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(Just a little shout out to my co-workers and some of the fabulous teachers I’ve worked with this year.)

That groan of relief is every single team enjoying the approach of All Star Weekend (though the All Stars themselves will not be gettin’ a ton of rest.). LA is looking forward to the return of Parker, Minny is looking forward to…no more injuries. Tulsa is (not so much) looking forward to packing their bags for Texas. Unfortunately for my friends in Arkansas, I have to agree with Mechelle: Hard To Argue With Relocating Shock From Tulsa To Dallas.

The Liberty ended on a high note, finishing their west coast trip on a win streak. While a 12-5 record is lovely to look at, I’m not quite ready to drink the koolaid (and this headline makes my stomach turn). “Why so cynical, Helen?”

Well, yes, they’ve won five in a row for the first time since 2010, and they have a bench, and there’s excitement in the Garden, and winning means coverage – a rarity here in the Big Apple. But.. yes, they beat the “surprising” Mercury, but they barely beat the undermanned Storm and Sparks. That being said, this is a season where everyone is down a player (or two. or three) and so everything is up for grabs. I’m really looking forward to the Libs’ two games against Chicago (Away August 7, Home August 11th), ’cause yeah, Elena Delle Donne takes game to even higher level. USA takes notice, too! (though I’m having some issues with the headline (Maybe I’m just feelin’ cranky? See below). Gives me an opportunity to post this:

College: 

Idiots: Multiple IPFW women’s basketball players cited for alcohol possession.

At least they weren’t driving. This past season, Eastern Michigan’s incredible resiliency after the death of teammate Shannise Heady in a car crash earned national attention. What seems to have stayed local was the reason for the crash: Heady was speeding. And drunk. Drunk after celebrating a victory with her teammates.

Kentucky’s Epps was in a car.

I’m waiting for colleges to really take underage drinking seriously and driving-while-drunk doubly serious. Yah, yah, yah, everyone does it. So what?

So people get killed. A scholarship, whatever the form, is a privilege. You damage your university, your team, yourself or, worse, someone else….you make the call.

International/USA Basketball: The U-19 Quarters are on tap Friday via Youtube

Spain vs Belgium
Russia vs France
China vs Australia
USA vs Canada

BTW, congrats to Kia Nurse (and Canada) who beat Moriah Jefferson and Breanna Stewart (and the US) for PanAm Gold.

“She was unbelievable,” Stewart said of Nurse. “That’s what she does, she attacks. And whether it was the 3-point shots or driving for the basket, that’s what she does, and that’s what she does at UConn. She put Canada on her back tonight and led them to this win.

“From start to finish, she was scoring, and we didn’t have an answer for her.”

The Canadian women’s basketball program has made HUGE strides these past few years. And I imagine UConn’s early practices will be full of trash talking, eh?

Speaking of trash talk: Interesting… 

Even though North Carolina likely won’t respond to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations for another few weeks, one of the school’s former women’s basketball players fears she knows what’s coming.

 Meghan Austin expects the Tar Heels athletic department to sacrifice its tradition-rich women’s basketball program in hopes of avoiding serious punishment for its two biggest revenue producers, football and men’s basketball. 

Austin, a 2008 North Carolina graduate currently coaching at Montreat College, penned an editorial for the Raleigh News & Observer on Monday accusing the Tar Heels athletic department of already showing signs of making its women’s basketball program “the scapegoat.” Austin noted that men’s coach Roy Williams got a contract extension earlier this summer but women’s coach Sylvia Hatchell has thus far not received the same show of support.

Speaking of another program that’s got worries: Experts: UI women’s basketball allegations unusual in scope

Two leading sports diversity experts say racism can be found across women’s college basketball, but not to the extent alleged in a federal lawsuitfiled earlier this month by seven former Illini.

“It’s something I haven’t seen before,” Richard Lapchick told The News-Gazette. “It’s pretty stunning.”

And a little post kerfuffle fallout: South High’s Ericka Mattingly withdraws women’s basketball commitment from Wichita State

On the flip side, here’s some leadership by Khadija J Head: SAME-SEX MARRIAGE AND COLLEGE COACHING

MY EXPERIENCE

I remember when I was hired at Pittsburgh. Coach Berenato asked me if I was coming by myself or was my partner coming with me.

I was floored.

But because I hadn’t told Coach Berenato that I was gay. It was the first time a Coach cared about me as a person and my happiness. It was an amazing feeling…one I hope everyone gets a chance to experience.

You know what I always hated. Using the phrase…oh, that’s “my FRIEND”. Really what in the hell is that?

We have all used that verbiage to describe our partners in order to avoid awkward conversations. That’s borderline disrespectful and grounds for breaking up lol.
Yet, they stay by our sides and endure “the FRIEND” zone because you are a college coach. It’s unspoken law (career suicide) that you do not openly admit that you are in fact NOT just “FRIENDS”.

Well, the U.S. Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, says Love is Love.

So I say again, now this is interesting or should I say this will be interesting. How many college coaches’ bios will change in August now that same-sex marriage is legal throughout the United States.

Oooooo, this ought to be a fun weekend! AP Source: Sherri Coale to Enter Women’s Basketball Hall. Great crew joining her (Missouri State guard Jackie Stiles, Olympic gold medalist Natalie Williams, longtime official June Courteau, Texas girls high school coach Joe Lombard and the late AAU girls basketball official Bill Tipps. The 1996 U.S. women’s basketball Olympic team will receive the Hall’s trailblazer award.) but I would walk to Knoxville just for the opportunity to hear what Sherri writes.

Thank you (N.J.): Attridge retired having played a large role in girls athletics

Kevin Attridge, who this school year ended 43 yeas of coaching four different girls sports at Mater Dei Prep when he retired as outdoor track and field coach, remembers his early years of coaching when gender equity and Title IX first came into practice in the early 1970s.

“It was seeing the kids adapt to change. That was the cool part of coaching,” Attridge, 68, said.

Attridge said he decided to retire from outdoor track and field in December, the last of the four sports where he built his coaching legacy. A year earlier, he decided to stop coaching indoor track and field after reviving the program in 2000. He stopped coaching cross-country three years ago and also ended a 27-year run of success in girls basketball in 1999 with a 485-187 record.

WATN? Los Gatos, Saratoga: Former WNBA All-Star, two-time Olympic gold medalist Bolton visits Golden State Warriors camp

Speaking of where are they now, did you catch John Altavilla’s tweet: Geno also says participation in this year’s Maggie Dixon Classic looking doubtful because no opponent has been found.

*Cue sound of chickens clucking* Hey, coaches, this is the MAGGIE DIXON Classic. It honors an amazing woman had has become a huge event at Madison Square Garden, ushering in the return of college women’s basketball. Who’s going to show some spine and step up?

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Women’s College Basketball Is Better Than Men’s (AND they’ve got facts to back it up!)

Even many who love and defend women’s basketball often judge it a little differently than men’s, on the presumption that it’s a less mature sport.

I don’t begrudge anyone for thinking this — I would still think the same if I hadn’t had the game on my mind for the past seven weeks. (Have I mentioned my editor is patient?) And it would make sense if there were any truth to the notion that women’s basketball is less talented.

But it isn’t. As it turns out, not only is women’s college basketball as strong and deep in college-age talent as the men’s game, but for the rarest talent, it is significantly more so.

In other news: Is it just me, or is it getting hot in here? Alleva: LSU needs to ‘revitalize’ women’s basketball

LSU women’s basketball coach Nikki Caldwell has reached the NCAA Tournament during all four of her years with the Lady Tigers. However, in a recent interview with WAFB-TV, athletic director Joe Alleva sees a need for improvement.

“I’m not saying the product is bad, don’t get me wrong,” says Alleva. “But it’s not as good as it’s been, in some past years, when we were playing in the Final Four.”

Ummmm.. ok? Former Eastern Michigan women’s basketball coach AnnMarie Gilbert, who left after report of NCAA violations, will coach at Virginia Union

“I gotta moooooove!” Sky’s Sylvia Fowles seeking trade

Yikes: Four Southeast Missouri State women’s basketball signees released from NLI

Go to your happy place… go to your happy place… oooo, ICE CREAM! Dolson Still Happy As ‘Big Mama Stef’

Soon, the Family Farm Ice Cream shop in Wallkill, N.Y., will debut a new sundae. It will honor Stefanie Dolson, the former Minisink Valley High player who won two national championships at UConn and just completed her rookie season with the WNBA‘sWashington Mystics and teams in Russia and Turkey.

More than anything, the concoction is designed to honor the cherry-on-top personality that has always drawn people to her, even five years after she left town to join the Huskies as a freshman. That’s why it took Dolson more than two hours to say hi to the estimated 500 people who showed up at the ice cream shop last weekend to see her.

Don’t forget what day is coming up…Lobo encourages female athletes to dream at BU luncheon

More than 500 people attended the event including student-athletes from the university as well as local high schools, including the Susquehanna Valley girls basketball team which one the program’s first state championship last month. The luncheon got postponed by a snowstorm on Feb. 2.

“My theme is that I was fortunate to be raised by a really strong-willed woman who let me understand that I could be whatever I wanted to be through sports, who encouraged me to dream,” Lobo said.

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Mark Trakh – New Mexico State. Hired in 2011, his first year with the Aggies his record was 6-24. His second, 15-16. Last year, 11-20. This year…well, if you’ve been reading the WHB, you know about what’s been happening: they’re going’ dancin’!  FOB Dave was glad I left my mitts off him, mostly because he wants Trakh to stick around. (I claim it was because the folks in N.M. were so kind to me, I didn’t want to give away both their coaches.) It’ll be interesting to see where the Aggies go from here — and it’s hard not to wonder what might have happened if he hadn’t “resigned” from USC in ’09.

Mike McLaughlin – Penn. Back when I had enough time to follow/scan all the different divisions of women’s basketball, I noticed McLaughlin’s success at Division II Holy Family. So, when he was named Penn’s new head coach in April of ’09, I wasn’t totally taken off guard. But, did anyone really expect him to raise the quality of Quaker basketball so quickly?

McLaughlin has revitalized the Penn women’s basketball program. The Quakers have improved their win total every year under his guidance and the climb from the bottom to the top of the Ivy League culminated on the final day of the regular season in 2013-14 when the Quakers clinched their first Ivy League title and NCAA Tournament berth in 10 years. 

Tory Verdi – Eastern Michigan. FOB coach T suggested I take a deeper look at coach Verdi. The MAC has given us some great basketball these past few years, but in 2012, things unravelled quickly for EMU. Verdi stepped into a program in disarray and quickly established a new winning tradition: EMU finished 18-14 in the 2013-14 season with an increase of 10 wins and a nine-game improvement in overall record. But what coach Verdi and his team did after junior Shannise Heady was killed in a car crash was extraordinary. Looking forward to see what EMU does in the WNIT.

 

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games left in the first round of post-season play. Saturday’s ticket-punchers included:

Their legs may have given out, but not their hearts. Eastern Michigan stayed even with Ohio through the first half for the MAC championship game, but the Bobcats proved too much for them in the second. Coach Boldon continues to make a name for himself as a transformative winner.

After finishing 9-21 and 6-23 in the previous two seasons, Ohio completely flipped the narrative in 2014-15. Its 27th win surpasses a program record set almost three decades ago.

“It’s fantastic,” Boldon said. “There’s a bunch of cliches for this moment because it’s just hard to put it into words. You work when school starts and, in the fall, these kids show up and you’re selling them on a vision and you hope they’ll buy into what you’re selling.

“This team has truly bought into what we’re doing.”

Savannah State ended MD-E Shore’s run of upsets and claimed their first MEAC title, 65-47.

“It means the world, especially to me,” said Ezinne Kalu. “Well, I’m pretty sure it means the world to all of us, but it’s been a long journey. … We came from being the last seed to being the second seed to being MEAC champions.

“It’s definitely a feeling we’re going to remember for the rest of our lives.”

Lots of oddness in the SWAC this year, but Alabama State could care less.

Alabama State wrapped up an NCAA tournament berth Friday with its semifinal victory in the SWAC because Southern was ineligible after failing to meet minimum APR requirements

That wasn’t enough. The Lady Hornets wanted a ring and the prestige that comes with winning the conference tournament.

They got it.

Jasmine Peeples had 18 points and eight rebounds, and Britney Wright added 17 points to help Alabama State beat Southern 73-55 on Saturday.

“I told my girls, ‘We want the hats. We want the T-shirts, we want the trophy and we want the ring.’ And they bought into it and thought the same thing,” Alabama State coach Freda Freeman-Jackson said. “When I mentioned to these ladies they said they want to win.”

The Rainbow wasn’t enough, as Hawai’i was upset by Cal-State Northridge, 67-60.

The best thing to do against shot-blockers? Make them block shots.

To do otherwise, to retreat to safe perimeters and hoist 3-pointers out of fear, is to surrender before you start.

Hawaii returned 11 shots to their senders on Saturday at Honda Center.

That is one reason CSUN is the repeat winner of the Big West Conference women’s basketball tournament.

“It’s the old Bill Russell thing,” coach Jason Flowers said, after the 67-60 victory.

“They were blocking them out of bounds. We kept possession. Just because it might not work the first time, it doesn’t mean you stop doing it. It’s the character of the group. They kept their head down and they kept attacking.”

Montana spotted Northern Colorado a 13-point lead, and then roared back to claim the Big Sky title, 60-49.

“Unbelievably good win and it was an unbelievable game,” said Montana coach Robin Selvig, whose team trailed 29-16 at halftime. “They I thought were pretty dominant the first half. We were having a hard time. They’re really good right now, really well-coached.

“… I was really wondering how we were going to turn it around second half. Somehow these guys just put together maybe the best run of basketball we’ve had in a long time for about 10 minutes.”

New Mexico State survived all the WHB attention and claimed their first WAC title…and their first NCAA bid since 1988. For reference, and perhaps appropriately enough, George Michael’s Faith topped the charts.

“We recruited them, we went to their homes, we sold New Mexico State as hope,” NMSU coach Mark Trakh said. “We told them what could happen. Now we can sell a program because we have built a program.”

This year’s team was also the program’s first team to win a conference tournament.

As expected, Southern Miss gave Western Kentucky all it could handle, and then some. But the Toppers prevailed.

Alexis Govan did it all with the game on the line: making free throws, taking a charge and grabbing a rebound.

Govan scored 22 points and made two free throws with 23 seconds left and Western Kentucky held on for a 60-57 win over Southern Mississippi Saturday night in the Conference USA tournament championship game.

“I looked at her and said, `Alexis, that ball’s going to you,'” Western Kentucky coach Michelle Clark-Heard said. “When she went to the free throw line, I don’t look at her because I don’t want to make her nervous.”

That in-state rivalry delivered, as Arkansas-Little Rock escaped Arkansas State, 78-72.

After allowing a season-high 38 points in the first half and continuing to give up easy baskets for most of the second half, Little Rock, the nation’s third-stingiest defense, turned up the intensity when it mattered most.

“If we couldn’t play defense like we did and count on it, we wouldn’t have won that ball game,” coach Joe Foley said. “Our kids always knew in the back of their minds that we could get some stops at the end of the game if we kept it close.”

American claimed their first Patriot title, pulling away from Lehigh in the second for the 66-50 win.

After coming up short in four previous trips to the Patriot League finals, American (24-8) won its final eight regular season games plus three in the postseason and will represent the Patriot League as the automatic qualifier for the first time. The Eagles now await an announcement of their destination for the opening round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament which gets under way at 16 sites on March 21-22. The tournament field and matchups will be unveiled at 7 p.m. on Monday evening.

“I don’t even know how to describe it,” said American senior forward Arron Zimmerman. “I was just saying, I was standing there in the corner when the shot clock was running down there and it was just a moment from my dreams. I’ve dreamed of this and it was awesome.”

Sunday games:

NEC, 1pm: St. Francis (Brooklyn) looks to pull the major upset against last year’s conference champ, Robert Morris.

This marks the first time a No. 1 seed has not played in the NEC title game and the first time a No. 5 seed has reached the final since 2010, when No. 5 St. Francis (Pa.) defeated No. 2 Long Island. 

It is the Terriers’ first appearance in the championship game. In addition to upsetting top-seeded Central Connecticut State in double overtime, they also defeated Sacred Heart on the road in the quarterfinals. 

Those wins followed end-of-season victories at Bryant and rival LIU Brooklyn.

CAA, 1PM – COMCAST Sports Net: James Madison has rolled through the regular season conference schedule… except for that one-point loss at home against Hofstra. And they just escaped Elon by three. What kind of motivation with that inspire as they face the Pride, who are in their first ever title match?A-SUN, 2:30: Florida Gulf Coast is already packing their bags for the NCAA. But that doesn’t mean that Northern Kentucky doesn’t want snatch the conference crown out of their hands.

Southland, 1PM: An incredible run for the 9th seed Houston Baptist. They took down McNeese State by 1, Corpus Christi by 2, and then knocked off top-seed Stephen F. Austin by 7. How much will they have left in the tank wen they go up against Northwestern State? The Demons overcame a 14-point, second-half deficit to knock off second-seeded Lamar, 70-64, in overtime and reach their second straight SLC Tournament championship game.

Horizon, 3PM – ESPNU/3: Wright State has lost twice this season to Green Bay, both times by double digits. Let’s see if they have better luck this time. I doubt the Phoenix will take them for granted, especially after the battle they had with the Penguins.

MVC, 3PM – ESPN3: Since coach Adams arrived, the Valley has belonged to Wichita State.The Shockers will go for the conference title against Wright State, who they’ve beaten twice this season. Oh, and someone is wondering if Kansas might be looking at WSU’s Jody Adams.

Wichita State head coach Jody Adams, the first potential candidate in this, the latest KU coaching-search blog, has done a remarkable job in building a winner and bringing positive attention to the Shockers’ women’s program.

Wichita State’s Missouri Valley Conference records in seven seasons before Adams took over: 8-10, 7-10, 7-11, 2-16, 8-10, 4-14, 3-15. That’s 17-55 in the four seasons leading up to Admas’ first.

Under Adams: 4-14, 8-10, 10-8, 12-6, 15-3, 14-4, 17-1. That’s 46-8 in Adams’ past three seasons. Phenomenal. Adams has taken the Shockers from worst in the Missouri Valley to first.

 

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Yes, we got in our big grant renewal proposal before the 5pm deadline. Thanks, Chris!!! Now, all you readers you, think positive, funding thoughts!

In other news…

Most folks held serve on Thursday, but some eyebrow raisers on Friday.

In the Southland, Houston Baptist (14-17, 6-12) toppled Texas A&M Corpus Christi (16-16. 12-6), 49-48.

It was the Blue Hens upsetting the Dragons, 55-48.

“I’m really proud of our kids,” Delaware coach Tina Martin said. “I think they stepped up and followed the game plan beautifully. We were able to knock down some shots, but I thought it was a tremendous effort defensively for us. Our communication on the floor was much better.’’

I wouldn’t call this outrageously surprising, but Southern Miss floored it in the second half to take down in-conference C-USA rival, Middle Tennessee, 65-53.

“I’m very proud of our team,” USM coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. “Our locker room was not very nice at halftime, nor were many timeouts very nice. This kid [Tamara Jones] sitting next to me – if you ask her at about the 8 minute mark if your coach cared for you at all, she’d probably say ‘heck no.’ I really challenged her extremely hard. I said some things to really, really challenge her and to make her really mad with me so that she would respond. What an unbelievable response.”

USM will face Western Kentucky, which withstoodfurious comeback from Barefoot’s ODU team. Hmmm… maybe the Monarchs will rise again.

“This one’s a hard one,” coach Karen Barefoot said, her voice breaking. “I’ve never felt so proud of being their coach. They played very hard, with a lot of heart, toughness.”

Indeed, the Lady Monarchs proved that Barefoot’s oft-stated belief that they are never out of a game was more than just talk. Down 18 at halftime, ODU pulled even with 9:34 left and actually led by five with 7:53 to play.

Their season totals are similar, but their Southland conference records make this an upset: Northwestern State over Nicholls State with authority, 84-67.

It was Friday the 13th and the Northwestern State women’s basketball bus had broken down, leaving the Lady Demons scrambling to get to the Leonard C. Merrell Center for their Southland Conference Tournament quarterfinal against third-seeded Nicholls.

Bad omens? Not quite. Once Northwestern State reached the Merrell Center – its home away from home – all was right with the Lady Demons’ world.

Super-scoring Sacramento State couldn’t stop Northern Colorado in OT, so it’s the Bears moving into the Big Sky finals. Cool note: John Stockton took in some games.

Maryland-Eastern Shore continued its upset ways, taking down the pretender to the MEAC throne Norfolk State, 69-64 in OT. They’re into the tournament finals for the first time.

In the Missouri Valley, top bulldog Drake (20-9, 15-3) was pushed into overtime by Evansville (12-18, 6-12), where it fell to the seventh-seed, 84-79.

“We had a good conference season, but none of that matters come tournament time,” freshman guard Maddy Dean said. “We expected better out of our team, and we didn’t pull it out tonight.

“That’s tough. It hurts.”

I said it once, and I’ll say it again – Eastern Michigan is on a mission and you don’t wanna get in their way. Ball State was their latest conquest, 75-65.

“Wow, what a game,” EMU coach Tory Verdi said. “I’m just really, really proud of our kids. Tremendous effort. There were times where we faced adversity, where we were on our own and things didn’t go our way; where we didn’t fold, but we just fight right back.”

It’s been an emotional two months for EMU as its dealt with the loss of a teammate during the season. Junior forward Shannise Heady passed away in a car accident on Jan. 25.

Squeak! WHB still hasn’t managed to curse’em, but it was close. New Mexico State survives OT v. Seattle U, 79-75 and moves into the WAC finals.

“Give Seattle all the credit in the world, they played really really hard and executed well,” Aggie head coach Mark Trakh said, “Having said that, I’m really proud of our young student-athletes, they did a great job out there.  They’ve been handling pressure all year and they always felt they could win that game.”

Might have cursed their in-state rivals, though. New Mexico falls in the Mountain west finals to Boise State. The Broncos rode Spaniard Yaiza Rodriguez’s 18 points to win their first MW title and earn the NCAA tourney bid (first time since 2007).

“To be able to be with everyone you love, representing a university who you have so much passion for, it was awesome,” Pahukoa said.

Hello, Hawai’i! They move into the Big West finals with their 73-64, win over CS Fullerton.

The Big Dogs are back – though Hartford did NOT make it easy, even though they were down two starters. Albany wins a chance to dance.

“A lot of credit to Hartford — they played with a lot of passion, a lot of guts, everything,” Albany coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson said. “They played really, really hard. But at the end, we just turned it up defensively and a couple timeouts, I said, ‘We better be getting that ball to No. 25 [Richards].’ And she stepped up and did what she does.”

Jennifer Gish writes: UAlbany women’s basketball worthy of more fans

Games to watch today: 

MAC Final – Eastern Michigan v. Ohio. It out to be a fierce battle of green uniforms. 1pm, TWCS, BCSN, Comcast Michigan, ESPN Full Court, ESPN3. EMU’s resliancy is amazing (and EMU becomes the first six-seed to make the MAC women’s title game). Kudos to coach Verdi (his dance moves) and his staff. Ditto with former Penguin coach “Bob the Builder Boldon” and his work with the Bobcats.

This is the third time Ohio and Eastern Michigan have faced each other this season.  The two teams split the season series, 1-1. Last time, the Bobcats fell to the Eagles, 73-61 in Athens.  That loss snapped the Bobcats 10-game winning streak.

MEAC FinalMD-E Shore v. Savannah State. Someone new will be dancin’ from the MEAC. Will the upset-minded Hawks take down their third upper-seed, or with the Tigers prevail? 3:30 EST, ESPN3.

Big Sky: Northern Colorado v. Montana. 4PM EST. Two championship game vets battle (Griz, 20th time. Bears 2nd time in three years).

WAC: New Mexico State v. UT-Pan American. No basketball team representing the University in Edinburg, whether called Pan American University or UT-Pan American, has ever reached the NCAA Division 1 tournament. The last game between these two teams was an Aggies win by 20. But when they hosted NMSt, the Broncos only lost by 3. 4PM, ESPNU, ESPN3.

American: Lehigh v. American. No doubt American is the favorite, but after losing their last four in the regular season, the Mountain Hawks seem to have found their second wind. 6PM EST, CBS Sports Network.

Playing American provides extra motivation for O’Reilly. One of the Eagles’ starters, senior forward Arron Zimmerman, was a high school teammate of O’Reilly’s.

Zimmerman is one of several players capable of a big night for American. Senior point guard Jen Dumiak will draw the most attention from Lehigh’s defense.

Big West: Cal State Northridge v. Hawai’i, 6PM, EST, streaming through Fox Sports. The return of the Wahine has been a fun story. How will it end?

C-USA: Western Kentucky v. Southern Miss. 8PM EST, CBS Sports Network. This could be a doozy. The Toppers have been on my radar all season, and Southern Miss has been determine to knock over their hatrack (see what I did there?).

Sun Belt: Arkansas State v. Arkansas – Little Rock. 8pm EST, ESPN3. In-state rivalry. What more needs to be said?

The two best women’s basketball teams in the Sun Belt Conference, led by its two most successful coaches, will finally collide in the conference tournament final. The third meeting of the season between UALR and Arkansas State was realized Friday when both teams won tournament semifinal games. Now the top-seeded Trojans and No. 2 Red Wolves will play with the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line at 7 p.m. today.

Some other stuff:

From Mechelle – Nina Davis always in right place

 There’s a quality that exists among certain basketball players that really can’t quite be attributed to their size, or quickness, or even skill level. And that is their magnetism to the basketball. Or vice versa.

It seems almost freakish sometimes, doesn’t it? In a good way, of course, for the people who have it. Although even they often can’t explain it.

“I guess from playing for so long,” Baylor forward Nina Davis said, “I just know where the ball is going next.”

Well, that’s not exactly it. She’s only a sophomore, so we’re not talking about a grizzled veteran. The bottom line is that Davis has a knack for being where the ball is, and we’re probably never going to be completely sure how she does it.

But it’s something that Baylor assistant coach Bill Brock noticed when he was recruiting the 5-foot-11 Davis.

Espnw honors Jewell Loyd as their POY, Mitchell as their FOY, and Semrau as their COY.

FiveThirtyEight says: Princeton Enters Women’s Tournament As An Unusual Sort Of Undefeated Team

Unlike UConn and Notre Dame last season, which were the clear top-two teams entering the tournament, Princeton won’t even be favored to advance from its region. None of its wins came against teams now ranked in the Top 25. Its conference schedule was a breeze: Penn was the only other Ivy League team with a winning conference record, and just Cornell joined Princeton and Penn with a winning overall record.

Princeton’s nonconference schedule wasn’t all that hard, either. After Tuesday’s regular-season finale, senior guard Blake Dietrick said she started thinking 30-0 was possible when the Tigers beat Michigan by 30 in Ann Arbor.

Check out this nice video on the Ivy Tigers: Perfect Princeton Is Ready To Dance

The AP’s writes Steve Megargee writes: Women’s mid-majors could be poised for breakthrough tourney

Mid-major women’s basketball programs historically have much less success in the NCAA Tournament than their counterparts on the men’s side.

Perhaps this is the year that changes.

The latest Top 25 includes four mid-majors ranked 20th or higher: No. 13 Princeton, No. 17 Chattanooga, No. 19 George Washington and No. 20 Florida Gulf Coast. Gonzaga, Green Bay, James Madison and Western Kentucky also have appeared in the Top 25 this season.

“We just want to win and want to prove to people we can compete in March,” said Princeton guard Blake Dietrick.

Dishin’ and Swishin’ is talking da Bears and da Buckeyes.

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Must watch Snappy TV – Fun stuff from the Huskers: WBB Lip Sync-Staff

Nice stuff from Mechelle: Bonded by basketball: Sisters love Big 12 tournament

If you were at the recent Big 12 women’s basketball tournament, you might have seen them on the Jumbotron at American Airlines Center. Who was that group of people who were there for every session and seemed like they were having a blast no matter who was playing?

One day, they were wearing matching white T-shirts with the words “Geneva’s Convention” on the back. That might have set some minds stirring. Hmmmm … there aren’t any players or coaches in the Big 12 named Geneva, are there? Nobody is from a town of that name, are they? Does Switzerland have anything to do with it?

No, no, no. Geneva Tuttle was a very big women’s basketball fan, and the Big 12 tournament became her annual bonding event with her three sisters. And after illness took Geneva in 2007 at age 67, the gathering expanded to other family members.

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HUGE upset in the MEAC as perennial top dog Hampton (18-12, 14-2) falls to MD-Eastern Shore (12-16, 8-8) in the quarterfinals courtesy of a game winner by Jessica Long with one second left.

Troy (20-10, 15-5) couldn’t keep its winning ways rolling, and got upset in the quarters of the Sun Belt by LA-Lafayette (19-11, 10-10).

Cal State Fullerton continued with its upsetting ways, this time defeating Cal Poly (15-14, 10-6) for the chance to play in the Big West semi-finals.

“I’m so proud of what these young ladies have accomplished in the last 48 hours,” Fullerton coach Daron Park said. “We challenged them at the beginning of the week to really believe, we challenged them to play for each other, we challenged them to defend, rebound, and play hard.

“We’re not a deep team, and we came through with an amazing performance yesterday (defeating No. 6 seed UCR in Tuesday’s opener). Today was the opposite. The win was a grind, it was hard-fought, it was a slugfest. We challenged them to get one more stop, one more rebound, and (Iwuoha and Butler) did an amazing job.”

WhaddoIknow? Nothin’ about the NEC, obviously. Top seed Central Connecticut State (19-12, 14-4) falls to perennial underdog – who seems to be changing its tune – St. FrancisnolongerNYbutBrooklyn in double OT, 71-63. In the other half of the bracket, Robert Morris (17-14,13-5) got a lead on Bryant (22-9, 14-4), and then held on by its fingernails to secure the 68-62 win. The Terriers will meet the Colonials in the finals to see who gets an NCAA bid. FYI, a second championship would be a nice way to end a coaching career:

 Robert Morris University women’s basketball head coach Sal Buscaglia announced Saturday that 2015-16 will be his final season at the helm of the Colonials program. Currently in his 12th season at Robert Morris, Coach Sal, as he is respectfully called, led the women’s basketball program through a rebirth and into a golden age.

“After last year’s championship season, I started to have serious thoughts about retirement,” said Buscaglia. “And when you have thoughts about it, it’s time to do it. It’s been a great run of nearly 40 years and I look forward to this year’s playoffs and next year as well.

#24 FGCU is going dancing, even though they only won the A-Sun semi versus Jacksonville. Why? ’cause the feisty Norse of Northern Kentucky upset Stetson, 53-52… but NKU can’t dance until next year due to their transition from D2 to D1. But don’t think pride won’t come into play. Florida Gulf Coast wants to finish undefeated in-conferece, and NKU would love to repeat the upset they pulled last season.

Of note: Eastern Michigan thumped Toledo, 74-57, adding evidence to my argument that they’re on a mission and the rest of the MAC better watch out.

Also of note: Tyler Summitt’s LaTech team won their first conference tournament game over Florida Atlantic, 84-74. MSTU is next.

Just ’cause I’ve been taking note: New Mexico gets by Fresno State and now find themselves  in the Mountain West finals.

Of course, there are a lot of bragging rights on the line at noon Friday in the Las Vegas Thomas & Mack Center, but there also is a hung carrot dangling at the end of that championship net-cutting – a berth in the 2015 NCAA field.

“One thing that got us here was our confidence in each other,” said UNM’s Bryce Owens. “Once we built that throughout the year, that’s what got us here.

“I think this is a really great game to go into the championship game. I think once we get this day’s (Thursday) rest, once we get our minds collected, get back together, we’ll be fine. I think as a team we’re doing great.”

They’ll play against Boise State, who survived upset-minded San Jose State.

The foundation to get to this point was laid this summer when the team took a retreat to McCall, and there it came up with a pyramid of goals.

“It said ‘finish’ at the top,” sophomore guard Brooke Pahukoa said. “… We knew the final goal was to make it to the championship here, and then hopefully make the NCAA. It feels great knowing that No. 1 goal, we accomplished.”

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…waiting to go to the airport and return to the “bitterly cold” northeast. Will say that, whatever weather comes to mind when you think “the Bahamas,” it’s not what we’ve had this week. Nothing like scuba diving w/ a 25mph wind and 65 degree weather. Fleece alert! (and no, I’m NOT complaining, ’cause I’m on vacation! :-)

On the hardcourt:

Don’t wanna jinx’em, but the A-10 regular season title is George Washington’s to lose. (They’ve beaten Dayton both times they’ve played). Tough to beat a team three times in a row, though, so keep an eye on the Conference Championship.

With a win over a Bradford-less Central Michigan, Ball State moves to 10-3 in the MAC, easing in to the top spot in the West. Overall MAC leader Ohio was stunned by Eastern Michigan, 73-61.

That was unexpectedly close: Maine Slips Past Vermont in Women’s Basketball, 57-54 And yes, Women’s basketball risen in standings from two years ago

Two years ago, Maine was one of the worst teams in women’s basketball. Now, Maine has won 10 consecutive games and is ranked no. 23 in the Mid-Major poll.

It is amazing what you can accomplish when everybody is working together and when everybody has the same goals and dreams. It almost took us two years to get to the point where we are right now, and we are not even close to reaching our potential.

People keep asking, “What happened? How can you go from winning four games total to having one of the best seasons a Maine basketball team has had in a long time?” I don’t think there is a simple answer to this question.

A Debbie Antonelli Special: Troy needed OT – and every single one of Ashley Beverly-Kelley’s 46 points – to escape Sun Belt cellar-dwellar Georgia Southern, 99-93. BTW, this is Troy’s first winning season since 2008-09.

Boink! WHB Curse in effect: Rhode Island loses a lead, and then the game, to LaSalle, 47-45.

Speaking of losing leads: Miami must be kicking themselves – they were up 18 at the end of the first half, then lost to NC State courtesy of a last-second three by Len’Nique Brown-Hoskin.

Whomp! The up-and-down #15 Aggies were up against #11 Kentucky, 81-69.

James Madison, #5 Maryland and FGCU are sailing through their conferences. So’s Gonzaga (clinching their 11th straight)  but it’s not been a lark.

It’s been a tough one: SMU women’s basketball already with second-most losses in school history; Can team recover?

When your women’s team is playing six freshmen, your point guard bolts and your go-to player is gone for the season, you celebrate small victories, such as getting three male students through the NCAA Clearinghouse to fill vacancies for scrimmages.

Change has been the lone constant for SMU.

For a young team in a rebuilding year, adjustments have become routine. Each game seems to open a new chapter in the crash course.

Speaking of tough ones: The Gauchos are still win-less.

Hawaii seems to be pulling away in the Big West.

Wondering how probation will impact West Virginia.

No surprise, Debbie likes Kelsey (Mitchell).

“Why isn’t Kelsey Mitchell on the @BigTenNetwork promo on great (freshmen) in the @bigtenconf,” Antonelli tweeted Tuesday night. “She leads nation in scoring!”

Mitchell’s resume is quite lengthy. And her scoring numbers has made Antonelli start to consider if Mitchell has an opportunity at all-time career leading scorer Jackie Stiles (3,393 points). Antonelli has been calling women’s basketball games for 27 years and can’t recall another player to cause her to look at Stiles’ numbers.

“If you are a fan of women’s basketball how could you not like that?” Antonelli told Cincinnati.com.

Yup: Injuries wreak havoc on SEC women’s basketball season

Not an unexpected job opening: Portland State fires Sherri Murrell as women’s basketball coach with five games remaining

In W news: One Knight for another: Breaking Down the Epiphanny Prince-for-Cappie Pondexter Blockbuster and The age-old thought process behind Liberty’s WNBA megadeal plus, what’s really cool: Epiphanny Prince to finish Rutgers degree after trade to NY Liberty

When she stunned the basketball world in 2009 with an unprecedented decision to leave Rutgers one year early to start her pro career, Epiphanny Prince vowed that she eventually would return to school.

That time has come following a WNBA trade Monday that sent two former Rutgers stars back to their homes as Prince was dealt to the New York Liberty, while Cappie Pondexter is joining the Chicago Sky.

In high school news: Two high school girls basketball legends combining to make history at Gilmour Academy

It started with a phone call, seemingly out of nowhere.

That’s how a legendary high school girls basketball coach ended up at Gilmour Academy. That was 10 years ago.

And a second totally unexpected phone call led to the daughter of a former Ms. Ohio Girls Basketball Player of the Year playing for that same coach at the Catholic prep school in Gates Mills.

That’s how Bob Beutel, with 644 career victories, ended up coaching Naz Hillmon, one of the top freshman girls basketball players in Northeastern Ohio. Hillmon is already receiving attention from Division I colleges. The 6-foot-2 center is averaging 18 points, 14 rebounds and more than four blocks per game.

How about this: Alden-Hebron makes history with 5-player roster

Alden-Hebron’s “Fab Five” huddled on the bus ride home and talked strategy after winning the school’s first postseason title for any Giants basketball team – boys or girls – since 1957.

Hannah Behrens, Bailey Ogle, Hannah Warren, Tally Lalor and Emily Webber have played exclusively for the past 13 games as the Giants’ roster has dwindled from eight players to five. Kelsey Baker, A-H’s tallest player at 6-foot-2, moved away, and sophomores Brittany Standish and Sam Mendez suffered knee injuries and cannot play until cleared by doctors.

Congrats: Swin Cash earns Chuck Cooper Award for ‘extraordinary’ service

Admittedly, Swin Cash once had no clue who Charles “Chuck” Cooper was or what he represented.

She grew up in the same region and played the same sport, but as someone born nearly 25 years after Cooper played his final professional basketball game, the name of the first African-American player drafted into the NBA didn’t resonate.

So last year, when Cash was told that she was going to be honored with an award named after Cooper, she did some research. What she found was a legacy that she works to this day to strengthen and uphold.

WATN? TV spot highlights Markham basketball star Sutton-Brown

Tammy Sutton-Brown has a true story to tell.

It’s one the 37-year-old Markham native revealed that changed her life — all for the better — when she elected to attend a high school that offered a well established girls’ basketball program rather than go to one closer to home.

Thus began the road for the 6 ft. 4 in. centre in becoming one of the top Canadian basketball players hailing from the Greater Toronto Area that tipped off when she was a Grade 9 student at Markham District High School and then earning a collegiate athletic scholarship south of the border at Rutgers University.

But that’s not where it ended.

A little history: Women’s basketball pioneers honored at UAF

It’s no surprise Nanooks women’s basketball players Victoria Elleby and Stephanie Toumson asked Linda Dolney for her autograph after Saturday’s game.

Forty years ago, Dolney and her teammates paved the way for the current women’s basketball team.

That moment in history and several others were recognized Saturday at a remarkable gathering of women.

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It’s the Billikens again! This time Sadie Stipanovich hit the game-winning jumper with five seconds to play to give them a win over Saint Joseph’s, 52-51.

It’s the Peahens again! This time over Niagara, 65-58, for the second win of their season. In their previous matchup, Niagara routed Saint Peter’s by 33 points.

Yes, in-state battles are awesome: Arkansas State (9-2 in the Sun Belt) gives Arkansas-Little Rock their first Sun Belt loss (9-1), 70-69.

It took double overtime, but #14 Texas gave #24 Oklahoma their first Big 12 loss, 84-81.

Tough battle by shorthanded #10 Kentucky (though Goss is back), but two key end-of-game blocks helped the #6 Vols prevail in Lexington, 73-72.

A game of back-and-forth runs, momentum swings, floor burns and all-out effort came down to the final possession.

Down 73-72, UK got the ball back with 46 seconds left after Jelleah Sidney blocked Cierra Burdick’s shot.

Before a roaring Memorial Coliseum crowd of 7,407, the Wildcats were one field goal from their fourth victory over Tennessee in the past six games.

What the Cats found instead was stomach-churning frustration.

Their efficiency from the floor helped the Terps, who entered the contest with the fourth-best field-goal percentage in the country, shoot 54.3 percent in the first half before finishing the game shooting 52.5 percent.

“One of our biggest jobs to do was to run them off the court,” Walker-Kimbrough said.

The Debbie Antonelli Special (#1) comes courtesy of Wright State v. Oakland: It was the Raiders over the Golden Grizzlies, 108-89. Nice story out of Oakland:

A basketball player who averages 21 points per game as a junior and 19.1 as a senior, along with showing an ability to rebound, block shots and steal, is likely to end up on an NCAA Division I roster somewhere.

And that is exactly what happened for Troy Athens graduate Sinclair Russell, who is currently in her redshirt sophomore season with Oakland University

DAS (#2) was #20 Iowa over Northwestern, 102-99. Melissa Dixon hit 9-10 on three’s as the Hawkeyes made a B10 record 19 during the game.

“You’re going to hear me ro-oar!” In a game that featured sister v. sister, Maine mauled New Hampshire, 87-56. Albany is up next, Feb 1st.

FGCU is flyin’ through the A-Sun, but the Eagles remember last year’s game against Northern Kentucky:

Since becoming eligible for the Atlantic Sun tournament, the Florida Gulf Coast University women’s basketball team is 59-1 against conference teams in the regular season.

The one loss came last year at Northern Kentucky. And it was ugly.

With a 63-43 loss, FGCU suffered its worst A-Sun defeat and tied for the fewest points scored in a game in program history. 

It’s looking like the fight for C-USA top spot will be between Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee. Going to have to wait until Feb. 21st for that game, though.

Auburn stays winless in the SEC, going down to Arkansas, 52-47.

Speaking of the SEC, Nell Fortner offers her top five by position.

Well, oops! Down goes Long Beach State for a second time, this time of courtesy of the Wahine, 72-64.

Kansas State stole Oklahoma State’s fan belt. They defeat the Cowgirls, 52-51, in OT.

Colorado State is now 7-1 in the Mountain West. Next up: Fresno State (8-0 in the conference).

Coming up, Todd McMahon writes: Road challenges await UW-Green Bay

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay women’s basketball team had its hands full with Ruvanna Campbell three times last season.

Horizon League-leading UWGB is bracing for its first encounter this season with Illinois-Chicago’s imposing 6-foot-3 junior forward.

“She’s in a league of her own in the conference,” Phoenix sophomore Mehryn Kraker said.

From Palo Alto: Stanford women’s basketball tops busy home weekend slate

Orrange and Samuelson are close to milestones. Orrange needs three assists to become the seventh player in Stanford history to reach 500. 

Samuelson is five 3-pointers shy of matching Nicole Powell (201) for sixth on the Cardinal’s all-time list.

Stanford faces the top three scorers in the conference this weekend and four of the top eight. Washington State’s Lia Galdeira (19.6) and Tia Presley (18.9) are second and third.

From ESPN’s MC Barrett: Geno Auriemma: By the numbers – UConn coach nears 900th career win; milestone could come as early as Tuesday. Mechelle adds: 10 defining moments – UConn coach, in his 30th season, is on verge of 900th career victory

My goodness: Girls basketball coach returns to team after losing arm

Well ouch: Buchholz girls basketball team forfeits 2014-15 season

Two years after winning the school’s first state basketball title, the Buchholz girls basketball team has forfeited its 2014-15 season.

Bobcats athletic director Jay Godwin asked for and got permission from the Florida High School Athletic Association on Monday to do so, three days after finding out the team had been using an ineligible player the entire season.

and then Buchholz fires girls basketball coach after forfeited season

Buchholz High School principal Vince Perez met Friday morning with the girls basketball team and coach Rebecca Williams. By the end of the meeting, he told the team they had to go in a different direction.

That meant, Williams, a Buchholz alum, is no longer the coach after eight years.

Mechelle writes about Drake sophomore Lizzy Wendell.

Kids in really large families sometimes look for ways to build their individual identities. But rarely do they look to the laundry room to establish such a distinction.

But Drake sophomore forward Lizzy Wendell, one of the nation’s top scorers this season, was once as a teenager the voluntary head laundry washer for her family, which includes her parents and eight siblings.

“She took over the laundry for about eight months,” said her father, Mike Wendell. “We have a washer and dryer upstairs and downstairs. She just wanted to do it; she’s pretty organized.”

Lizzy explained it this way: “My oldest sister, when she came back home from college, started paying me to do her laundry for her. And I said, ‘Oh, this is easy,’ and I did it for everyone for a while.”

Eventually, “Busy Lizzy,” as her family calls her, decided to give up the chore.

“But we all liked it while it lasted,” Mike said, grinning. “That’s a lot of laundry.”

Nowadays, Wendell focuses on taking opposing defenses to the cleaners. Her 22.6 points per game leads the Missouri Valley Conference and is tied for eighth in Division I.

Good to hear: Craft says young players hungry to get better

The skinned knee is a rite of passage for the young. Finding a bandage and the will to return to the playground tag game is the best way to address the pain.

The Ohio State women’s basketball team took a tumble midway through the second half Sunday at Purdue, falling behind the Boilermakers by 12 points before rising to win a 79-71 overtime decision.

“I think us really pushing through that was a big step for our team,” junior guard Cait Craft said. “In the past, we haven’t been able to do that. We just came together, had each other’s back and pushed through it.”

Check out Swish Appeal’s mid-season COY candidates.

In W news:

John Altavilla is Catching Up With Kelly Faris

Storm trade 2 players to Sun for No. 3 pick in WNBA draft

The Seattle Storm are continuing their rebuilding project.

The Storm traded Camille Little and Shekinna Stricklen to the Connecticut Sun on Wednesday for the third and 15th picks in the upcoming WNBA draft and Renee Montgomery. The Storm already have the No. 1 pick.

“As we get into the draft and look at the players coming out, we’re excited about having 1 and 3,” Seattle Storm president and general manager Alisha Valavanis said. “For us a key objective is to add youth to the roster, and this gives us an opportunity through the draft.”

Pat Friday grades the trade.

More on an Aussie: Abby Bishop shoulders Canberra’s final hopes, but don’t compare her to Lauren Jackson

Catch is in India: Journey on a difficult terrain

Finally, Emotional Eastern Michigan women’s basketball team starts healing process by playing first game since tragedy  and from Graham: ‘I want everybody to know who Shannise was’ Eastern Michigan’s 21-year-old junior forward died Sunday in a car accident

The first time Bud Schimmelpfenneg, a longtime Eastern Michigan fan and booster, met one of the new additions to the women’s basketball team he reached out to shake her hand.

Shannise Heady wanted none of it.

“Oh no, I’m not shaking hands,” he recalled her telling him. “I’m a hugger.”

There weren’t any handshakes after the final buzzer brought an end to Wednesday’s game between Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan, either. Just as players, coaches and staff from both teams locked arms for a moment of silence before the game and remained that way through the national anthem, jerseys alternating in a semi-circle that stretched almost all the way around the court, they eschewed handshakes for hugs when it was over. It wasn’t a normal night. It won’t be normal for Eastern Michigan for a long time. For these players, maybe ever.

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(Sea Biscuit, if you need a reference.) If you run from behind, sometimes a Badger will beat you.

Oddly enough, Illinois used a Penn to upset #24 Iowa.

Southeast Louisiana (2-7 Southland) surprised Central Arkansas (6-3), 7-64.

It was all Ostarello as #14 Purdue topped Indiana.

The Georgia program made it 850 wins, this one over Alabama.

Duke and Miami played a close first half, but the Hurricanes were MIA in the second half. Blue Devils win, 82-43.

Oooo, things are getting tight in the MAC: Akron takes down Bowling Green. Central Michigan is still rollin’. Ball State and Toledo are at 6-1.

Things are also tight in the Big Sky, with Eastern Washington taking down Montana State. That puts them both at 8-3 in the conference, looking up at Montana (9-2).

Delle Donne is healthy, and the #25 Blue Hens are 8-0 in the CAA.

Since its big win over Liberty, Presbyterian has struggled to handle the top conference competition. This time they’re handily beaten by Winthrop, 77-42.

You knew it was going to be an up and down year for Kim. Seems the down part is now – the Wolverines get taken down by the Gophers.

TAMU is winning in the SEC, but they’ve got ranked South Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky in their future.

Ooops. Seattle U stumbled against San Jose State, 74-65.

Pacific is at 7-1 in the Big West. Just sayin’.

Coach Hatchell approaches 900 wins.

North Carolina women’s hoops coach Sylvia Hatchell is one victory away from 900 in her career. And guess which team she’ll face Sunday to try to hit that milestone? Think … darker blue. Pitchfork. The school that calls its smallish gym a “stadium.” The bad guys up the road.

You got it. On Sunday (ESPNU, 1 p.m. ET), North Carolina faces Duke at the Tar Heels’ Carmichael Arena with more at stake than just the perpetual grudge match between neighboring archrivals.

Coach Klinge gets 1,oooth win. No, that is not a typo: 1000.

Klinge’s record in 51 seasons: 1,000-239.

“More than anything, I’m proud of the percentage of games we’ve won in the long haul,” Klinge said. “A thousand wins, more than anything, means a lot of cold feet on the bottom of yellow buses through the years.”

Only 600 wins behind, sits Wendy Triplett, who picked up her 400th coaching victory

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it’s hard not to read stuff into results.

Like maybe North Carolina’s got something goin’ on (even though they did almost blow a lead).

Like maybe other Tennessee teams have it in for the Vols this season. UT needs OT to escape MTSU.

Like d’em Flyers are FLYIN’!

Like you should be glad I wasn’t hired to write the headlines for the UCONN game, ’cause there were SO many possibilities: Colgate gets *fill in appropriate dental related verb* by Connecticut.

Like I’m not taking Kansas seriously until they play a team that is, or stands a chance of being, ranked (I see you, Cal Bears). Same goes for you, Oklahoma State.  And ditto to you, Georgia. Double ditto to you, South Florida, especially since you needed OT to defeat Clemson. And you’re not quite in the same category, Florida State, but you’re close. And Northwestern? Talk to me after you meet the already mentioned Cal Bears. And yes, I see you, 8-0 South Carolina, but I also see the Cardinal looming.

Like the Pacific Tigers got my attention ’cause they’re undefeated AND that includes a win over Fresno State. Of course, there are those Cardinal folk looming.

Like Turtles are faster than Huskers.

Like what a difference a year makes: A Della Donne-less Delaware takes down the Bonnies.

Like I never know if I can trust Michigan State — will we know more after they meet Dayton?

Like why couldn’t I have used my psychic abilities to pick the Powerball numbers instead of (sorta) picking Penn State getting upset by Miami.

Like, seriously, dudes and dudettes, how long will Banghart stay a Tiger? Princeton takes down Rutgers big, 71-55.

Like WHB readers are wicked cool, because they know who the Chippewas are, and are kinda stoked that they gave Notre Dame a game, and then some.

Like I sick and tired of reading the same old stuff: OU’s Maddie Manning out for season and Injury Sidelines Richmond’s Okoro For 2012-13 Season

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Tournament Has a Different Feel for Lady Vols

Another women’s N.C.A.A. basketball tournament approaches and Tennessee is seeking to hang a ninth championship banner in the rafters. But the usual postseason excitement is tinged with somber uncertainty, given that this year’s tournament might be more about departure than arrival.

Don’t forget to check out Kim’s Daily News page for tons of links. Some that stood out for me:

Albany: Coach Abe has a winning way
BYU: Knee failed 3 times, but Haley Steed had heart
Eastern Michigan: Eagles head toward NCAA tournament
Florida Gulf Coast, St. Bonaventure: Three will be key for Eagles, Bonnies in NCAA Tournament game
Fresno State: Bulldogs women’s basketball team can hear ghost of Michael Jordan
Middle Tennessee State: Lady Raiders unfazed by stage
Navy: Latest Navy Women’s Basketball NCAA Tournament Diary
Penn State: Washington Hasn’t Lost Sight of Portland’s Success on Court
St. Bonaventure: St. Bonaventure living the good life as FGCU awaits
UTEP: ‘Hard work pays off’: UTEP assistant draws on experience
UW Green Bay: Green Bay Way makes mid-major one of country’s top women’s programs

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(What, are you crazy?) but, did I not mention Central Michigan was on a (freshmen) roll?

They take down Bowling Green, setting up an all-Michigan MAC final (first time for CMU since 1991) when they go up against Eastern Michigan, who took down Toledo, 59-57. This means you can catch a glimpse of Tavelyn James, a 5-foot-7 guard for the Eagles (and winner of the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award).

I’m thinking coach Cullop sticks around for the return of Shafir — but I wonder what happens after graduation. As for Bowling Green’s chance at the Dance? Lemme just say you couldn’t pay me enough to be on this year’s Selection Committee.

Oh, this could get ugly. The Mountain West finals pit San Diego State (24-6, 12-2) against New Mexico (11-19, 2-11), the first No. 7 seed to advance to the title game.

The #2 teams in the Southland went up against each others, and it was last year’s “darlings”, the McNeese State Cowgirls, earning their second strating invite to the Dance with their 60-56 win over Stephen F. Austin.

Cynthia Cooper’s old team, and Toyelle Wilson’s 2nd-year team, Prairie View A&M (16-15, 11-7 SWAC) upset Mississippi Valley State, 58-55, to earn a trip to the SWAC finals. They’ll face Alcorn State, who sorta upset Grambling State, 67-41.

Baylor is on a tear. Griner is, too. Loved this tweet from Mechelle: “Watching guards, especially, try to drive on Griner is like watching the unfortunate contestants on “Wipeout:” You know they’re doomed.” And this one after BG broke Andrea Riley’s  scoring record: “Griner new Big 12 tourney single-game scoring record with 45. She’s exited game. Rumor: Andrea Riley seeks game of HORSE, no dunks. :)”  In the Big 12 finals, the  Bears get to go up against a familiar, soon to be former, foe: Texas A&M. (With or without Tyra White.)

Oh, and here’s a little local commentary on Texas: Longhorns’ loss to Texas Tech dims future for team, coach.

You know, even if you took away EDD’s 21 points, they would have beaten Old Dominion. Not sure the Blue Hens would have survived without her 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks.

The Pac 12 semis got all Big East-ish, with Stanford surviving Arizona State and Cal eventually pulling away from Washington State.

Whoops. Tulane washed away Memphis’ home court advantage, and now it’s the Green Wave sweeping in to the C-USA finals against UTEP, who buried the UAB Blazers.

Debbie and Beth would have liked this game: UNC Wilmington 94, Hofstra 87. Seahawks play the Hens next.

Long Beach (7-9, Big West) is getting upset-happy: this time they took down Cal Poly (12-4), 51-48. And lookee who they get to face! Gauchos, we have missed ye: UCSB (8-8). They’ve split the season games: 46-34 and 47-35. That’s what happens when the top five teams in the Big West tournament go flop.

My apologies to Utah State — I promise I’ll never mention you again. The Aggies (11-3, WAC) got upset by La Tech, 73-69. And boy, were they upset! Postgame handshakes turn to punches. (Was Debbie Black in the house?) Spoon’s crew will face Fresno State, who chewed right through the Vandals.

As expected, the MEAC finals will be a battle of the H’s: Hampton v. Howard.

Lucky Detroit gets to go up against Green Bay IN Green Bay in the Horizon finals.

Equally fun? Northern Colorado (11-5) taking on the the Idaho State Bengals (15-2) on THEIR home court in the Big Sky finals.

Patriot League finals are tomorrow: Navy v. Holy Cross playing for the right to face UConn (according to Charlie).

Check in with Charlie’s latest bracketology.

Oh, and I have another question for ESPN. Why, when I check out the Men’s Scores during Conference Championship Time, does the board default to “All,” but on the women’s side it defaults to “Top 25?”

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Eastern Michigan’s Tavelyn James, winner of the 2012 Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award

Tavelyn James, a 5-foot-7 guard for the Eastern Michigan University Eagles, is the 2012 recipient of the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award, presented annually by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame to the nation’s outstanding female collegian 5-feet-8-inches and under who has excelled both athletically and academically.

James, Eastern Michigan’s all-time leading scorer, is one of only 11 student-athletes in Mid-American Conference history to reach 2,000 points. Holding records is nothing new to James, the university’s record holder in more than a dozen different categories. She ranks third on the conference’s career points list with 2,417, field-goals made (248) and three-pointers made (287). James is currently second in Division I women’s basketball this season in points per game, averaging 24.5.

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Monday, March 21

Syracuse 63, St. Bonaventure 50
Eastern Michigan 63, UNC Wilmington 54
Florida 73, Florida Gulf Coast 69
Oral Roberts 92, Tulane 86
Colorado 81, California 65
Wyoming 75, Oklahoma State 71

Up next: Third Round

Tuesday, March 22
Alabama at Toledo, 7 p.m. EST

Wednesday, March 23
Arkansas  at Oral Roberts, 8 p.m. EST
Southern Cal at BYU, 9 p.m. EST

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