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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.

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Looked what happened!

Richmond over George Mason by 3. 

Navy over Bucknell by 2 (2OT).

Sam Houston Over SE Louisiana by 1. 

Fairfield over Siena by 1. 

Presbyterian over Costal Carolina by 3.

Liberty over Winthrop by 7. (You’ll remember their coach, Kevin Cook)

#18 Nebraska over Minnesota by 3.

And that there are no upsets in women’s basketball?

#25 Texas A&M over #8 South Carolina AND it was in OT.

Michigan knocks of confusing #22 Purdue, 65-49.

West Virginia (unranked ’cause???) stomps all over #13 Iowa State, 73-59.

#20 NC State dittos that over #17 Florida State, 80-57.

(5-9) San Diego State over (10-6) Fresno State, 70-69, giving the Bulldogs their first loss in the Mountain West.

(SPOILER ALERT!!)
From tonight: #19 Arizona State over #15 Cal, 68-59.

In other fun games:

Oh, yeah, the A-10 is gonna be fun: Fordham Rams by 3 over the VCU Rams.

Wondering how the new job is sitting for coach Boyle as #3 Duke dismantles Virginia, 90-55.

#2 Notre Dame dusts fellow gold-wearing Pittsburgh, 109-66.

Hey! Penguins are 3-0 in the Horizon AND they beat Green Bay!

Welcome to the ACC Syracuse (12-5, 1-3).

Yes, this Kulas kid for Missouri is good, but even her 30 couldn’t save the Tigers from the Geaux Tigers.

So, anyone notice that Michigan State is undefeated in the Big 10? They face #16 Penn State on Sunday.

Coach Godsey and the Gaels get some well-deserved press: A new era begins at Iona

So far so very good for the new women’s basketball coach at Iona College, Billi Godsey. A 2003 graduate of Hofstra, Godsey is one of several young female coaches of color recently hired for head coaching jobs in Division I women’s college basketball.

“I knew I was coming into a very talented roster,” said Godsey, who has been acquainted with assistant coach-recruiting coordinator Ashlee Kelly since both coached at Division II schools. “I’m one of the lucky ones. It was easy for me to get them to buy into what we wanted to do a little bit differently from last year and still play in a style they’re successful in, an up-tempo type of style.”

Superb news: Women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell in remission

Well yes, Beth and Debbie, the new rules have increased scoring dramatically. And yes, that is different than improving shooting percentages, though. No rules will replace the skills that need to be learned in high school and AAU ball. What’s the solution, folks?

Speaking of solutions... “Please buy the Sparks!”

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“All the ones have another loss to one of  the other ones.”

Yup!

Has ESPN’s women’s bball page updated their podcast listing?

Nope!

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this: Women as sports analysts? Yes, we can

Years ago, when I was a young, single gal in Los Angeles, I was set up on a blind date. I was promised this guy would be perfect for me — an Ivy League graduate, tall, funny, ambitious and into sports. Less than five minutes into the date, upon hearing I was an associate producer for a national nightly highlight show, he blurted out, “You’re probably going to hate me for saying this, but I can’t stand hearing women talk about football.”

I bit my tongue, hoping somehow he’d save himself.

“I mean, even if a woman does know what she’s talking about when it comes to football, which is rare, I still can’t stand hearing a female voice talk about it.”

Needless to say, there was no second date.

And so, I encourage you to make an effort to listen to Michelle & Mechelle and Debbie & Beth (easier when ESPN updates the link to their LATEST blog) or David & Sundry Folks. All have “cred” — even if you don’t like what they say. And they’re talking about our game because, as somebody name Helen wrote in her article: Media Coverage and the Alternatives: Paper, Pods, Streams, and Blogs

Even as we track the steady growth in popularity of women’s basketball, it’s not unusual for coaches, players and fans to feel that media coverage has not kept pace.

“Progress doesn’t necessarily move on a linear line in terms of coverage of sports,” explained Mechelle Voepel, sportswriter for the Kansas City Star and a regular contributor to ESPN.com. “It really depends on the personalities that are involved at a newspaper and the commitment of that newspaper to diversify its coverage. Also, it can follow an economic cycle. And all those things can change over time. For instance, you could have a newspaper that ten years ago might have been doing a much better job of women’s basketball than it is doing now, just because of one of those factors.”

***

PODS ‘R US
Podcasts – recorded audio that can be accessed on-demand through an online link or downloaded onto a portable media player – have become an increasingly affordable way to offer access to post-game news conferences or one-on-one interviews with players and coaches. “Shootaround with Beth and Debbie,” is a slightly more ambitious project. Developed in collaboration with the WBCA and hosts Beth Mowins and Debbie Antonelli, it’s the first weekly podcast offering in-depth coverage of women’s basketball.

“You can hear ten different opinions from ten different guys on the national scene with radio shows and T.V. shows,” observed Mowins, “and we thought there was a need for discussion around the country [about women’s basketball] and nobody’s doing it. Debbie [Antonelli] and I like talking about basketball and so we said, let’s try this.”

Self-admitted technical neophytes, the pair first sought advice from the television and radio people they’d worked with concerning the necessary software and hardware. Now, months later, they’re negotiating the logistics of mixers, time zones and conference calls to produce a half-hour show that features interviews, opinions, and the occasional dose of intriguing stats. “It’s all fallen into place and now it’s a matter of being as creative as we can,” said Mowins. “We’re starting to get more emails from people – folks who know a good story in college basketball or are making suggestions. We’re getting some reaction emails, too: ‘Hey, you said this and I agree or I disagree.’ Now the challenge is trying to build this is — how do you market this, who’s our audience.”

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From Awful Announcing: CBS SPORTS NETWORK ANNOUNCER TRIES TO HELP TERRIBLE GAME

 

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about Debbie “what are we put on the floor to do? Score!” Antonelli, her relationship with Coach Yow, Coach Yow’s fight against cancer, and how Debbie used coach Yow’s lessons in her own life.

BTW, the Kay Yow Foundation has raised 4.6 million dollars in four years.

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Antonelli has never shied away from pushing the envelope with her opinion. (Did you hear what she had to say about St. Bonaventure last podcast? I’d link you directly to the podcast, but the ESPN site doesn’t allow that. Brilliant!)

Anyhoo, next podcast ought to be up soon, and the twosome breakdown the first and second round.

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wouldn’t you say?

Here’s what Debbie Antonelli, Kara Lawson, Rebecca Lobo and Stephanie White, Beth Mowins and Brenda VanLengen have to say about a season “that featured non-traditional teams and players emerging, new teams jumping into the top 25 and exciting games being played across the board.” (WHB note: Except for most every Big Monday game…)

Memorable moment from a particular venue or fan base of a game you covered?

LOBO: My moment happened after the UConn at Baylor game ended when fans were allowed to come onto the court. A bunch of elementary and middle-school-aged kids began playing basketball and the Baylor men’s team joined them for an impromptu pickup game. I’ve never seen anything like it, and it was awesome.

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Big Monday triple header preview. Hoopfeed’s Cheryl Coward and David Siegel and Ohio State/Penn State co-game-caller Stephanie White. Lots of talk about the tourney brackets/hosts/seeding.

Debbie says ‘ware the Terps, was somewhat physic re: St. John’s, and sets up how Texas might make the Tourney

Cheryl warns Green Bay and Delaware may hit a wall.

Beth wonders about the wonders of the RPI and its impact.

Steph talks Big 10 conundrums.

My input: Thanks to Cheryl for mentioning the “other” conference undefeateds.

Love the idea of having the regular season conference winners to get the automatic bid, and then have the conference tourney winners be “dancer-wannabes under Committee consideration.”

About “protecting” the top seeds and rewarding them… Not sure what they’re imagining the answer to be: For instance, Kingston is a host site because they are willing (and able) to take the financial risk and the other “deserving” sites don’t have the cojones, or practical requirements, to host. If you want to remove all restrictions on who can host what (and are willing to handle the howls), then legislation needs to be offered by colleges and universities to support that.

Logistics says you have to give a site at least a year to prep (’cause it’s a complicated process). But perhaps you say, for instance, the top 16 of the 2012 end of the year polls get first dibs to host the 2014 tourney. Then, the NCAA needs to do everything they can to pressure the ADs of those schools into accepting the hosting challenge.

But, don’t get stuck on Kingston. Look at next year’s hosts and respond to THEM: Baylor, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Duke, Gonzaga, Iowa, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Ohio State, Stanford, St. John’s, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.

Kinda looks like the NCAA has already made the neccesary moves.

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It only took far too much work to find it (thank you Kate): LINK

Beth Mowins and Debbie Antonelli preview Kentucky-Tennessee and Connecticut-Oklahoma. They speak with Ann Meyers Drysdale and Tennessee associate head coach Holly Warlick.

Now, if only we can get the folks at ESPN to put a link on the women’s bball page that stays up for longer than a sneeze. (Notice I don’t say lung shaking, hacking cough since, unfortunately, I know from current experience that they can last for.ev.er.)

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When espnW gets the new edition of the podcast up, Beth tweets that she and Debbie will preview the Duke-UNC game tonight, 7pmEST ESPN2. (Followed by Baylor-Oklahoma at 9pmEST.)

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includes this unsurprising promise:

4. Defense:
We will spend NO money on defense. My fellow Americans don’t care about Defense! We will put our money into  the pick n roll, running the flex, executing horns, drilling every option in the motion and dribble-drive game.  We will protect the shooter and reward those teams that put 100 points on the board. What were we put on this earth to do?  SCORE!

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Beth and Debbie speak with Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell. Plus, they discuss Philadelphia’s best players. (OR, if espnW doesn’t manage to update the blurb, they might be joined by Maryland coach Brenda Frese and Ohio State’s Taylor Hill.)

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did a better job getting the word out about the Shootaround podcast than ESPN does.

STILL not listed under basketball in their “pod platform.”

Still hard (if not impossible?) to find any archives.

Do they want to kill it?

Graham? Michelle? Mechelle? Help!

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join Debbie and Beth for a women’s basketball roundtable.

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over at espnW. Beth Mowins and Debbie Antonelli recap Baylor’s win over UConn and speak with Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell.

Still wondering why it’s so hard to find on the general ESPN site. Still not listed under the basketball podcast menu.

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UCONN vs C of C Dec 21, 2011

Call to action Charleston!  In the spirit of the holiday season of giving and sharing, let me share some friendly advice with you.  Experience basketball at the highest level in our city played by women who are highly skilled, competitive and fun to watch.  The UCONN basketball experience is similar to the Boston Pops or the Rockettes coming to town.  We’d be scouring for tickets to see one of those traditional holiday experiences and should feel the same vibe about a chance to witness the UCONN women play hoops. 

As a basketball analyst who’s covered the college basketball landscape over two decades, I rarely encounter guarantees in sports and certainly not many worth wagering your mortgage.  But I can say with unwavering certainty if you bring your son or daughter to witness the UCONN women play, you will be entertained.  These women play with discipline, share the basketball and ooze passion about respecting the game by playing the right way as a team.  Head Coach Geno Auriemma’s players love to showcase their skills at the highest level, knowing they are ambassadors with proving-power they can and will allow you to join in the fun.

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New Debbie and Beth Shootaround is up.  They chat with Doug Bruno and Chamique Holdsclaw.

Want to contact them? ESPNShootaround @ gmail.com. They’re asking for your input: Who are the best players ever out of Philly?

BTW, they are on iTunes and you can subscribe.

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Beth and Debbie at Shootaround.

Doug Bruno next week previewing the Maggie Dixon Classic.

Want to contact them? ESPNShootaround @ gmail.com. They’re asking for your input: Who are the best players ever out of New York City?

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Pick up Debbie’s Full Court Pressure, a trivia game courtesy of the WHOF.

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Check out the latest podcast.

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ACC Partners with ‘Shootaround with Beth and Debbie’ in ACC Style: Two of the most talented broadcasters in the business preview ACC women’s basketball games weekly on XM & SIRIUS Radio.

The Atlantic Coast Conference has partnered with Beth Mowins and Debbie Antonelli to bring ACC women’s basketball fans an exclusive and unique, inside look at league contests throughout the regular season.

“Shootaround with Beth and Debbie – ACC Style” offers insights to upcoming games and discusses ACC teams, highlighting student-athletes and coaches. The 10-15 minute segments, which air on XM and SIRIUS radio, are designed like a sports talk-radio show, featuring insightful commentary, news and on occasion interviews from the league’s head coaches.

ACC Women’s Basketball fans can listen to each week’s show on XM and SIRIUS radio or at theACC.com on the “Shootaround” channel: http://www.theacc.com/allaccess/?channel_id=366.

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Whoopee!

Season four of Beth and Debbie’s Shootaround podcast has begun. If you haven’t made it a habit to listen in to these two opinionated women talk about the game they love, DO!

It goes up at WBCA.org every Wednesday.

New format, says Beth, “agile, mobile, and maybe hostile?”

Topics: Connecticut’s accomplishments, Baylor’s rise, Stanford & the better Pac-10, Ohio States toughness & the Mitten teams, and “are they legit?”

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Beth and Debbie are gathering their thoughts for the 4th season of Shootaround with Beth and Debbie.

Broadcasts: Wednesdays at Noon at www.wbca.org. (Rumor has it that they’ll be adding an ACC preview to XM radio in January on the weekends once conference play begins.)

Any early season questions? Email:  shootaround@wbca.org

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