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Kinda feel like the rain outside is symbolic of what’s been happening to our game in the last few days….

Mechelle weighs in: Tyler Summitt’s fall crushing to Louisiana Tech and Tennessee

The school saw bringing him on board despite his inexperience as a calculated risk. Louisiana Tech was willing to roll the dice on that.

Every time I interviewed him over the years — starting when he was still in high school — about his potential future in coaching, I came away impressed, too, with his passion for the sport and how polite and well-spoken he was. I’d bet most journalists had a very favorable impression of him.

But the biggest key to coaching is managing people, and that’s something Summitt apparently wasn’t prepared for.

USA Today adds: Tyler Summitt’s favoritism divided Louisiana Tech team, say parents

I’d say “congrats” to South Dakota’s Amy Williams for being named the new head coach at Nebraska (agree with Mechelle), but one still wonders what exactly went on behind the scenes.

On the heels of that, we have this from Swish Appeal: Duke launches investigation into possible player mistreatment

And this: Illinois reaches a settlement with former women’s basketball student-athletes

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reached a proposed agreement with former women’s basketball student-athletes who had filed a lawsuit against the university. The students alleged racial discrimination and mistreatment that included verbal and emotional abuse from coaches. Associate coach Mike Divilbis left the program in May 2015 but head coach Mike Bollant remains at Illinois.

Yikes!

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’cause it’s the most wonderful time of the yeeeeeeear… Take a deep breath, y’all, shut the door and pull up a chair ’cause you’ve got a lot of reading to do!

First things first: WNIT!!
Saturday, April 2  |  3 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. CT
CBS Sports Network – Thad Anderson (play-by-play) and Chiney Ogwumike (analyst)

The finals are set and it pits two programs who’ve got something to prove (to the selection committee): South Dakota v. Florida Gulf Coast University.

The Coyotes earned a birth by throughly handling Oregon, 88-54.

DakotaDome’s long goodbye as a basketball facility will now officially be talked about for a very long time. The old gal just doesn’t want to give up on roundball just yet. USD will now play the winner of Michigan vs. Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday accompanied by a crowd expected to be bigger than Wednesday’s.

“Even when we were just warming up at 60 minutes (before the game), the people were filling in,” said Kelly Stewart, who was one of six Coyotes who hit double-figures. “Then every time we came out of the locker room there was more people. And finally, when we were about to do the starting lineups, I looked up and I got a huge smile on my face. Everyone was smiling.”

The Eagles took on Michigan in from of a record crowd, and came away with the 71-61 win.

“It was a great defensive effort against a great offensive team,” said head coach Karl Smesko. “Now we’re excited to get to play for the WNIT Championship. The crowd was exceptional tonight. It was a huge advantage for us to have it here with that type of atmosphere. I’m sure it’s the type of game that these players will remember for a long time.”

FYI: WNIT NOTES

-Minnesota’s Rachel Banham scored 48 points on March 16 to lead the Gophers to an 87-80 win over Milwaukee in Round 1. That set a Postseason WNIT record for most points in a game, surpassing Tamika Whitmore of Memphis (45 against Arkansas State, 1999). 

-Sharnae Lamar of Northern Iowa dished out 15 assists to set a single-game WNIT record in the team’s 64-58 victory over Drake, 64-58. 

-The 2016 title game between South Dakota and Florida Gulf Coast is the second time since 1998 that two mid-major programs have played for the Postseason crown. In 2004, Creighton beat UNLV for the title.

-Before 2016, there have been 13 mid-major teams to reach the Postseason WNIT championship game. The six mid-major champions are Creighton (2004), Missouri State (2005), Wyoming (2007), South Florida (2009), Toledo (2011) and Drexel (2013).

About that stuff happening in Indianapolis: FREE Women’s Final Four Activities

General:

Indianapolis set to be center of women’s basketball world

All of the women’s basketball world will descend on Indianapolis this weekend in a celebration of the sport.

For the first time in NCAA history the Division I, II and III women’s titles will be decided on the same court.

“We can’t wait for the 2016 championship games in Indianapolis,” NCAA vice president for women’s basketball Anucha Browne said.

Celebrating 35 Years of NCAA Women’s Basketball

Beth Mowins to replace Dave O’Brien as announcer in Final Four, first-time all-female crew for ESPN at event

Women’s basketball | Final Four: Three first-timers crash party with UConn

Meet the Women’s Final Four

Audio: ‘Around the Rim’: Final Four preview

Audio: Kara Lawson with SI’s Richard Deitsch

Audio: Sue Bird talks about the low pay for women’s professional basketball in the United States on this edition of our Keeping Score with Rick Horrow audio podcast

Audio: HBO and The Ringer’s Bill Simmons is joined by Diana Taurasi to discuss her WNBA return from Russia, UConn’s dominance (6:00), the stupidity of lowering the rims (13:00), GSW’s selflessness (16:30), playing pickup with Westbrook and Draymond (21:00), and the struggling Lakers and D’Angelo Russell (30:00).

Audio: Special Dishin & Swishin Podcast: “Ambassador” Tamika Catchings welcomes the WBB world to Indy

Audio: Dishin & Swishin 3/31/16 Podcast: Doug Bruno is back to break down the 2016 Final Four

Women’s NCAA tournament: Four keys to the Final Four

Women’s Final Four: Can Anyone Stop UConn?

At Women’s Final Four, male-coached teams not a bad thing

These Are The Last Three Teams That Have A Chance To Beat UConn

SNYDER: UConn overshadows parity among other women’s basketball teams

VanDerveer: UConn’s rule isn’t bad for the sport — but next year it could be

Jeff Jacobs: In Women’s Final Four, It’s The Men Who Beat The Odds

Jeff Jacobs: Think UConn’s Geno Auriemma Is A Rock? You Should Meet His Wife

Pac-12 Feature: From ground floor to Final Four

My turn: JUST CATCH UP

Washington:

How UW’s and OSU’s Final Four run is a breakthrough for Pac-12 women’s basketball

Pac-12 Feature: From ground floor to Final Four

7 things to know about Washington Huskies (Syracuse women’s basketball Final Four foe)

Meet the Final Four-bound UW Huskies women’s basketball team

Washington’s jump shooter doesn’t jump

HUSKIES WOMEN: Masters of the Unexpected

Four knee surgeries later, UW’s Walton unfazed by doubts

Mike Neighbors: From Blockbuster To The Final Four

Oregon State

Five questions for Beavers-Huskies

Washington and Oregon State new faces in Final Four

New to following Oregon State women’s basketball? Here’s a crash course on the Beavers

Oregon State Beavers women’s basketball blending intensity, playfulness during Final Four run

Final Four newcomer Oregon State scrappy on defense

Watch: Gary Andersen and Pat Casey on Oregon State

OSU dreams big, embraces Final Four berth

Watch: Oregon State women’s basketball Final Four appearance called ‘incredibly miraculous’

Can Oregon State Shock The World?

Rueck’s Beavers have big fans in OSU’s 1963 Final Four team

OSU has unfinished business in Final Four

Aki Hill and the bliss of the Final Four

Open tryouts to the Final Four: Oregon State’s dramatic rise

Syracuse:

Syracuse’s Hillsman, Read preparing carefully for Washington

Syracuse women’s basketball guard Alexis Peterson brims with confidence

Keep shooting: Syracuse women’s basketball senior Brianna Butler does what she’s told

Turning point for Syracuse women’s basketball this season began with a loss

Kayla Alexander: Syracuse Orange Nation on Cloud Nine

Syracuse women’s basketball center Briana Day: Bigger foes aren’t going to push me around

Go Orange! Syracuse men’s, women’s basketball teams head to Final Four

Connecticut:

Is UConn’s sustained dominance bad for women’s basketball?

UConn may be the greatest college basketball dynasty ever

Geno Auriemma: Having to defend success ‘makes no sense’

Geno: Ignore UConn Women If You Want, ‘But Don’t Demean Those Who Appreciate It’ –

Why the dominance of the U-Conn. women’s team should be embraced

UConn’s opponents need to step up their game

Jeff Otterbein: UConn Women Simply The Best, Just Watch And Learn To Live With It

Here are a few additional assignments for sports columnist

Fans appreciate greatness, even when the games aren’t close

Fans don’t agree with columnist who says Huskies are killing the game

UConn Women’s Basketball Team Confronts Consequences Of Being ‘Too Good’

UConn too good? Quit the whining, beat ’em!

Respect the Women!

Be Great. Don’t Apologize.

UConn women don’t find winning boring

UConn women should be respected

UConn can join a pair of 4-peat pioneers in women’s basketball

Connecticut poised to make history again

UConn making something hard look easy

Huskies closer to place no team has ever been

Freshmen provide Huskies with needed backup help

UConn freshmen stepping up in NCAA Tournament

Samuelson’s family is UConn women’s basketball’s family, too

Women’s basketball: Connecticut’s Breanna Stewart leads a star-studded Final Four

Other basketball news:

Rachel for threeeeee: Banham edges Smith in 3-point championship

Brava: Jennifer Azzi comes out as gay, announces marriage to her USF assistant coach

“I, too, lived a long time not being 100 percent honest,” Azzi said. “Kind of the don’t-ask-don’t-tell kinda of thing. And it’s so stupid. I don’t know why we do that, but we do that. I’m a college coach. Is it going to hurt me with recruiting? What are people going to think? And you are constantly worrying about those things.

Supporters laud Jennifer Azzi for her bravery – but you can read the fear…

New women’s basketball coach Kenny Brooks raves about recruiting potential at Virginia Tech

Jonathan Tsipis’ plan to grow Badgers women’s basketball attendance starts with being visible –

New UW women’s basketball coach wants to keep state’s best players

Tsipis tasked with turning tide for women’s hoops

Wisconsin Women’s Basketball: Tsipis’ energy stands out during initial meeting with team

Bradbury named UNM women basketball head coach

KSU Women’s Basketball Coach Agnus Berenato

Kim Rosamond named Tennessee Tech women’s basketball head coach

Finally poached: UCF announces Katie Abrahamson-Henderson as head coach of women’s basketball

Former UConn players apply Auriemma lessons as coaches

Bye: Jatarie White to transfer from USC women’s basketball program

Bye: Two leave Duke women’s basketball team

WNBA:

Updownup-down… honestly, I think the NBA should raise their rim. It’s ridiculous how easy it is for the giants who play the game to score…

Army brass supports Minato in WNBA bid

Jennifer Gish: The next goal for UAlbany’s Shereesha Richards — the WNBA

Lindsay Whalen Joins Timberwolves’ Broadcast Booth

Deep Diving WNBA Data — Griner’s Paint Defense

WNBA Award Accuracy by Win Shares

Girls Sports Month: Candace Parker on what drives her, dunking and being a mom

WNBA Reveals New Apparel Items Celebrating Landmark 20th Season

The Legend of Lauren Jackson

Cool: Boomers And Fire GMs Head To WNBA Again

Following on from a successful visit last year to work alongside management at the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA, the off-court leaders at the Deakin Melbourne Boomers and JCU Townsville Fire will again embrace a fact-finding mission in Los Angeles and Phoenix this June, this time taking in eight sporting events in 10 nights.

WNBA star Chamique Holdsclaw “hitting game-winning shots” on and off the court

In case you missed it: Blake Griffin’s ‘Broad City’ appearance included a discussion about the WNBA

OT, but not really: Nike responds to U.S. national team jersey controversy

The sportswear behemoth that has outfitted the national team program for decades has been hit especially hard on two issues.

First, with the women’s jerseys, the low-cut neckline has been called unnecessarily sexualizing by some fans, and simply inconvenient anatomically for others whose body shapes aren’t the same as the widely used industry standard.

Second, with the men’s jerseys, you can’t buy one emblazoned with the three stars that represent the World Cups won by the women’s team. There are plenty of men who support Jill Ellis’ reigning champions just as much as they support Jurgen Klinsmann’s collection of question marks.

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16,332 Banker’s Field hearts breaking as Maya Moore nailed her game-winning three. Yah, Indy and their fans were stunned, but what. a. game!  Eight lead changes and 11 ties, including four in the final quarter? Here’s hoping they pack the stands on Sunday and Watch This!

More on the game:

David Woods: 

“I think that might have been one of the best-played WNBA Finals games in our history,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said.

It was. Not that it made the Fever feel better. Reeve referred to the 2009 WNBA Finals as perhaps the best in league history, and that one opened with the Phoenix Mercury beating the Fever 120-116 in overtime. The Mercury beat the Fever in Game 5 at Phoenix to take the title.

Bleacher Report: Indiana Fever vs. Minnesota Lynx Game 3 Score and Reaction

Doug at the AP: 

“(1.7) seconds is a lot of time,” Moore said. “I’m a basketball junkie, watch basketball a lot.  . . . Everything fell on the line, did what I could. It was a basketball move and I was able to get it off. Fortunately I have a pretty quick release and it worked out. I haven’t seen the replay yet, when I let it go I knew I got it off.”

Moore was hard-pressed to remember the last-time she hit a buzzer-beater. She had to go back to her AAU days when she hit a winner for her Georgia team to win a championship.

“It’s been a while, I know that,” she said.

That shot ended a thrilling game that both coaches said was one of the most entertaining in WNBA Finals history and gave Minnesota a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.

SportsPage Magazine: Moore’s Clutch Three-Pointer Downs Fever, Lynx Take 2-1 Series Lead

 The Minnesota Lynx received much a needed insurance policy during Game 3 of the 2015 WNBA Finals when forward Maya Moore hit a three-point shot as time expired to lift the Lynx to an 80-77 victory over the Indiana Fever in front of 16,332 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday night. Minnesota now holds a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series. But unlike previous post-season games, officiating was not a subject of post-game discussion among the players or coaches, nor did it lead to furor among the fans.

.com: Maya‘s Game Winner From All Perspectives

Doyel asks: What more could Marissa Coleman have done?

More than 16,000 people at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and Marissa Coleman had a better view than anyone. She didn’t just see it happen – she saw it happen to her. She was the Indiana Fever player trying to defend Minnesota’s Maya Moore with 1.7 seconds left and a tie score Friday night in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals.

She was the player who failed.

And Coleman, she wanted to see it again. Where she went wrong. Why? How? That’s what she was doing when I entered the Indiana locker room after its 80-77 loss in Game 3 that left the Fever on the brink of elimination.

Gwinnett Daily Post: Maya Moore 3-pointer at buzzer lifts Minnesota Lynx to WNBA Finals win | PHOTOS

For three quarters on Friday night in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Minnesota Lynx standout forward Maya Moore was more of a spectator than a participant in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals.

As the Lynx built a 59-57 lead through 30 minutes, the Collins Hill grad played only 12:11 and scored 12 points.

Swish Appeal: Moore and more: Lynx win behind Moore’s clutchness

Friendly Bounce: HmmmohhhMayaGod: Moore’s buzzer beater lifts Lynx

Bring me the News: Moore burns Fever with buzzer beater, Lynx lead series 2-1

Pioneer Press: Lynx reserves almost steal the show in Game 3 win

Before Maya Moore posed like a superstar, her game-winning three-point shot beating the buzzer and breaking the Indiana Fever for an 80-77 win in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals, Friday night belonged to the unsung players.

From Parrish Alford of the Daily Journal: WNBA on the rise

Basketball fans will no longer watch Armintie Price-Herrington in the WNBA, but that doesn’t mean they’re not watching the WNBA.

The former Ole Miss All-American retired from the women’s professional league last month.

She says interest is growing in women’s basketball, and the WNBA is strong, because it has quality players who promote the sport.

“We’re doing such a good job of becoming great role models. Once we take the court we’re giving it our best. We’re not limited to, ‘Oh, they’re just girls.’ We’re playing hard and doing our jobs,” she said. “You got girls dunking, girls scoring 40 points a game. Doors are open for women’s basketball because of the hard work we’re putting in.”

In other news: KU women’s basketball embraces change

So much changeover exists within the Kansas University women’s basketball program right now, you’ll have to be patient with first-year head coach Brandon Schneider when it comes to figuring out one fairly significant aspect of this roster’s makeup.

Only sophomore point guard Lauren Aldridge, junior forward Jada Brown and sophomore guard Chayla Cheadle — all complementary players last season — have started more than two Division I games. That’s the number of career starts for junior big Caelynn Manning-Allen. No other available Jayhawk can even claim one.

As a result, the Year 1 transition for the former Stephen F. Austin and Emporia State coach includes discovering who KU can count on for points.

No real surprise: MTSU women’s basketball picked to win C-USA

Red & Black: Second to command: Lady Bulldogs start practice under Joni Taylor, the program’s second full-time head coach

Lots from Iowa State: Young Cyclones have lofty goalsBlaskowsky, Baier embracing role as senior leadersISU women’s basketball reloads with trio of freshmenFennelly not worried about rule changes

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved a handful of changes for this season, the biggest change being in the game’s format. NCAA women’s basketball games will be played in four 10-minute quarters this season. Fennelly believes that will add excitement to each contest.

“I don’t think it’s a big deal,” he said Thursday at ISU’s women’s basketball media day. “I think it’ll speed the game up. What you’ll have to do is, your players will have to be in better shape because there will be less timeouts.”

From Mike Potter in Durham: Foundation of women’s basketball at Duke cemented firmly

Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie is probably losing a bit less sleep than she was a year ago at this time.

The 2014-15 Blue Devils women’s basketball team had exactly one proven player – then senior center and eventual WNBA first-round pick Elizabeth Williams – when they took the floor last November. They finished ranked No. 16, played in another NCAA Sweet 16 and concluded 23-11.

But now Duke has a pair of proven sophomore stars in combo guard Rebecca Greenwell and play-everywhere 6-foot-5 Azura Stevens, the nation’s top recruiting class, enough proven role players – and next season will welcome two-time Maryland All-American Lexie Brown as a junior transfer.

Quack: A look at this year’s Ducks women’s basketball team

As Jeff tries to ignore the ugly circus over on the men’s side of the hallway, some (tentative) good news: Durr expected ready for U of L’s opener

Asia Durr’s recovery from a groin injury suffered in the spring has come slower than expected after Louisville women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz in July anticipated the top-rated recruit would be “full go by mid-September.”

U of L started practice Wednesday, and though Durr was involved, she isn’t yet participating in every activity.

North Carolina: UNCW women’s basketball team pushing for winning season

The stated mission during Wednesday’s media day for the UNCW women’s basketball team was clear as fourth-year coach Adell Harris put the focus on the weeks ahead and not some of the other issues the program dealt with over the last month or so.

After a successful season in which the Seahawks surpassed most of their stated goals for the year, UNCW heads into practice without two of their key contributors, who made up about 50 percent of its scoring from the 2014-15 slate.

Will the growth continue at Rhode Island? Start of the Season has Team Pumped

How about in Orono? Performance staff help UMaine basketball players achieve next level

Minnesota: Gophers Replacing Amanda Zahui B. is tall task for newcomers

New Mexico:  Lobos adjusting to life without Antiesha Brown

With the departure of Antiesha Brown, New Mexico is in search of leadership.

Brown’s offensive presence led UNM to the longest winning streak in UNM women’s basketball history. In last season’s campaign, Brown led the team in games played, minutes played, points, free throws and free throw percentage.

“You have a leader that’s been here for three years,” head coach Yvonne Sanchez said. “She was a very good basketball player, number one — but she was a phenomenal leader.”

After the storm: Wichita State women’s basketball starts practice with inexperienced roster

Jody Adams has had such a successful coaching career at Wichita State she can look back on her own rebuilding projects when it’s time to do it again.

The Shockers started women’s basketball practice on Tuesday at Koch Arena with 10 players, none of whom are seniors. Four are freshmen and the three returners who played last season combined to start three games. Adams, who started at WSU in 2008, went back to her notes on previous inexperienced teams to see what she might expect. On Tuesday, the players performed more like an experienced group.

Former Western Michigan University women’s basketball assistant coach John Swickrath was fired for making “sexually-related and/or very personal” comments to a former student-athlete, according to documents obtained by MLive Kalamazoo Gazette through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Nice: 

Already having etched his name as the most successful head coach in USF women’s basketball program history, Jose Fernandez has taken another step toward securing the future success of the program he has built.

Just a few months after signing a contract extension that will keep him at USF through 2021, Fernandez and his wife, Tonya, announced a gift to create the Jose & Tonya Fernandez Women’s Basketball Scholarship. It marks the first endowed scholarship for the program that has made 11 post-season appearances in the last 12 years under Fernandez.

From the NCJAA ranks: Women’s basketball begins quest for national championship

When the women’s basketball team took a heartbreaking loss in last year’s national championship game, the Lady Cobras knew expectations had been set for this season. This doesn’t mean the Cobras are short on challenges this season.

Last year’s NCJAA D-2 Women’s Basketball Player of the Year Hannah Wascher has moved on to southern Indiana and starting point guard Laura Litchfield is now at University of Illinois, Chicago. That leaves head coach Mike Lindeman searching for replacements to keep his fast paced and unrelenting style of play going to fire the Cobras into the championship.

D3 News: Women’s Basketball Ranked Preseason #5 in Nation

The New York University women’s basketball team is ranked #5 in the nation in a preseason poll by Women’s DIII News, a monthly Division III women’s basketball publication.

The Violets return four of their five starters from 2014-15, a season in which they went 22-5 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament.

Basketball history on the page, anyone? Charles Riley writes book about history of girls basketball

Charles Riley doesn’t like to make people mad.

While doing research for his 2014 book “From Hard Dirt to Hard Wood,” which chronicles the history of boys basketball in Morgan County, he was asked by several people, “What about the girls?”

“When I was doing the boys book, I had no plans on doing a girls book,” Riley said. “When I visited the schools looking for information, a lot of people asked when I was going to do a book about the girls. Some of them sort of got a little mad when I told them I wasn’t. I felt like I needed to get back in their good graces.”

The result is “Remember the Girls: A Century of Girls High School Basketball in Morgan County.”

Basketball history on the stage, anyone? 

As early as the 1930s, though, women played team sports. The 1992 film “A League of Their Own” portrayed the women who played baseball during World War II.

And Meg Miroshnik’s play “The Tall Girls,” which makes its East Coast Premiere at Luna Stage this week, dramatizes teenage girls who play basketball in the heart of the Dust Bowl. In the town of Pure Prairie in Miroshnik’s play, basketball is more than a game: it’s an outlet, and an opportunity.

The play begins at Luna Stage, 555 Valley Road, West Orange tonight, Thursday, Oct. 8, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 1. For more information visit Lunastage.org

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Man, do I love the Elite Eight. The last four in made it via

Rout. There are moments in sports when the individual or team are just in a zone, and there ain’t nothin’ anyone can do about it. Such was a moment yesterday, when even Auriemma just shook his head at what was happening on the court against Texas. From the Albany Times Union: Connecticut women’s basketball blasts Texas to reach Elite Eight

“Today was a lot of fun,” Stewart said. “Right from the start, shots were going in, and we were being aggressive. We knew Texas had big post players. We thought if we could get them moving a little bit, we could get any shot we wanted.”

Connecticut shot 55.7 percent for the game, a figure lowered only because of the final nine minutes when Auriemma cleared the bench. Stewart, after starting 2-for-7, made her final nine field-goal attempts, including two 3-pointers.

That being said, it’s exciting to see the return of high quality basketball in Austin. Looking forward to next year and the Texas-UConn series to see what happens when both teams are at full strength.

Upset: The feisty Flyers may have flown under the radar this season, but no more.

Jabir’s A-10 upstarts, who’ve become this tournament’s Cinderellas with consecutive upsets over second-seed Kentucky and third-seeded Louisville, for the first time this March betrayed some jitters. The normally smooth ball handlers turned it over 14 times in the first half against the Cardinals. A series of uncharacteristically wild Flyer passes included an outlet from Ally Malott to Jabir on the sidelines, and two others to an empty space in the corner near where Louisville’s large red costumed mascot stood.

In the locker room at halftime, Jabir addressed the gaffes with his crimson-clad squad. “I said, Look, I know the bird is red, but he’s got a yellow beak, and the only person in the building with a bigger beak than that bird was me, and I wasn’t playing.”

Wondering how many P5 programs are adding them to their “No Play” list (along with Green Bay, Princeton, Gonzaga, Arkansas-Little Rock…) after Dayton toppled Louisville.

Comeback: Down 17, Holly’s crew clawed their way back and used OT to secure the win.

It’s called the “persistence drill.”

The Lady Vols divide their roster into three teams at practice, and one team goes out to play defense with a 45-second shot clock. And they can’t leave the court until the clock gets to 0:00.

If that team fouls or gives up a basket, it resets to 0:45. If the group gives up an offensive rebound, it resets as well. And if the team gets a stop, the clock stops where it is — and a new team comes in.

“It’s taxing and they don’t like it. We’ve done it for 40 minutes with one team on defense the whole time,” Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. “You just put their backs against the wall and see if they fold or if they are going to step up and get it done.”

The Lady Vols ran that drill five or six times this season.

And they ran it again on Saturday evening in Spokane Arena.

Nice work, though, by Fortier, a potential Maggie Dixon Coach of the Year (though, that award has not always been a signal for future success…)

Workmanlike: Maryland and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, made sure their former ACC rivals kept their distance, and eased into the E8.

“I think we just love being able to beat Duke in the NCAA tournament,” Frese said. “Just so many classic matchups with both teams. I think we make each other better. Just tremendously proud of our fight today. It wasn’t an easy game. I thought Duke kind of controlled some things in terms of kind of putting us into a half-court [game], but we did a phenomenal job in the second half.”

It’s Super Sunday, so sit down!

It’s the battle of the Green and Gold.

From Graham: Notre Dame, Baylor have wow factors – All-Americans Jewell Loyd and Nina Davis make Sunday’s matchup must-see TV

The word that matters this time of year is win. But all the better if there are some wows along the way.

And with Loyd and Baylor’s Nina Davis around for Sunday’s regional final (8:30 ET, ESPN), two teams that do a lot of the former are led by players who excel at the latter.

It’s not that they are definitively better or more talented than their peers, not when you see a display like the one Connecticut’s Breanna Stewart put on in the Sweet 16, but you can’t take your eyes off how they do what they do.

“I sit there just like you guys do,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said of Davis. “And I go, ‘How did she just do that?'”

Similar themed stories from the AP Baylor women haven’t forgotten loss to Notre Dame and ND Insider: History with Notre Dame on Baylor’s mind

Memories of Notre Dame’s 88-69 victory in the South Bend Regional of the 2014 NCAA women’s basketball tournament still sit in the collective craw of head coach Kim Mulkey and her Baylor basketball team.

On the eve of Sunday’s 8:30 p.m. regional championship rematch between second-ranked Notre Dame (34-2) and fifth-ranked Baylor (33-3) in the Chesapeake Energy Arena, the Bears admitted the porridge Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw and her team prepared last March 31 hasn’t sat well during the 363-day hibernation in the series that Baylor still leads, 4-1.

It’s the Battle of Maroon.

From Mechelle: Modest Mitchell worth talking about – Junior All-American has South Carolina one win away from first Final Four

They’ll be tough moments during a practice at South Carolina, and that’s when she does it. Tiffany Mitchell will let loose the wisecrack or dry remark that seems completely inappropriate for everyone’s tense mood right at that instant.

Except, it’s actually pretty much exactly what everybody needs.

“It comes naturally from her personality; she’s a fun person,” said her good pal, Gamecocks forward Aleighsa Welch. “She takes basketball very seriously, but she values her teammates, and she’s one of the most selfless people you’ll meet. She makes everything a fun situation. Even sometimes when it probably shouldn’t be. She’ll find a way.

“I think she gets a lot of it from her mom, because they’re both definitely characters.”

The ESPN crew makes their picks, and there’s only one unanimous choice.

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…and it’s pretty frightening!”

Mechelle goes all “Sound of Music meets Sweet Sixteen”

That most feel-good of films, “The Sound of Music,” turns 50 this month, and there’s no way I’m letting the opportunity escape without somehow getting a basketball column out of it.

I’ve written about “The Sound of Music” and hoops before, but that was in 2002. You should be allowed to do it at least once a decade, right?

So now as the regionals are upon us, here are 16 (going on 17) observations about the Sweet 16.

As for yesterday’s games….

That was close…(someone will be chewing on that ill-advised three for a while). Gamecocks survive clash with nemesis North Carolina. From Mechelle:

South Carolina’s nightmare from the 2014 NCAA tournament almost came back to haunt the Gamecocks again in 2015. This time, though, the top-seeded Gamecocks are moving onto the Elite Eight.

In a game that was not for the faint of heart, the Gamecocks survived 67-65 over a tough, gritty North Carolina team that nearly upset South Carolina for the second consecutive year in the Sweet 16.

It looked rather dire for the Gamecocks here at Greensboro Coliseum, as they trailed by three points with 1 minute, 21 seconds left. They had made just one shot from the field in the previous four minutes.

And: Gamecocks topple another barrier – South Carolina in first Elite Eight since 2002, is one win away from first Final Four

Olivia Gaines stood on the foul line with the end of her college basketball career staring at her.

That’s not really what she was thinking about, but she knew. So did fellow South Carolina seniors Aleighsa Welch and Elem Ibiam. The Gamecocks were down by three points against North Carolina, the team that had cut short their season the year before. Here they were with just 81 seconds left to keep it from happening all over again.

That was not… Irish by 21 over Stanford. Late show with Lindsay Allen lifts Notre Dame past Stanford

Lindsay Allen picked the right time to have a career night for Notre Dame’s second-ranked women’s basketball team.

Allen, a quiet 5-7 sophomore point guard who usually plays third fiddle to her equally dangerous and well-known teammates Jewell Loyd and Brianna Turner, poured in 24 points in the first half – matching her season high alone in the first 20 minutes of play – and finished with a career-high 28 as Notre Dame disposed of stubborn Stanford, 81-60, late Friday night to reach the women’s Oklahoma City Regional championship game.

That was close...(Ole! to my right. Ole! to my left!)

“At the end of the game, you just don’t think,” Romero said. “You just want to help your team to win the game. … All those games that we have had, it has always been somebody different. Today was me shooting the last shots. I’m sure (Sunday) we are going to have a lot more weapons. … Having a team like this, you just play, and it’s just easy.”

That was not… Bears by 15 over Iowa (Live by the three, die by the three?) Baylor WBB advances to Elite Eight with 81-66 win over Iowa

For a minute, the Iowa Hawkeyes looked like they were in Oklahoma City to give No. 2 seed Baylor a ball game. Iowa senior Bethany Doolittle ignited an 11-0 run late in the first half and brought her team within two points of the Big 12 champions.

But just as the game became interesting, a youth movement broke out momentarily in Oklahoma City.

Sweet 16 trip ‘special’ for Dixon, Iowa women, despite loss

Melissa Dixon was a woman on the run.

Seemingly on the move all night, Dixon was looking for an opening, looking for a screen, looking for anything that would allow the nation’s most prominent 3-point shooter a chance to get off a shot.

But Baylor’s defense was too tight and the second-seeded Bears downed Dixon and third-seeded Iowa, 81-66, in the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament Friday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Graham on the Bears/Irish: Supporting casts step up

It was no surprise to see Baylor coach Kim Mulkey react to a successful offensive sequence by pirouetting partway toward the crowd and pumping a fist in exaltation during the second half of her team’s Sweet 16 game Friday night. It wasn’t all that surprising to see her do it again just a few minutes later. You need only read body language on a kindergarden level to know what Mulkey is thinking at any given moment during a basketball game.

Even she acknowledged, “I’m not responsible sometimes for what I do or see or say on that sideline.”

On today’s games:

Texas v. UConn

Texas’ twin towers to test UConn – But will Longhorns have an answer for Huskies’ hot hand from 3-point range?

Stats gurus warn against predictions based on the last game you watched, but that might be Texas’ best hope against No. 1 UConn in the NCAA women’s regional semifinal here Saturday (ESPN/WatchESPN, noon ET).

The Longhorns played a “Twin Towers” lineup for much of their 73-70 victory at Cal in the second round on Sunday, and 6-foot-7 junior forward Imani McGee-Stafford and 6-5 sophomore center Kelsey Lang together scored 34 points while converting a combined 13-of-19 shots from the field.

Meanwhile, the inside presence of Lang (two blocks, two steals) and McGee-Stafford (11 boards) frustrated Cal’s talented tandem of Brittany Boyd and Reshanda Gray, holding the latter to just seven points.

And thanks, HuskyNan:

Texas Women Return To Spotlight, But UConn Casts Big Shadow, Courant
Capsule: Texas (24-10) Vs. UConn (34-1), Courant
UConn women face tall task against Texas front line, Register
Texas assistant coach quite familiar with competitiveness of Moriah Jefferson, Register
Women’s NCAA tournament preview capsule: Texas vs. No. 1 UConn, Register
NCAA TOURNAMENT: Geno Auriemma builds UConn into gold standard in women’s basketball, Daily Freeman
NCAA Albany: UConn capsule, Saratogian
UConn’s Breanna Stewart playing in familiar surroundings, Troy Record
Is There Anything UConn Can’t Do? Tweet, for One, NY Times
Hadley: Notre Dame, Stanford and Connecticut: the transitive property, The Observer
How Texas can pull a mammoth upset of No. 1 UConn women in Sweet 16, Sports Illustrated
Texas glad for big challenge, Albany Times Union
Texas has chance to take down Goliath, Troy Record
Texas Ready For Sweet 16 Matchup With UConn, CBS Local
Texas Longhorns ready for No. 1 Connecticut, 247Sports

From Mike DiMauro: The Texas of women’s basketball meets … Texas

The absurdity of it all.

Connecticut versus … Texas.

Texas, with its roughly $160 million athletic budget, only $100 million more than UConn’s.

Texas, from the Indian word “tejas,” meaning “friends” or “allies.” Connecticut, loosely translated from its Algonquian origin, must mean “uptight.”

Texas, famed in slogans, like “Don’t Mess With Texas” and “Remember the Alamo.” All we have is Alamo Rent a Car at Bradley Airport.

Texas, feted in song: “All My Exes Live in Texas,” the “Yellow Rose of Texas,” “Galveston.” After the Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, what do we have, really, besides traffic and people who like to complain a lot?

Gonzaga v. Tennessee

Gonzaga relishing improbable run – Gonzaga looking to make a splash against Tennessee in its own backyard

This opportunity, to play deep into the NCAA tournament as a double-digit seed, is not a new one for the Gonzaga women’s basketball team. It has one it more than any other women’s team in tournament history.

And this opportunity, to play deep into the NCAA tournament as a double-digit seed 2 miles from campus, isn’t a new one, either, for the Bulldogs. They reached the Elite Eight here in 2011.

But this opportunity, this season at No. 11, might not have seemed like it was going to happen for Gonzaga.

Kelly Graves, the coach who built this program into one of the nation’s best mid-major programs, left last spring to take over at Oregon.

Dayton v. Louisville

U of L women not looking past Dayton in Sweet 16

Louisville has won its past three regional semifinals and is facing a team out of the Atlantic 10 that has never made it this far.

“When you get to this point in time, I don’t think the kids even know what round they’re playing in,” Cardinals coach Jeff Walz said Friday. “It’s just the next team that you have to face. The ball’s still the same size, the court’s the same length, everything’s the same.”

Dayton trying to knock off second team from Kentucky

Dayton has already upset one team from Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament and the Flyers don’t see why a game with Louisville should be any different.

“Playing UK on their home court really prepared us,” said senior guard Andrea Hoover. “That was a tough environment for us and playing here on a neutral court against Louisville, we’re more than prepared.”

Dayton, Louisville set for NCAA Tournament matchup

The Flyers will try to solve an unpredictable Louisville defense that uses halfcourt trapping and fullcourt pressure to force 20.1 turnovers per game.

“I think it’s a great challenge,” said Dayton head coach Jim Jabir, who held the same title at Siena from 1987 to 1990. “They’re a very well-coached team. They’re very aggressive. We just played Kentucky, and we pretty much knew what we were going to see. With Louisville, you’re going to see pressure, but it’s going to be different kinds. It’s going to come at you in different ways.”

Whitaker enjoying march to Sweet 16 – Former Lady Topper coaching against Louisville

Rob offers a 2015 NCAA Preview – Spokane Regional

Maryland has size with the 6-4 Howard, 6-3 (and massive) Jones and 6-2 Pfirman. They will need that size against Duke’s frontline, especially the versatility of Azura’ Stevens. Maryland is not a pressure defense team, nor do they play a lot of junk defenses. They play man-to-man and depend on their size and rebounding to get stops and extra possessions. This is a team better known for its offense (80 ppg) than its defense (60 ppg). Their scoring balance is excellent, and while they don’t have great shooters, they get enough out of them to make sure that the sturdy Jones gets plenty of touches and the aggressive Walker-Kimbrough gets to attack the basket. The true catalysts for the team are Mincy and Brown, who make and take big shots. This isn’t actually a bad matchup for Duke; Maryland has depth but not as much as Mississippi State. They can shoot but their shooters are streaky. Maryland has size but not as much as Duke. These are two teams that are extremely familiar with each other, teams that battled tooth and claw for a number of years. That rivalry will fuel this game beyond simply the desire to make it to the Elite Eight and could make it a very close game.

Duke v. Maryland

Maryland women’s basketball finds edge inside the lines starts between the ears

Put aside pick-and-rolls and fast breaks for a minute, and let the top-seeded Maryland women’s team take you inside their heads.

Let them tell you about their trigger words and their best selves. About the outside pressures they face and the internal focus they need. About dealing with their fears and increasing their mental performance. About making sure they don’t get trapped in downward spirals, and about focusing on process rather than outcome.

If it sounds a bit more clinical than your typical whiteboard diagram, it should. 

Maryland women’s basketball meets former ACC rival Duke in Sweet 16 – Terps to play Blue Devils in NCAA tournament for first time since 2006 national championship overtime victory

After two knee surgeries, Laurin Mincy leads Maryland women to Sweet 16

As shot after shot ripped through the net and her thin blade of a frame bounced around the Xfinity Center court, possessed by some rare electricity, Laurin Mincy felt like the player she was always meant to be.

No longer was the Maryland senior defined by the surgical scars on each knee, by the angst of playing in a body that would not answer her spirit’s call. She was back — back to being the 5-year-old girl who’d reduced opponents to tears with her precocious crossover dribbles, back to being the middle schooler who’d had her jersey retired because she was just that dominant.

Top-seeded Maryland getting ready to face longtime rival Duke in Sweet 16

Duke, Maryland rekindle rivalry in Sweet 16

The Duke Blue Devils have waited 13 months to renew their heated women’s basketball rivalry with Maryland. Now that the teams are set to square off Saturday afternoon in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament, Duke plans to keep the explosive Terrapins waiting even longer whenever the Blue Devils have the ball.

“If we speed up and play at their tempo, then it could be disastrous,” Duke guard Ka’lia Johnson said Friday at the Spokane Arena.

The Blue Devils are 23-10 and ranked 16th in the most recent Associated Press poll, but turnovers and a lack of depth have posed problems all season.

“We have no depth whatsoever,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said.

 Okay – off do some spring cleaning… in the hopes it will encourage spring to show up…

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#4 Duke v. #5 Mississippi State

Well, we know ONE official (or set of officials) that won’t be moving on. ’cause that was a clear offensive foul. But, Vic – remember what the Caterpillar said to Alice: “Keep. Your. Temper.” ’cause that T just hamstrung any comeback MSU had in its tank. The Escaping Devils say, “Next!” Writes Mechelle: 

She was also the only player on either side to play all 40 minutes — the first time this season that Stevens has done that — and Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie joked about it afterward.

“I guess I forgot that I never took her out,” McCallie said, “but she was absolutely fantastic. If you saw Azura play in December, she couldn’t play 20 straight minutes. She would have been just dying to come out.”

Sunday, the only people who were dying for Stevens to leave the game were on the Mississippi State side, to get some relief from having to guard her. Stevens — whose first name is pronounced AZ-er-ray — acknowledged she was “very nervous” before Friday’s NCAA opener, and thinks that showed in her play. However, it’s not as if she didn’t help Duke a lot in a 54-52 victory in which every point and rebound counted. She had 11 points and nine rebounds against the Great Danes.

#11 Miami v. #3 Iowa

Everything was flowing for the Hawkeyes. Hard to believe this is Iowa’s first trip to the Sweet Sixteen since 1996. 

#2 Baylor v. #10 Arkansas

Great crowd came out to support Baylor. Not much of a game... unless, of course, you were a Bears fan. 

#2 Kentucky v. #7 Dayton

What. A. Fun. Game. Were you yelling at your tv as much as I was? Flyers swoop into the 16 for the first time, Wildcats go off to practice free throws.

#1 South Carolina v. #8 Syracuse

Another great crowd. This is what folks are talking about when they say athletes want a “championship feel.” They don’t care that it’s the opposition’s fans… they just don’t want to play in an arena where they can hear their sneakers squeak. The Gamecocks move into the Sweet Sixteen looking ready for bear. From Mechelle: Depth, Dozier lead Gameocks

South Carolina guard Asia Dozier recalls attending Gamecock women’s games when she was in junior high school, and not having any problem getting a good seat. Dozier, a Columbia native whose father and uncle are twins who played basketball at South Carolina in the 1980s, realized she had a chance to help improve the atmosphere at Colonial Life Arena.

“I probably came to my first women’s game here in seventh grade,” Dozier said. “At halftime, they used to announce to everybody who was in the upper deck to come down and fill in the empty seats close to the court. Now to see the fans rush in when the doors open, it’s a complete turnaround. It’s an amazing feeling to know we played a role in changing the fan support here.”

#3 Oregon State v. #11 Gonzaga

Gonzaga handled the pressure, handled the OSU home crowd, handled their business and, behind the great game by freshman Wolfram, another “mid-major” makes the Sweet Sixteen.

#1 Notre Dame v. #9 DePaul

No surprise, the Blue Demons made the Irish uncomfortable for a bit — but Notre Dame recovered and dumped DePaul, advancing to the next round.

#4 Cal v. #5 Texas

After a strong start got derailed by injuries, Texas was dismissed by some. They’re out to prove folks wrong. They faced Cal on Hess Court and triumphing, 73-70, reaching the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in 11 years. From Michelle:

McGee-Stafford was the centerpiece of a dominate-the-paint strategy on both ends of the floor that propelled fifth-seeded Texas to a 73-70 win over No. 4 seed Cal at Haas Pavilion on Sunday and into the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2004.

“This is how we start our legacy,” McGee-Stafford said. “We were able to do something that hasn’t been done in over a decade and it just goes to show that hard work eventually pays off.”

From Graham: Five Observations From Sunday

Half of the Sweet 16 is set. Here are five takeaways from Day 3 of the women’s NCAA tournament.

1. You come at the king …: You probably know how the rest of the famous line from “The Wire” goes. No. 11 Gonzaga wasn’t whistling “The Farmer in the Dell” or anything else in the final seconds of its second-round game against No. 3 seed Oregon State in Corvallis, Oregon — although Gill Coliseum was probably about as quiet as a deserted street at night — but the basic premise is the same.

The Pacific Northwest is still property of the team from Spokane. Changing that goes through the Bulldogs.

Take a breath, ’cause up next:

#7 FCGU v. #2 Florida State

From the Cape Coral Breeze: FSU next for streaking FGCU women

From the News-Press: Notes: FGCU knows task gets tougher against FSU

#8 Princeton v. #1 Maryland

From Graham: Key classes fuel Terps, Tigers – Maryland, Princeton power on after losing stars Alyssa Thomas, Niveen Rasheed

Arguably the loudest ovation of the day inside the Xfinity Center on Saturday was not the one that greeted the man who works in the Oval Office. That had nothing to do with politics or partisanship on a day that saw President Barack Obama take in his niece’s game. Abraham Lincoln could have walked in during the opening game between Princeton and Green Bay, when the stands were still more empty than full save for concentrated patches of orange and green, and the reception would have paled in comparison to that a few hours later when Alyssa Thomas appeared on the video board during the game between Maryland and New Mexico State.

A year removed from her final college game, the best player in Maryland women’s basketball history is a hard act to follow.

So, too, is Niveen Rasheed, still perhaps the best player in Princeton history two years after she last played college ball.

#10 Pittsburgh v. #2 Tennessee

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Pitt women’s basketball team hopes to reach ‘Summitt’ of dreams at Tennessee

From the Knoxville Sentinel: Mike Strange: Pitt women’s improbable story leads to Knoxville

Also from KSN: Tennessee coach Holly Warlick makes impression on Pittsburgh coach

From the Chattanooga: John Shearer: Remembering Meeting The Pittsburgh Women’s Coach

#5 Oklahoma v. #4 Stanford

From the Oklahoma Daily: Women’s basketball to battle Stanford in second round

From the Stanford Daily: Card to play Oklahoma for Sweet 16 Berth

From the Santa Cruz Sentinel: Stanford women to face physical Oklahoma in NCAA Tournament on Monday

#5 Ohio State v. #4 North Carolina

From the Columbus Dispatch: Buckeyes, Tar Heels like to run

The NCAA tournament mountaintop that the Ohio State women’s basketball team intends to reach will take on a slightly steeper grade at 6:30  Monday night when the Buckeyes face North Carolina on its Carmichael Arena home court.

Fifth-seeded Ohio State (24-10) stopped 12th-seeded James Madison 90-80 in a fast-paced first-round game on Saturday to get a shot at the fourth-seeded Tar Heels (25-8), a traditional power out of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

From OSU The Lantern: Alston, Mitchell fueling Ohio State women’s basketball in NCAA Tournament

From the Daily Tar Heel: UNC women’s basketball wins for ‘mama bear’

From the New York Times: A New Start for Sylvia Hatchell, a Veteran Tar Heel

In this season of many returns — to health, to basketball, to the N.C.A.A. tournament — Sylvia Hatchell has embraced a saying.

“I tell people, ‘This is my 40th year,’ but in a lot of ways, it feels like my first,” Hatchell, the 63-year-old coach of the North Carolina women’s basketball team for the past 29 years, said of her coaching career after her fourth-seeded Tar Heels survived No. 13 Liberty, 71-65, in the first round of the N.C.A.A. tournament on Saturday at Carmichael Arena.

#8 Rutgers v. #1 Connecticut

From NJ.com:  Some reward: Rutgers now faces Geno Auriemma and UConn, his basketball machine | Politi

From Keith Sergeant: Rutgers women’s basketball team to President Obama: ‘We busted your bracket!’

From UConn: Top-Seeded UConn Set to Face Eighth-Seeded Rutgers in NCAA Second Round on Monday

From the Courant: Effort, Unselfishness Are The Keys To UConn’s Success and Rutgers Works To Return To UConn’s Level, Courant

From the Register: UConn women well aware of what Rutgers brings to the table, Register

The Knicks lost *again*, so from the NY Times: Rutgers’s Coach Is Used to Winning, but Not When She Faces UConn, NY Times

From NJ.com: NCAA Tournament 2015: Can the mighty UConn women’s basketball team be beat?

From NorthJersey.com: Tall task in Storrs for Rutgers women,

#6 South Florida v. #3 Louisville

From the Courier-Journal: USF a familiar foe for U of L women

Also from the C-J: USF’s Courtney Williams to test U of L women

From the Oracle: Bulls charge to second round

From the AP’s Mark Didtler: Louisville and USF look to advance to Sweet 16

”The one thing that we take great pride here at Louisville is the ability to play different ways for different opponents,” Cardinals coach Jeff Walz said. ”We’re quite aware we’re not going to be able to play that same way defensively, so we’ll have to figure out a new game plan and move on from there.”

#11 Arkansas-Little Rock v. #3 Arizona State

 From the Merced Sun-Star: Sun Devils in for tough test against Trojans

From FoxSports: UALR-Arizona St. Preview

Waiting for their turn in the NCAA Tournament, Arizona State’s players sat in the stands and watched Arkansas-Little Rock get knocked around by Texas A&M.

The bigger Aggies pushed the Trojans, bumped them, fouled them when they tried to get off shots.

What caught the Sun Devils‘ attention was the reaction of UALR’s players: Nothing.

”You can tell that nothing really bothers them,” Arizona State forward Sophie Brunner said. ”They just make things work.”

From the Examiner.com: Women’s NCAA second round matches ASU and UALR in Tempe Monday night

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There’s a vocal constituency that’s mighty cranky about coach McCallie’s coaching and post-game style. One can only imagine what they’ll say now that #16 Duke has lost three in a row. This time Georgia Tech was the topple-er, beating Duke for the first time since February,  1994.

For what it’s worth, if Duke can’t handle #15 North Carolina at home on March 1, they will match the four-loss streak that ended the ’93-94 season. Perhaps the Blue Devils can take some comfort in the fact that UNC barely escaped Virginia – needing a last-second putback to avoid overtime.

Speaking of upsets – HUGE win for St. Peter’s. Patty Coyle’s team took down Marist, 66-58.

Yes, I’m calling this an upset: Wake Forest got its second ACC win by defeating Miami, 60-59 on freshman Amber Campbell‘s second buzzer-beater of the season.

#19 Stanford traipsed into Corvallis and said, “No, #7 Beavers, thou shalt not take down this Tree and use it as a torch. Cardinal win, 69-58, handing Oregon State their first home loss this season. BTW, missed this tidbit: OSU’s current total of 25 wins in the most in school history.

Just when you think Gary Blair’s got his team figured outMizzou’s Maddie Stock nails a game-winning 3-pointer with 0.1 seconds left to lift the Tigers to a 70-69 win over #12 Texas A&M.

Georgia showed a little more fight, but Tennessee prevailed, 70-59. The loss of Izzy seems to have made the Ledger’s Dave Link a little anxious: Lady Vols seem to be slipping off national stage

Speaking of fight: let’s talk Richmond battling back to take #22 Georgetown into OT. The Spiders ran out of steam, though, and were outscored 14-2 in the extra five. Colonials win, 81-69.

And still speaking of fight – ya, Wisconsin is 8-19, but these last few games they’ve proven to be a tough out. #17 Iowa escapes, 78-74. That’s the 300th career win for coach Bluder.

Glad Debbie wasn’t on hand to call this one:#13 Kentucky was just able to keep ahead of Arkansas, 56-51. 

I’m guessing Maryland got a bit more of a fight than expected from Indiana, but the Terps prevailed, 83-72, earning their 20th straight win as Laurin Mincy scored 28pts, a career high.

Florida State made sure North Carolina State wouldn’t repeat their upset ways. In front of the largest home crowd in four years, it was the Seminoles over the Wolfpack, by 20. Their 26 regular season wins ties the school record. One more game to break it: season finale at Miami.

Both coach Frese and Semrau are on the latest Dishin and Swishin podcast.

In the Sun Belt, Arkansas Little-Rock, Arkansas State and Troy kept rollin’.

So did #2 South Carolina.

So did #4 Notre Dame, who shot a breathtaking 62% against Pittsburgh. Mechelle has a little something on The Jewell:

In our best Marlon Brando voice, we’re going to make you an offer you can’t refuse. Settle into your seats, indulge in some popcorn … and read about the Jewell Loyd movie marathon experience. Hope you don’t mind if the line between film hero and villain is sometimes a little ambiguous.

“‘The Godfather’ is kinda our family movie,” Loyd, the Notre Dame junior guard, said of her parents, older brother and herself. “I like the concept of family, loyalty and getting the job done.”

Then Loyd laughed and added, “Obviously, we’re not going to be beating anyone up or anything.”

Loyd took part in a bit of “reel talk” recently at espnW’s request, as she’s a film, television and theater major at Notre Dame.

Jewell’s coach talks about Fighting Through February.

“February is a grind,” McGraw said before a recent home game at Purcell Pavilion. “You’re ready for the tournaments to begin, you want to see where you’re going to finish and what the seeds are going to look like, but you know you have to get through February to get to March.”

#20 Rutgers’ return to anemic offense and inability to defend doomed them against #25 Northwestern, 80-60. Kinda makes ya wonder, can ya justify C. Vivian Stringer making $1.6M in 2014?

Of note: the Knights’ loss, combined with Minnesota’s loss to Nebraska on Tuesday, means that Ohio State’s 88-70 win over Penn State moves the Buckeyes up into fourth place in the B10 standings. Seems like the Ohio State is not interested in waiting till next year to be good.

You know what’s notable about Tom Keegan’s column, End nearing for Bonnie Henrickson? The thoughtful, informed comments.

Ah, the joys of Senior Night and a reviving program: Making her first start of the season, senior Teneka Whittaker set career highs with 16 points and eight rebounds to help Rhode Island to a 68-53 win over St. Louis. With the victory, Rhode Island has clinched at least a .500 record in conference play for the first time since 2003-04.

Speaking of reviving: Hello, Hawai’i! Big West champs. First time in 21 years. Nice job, third-year coach Beeman.

Not only has #24 Cal inched its way back in to the rankings, but their 74-59 victory over Oregon gave coach Lindsay Gottlieb her 100th win at Cal. She’s the quickest to the milestone in program history.

This is nice news to read on a cold February day: Lauren Hill makes it through full season despite tumor

The Mount St. Joseph’s women’s basketball team held its postseason banquet in a hospital room warmed by Lauren Hill’s smile.

The 19-year-old freshman made it through a full season while raising more than $1.3 million for research into the type of brain tumor that will likely end her life. She’s occasionally hospitalized for treatment now, but still holding to each day as tightly as she can and urging others to appreciate their time together.

A little W news from Lois Elfman: Epiphanny Prince returning to her Brooklyn roots

“To be able to come home and try to win the championship with my home team and do it in front of my family and friends is very exciting for me,” said Prince, 27, who made her Madison Square Garden debut at age 12, playing a halftime exhibition at a Knicks game, and won four PSAL titles with the Murry Bergtraum Lady Blazers. She’s played five seasons with the Chicago Sky, which went to the WNBA Finals last year.

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Or, in this case, you’d have to say, “An Instagram is.

On a night of upsets and close calls, one would be hard=pressed to rank the “biggest” upset.

In a year of promise thwarted by injuries, it’s hard to vote against NC State taking down #10 Duke with authority, 72-59. From Mechelle:

No offense to Duke, but on this weekend, most of the women’s basketball world becomes part of Wolfpack Nation.

The annual Play 4 Kay weekend, of course, is in tribute to longtime NC State coach Kay Yow, who died in 2009 but lives on in the hearts of all who knew her. And you can be sure that the way the Wolfpack played Sunday in their 72-59 upset of No. 10 Duke would have a big smile on Yow’s face.

Not just because it was a win against one of NC State’s nearby rivals. But also because it showed the resilience of this season’s Wolfpack squad, which lost so much to graduation from last season’s NCAA tournament team.

Then again, don’t overlook Michigan State’s 10-pt win over #19 Rutgers, 60-50. The Spartans haven’t had a season to write home about, but Rutgers offense has sputtered since its early promise. MSU sophomore Aerial Powers set a single-season marks for points and double-doubles in victory over Scarlet Knights.

But wait, there’s more: Hofstra eked out a one-point win over de facto Conference Queens #23 James Madison. AT JMU.

“I wouldn’t say we had [the game] at hand, but I thought we had a chance to win,” Brooks said. “For that, I’m very proud of the kids. I’m very proud because they fought.”

According to Mickens, this game was far from a “wake-up call.” It was a loss to learn from and an opportunity to get better.

“I don’t believe in wake-up calls personally,” Mickens said. “It’s a humbling loss. It shows that we’re not invincible. But hey, it’s definitely a motivating loss.”

Certainly the Seawolves deserve a shout out for toppling Conference Big Dog Albany, 68-64. 

Last season, the Stony Brook women’s basketball team halted Albany’s conference-record 38-game America East winning streak. 

In front of 1,098 fans Sunday afternoon at Island Federal Credit Union Arena, the streak snappers struck again when Stony Brook took down Albany, 68-64, putting an end to the Great Danes’ 30-game conference road winning streak. Sabre Proctor led all scorers with 21 points, including 17 in the second half, on her Senior Day.

Clearly, defense was optional as the Buckeyes obliterated #13 Iowa, 100-82. Gosh, it’s fun to read Jim Massie’s stuff.  (Why hasn’t he been awarded the WBCA’s Mel Greenberg Media Award?)

Ohio State tied a scarlet ribbon around a signature win for its postseason resume last night in its final regular-season game at Value City Arena.

The Buckeyes scored 55 points in the second half and roared past 13th-ranked Iowa 100-82 in a Big Ten game in front of a crowd of 6,471.

The victory avenged a 73-65 loss in Iowa City on Feb. 5 and kept Ohio State (19-9, 11-5) in a tie for fourth place in the conference with Minnesota with two games remaining in the season.

And then, for sheer inter-state-conference rivalry sake, how about Cal over #18 Stanford, 63-53. On Senior Day. The Bears were just returning the favor the Cardinal gave’em a game ago. And ended the Cardinal 14-year run as Pac 10-12 champs.

Sun Belt upstart, Troy, takes down AR-Little Rock, 65-62.

“We really didn’t play like underdogs today, even when we were down by 10 points,” Troy head coach Chanda Rigby said.  “At that time my first inclination is to get in that frantic pressing mode, but we stayed back and played our zone defense, kept our gameplan and stayed in control.  The maturity of our team was a big difference in this game.”

Whoopsie! Charlotte knocks off Southern Miss, 83-72.

A “Yah, you won the Conference again, but wait until the conference tournament” win: Pacific over Gonzaga (the Zags first WCC loss), 71-59.

Some near misses:

#17 North Carolina over Miami by one. Make. Your. Free Throws.

Old Dominion over LaTech by one.

New Mexico State over Grand Canyon by one, clinching a share of the WAC title for the first time since 1995.

Ball State over Northern Illinois by one.

#14 Mississippi State over Alabama by two.

Seton Hall over Villanova by two, courtesy of a last second basket by senior Ka-Deidre Simmons From Steve Politi: 

Ka-Deidre Simmons thinks about the moment every day and wonders how she’ll react. Will she leap for joy? Will she start to cry? Will she play it cool like so many athletes do when their school pops up in the bracket during the NCAA Tournament selection show. 

She has no idea. She only knows that this moment — when the words “SETON HALL” finally appear in the field in three weeks — will be even sweeter because of her decision to stick it out in South Orange.

Hawai’i over UC Davis by two. The Wahine’s 19 wins is the most since 2001-02, when they won 23.

#12 Arizona State over USC by three — in TWO OTs.

“I’m so proud of this team,” Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “When Kelsey was out, it was like ‘Wow.’ Our bench has stepped up and people stepped up. It’s only going to make us better, obviously, for March, because we should be getting Kelsey back, hopefully, maybe this week.”

Northwestern over Wisconsin by three — in one OT. The win propelled the Wildcats into the polls for the first time in 19 years.

American over Army by three.

 A win against Navy on Wednesday in Annapolis would secure the Patriot League regular season title for the Eagles.

“They’ve always been a tight group. I love their camaraderie and how they really care about one another,” second-year Eagles coach Megan Gebbia said. “But I think it’s been our defense. That’s the biggest change that we’ve made. I think it’s that end of the floor and just shooting with confidence.”

Bryant over Robert Morris by three.

Western Kentucky over Middle State Tennessee by three. The Toppers hadn’t beaten the Blue Raiders in Bowling Green since 2008.

“I know 19 turnovers is the difference in the ballgame,” MTSU coach Rick Insell said. “We didn’t take care of the ball. (We) did a very poor job.

“(Western Kentucky) did a very good job.”

After an incredibly ugly first half, #20 Chattanooga over Samford by 7.

Wichita State over Southern Illinois by eight.

In other games:

How happy is FSU that Romero got to play this year? VERY happy.

In one of the best all-around performances in school history, Florida State sophomore point guard Leticia Romero recorded the program’s second-ever triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists as FSU defeated Boston College, 86-68, on Sunday afternoon at the Conte Forum.

What happened to Pittsburgh’s offense in the second half? Up 41-35 in the first, they only scored 13 in the second, losing to #25 Syracuse, 68-54.

Speaking of offensive offense – Debbie Antonelli better shield her eyes: Georgia only scored 28 points. Auburn only scored 44. I think they should be forced to replay that game until they get it right.

And let us not discuss the 36-32 Presbyterian earned. In overtime. Gak!

Debbie would have enjoyed this one: Minnesota over Michigan in double overtime, 91-88 . Zahui B only went for 27 points and 27 rebounds. Slacker.

Amanda Zahui B. should be the last women’s basketball player to wear No. 32 at Minnesota.

Call it insane to say a redshirt sophomore’s number should be retired when her career ends, but in two years, the decision to retire her number won’t even be arguable.

The month of February produced some unbelievable moments for the Swedish export.

Wowza – push-me/pull-you Washingtons: First Washington State pokes Washington in the eye, 83-72 . Then Washington kicks State in the shin, 83-43.

Nobody knows who UMass-Lowell is (and their first-year coach Jenerrie Harris, ex-Navy staff member). Even ESPN doesn’t have a page for them. But the River Hawks DID take down UNH, 70-65, so someone better pay attention soon.

The UMass Lowell women’s basketball team really should start campaigning for more games at the Tsongas Center. 

The River Hawks have certainly looked quite comfortable under the bright lights of the 6,111-seat arena in 2014-15. 

Playing at the Tsongas for the third time this season on Saturday, UMass Lowell delivered an inspired performance and remained poised down the stretch against one of the America East Conference’s upper-echelon teams. 

That’s five conference crowns in a row by Baylor.

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Watching #17 UNC v. #7 Florida State I had Old Big East flashbacks. “Physical” was an understatement. Sylvia and Gray got fired up, and FSU got flummoxed, falling (once again) on the road.

Bet Debbie Antonelli wishes she had been calling this DAS: Double OT, last second shots, Epps scoring 41… and Kentucky topping Mississippi State, 92-90 . This one’s worth re-watching.

Quinnipiac continues Quishin’ the MAAC competition – Bobcats over Red Foxes, 80-62.

JMU rules the CAA.

Arkansas-LR making a case for being the ruler of Sunbelt… but that will have to wait until their rematch against Arkansas State on Feb 19th.

New Mexico State is ruling the WAC.

#11 Duke dismissed the Cavaliers, 71-45, as Rebecca Greenwell set a freshman record for three pointers.

Miami and #23 Syracuse continued their up and down seasons. This time the Hurricanes were up, and the Orange was down, 85-71.

When you play out-of-conference cupcakes, you have to be careful of calling an in-conference loss an upset: #24 Georgia (17-8, 5-7) falls to Florida (12-12, 4-7) 51-49

Before they can face each other, Tennessee has to get through #10 Kentucky & Alabama and South Carolina has to get through Vanderbilt and Arkansas. Feb 23rd, y’all. Mark it on your calendars.

Woot! Talk all you want about the “Majors” and their “Conference Tournament.” Pay attention to the WCC – St. Mary’s takes down BYU (in OT), 76-71. San Diego takes down Pacific (and the Tigers may have lost Unique Coleman), 63-53. Gonzaga steamrolls Loyola Mary, 82-59. That’s the 9th straight season of 20 wins for the Bulldogs.

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More proof that the “There are no upsets in women’s basketball” narrative is wicked false….

In a *notreallyastunningupset* #14 Florida State got a big lead on #4 Louisville, and then held on for a 5-point win.

The real stunner was Boston College over #15 Duke, 60-56. The Eagles are 9-10 on the season and 1-5 in the ACC.

Duke once again failed to gain its first road win of the year, and the previously 0-5 in the ACC Eagles represented one of Duke’s best chances to do so. The Eagles confidently executed their game plan, played to their strengths, minimized their weaknesses and got contributions across the board from their entire roster. Duke adjusted slowly to BC’s strategies, committed sloppy turnovers, missed easy shots and gave a struggling opponent just enough daylight to dig out a big win. The Devils will need to rethink strategies and hope that they can get Oderah Chidom back from injury before they play UNC in Chapel Hill.

#22 Georgia over #10 Texas A&M in a barn burner, 54-51.

Purdue took down #21 Minnesota in OT, 90-88.

Tussles:

Pittsburgh gave #23 Syracuse a run for their money, but the Orange prevailed 68-60.

#12 North Carolina had to come back to secure a win against NC State, 67-63.

Michigan kept it close, but #20 Iowa prevailed in the end, 76-70.

Squeak!

#18 Mississippi State escaped in-state rival Ole Miss, 64-62.

#24 Western Kentucky topped UTEP, 80-74.

Green Bay over Cleveland State, 65-61

Its head-to-head dominance notwithstanding, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay women’s basketball team faced an opponent Thursday night that doesn’t make winning come easy.

“Cleveland State plays us tough every time we play them, whether it’s here or there,” said UWGB coach Kevin Borseth, taking a sigh of relief after another close call.

Takin’ care of business:

#7 Maryland over Michigan State, 85-56.

#5 Tennessee over LSU, 75-58. Ballard scored 15, but the Vols shot over 55%.

Nebraska over Wisconsin, 89-72.

#6 Notre Dame over Georgia Tech, 89-76.

Play a clunker and still win by a baker’s dozen.

That’s the mark of a good basketball team.

The Notre Dame women’s 89-76 win over Georgia Tech Thursday night was the start of a six-game stretch in which the Irish will have to challenge themselves, to likely make up for what they won’t see from their opponent.

Quinnipiac over Marist, 73-55.

James Madison over William & Mary, 92-50.

It was kinda ugly, but Gonzaga moved to 8-0 in the WCC with a 10-point win over Saint Mary’s.

Reversal of fortunes: Vermont goes down to Maine, 74-46. The Catamounts are now 0-6 in the American East – the Black Bears are 5-1. Has Stephen King noticed yet?

Arkansas Little-Rock – the folks who beat LSU and lost to Tulane – are now 8-0 in the Sun Belt.

The Kennesaw State Owls started strong, but the A-Sun is tough sailing. They go down to Stetson, 75-64. And yes, the Eagles are still 4-0 in-conference and guess who they face next: Da Owls.

Phew: Penn State got its first conference win, 79-75 over Indiana.

The Debbie Antonelli special comes to us via double overtime: McNeese State over Incarnate Word, 104-101.

Just plain stupidAlabama and Auburn women’s basketball players brawl

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The story: “There’s no parity in women’s basketball.”

The truth:

Illinois over #17 Iowa, 73-61.

Pittsburgh over #5 North Carolina, 84-59.

Miami over #4 Notre Dame, 78-63.

I’m trying to decide which upset is most surprising.

Yes, Notre Dame was on the road, but lordy, they were down 20 at the half to a team whose “best” win of the season to date was… heck, it’ s hard to point to a “good” Miami win – they’ve lost to MTU, ASU and Tulane.

“You never like to lose, but we’re just so darn young sometimes that we needed maybe a kick in the pants to kind of say we need to come out ready,” said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw. “I don’t know mentally what they were thinking before the game but we were uncharacteristically bad in the first half. Credit their defense, that really set us back on our heels.”

That being said, one has to consider the impact (and back story) of the news that starting sophomore forward Taya Reimer, who did not travel with the team to Miami, is considering her future at the university.

Even without Xylina McDaniel, North Carolina’s loss to Pittsburgh makes me shake my head. It’s not just that it’s Pitt. (Blog followers know that they struggled early this season, losing to Duquesne, James Madison and Princeton, but they played #7 Louisville tough.) It’s the score. This wasn’t a close game.

Michigan was a big win for the Pitt women. 

Ohio State was a big win, too. 

Neither of those earlier victories — nor very many wins in the history of the program, for that matter — compare to Thursday’s 84-59 victory over No. 8 North Carolina at Petersen Events Center

The win was Pitt’s first against a ranked opponent in almost four years and was their third over a top-10 opponent. 

No, we haven’t been talking about Iowa a lot, but we have mentioned Illinois more than a few times, so perhaps you weren’t too surprised by the news that the Hawkeyes got taken down by Matt Bollant’s Illini.

Illinois finished the game on a 26-8 run and held No. 17 Iowa to only three field goals over the final 10 minutes of the game as the Fighting Illini pulled away for a 73-61 win at State Farm Center on Thursday. It marked the Orange and Blue’s second win over a ranked opponent this season and Illinois held Iowa to its second-lowest point total of the season. Illinois improves to 11-4 on the campaign, its best start in seven years, and 2-1 in Big Ten play.

Let’s start a new story: There’s no parity in men’s college basketball.

So, speaking of close games, I see that Duke escaped Syracuse by two. Is there something askew with the ACC traditional powers? (And, soon, ‘Cuse, sooon you’ve got to come out of these close losses with a win!)

Okay, I’m paying attention: MSU women make another piece of history

Stat stuffers don’t care how their lines in the final boxscore look. 

After all, if players who fill numerous columns with crooked numbers are doing their jobs, their team’s total in bold at the bottom of the page is going to be bigger than the opponent’s.

Dominique Dillingham’s numbers Thursday were far from the biggest on the final statistics for the No. 14 Mississippi State women’s basketball team’s 72-57 victory against Arkansas. But none of the 3,556 in attendance at Humphrey Coliseum would deny Dillingham had perhaps the biggest impact in helping MSU push its season-opening winning streak to 18. In the process, MSU made another piece of history in opening Southeastern Conference play 3-0 for the first time. 

Hey! Look who’s ranked! Western Kentucky! First time since the 1997-98 season.

‘‘It’s an awesome day for our program,’’ WKU coach Michelle Clark-Heard said. ‘‘It gives me chills when you say that we’re ranked. It’s a great day for everyone that’s ever tied their shoe here or had to do with WKU in the past.’’

Anyone think that Ohio State is going to be scary good next year?

Yup, that’s #18 Arizona State winning, matching the program’s best start.

The Debbie Antonelli includes, of course, Sacramento State. This time they came out on top, 93-86.

In-conference play is killing San Francisco’s mojo.

It’s kinda feeling like, this year, the A-10 is George Washington’s to lose.

I’m not going to declare the Patriot League Lehigh’s until after they face American. Twice.

The Tigers roar in Graham’s mid-majors poll (and sit in the 22nd spot in the AP poll)

Courtney Banghart developed a standard response when asked about the outlook for her Princeton team this season, the first season the Tigers began coming off anything other than an NCAA tournament appearance since the fall of 2009, when every member of the current roster was in high school or even middle school.

It was a likable group of people, really likable. But she wasn’t sure they knew how hard it is to win.

“I just didn’t know if they actually had enough edge,” Banghart said. “If they hated losing — which is different, whether you hate losing more than you like winning, or you like winning more than you hate losing. I didn’t know if they were able to make the shift. Was this team really going to hate to lose and come with that edge?”

They must really hate losing. Because they can’t stop winning.

Steve Megargee of the AP give “the other majors” some love:

The first half of the women’s basketball season produced plenty of memorable moments for mid-major programs.

Chattanooga beat Tennessee and Stanford for its first two wins over top-10 opponents in school history. Princeton is ranked 22nd and Western Kentucky is 25th. Green Bay (11-3) was in the Top 25 earlier this season.

“I think it’s great for the game, for women’s basketball,” Western Kentucky coach Michelle Clark-Heard said. “That’s what we want to have the opportunity to do, to just continue to keep working and building, so … we don’t have to be in a position where we have to win our conference (tournament) to get to the NCAA.”

Michelle writes about those “other” Huskies, and their peach of a player, Plum: Plum paces Washington to 12-2 start – Huskies set to take on No. 15 Stanford on Friday, Cal on Sunday

As a freshman last season, Kelsey Plum confesses, she sometimes felt “dumb,” even if the stat sheet didn’t show it.

“At least in terms of making plays,” the University of Washington sophomore guard said. “I guessed a lot.”

Plum seems to have found the right answers pretty quickly. The nation’s second-leading scorer at 25.0 points a game, Plum is setting the tone for a Huskies team that is about to embark on its most defining weekend in a decade.

“We are finding a quiet confidence,” said Washington second-year coach Mike Neighbors.

He saw it in the days before his team played then-No. 5 Texas A&M before the turn of the new year. Washington won that game 70-49, one of the most unexpected results of the young season.

In W news, Mechelle addresses the “You’re fired!” “You’re hired!”

There are certain sports franchises — and players and coaches, for that matter — who do weird things that at first make you say, “You’re kidding. Seriously, they did that?” But then you say, “Oh, wait a minute. This is (fill in the name) that we’re talking about.”

The New York Liberty are such a franchise. But the re-hiring of Bill Laimbeer as coach less than three months after he was fired by the organization is head-scratching even by Liberty standards.

Oh, wait a minute. Not really. This is the Liberty we’re talking about.

Let me make haste to say, though, I actually don’t think this is a bad decision at all. It’s correcting a bad decision, which was firing Laimbeer back in October without a really strong idea of whom the franchise could get to replace him.

More Liberty news: 7 ON YOUR SIDE: HOOPS PRIZE WINNER NEEDS ASSIST

A little history: Former Wayland Baptist Flying Queen Cherri Rapp has been named for induction into the Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame.

Rapp played for the Flying Queens from 1968-72 under coach Harley Redin, winning two AAU championships along with third- and fourth-place finishes as those teams combined for a 107-13 win-loss record.
 
A three-time NWIT and AAU All-American, Rapp scored 1,348 points to rank third at the time on the Flying Queens’ career scoring list; today, she’s 14th.
 
She was a member of the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team that competed in the 1976 Montreal Games. She played in the Pan American Games in 1971 (Brazil) and 1975 (Colombia), serving as captain of the team that won the 1975 gold medal, and also played in the World Games in 1971 (Brazil) and 1975 (Mexico).

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say it.”

Might be the new WHB tagline. Ah, well – sorry Skylar and Anne.

And just to keep everyone honest — how friggin’ resilient are Chicago (hello, Jamierra Faulkner!) (over LA) and Indiana (over Atlanta IN Atlanta)? (and how disappointing is LA?)

Yea! Penny!

Ouch! Seimone!

Bell Fuller at Full Court sets up your weekend: WNBA Big Games, Big News: Fireworks on tap in two July 4 weekend matchups

Along with the Fourth of the July holiday will come some top-flight action in the WNBA this week. Here are two of the games to add to your “must-watch” list; unfortunately, neither game is scheduled to be televised outside the local markets, but both will be available via the WNBA’s Live Access.

In other news:

Women’s Basketball Committee seeks cost savings for championship

The Division I Women’s Basketball Committee is exploring ways to reduce championship expenses while continuing to protect the student-athlete experience.

Yup, it’s official: OSU women’s basketball: Khadidja Toure transfers to East Carolina and Duke women’s basketball point guard Jones to transfer

This will be a fun something to attend before flying out to Istanbul: Team USA To Face Canada At Webster Bank Arena Sept. 15

Speaking of USA Basketball, the U17’s have been kicking butt:

Games are being streamed through YouTube.

The WBCA has a new boss: Danielle Donehew Leaving AAC To Take Over WBCA and a new “status.”

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Oh, look. What a surprise. Chicago with another injury: Vandersloot out 6-to-10 weeks with sprained knee

And a different kind of ouch: Alexis Jones is transferring from Duke?

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Wicked early flight meant getting up wicked-er early, so I’m looking forward to a nap soon.

It’s chilly-greening-spring here in Tennessee – 40 or so when we landed, but the Final Four greeter promised us 64 by noon. When you’re in the sun, yes….when you’re not? Brrrrrr!

Easy car pick up, then headed to East Nashville for some breakfast at Marche Artisan Foods. Great service, yummy food…

With time to kill before the hotel opened up, drove into, through and around downtown Nashville. Small and bustling at the center. Different, more concentrated vibe than when I was in Knoxville for the WBHOF induction ceremony a while back. Strong mix of old and new architecture.

Continued our wandering exploration and end up driving past Vanderbilt (yes, as we researched, started by THAT Vanderbilt – hence the “Commodores” nickname.) Did you know the campus was also an arboretum? Did a quick drive through – really, really lovely. Also stopped by Centennial Park to visit the Parthenon and did some walking. Yup, it’s big. Nearby lake is being dredged/cleaned, so that wasn’t so scenic.

It’s early for birds – but there is a list: RobinsBlue Jays, a lone Turkey Vulture, cackling Grackles, some beautiful Bank Swallows, noisy Northern Mockingbird, a gregarious Carolina Wren, and an early Hermit Thrush.

Next on the agenda, the aforementioned nap, then a return to East Nashville to partake of the fare at the Eastland Cafe. Then, we’re off to the Grand Ole Opry!

Phew!

Hoping tomorrow features a visit with a WBHOF inductee, coffee, brunch, barbecue and two fabulous games.

Until them, some more reading (and listening): First, make sure you check out the Tennessean’s coverage:

Fans show love early in Women’s Final Four

Kara Lawson: No favorite between Pat, Geno

Rebecca Lobo: UConn is beatable

Legendary lady Pat Summitt: Pride of Cheatham County

WOOT! WOOT! WBB HISTORY!! Nashville Business College: Champions before their time – LONG BEFORE TENNESSEE AND UCONN, THESE FARM GIRLS DOMINATED WOMEN’S BASKETBALL AND THEIR RECORD IS UNMATCHED TODAY.

Final Four teams have fun at Ryman

UConn’s Dolson, Hartley old hands at Final Four, Post
More Than Anything, Geno Demands Sweat From UConn Women, Courant
More Awards For Stefanie Dolson, Courant
Capsule: No. 1 Seed UConn Women Vs. No. 2 Seed Stanford, Courant
Pictures: Behind The Scenes With UConn Women In Nashville, Courant
It’s a Great Time to be a Husky, Stefanie Dolson

Stanford’s supporting cast stepping up to help Ogwumike, Register
ESPN analyst touts Ogwumike’s pro potential, SFGate
Lawson Says Stanford Has Best Shot At UConn, Hartford Courant

U-Md. abuzz as women’s basketball team heads to Final Four, Washington Post
Nashville already full of Maryland fans, ABC
Majoring in Chemistry, Chloe Pavlech

Before UConn, ND should fear Terps, Observer
Notre Dame Women: Save Your Pity, Blue & Gold
Irish must prove doubters wrong, Kate Fagan
Geno (And USA Basketball) Love Kayla McBride, Hartford Courant

Dishin & Swishin 04/03/14 Podcast: Breaking down the Final Four with coaches Doug Bruno, Lindsay Gottlieb & Coquese Washington, HoopFeed

Duke coach’s analysis of women’s Final Four, Bradenton Herald

In Women’s Final Four, Jousting Before the First Jump Ball, yea! It’s Harvey at the New York Times

Beating UConn rarely leads to title – Most teams that beat UConn in NCAA tourney don’t win NCAA championship, Mechelle Voepel

Rematches story of women’s Final Four, AP Teresa M. Walker

Five minutes with ESPN analyst Kara Lawson, Nashville Business Journal

NCAA hosting women’s hoops summit at Final Four, AP Doug

 

As coach Mitchell cuts to assistant coaches, Sea of Blue is Taking a Moment To Celebrate The Season That Was

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Not outrageously so, but there was another slate of good’uns!

Considering their injury situation, that the Battle of the Blues went the Demons’ way wasn’t so surprising, was it. #7 DePaul over #2 Duke, 74-65. Graham’s Instant Analysis as DePaul puts on the pressure.

Exactly one year to the day after DePaul limped out of Cameron Indoor Stadium battered, bruised and beaten in a first-round game against Oklahoma State that almost no one outside of Stillwater has reason to remember, the Blue Demons had a hop in their step as they prepared to head home — if only briefly this time. The Sweet 16 awaits, after all.

It was second-seeded Duke that limped away, a team already shorthanded left with heavy legs and tired tears.

As for the #4 Huskers’ loss to the #12 Cougars, ask the Lincoln Region. Sue weighs in over at Full Court: BYU upsets Nebraska, 80-76, to advance to Sweet 16 in Lincoln Regional

In pulling off their second upset in three days, the Cougars advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2002, and become just the third 12th-seeded team in NCAA history to pull off the feat. Ironically, they head to the Lincoln, Neb. regional.

Considering what happened to the Cowgirls program two-plus years ago, who could be upset at their upset: #5 Oklahoma State over #4 Purdue, 73-66.


Games that were surprisingly tight (at least in the first half)

#1 Notre Dame v. #9 Arizona State, 84-67.

#2 Baylor v. #7 Cal. Bears over the Golden Bears, 75-56.

#1 Tennessee v. #8 St. John’s. Vols over Storm, 67-51.

Game that was surprisingly tight, considering the opposition was missing their best player)
#3 Kentucky v. #6 Syracuse. Wildcats eventually overcame the gritty Orange, 64-59.

Games that weren’t in question

#10 Florida State v. #2 Ogwumike... I mean Stanford. From Mechelle: Stanford all business-like in win

You’re not ever going to see a lot of drama from Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer. You know this, of course. She’s the technician, the professor, the perfect mentor for “Nerd Nation.”

Monday, the Cardinal played just her kind of game: Start with a plan, make some smart adjustments, execute well, win comfortably, walk out into the snow celebrating …

Wait a minute … snow? How often do the Cardinal run into that, especially in March? But spring is a capricious thing here in Iowa, and sure enough some flaky stuff was falling as the Cardinal contingent headed out of Hilton Coliseum and home to a Sweet 16 in their own Maples Pavilion.

From Charlie: Five observations from Monday’s games

• 3. Home not-so-sweet home: Every year, so much talk is invested in the top seeds playing on the home courts of teams with worse seeds. Nothing in the women’s tournament creates more angst. Then, every year it has little impact on the tournament. This March, it’s having even less influence. In fact, it has actually worked the other way. The higher seeds are losing games in their own gyms. On Monday, No. 2 seed Duke lost in Durham to seventh-seeded DePaul, and No. 4 seed Purdue fell to fifth-seeded Oklahoma State in Mackey Arena. In the first round, No. 10 seed Florida State beat seventh-seeded Iowa State in Ames. The motivation of playing a Sweet 16 game at home didn’t help Nebraska at all in the Huskers’ loss to BYU.

To this point in 2014, the home court has changed nothing. Upsets can happen anywhere.

 

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ESPN has your region breakdown:

Mechelle has 10 first-round storylines to follow

The women’s version of March Madness tips off at 11 a.m. ET Saturday at 16 sites around the country, with early rounds concluding Monday and Tuesday. Here are 10 things to look for/ponder/debate during the opening steps of the Big Dance:

1. Leagues of legends?

 Who said this: “I think we have the toughest conference in the country. We beat each other up. On any given night, anybody can win. You have to bring your A-game.”

Answer: Almost every coach, although some do add the qualifier “one of the toughest conferences” because they know that saying the toughest is over the top.

UConn’s Geno Auriemma of the new American (“We have no real geographic link, but we’re all in the United States!”) Athletic Conference isn’t going to say this about that amalgamation of orphans, castoffs, left-behinds and biding-their-times. But he doesn’t need to. He can just say, We got Breanna, and you don’t. (Hmmm … rings a bell, doesn’t it?)

So which league really was the toughest to play in this season? Hah, as if there could be a consensus on that. But the conferences that received the most NCAA bids were the SEC and ACC, with eight each. We’ll see how many live on to the Sweet 16.

She’s also thinking the Vols have jelled at the right time.

The NCAA selection committee has gone away from making the previous 10 games of a team’s season such a huge priority in regard to tournament selection/placement. That used to be something that was consistently brought up as being very important. Now, supposedly, it’s just another factor to consider, but the whole “body of work” thing is bigger.

Still, this season, it seems clear that Tennessee’s No. 1 seed was secured by the Lady Vols winning the SEC tournament. And if you are going to focus on the “last 10,” that stretch looks quite good for the Lady Vols.

Yes, I’m sure the Lady Vols are eager to end their Final Four drought (even without Massengale for the first two games), but did you know that they’re putting a 52-game streak on line vs Northwestern State?

It’s a daydream savored by anyone who ever spent so much as an afternoon with a basketball in the driveway. The imaginary clock ticks down and the phantom crowd is on its feet. The game is on the line, the ball is in your hands.

It is your chance to be the hero. You survey the options — and pass the ball to an open teammate for the game-winning assist.

Wait, what?

Interesting: Duke’s depleted lineup, turnover problems give Winthrop hope

And in the “Who would?” department: Duke coach unhappy team in same region with UConn

DePaul women’s head coach Doug Bruno wasn’t nearly as excited as his players after winning the Big East tournament.  Bruno, who is in his 28th year as DePaul’s head coach, said he coaches solely for the NCAA tournament.

The LSU Reveille sounds the call:

LSU does not have another chance to get back on track.

The Lady Tigers have no more media sessions to talk about what they can do to get out of their slump. The only thing left to do is act on their words.

“It’s a time for my team to actually make history or make something happen,” said freshman guard Raigyne Moncrief. “Hopefully we can just pull together and get wins.”

The Bulldog Blitz unpicks Fresno State’s strategy: 

Within minutes of learning who they would play in the Women’s NCAA Tournament, a few Fresno State players anxiously searched their cellphones for statistics and video clips of the Nebraska basketball team.

The Bulldogs received a more detailed breakdown of the Cornhuskers the following day after the coaching staff assembled a video scouting report — with two agendas in mind:

For each clip that coach Raegan Pebley showed of Nebraska excelling, she also showed one of the 13th-ranked Cornhuskers getting exposed. 

No worries: Husker Laudermill is ready to spark Nebraska. Oh, and have you Met the Nebraska women’s basketball starting five

While the Cal women begin tournament in shadow of last season’s team, they are feeling confident as they enter NCAA Tournament play against the Fordham Rams, when we’ll see if the Boyd-Rooney Matchup deserved to be The Talk of Friday’s Media Day

As Akron women’s basketball rides dynamic duo into Mackey Arena to face Purdue, the Boilermakers defense might be the key in NCAA tourney

If the UTC women want better tourney results, they’re going to have to prepare for Syracuse’s zone defense. And 10 other things.

Florida State will look to stop ISU’s Christofferson from extending career at Hilton

Sure, Taylor Greenfield might be the only Stanford player happy about traveling 1,800 miles to the middle of Iowa to open the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, but the Coyotes have no issue with trying to make her and her teammates cranky.

Oh, yeah, USC, Northridge women are living the dream – but Trojans will face St. John’s

As the long wait is finished and Baylor prepares to play the NCAA opener without suspended Mulkey, the Hilltoppers are up to the challenge.

“We’re excited,” WKU sophomore guard Micah Jones said. “They’ve had a lot of success over the past few years, and that’s what we’re trying to get back to with our program. It’s a great opportunity for us to come here and play Baylor.”

Brandon Gurney from the Deseret news says the Cougars feel good about their matchup with the Wolfpack

We match up well and their team is very similar to ours,” observed BYU coach Jeff Judkins. “The way they play and how they do it (is similar).”

The starkest similarity involves the starting centers. BYU features 6-foot-7 senior Jen Hamson while North Carolina presents 6-foot-5 senior Markeisha Gatling. Both players lead their teams from the post, and Judkins believes whoever wins that specific matchup will go a long way in determining the outcome.

News from the WNIT:

Ducks dominate Pacific Tigers 90-63 in WNIT opener

Rutgers women’s basketball defeats Delaware in WNIT

If the Rutgers women’s basketball team is trying to use the WNIT as a platform to show it was worthy of receiving a NCAA Tournament berth, it will have to wait until at least the second round to begin proving its case.

Women’s Basketball Pulls Out Last-Second WNIT Victory

With seven seconds left on the clock and Harvard up by two, Iona guard Aleesha Powell drove to the basket for a hard layup, drawing the foul on captain Christine Clark and making the basket for the three-point play. Powell, an 84.9 percent free-throw shooter, completed the and-one.

One-point Gaels lead, 6.7 seconds on the clock.

But Clark was not about to let her season—and Harvard career—end with that.

Other games:

Colorado 78, TCU 71
Montana 90, Washington State 78
Minnesota 62, Green Bay 60
Villanova 74, Quinnipiac 55
George Washington 86, East Carolina 68

Michigan 86, Stony Brook 48
Duquesne 62, Mount St. Mary’s 52
St. Bonaventure 81, Charlotte 62
South Florida 56, North Carolina A&T 50
Saint Mary’s 75, CSU Bakersfield 68
UTEP 74, Arkansas State 64
Washington 67, Hawaii 50

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“There are no upsets in women’s basketball” are simply out-of-touch neanderthals.

’cause lookee what Graham said! Not only did he name the Penguins the “Team of the week,” he noted it was “a weekend in which nine ranked teams lost to opponents that were either ranked lower or unranked.”

And honestly, looking at some of the records of those unranked teams only makes the upsets even more stunning.

Kansas State took down #13 Iowa State by 6 (making one ponder the Cyclones’ pre-conference schedule.)

Not to be outdone by their in-state rival, Kansas became a Bear-toppler as Baylor left Texas for the first time this season and not only lost back-to-back for the first time since 2010, but they also lost their nation-leading road win streak and their 44 or is it 53-game conference win streak. That earned Kansas’ Gardner is player of week honors. Wrote Mechelle:

Mulkey knew her young players were perhaps too buoyed by their performance against UConn and not ready for potential adversity on the road in the Big 12. She said she saw the “deer in the headlights” look from several of them Sunday.

Baylor senior guard Odyssey Sims had 31 points, but it took her a school-record 37 shot attempts to get that. She made 13 shots from the field and 3 of 5 free throws. Combined with her 4-of-25 night against UConn, Sims has shot 27.4 percent (17-of-62) in her last two games.

#24 Vandy stayed red-hot with its 9-point win over #14 LSU.

“Vanderbilt did a nice job of getting the right players the right shots at the right times,” head coachNikki Caldwell said. “They didn’t force anything, they played within their gameplan and they did a good job of sharing the basketball. We have to be more discipline in our halfcourt defense and not miss assignments. We just weren’t aware and alert, that hurt us. We have to be more serious about our defensive effort.”

Miami’s Saunders went toe-to-toe with #20 NC State’s Gatling, and the Hurricanes earned the upset by 9.

Saunders joked that the rim has never looked that big for her in her career.

“It was pretty huge,” Saunders said. “I was really feeling it, and it was a great feeling. My teammates found me in great places, all of my guards have great vision, and I was just happy they were able to find me and I was able to knock it down.”

Flip-the-coin-and-see-which-team-you-get #22 Purdue eked out the upset over #18 Nebraska by 2. This has sure become a fun B10 rivalry.

In the “almost” vein –

#10 Kentucky escaped Auburn (11-7, 2-3), 73-71… and the Tigers had a chance in the final seconds.

“Besides the fact that we blew it, I don’t know what to really say,” Tigers head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “The opportunity was there, we played hard, sometimes we just didn’t do everything that we needed to do like rebounding the basketball on the defensive end.”

#3 Duke showed it IS missing Gray, but leaned on Liston to escape Virginia Tech, 74-70.

Meanwhile:

“Remember when Geno said, “`I have Diana Taurasi and you don’t’?” Stringer said. “That’s what he means. Breanna’s the No. 1 player in the country, right? She’s the best player in the nation. It doesn’t mean they can’t be beaten but it’s Connecticut and everybody else.”

Said Auriemma of the (almost) “end of an era”:

“It was one of the better games we’ve played here in a very long time,” Auriemma said of the ease with which his team went about its business. “But it didn’t even feel like we were at Rutgers. I don’t know what’s going on. The last two games – maybe the fans are feeling sorry for me now that I am getting older. When I was younger they didn’t treat me like that.”

In other games –

Get mojo back? Check! San Diego handled BYU, 60-45.

Keep improving? Check! St. Francis (NY) wins.

Continue to challenge for the Horizon? Check! Penguins ruuuuule!

Let go of the Horizon? Not so fast! Green Bay took down Cleveland State, 90-72.

Run away with the Big Sky? Not so fast (Pt. 2)! North Dakota stumbles against Montana State, 76-65.

Clear leader in the A-10? Not so fast! Dayton over Fordham, 73-64 and St. Joe’s over La Salle.

An itty bit of revenge? Yup! Drexel over Delaware. Dragons and JMU are 3-0 in the CAA.

Oregon continues to score a lot and lose a lot. And USC is now the first team ever to score 100 points at the Galen Center AND 6-1 in the Pac-12.

Adding to the OT list:

Charlie tries to make sense of the wins and loses in his new Bracketology. (Though I probably would have procrastinated until AFTER tonight’s Tennessee/ND game.)

And, on this MLK day, I invite you to read Kate Fagan’s piece.

Nobody wakes up one morning and understands the experiences of everyone who is “other.The goal is to keep our minds open and be willing to listen — to realize that even when we think we get it, sometimes something happens that makes it clear we have so much more to learn.

And in those moments, the only wrong move is digging in your heels.

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In this case, it’s women’s basketball players and blood clots:

Antonita Slaughter from Louisville.

Kyvin Goodin-Rogers from Kentucky.

Rebekah Dahlman from Vandy.

Other injury news: Washington freshman Chantel Osahor out indefinitely with stress fracture

Returning from injury news: Marist visits rivals with Casey Dulin set to debut

The last time Casey Dulin played in a game she scored 13 points to lead the Marist College women’s basketball team in its NCAA tournament opener in March.

Today, 266 days since that loss to Michigan State, the senior guard returns to action, making her 2013-14 debut against host Boston University after breaking her right foot in late October

Speaking of Marist: Marist hurdled obstacles to find success again

In transfer news: She moved in high school, and it looks like she’s moving in college: Breanna Hayden to leave Baylor.

Friday the 13th brought no bad luck for East Carolina, which made mincemeat of Alcorn State and kept their record unblemished.

San Diego resisted the WHB curse and moved to 10-0 with their win over Long Beach State.

In the battle of the W’s (Williams and Wetmore v. Wurtz and Whyte) it was Washington over Wisconsin.

Army played Ohio State tough, but the Buckeyes squeezed out a win.

The Ohio State women’s basketball team got a do-over with the clock ticking toward zero last night at Value City Arena and left smiling this time.

The Buckeyes, who lost to Gonzaga on a buzzer-beater on Sunday, rallied from a six-point deficit in the final 2:23 to reel in Army 59-56 in front of a crowd of 4,183.

Wow — tough to got through two overtimes and lose by 13. Welcome to UCF’s fate against the Owls of Florida Atlantic.

Mechelle adds her voice to the good wishes sent to the Frese family: Frese’s son wraps up chemotherapy- Tyler Thomas, 5, will get his blood checked regularly for the next year and a half

...the image you immediately see in your head when the Maryland women’s basketball coach is mentioned is her standing on the sideline, nodding, clapping and sending out good vibes to her players.

Likewise, with every public mention of her son, Tyler Thomas, and his battle with leukemia, Frese has been similarly upbeat. One can imagine that in private, she and husband Mark Thomas have shed tears and had their low points of fear and worry. There is no worse emotional pain than that felt by a parent or guardian of a sick/injured child.

But Frese has always talked about Tyler winning against the disease and about how he received terrific medical care at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg Children’s Center. You can surmise that 5-year-old Tyler both inherited and was inspired by his mom’s buoyant attitude.

Speaking of Mechelle’s voice, check her out as she (and Coach McCallie) talk Duke v. UConn with David at Dishin’ & Swishin’: Is #2 Duke ready for #1 UConn?

More on the upcoming game from John Altavilla: Coach McCallie On A Number Of UConn-Duke Topics

On the current condition of senior guard Chelsea Gray, who is back after a dislocated knee cap ended her junior season on Nov. 17, 2012:
“It’s been extraordinary; I have never been a part of that kind of story [recovering from knee dislocation]. She’s worked hard, preserved, put herself into position to be in tip-top shape. … We’re not there yet. It’s December, but we are at a good stage with her. I’m proud of her. It’s a hard injury.”

And: Jay Bilas Offers A Fresh Insight Into Duke-UConn and Gray And Jones A Potent Duke Guard Combination

Over at Mel’s blog, Mike Siroky toots the SEC horn: Kentucky Plays Another Masterpiece Game

The Southeastern Conference women’s college basketball teams retain their mastery of the rest of the world.

Those AP-ranked teams are now 47-3 (and there is another undefeated league team and two with one loss each, which makes the top nine 73-5).

Déjà vu all over again: For the second straight week, the biggest win was by the team we have dubbed the best in the league, the national Game Of The Season (so far).

From Lady Swish: JMU preps for St. John’s tourney

For JMU, the next five days are filled with opportunity and possibilities.

The Dukes (6-2) will play three games over this span, with two of them coming against resume-enhancing opponents. If successful, JMU can brand itself as not just a team good enough to make the NCAA Tournament, but one capable of making some noise once they get there. And trust us, perception is important when it comes to the NCAA selection committee.

Some players making an impact:

From Carl Adamec: UConn’s Chong reports for freshman duties

“Sometimes it’s hard being the only freshman. A lot of times I’m doing things on my own,” Chong said. “I’m the only freshman and I know they have their eyes on me. I have to give them my 100 percent every time and let them know I’m working hard.

“My roommate (Jade Strawberry) is a volleyball player so I didn’t always see her during her season. She’s out practicing or I’m out practicing so I have to do a lot of things on my own. I’ll go to class by myself. I’ll interact with other people on my own. But when things get tough I just ask the older girls on the team and they’ll help me.”

From Vicki L. Friedman and Paul White Shae Kelley doing it all for ODU

Through eight games, Shae Kelley leads Old Dominion in points, rebounds, steals, blocks, field goals made and attempted, free throws made and attempted, minutes played, yards after the catch, goals-against average….

OK, we made a couple of those up. But only a couple.

From Aggie Sports: Gilbert making an impact on and off court in her hometown

Gilbert does her student teaching in the area and enjoys when she is recognized for her on-the-court work, but she also takes great pride when fans recognize what she hopes to do in the classroom.

“It defines me as not only a basketball player, I’m also someone who desired to teach and help out younger kids and be a big part of the community,” she said.

From Mike Esse at Penn State Athletics:

Two words: patience and dedication. Put those two together and you get Lady Lion senior Talia East.

The 6-foot-3 forward from Philadelphia wasn’t seeing the playing time she wanted in her first two years due to injuries and veterans in front of her. In 2012-13, East began to show flashes of the player she could be and now in her final year in Happy Valley, she is a dominating force inside for the Lady Lions.

From Ken Sickenger at the Albuquerque Journal: Lobo women’s hoops: Alexa Chavez goes from walk-on to key performer

“Honestly, I told her what I tell all our walk-ons,” Sanchez said. “‘You probably won’t play much, you probably won’t travel, and your main job will be to work hard at practice and help the team get better.’”

Chavez was undeterred by the high-work, low-reward prospects.

“Alexa came in and just never stopped working and never stopped improving,” Sanchez said. “Now she’s in a position to help us win basketball games and she’s skilled enough to do it.”

So, where are you traveling to in 2015?

In W news: Use Of Instant Replay Headlines WNBA Rule Changes

In Arizona, the New Phoenix Mercury GM is Phoenix Suns exec

From the Daily Nebraskan: Former Husker basketball player Kelsey Griffin finds happiness playing abroad

Kelsey Griffin left Nebraska as a 2010 First-Team All-American, a three-time First-Team All-Big 12 selection, the 2010 Big 12 Player of the Year and the No. 3 player on Nebraska’s career scoring list with 2,033 points.

Yet somehow, when she entered the WNBA after being drafted as the No. 3 overall pick by the Minnesota Lynx and subsequently traded to the Connecticut Sun, she felt as if she was on her own.

Jim Massie writes about what we already know, but it’s always fun to read his work: Katie Smith returning to WNBA — as a coach

Next spring will find Katie Smith feeling a familiar itch that time finally has persuaded her to scratch in some other way.

Smith, the most-decorated player in Ohio State women’s basketball history, ended her long playing career at the end of the 2013 WNBA season. The 39-year-old returned to her home in Upper Arlington to finish her graduate work for a degree in dietetics and to serve as a grad assistant mentor to the current OSU women’s team.

Several basketball players on espnW’s “Impact 10

NO. 2 BRITTNEY GRINER

NO. 6 ELENA DELLE DONNE

NO. 7 MAYA MOORE

NO. 9 CANDACE PARKER

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why. Every time I thought, “well, that’s the game,” the players said, “Nope!”

I certainly enjoyed watching the Kentucky/Baylor game on my ‘puter as I cooked up some serious chili. Not sure the men’s teams waiting for the game to conclude were too thrilled. But really, it was Calipari’s fault. And, as Mechelle noted

So what happened? A “Twilight Zone/Outer Limits/X-Files” kind of game. I was worried there wouldn’t be enough scoring? I might as well have been worried that Robinson Cano wasn’t going to get enough money.

Kentucky 133, Baylor 130, four overtimes. And the number of people who looked at this score and said, “Holy (blank)!” That would be a lot more than 263, which as the combined score was the most points ever in a Division I women’s hoops game.

This proves it: Everything is bigger in Texas.

There were other games this past weekend, and don’t let the final scores fool ya — some were nice and close through the first half. Which doesn’t mean a lot to the losing team, but it does suggest the winners need to not be let off the “so, how good are you?” hook.

Cal over Pacific.

Texas A&M over Washington.

Gonzaga over Ohio State (I TOLD you the Buckeyes were a tough out.)

Tennessee over Texas.

Purdue over IPFW.

South Carolina over Charlotte.

Penn State over Georgetown – and they needed all of Maggie’s 2000th point.s.

Iowa State over CS Fullerton (thanks, Hallie.)

Nice win for Auburn over St. John’s.

Eastern Michigan is still loss-free.

Ditto for San Diego.

Ditto with Notre Dame, who stomped all over UCLA.

Duke is still undefeated (#500 for McCallie) as the Blue Devils sorta handled Oklahoma in a game that saw defense prohibited in the second half (and some gimpiness).

They’re not as strong as they usually are, but it’s still important to ‘ware the ‘wabbits – as the Phoenix discovered. BTW, nice story: UWGB freshman Buck’s drive inspires Native Americans

There are not a lot of players like University of Wisconsin-Green Bay freshman Tesha Buck playing basketball at the NCAA Division I level.

A little more than a decade ago, there were none.

Buck is a Native American who already has overcome long odds to reach this point in her career.

In the most recent NCAA race and ethnicity report from the 2011-12 season, there were 10,151 male and female basketball players in Division I. Just 25 of them — 21 women and four men — were Native American/Alaskan Native.

In 2000, there were no Native American/Alaskan Native female basketball players. In 2008, there was one.

Not my fault – Fordham deals Holy Cross their first loss of the season.

So, I’m not saying ‘ware the Sun Devils yet — though that win over UNC was nice — but it did take them an OT to take down Long Beach State. I guess we’ll get a better sense of who they are after they work through Syracuse-Cal-Stanford-Colorado.

126 points!

Okay, is Michigan State down or is it Virginia Tech that is up?

Yes, it was against UMass-Lowell, but when was the last time Seton Hall scored 97pts?

Not my fault, neither: ‘nova earns its first loss at the hand of St. Joseph’s.

Phew! (Or I would have had to deny blame again): BYU squeaked by Creighton, 52-51.

No squeaking involved, as UTEP continued to roll.

Yah, they’re still undefeated, but let’s see what happens when Arkansas meets South Carolina four games from now.

Yup, Wisconsin’s improved.

So, how glad are the 1-8 Seahawks that they let Cynthia Cooper go?

Yes, there have been some major injuries, but boy is Hartford not enjoying their season so far.

*all sing* “What a difference a coach makes….” The Penguins are 1-6.

From Michelle Smith: Cards move on without Slaughter- Jeff Walz, Louisville making adjustments after losing senior guard for the season

Slaughter collapsed on the bench last Tuesday during the Cardinals’ game against Missouri State. The clot was discovered in follow-up examinations. Walz said Monday that doctors believe the clot was not related to her collapse, but was discovered during the subsequent evaluation. The collapse, doctors believe, was caused by a “cardiac event” and Slaughter is still being evaluated. In the meantime, Slaughter has begun to take blood thinners, the treatment expected to last six or seven months.

“They don’t know if the clot was there before or after,” Walz said. “But they are two separate incidents. They are still trying to determined what caused the cardiac event.”

Writes Graham of this past week’s events: Cats, Cards cap strange week in Commonwealth

Expressing that magnanimity that perhaps comes with a second-half comeback in front of a full house in your arena, Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell heaped praise on Louisville counterpart Jeff Walz after last Sunday’s rivalry game, and then offered what surely seemed a benediction without any hint of foreboding.

 “It’s a good time for basketball in the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” Mitchell said.

Little did he know he was also about to play his part in what proved to be the strangest of weeks for women’s basketball in the Bluegrass State, one that turned the basketball court into something of a refuge for Louisville in the aftermath of Antonita Slaughter’s collapse and subsequent season-ending diagnosis of blood clots, and a labyrinth impossible to escape for Kentucky in a four-overtime game against Baylor.

So where does basketball in the Commonwealth stand a week later?

A little W info, as James over at Swish Appeal is talking to the Dream’s new head coach Michael Cooper on the hiring process, what makes a championship team, and Running With The Dream

Full Court has a nice coaching/coast bookend: Team turnarounds are Carol Ross’s coaching calling card

The plain-spoken Southerner is popular with players, fans and the press alike. Her coaching philosphy is built around heavy doses of the basics — hard work, discpline and defense, defense, defense. “I would hope that any team that I have the opportunity to influence – and that will be the Sparks now – that they are going to play very hard, they’re going to play for each other, and they’re going to play with a lot of enthusiasm and passion,” Ross told Full Court when she took over the reins in LA. “I can tell you that whoever is … wearing the Sparks uniform, they will play hard, and they will play with great passion and they’re going to compete very hard every night.”

Surprise! WNBA’s No. 4 pick in 2013 draft, Tayler Hill, expecting first child

Who’s got next (from Nate): Five seniors off to strong starts

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polls:

NCAA Division III: Cool to see Montclair State up in the top five.

NCAA Division II: Bentley and Barb Stevens = consistency.

NCAA Division I (Coaches): Not a lot of surprises, except maybe with that one vote….

As we wait:

From LSU: United States Marines help train team

From Wisconsin: New-look UWGB in same old No. 1 spot

It is the sixth straight season the Phoenix has been picked preseason favorite.

“I guess I didn’t expect that,” UWGB coach Kevin Borseth said. “We lost five seniors off the squad and four starters. … I don’t know.

From North Dakota: NDSU Women’s Basketball Preview

From Oklahoma: Guards Morgan Hook, Maddie Manning injured at intrasquad scrimmage

From Pennsylvania: Penn State women’s basketball: New faces shine in Lady Lions’ exhibition romp

From North Carolina: Duke women’s basketball opens season with Blue/White Scrimmage

From Full Court:

The sport is not going away any time soon, though at the same time it’s clear there are some fundamental issues that need to be thoughtfully considered. The powers that be in women’s basketball have taken the first step by recognizing that there are some problems, and commissioning the Ackerman Report. And last week the NCAA women’s basketball committee also approved taking some steps to solve them, though their compromises on the recommendations of the White Papers Summit are a bit of a mixed bag. Having top seeds host the first two rounds of the tournament, for example, is a virtual no-brainer that can only help improve attendance in the early rounds, while at the same time rewarding the best, rather than the richest, programs.

Get out your calendar and mark these downs: Women’s College Basketball On ESPN

Speaking of calendars: Women’s basketball committee suggests changes for tourney, moving Final Four to Friday-Sunday

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catch up on last night:

Louisville took care of Tennessee in an eerily similar manner to their take down of Baylor — race out to a lead, then tire (or do dumb stuff) in the middle of the second, then win.

Dan writes: Louisville stops Lady Vols’ run to Final Four, 86-78

Tennessee’s problems began on offense. Louisville used multiple defensive alignments to thwart the player and ball movement that was so prevalent in the Lady Vols’ regional semifinal victory over Oklahoma.

Tennessee had just one point to show for its first seven possessions.

“It may have rattled us some,” UT assistant Dean Lockwood said. “But that’s where you respond at the other end of the floor and we couldn’t do that.”

In the end, there was too much Jude and Shoni. Says Mechelle: Schimmels lead Cards to Final Four

Louisville’s Schimmel sisters, Shoni and Jude, recall watching a movie called “Double Teamed” when they were in middle school. It was about identical twins Heather and Heidi Burge, who went to the Women’s Final Four three times while playing at Virginia in the early 1990s.

The film is hokey, but it’s still a sweet, triumphant story of the sisterhood and athletic success of real people.

“When we were younger, the movie seemed very realistic to us,” Jude Schimmel said. “What they did was our dream, too.”

Shoni added, “Yeah, that was us.”

Duke tried copy Louisville, but couldn’t hold on in the second.

It was an angry glare that could have melted steel.

It certainly melted No. 2 seed Duke’s hopes of pulling off an upset against No. 1 seed Notre Dame in the Norfolk Regional final of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

Just a quick glance at the daggers beaming out of Skylar Diggins’ eyes early in the second half let Duke know it was in trouble.

Adds Graham: Sky’s the limit for Notre Dame

The dances in the middle of the court were complete. Those members of the crowd not clad in green already had begun to drift off into the Norfolk night. But there was one last bit of official business to take care of before Notre Dame left the court for the final time.

By unanimous decision, the announcer intoned, the regional’s Most Outstanding Player award went to Skylar Diggins.

Close, but not quite. There wasn’t any need to go to the judges on this one. Diggins won by knockout. 

From the News Observer: 

Just getting to a regional final was probably accomplishment enough for a Duke women’s basketball team that endured much adversity this season.

That did little to salve the pain the Blue Devils felt as Notre Dame cut down the nets at Old Dominion’s Ted Constant Convocation Center on Tuesday night.

From the Chronicle:

“Our first half was pretty good,” Liston said. “We held them to 31 points and we were right on pace for the [defensive] goal that we wanted to keep them at for the game. I thought we did a great job and we had great focus on the shooters and the go-tos that we wanted to shut down, [but I] wish we could have had that same focus in the second half on defense.”

At the Rockdale Citizen (GA), Darrell Huckaby says hes A fan of women’s basketball and Andy Landers

I was a fan of women’s basketball long before it was cool. I coached girls’ basketball in high school for about 25 years. It made sense to follow the college game. Besides, I liked it. It was a game of strategy and shooting and defense.

In 1985, my Woodward Academy team won its way to the state tournament for the first time in school history. I decided to reward my team with a trip to the women’s Final Four in Austin, Texas. In those days the women’s tournament was played on Friday night and Sunday afternoon, so on the last Thursday in March, we piled into two school vans and headed west.

Yes. We drove to Austin, Texas, for the games.

Tom Goldman at NPR says, Baylor’s Departure From Women’s Basketball Tournament Leaves Huge Hole

Also at NPR: Notre Dame, Louisville Triumph To Round Off Final Four

From Kate Fagan: Big East trio finds way to Big Easy

The right side of the Women’s Final Four bracket looks just like you’d expect it to. But if you shift your glance to the other side, you see one of the most unexpected matchups in recent memory.

Michelle says: They’ve got next

Of this year’s 3 To See, only one remains standing. Notre Dame’s title-craving Skylar Diggins carries the torch for this year’s crop of extraordinary women’s basketball talent into the Final Four in New Orleans.

But if this year’s unpredictable, thrilling tournament has taught us something, it’s that there are other players worthy of our time, attention and admiration all over the top ranks of the game.

And with the Final Four set — Notre Dame and Louisville joined the party on Tuesday after Cal and Connecticut earned their spots on Monday night — this next group of young players already has reached star status as they make their Final Four debuts.

From the experts, Picks (Now that we’re in New Orleans …)

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You know I was being sarcastic, right?

’cause if you didn’t watch the late game last night: SPOILER ALERT!!!

Might I suggest you stop reading, find yourself a couple of hours, and go watch the game?

For those of us who did watch the game: Holy Carp, no?

Some random thoughts on the game before I link to those who know a whole heckuvalot more than I do:

  • Officiating: They let Louisville get away with murder at the beginning of the game. Thought it was amusing that Jeff was all het up about his players getting called for so many fouls. They deserved every one of them — and once they DID get called, the game settled down a bit.
  • I don’t remember a TEAM shooting so friggin’ lights out from three — yes, a player. But the whole team?
  • I don’t mind jawin’ on the court. Talk is talk, but Shoni could have gotten a T for in the face action she pulled on Griner. (Couldn’t tell if she got a warning. She should have.) Loved Griner look to the ref: “Really, ref? I need to put up with this $ht?”
  • Shoni’s jawin’ earned her a T/foul. And then she fouled out with that foolish left arm. That coulda cost her team big time.
  • Geno called himself a dumba$$ after the Maryland for getting T’d up. It cost his team 4 points. But that was at the half, with UConn up. Jeff cost his team four points with is T at 2 minutes. Perhaps it wasn’t a charge, but he needs to be smarter.
  • Perhaps there wasn’t a charge on the other end, neither, but how on earth does Kim not get a T for pulling a Cheryl Reeve?
  • For long time Big East fans who know how hard injuries have cut into a promising career, it was painful to watch Monique miss the front end of that of that one-and-one. (Great call by Kim to foul). But, it set up her game winning FTs beautifully. (Great call by Jeff not to call a timeout — and what happened to Baylor’s D that Griner wasn’t back in the paint?)

Wowza. What a game. And thanks, Kevin, for showing the players some love.

From the experts:

From ESPN.com’s “news services” (though a ton of the AP report is included) Louisville dashes Baylor’s repeat hopes with shocking upset

Mechelle offers some Instant Analysis.

All things considered, you might call it the biggest upset in women’s NCAA tournament history. Or at least very high on the list. Louisville, the No. 5 seed, took down defending champion Baylor 82-81 in the Sweet 16 after an other-worldly performance from behind the arc. And after surviving a frantic, riveting Baylor comeback.

The Louisville women shocked the world and, in this case, it is not hyperbole. The Cardinals made 16 of 25 3-point shots. Every coach has been asked how to best defeat Baylor, and all have said the same thing: Hit from the perimeter. Louisville did. Wow, did the Cardinals do that.

She follows it up with Game’s biggest upset stuns Baylor – Fifth-seeded Louisville knocks off defending NCAA champ to advance to Elite Eight

In the Baylor locker room, point guard Odyssey Sims, crying, clung to former Bears men’s player Perry Jones III. He’s now with the NBA’s Thunder, so the Chesapeake Energy Arena is his home. But it felt like probably the worst place in the entire world to Sims.

Finally, Sims broke away from Jones and sat disconsolately at her locker. Next to her came the sound of wracking sobs from senior teammate Kimetria “Nae-Nae” Hayden. A Baylor official, trying to comfort both distraught players said, “Take a deep breath. Just breathe.”

Breathing was hard for everyone — players, coaches, media, and fans alike — in the closing minutes of this insane, unpredictable, dramatic, thrill-ride of a basketball game.

John Adams at GoVolsXtra notes: Baylor not the only ones ‘stunned’ by upset

Dean Lockwood could have been speaking for the entire Baylor team Sunday evening.

“I’m stunned,” the Tennessee assistant coach said seconds after Louisville defeated No. 1 Baylor in the Sweet 16 round of the Oklahoma City regional at Chesapeake Energy Arena.”

“I’m just trying to process what I’ve just seen,” he added.

Nate at Swish Appeal talks about The perfect storm that helped Louisville upset Brittney Griner & the Baylor Lady Bears

What those two games had in common with the Louisville Cardinals‘ win today is that both of those teams got hot from the 3-point line to help them score over Baylor’s formidable defense. That part of the strategy to beat Baylor has been obvious for some time now, as written in the preview of the game today. The problem is that those other two teams – arguably inferior to Louisville’s team – just couldn’t sustain the hot shooting that included well-above average individual shooting performances.

Part of what went right for Louisville is that their shots just kept falling.

To that point, Mark C. Moore of SB Nation’s Baylor site Our Daily Bears made the point after the game that claims of Louisville employing a “masterful gameplan” were overstated and to some extent, when you look back at how some other non-elite teams have played Baylor, that’s very true: even if you argue that Louisville won the game for a number of reasons, 64% 3-point shooting by a 31% shooting team – yes, more than twice their season success rate – was a major, major reason that they were able to hang on for a one point win.

Clay at Full Court says, Cardinals stun the Bears – Louisville was just better

Baylor didn’t have a bad game.

The Bears scored 81 points against Louisville Sunday, shooting respectably from the field and the line. They controlled the boards. They forced 20 turnovers. They mounted an amazing comeback, worthy of any champion.

And they even got lucky. Jeff Walz drew an incredibly dumb technical foul with 2:01 left and his team up six. The Cardinals turned the ball over with 15 seconds left to set up two more clutch Odyssey Sims’ throws.

And yet … and yet.

Fagan offers up the Five biggest NCAA tourney upsets.

Check out the post-game comments from Kim, Odyssey and Brittney. You can go here for Jeff, Antonita and Shoni.

As her college career ends, Hays gives us Griner’s most memorable moments

Oh, right… there were other games.

Okay, first, I have to ask: Who forgot to take the highlighter out of their shorts before all the Notre Dame uniforms were washed? *Oh, come on! You know you were thinking the same thing!*

That aside, the Irish made quick work of the Jayhawks behind Diggins’ impressive leadership. Says Graham:

 Key player: Who else? A day before the game against Kansas, Diggins talked about trusting her instincts when it comes to the line any point guard must tread between setting up others and looking for her own shot. So it was only fitting that she put those instincts on display taking over a game in which she became Notre Dame’s all-time leading scorer. The scoring established, she picked up assists on three of the team’s first six field goals in the second half and put up seven of her nine assists after halftime.

Al Lesar at the SBT writes: ‘Sky’ just following orders

Curt notes: Diggins gets a record in Irish rout

“… Skylar owned the day,” McGraw said. “I thought she was great from start to finish, both ends of the floor.”

Curt says: Crowd enjoys Loyd’s specialty

Notre Dame freshman Jewell Loyd wowed the crowd at Old Dominion University’s Ted Constant Convocation Center Sunday with three brilliant alley-oops in which she soared out of a sprint, caught a pass while airborne and connected off the glass for a layup.

“Make or miss, they’re definitely momentum plays,” point guard Skylar Diggins said of Loyd’s alley-oops during the 93-63 rout of Kansas that put the Irish in the Elite Eight. “You get the crowd going. When she got fouled, it was like, ‘Ooohhhh. When she made it, the crowd was
‘Ooohhhh’ and ‘Ahhhhhh.’

Next up for Notre Dame: Duke, which had to battle to shake a stubborn Nebraska team (really tough to watch Hooper get hurt).

When a high-scoring team like Duke lays an egg offensively, it usually spells trouble for its tournament chances. But the second-seeded Blue Devils outlasted sixth-seeded Nebraska 53-45 Sunday, relying on stout defense and their stronger interior presence—including seven blocks from Elizabeth Williams—to advance.

From HuskerExtra: Bittersweet: Cold-shooting Huskers dropped by Duke

Two women’s-sized basketballs will fit through a hoop.

Not even one would fit enough times for Nebraska to back up a strong defensive effort against Duke on Sunday in the NCAA Tournament.

The No. 24 Huskers (25-9) hit just 30 percent of their shots, and only 3 of 24 three-pointers, in a 53-45 loss to fifth-ranked Duke in the NCAA round of 16 at the Constant Convocation Center.

There was still some consolation in playing Duke so close.

From Rob Clough: Duke Knocks Off Nebraska, 53-45

Once again, it’s survive and advance for Duke. In a game where the Devils shot just 32%, their aggressive defense held the Nebraska Cornhuskers to just 30%. Husker star Jordan Hooper was just 3-14 from the floor before she rolled her ankle late in the game, while star point guard Lindsay Moore shot only 5-18. Nebraska simply didn’t have the players to generate enough offense in other ways. In some respects, Duke got a berth into the Elite Eight the moment that Nebraska upset Texas A&M, because the Aggies would have matched up much better with Duke than the small and slow Huskers. Whenever Nebraska had a modicum of success in this game, it came because of a Duke turnover or a jumpshot that landed. Considering that Duke only coughed up the ball 9 times and the Huskers were a collective 3-24 from beyond the arc, much of their success was short-lived.

Graham offers some Instant Analysis.

Key player: Alexis Jones. It wasn’t the maestro’s command that Notre Dame point guard Skylar Diggins displayed in the day’s first game, but Jones more than held up her end of the bargain in a regional loaded with some of the best point guards in the nation, including her injured teammate Chelsea Gray. Jones finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and six assists. The freshman also had seven turnovers, but if her job was to manage the team on the floor, she succeeded.

It was close, for a while, but eventually Tennessee ran away from the short (and more during the game)-handed Sooners.

From Guerin Emig at the Tulsa World: OU women fall to Tennessee in NCAA women’s tourney

Oklahoma’s feel-good season ended this afternoon when the Sooners were knocked from the NCAA Tournament by deeper, more athletic and just better Tennessee 74-59.

Dan Fleser says, Lady Vols feeling at home in regional, advance to play Louisville

First, Tennessee took the pro-Oklahoma crowd out of the game.

Then, the Lady Vols ushered the Sooners out of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

John Adams adds, Kamiko Williams’ value increases as UT advances

Tennessee’s advance to the Elite Eight was distinguished by a changing of the guards Sunday afternoon at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Senior guard Kamiko Williams, not SEC co-player of the year Meighan Simmons, is starting to look like the Lady Vols’ most valuable player.

It was as obvious as hit-and-miss in a 74-59 victory over Oklahoma in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

Mechelle offers some Instant Analysis.

Ever since they saw the NCAA tournament bracket, Tennessee fans have been stewing about being in the same region of the draw as Baylor for the third time in the past four seasons.

After the No. 2 seed Lady Vols’ 74-59 regional semifinal victory over No. 6 seed Oklahoma on Sunday, the Final Four is just a step away. But it could be a very large step. If Baylor beats Louisville in the second semifinal here, once again the Lady Bears will stand in the way of Tennessee’s 19th Final Four appearance.

That’s probably especially galling to the Orange crew because even after Tennessee won the SEC regular-season title, the Lady Vols still got stuck with the defending champion and the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Post game for Oklahoma here. Post game for Tennessee here.

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…that was the theme for most top seeds. But it was a little more interesting for some than others.

UNC had to fight like heck to defeat the under-appreciated Great Danes of Albany.

Dayton, too, had to fight — through St. John’s and two overtimes.

#6 LSU escaped a stubborn #11 Green Bay, 75-71.

#8 Michigan moved on after a nice battle with #9 Villanova, 60-52.

#9 Iowa took advantage of the home court and sent #8 Miami packing, 69-53.

Florida State took a nice lead over Princeton and maintained it to a 60-44 win.

The #6 Blue Hens gave the #11 Mountaineers a first half head start, and then Delle Donne carried Delaware to victory.

#2 Kentucky and #15 Navy were all but tied at the half, then the Wildcats got in gear to secure the victory.

#1 Stanford and #16 Tulsa were exactly tied at the half. Cardinal woke up, though, in the second half (and still, Tulsa did not fold), and moved on into the next round.

#5 Louisville followed Schimmel’s points and Smith’s assists to victory over #12 Middle Tennessee State, 74-49.

#7 Oklahoma State didn’t have much trouble against #10 DePaul: Cowgirls (and Young) move on, 73-56.

#4 Purdue handled #13 Liberty, 77-43.

The ESPN/AP headline says “Duke pulls away in the second half to beat Hampton,” ’cause the #15 Pirates pulled within 6 in the second half. Yes, the #2 Blue Devils won, but maybe Hampton did deserve a higher seed.

#3 Penn State made Cal Poly’s first trip to the NCAA an unpleasant one: 85-55.

#Baylor dismissed Prairie View A&M, 82-40.

#1 Notre Dame did the same to UT-Martin, 97-64.

Some quick “Up Next” from Mechelle: Just like old times for A&M, Nebraska

 Nebraska coach Connie Yori smiled and noted that she has “some great Gary Blair stories.” Well, who doesn’t, right?

As for Blair, women’s basketball’s Mr. Congeniality, he reminded reporters that he’s old enough to remember when Yori was playing at Creighton. Scrappy devil of a player, she was.

The coaching colleagues will commence pleasantries before Monday’s NCAA second-round game here at Texas A&M. And then, it will be a battle to see who heads to Norfolk, Va., for the Sweet 16.

“It’s like a Big 12 reunion, really,” Yori said after her No. 6 seed Cornhuskers beat Chattanooga 73-59 to set up their meeting with No. 3 seed Texas A&M. “That seems like it’s fitting. Gary Blair, he’s one of the great coaches and great characters in our game. It will be interesting to go head-to-head.”

Speaking of Nebraska: I saw pintails, common mergansers and harris sparrows today. And it is cooooold!

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A) Drey Mingo named tournament Most Outstanding Player. Why? Remember this and this and this?

Thanks to Mingo and Houser and Moses, Purdue punched out Michigan State and punched in to the NCAA Tournament. Oh, and crowned themselves Big 10 Conference Champeens. Graham asks, Purdue is back … is the Big Ten?

March is made for moments that don’t require a bigger picture.

After Purdue’s Drey Mingo completed an on-court television interview in the minutes immediately following her team’s 62-47 win against Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game, the sixth-year graduate student turned, grabbed coach Sharon Versyp in a bear hug, lifted her off the ground and held her there for several seconds before she returned the coach to terra firma.

Then Mingo picked her up again.

B) Fordham Rams in the A-10 Finals. Hmmmm…. Brooklyn, March 16th. 7pm.

St. Joe’s got, and kept, an early lead against #11 Dayton, rudely interrupting the Flyers’ march to the A-10 Finals. Instead, it will be Hawks v. Rams.

Oklahoma State kept #1 Baylor honest with the zone, but the Bears prevailed, 77-69. Will the Cowgirls go Dancin’?

St. John’s kept #13 Louisville honest, but the Cardinals prevailed, 62-55. Will the Red Storm go Dancin’?

South Florida kept #2 Notre Dame honest, but the Irish prevailed, 75-66. Will the Bulls go Dancin’?

It was a back and forth game between Kentucky and Texas A&M…. and then the Aggies went forth. Nice way to start your tenure in the SEC, huh?

It was never really close between Duke and North Carolina. Blue Devils are ACC Champs.

About 15 yards separated the Duke and North Carolina locker rooms inside the Greensboro Coliseum. But at halftime of Sunday’s ACC tournament final, the strategies being discussed behind those doors could not have been further apart. 

The Blue Devils had just streaked into the break, clamping down with a full-court press and finishing the half on a 14-2 run that gave them a 39-24 lead. One Duke player called out, “We can’t stop now,” then, “Let’s keep doing what we’re doing!”

From Rob at Full Court: Duke does it again, wins eighth ACC tournament

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, UCLA and Stanford were channeling their inner Rutgers (27%/39%) as they painfully clawed their way through the Pac12 finals. With Chiney having an off night (perhaps the weight of the team on her back finally took a toll), the Cardinal were fortunate to have Orrange appear to counter the Bruins’ Marckel. And that the clock ran out when it did. Stanford escapes 51-59, and earn the Conference Championship. From Michelle:

The buzzer sounded Sunday evening on a Pac-12 tournament final that was alternately excruciating and compelling, and Stanford point guard Amber Orrange became ground zero for the celebration.

The sophomore, the shy Army brat whom Tara VanDerveer has been pulling out of her shell since she arrived on The Farm, had just willed the Cardinal to a 51-49 win against UCLA to send Stanford to its seventh straight conference tournament title. 

Orrange finished with 20 points, including the game winner as she split two significantly larger defenders to score on a drive to the basket with seven seconds to go, capping the best game of her college career.

No BU in the tournament means Albany’s path to the America East Championship is really clear. Will Hartford be able to surprise ’em?

The Southern Conference’s top two seeds held serve. The final will be Chattanooga v. Davidson.

See above for the Sun Belt: Middle Tennessee (after a fight with Florida International) will face Arkansas-Little Rock.

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…’cause Temple stunned Charlotte, 48-47. The Owls (14-17), are in the semi’s of the A10 and will face Fordham (and Marah Strickland.). Let’s say that again: Fordham is in the semis. It’s time for a review of McManus’ piece on Fordham coach Gaitley

 It’s been a long time since Fordham had a women’s basketball team to be proud of. Anne O’Connell remembers. She was on the school’s last team that really stood out, reaching the postseason all four years when she played as Anne Gregory. She was grabbing her 2,000th career rebound in her final game when she fouled out on an over-the-back call. She made the AIAW record books with 1,999, and waited for the wins to return to Rose Hill gymnasium again.

It was a long wait.

“They’ve honored my team enough,” said O’Connell, who graduated in 1980. “And I love what they’ve done for our team over the years, but they need a new team to honor.”

On the other side of their bracket, Dayton will face off against St. Joe’s who, equal records aside, easily dispatched Duquesne.

In the Big South, the finals feature Liberty, of course, against upstart Longwood.

Longwood women’s basketball coach Bill Reinson quipped that because his team hasn’t won many games the last few years, his players have grown comfortable playing from behind.

And sure enough, when Radford rallied to take a lead late in the teams’ Big South tournament semifinals clash Saturday,the Lancers kept their composure and reclaimed control of the game down the stretch for a 54-51 win inside The HTC Center.

The top four seeds are through to the semi’s in the Southern: Chattanooga v. Appalachian State and Davidson v. Elon.

Ping-ity-ping ping: Tennessee Tech is feeling like they might be on the outside, especially since Tennessee Martin did it againthis time in OT.

It was going to end.

Trailing by a point with 10 seconds left in the OVC championship game, the UT Martin women’s basketball team was fouling desperately. Control of the game had slipped and was fading fast.

Only it didn’t end. Tennessee Tech made its first free throw but missed the second, and the one thing opponents cannot give these Skyhawks is an extra opportunity.

The Sky Hawks gets the OVC’s automatic bid with their 87-80 win, and Tech will have to wait the Committee’s decision.

More pinging: Top-seed Florida Gulf Coast raced to an impressive lead over Stetson behind a career game by Joyce Iamstrong ( pts). But, defense, timely & gusty offense, and closing the game on an 11-2 run added up to the Hatters stunning the Eagles. Great job by coach Lynn Bria, who led her team to a program record 24 wins this season.

Stetson fully embraced the underdog role in ruining FGCU’s bid at a repeat NCAA tournament appearance. The Hatters knew everyone picked them to lose their sixth straight to FGCU, but that only fueled them more.

“I remember telling (teammate Victoria McGowan) after the second time we lost to them (this season) that maybe it’s a sign,” Stetson senior Shanasa Sanders said. “We were saving our best for last. The third time’s the charm. We stuck together today and got the win.”

That’s the fourth straight trip to the dance for Princeton. Will another New Jersey team come knocking on Banghart’s door?

Dynasty.

There’s just no other way to put it.

Turning it on in the second half, the Princeton University women’s basketball team won its fourth consecutive Ivy League championship tonight, turning back Brown
80-51.

The title was its 11th and fifth in the past eight seasons.

And more pinging: Purdue, via Mingo, shut down Hooper and the #21 Huskers. The Boilermakers are in the Big 10 finals and face Michigan State, who stifled, and then stunned, #8 Penn State, 54-46. Writes Graham: Both teams have a will and a way

Letters of welcome from schoolchildren line the hallway outside the locker rooms at the Sears Centre Arena, each Big Ten team in town for the conference tournament allotted a dozen or so such missives.

One letter to Purdue offered these words of encouragement.

“I really hope you win,” the handwritten message began. “Even if you don’t win, at least you know you tried. You’ll probably win if you try.”

Score one for the optimism of innocents.

Check out how this impacts the Bracketology.

Western Kentucky comes back from a 12pt deficit and has moved in to the semis of the Sun Belt. They are joined by FIU, AR-Little Rock and MTSU.

Gonzaga rolled over BYU, and now will face San Diego in the WCC finals. Their victory over St. Mary’s gave Toreros coach Cindy Fisher her 200th win.

Lucky Iona — the prize for taking down Sienna: they move into the MAAC finals and face Marist. The last time these two teams met, the Red Foxes won by 23.

In the SEC, writes Mechelle:  Texas A&M knocks off top seed – Aggies’ defense and rebounding spoil Spani’s career day, ends Lady Vols’ run

Tennessee had the No. 1 seed, acquired with gutsy play throughout its injury-plagued SEC season. They Lady Vols had the crowd support, with their contingent of orange-clad fans dwarfing the maroon group for Texas A&M. And they had Taber Spani having a career game, as she was trying to help Tennessee continue on the path to a fourth consecutive SEC tournament title.

What Tennessee didn’t have enough of, though, were two things that have long been a staple of the Orange Crush: defense and rebounding. The deficit in those areas cost the Lady Vols a chance at another title.

Nice photos from Kelly at Full Court. She also adds “SEC’s fresh faces raise the bar on defense (part 2)” which, somewhat prescient, has Graves (29 minutes, 4pts) and Walker (40 minutes, 18pts) at the top.

The first half of the Georigia-Kentucky game was beyond ugly. It got no better for the Bulldogs, but improved a tad for the Wildcats, so they’re in the SEC finals.

For the first time since 2003, the champion of the SEC women’s basketball tournament will come from someplace other than the state of Tennessee. And it took Gary Blair’s second win over Tennessee in his long career as a head coach to ensure it.

The fourth-seeded Aggies started Saturday’s semifinals with a 66-62 victory over No. 1 seed Tennessee. Then second-seeded Kentucky beat No. 3 seed Georgia 60-38. That sets up a championship matchup Sunday (ESPN2/WatchESPN, 6 p.m. ET) between a program that hasn’t won this title since 1982 — Kentucky beat Tennessee that year in the final — and one that has never been SEC tourney champ.

In the ACC, Thomas couldn’t save the Terps from losing a 14pt lead. And, writes Fagan, UNC’s Latifah Coleman answers the call

When North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell sent backup guard Latifah Coleman to the scorer’s table with 6 minutes, 16 seconds left in Saturday’s game against Maryland, she did so with one bit of advice: “Be a leader.”

The 5-foot-9 sophomore entered the ACC tournament semifinal with a season average of 3.4 points per game. She had played only a couple of minutes in Friday’s quarterfinal win over Boston College. And in the first half on Saturday, Coleman had gone 0 for 1 from the floor with two turnovers in just seven minutes. So it’s not unreasonable to think that when Hatchell told Coleman to “be a leader” and sent the young guard into the biggest game of her life, the coach was hoping only for a few minutes of mistake-free ball — and maybe some really good defense.

Duke got by Florida State, so it will be a dark blue/light blue tussle for the Championship.

So much for Pac-12 prognosticators. #14 UCLA raced to a early lead, and #8 Cal never had a chance to get back in the game: Bruins over Bears. Writes Michelle:

No one has been a bigger cheerleader for the power of the Pac-12 Conference this season than UCLA coach Cori Close.

She has preached the gospel wherever she has gone, talked up her conference mates in front of plenty of microphones and cajoled people to see the world the way that she does.

But sometimes words aren’t quite enough. So on Saturday night in KeyArena, the Bruins took action.

Stanford’s win over Colorado was no cakewalk, neither.

“It had the intensity of a (NCAA) tournament game,” Chiney Ogwumike said after her 25-point, 19-rebound performance. But she sank just 9-of-24 field goal attempts.

Seems they’re enjoying playing in Seattle:

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott is in the Emerald City this week, observing the new setting for his postseason women’s basketball tournament. He likes what he sees.

“This is certainly a big step forward,” Scott said.

After a dismal few years in Los Angeles, where tournament attendance lagged from its previous home in San Jose, Calif., things are picking up.

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Better than an a ACL

but Gray is still done for the season.

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*fingers crossed it’s not “Blowout Monday Time”

From Zach Ward at Swish Appeal: ACC’s best square off in much-anticipated showdown

The wait is nearly over.

No. 7 Maryland (19-3, 10-1 ACC) and No. 5/4 Duke (21-1, 11-0 ACC), the top two teams in ACC women’s basketball both by ranking and conference record, will meet at 7 p.m. Monday in Durham.

The past two seasons Maryland and Duke have split, with both teams winning on their home floors.

The teams figure to do the same again this year unless one of them can step up on the road. The Terps are a perfect 11-0 at home, but are definitely more vulnerable when they travel away from the friendly confines of College Park.

Did you miss Rebecca’s preview? Terps’ season still full of potential – Game will help decide ACC — and which center is the best in the league

Duke, Maryland’s opponent, was well-acquainted with injuries earlier in the season but is healthy now. If you wrote off Duke after the beatdown at UConn a month ago, you need to give the Blue Devils another look. They are a much-improved team since that 79-49 Jan. 21 loss. 

What has changed? The Blue Devils have inserted Chloe Wells into the starting lineup and she has been solid on offense (shooting 56 percent on 3-pointers) and a spark on defense. The move also allowed coach Joanne P. McCallie the luxury of bringing the country’s third-most-accurate 3-point shooter (46-for-96, 48 percent shooting), Tricia Liston, off the bench. The Blue Devils are still working to become a team that plays well for an entire 40 minutes instead of just 20, but they are getting closer each game.

Here’s what I’ll be looking for in this insideoutside and upside down Big Monday matchup:

Rob at DWHoops has his preview:

The Skinny:

This is the ACC game of the year, part 2. The ramifications are simple: if Duke wins, they will have a death grip on the league standings. If Maryland wins, they will tie Duke at the top of the ACC and get the rematch at home, giving them a tremendous lift down the stretch. The Terps are a makeshift team that are riding superstar forward Alyssa Thomas hard; she’s the reason why this six-woman team keeps winning. She can play so many positions on the floor that if a player gets in foul trouble, the Terps can simply sub in frosh Malina Howard (7 ppg, 4 rpg) and shift Thomas to the frontcourt or backcourt. Thomas’ line is as follows: 17 ppg, 10 rpg, 5 apg, 2 spg. She’s second in the ACC in scoring and leads it in rebounding.

Sam Wiseman at the Herald Sun says, Duke women look to rebound vs. Term

Gene Wang over at the WaPo chimes in: Chloe Pavlech boosts Maryland women’s basketball with clutch play

“I think they call that a show pony,” Pavlech said somewhat mischievously when asked about her knack for playing her best against the highest-caliber opponents.

That remark got Thomas laughing so much that the normally placid junior all-American forward had to bow her head in order to regain her composure and finish answering questions from reporters. Soon enough Frese and Hawkins also were smiling broadly, much like the rest of the team often does when Pavlech provides witty observations that keep the atmosphere light.

Happy to know the DC Basketcases are back in town, having taken what looks to have been a glorious trip to see penguins, petrels and albatrosses. (Can’t believe they didn’t take me!)

The Louisville/ND game isn’t getting a ton of prep press (Beth and Debbie did podcast on it.) I’m betting beat writers are terrified they’ll try and copy the men’s 5OT game….

At the SBT, Curt points out that Braker’s offense is a bonus point

The Journal-Courier pieces together this: Louisville women’s basketball will meet No. 2 Notre Dame tonight

The University of Louisville women’s basketball team, coming off a 78-45 whipping of Pittsburgh on Saturday, will be expecting a much bigger challenge tonight.

In Graham’s week in review, he notes that Michigan and LSU got much-needed wins

We might be in the midst of the shortest month, but February has a knack for setting up long summers.

There is always another game and another opportunity at this point in the season, which is one reason why it can feel a little like these weeks are the equivalent of running in wet sand. The real drama of the postseason is visible on the horizon, but still far enough away that staring at it can mean running smack into what’s more immediately proximal. Immediacy is still hard to find.

On the other hand, if there is no such thing as a must-win game in early February, there are wins that make it considerably more likely a team will have a chance to play some real must-win games a month or so from now.

And for Michigan and LSU, Sunday was the biggest day of the season.

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

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

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

Chelsea Gray

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rob chimes in from DWHoops with a Nutshell and Analysis.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cynthia Cooper’s Texas Southern takes on Mississippi Valley State: Though Texas Southern’s overall record isn’t impressive (no one in the SWAC’s out-of-conference record is anything to write home about), they are 5-1 in the conference, right behind Southern (the team who gave them their only loss. There’ll be a rematch end of February.)  What IS interesting is that last season, the Tigers went 2-16 in the SWAC. Her first signee’s committed in December and, no surprise, she’s drawn from the Community College ranks. That can be a quick fix — it’d be a better fix to establish a legacy of four-year recruits.

Stetson will try and stay perfect in the A-Sun as they take on Northern Kentucky. Their equally perfect Conference rivals, FGCU, ought not to have much trouble against Lipscomb. (Which might be the WHB kiss of death.)

Quinnipiac may be tested as they put their 5-0 NEC record up against St. Francis (PA). Oh, and the Q gets some attention from Full Court in their Mid-major musings midway through the season.

Preseason prognostication is always fun — but not necessarily all that accurate. So here’s a look at the difference between then (the received wisdom before the first shot was taken) and now (when actual games have been played).

Not surprisingly, some serious rethinking has had to take place, but it’s also true that a lot of the preseason predictions have proven to be pretty accurate. Well, at least so far.

The Blue and White (but not the one with a little Maize tossed in) “Big Monday” is getting it’s share of attention from ESPN. On the Duke/UConn game (7pm EST), we get this from Rebecca:

Duke has one of the best point guard/center combinations in the game. The Blue Devils lead the country in 3-point field goal percentage. At 16-0, they’re the only undefeated team remaining in college basketball.

But to many women’s basketball fans, Duke is the great unknown this season.

No pressure from Charlie, but he thinks a Win over UConn would propel Duke

While the rest of the preseason Final Four favorites have all had the opportunity to play at least two games against the rest of the group, Duke — not so coincidentally, the only remaining unbeaten team in Division I — has yet to play one.

That changes Monday night, when the Blue Devils visit Storrs. And if Duke wants inclusion in the list of truly elite teams this season, the Blue Devils must win this one.

If they do, they may solidify their Bracketology number one seed.

David Glenn chats With Joanne P. McCallie and Debbie and Beth have a podcast preview of the game — and their guest is UConn’s Kelly Faris, which forces D&B to spit out the word “defense.” Maybe some Sarsaparilla will get the bad taste out of their mouth. :-)

Over at the New York Times, Harvey is back! He talks with Geno Auriemma about Rivals, Old and New

The other “Big Monday” matchup will give folks a chance to see Michigan test its return to the polls. When they go up against Penn State (6:30EST), the top spot in the Conference is at stake.

“We’re excited and really honored that we’re finally recognized on the national level, especially the seniors because we know where this program has come from,” said Michigan guard Jenny Ryan on the school’s website this week. “Just to be able to say we’ve made it this far and that other coaches and media people around the country are recognizing the progress we’ve made is really and honor and exciting. At the same time we know the ranking is just a number and it doesn’t mean anything until the end of the year.”

Yesterday, TA&M gave Georgia a fine “Howdee Do There” at home, as Georgia couldn’t play defense and the Aggies could. End result: a win for TAMU. Wonder if it’ll be reflected in the polls.

Donohoe > than Christofferson as Oklahoma State pummeled Iowa State.

Unranked Iowa, on the other hand, had no trouble with Purdue, 62-46, giving coach Bluder her 600th career win.

The thing about knowing you have to stop Chiney to stop Stanford is, well, actually being able to stop her. USC kept it interesting, but Ogwumike (29/16) kept Stanford safe.

Ditto with Delle Donne, who shot 14-20 to notch 38 in the Blue Hen’s win over Towson.

Maryland’s win over Georgia Tech may be bittersweet. They’ve endured yet another injury. Next up for the Terps, the surprising Tar Heels.

Ooo, a game Debbie would have enjoyed: It took overtime, but Wake Forest beat BC, 92-87.

Dayton rules the A-10, but there are three other teams at 3-0 in the Conference: Duquesne, St. Joseph’s and Fordham. The Rams host the Flyers on Feb. 10th.

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while work has been kickin’ butt?

A whole lotta Griner and Baylor kickin’ Big 12 butt.

Oklahoma is continuing to win, despite injuries, and continuing to make Aston’s welcome to the Big 12 miserable.

TCU ain’t enjoying the Big 12 much, neither.

Texas Tech getting a nice, and somewhat surprising win, over #23 Kansas — unless, of course, KU ain’t all that, or TTU is something more than that.

Sacred Heart got a little of it’s swagger back, and handed St. Francis (PA) its first NEC loss.

Those Stetson Hatters are now 7-0 in the A-Sun (school record 10 wins in a row). They meet up fellow 7-0ers, FGCU, on January 26th, in Florida. Looks to be fun game.

It’s been a tough year so far, but the Bonnies can still beat UMass.

The Big South is kinda feisty. Winthrop took down Presbyterian. Liberty beat the Fightin’ Camels, and face Conference leader Longwood (who came back from 17 down to get a victory) next.

With a squeaker over New Hampshire, the Terriers have moved to 6-0 in the America East. They face 5-0 Albany next.

I’m not reading too much in to it, but it looks like the youngsters at Villanova have gotten some seasoning — they’re 4-0 in Big East play.

I’m still not reading too much in to it, but St. Francis (NY) won another game. Yes, wins in the past have been that rare that I notice. Credit new coach John Thurston.

Central Michigan stomped all over Northern Illinois, and is now 4-0 in the MAC. Akron got surprised by Western Michigan, but Toledo took care of Buffalo.

Looks like coach Michelle Clark-Heard learned a lot at Louisville:  The Hilltoppers are now 8-1 in the Sun Belt. They’ll meet fellow 8-1ers MTSU in a couple of games, January 27th AT Murfreesboro..

Hampton had a nice second half over Morgan State, and is now 4-0 in the MEAC.

In the Battle of the Big Sky, Tricia’s Montana State took down Robin’s Montana, 58-49.

Gonzaga has put together three straight wins since its lost against the Gaels of St. Mary.

Nice win for IUPUI and coach Parkinson (remember when they were a hot-coaching mess?) as they handed the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State their first Summit Conference loss, 57-56.

In the battle of the birds, the Phoenix took down the Penguins, and Green Bay is now 4-0 in the Horizon.

Boink: The Shockers moved to 4-0 in the MVC, after they gave Creighton their first Conference loss, 67-45.

Hmmm… that’s Seattle U at 7-0 in the WAC. Not looking too far ahead, but… they’ll go up against Utah State (currently 5-2) on Feb 2.

Chattanooga gave Davidson just enough hope to keep the game interesting, but exited with the win, 60-56, taking them to 6-1 in the Southern. That helps them keep pace with Samford and Elon.

In the past two days, two Elon University basketball players had something special happen to them on the hardwood in Alumni Gym.

One of them started most of their first two seasons. Then after suffering an injury two games into their junior season and missing the rest of the year, their playing time lessened, all the way to playing just 42 minutes in ten games this season.

Another one played two games of their sophomore season before tearing their ACL and missing over a year of basketball before returning to action this week.

Both played efficient minutes in their respective teams’ most recent games, helping to spark their teams to victory.

Marist may not be making national noise, but their still winning in the MAC. They held Canisius to 9 points in the first half.

Win or lose, Ohio State still has the Dispatch’s Jim Massie’s fine writing to fall back on. He reflects on the Buckeye’s struggles: Ohio State wants to add to success

As the Big Ten losses mounted, the Ohio State women’s basketball team had to develop the kind of tunnel vision that spelunkers need while exploring a cave as confining as a coffin.

At 0-4 in the conference, the only direction the Buckeyes could move was forward. And even after Ohio State trounced Indiana 68-45 on Thursday to end its losing streak, the single-mindedness couldn’t change.

While Nate considered Three things we learned about Stanford from the Battle of the Bay, Chiney made sure UCLA didn’t get any ideas, and led Stanford to a Bruin-stomping, 75-49. Writes Michelle:

Maybe playing Stanford on Friday night was a little like stepping in front of a freight train.

The Cardinal stared at the business end of a three-game home losing streak, something that hadn’t happened since way back in the 1986-87 season when Tara VanDerveer was a second-year Cardinal coach and parachute pants were all the rage.

Tomorrow, undefeated Duke goes to Connecticut to play the Huskies. At DWHoops, Rob Clough has a preview:

UConn’s top priority will be disconnecting Chelsea Gray from the rest of the team. They’ll face-guard her in an effort to get her to give up the ball or never get it in the first place. They’ll flood passing lanes in an effort to pick off passes made under duress. They’ll let her take contested jump shots all she wants, especially if Gray hesitates before shooting. If you hesitate before taking a shot against UConn, then they’ve already won.

As for UConn, Hartley was better against Louisville, but rolled her ankle (again) against Syracuse.

At Mel’s blog, Mike Siroky has his SEC Report: New Uniform for Bone – Still an SEC Star

Kelsey Bone is used to coming out parties.

Maybe all children born on New Year’s Eve arrive with great expectations.

She is back in the SEC after once playing at South Carolina and earning Newcomer of the Year honors with nine double-doubles. She transferred to Texas A&M and sat out the required year, but stayed busy. Last season, as a sophomore, she was the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and a member of the conference all-tournament team.

A good, but hard read, from Lady Swish: You’re Old Dominion’s Sara Jones, and here’s what that means

The doctor didn’t believe that the cancer had come back.

“For that to be so,” he explained to Sara Jones, “it would have to have eaten through the bone.”

Somehow, it did.

For the third time, Sara Jones had cancer. For the third time Sara Jones, 40 years old, has cancer. Metastatic cancer, and metastatic — the cancer has spread to other parts of the body — is one of those words —malignant, chemotherapy, tumor — that it hurts to say. Especially when you think you’ve beaten cancer not once, but twice. Remember, you weren’t supposed to even have it in the first place. That’s what the doctor said not once, but twice.

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