five.

And it’s not because she won more games than any other Division I coach from A (Geno Auriemma) to K (Mike Krzyzewski) to W (John Wooden). Or that she has the same number of national championships as Krzyzewski and Adolph Rupp combined. Or that in the 31 years there’s been an NCAA women’s basketball tournament, her team has been in it every year — and won eight times.

Greatness isn’t measured simply by victories. It is measured by the depth and width of a coach’s impact on the sport itself, on the players, on the university they represent. Find me another basketball coach who transformed and legitimized her sport more than Summitt. Find me another basketball coach whose legacy exceeds hers. I can wait.

Graham: Summitt is face of Title IX generation

Everything and nothing changed Wednesday in Knoxville, Tenn.

News that Pat Summitt is stepping aside as head coach at the University of Tennessee to accept the role of head coach emeritus, leaving control of the women’s basketball program to longtime assistant Holly Warlick, comes as little surprise precisely because it is the inverse of the shocking news that came almost a year ago, when Summitt informed the world she had been diagnosed with early-onset dementia. Nobody saw the former coming. Sadly, everybody saw this coming.

Dick Vitale: Pat Summitt leaves incredible legacy

I was sorry to hear that Pat Summitt was retiring as Tennessee women’s basketball head coach.

My friends, she was the best of the best in college basketball, men’s or women’s. In fact, she was one of the greatest coaches of any sport.

Check out the games on ESPN classic: ESPN’s Coverage Plans Surrounding Summitt

And for some needed smiles, check out the hair and clothes “through the ages.”

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WNBA’s Tulsa Shock retain Kathy McConnell-Miller as assistant coach

Lynx re-sign and trade Hornbuckle to Phoenix for draft pick

Stringer calls RU’s passion into question. Disconcerting, since Rutgers has to face UConn tonight. Without Rushdan.

Marist women could make history Saturday

Green Bay’s Lukan strives to be all-around player

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the fit in nicely with the Fighting Camels, Stormy Petrels and the Banana Slugs… YSU responds to coach’s challenge

Some stuff on the games tonight in Jersey:

Tough schedule tests Tigers’ new defense

Rutgers women host Tennessee in a chance for Scarlet Knights to prove their worth

Freshman class shines at Rutgers

Hall of Fame coaches meet in key matchup

Tennessee’s Pat Summitt wages a battle that inspires Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer

Vivian Stringer always counts Pat Summitt as a friend

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From at the Herald: Miami Hurricanes face tough home test against Rutgers

Final exams start on Wednesday at the University of Miami and, typically, this would be a tough week for women’s basketball coach Katie Meier to keep her players focused on upcoming games. Not this week.

The ninth-ranked Hurricanes play 11th-ranked Rutgers Monday night at the BankUnited Center, and the game “absolutely has our attention,” Meier said.

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Rutgers’ Stringer Coaching Two Generations of Laneys

It’s not true that ageless Hall of Fame Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer has been stalking the sidelines forever.

Yet it could seem that way since this season she would be arguably in a rare situation for now having guided one all-American star in the past and now beginning this season her daughter with equal potential.

Betnijah Laney, a 6-0 freshman guard-forward out of Clayton, Delaware, and Smyrna High, is part of the Scarlet Knights heralded group of newcomers, arriving with Briyona Canty of Willingboro, N.J., and Trenton Catholic possessing McDonald’s All-American honors among a list of accolades.

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Congrats to Mary Fleig who teaches at coaches Millersville U.  And wins basketball games. 500, to date.

To be the best coach she could be, Fleig went to different clinics to learn some tricks of the trade from top college coaches such as the late Jim Valvano and Dean Smith, to name a few. She also respects what coaches like Pat Summitt and Vivian Stringer have done for women’s basketball.

“I think it’s important for young coaches to attend clinics and watch and learn different concepts,” Fleig said. “The main ingredient of being a successful coach is being able to teach [offense and defense], and have a philosophy of the game. You also have to instill discipline. Kids and professional athletes … everybody needs discipline and accountability. Those are my two biggest things about coaching.”

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Childhood Dreams Become Reality for Rutgers Walk-on

On a crisp Autumn morning inside the Rutgers Athletic Center, sophomore Brittany Lapidus sat observing her teammates being approached Thursday from those making the rounds at the Scarlet Knights’ annual media day.

Though Lapidus may not have been high on the interview list for those seeking to hear pearls of wisdom from those expected to do the heavy lifting this season for Hall of Fame coach C.Vivian Stringer, the 5-foot-7 guard from Marlboro, N.J., was just thrilled to be part of the contingent in a new role.

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Rushdan’s Hour At Rutgers

…At Big East media day Thursday morning in New York City, Rushdan sat as the lone player representative along with Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer at the table reserved for Rutgers interviews.

“Time’s flying,” Rushdsan smiled. “I can’t believe I’m at the end of my fourth season, especially in collegiate basketball. It’s been fun. I’ve learned a lot. But I’m excited for the season.”

It will be a challenging one considering the Scarlet Knights are going with a reduced roster of just nine players.

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