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heart.

But that’s ok — ’cause it’s for a great cause!

Bucknell Women’s Basketball Embraces #Chillin4Charity Challenge

OSU women’s basketball: Beavers take part in cold water challenge

Iowa State Fennellys get doused in cold water for charity

Chippewa Nation

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#2 Notre Dame is rollin’, rollin’, rollin‘ the ACC. regular and, most likely, post-season. And yes, it was nice for UNC to defeat Duke, but let’s remember who the Blue Devils had riding the bench. That being said, congrats to Coach Hatchell, presented the 2014 Kay Yow Champion Award (h/t Sheila).

#7 West Virginia is upsettin’, upsettin’, upsettin’ the Big 12 (as most of the teams are free-falling). From Nate:

Just a week ago, SB Nation’s West Virginia site The Smoking Musket had a post updescribing why the Mountaineers women’s basketball team wasn’t getting the respect they deserve in the national polls.

Well, the team handled business on the court on Sunday to fix that.

With a win over Baylor in Waco on Sunday, they’re now ranked #7/8 in the polls and right on pace for a #2 seed in the 2014 NCAA Tournament (barring something crazy like Duke winning theACC tournament happening). And the narrative of what makes this team a potential sleeper in the hunt for a final four spot has taken hold: veteran experience (sorry, Albert).

#1 UConn is stompin’, stompin’, stompin’ the AAC, with #3 Louisville hoverin’, hoverin‘ hoverin’ right behind. And, as always, “Thanks, Graham.” Cardinals, community embrace Shoni – Fans come from all corners for senior night, Native American Appreciation Night

Schimmel finished with nine points, again unable to crack the code against one of the only teams left to beat. Four times she tried in the past 14 months. Four times the shots didn’t fall.

What was remarkable was that 22,163 people cleared off their cars or waited out airlines after yet another blast of winter overnight in the Louisville area and then trudged over uncleared downtown sidewalks because they believe in her.

Native American fans. Louisville fans. Basketball fans.

Anyone who appreciates a good story, really.

“I know a lot of people were traveling, and a lot of people were coming here,” Schimmel said. “And so, you know, it’s great for them to travel across the country to watch a game that’s on TV. It’s very special to me because they are Native American, and they’re coming out to just watch us. For them to do that, it’s pretty cool.”

Boink! Stony Brook shocked the heck outta the Danes, 66-56. The Seawolves earned the second seed in the conference tourney, because UNH lost to Maine (I warned ya about ’em).

The Flyers are atop the A-10, but the conference tourney championship is no guarantee.

Wow, what a traffic jam in the Big 10!! But the story of the week was (thanks, Swish Appeal) Purdue’s senior day win over Nebraska includes surprise return of KK Houser.

Most assumed KK Houser had played her last game on Keady Court after she tore her ACL in East Lansing against Michigan State a month ago. Fortunately for KK she would play for the fans in Mackey one more time. KK came out and went through warm-ups and started the game Sunday alongside April Wilson, Liza Clemons and fellow seniors Dee Dee Williams and Courtney Moses. KK played the first 2:34. While KK was a bit of a defensive liability Purdue had a 2-0 lead when she checked out…KK Houser entered the game briefly at end before returning to the bench amid a standing ovation. In those last minutes she was able to pull down two rebounds.

JMU recovered from its “WTH?” loss to the College of Charleston, and it’s hard to imagine they’ll get much of a threat from the rest of the CAA folks.

Phoenix and Penguins and Raiders, “Oh, my!” That’s the Horizon.

Ah, the “don’t pigeon hole me” Ivy. It’s the Quakers, Tigers and Crimson. (Coach Delaney-Smith has tied the record for most wins by Ivy League coach.) From Mel:

The victory for Penn (19-6, 9-2 Ivy League) put this edition of the Quakers to second all-time in program history behind the 22 in 2000-01 that belonged to the first of two contingents that became Ivy champs.

Coach Mike McLaughlin’s bunch have stayed the course while losing critical parts of the roster, the most recent this past week when Katy Allen was lost the rest of the way after suffering a foot injury.

But Kathleen Roche, a 5-11 junior guard, stepped up big time, knocking down six three-pointers, one short of a Penn record, on the way to 20 points.

“It’s incredible how people step up and Keen works extra hard, she’s in the gym before all of us and it really showed tonight,” Baron said. “Even with Katy out, it really hurts us, but it just shows that other people like (freshman) Stephanie Cheyney (seven points off the bench) or others are willing to step up.”

Penn goes up against Princeton March 11th. Will a NCAA bid be on the line?

This is why I’m glad I’m not on the Selection Committee: Marist gets its revenge on Iona, and the MAAC is now all tied up. Let’s say they meet a third time, this time in the conference championship. What do you do with the loser? Oh, and from Kevin Armstrong at the NY Daily News: Hoosiers on the Hudson: How Brian Giorgis transformed little Marist into monster mid-major women’s basketball program.

Giorgis laughed; glasses clinked. A teetotaler known to down Diet Cokes as early as 5 a.m., Giorgis looked at the crowd. He outlined the demands of maintaining a top midmajor program, accruing a .778 winning percentage over the last 11 winters, winning 10 consecutive conference titles, collecting five NCAA Tournament victories and outdrawing 7 of 10 men’s teams in the MAAC. He spared the supporters the specifics of his side obsession, declining to mention the memorabilia shrine dedicated to Derek Jeter in his bedroom or the emails from eBay that ping on his phone when he gets outbid by a competitor. Balance, to Giorgis, is keeping a photo of himself holding a T-206 Honus Wagner card on the same office shelf with a glass slipper that a fan gifted him to celebrate a Cinderella run to the Sweet 16 in 2007. He daydreams about claiming another.

“It’s been a nice fairy tale,” he said. 

The Mid-American is equally vexing, with Central Michigan and Bowling Green looking like the cream of the crop. The Chippewas overall record likely excludes them from the NCAAs, but what do you do with the Falcons if CMU wins? Oh, did you catch this at SlamOnline? Chip Shot – Crystal Bradford is creating a legacy at Central Michigan.

Crystal Bradford’s mother had a vision that her daughter would go to Central Michigan, a program that before last season hadn’t reached the NCAA Tournament since 1984.

“My mom really wanted me to go here,” the Detroit native recalls. “I really didn’t want to. But she kept saying, ‘I had a vision,’ and ‘God’s got a plan for you.’” A bit dubious, but ready to create a legacy, CB turned down the likes of Louisville and Michigan State and traveled northwest to put Mt. Pleasant, MI, on the map.

After leading the Chippewas in points, rebounds, blocks and steals as a soph in 2012-13, she exploded onto the national scene in March when she hung 36 points, 14 rebounds and 7 steals on 2-seeded Oklahoma in the Tourney.

Hampton is top dog in the MEAC, but their final game is against second place North Carolina A&T. Can the Bulldogs sink the Pirates?

I take my eye off Wichita, get swamped by work, and what happens? They lose three straight. Suddenly the Missouri Valley crown is up for grabs, and the Sycamores are interested.

Hello? Colorado State rules the Mountain West? They got their revenge (at home) v. Fresno State. Can they end the season (at home) and get even with Wyoming? From the Mountain West Connection: 

A team that was picked to finish seventh in the preseason polls had completed a stunning one-year turnaround filled with record breaking performances en route to their first title in twelve years. The numerous records they set read much better in list form…

  • Most three pointers in a game (19)
  • First triple-double in Colorado State history (Ellen Nystrom)
  • Largest margin of victory since 2001 (60 points vs Air Force)
  • Second fewest points allowed (28 vs. Air Force)
  • First victory at The Pit in 16 years
  • First season with two 100-point games since 2001
  • Most Mountain West victories ever (14 and counting)
  • Third most free throws made (34)
  • Three players with double-doubles in one game in 35 years
  • Second-most assists in CSU history (14, Gritt Ryder)
  • Fourth longest home winning streak (12 and counting)

… I think you get the point. All of these accolades are even more astounding when you think of where this team was just a year ago. After a disappointing tenure under Coach Kristen Holt, Ryun Williams and an all-star cast of former head coaches were brought in to restore the Rams to their former glory days.

Doesn’t look like UT Martin will get much of a challenge in Ohio Valley (throwing salt over her shoulder).

Yah, Stanford is still the boss of the Pac-12, but anyone else detecting some fault lines in their throne? (Oh, and anyone want a job? Oregon won’t renew contract of coach Paul Westhead)

Sure, Navy took the conference title (first outright Patriot League regular season title in school history), but Army and American have taken their measure ain’t they ain’t afraid. Bring on the conference tournament!

The Mocs are unblemished in the Southern. The danger is looking ahead to the NCAA brackets. Take care of business, and then see what the Foster-led team can do against non-conference folks.

Honestly, the Southland is a bit of a hot mess. That last game between Central Arkansas v. Stephen F. Austin could set the tone for their conference tourney.

Speaking of hot messes — look no further than the Blue Raider-less Sun Belt.

It’s Gonzaga (10th straight conference title) or whoever can put together a great game in the WCC.

It looks like the WAC will give the NCAA tourney a Road Runner, a Vandal (first regular season title!) or an Antelope. It’s like choosing your favorite child!

ESPN gets into the swing of Conference Tourney Time:

SLIDESHOW: CONFERENCE FROSH OF THE YEAR

SLIDESHOW: LEAGUE COACHES OF THE YEAR

Full Court starts with their Bubble Wrap 2014: Who’s headed to the Big Dance? (Week 1)

They also offer up a 2014 SEC Tournament preview: More competitive than ever

The days of at least a semi-predictable SEC Tournament are long gone, and perhaps no more so than this season. This year, the conference was so competitive — not only at the very top, but all the way from top to bottom — that when the regular season finally wrapped up on Sunday, conference administrators were likely whipping out their sliderules to compute all the tie breakers.

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The biggest surprise: What happened in the Ivy?

I leave, and Harvard looks poised to take the crown…. I come back, and Courtney (with lots of help from red-hot Blake Dietrick) is working on a 7-game win streak and now has the Tigers on top. And the Quakers are lurking (after suffering a “what the heck!” loss to Dartmouth)!

Kudos to Penn head coach Mike McLaughlin, who’s in his fifth season at Division I. You may recall, McLaughlin came over from the very successful program at Holy Family. How good in he? From his bio:  “The fastest coach in the history of women’s college basketball to reach 400 victories.”

The Danes still rule the America East, but Magarity’s UNH team continues to improve. Albany will meet the Wildcats tomorrow.

Take your eye off the A-10 for a moment, and boom, someone else is in charge. This week, it’s Dayton. The tourney ought to be great, what with six teams clustered together hoping to regain the upper hand.

It’s Hatters v. Eagles in the Atlantic Sun.

Not quite a power shift in the Big South, but both Winthrop and High Point (14-4) are ahead of Liberty (13-5), even with the Flames win over the Eagles.

So, maybe Lady Swish was NOT kidding and this is James Madison’s best team. They’re running away with the CAA. Even better, you can Meet the woman who’s going to make Dawn Evans healthy again

Erika Evans laughs when asked the question.

Did you ever think you’d be donating a kidney to someone?

“It wasn’t exactly on my bucket list,” she says.

Evans’ recipient is another Evans — that would be James Madison’s Dawn Evans, her first cousin. Dawn, suffering from focal segmental glomerular sclerosis since December 2009, will receive the new kidney in Nashville in the next two to three weeks. Evans learned her kidney condition had deteriorated when she returned home to Clarksville, Tenn., over Christmas from Arras, France, where she had been playing basketball.

Key game coming up for the Wright State Raiders on Thursday. They’re in 1st place in the Horizon League and host the team that shares the same in-conference record, Green Bay.

Equally important game looming for MAAC-leading Iona on the 2nd, when they face Marist. But, they’ll have to get through Quinnipiac first. Obviously, the Gaels will lean heavily on Damika Martinez, their Nancy Lieberman Award finalist.

Gonna be a great finish/conference tournament in the Mid-American. Bowling Green and Central Michigan sit atop the East & West with similar in-confrence records (they split the regular season games.) The Chippewas have earned a share of  program’s first-ever regular season Mid-American Conference West Division title.

MTSU’s Raiders have done just that to their new C-USA teams. They’re ranked #23, and they look to have a clear path to the conference title.

Deja vu, as always, with Hampton as the top dog in the MEAC. What’s surprising is to see how far Howard has fallen…. and that it’s North Carolina A&T (and their defense) who hopes to challenge the Pirates. They face each other in the last game of the regular season.

The Skyhawks rule the roost in the Ohio Valley (West AND East).

Navy is surging in the Patriot League — even with a loss to Armythanks to their seniors.

“It really is amazing when you think about it. No one could ever have expected this group of women to do what they have done,” Pemper said of her first full recruiting class. “I think the fact they fit together so well position-wise has been a big aspect of it. They each have their own niche. There’s no doubt the sum of the whole is greater than the individual parts.”

Navy’s five seniors, who collectively have played 14,903 minutes and 560 games during their careers, will be honored prior to Saturday afternoon’s final regular season home game against Holy Cross. It will be an emotional ceremony as always, but particularly because of what this class has meant to Navy women’s basketball.

It’s the Mocs coiled atop the Southern and a battle of the Southern’s (Texas and SU) in the SWAC. Of course, Southern has other issues it’s dealing with.

Their loss to BYU means Gonzaga can’t rest easy as the top dogs in the WCC.

Wow – N.J.I.T is the Last of the Independents. Kinda lonely.

Smokin’ Musket is cranky: West Virginia Women’s Basketball, Lacking the Respect They Deserve.

Crappy news out of NC State: Myisha Goodwin-Coleman and Lakeesa Daniel gone to ACLs.

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Terrific back-and-forth game between Australia and the US, with both teams having the lead… and both teams losing the lead. Then, a CMU Chippewa came to the rescue, as Crystal Bradford got her own miss for a put-back and a one-point lead. Then, of course, the US had to defend to the end to earn the win.

“I tell you what, that 14 seconds felt like forever,” said USA head coach Sherri Coale (University of Oklahoma). “And then we did everything right, and I thought came up with the rebound, and they called a jump ball and we had to defend them for seven more. We had not been really good in defending their inbound plays. For a split second there, I thought about changing the way we were guarding on the inbound, but I felt like the most important thing for our kids at that point was to be sure, and so we stuck with what we had been doing and got them to take a tough shot and came up with the rebound somehow. We’ve been given a gift.”

Next up for the US: the gold medal game against a much taller Russians (in front of a home court): Monday, July 15, live on ESPNU (1:30 p.m. EDT).

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Central Michigan de-feathered the Falcons, and the Chippewas move into the MAC semi-finals. They’ll get to face top-seed Toledo, who are sponsoring a road trip: UT to Sponsor Free Student Bus Trip to MAC Women’s Basketball Tournament. In the other bracket, it’ll be the Zips against Ball State.

C-USA is upset city: SMU fell to Knights on a roll: UCF took down the Mustangs, 70-66. Tulsa took down Tulane. UTEP over UAB. ESU was not upset.

Huge upset in the MVC first round: Evansville (7-11 MVC) taken down by Southern Illinois (1-17 MVC) in OT, 83-74.

Mechelle and Michelle discuss which teams helped their stock rise and which teams fell during their conference tournaments.

Hey, ESPN folks! Can I make a suggestion? Put the latest Beth & Debbie podcast on the espnW front page. Sheesh!

Dishin’ and Swishin’ talks bracketology with Charlie.

Creme discusses the birth of bracketology, how he goes about preparing his prognostications, and answers questions that many of you have been wondering about.

Stanford or Duke as a number one, an explanation of “procedural bumps” and bubble ins and outs, mid-majors versus BCS conference selections, building credibility, RPI and previous success impact on seeding and more.

Graham talks Blue Hens: Delaware’s other comeback story – After years of back problems, senior point guard Kayla Miller is at top of her game

The incredulousness in the voice of the Drexel play-by-play announcer grew with each shot that slipped through the net in a January game against Delaware. And not for the reason that might first come to mind with the Blue Hens.

 Elena Delle Donne splitting two defenders and leaning into an 18-footer or drifting backward on the baseline for an unstoppable turnaround elicited only resigned appreciation from the broadcast. People in the Colonial Athletic Association have seen enough of those shots over the past four seasons to last them a lifetime. Opponents just hope to keep her highlights to a minimum, as Drexel mostly did on a day when the All-American scored 24 points.

What left the voice calling the game incredulous were three 3-pointers by Kayla Miller, each field goal coming when her team either trailed or held a lead small enough that it could have been erased by the Dragons in a single possession. This was not, in a performance in which she also finished with seven assists and one turnover in 39 minutes, the Miller that Drexel previously encountered.

Michelle Smith talks Seattle U: Redhawks reach new heights

Since Joan Bonvicini last led a team onto the floor for an NCAA tournament game nine years ago, the coach has experienced pain and frustration, re-evaluation and rebirth.

But all she feels right now, in this moment, is excitement.

“These kids, they respond and they trust me and each other,” Bonvicini said.

Seattle University opened the Western Athletic Conference tournament in Las Veags on Wednesday night as the regular-season champion, playing for its first conference title and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Mechelle also reflects on BG, SD & EDD: Changing the game early on (and ever since)

Like most folks who follow women’s basketball, I’d seen YouTube videos of Brittney Griner as a high school player dunking. But the first in-person view came at Tennessee’s Thompson-Boling Arena in November 2009, where “the kid” gave a good indication that the hype was worth it.

She scored 15 points in Baylor’s 74-65 loss. There were no dunks, but Griner’s impact was felt immediately. 

“Have you ever watched a game where Pat Summitt played only two possessions of man-to-man defense?” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said after that nationally televised contest. “People ask, ‘Is Brittney Griner going to change the game of women’s basketball?’ Well, you saw it change today. Did you ever think you’d see the day Tennessee would zone somebody like that?”

Mechelle chatted:

Chase (Maine): With all the recent trades, acquisitions, and signings in the WNBA, I have to admit that I am excited about the Tulsa Shock and their prospects for a more competitive 2013 season. Do you believe that Nicole Powell and Candice Wiggins can go back to their play of seasons past and be a tandem of go-to scorers that the Shock so desperately need? Or is consistency going to be a problem? Both players are quite streaky, so that is my main concern. How does the almost certain addition of Skylar Diggins help bolster this team? I can imagine she and Wiggins will be a nightmare for opposing guards on the defensive end!

Mechelle Voepel: Especially with the news that Sue Bird is not playing this summer, there is more reason for Tulsa to be excited. Right now, it’s hard to expect much from the Storm. Now, we could be surprised, but there are teams like the Storm and SASS that have injury woes going into this season. They are not as strong as they could be. And that does potentially leave some daylight for Tulsa. It’s unfortunate for the league and for those franchises that star players are hurt. But sometimes other teams’ bad luck becomes a previously struggling team’s opening.

Maggie Lucas blogs: We’re looking forward to March Madness

At Full Court:

Lady Vol Taber Spani talks homeschool basketball and recruiting

Bubble Wrap 2013: Final wrap

Sue says: Stanford wins Pac 12, but looks vulnerable heading to NCAAs

Things went pretty much according to script in the Pac 12 Tournament except for one major casting change: instead of Stanford and Cal duking it out for the championship, it was the Cardinal and UCLA.

It was one of the best title games in years.

Clay says: It’s time to give Baylor some love

Haters gonna hate.

They’re going to hate Brittney Griner, just like they hated Wilt Chamberlain, just like they hated Shaquille O’Neal, just like they hated all the great post players.

They’re going to hate Baylor, for its athletes and its attitude, for winning three straight Big 12 titles, for going 127-16 in the Griner years.

They’re going to hate Kim Mulkey, for screaming at her assistant coaches when her players screw up, for screaming at the officials when she’s up 35, for wearing some of the weirdest outfits ever to grace a basketball sideline.

Haters, sadly, are going to hate.

Mike says: The SEC Seven Owns NCAA Selection Monday

In W news, Ruthie and Ticha mean Ailene Voisin is back talking women’s basketball: Former Monarchs rally for support of WNBA team returning to Sacramento

Finally, a little reflection on officiating.

If you follow the gentlemen, you know there was some excitement at the end of the Charlotte/Richmond game. Some fouls, some technicals, and suddenly the 49ers move on. Coaches (as in the losing one) are upset wondering about officials “deciding the game.” Officials are discussing the calls (You don’t have that choice if you follow the rules. Once the ball goes through the hoop, it is dead and you cannot call a personal foul for contact during a dead ball period. It was too much to ignore so it had to be a T.).

My two cents:

1) Listen to the Caterpillar, Alice: “Keep your temper.”

2) If you don’t want officials to “decide” a game, simply take them off the court in the last two minutes. ’cause isn’t that what folks want? Ignore the rules, “let it go,” “you don’t make that call in the last minute,” etc. Shall we agree that, in the last two minutes, anything goes? ’cause, if we do that, no one will be upset with the results, right?

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