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#25 Iowa came back from 10 down to defeat #22 Syracuse, giving the Orange their first loss of the season. (Also not my fault that ESPN had the Iowa/Cuse game recap for the UConn/UC-Davis game.

Blame the turkey? Purdue had a lead at the half, but then Duke kicked it into gear (And got Coach McCallie to her 499th win).

And then there were 6. Another injury to a scholarship player (ankle sprain) has UConn fans making rhymes (Nine little Huskies, playing oh so great/But one took a tumble, and then there were eight./Eight little Huskies, but one came up lame/Leaving only seven to continue with the game) and the team continuing to make mincemeat of their opponents.

I’m not holding my breath, but I am noticing Clemson has won some games. (First four-game winning streak since the 2008-09.)

Two teams that have made noise, but are semi-quiet this season went at it and had a hoot of a game: Central Michigan over Dayton, 94-91. Were you there, Debbie?

A not insignificant win: Wolfpack 76, Northwestern 61.

Yup, it’s gonna be a long year for Arizona: Blazers 63 – Wildcats 53.

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before the second half of last night’s game, you might have heard this.

That was the sound of Indy girl Kelly Faris revving up to take over the game.

Consider what Rebecca Lobo wrote in her preview piece, Duke ready for big stage:

Chelsea Gray

I haven’t seen a better passer in the open floor than Duke’s Chelsea Gray. The junior point guard has superb vision and strength to make passes that others cannot. She already has more than 100 assists on the season, and many have come from no-look and highlight-reel passes. She has tallied two triple-doubles already this season and a 15-assist game (versus Clemson). If you haven’t seen her play, it’s worth tuning in to this game just to check out Gray.

Now consider what Graham wrote after witnessing Ms. Gray’s encounter with Ms. Faris: Faris delivers ‘one for the ages’: Huskies win with decisive second half, hand Duke its first loss of season

Faris finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals. Duke point guard Chelsea Gray — who spent a good portion of the night the subject of closer attention from Faris than President Obama received from his Secret Service detail during the day’s inauguration events in Washington, D.C. — finished with two points on six shots, four turnovers and a look of incalculable frustration.

Indeed, the numbers didn’t tell the whole story. They never do with Faris.

The interesting game we saw unfold in the first half turned into a Faris clinic on defense, offense and intensity. The end result? A two-point game turned into a 30-point blowout.

Mel was there to witness (ONE “s” Mel, ONE “s”): Faris solidifies star status as No. 3 Huskies rout No. 4 Blue Devils

“There have been a lot of great players and legends play in this building wearing the Connecticut uniform,” continued Auriemma, whose seven NCAA titles is just one short of Tennessee coach emeritus Pat Summitt’s collection. “But I don’t know if anyone has ever represented themselves, their family, and the University of Connecticut the way Kelly did tonight.

“I know there’s a lot of players out there that are really good … there’s a lot of All-Americans but man oh man, that was one for the ages right there.”

From Clay, we get: Duke takes another dive against UConn

In an epic second-half collapse, previously unbeaten No. 4 Duke unraveled like a cheap shirt, leaving nothing behind but shattered egos and yet another hammering at the hands of the unforgiving Huskies.

Of course, UConn is No. 3 for a reason – well, actually many reasons, but one of them is depth. In this game, for example, the Husky bench outscored the Duke bench 23-9; and two of the Blue Devil starters combined for four points.

Rob chimes in from DWHoops with a Nutshell and Analysis.

Areas For Improvement: Above all else, communication. A season’s worth of being slow to close on shooters, blocking out smaller teams and relying on talent instead of teamwork came back to haunt Duke in this game. They were thoroughly outplayed and outcoached, as UConn made a number of adjustments going into the second half while Duke basically kept doing the same thing. Coach McCallie was never able to find a way to stop the bleeding during the run and get her team’s attention.

In Michigan, the Wolverines were game, but the Lions were gamer. Penn State wins, 59-49.

“It was a quality team and they just wore us out,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “I guess that’s why they’re probably No. 8 and we’re probably No. 23 at this point because they had four more minutes than we did.”

Nice to see I didn’t manage to jinx Texas Southern — they easily handled Mississippi Valley State 58-47.

Stetson (school-record 11th consecutive victory) and FGCU were equally immune to the WHB jinx. (You can watch the Hatters/Eagles showdown at 7:05 Saturday, televised by Comcast Sports Southeast)  Ditto with Quinnipiac, which stifled St. Francis (PA) in the first half and then secured a 85-69 victory.

Obviously, by not mentioning them, I assured the Wichita State a 70-51 victory over Drake. The Shockers are now 5-0 in the MVC.

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UConn rides Faris defense past PSU

We’ll learn this weekend whether the time has arrived for the Heisman Trophy to go to a player who spends time exclusively on the defensive side of the ball. This week already demonstrated why a player who does much of her work on defense ought to be in the conversation for some of college basketball’s individual honors.

And why a team with its share of imperfections this early in the season therefore remains perfect in the standings.

On the game: Mosqueda-Lewis helps UConn hold off Penn St. (interesting when a 15pt margin merits a “hold off). About the game: Refs leave a mark: Foul-plagued game ‘unfortunate’ occurrence and Officials Ruined What Could Have Been A Spectacular Game

The Terps skewered the Cavaliers. Say the BasketCases:

Three Freshmen, a Walk-on, and a Transfer Walk Into a Bar …

The bartender asks them, “How did you stay so cool tonight when the rest of your team fouled out?” They answered, “No problem . . . we were surrounded by fans.”

Georgia Tech was no match for Elizabeth Williams… I mean, Duke.

Friend-of-the-Blog Sue requested – and gets – a shout out to Ball State for taking down Detroit in OT.

My friends in Fayetteville are pleased: Arkansas hands No. 17 Kansas first loss of season

Temple can’t make up its mind who it wants to be this season — the Owl gave Kent State their first victory of the season.

First Hand, then the Cougars’ leading scorer: BYU women’s basketball loses Eaton for the season. Totally sucks.

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which one was the BIGGEST one, asks Nate: Finding The NCAA Women’s Basketball Upset of the Year By Reframing Expectations

Shortly after the San Francisco Dons defeated the BYU Cougars on Thursday night, Matt Olson of Omni Rankings tweeted what many women’s basketball fans were already thinking: Jennifer Azzi’s Dons might’ve pulled off the upset of the year.

Helen of Women’s Hoops Blog reiterated the point on Friday, also suggesting that USF’s feat wasn’t quite as “sexy” as the Alabama Crimson Tide’s 77-75 upset win over the Kentucky Wildcats. Then there was the St. John’s Red Storm’s 57-56 win over the UConn Huskies, which was an upset in part because of the Red Storm interrupted a 99-game home win streak for the Huskies.

But this brings up a fun dilemma for basketball geeks, inspired by the very existence of Omni Rankings’ upset rankings: What constitutes the “Upset of the Year? And how on earth would we go about determining that with all the games that are played during any given season?

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team’s 10-year journey: St. John’s Announces Its Arrival Noisily 

“A couple of years ago, when we were first on the scene nationally, it was a different role for us to fill,” said Barnes Arico, whose 170 wins are more than any other coach in program history. “But these kids have been there. They know what it takes to be successful. They’re not afraid of it. I think winning at UConn showed they’re fearless.”

Seems Kevin Armstrong was on point with his Times’ piece two year’s ago: Coach’s Career Risk Keeps Paying Off at St. John’s

A self-made coach who has had head jobs in Divisions I, II and III, Barnes Arico, 39, has St. John’s off to a 16-3 start going into Wednesday’s game at Syracuse. In her eighth season, she has refashioned the Red Storm from a winless outfit against Big East opponents to a trendy program attracting the nation’s No. 11 recruiting class according to HoopGurlz.com.

“We had a lot of parties in the office last year,” Barnes Arico said of the signings, which were highlighted by Shenneika Smith, a spindly guard from St. Michael Academy in Manhattan.

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From her chat:

kevin (macon ga): In the last week, 10 ranked teams have lost to unranked opponents. Is parity a reality?

Mechelle Voepel: I asked Geno Auriemma about this Monday. He said that parity is kind of like global warming: Not everybody believes in it or always sees the evidence, but it really is there. Now … for those folks who don’t believe in global warming, I guess I can’t convince them that either thing really exists. :) I actually think “parity” to a degree has been around a long time. It’s just taking a while for it to reach the very top with any consistency. I do think weeks like this past one are good evidence of progress. And, yes, I believe in global warming.

After yesterday’s events, she blogs: You can wake up, St. John’s. It wasn’t a dream

Opposing coaches watch film, do the scout, and run their players through practice before facing UConn, just like going against any other team. Except it’s not. You wonder how many coaches – for instance, one of a program that had lost its last 27 in a row to the Huskies – could truly keep 100 percent faith that this preparation really mattered.

Yet that’s what being a coach is: Believing you always prepare to win because that possibility always exists. Even if you are about the only one on Earth who believes it.

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some pre-game reading:

From DWHoops: Will New Faces Bring Different Results?

From the Post: Hartley ‘one confident kid’ for UConn

From the Post: UConn women’s game day

From the Courant: Tough road games test Huskies

From the Courant: Capsule: No. 3 UConn at No. 5 Duke

From the Register: Matchup with Duke features two freshman phenoms

From the Day: No. 3 UConn visit No. 5 Duke tonight

From the Hour: Women’s basketball glance – UConn at Duke

From the Republican: Preview: UConn at Duke

From ESPN: Big Monday preview

From the News & Observer: Duke’s Grey combines skill with unmatched vision

From the Durham Herald Sun: Duke veterans find their niche

From Beth and Debbie: Previewing the Duke-UConn game and chatting with Auriemma.

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That was the point differential in wins by #2 UConn, #12  Georgia, and #18 Penn State (yikes, remember when Va Tech was slightly relevant?). Wrote Graham of the Huskies win: Defending champ can’t handle UConn ‘D’

We might be in the midst of the season of giving, but Connecticut is more interested in taking at the moment.

Taking out the teams that shared the stage with the Huskies in the Final Four. Taking the ball from opponents and taking better care of it than Swiss banks do with money. Taking control of their own identity.

Do they have weaknesses? Sure, maybe more than in recent seasons. But to do anything about it, you’ve got to catch them. Then you’ve got to stay with them.

In other games:

Yes that was Duquesne squeaking by the RedHawks of Miami.

Sure, they lost to Bowling Green, but the Penguins have won FOUR game already!

Bucknell 49, Fordham 39. And no, that wasn’t the score at the half.

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I guess this is as good a place as any to make your foray into the public eye: Diana Taurasi surprises former team

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— as in the four teams are ready for the Final Four. Which explains why my reaction to the games last night is a tad musical.

Killing the Blues is just what UConn did.

First Georgetown, and then Duke. The Blue Devils kept it close in the first, but then Maya did her Roadrunner impression (beep! beep!), and the Huskies were off to the races. Duke’s offense suffered from bad decisions and Connecticut’s found its groove: 24 assists on 32 baskets. The end result? A deju vu-esque 35pt win. Write Rob at DWHoops:

Duke kept it interesting for a half, but they once again were blown out by the UConn Huskies. The Blue Devils didn’t accomplish any of the pregame goals I outlined in our DWHoops game preview, and they paid for it with the worst NCAA Tournament loss in Duke history. Rebounds? UConn led, 40-27. Tempo? UConn ran the ball down Duke’s throat, with a 12-4 edge in fast break points. Shot-making? Duke shot an excruciating 25% from the floor. The Devils hustled and scrapped to stay within 3-6 points for most of the first half, thanks to some timely shooting by Shay Selby and the usual hustle by Jasmine Thomas. Duke was within 3 points with under four minutes to go, and one could see UConn start to wear down a bit. Maya Moore and Tiffany Hayes both picked up 2 first-half fouls that were silly. The Devils not only were unable to capitalize, they inexplicably didn’t hold the ball for the final possession of the half. They missed 2 late cracks at the basket and gave Moore enough time to hit a shot at the buzzer, giving UConn the double-digit halftime lead they wanted so badly. Then the Huskies shot an absurd 72% in the second half against a Duke defense that had completely broken down.

Graham on Maya:

As the story goes, at some point during the team’s stay in Philadelphia, sophomore Kelly Faris’ mom gave her daughter a paddleball, partly in jest for a team that finds a way to compete at anything and everything, if also as a way to kill the tedious hours of hotel time that come during the postseason. Faris, Stefanie Dolson and Lauren Engeln promptly spent a good portion of an evening passing the paddleball, and the corresponding record for consecutive hits, back and forth. Welcome to Connecticut basketball.

But when the new toy made its way into wider circulation on the bus soon thereafter, Moore wanted to know why she hadn’t been included in the initial record chase.

“We said that we didn’t want to invite her the first night because she probably would have been up until 5 in the morning trying to break it,” Faris said. “But she told us it wouldn’t have taken her that long.”

For Texas A&M, it Feels Like the First Time, as their third time against Baylor proved the charm. The Aggies took an early lead, survived foul trouble, got a lot of help from Sydney 1 and Sydney 2, and now are going to the Final Four for the first time in program history. Writes Joanne Gerstner at the New York Times:

In most ways, it’s hard to make 6-foot-8 Baylor sophomore star Brittney Griner disappear. But Texas A&M found the magic wand Tuesday, reducing Griner’s normally game-changing play at center into a non-factor.

Mechelle on coach Blair and the Aggies:

It all began in this city for Texas A&M coach Gary Blair, literally. He was born and raised in Dallas, graduating from high school in 1963, the year JFK was assassinated here.

He served time in the Marines, then went to Texas Tech and played baseball. In 1973, he started coaching the South Oak Cliff High girls’ team in Dallas. It was a job not many would have wanted, but Blair saw something in the sport that captured his imagination as a certified sports junkie. He recognized what was beautiful about a sport with such growth potential.

Michelle Smith has Five storylines to watch in Final Four

Tim Newcomb at Time magazine says the Final Four is A Lesson in Staying Power

Ann Killon at Sports Illustrated Breaks Down the Final Four.

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From Mel: 2001 Big East Title Game Book Worth A Trophy

Earlier this month, after Notre Dame had edged DePaul to meet Connecticut for the Big East championship in Hartford, Irish sophomore star guard Skylar Diggins was asked about the time the two schools last met for the conference title in 2001, which was then played on the Huskies’ campus in nearby Storrs.

She was 10 years old growing up in Indiana back then and unlike this time around when Connecticut won a little, but not much, easier, the 2001 championship was decided by Huskies all-time great Sue Bird going coast to coast and hitting a pull-up jumper as time expired.

“I remember I was a fan watching it,” Diggins said. “I believe Sue Bird hit the shot and they wrote a book about it. I don’t like that book.”

Memo to Skylar from the Guru: Read the book.

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gets some attention from Laura Myers at the Observer: UConn do it – Irish look to stun Huskies on the road

A rebound here, or a shot falling there, and the No. 13 Irish could have come away with an improbable victory over the No. 2 Huskies on Jan. 8. Instead, they left with a 79-76 loss on their record.

In the six weeks since that game, neither team has lost. Connecticut, still No. 2, has averaged a 26.7-point margin in its 11 victories. Notre Dame, now No. 8, has averaged a 25.6-point margin in its nine wins. Connecticut has since defeated five ranked teams, Connecticut three.

Now they face each other again, this time in Storrs, Conn., Saturday, with a possible Big East title at stake.

John Altavilla at the Courant has some game notes and writes: Time For UConn’s Freshmen To Win Their First Prize

The time has come for them to start writing their own chapter in the history books that lured them to Storrs in the first place.
Step one is winning the Big East regular-season championship, something Auriemma’s teams have already done 18 times. And Saturday, the Huskies can take a major step in that direction.

No. 2 UConn (25-1, 12-0) and No. 8 Notre Dame (22-4, 11-1) play the biggest conference game of the season at Gampel Pavilion. And things will look vastly different in the conference race depending on who wins.

This talk of Notre Dame, UConn and Big East titles is a perfect segue to reminding people that Jeff Goldberg’s “Bird at the Buzzer” is now in bookstores. The book uses the classic match up between UConn/ND in 2001 (the year the Irish went on to win the NCAA championship) Reading his discussion of the book, it’s interesting to note that, unlike *some* fans, players and coaches don’t watch and rewatch games. (Game tapes are NOT the game.)

The players I spoke to were all very cooperative and generous with their time. Perhaps not surprisingly, because they were point guards, Sue and Niele Ivey were the easiest to arrange interviews. I did sit-downs with all but Ruth Riley, whom I spoke with on the phone. Niele was fantastic. This was her moment in the spotlight, the 2001 season, and she actually thanked me for allowing her to recount that season. I think the players really enjoyed taking a fun look back at an exciting chapter in their lives.

I watched the game with Sue, Diana and Niele in 2009 and all three said it was the first time they’d seen it since they played in it.

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Yes, there was the build up — the mutterings about Duke being disrespected or overlooked, the discussions of their depth and size — but in the aftermath of being totally dismantled by the not-so-swagger-free UConn Huskies, Duke is going to have to gather themselves like that Fred and Ginger tune says, and start all over again.

Writes Graham: UConn plays near-perfect game – Previously unbeaten and third-ranked Duke no match for No. 2 Huskies

“We just play,” Moore said. “You don’t get tired. We don’t talk about that at Connecticut. There’s plenty of reasons or opportunities where you could say, ‘I’m tired,’ but you find a way to get over it. You find a way every day in practice. … We have to, obviously, do certain things to make sure that we are able to compete at the highest level we can — taking care of our bodies, getting a lot of rest, doing all the little things that we probably have to do more so than any other year since I’ve been here.”

In the process, the Huskies exposed the Blue Devils as a team with a wealth of talent on defense and stll too few proven answers on offense. Duke’s pressure is a legitimate championship-caliber weapon, and at times flustered a Connecticut team that turned the ball over 20 times, its first game of at least 20 turnovers since a nailbiter at Notre Dame on Jan. 8. But the Blue Devils converted those turnovers into just 14 points, and 19 offensive rebounds into just 12 second-chance points. Without those tools that, to put it bluntly, amount to two of its three best offensive plays — the third being give the ball to Jasmine Thomas and let her go — Duke floundered on offense.

Rob Clough at DWhoops echoes Graham’s theme as he reviews the carnage: UConn Crushes Duke, 87-51

This game was Duke’s opportunity to prove itself as a true elite power this season. Instead, the Devils will have to fight to get a #1 seed. Duke hadn’t overpowered many good foes this year, but their ability to to find a way to win no matter what was judged and found wanting by UConn. This certainly offers hope to their ACC opponents. What this loss can do for Duke is give them a chance to work on bad habits. The first bad habit is an inability to lock in as a team, where all five players complement each other. Part of that is the nature of Duke’s very basic offense, which involves more read-and-react/one-on-one stuff than the sort of sharing the ball instincts that come so naturally for UConn. In other words, Duke’s offense sometimes gets into “I need to make a play” territory instead of “We need to make a play.”

Other highlights:

At the start of the game, Graham tweeting: Good crowd in Gampel for Duke-UConn, especially given the newest storm means people shorter than 5 feet are forbidden from going outside.

1st half: Duke team, 15 points, 11 boards, 1 assist
Maya Moore, 16 points, 6 boards, 3 assists

Kara Lawson speaking her mind (how refreshing!), ’cause she wants the last 45 minutes of her life back.

Carolyn Peck understanding Kara’s “perplexsiveness???””””

Rebecca Lobo being perplexed by Carolyn’s English.

Graham tweeting while watching the halftime show: A little kid in halftime show just spun a ball on his finger while doing a one-arm push-up. Glad to know I can do at least none of those.

Mechelle tweeting on the game: To blame this all on Duke’s “effort” and not point out the Duke staff’s deficiencies in coaching offense is not fair to the players.

Charlie tweeting on the game: I said 5 teams could win NC in my column today. I may be wrong there. I think it’s just 4. Duke doesn’t look capable.

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from Swish Appeal: UConn Women Get Ready to Battle Duke Without Its Swagger

When the 2nd ranked Connecticut Huskies (20-1) squares off with 3rd ranked Duke Blue Devils (20-0), tonight at 7:00 PM (ESPN 2), UConn will be without the services of Caroline Doty. It’s nothing new as they have been without her all season, with a torn ACL, but there are times when that loss is felt more than others. Monday night might be one of those times.

BTW, ESPN’s Page 2 picks up the Doty trick shots video.

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or when you’re benched because of an ACL: Trick Shots!

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is Mel: UConn Still Has Moore With One Less

Mechelle: Walker’s happiness is what matters – Questions abound after freshman leaves, but both she and UConn will push forward

and The Horde members:

John Altavilla: Samarie Walker’s AAU Coach Says Her Decision To Leave Is Not UConn’s Fault and Geno Auriemma Says UConn Will Be Fine With Seven and Samarie Walker Heading To Kentucky

Rich Elliot: Huskies Ready To Move Forward Without Walker and UConn women down to 6-7 players in rotation

Jim Fuller: My thoughts on Walker’s departure

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I don’t know what kind of visions of sugar plums were dancing ’round UNC’s head — what with Charles and Greene graduated, Hayes recovering from a concussion, Doty in civvies and Walker left behind in Storrs — but it soon became a nightmare.

The Huskies were in a zone — mentally and, occasionally, defensively — last night and the Tar Heels seemed to be in the twilight zone. I mean, if you’ve got tall people, wouldn’t you think you should throw the ball in to them instead of jacking up threes? And, if you’re opponent really has only one tall person, and a freshman to boot, wouldn’t you want to do everything you can to get them fouled out?

Oh, and if you were playing the “Peck phrase-of-the-night” drinking game (“Maya has got to move” and “short bench,” if you didn’t get the memo), you were probably blotto by the first TV time out.

Honestly, what photos of which ESPN exec does Carolyn have? She gets her script, pounds it into the ground, and isn’t nimble enough to adjust to calling what’s actually going on on the court. Kara was more insightful from the studio, what with her “laser-eyes defense” thing. Heck, she could probably CALL the game from a studio monitor, she’s that good.

Someone, please, invite Carolyn on an extended espnW retreat.

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as North Carolina hosts UConn.

Graham, of course, has the game tucked within his “Watch to watch for in the week ahead” blog entry.

Connecticut at North Carolina (ESPN2/ESPN3.com, 7 p.m. ET): The Huskies picked apart the Tar Heels the past two seasons, showing what happens when a team that relies on size, speed and forcing mistakes meets a team with equal size and speed that doesn’t get flustered.

The Tar Heels still aren’t going to run away from the Huskies, and Geno Auriemma’s young team has shown it isn’t easily flustered, but the size could be a factor with Tina Charles out of the mix — assuming the ACC side holds onto the ball long enough to get it into the post or get shots up to allow for offensive rebounding opportunities.

Some articles on the match-up:

UConn women game day, Post
Huskies will face Tar Heels without Walker, Courant
Auriemma on his heels heading to North Carolina, Register
Hayes’ injury leads to questions, Day
Breland back for Tar Heels, Bulletin
Tar Heels, schedule to be put to UConn test, Charlotte Observer
Tar Heels get a home court shot at Connecticut tonight, Independent News
Tar Heels women await No. 2 Huskies, News Observer
Lucas relishes chance to finally beat UConn, Las Vegas Review

 

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gender neutral.

From Mark Viera at the New York Times: It’s Not St. John’s Night in 2 Losses at Garden

In a corridor inside Madison Square Garden, members of the Syracuse men’s basketball team greeted the University of Connecticut women’s players. The Orange stopped to hug and shake hands with the Huskies and to obtain their autographs.

“We’re fans,” Syracuse point guard Scoop Jardine said. “We’re just happy we got to meet them.”

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the Wall Street Journal’s water with… I dunno, “coverwomen’sbasketball-ade”?

From Sophia Hollander: Is There Life After The Streak? No Longer No. 1, This Humbled UConn Team Must Create a Legacy All Its Own

It didn’t sink in for Kelly Faris until the flurry of desperation fouls in the final seconds of UConn’s 71-59 loss to Stanford last week. Every game of her college career, the Huskies had somehow managed to find a way to win. But all of a sudden it became clear: This time they wouldn’t.

“Then it was kind of like, ‘Well, this is really unfortunate because we just threw it away, completely,'” said Ms. Faris, who scored a career-high 19 points.

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From the Plain Dealer: Turkey!

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Mechelle writes: Cardinal cut into UConn’s invincibility

But, other than the streak being over, does this loss really mean anything substantial? Well, if nothing else, it gives this season a different feel.

We’ll see if the rest of UConn’s opponents feel that way. Certainly, if people are thinking that (2003) history is repeating itself, we all remember what happened after Villanova snapped Taurasi and her Tenderfoots’ 70 game winning streak.

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That was the sound of Jeanette Pholen aka the Stanford Cardinal saying “No mas.

A great win for the Tara and crew, in front of a packed house and on national television, reminding everyone that it ain’t all about the UConn’s national blue. Lots of great writing on the game:

From John Reid: Pohlen’s Wiggins-esque performance puts kibosh on UConn streak

The final rebound fittingly ended up in Jeanette Pohlen’s hands. It had to be Pohlen, the senior guard who personally wrecked visiting UConn with a career-high 31 points, nine rebounds and six assists, playing all 40 minutes.

In one of the greatest women’s basketball games ever played at Maples Pavilion, the Cardinal defeated the Huskies 71-59 Thursday evening in front of 7,329 mostly red-clad fanatics. Stanford’s victory halted the Huskies’ record win streak at 90 games and the 6-foot terror, Pohlen, had an awful lot to do with it.

Really? The LA Times borrows CT’s John Altavilla? Really? Stanford ends Connecticut’s winning streak at 90

Connecticut Coach Geno Auriemma has said that winning 90 consecutive games was exciting. But it wasn’t so enthralling that he ever believed the Huskies were invincible.

Once the streak got rolling Nov. 16, 2008, against Georgia Tech, it just kept going, taking on a life of its own, picking up steam, two national championships and two undefeated seasons on its way to Maples Pavilion.

From the San Fransisco Chronicle’s Ron Kroichick: 90 and done – Cardinal end Huskies’ record winning streak

Finally, after 90 games and more than 32 months of non-stop winning, top-ranked Connecticut lost Thursday night. Jeanette Pohlen scored 31 points as Stanford jumped ahead early and rolled merrily away to win 71-59 before a raucous capacity crowd at Maples Pavilion.
From Elliott Almond at the Santa Cruz Sentinel: Stanford ends Connecticut’s 90-game winning streak

Like the last time it lost — 82-73 in the NCAA semifinals in Tampa, Fla. — Connecticut seemed overwhelmed by coach Tara VanDerveer’s methodical triangle offense.

As a result, the Cardinal (9-2) won its 52nd in a row at home with senior guard Jeanette Pohlen getting a career-high 31 points and adding nine rebounds and six assists. It was Pohlen who looked like America’s best guard while Moore got frustrated by Stanford’s towering defense.

From Mechelle: Stanford snaps UConn’s win streak – Pohlen nets 31 points as Cardinal slow down game, dominate Huskies throughout

Stanford wasn’t really thinking all that much about the history, either its own against UConn or that of women’s basketball in general.

This was more about the chalkboard and video and practice and repetition, the stuff Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer so dearly loves. It was about facing a great program but knowing there were things to expose — and then actually doing that.

From C&R: Ding Dong, the Streak is Dead!

The first, the last, and UConn was everything in between. C and R are of course talking about the amazing UConn Huskies women’s basketball streak of consecutive wins and Stanford’s small part in it. Stanford was the last team to beat them in March 2008, and the first team to beat them since they got the all-time men’s or women’s streak record of 89, stopping them at 90.

This win was so great; let’s savor it minute by minute, shall we?

Mel says the Huskies were dooooomed:

In most situations over the years, the arrival of Connecticut in an opponent gym would somehow cause the other team that was a serious challenger to be unable to handle the extra distractions caused by increases of its home crowd and media attention.

The week long hype involving the 1-2 game at Duke during the Diana Taurasi era several years ago comes to mind as an example. That’s when Auriemma pushed the buttons of the enemy student fans during a teleconference mentioning how he was aware of many Blue Devils graduates these days working in restaurants while discussing a player who had chosen Duke over the Huskies for the sake of a better diploma.

Though an underdog in that particular matchup, UConn established a deep one-sided lead early in the contest that was enough to withstand Duke after the Blue Devils regained their footing down the stretch.

Stanford was not in danger of suffering a similar collapse under the weight of the so-called Connecticut circus for several reasons.

From Q at Swish Appeal: Stanford Beats UConn 71-59 To End Streak At 90: Crushing Xavier Was A Blueprint For Beating UConn

When we look back on Stanford’s 71-59 win tonight at Maples Pavilion that ended UConn’s streak at 90 wins, Xavier should probably be considered as an important part of the narrative.

And not necessarily for the reason presented by Xavier point guard Special Jennings on Twitter. (Ya gotta click to check out the tweet)

From Rob Gloster at Bloomberg: Connecticut’s 90-Game Winning Streak Ends With 71-59 Loss at Stanford

The longest winning run in major- college basketball history is over, and it ended just as a similar streak did four decades ago.

From the Stanford Daily: Stanford topples No. 1 UConn

From Andy Hutchins at SBNation: UConn’s Winning Streak Ends At 90 Games: What Did We Learn From Stanford’s Victory?

UConn’s streak came to an end last night: Stanford’s 71-59 win at Maples Pavilion halted the Huskies’ run at an NCAA record 90 consecutive wins.

But the really intriguing part of the women’s basketball season has just begun. UConn losing opens up the field, and there are a few titans waiting in the wings to make this year’s run toward an NCAA championship one of the most contentious in years. What did we learn last night?

Lisa Olson at Fanhouse (ignores facts with her headline): End of UConn’s Streak Restores Competition to Women’s Basketball

There were two minutes and change left in the life of a 90-game winning streak, and the best female player on these shores ducked her head, a move equivalent to waving a white flag. Maya Moore had been erratic all night, an obvious sign something was definitely amiss, but when she missed another jumper from the top of the key and let Chiney Ogwumike sneak by to score an easy, uncontested basket, it was a seismic, karmic shift.

Michelle Smith’s also writing at Fanhouse: Stanford Ends UConn Women’s Record 90-Game Winning Streak

Connecticut (12-1) lost its first game since April 6, 2008 to a Stanford team that was experienced, motivated and well-prepared for this matchup, the sixth between the two programs since December 2007.

“The streak was for them and what they did. We’re about Stanford and what we want to do,” said Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer. “We didn’t play a perfect game, but I thought we played very well.”

From (gasp!) the Boston Globe’s Damin Esper: UConn streak ends – Stanford never trails, ends Huskies’ run at 90 victories

Kelly Faris launched one more futile 3-point attempt, the basketball equivalent of spitting into the ocean. Of course, it drew iron — the 41st missed field goal on the night for Connecticut. Stanford’s Jeanette Pohlen came down with the rebound, turned around, and hurled the basketball to the heavens.

From Jayda at Key Arena: Connecticut’s historic streak ends at 90 after loss to Stanford

From Lata Dar at Latest Sports Buzz: Stanford Beats Connecticut with Moore Missing on her Play Tactics

Relive the game with Yahoo’s Jeremy Stone’s game blog.

Surprising news from Bleacher Report’s Ross Benes: Geno Auriemma Fired after Loss to Stanford Breaks 90-Game Win Streak

NPR grabs the AP game article: UConn’s Win Streak Ends At 90 In Loss To Stanford

Stanford really does have UConn’s number.

Top-ranked Connecticut’s record 90-game winning streak in women’s basketball ended Thursday night when No. 9 Stanford outplayed the Huskies from the start in a 71-59 victory at Maples Pavilion — where the Cardinal have their own streak going.

SI has an alternate AP story:

Maya Moore and everybody around UConn realized how much this meant to Stanford after several near misses against the mighty Huskies – one in the Final Four, another that cost the Cardinal the 2010 NCAA title.

No. 1 Connecticut’s remarkable run is over, a 90-game winning streak stopped by an inspired Stanford squad determined to protect its own impressive mark: 52 straight home wins at Maples Pavilion.

From Tim Kawakami at the Mercury News: Stanford plays the bully in taking down UConn

They ended the Streak with elbows flying, minds racing, voices bellowing and hearts pounding.

They did it with their arena rocking and rolling, their grand opponent crumbling and a nation watching.

TWO from Jere’! (I must send him some sort of thank you bribe): Stanford Beats UConn to Halt Streak at 90

“I think disappointment is the right word, but not disappointment that we lost,” UConn Coach Geno Auriemma said. “There’s a sense of disappointment that we didn’t play well. There’s been other times we didn’t play well; it’s just that we haven’t faced anybody as good as Stanford was tonight.”

In Defeat, UConn Sees Chance to Forge a New Identity

“I think in some ways, he’s probably relieved,” Tara VanDerveer, Stanford’s coach with 802 career victories and two national titles of her own, said later. “They got the streak. That’s great. Maybe it gives them a chance to move on. It gives this team a chance to establish its own identity.”

From SportsNation: Cheat Sheet: Question No. 2 – Has Connecticut found its new rival in women’s basketball?

From Avinash Kunnath at SB Nation: Stanford Cardinal Women’s Basketball Ends UConn Huskies 90 Game Winning Streak (Some fun photos, too.)

Kelli Anderson (is back!) at Sports Illustrated: UConn still the favorite for national title, minus an aura of invincibility

It didn’t end the way Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma had hoped — “I would have loved for it to been 98-97 in triple overtime and both teams play great,” he said. But it didn’t end with a whimper, either. Connecticut never led in its 71-59 loss to Stanford, before a raucous sellout crowd in Palo Alto on Thursday night, but the Huskies’ reputation for never losing is such that Stanford’s Jeanette Pohlen wasn’t sure the game was in hand until “maybe the last 10 seconds.”
From Marcus Henry at Newsday: Stanford tops UConn women, stops streak

Before everyone starts popping the champagne corks, remember, it is only December. And Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer, although pleased with the win, wasn’t ready to declare the season over.

“It’s not a national championship, but it’s something we’re very proud of,” said VanDerveer, who recently won her 800th career game.

From something ESPNish: Defense was focus for Stanford

From the Casino Gambling Web: Gamblers Finally Lose As Stanford’s Women’s Basketball Team Wins

From Alex Groberman at Opposing Views: Streak Ends at 90: UConn Women Lose to Stanford

The historical, record-breaking winning streak set by the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team is officially over.

It took Stanford one game to dismantle a streak that took a UConn squad two years, and 90 victories to build.

From his direct employer, the Hartford Courant‘s John Altavilla writes: Stanford Ends UConn Women’s Streak At 90

UConn coach Geno Auriemma has said winning 90 straight games was exciting; let’s face it, no one has ever seen anything like it and may never again. But it wasn’t so enthralling that he ever began to believe his Huskies were invincible.

And finally, from NPR’s “The Takeaway,” quickly becoming THE source for women’s basketball news *grin*: UConn Huskies’ Winning Streak Broken By Stanford

P.S.: I’m throwing this up, even though it’s a pregame article, simply because I don’t know that the Christian Science Monitor & Ross has covered the women’s game since, oh, the Clinton administration. From Ross Atkin: Will Stanford end UConn’s women’s basketball winning streak? Hmmmm.

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UConn – Stanford Game Sold Out!

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NY Times sports editor Tom Jolly, but I hope it sticks.

Jere’ Longman writes: Stanford Poses A Challenge To UConn And Its Streak

There is reason for Stanford to feel buoyant about halting UConn’s 90-game winning streak. For starters, the Cardinal was the last team to defeat the Huskies, by 82-73 in the N.C.A.A. semifinals on April 6, 2008. Twice last season Stanford held a halftime lead over UConn, including in the national championship game. It is a bigger team, deeper, more balanced, healthier at the moment, playing at home, where it has won 51 in a row, fully understanding that UConn’s resolve persists for 40 minutes, not just for 20.

Michelle Smith at LeftCoastHoops weighs in with 5 things that need to change for Stanford vs. UConn

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The sportsman of the year is a woman – UConn’s Maya Moore should be the hands-down winner of anybody’s award this year

It may be that hardly anybody reads this. It may be that fewer than 100 people comment in the conversation pages at the bottom of the column. It may be that it will not resonate anywhere beyond the 203/860/475 area codes.

No one else really seems to care.

It’s going to take some courage. Not the courage to say or write it, but the courage to see it. The courage to look past the “man” in “Sportsman” and acknowledge that this time, a woman did it better than any man.

Truth told: Maya Moore is the real 2010 Sportsman of the Year. But no one will admit it.

Scoop  et. all. – read the comments to your piece and learn a little about those who support and those who belittle.

And I encourage readers of the WHB to weigh in. So long as the misogynist ignoramuses of the world are louder than we are, our game won’t get the coverage and respect it deserves.

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I honestly thought that Baylor would stop the streak — and they probably should have, if BG suddenly hadn’t got a case of the free-throw yips.

So, maybe it’s the Cardinal’s turn. (Thursday, ESPN2 @ 9pmEST) Wise money has been looking at this game for a while with itchy palms. Both teams have come off of “important” moments (the streak, 800 wins), both teams have had a post-Xmas game to get back in the groove (Stanford in particular). Let’s hope for a game that was as much fun as the Bears/Huskies match up that launched this season with a bang.

From Mechelle (nice shot of two fabulous athletes on the ESPN.com front page, btw): Stage set for UConn-Stanford clash – Game we’ve all been waiting for finally arrives with both teams playing at high level

“It has become something you look forward to every year,” Auriemma said of UConn-Stanford matchups. “You know how that happens? It’s because you play them a lot of times in a short period of time.”

From The Olympian: Stanford women set stage for UConn showdown

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Excitement builds as UConn nears

Pacific coach Lynne Roberts said watching the Huskies as a lead item on ESPN’s SportsCenter every night over the past two weeks has been “surreal” and she’s glad the fans in the region have taken such an interest.

“We’re getting to play them at the absolute peak of their hype, so I don’t think it could have gone any better in that regard,” Roberts said. “The biggest reason I really wanted to do this game was to raise the awareness of our sport in the Central Valley. It’s really an opportunity for people who have never seen women’s basketball to see a tremendous team.”

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from NPR: Host Scott Simon talks with Dwight Clay, the former guard for Notre Dame’s basketball team who scored the shot to end UCLA’s record-breaking winning streak.

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From Wendy Parker: How Geno being Geno baffled the miserable bastards

Since there’s been a lot of drive-by commentary about the UConn women’s basketball streak from sportswriters who admit they don’t follow, nor do they much care, about the sport, a few simple lessons in interpreting Geno Auriemma are necessarily in order.

But first, thank God for Bob Ryan. The legendary Boston Globe columnist and basketball maven with a deep appreciation for every level of the sport, regardless of gender, truly gets what the Huskies and their star player embody:

“Similarly, I saw a great basketball player two nights ago. Her name is Maya Moore, and she won’t be playing in the NBA. But I’d go watch her play her dunkless game any ol’ time, because she is a pure basketball player.

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