Feeds:
Posts

Posts Tagged ‘Courtney Williams’

WNITCoyotes over Eagles, 71-65

The Florida Gulf Coast University women’s basketball team relied on its seniors, shooting and swagger during its energetic postseason run.

But in the WNIT championship game, FGCU ran into a team just as experienced, just as offensively gifted and with just as big a chip on its shoulders. And this time it was the Eagles’ opponent that was spurred by a wild home crowd.

Coyotes claim WNIT championship

Saturday was a special day for the University of South Dakota.

In front of a capacity crowd of 7,415 at the DakotaDome, the South Dakota women’s basketball team closed out its final game in the 37-year old facility in historic fashion.

Daily Republic Editorial Board: OUR VIEW: SD’s success in women’s basketball tough to ignore

Collectively, the accomplishments of South Dakota State, the University of South Dakota and the successful hosting of major postseason games are all really impressive for our state.

Nationwide, there is a lot of room to help the popularity of women’s basketball grow. But we hope NCAA officials realize that our state can make a strong influence on that.

The successes this year are just too hard to ignore.

A little south of them, more folks are playing basketball…

Gene Wang, Washington Post: Look past U-Conn., and women’s Final Four is full of surprises

With the Syracuse women’s basketball team having reached uncharted territory in the Final Four, Coach Quentin Hillsman couldn’t help but recall how his early years contributed to his professional development.

He grew up in suburban Washington, where his high school coach, Aaron Holder, showed how to build a champion from scratch at Forestville. In 1985, Hillsman’s freshman year, the Knights won the Maryland Class B title three years after the school opened its doors for the first time.

“Forestville High School was a special, special place, and Aaron Holder really instilled in me doing things the right way, being a hard worker, and was responsible for me becoming a basketball player and becoming a good coach,” said Hillsman, 45, the first African American male head coach to the reach the women’s Final Four. “What he’s done for me has been so big. That’s where it started with me.”

John Kekis, AP: Syracuse women reach for new heights

Charlie: Alexis Peterson’s confidence, competitiveness drive Syracuse

When Syracuse point guard Alexis Peterson talks about filling the lane, she might not be talking about basketball.

“I love to bowl,” Peterson said Saturday. “I have my own ball, my own bag, my own shoes, my own towel. I am a great bowler.”

Paul Shepherd, Newsday: Syracuse women looking to get takeaways from Washington

The Syracuse and Washington women’s basketball teams have faced each other just one time.

Who knew in November that the 66-62 Syracuse win in the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout in Las Vegas would be a preview of their second matchup in the same season?

 

Paul Doyle, : For Morgan Valley, Long Trip From UConn Back To Final Four

Early in her coaching career, Morgan Valley faced a dilemma.

The Vermont native and UConn graduate had coached at Holy Cross and New Hampshire. She had an opportunity to pursue a job at Towson University in Maryland, but it would be far from her New England roots.

She sought the advice of UConn associate head coach Chris Dailey, a mentor.

“CD said you can’t be afraid to move around if this is what you want to do,” said Valley, now in her first year at the University of Washington. “That’s kind of been my attitude.”

Nice to be in Indy so we can get some of David Woods’ writing: What do Chantel Osahor and Steph Curry have in common?

In summer basketball, Kelsey Plum’s team once played against Chantel Osahor, her future Washington Huskies teammate. Plum’s coach told the team to drop into the paint against Osahor, a 6-2 post player who surely would not shoot from outside.

Osahor stayed out there and never left her feet. Her left-handed set shot is a throwback to the 1930s.

“Whack, whack, whack. First three shots of the game. Nailed them,” Plum recalled. “I said, ‘Coach, we should get up on her, right?’ We lost by like 30, and she kicked my butt. Definitely made an impression.”

And more David: The remarkable parallels between UConn and Oregon State

Graham: Jefferson as key to UConn’s success as anyone

In one sense, Moriah Jefferson is a curious candidate to embody why the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team continues to make and accumulate history at a pace unlike almost anything else in sports.

As a recruit, readying to speak in person with Geno Auriemma for the first time, Jefferson listened as friends asked if she was nervous about the encounter. It struck her as an odd question. She was just going to be talking to someone about basketball, a sport she had played her whole waking life, minus perhaps two weeks many years earlier when she quit in protest after her dad told her she couldn’t play in leagues against boys any longer. 

These folks are good: WBCA All-Americans: UConn’s Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson, Morgan Tuck; South Carolina’s A’ja Wilson; South Florida’s Courtney Williams; Oregon State’s Jamie Weisner; Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell; Baylor’s Nina Davis; Notre Dame’s Brianna Turner; Washington’s Kelsey Plum.

Wade Trophy: Breanna Stewart (also AP Player of the Year.)

WBCA Defensive Player of the Year: Moriah Jefferson

AP Coach of the Year: Geno Auriemma

Jim Fuller, New Haven Register: Emotional day as UConn players, coaches are honored

A little more than three hours after exuberantly cheering as three of their teammates walked onto the Bankers Life Fieldhouse court as members of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s All-American team, the Huskies sat in stunned silence as their wise-cracking quote machine of a head coach ran out of one-liners to deliver and words to utter.

Graham: Auriemma brought to tears on eve of Final Four

The weekend might prove Connecticut is invincible in the moment, but the coach who built the dynasty seems painfully aware that there is no such thing as immortality in sports.

“The longer I’m at this, the more I’m starting to understand it might not happen again,” Auriemma said. “And you really need to appreciate what these people do every day, to make it work.”

Kevin Baxter, LA Times: Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma keeps making a case to be considered the greatest basketball coach

VIDEO: Previewing Oregon State-Connecticut with Doris Burke of ESPN

From Excelle Sports: The Canadian guide to defeating Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson

You’ve heard it countless times by now—Connecticut hasn’t lost since November 18, 2014, an 88-86 defeat to Stanford.

But Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson, the two best players for the Huskies, did suffer a loss this past summer while playing for the United States in the Pan Am Games, an 81-73 defeat to Canada.

The parallels and overlaps from that game to this one are nearly endless. The two best players for Oregon State, center Ruth Hamblin and guard Jamie Weisner, are both Canadian national team players (though neither played in that game). And Oregon State coach Scott Rueck served as an assistant for the U.S. during the Pan Am tournament.

Blue Star Media: Women’s Final Four upstarts relish unlikely journeys

Jamie Weisner had no good reason to hear out to first-year Oregon State coach Scott Rueck when he made his first recruiting visit to her home on Valentine’s Day, 2011, when she was a junior in high school.

Most of the other Pac 12 schools were already interested in the fine-shooting guard with plenty of swagger. So where some local schools near her home in Clarkston, Wash., and a few more in the Midwest.

Oregon State was mired in the depths of the Pac 12. After inheriting two scholarship players following a wave of defections and the firing of his predecessor, Rueck held tryouts to fill a roster, adding soccer and volleyball players to get to 11.

The Beavers were in the midst of what would become a 9-21 season, with only two wins in conference play.

Yet Weisner not only listened to Rueck, she followed him to Corvallis.

Take 2: UW Huskies’ astonishing run helps editor rediscover his love for women’s hoops

Michelle Smith: Kelsey Plum learned to lead, and wins followed

Mechelle: Right place, right time for Washington coach Mike Neighbors

At the center of it is a man who lives with heart issues that, before he turned 30, made him take stock of everything he knew about life. “I was not a very independent thinker,” Neighbors said. “I had a heart attack at 29. It was an eye-opening moment that your life’s really, really short.”

He evaluated himself and everything around him. He recognized he wasn’t a very fast or comprehensive reader, and immediately set about changing that. He left teaching and coaching at the high school level to go into college coaching, despite it initially being a drastic pay cut. He began to write down his philosophies on living and working, then passed them around for people to read.

Seattle Times: How UW’s Talia Walton draws strength from mother’s battle with liver cancer.

Graham: The combination that could crack UConn code

Jamie Weisner and Sydney Wiese helped lead Oregon State from the bottom of Division I to the top of the mountain, only to find a volcano beneath their feet.

A volcano from the otherwise rolling hills of New England that erupted 120 of the past 121 times it rumbled.

Top shot blockers Breanna Stewart, Ruth Hamblin will square off in semifinals

Harvey, NY Times: UConn’s Seniors Are 2 Wins From a Feat Never Accomplished

Mechelle: Unfazed and focused UConn blocks out the noise

Beware of the bubble! No, not the usual bubble referred to in the NCAA tournament. But the UConn bubble. It is made of some very powerful stuff. No women’s basketball team has more outside “noise” to deal with, yet nobody deals with it better.

Whether it’s praise or criticism — and UConn has been so consistently great, sometimes the praise actually sounds like criticism — it seems to have no effect on the undefeated Huskies, who are seeking to become the first women’s basketball team to win four consecutive NCAA titles.

Breanna Stewart’s teammate: ‘People don’t get to see how fun she is’

BTW: UConn Vs. WNBA Team? Don’t Go There, Say Lobo, Lawson, Burke

Don’t forget, Monday’s games… Meet the Alaska Anchorage Hoosiers

Alaska Anchorage’s Seawolves are about as “Hoosiers” as you can get, considering their campus is more than 3,000 miles from Indiana.

The 33-year-old women’s basketball coach, Ryan McCarthy, loves the movie and fulfilled a lifelong goal Friday — he shot a jumper at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The men’s record-holder for scoring average, the Seawolves’  Jesse Jackson, is from Indianapolis. A former basketball coach and athletic director, Harry Larrabee, is from Shelbyville. Basketball icon Oscar Robertson is the great-great-uncle of Anchorage women’s  guard Kiki Robertson.

And you thought the rural domicile of Hickory’s “Shooter” Flatch was in a remote location?

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Upset 1: #7 Washington over #2 Maryland

The Terrapins started slowly, caught up in the second, then stumbled badly in the third. Washington, behind the super (will she leave for the W?) Plum held off the Maryland in the fourth… Though, when Brene Moseley nailed that three with 32 seconds left… gulp. But, the Huskies free throw shooting held steady. They claimed the upset and a spot in the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2001.

UW women stun Maryland, reach Sweet 16 of NCAA tournament

Of all of her key plays Monday night, none sent Washington women’s basketball guard Kelsey Plum into the same life-affirming giddiness as her game-sealing pass to Talia Walton.

Mechelle: Voepel: How Plum and UW stunned Maryland

Sweet Plum: UW astonishes Terps, marches to Sweet 16

Washington’s success plan comes with Plum benefits

Maryland women’s basketball loses to Washington, 74-65

Maryland women’s basketball saw its season screech to a halt against Washington

Gene: Maryland women stunned by Washington in NCAA tournament round of 32

Maryland women ‘numb’ after upset loss to Washington means early exit from NCAA tourney

Upset 2: #5 Florida State over #4 Texas A&M

Honestly, you’ll never really know… but you’ve got to believe that having the second leading scorer on the court would have made a difference for Texas A&M. No do-overs, as Florida State used a dominant first quarter to demoralize the Aggies and glide to a 18 point win.

Florida State overpowers A&M, ends Aggies’ season

FSU Women Dominate Aggies 74-56, Advance to Sweet 16

A&M women fall behind early, lose to Florida St.

Florida State saw the epic comeback of the Texas A&M’s men over Northern Iowa on Sunday night, and the Seminoles were not about to let the Aggies do the same thing to them on Monday night.
With a 21-point lead down to just 10 points with two minutes remaining, senior Adut Bulgak implored her teammates not to let up.
“I was like, ‘Yo, they’re creeping up on us. Get to work,’ ” she said.

Almost an upset: Stanford over South Dakota State

‘Ware the Wabbits indeed. Lili Thompson came to Stanford’s rescue with a last second and-1 to get the win. Coach Tara will look at the box score (10 of 22 from line) and just shake her head. South Dakota State will probably kick a wall.

How Stanford rallied past South Dakota State and into the Sweet 16

Gritty Stanford ekes way to Sweet 16

Thompson’s 3-point play with 8.2 seconds left lifts Stanford

NCAA women’s tournament: Stanford punches ticket to Sweet 16

Women’s basketball survives scare to advance to ninth straight Sweet 16

Cardinal’s grit just enough to eke past upset-minded Jackrabbits

Heartbreak in Cali: Stanford rallies to stun Jacks

South Dakota State’s upset bid over Stanford falls short in NCAA women’s basketballtournament

Boever, South Dakota State lose heartbreaker

Almost an Upset: UCLA over South Florida

UCLA had a Jordin-free early run to put them up over South Florida… and then it became the Canada v. Williams extravaganza. Their hug at the end of the game said it all… the Bruins hold off Bulls’ upset dreams.

UCLA battles past South Florida to reach Sweet 16 for first time since 1999

UCLA Women’s Basketball Are Heading To The Sweet Sixteen!

Women’s basketball handles USF in second round, advances to the Sweet 16

USF rally comes up short against UCLA at NCAA women’s tournament

Not an upset: Notre Dame over Indiana

What a great effort by Teri Moren’s Indiana team. They went toe-to-toe with in-state behemoth and kept the Irish honest. Plenty for the Hoosiers to be proud of and build on (they only have ONE senior) Plenty for coach McGraw to work on.

Notre Dame Women’s Basketball Gets By Indiana, Advances to Sweet 16

If Monday night’s second-round match-up against ninth-seeded Indiana is any indication, it will not be an easy road to the Final Four for the Notre Dame women’s basketball team. But in the end, the Irish did what they usually do, which is to say they prevailed, 87-70.

Notre Dame women earn Sweet Sixteen berth with victory over Indiana

Notre Dame gets by pesky Hoosiers

Indiana gives Notre Dame plenty to think about

Buss, IU Bow Out of NCAA Tournament

Not an upset: Kentucky over Oklahoma

An 8-point second quarter doomed the Sooners against the Wildcats. Yes, Kentucky came away with the win, but they’ve got to be concerned about Epps and her (sprained?) shoulder.

Hays: How Kentucky ousted Oklahoma

UK women advance with win over Oklahoma

Any hope of a Sooners comeback ended when they missed 11 of their final 12 shots in the game.

“If we play defense like that and we continue to get better, we’re hard to beat,” senior guard Janee Thompson said.

Kentucky pulls away from Oklahoma 79-58 in NCAA second round

Cats’ lone senior comes up big in final game at Memorial Coliseum

Epps’ return inspires Kentucky to Sweet 16

Lady Sooners Fall to Kentucky in NCAA Second Round

OU women’s basketball: Kentucky finishes OU’s season

 

Not an upset: Texas over Missouri

#2 Texas started strong and rebuffed any and all of Missouri’s attempts to make it a game.

Interior game lifts Texas women into Sweet 16

As a reward for its best regular season in 12 years, the Texas women’s basketball team was allowed to spend the first week of the NCAA Tournament using its home baskets.

But that didn’t mean the Longhorns had to let their visitors near them.

Atkins and Texas overpowers Missouri 73-55 to Sweet 16

Missouri women’s basketball ends season with second-round NCAA loss to Texas

Not an upset: UConn over Duquesne

UConn started slow, but then blew it open in the second half. Stewart had some fun, too.

Charlie: UConn’s seniors go out on top in Gampel farewell

UConn’s Second-Quarter Wave Swamps Duquesne

Record-setting season for Duquesne women’s basketball ends against mighty UConn

I’m wicked excited about the next round…

Voepel previews each matchup of the Sweet 16

Charlie: Quick Dish: Welcome to the Sweet 16

Richard D: Six thoughts heading into the Sweet 16

1. Washington blows up the Lexington region

The tournament’s most impressive win came on Monday when No. 7 Washington knocked off No. 2 Maryland on the Terps’ home court. This wasn’t just a No. 7 seed upsetting a No. 2 seed, though: Maryland was a top-5 team all season and plenty of people believed it would end up Indianapolis for a third consecutive Final Four.

WNIT:

Tulane (American) over Georgia Tech (ACC)
Tulane started slowly but surged in the second to snatch the lead away from Georgia Tech. The Green Wave held on for the 64-61 win.

Florida Gulf Coast University (A-Sun) over Wake Forest (ACC)
FGCU did their best to put the game away in the first quarter and kept Wake Forest at arms’ length through the rest of the game. Eagle’s win, 67-48.

St. Louis (A-10) over Ball State (MAC)
Up one at the half of a low scoring game, the Billikens and Cardinals went neck and neck through the second half. In the end, St. Louis had just enough to win, 59-55.

Western Kentucky (C-USA) over Tennessee-Martin (Ohio Valley)
A monster second quarter gave Tennessee-Martin a 9-point halftime lead over Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers roared back with a 25pt third and held off the Skyhawks to earn a 64-57 win. WKU’s Tashia Brown scored an efficient 32 pts (11-22).

UTEP (C-USA) over Arkansas State (Sun Belt)
It was a battle (is it me, or can you describe a LOT of the WNIT games like that?) but the Miners dug deep and got the win.

Monday night’s game was a battle of two talented mid-major teams who deserved NCAA Tournament bids, but instead they took their frustrations out on each other in a hard fought, 74-68 UTEP win in the second round of the WNIT Tournament.

Utah (Pac12) over Gonzaga (WCC)
Four quarters of 20+ scoring (on the Gonzaga’s home court!) guaranteed the Utes moved in to the next round. Yup, something good is happening in the program under coach Roberts.

Oregon (Pac12) over Fresno State (MW)
The Ducks overwhelmed the Bulldogs, 84-59. Makes you say, “If not for those @&$^%@! ACLs.”

You can have football’s power play of three yards and a cloud of dust, or baseball’s power standard of the three-run homer.

When it comes to his power game in basketball, Oregon coach Kelly Graves will take three-pointers and a blur named Maite Cazorla any day of the week.

Hoping fans have notice the quality of the play and coaching across these Tourney Teams. I’m so encouraged… am I evil, peeking ahead at next year and thinking “Wide. Open.”? Am I hopeful, thinking the NCAA committees will meet to not just discuss the rules of the game but the rules of the selection process? It’s a conundrum, I know, on how to give the mid-majors the respect that they deserve. BUT, it’s worth some serious, creative thought, dontcha think?

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

So, yeah, many of the conference tournaments have started, but I honestly didn’t think I’d have to worry about the first rounds…

“DOH!” says the Ohio Valley. Murray State straight up stuns #1 Tennessee-Martin. How big an upset? The Pacers are 11-16 (7-9) and the Skyhawks are 21-8 (14-2). The Skyhawks just played Murray State to close out the season and beat them by 21. SIEU must be thinkin’ “We don’t screw up, we get into the NCAA.” Of course, Belmont might be thinkin’ the exact same thing.

Fly, Eagles, fly: FGCU leads mid-major rankings into the postseason

If mid-major teams often play with the freedom of nothing to lose in the NCAA tournament, perhaps it’s because they already survived the part of the season when there was everything to lose. With NCAA at-large bids rarely a certainty, a season’s worth of good work can vanish within a few bad minutes in a conference tournament. But with automatic bids soon up for grabs, here is a final look at the rankings.

Wow, being a Clemson Tiger these days must be disheartening. 0-for in conference play.

You stay (Boyle), you go (Butts). This could be a busy list.

Oh, this could get ugly right quick: FIU women’s basketball coach suspended after alleged sexual misconduct

Crap: Theriot Will not Return for HuskersTheriot’s career had great moments, but also disappointment

The Nebraska women’s basketball team returns to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis this week for the Big Ten Conference Tournament, site of one of the great moments in the career of Rachel Theriot.

In 2014, Theriot helped lead the Huskers to the Big Ten Tournament championship, the program’s first title in their new league. Theriot was tournament MVP.

Theriot won’t be able to play in Thursday’s game against Rutgers. The senior point guard had surgery on her foot on Monday. That ends a career filled with lots of great games, but also disappointment, as her junior and senior seasons were each cut short because of injury.

So, I’m pleased that coach Dave Magarity is part of the WBCA’s “COY Region/Nominee” process. But, I’d like to mention that Army (26-2, 17-1) has had a (rather recent) tradition of winning. Bucknell, now 23-6, (17-1), not so much…

“It feels good to get a piece of a championship,” said fourth-year Bucknell head coach Aaron Roussell. “This team has been through so much, and for it to result in a banner in the rafters is very rewarding. I’ve been told Army is one of the better teams in the history of the Patriot League, so for us to match them at 17-1 is an incredible accomplishment.”

Bucknell’s run through the league schedule started with an eight-game winning streak, including a victory over Army West Point. The Bison’s lone loss came to the Black Knights and has been followed by their current nine-game winning streak that they will take into the postseason. The streak is tied for the longest in program history.

Woot! to the NCAA’s “Team of the Week:”

Fresh off of claiming the school’s third Conference USA regular season title in program history (2008, 2012 and 2016), the UTEP Miners continue to impress as the calendar turns to March. UTEP clinched the title on Feb. 27 when they outlasted Charlotte, 94-91, in double overtime in front of a roaring 4,012 fans at the Don Haskins Center.

UTEP, 25-2 overall and 16-1 in Conference USA play, matched school and league records for single-season Conference USA victories this year. The Miners also concluded the home portion of their schedule at a flawless 16-0, marking the second undefeated home campaign (14-0) in program history.

Speaking of the Miners: UTEP star Turner overcomes struggle and thrives

Growing up in the hardscrabble parts of Dallas, Turner spent some nights on a floor in an apartment with six of her siblings, some at houses of various coaches looking out for her. Some days she ate better than others. Those days, she didn’t pass out in a gym. Some days she did pass out in the gym. Going to practice hungry was common.

Turner learned the rules of the street.

“I saw shootings, killings,” Turner said. “You hear shots and you get down on the ground, protect yourself. I saw lots of drugs, weed, cocaine, prostitution. Not a lot of girls I went to school with went on to college. I wanted to break that cycle; I didn’t want that to be my story.”

But there’s another part to this: Turner isn’t running from anything.

Speaking of players overcoming:

This year has not been what anyone expects of Iowa State, least of all the Cyclones themselves. This is a proud and distinguished program that’s used to the postseason; Iowa State has gone to the NCAA tournament 16 of the past 19 seasons, including the past nine years in a row.

But the Cyclones finished the regular season Tuesday at 13-16 overall after an 82-57 loss to West Virginia.

So why did it still seem like such an uplifting night in Ames, Iowa?

Because Iowa State guard Seanna Johnson was back on the court, after a very emotionally difficult past 10 days in what’s been a challenging season for the Cyclones. Johnson had missed the previous two games while at home in Minnesota with her family after her father, Curtis Johnson, suffered a stroke on Feb. 20.

Speaking of really good players: Courtney Williams worked hard to become one of game’s top players

You’ve heard the story before, countless times. It’s about the high school standout who comes to college and becomes perplexed and frustrated that what once came pretty easily had become challenging.

Common as the scenario is, it’s still a major hurdle to clear for every player who encounters it. But if she does, it’s a process she never forgets.

South Florida senior guard Courtney Williams can attest to this. She has become one of the top players in college, and is looking forward to a professional career. But she had to go through that “what I am doing wrong?” phase at one point, too.

Ladies, start your engines! UConn ready to raise the bar even higher in postseason

The undefeated Huskies are like a standout Broadway troupe that has been doing the same show for a while. They have all their lines memorized and know every mark they must hit. So how, when you’ve been essentially nailing it again and again, do you still find another gear?

That’s really the “secret” of championship teams, isn’t it? Even when they appear to be at their best, there’s somewhere else to climb.

“Back in the day, we used to say, there’s regular-season Shea Ralph, and there’s tournament Shea,” Auriemma said of the former Huskies star and current UConn assistant coach who was the most outstanding player of the 2000 Women’s Final Four. “And those are two different things. And we like to think that our team is the same way.

Ya-da-UConn “undefeated” Ya-da-UConn “national champions” Ya-da… NOT UConn?      Johnson County women’s basketball team shooting for perfect season: Defending NJCAA Division II champs are 30-0 entering postseason

The Johnson County Community College women’s basketball program earned its bona fides long ago and its second national championship last season. The Cavaliers are accustomed to winning.

So when coach Ben Conrad says: “It is surprising we haven’t gotten beat. That’s not normal,” it’s apparent something is up.

JCCC begins postseason play Tuesday with a 30-0 record, the first time the Cavaliers have finished the regular season undefeated. All but two of those wins have come by double digits. Most of those double-digit wins have been margins rarely seen outside of video games.

Looking ahead, Charlie says: NCAA’s final reveal holds small clues for Selection Monday

Mechelle, who’s been writing up a storm, notes: Bubble teams look to make big noise during Championship Week

In the five major conferences — which accounted for five automatic and 27 at-large NCAA berths last year — there are some bubble guppies and bubble sharks. The guppies don’t have much NCAA tournament history, while the sharks do — but as the “bubble” part of their description suggests, both are in precarious positions in regard to this year’s tournament.

Let’s take a quick look around the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC as they get set to face off for conference supremacy and automatic tickets to the Big Dance.

Check out the ‘Around the Rim’: Championship Week Preview podcast with Chiney and LaChina

During the first half, the two are joined by Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame coach Lin Dunn to discuss if UConn’s recent slow starts should be concerning, SMU coach Rhonda Rompola’s retirement and her comments on “players’ entitlement” and front-runners for the national coach of the year award.

In the second half of the show, the duo chat with espnW’s bracketology expert Charlie Creme who breaks down the significance of the upcoming conference tournaments and sheds light on which teams could make a case for a tournament bid this weekend.

Connecticut’s WNBA Team Is More (and Less) Tied to UConn Than You Might Think

…as UConn continues its skyward trajectory under head coach Geno Auriemma, the Sun look toward the 2016 season — the WNBA’s 20th — facing an uphill climb, and a clear goal to strengthen its place in the state’s women’s basketball market after a run of disappointing seasons.

The best way to do that? Win.

“For us, it’s going to come down to: how do we legitimize ourselves?” said Chris Sienko, the Sun’s vice president and general manager. “People know who we are. We’ve done great things. We have to win a championship. I think that’s when people start putting us in the same conversation with UConn.”

Hello, Prez! Atlanta Dream names Theresa Wenzel new president

WATN? Jessica Davenport: A Global Basketball Journey Close To Home

One Last Time: Q&A with WNBA star, Olympian and author Tamika Catchings

In her new book, “Catch A Star: Shining through Adversity to Become a Champion,” co-written by Ken Petersen, she details her life as the daughter of professional basketball player Harvey Catchings, how she adapted to her hearing impairment as a child, how she sought refuge in sports and how the joys and sorrows molded her into the person she is today. At the recent USA Basketball national team training camp in Storrs, Connecticut, Catchings spoke to espnW about the book and why she wrote it.

Thanks for the story, Sally: Going on offense vs. Down syndrome: Most people saw limits for Frankie Antonelli. Parents Frank and Debbie saw potential.

They had counted with an unthinking confidence on having healthy kids, maybe even a team roster’s worth. She played basketball at North Carolina State before becoming a sportscaster, and he hit .400 for the Columbia University baseball team before making a career in elite sports management, and they hoped to add some quality little strivers to the general population. Their first child was an easy birth, and they were so confident of their second that she played nine holes of golf the day he was born. Then he came out scrunched up with the cord around his neck, and holes in his heart.

The doctors spoke in dead-end terms, even the ones who tried to be positive. Though it was 1997 and not the Victorian Age, one said, “Don’t let anybody tell you to institutionalize him.” Statistics showed most Down syndrome children would not see 50.

He won’t develop properly, they said, or play games like other children. “I can’t tell you how many times I heard the words can’t and won’t,” Debbie says. Defeatist words. They seemed to apply as much to her, as to him. You can’t have a career with a disabled child. You won’t be able to work.

But the Antonellis were athletes, and athletes don’t deal in can’t and won’t. They deal in can, and will.

Eighteen years later, Frankie Antonelli is a junior in high school with sparkling eyes, and a well-defined V shape from fitness training. “Hi, I’m Frankie, I’m a celebrity,” he says, wise-guy-like as he introduces himself to a reporter. With a motor-speech impediment that doesn’t dull his meaning, he proceeds to argue with some spirit that he’s the best basketball player in the Antonelli Driveway Series.

Video: Coordinator of Pac-12 women’s basketball officiating Violet Palmer reflects on a pioneering career

Congrats to Brenda VanLengen, winner of the 2016 WBCA Mel Greenberg Media Award.

On a dabnabbit, but congrats note, WHB fave Jim Massie is closing up shop at the Columbus Dispatch. Hopefully he’s at the top of the Mel list next year.

Read Full Post »

Well, crap: Knee injury ends season, collge career for Jillian Alleyne, Oregon Ducks star forward

Remember when IUPUI was really awful. Thursday, they took down the Wabbits. They get to play the Coyotes today….

For the first time in 25 games, Siena beat Marist.

SNICK. The C-USA got tight as Western Kentucky took care of Middle Tennessee, 62-51.

The WCC continues to be interesting: San Diego over Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s over Santa Clara.

#13 Stanford knocked the teeth outta the #7 Beavers, 76-54.

Princeton is licking their Ivy League championships chops: Cornell pulled off the stunner, topping Penn, 51-46.

Looking ahead to Saturday: 

#5 Ohio State v. #20 Michigan State. Can the Buckeyes recover their moxie? Can the Spartans get folks to believe in them?

Temple v. #21 USF. An Owl win could make the the NCAAs a realistic goal – which makes this news intriguing: Two players exit women’s basketball program

2nd place in the Horizon: Wright State v. Milwaukee

Always pay attention to the WCC: San Francisco will battle Saint Mary’s, BYU v. Gonzaga.

Big Sky is up for grabs: Idaho (12-3) v. Eastern Washington (12-3).

#22 Oklahoma State v. West Virginia. The Mountaineers have made enough noise to get the attention of the Selection Committee. Both teams are 10-6 in the Big 12. An upset would really seal the deal.

It’s a home game, so I don’t thing UTEP will be looking a head… ’cause the 49ers sure deserve their attention.

Senior Day at UConn prompts ESPN’s MC Barrett to ask: Is Breanna Stewart the best UConn player in history?

Harvey is back! (And writing long form) Breanna Stewart, UConn’s Wow Factor, Always Had a Sweep in Mind

With Auriemma’s standard roster of multipositional excellence beside her, Stewart has, in her time at Connecticut, indisputably qualified as one of those rare raise-the-bar talents. She has occasionally been heralded by pundits as potentially the best female player ever.

“And if you want to be considered that good, you’ve got to have those wow moments — in games, in practices,” Auriemma said. “Every day, Michael Jordan did something that made you say, What?”

That is what Auriemma believes Stewart is capable of on the women’s scale of athletic enhancement. And while he does not deal in ranking individuals across playing eras, given Connecticut’s parade of elite alumnae, he did offer contextual elaboration by recounting another of Stewart’s wow moments, from this season, one with a better result, if not a perfect one.

Sunday: 

Georgia Tennessee. A battle of unranked SEC teams will garner a lot of attention.

An interesting A-10 battle: Duquesne (13-2) v. St. Bonaventure (11-4)

Equally interesting battle between two 16-3 teams in MAAC: Quinnipiac v. Iona.

Duke v. UNC: Two blue teams – literally and psychically.

Minnesota v. #6 Maryland. Obviously, the Gophers have to play a better out-of-conference schedule… but Rachel they are sure are doing their best to get noticed. Will the Terps have gotten the message?

From Salt Lake: Alta product Makenzi Morrison Pulsipher exceeding expectations at BYU

About that great Dane: Albany’s Caribbean-born Shereesha Richards an aspiring pro

About that Grand Bahamian: Despite Injury, Jonquel On Pace To Be Wnba Draft Lottery Pick

Speaking of the draft: Countdown to the 2016 WNBA Draft: No. 8 South Florida’s Courtney Williams

Looking ahead: Diana Taurasi refreshed for Phoenix Mercury return, 4th Olympics

Interesting: Her Love Of Basketball Knows No Boundaries, But U.S. Law Says Otherwise

Jo had 26 points and 10 rebounds that March night in 2009 in San Antonio, and those numbers don’t begin to tell half of her story. The New England prep school player of the year in 2005, she would go on to be a two-time Division II player of the year and the all-time D-II leading scorer. Drafted by the Connecticut Sun in 2010, Jo played for Great Britain in the 2012 Olympics and tied Erika de Souza of Brazil as leading scorer. Jo Leedham, who played in a few exhibition games in 2013 with the Sun, plays for Bourges in France. She scored 28 points Thursday for Great Britain in a stirring comeback over Montenegro in a Eurobasket qualifier.

Kirsty, meanwhile, starred at Cheshire Academy and at Caldwell (N.J.) College before becoming a graduate assistant while getting her MBA in sports management at New Haven. She returned to coach Cheshire Academy for two years before becoming coordinator of player development at Binghamton this season.

No family has given any more to New England small college basketball, to New England basketball, in the past decade. That’s worth remembering today as Jen Leedham fights to remain in this country.

A little audio: Swin Cash On Internet Trolls, Life After Basketball

Even though it’s 2016, Cash has still dealt with the less-than-desirable underbelly of the internet. You know, the ones who are dumbfounded that a black woman would be able to talk about professional sports from merit and experience. No mind that the WNBA star is one of the most decorated athletes with her pair of NCAA National Titles, treble of WNBA Championships as well as two Olympic gold medals, of course.

Cash brushes off the ignorant, baseless criticism.

“You have to have a sharp mind to have discernment of what’s coming in and what you’re actually putting out,” said Cash.

Have you listened to the new audio source: ‘Around the Rim’: Talking Women’s College Hoops

Speakin’ of audio: Dishin & Swishin 2/25/16 Podcast: Moriah Jefferson ready to join the Huskies of Honor, but what comes next?

Lady Swish asks: Is your team going to the NCAA tournament?

In theory, each of the state’s 13 teams could qualify for the NCAAs by winning their conference tournaments. Barring that, we feel that only four Virginia schools have even an outside chance of nabbing an at-large bid. Virginia schools have gone five years without receiving an at-large bid. Based on what our teams have done so far, that streak is likely to continue in 2016.

Here’s our thinking on what’s going to happen as we approach postseason:

Mike Siroky’s SEC Notebook: The Upperclasswomen Lead the Way

The Ben-Gals won their third SEC game this season by one. The Orange lightning is crashing over the once-proud UT program that hit its bottom. Doesn’t matter how they lost. 
 
It’s that they lost.
 
The Lady Vols proved once again they have no clue this season. This should be the death knell for the assistant coaches because that’s the only way an embattled coach makes a perception she is willing to accept blame and make changes.
 
The urban legend that former Pat Head Summitt players make good coaches is dead. D-E-A-D dead. 
 
Not Holly Warlick, not anyone else. 
 
The campus is embroiled in too many other coming lawsuits and other distractions in the important campus sports to make a direct move on Warlick.
 
It is over. As in so many other things.

A little history: 40 years later: Judi Warren stole the show at first girls basketball state finals

“Judi Warren,” Brown said. “Anybody who was  there would tell you they were impressed with Judi Warren. She pretty much dominated play and she was such an exciting personality. If it was just ho-hum, who knows how it would have gone. But she was so fun to watch.”

The girls basketball finals will be played on Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, 40 years after Warsaw’s 5-1 Warren captured the hearts of Hoosiers. She played with the exuberance of a first-grader allowed 20 minutes extra at recess. For Warren and her Warsaw teammates, the 1976 state finals marked the culmination of four years of playing mostly in front of family and close friends.

If Warren had graduated one year earlier, she would have never had the opportunity.

USA Basketball: Geno Auriemma pleased with camp, but questions linger for Team USA and Geno Auriemma, USA Basketball Face Tough Decisions With A Luxury Of Riches

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »