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Around the games:

The Tennessee-Missouri game was tight. And then it got feisty. The Vols prevailed, but you’ve gotta wonder what kind of suspensions might be in their future.

An Old Big East matchup produces an upset: St. John’s vs. Seton Hall: Red Storm stands firm against #24 Pirates.

One team cracked under the pressure. It wasn’t the team I was expecting. One phenomenal backcourt got into foul trouble and was never quite the same. It wasn’t the backcourt I was expecting.

OT produces another upset. Villanova (6-7) takes down prohibitive New Big East favorite, #25 DePaul, 79-76. Why? The Blue Demons went ice cold at the end of the game and in OT, but they also shot 4-19 on threes and the Wildcats shot 7-13.

#17 Mississippi State held serve against #19 Georgia, 64-56. The Bulldogs are still undefeated, and the locals are noticing: While MSU men’s hoops struggle, women’s team surges

Two programs under third-year coaches host big-name opponents today at Humphrey Coliseum.

The similarities end there. They are two programs heading in opposite directions.

Mississippi State’s men’s basketball squad is 1-5 in its last six games. Meanwhile, the women’s team, led by coach Vic Schaefer, is 15-0, marking the best start and longest winning streak in school history.

Yup, Florida State is legit. Notre Dame turned a one-point halftime deficit (and a 9-point second half deficit) into a six-point win.

Losing senior Aleighsa Welch to a neck sprain (she’s okay) didn’t derail South Carolina’s dismantling of Auburn, 77-58.

Around the Conferences:

Penn Quakers: Women’s Basketball Eyes Big 5 Title vs Temple

 Penn will start 2015 with possibly the biggest Big 5 matchup in school history. The Quakers can clinch a share of their first-ever Big 5 title with a win over Temple at The Palestra on Monday night. The Red and Blue haven’t beaten the Owls at home in more than 15 years, but snapped a nine-game losing streak in the series last season at McGonigle Hall. Tip off is set for 7 p.m., and the game can be seen on the Ivy League Digital Network.

Pac-12 women’s basketball primer: Is Stanford still the favorite?

Scott Rueck isn’t sure if the Pac-12 is the most competitive conference in women’s basketball. 

But the Oregon State coach believes his league belongs in the discussion.

OSU women’s basketball: Beavers ready for competitive Pac-12 campaign

There’s no doubt the No. 13 Oregon State women’s basketball team is prepared for the upcoming rigors of a Pac-12 schedule that features numerous deep and talented teams.

So are several other teams thanks to some solid nonconference battles against ranked teams.

The conference showed well over the first part of the season with three Pac-12 teams knocking off top-6 opponents.

‘We’re playing to win the conference’: UMaine women’s basketball opens America East slate against Albany

There was a time not too long ago that facing the University at Albany might have been a daunting prospect for the University of Maine women’s basketball team.

And while the Black Bears have the utmost respect for the three-time defending America East champions, they are beginning to feel as though they’re very much in the same league as the Great Danes.

Well, carp:

Bowling Green State University women’s basketball student-athletes  Erica Donovan Lauren Webb  are expected to miss the remainder of the 2014-15 season due to injury, head coach  Jennifer Roos has announced. Both Donovan, a redshirt junior, and Webb, a freshman, were injured during the Falcons’ win at Illinois State University on Dec. 19.

Additionally, redshirt freshman  Leah Bolton will apply for a medical retirement with the NCAA due to recurring injuries, ending her BGSU playing career.

That’s one, by one: St. Peter’s over Rider, 50-49.

Also in the MAAC, looks like it might be a dog fight between Quinnipiac, Marist and… Canisius?

FGCU had to come back strong in the second half to defeat Harvard, 68-58. BTW, the Eagles will pick up Georgia transfer Sydnei McCaskill.

Clemson has not been good for a long, long time. But under first-year coach Audra Smith, they did come back from 11 down to take down Virginia Tech in OT. Keep an eye on the Tigers’ senior Nikki Dixon.

Well, well, well. The Cornell Bears stun the Penguins, 75-63.

Whoops! Looks like the WHB curse is in effect: Wichita St. over Indiana State, 63-52, as Alex Harden tied a WSU record with 11 (!) steals.

Worth a read and look: Sarah Kadazi from CBS Sports offers a lovely piece as she follows up with the Richmond Spiders: Healing in the Game:

The story begins here, where the glaring overhead lights bounce off the giant red spider down at center court. The Richmond Spiders women’s basketball team trots out, a mélange of braids, ponytails and curls bobbing in unison in front of 7,200 empty seats. It’s a late-October preseason practice at the Robins Center arena, and this is where the healing happens.

Here, a scolding about a missed defensive assignment is a reminder of the right now, a fixture in the normal. Five months ago, this tight-knit family’s fabric was torn, when two of its core members — associate head coach Ginny Doyle and director of basketball operations Natalie Lewis — embarked on a hot-air balloon ride and never came home. The wounds are fresh. The upcoming basketball season is long. Every second spent on the court is an act of resilience.

Around the country: Babcock McGraw: Top women’s sports stories

6. Magic moment: In January, shock waves hit the WNBA when the Los Angeles Sparks laid off their front office staff and suspended operations. A marquee cornerstone of the league, the Sparks had lost $12 million since 2007, including $1.4 million in 2013.

In February, Magic Johnson and Los Angeles Dodgers chairman Mark Walter partnered to buy the Sparks, saving the franchise, from relocation or contraction.

From Nate: The Best of Swish Appeal: The top 10 most popular women’s basketball stories of 2014

Most popular story overall: Becky Hammon makes her NBA coaching debut (Albert Lee)

 Most popular NCAA story: Daisha Simmons’ roommate Brittany Jack sharing her own experience at Alabama (Mike Robinson/Brittany Jack)

Atlanta Dream team executives eyes stake in Hawks

Two of Atlanta’s top business leaders and their wives — Kelly Loeffler and Jeffrey Sprecher, CEO of the Intercontinental Exchange Inc.; and Mary and John Brock, CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. — are exploring an ownership stake in the Atlanta Hawks.

Their main interest, however, is the Atlanta Dream — the local WNBA team — which is owned by Kelly Loeffler and Mary Brock.

From Swish Appeal: WNBA collective bargaining agreement posted at player website

Time-off bonus: These bonuses are granted to players who decide to spend some amount of time playing overseas which is less than or equal to 90 days.  (And remember, zero days is less than 90 days.)  This bonus is $50,000 for players and can be split among more than one players.  Teams can decide to increase or decrease these bonuses in subsequent seasons, but by no more than two percent of the time off bonus for the first year ($1,000).  They can also decide how many days they wish to limit the players receiving the bonus in spending time playing overseas – and that limit can be set at zero.

League minimums and salary caps:  With the 12 player rosters, league minimums and salary caps get a little hairy.

Finally: I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Muffet McGraw, but never on this topic: Not My Job: Coach Muffet McGraw Gets Quizzed On Tuffets

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Simmons cleared to play at Seton Hall

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Alabama now tells NCAA it will support waiver for former women’s basketball player Daisha Simmons

Alabama has changed its stance on former women’s basketball player Daisha Simmons.

Simmons left the school and transferred to Seton Hall University after graduating from Alabama. She had a release from Alabama to talk to other schools, but an original letter sent to the NCAA from Alabama did not support Simmons’ request to be immediately eligible.

But the stories still don’t quite mesh: Attorney for Daisha Simmons alleges Title IX violations, says Alabama knew family’s health problems

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Alabama and coach Curry get some more unwelcome attention: Alabama AD Bill Battle and women’s basketball coach Kristy Curry are the “Worst Persons in the Sports World

Rob Dauster: Alabama’s treatment of former player Daisha Simmons is shameful

To recap: Alabama refused to release a student-athlete who completed her undergraduate degree because, after she wasn’t accepted into the MBA program that she wanted to enroll in, she decided to move back home to be with her brother, who is fighting a disease that could kill him, while taking those graduate courses.

It’s worth noting here that four of her teammates reportedly transferred out of the program and received releases. But they left because they weren’t good enough. In other words, they were run off.

Very nice, Alabama.

Wendy Parker (BlueStar) Another nasty transfer battle in women’s basketball

Compared to its male counterpart, the sport of women’s basketball does better embody the ideal NCAA ethos of classroom accomplishment and academic success. Not many bad APR headlines to worry about here either.

But when Daisha Simmons had to alter her post-graduate educational plans this spring, she was unwittingly pulled into one of the increasingly ugly recent developments at the top levels of the women’s game.

Drew Champlin (AL) offers some interesting details:  Former Alabama player Daisha Simmons wanted Alabama to do more after granting her release

While Simmons acknowledges that Alabama granted her release – in contradiction to many published reports – she contends the university could have done more to help her obtain a waiver.

“They sent a letter to the NCAA saying they don’t support my (immediate) eligibility,” Simmons said.

 

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this sounds like a hot “denial of transfer” mess (with echoes of a more recent fiasco): Full timeline of Daisha Simmons’ request to transfer from Alabama to Seton Hall

From Asbury Park Press: Alabama called “spiteful” in block of Simmons transfer

Although they may threaten and delay and even impose conditions, college sports teams rarely block someone from transferring to play elsewhere.

Rarer still — virtually unheard of — is a college blocking a transfer who already has a degree.

The case of Daisha Simmons, then, is like Halley’s comet.

More from Swish Appeal: The sad story of Daisha Simmons’ fight to transfer from Alabama to Seton Hall

As reported by multiple outlets during the NCAA offseason, Alabama has taken a hard-line stance in blocking senior Daisha Simmons from transferring to Seton Hall for family reasons. ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas said in an interview with Swish Appeal that the NCAA has done the right thing in response to the blocked transfer request, but Alabama is “acting in a shameful fashion”.

In happier news: Dolson Gives Her Take on the U.S. Women’s National Team

First off, my time with U.S. Women’s National Team was a great experience. It was an honor just to be selected for training camp and then to make it past the first cut and to go with the team to France is something I am very proud of. I came in with confidence and I think that helped me throughout camp and ultimately helped me be in the final 15.

One of the biggest takeaways for me was that I was honored to be around women like Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus (among others). It truly was great to see how they carried themselves. I saw how hard they went in practice. I saw how motivated they were to do everything perfect — even down to streching. I even saw how they handled themselves off the court. When we were not practicing and there was some down time, nobody had headphones on or was in their own world. Everybody was talking and professional. I respected that. It was a learning opportunity for myself and it’s something I can use to my advantage in the future.

The Times-Picayune catches up with Pokey Chatman of Ama, still shining with Women’s National Basketball Association

A little “better late than never” from espnW: HEY FIBA, LET QATARI WOMEN PLAY

The best argument you can make against sports boycotts is that those who show up usually make history. Not those who stay away.

Think of Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Think of John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s Black Power salute at the 1968 Mexico City Games or baseball’s Jackie Robinson. Think of Kathrine Switzer sprinting to elude the race official who was trying to stop her from competing in the 1967 Boston Marathon or Venus Williams taking the microphone after winning the 2009 Dubai Tennis Championships and lamenting the absence of Shahar Pe’er, the Israeli woman who was banned by organizers and denied a visa to enter the Arabic country.

But sometimes refusing to play can actually be the right thing to do.

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This time it’s Rutgers: Daisha Simmons requests transfer from women’s basketball team and Nebraska (2nd player): Kellie McCann-Smith leaving NU women’s hoops team

Might be some coaches transferring, too: ODU balks at extension for women’s basketball coach Larry and the tweets are flying: SID Melissa Dudek says Boyle is not going, sources tell Jayda she is for a $1million gig and channel 7 says she’s a Cavalier.

Kristy Curry ain’t goin’ nowhere: Terms of Curry’s new contract released

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