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SI/AP:  A few things to watch at the women’s championship game

Carl Adamec: Syracuse the final hurdle for Huskies, Stewart

As an eight-year-old living in North Syracuse, New York, Breanna Stewart took a ride downtown with her father in April, 2003, to watch the parade celebrating the Syracuse University men’s basketball team’s national championship.

And while Stewart loves a parade as much as anyone, the University of Connecticut senior standout does not want a repeat in her hometown later this month.

Jim Fuller: UConn seniors Jefferson, Stewart, Tuck look to win fourth national title

Blue Star Media: For Stewart and UConn seniors, a farewell title is all that remains

When Breanna Stewart, a gangly 6-foot-4 high school All-American from Syracuse, N.Y., arrived in the fall of 2012, regarded as the next great player in the college game, she made her goals crystal clear to her coaches.

In return, they held her to that objective. There would be no backing off, no change of heart or tamping down of her commitment.

If this is what she wanted, she needed to understand what it would take to achieve it.

Paul Doyle, Hartford Courant: Shea Ralph Has Been Living UConn Dream For 20 Years; ‘It’s Utopia, In Some Ways’

BTW – Syracuse.com has been coverin’ the hell outta this tournament/Syracuse’s run.

:-) Quentin Hillsman, fashion king: See Coach Q’s best 7 outfits in the last 7 years (photos)

Lindsay Kramer: Fearless Cornelia Fondren keeps coming up big for Syracuse women’s basketball

Syracuse University guard Maggie Morrison tagged her teammate, swing player Cornelia Fondren, with the nickname “Big Girl” out of sheer admiration.

Even though Fondren stands just 5-foot-8, she loves ripping into the lane to challenge opposing trees with her whirling drives.

Hence, Morrison saw Fondren as the Orange’s own big girl.

What does ‘Always Reppin’ mean to Syracuse, Connecticut women’s basketball players?

AP’s Michael Marot: Syracuse hoping for big payoff from run to championship game

When Brittney Sykes started playing AAU basketball, she didn’t even know where Syracuse was.

The women’s basketball program was almost as invisible to college fans.

Yet when it came to making her college choice, the 5-foot-9 guard bought the promise from coach Quentin Hillsman that she could be part of the solution by turning the Orange into a national contender. Mission accomplished.

AP Doug: UConn and Syracuse to meet for women’s championship

Auriemma referred to standout seniors Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck as he looked toward the title game.

”I don’t know what I can do to help them except keep reminding them all the time, ‘This is your spot, you’ve owned this spot for the last three years,”’ Auriemma said. ”Now there’s no guarantee you’re going to get it Tuesday night, but we’re not going in there Tuesday night hoping we win. Because these three (players) they’ve done more than that, it doesn’t mean we’re going to win, but I don’t have to help them with that mentality.”

It’s not all roses: From the Indy Star’s Dana Benbow: 

The photo should be happy. Anyone who looks at it would think it is happy.

But it’s not. It’s chilling.

A gleeful Cassie Kerns, arms spread wide, jumping down the basketball court after her UConn team won the NCAA national title in 2009, her senior year.

The photo looks happy. It’s not.

At that moment, on that court after beating Louisville 76-54, Kerns was in a downward spiral of self-loathing.

Yup: Also from AP Doug: Negandhi, Lawson and Lobo have excellent chemistry on set

”Within the first weekend of the first year, I knew the chemistry was there,” Negandhi said. ”We didn’t have to think about trying to do anything. When you’re not thinking, that’s when you’re going to have your best stuff.”

The first weekend of the tournament is one of the most challenging in the business. With 32 games over 48 hours, it makes for long days. Potentially they could have to do 16 different halftime shows in a day if games don’t break right. It would be even tougher if they didn’t all get along so well.

BTW: UConn-Oregon State Semifinal Delivers Strong Overnight Rating

BTW2: Might get yelled at, but….FLASHBACK TIME

Congrats: Adia Barnes coming back to coach UA women. Flashback, too:

Reviewing her WNBA career since being drafted by Sacramento in 1998, Adia Barnes is characteristically frank. “A few years later, you wouldn’t think I’d even be in the league.”

Consider, in her first season Barnes played in every game – starting 16. Since then, she’s watched her playing time diminish as she’s been traded or waived by four different teams. Yet the 2002 season found Barnes in the starting lineup for the Seattle Storm.

On the same topic, from Lady Swish: #onlyinWBB do we give head jobs to men with no experience coaching women

We’re at the point in the season where coaches come and coaches go. And we remain amazed at the lengths some folks will go to put a men’s basketball assistant in charge of their women’s basketball program.
The latest example of the ol’ inside-the-athletic-department shuffle came, unfortunately, within our stomping grounds over at Norfolk State. A few weeks ago, the Spartans named men’s basketball assistant Larry Vickers head coach of the women’s team after a bizarre 11-game stretch in which he ran the women’s team while still assisting the men’s.

It didn’t go unnoticed in the WBB community.

And yes, Swoopes, there she is! Hall of Fame.
Speaking of USA Basketball: Howard at Excelle has VIDEO: Interview with 1976 USA Basketball women’s coach Billie Moore 

Ahem: ICYMI: autobiography “Catch A Star” reaches No. 9 on bestseller list for sports books!

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Score! Scoring 60 points still seems surreal to Gophers guard Rachel Banham (Speaking of surreal: Kobe Bryant congratulates UMN’s Rachel Banham for her 60-point game). Yah, it took double OT, but wowza. The Star Tribune says: Appreciate the Gophers’ Rachel Banham while you still can

Said Stollings:

“I think one of the big things is we only have three home games left, and we have one of the most special players to ever wear a Minnesota uniform in Rachel Banham. I think people shouldn’t miss an opportunity to see her in one of these final three home games. She’s a rarity. Players like her don’t come around that often.”

Yes, I mentioned Charlotte Smith’s Elon, and they won, so that means they escaped the WHB jinx…. but what’s with 66 total points in a double-OT game? Oh. I see – a Top 10 on Sports Center

A strong final quarter helped Notre Dame escape Louisville, 66-61.

Three freshmen and a pair of sophomores had the floor Sunday when, near the end of the first half, 13,847 at the KFC Yum! Center rose to their collective feet.

Louisville’s women’s basketball team upped its lead to nine points on No. 3 Notre Dame, the surest sign yet during a lengthy winning streak the Cardinals are a budding national power.

Talented yet inexperienced, however, youth showed itself down the stretch of a 66-61 Irish win.

Well, the MVC is going to be tight. Drake knocks off Missouri State to squeak into the top spot. Don’t look now, but Loyola (CHI) is still a contender.

A feeble final quarter doomed Tennessee against TAMU. It allowed the Aggies to get to overtime and grab a win, 76-71. More importantly: Jordan Jones released from hospital, X-Rays and CT scan results normal

The Crimson tied it up against the Tigers and sent their game to OT… but couldn’t topple Princeton, 92-83.

DUCK(s) upset the Huskies courtesy of a 35-point fourth quarter (seems to be going around).

Ouch (if you’re USC): A three-point play with 1.9 seconds left gave #8 Arizona State a win over USC, 69-68.

St. John’s won the Tri-State Battle over Seton Hall, 72-64.

George Washington is still missing Jonquel Jones (5th game)… but they’re back to their winning ways.

Defense was optional in the Maryland v. Ohio State, which made it wicked fun. The Buckeyes scored more, so they’re now atop the Big Ten.

Ohio State fans looking for March basketball, you have a team.

It’s a confident, up-tempo team on the attack with a dynamic one-two scoring punch and multiple options on the inside and perimeter who can score when defenses focus on stars Kelsey Mitchell and Ameryst Alston. 

It’s a swarming defensive pressure team that can slap on a press and maintain it, forcing opponents to play their game at their speed (smaller and faster) even when that opponent is a top-10 mainstay and one of the best rebounding teams in the country.

It’s the best team in the Big Ten, no doubt.

Double boink: St. Francis (PA) makes sure Bryant loses two in a row, 85-72.

Make that TWO IN A ROW: Norfolk State over Maryland Eastern Shore, 74-63.

Wow: Howard (4-18, 2-7) stuns MEAC leading Hampton in OT, 83-77.

Interesting: Manhattan beat Marist (who was missing sixth-year senior Tori Jarosz), 64-59.

Surprise! 

Bobbie Kelsey created something of an Internet firestorm a couple weeks ago when she went on a little rant about her University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team’s need to get its collective butts in the gym to work on its shooting.

While that postgame monologue after a loss at Nebraska attracted widespread attention, it was a variation on a theme that has been consistent throughout Kelsey’s five years at UW.

And Monday night, it appeared to finally pay some dividends as the Badgers snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 64-57 Big Ten Conference victory over Purdue before a crowd of 3,149 at the Kohl Center.

So, yeah, there was this game in Columbia….

UConn coach Gene [Hello, autocorrect?] Auriemma smiled at his three senior starters, savoring the latest virtuoso performance on the big stage by Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jefferson — and fretting about their departure next season.

“I carry five cellphones now with all the coaches who want to schedule us next year when these guys leave,” Auriemma said Monday night.

Count South Carolina coach Dawn Staley among them after Stewart, Tuck and Jefferson combined for 53 points in No. 1 UConn’s 66-54 blowout of the second-ranked Gamecocks.
Garnet and Black Attack: Gamecocks fall 66-54
Hartford Courant: UConn Women 66, South Carolina 54: Happy Geno Means Happy Huskies; Other Things Learned
New Haven Regiser: Big 3 lead No. 1 UConn past No. 2 South Carolina
New Britain Herald: UConn women’s basketball quiets South Carolina for easy win
Hartford Courant: Jeff Jacobs: Huskies’ Road Show Is A Beauty To Behold
Hartford Courant: UConn Women’s Notebook: Geno Has Great Admiration For Dawn Staley
UConn Daily Campus: Women’s Basketball: Huskies shine under bright South Carolina lights

Those who call it “boring” get schooled: Breanna Stewart’s shot at history

Yea! IU GLBT Alumni Association to host annual Pride Day in support of IU women’s basketball

Congrats! Hope women’s basketball gives coach Brian Morehouse 500th career win

Congrats! Tom Shirley wins 700th career game as women’s basketball defeats Dominican (N.Y.) 59-54

In W news:

Keep up with who’s going where and when…you can count down the W draft or get update on free agency at Today’s Fastbreak.

Congrats! Former Lee’s Summit star Danielle Adams chosen to NJCAA women’s basketball hall of fame

Say it ain’t so! Aussie star Taylor set for WNBA swansong

WATN? Simone Edwards: Simone4children Foundation Needs Base

“In Hermitage, I got a building put up there for the homework programme. It was running and everyone was working. It’s a place where we had our homework programme, fed families, gave back-to-school supplies, tried to create scholarships and focused on self-esteem building. But what we do is mostly focus on education, but now it (building) is damaged,” said Edwards.

“Last year, I went down there, and some of the bad men broke the lock off the door, stole furniture, the stove and damaged the windows. The homework programme is continuing in the church, but the last I heard is that the new pastor wanted it off the property,” she told The Gleaner.

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that looked at mid-season COY candidates in the Big 6, I used my “waiting for the dryer to finish up” time to put together a list for some of the other conference candidates. Feedback welcome:

Ivy: Courtney Banghart/Princeton — I am surprised no ones has snatched her up.

American East: Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, Albany/Kelly Greenberg, Boston University.ln the three years KAH has been there, the Danes have established something, outpacing Hartford. Ditto with BU — lordy, has Greenberg REALLY been their nine years? It’s a dogfight.

A-10: Dayton’s Jim Jabir gets all the attention, and rightly so, but at Fordham, Stephanie Gaitley has more victories this season than the Rams have complied in a decade of games (or so it seems). I was skeered for her when she left Monmouth, but she seems to thrive when challenged.

Horizon: Youngstown State/Bob Boldon. The Penguins have been the laughingstock of the league for years, and not just because of their tuxedos. Have you ever tried to play basketball in a tuxedo? They’re still no Green Bay, but they’re much improved under this second year coach.

MAC: Central Michigan/Sue Guevara seems to have found her home at Central Michigan, and she’s done a great job (especially now that the shady dealings at EMU have been exposed).

NEC: Quinnipiac/Longtime coach Tricia Fabbri has the Bobcats on their longest winning streak in program history.

Mountain West: Fresno State/Raegan Pebely: The Bulldogs lost their coach lost their coach (and we know how THAT turned out), replaced late, and are still nipping at last year’s surprise, San Diego State. Shouldn’t actually be a surprise, Pebely has earned COY honors before.

Southern: Wes Moore and Chattanooga have reestablished the “natural” order, but under Charlotte Smith (yes, THAT Charlotte Smith) Elon has surprised the heck outta folks.

SWAC: Cynthia Cooper returned to the SWAC and has made an immediate impact on Texas Southern. Last year they won a total of 2 conference games. This year, they’re second in the Conference (with the only overall winning record — which ain’t sayin’ much, but it is a winning record.)

Sun Belt: Western Kentucky/Michelle Clark-Heard. Mel’s already mentioned this coach as a Maggie Dixon Rookie Coach of the Year. (Though, considering the record of honorees post-award, you might wanna miss being tapped.)

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Coaching Elon.

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