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Things we’ve noticed so far:

Suspensions hurt: LSU, missing Ballard, lost at home. To the Trojans. Now, the Trojans are no slouch…within the Sun Belt Conference, but the taking down the Tigers was huge.

“This type of win gives the kids instant belief in what you’re trying to accomplish especially when you do it against a top-25-caliber team,” Coach Joe Foley said. “There are a lot of ups and downs in the season. It’s a long season. You want to get off to a good start and that helps.”

Suspensions don’t hurt (for the moment): Oregon rolled over Utah State.

Suspensions don’t hurt (and, hopefully, neither do injuries): Tennessee pulled away from Penn to earn a 97-52 win.

Courtney Banghart’s still got a team, Susie McConnell-Serio is still working on it: Princeton over Pittsburgh, 59-43.

Ya, James Madison knows how to duke it out — especially at home. They roared back in the second half, pulling out the overtime win over #23 UCLA. JMU shot poorly, but the Bruins’ offered up a generous 26 turnovers  to help the Dukes to their first win over a ranked team since 2009. From Lady Swish: 

Now just as we weren’t going to make a huge deal had JMU lost, well, we won’t get too carried away with the win. After all, we don’t really call it an upset. JMU advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year. UCLA didn’t have a winning record. But this will no doubt an eye-opening win for the Dukes, who bested the team that boasts the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation in a trio of freshmen who are McDonald’s All-Americans.

There is an “I” in team, as Iona sends an early message, taking down Fordham, 72-51, in their season opening. Nice to see Bowling Green, KU, UCF and Rutgers on their schedule (though Bowling Green lost a bit of a shocker – Bucknell defeated the Falcons, 54-52.).

I’m thinking it’s going to be a bruising season for Penn State.

Well, hello, Washington State! The Cougars proved to be unfriendly hosts to #22 Dayton – forcing 30 turnovers and come away with a 76-60 win. The Flyer’s Andrea Hoover did all she could, but WSU’s Lia Galdeira got more support from her teammates.

Richmond won their first game of the season.

Joe Doyle, a northern New Jersey resident, never missed his sister Ginny’s basketball games — not the games she played for the University of Richmond Spiders from 1990-92, nor the games she coached for 15 seasons as a beloved and respected assistant for the women’s team.

So for Joe to return to the Robins Center on Friday night for the Spiders’ home opener, six months after Ginny and women’s director of basketball operations Natalie Lewis died in a tragic hot air balloon crash, was both fitting and hard.

“It was very emotional,” Joe said afterward. “It was difficult to see [their photos] in this venue, at the first game of the season, without them being here. It’s tough and devastating. Every day, we think of Natalie and Ginny, from the minute we wake up until the minute we close our eyes. And it doesn’t get better.”

Freshmen are fun: Louisville’s Mariya Moore (announcers are going to have to be very careful when identifying her, no?) opened her career with 22 points in the #12 Cardinal’s win over IUPUI. Notre Dame’s Brianna Turner only played 19 minutes, but managed to take 18 shots…and made 13 of them.

Ah, a game Debbie Antonelli would have enjoyed: San Diego State over Sacramento State, 99-91.

Beth Mowin’s Leopards start of the season well with a win over Delaware.

The big dogs are still big: Albany over St. Francis, 90-47. Penn State is up next.

Wings Up! FGCU opens the season with a win over George Washington and – surprise! – shoots 46% on threes.

Yah, it’s early in the season, but a nice 2-pt win for the 49ers over Liberty.

Arizona State opened strong…. strongly?… well with a 81-67 win over Middle Tennessee.

Ohio State opened their shorthanded season against Virginia and couldn’t hold a first half lead, falling 87-82. Shout out to the Cavaliers’ Sarah Imovbioh for setting a new single-game rebound record (24).

Win #400 for Sherri Coale. How is it possible that she’s been coaching for 19 years at Oklahoma??? Ahem – I can’t think of a better reason to produce a new Write Space and Time, can you? (HINT, HINT!)

UConn’s 47th win in a row for was also an opportunity for Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis to remind folks how ridiculously good a three-point shooter she is: she scored 30pts on 10-13 shooting.

#5 Texas A&M needed a 10-2 closing run to take down #18 DePaul, 76-68.

Are we going to call her Double-Double Davis? Nina got off to a good start in that quest in Baylor’s game against Oral Roberts.

Hmmm…. South Dakota State over BYU, 75-65. Watch out for the Wabbits.

Penguins win!

Quinnipiac wins their opener against a stubborn Army team, 79-64.

In a season full of expectations, #9 Texas got off to good start, keeping UT-San Antonio to 15 points the first half and cruising to a 68-48 win.

Was USC-east bending under expectations in their match up against USC-west? Only time will tell, but the short-handed Trojans sure gave the Gamecocks a run for their money. South Carolina pushed through for the 70-61 win.

Every career starts with a first step. Tyler Summitt’s at La Tech started with a 76-69 win over SF Austin.

In kindergarten, when classmates wanted to be firefighters, police officers and doctors, Tyler always had the same unflinching ambition: “I want to coach basketball.”

It drove his mom crazy. Be an astronaut, a scientist, anything but a coach.

So, are you ready to look a the brackets yet? Charlie is. (Remember,  all top 16 teams (seeds 1-4) play at home for the first 2 rounds before the winner of each site is sent off to “neutral” regional sites.)

Mechelle wonders if  North Carolina be even better?

While DeShields seemed naturally suited for the spotlight, Gray has the kind of low-key, low-maintenance personality that made her too easy to overlook last season. But that probably won’t happen as much this year. The 6-foot Gray should be one of the top players in the ACC and a leader — albeit still a fairly quiet one — for the Tar Heels.

“I know more of what to expect, and more how to handle different situations,” Gray said. “I think our offense is way more balanced, and everybody knows what everybody else can and can’t do. It’s more of a team this year.”

As always, Graham shines some light on the mid-majors:

Like the videos we no longer watch or the records we no longer listen to, mid-major is a term that might be in the process of outliving whatever it was that it was originally supposed to describe.

Are there five major conferences or seven? What is Dayton that Butler is not? If a tree falls in the forest near Storrs, Connecticut, does it make the American Athletic Conference important? And if we have high majors and mid-majors, where are the low majors? All reasonable questions that philosophers could ponder on windswept Himalayan peaks.

Check out his top player list. 6. Damika Martinez, Iona, guard

Martinez is the only one of last season’s top 10 scorers nationally who returns this season, so that’s a place to start. She’s also one of the more efficient high-volume scorers you’ll find. It takes a lot of shots to average 24.9 points per game, but Martinez connected on 44 percent of her nearly eight 3-point attempts per game. Only DePaul’s Megan Rogowski connected on a better percentage among players who hit at least 100 3-pointers. Martinez also shot 88 percent from the free throw line and 47 percent on her two-point attempts. If you prefer big moments to big numbers, it was her jumper with 2.9 seconds remaining on the road that ended Marist’s 36-game MAAC winning streak.

Mel writes up wins by the Scarlet Knights and the Temple Owls (amongst others).

Did you catch David’s Dishin & Swishin 11/13/14 Podcast: The roundtable returns to preview the 2014-15 NCAA DI season?

So, there’s this game on Monday night, ESPN 9pm: Stanford v. UConn.

From John Altavilla: Chiney Ogwumike On What It’s Like At Stanford

 “It was a pleasant surprise for me to be asked to write about the upcoming Stanford-UConn game. As a recent graduate and former Stanford player (and a very outspoken, opinionated, biased Nerd Nation minion) that request comes second nature to me. 

 “Basketball is a game of respect. If Wilson or Spalding created college hoop commandments, the top ones would be: respect your school, respect your coaches, respect your teammates and most importantly, when the ball is tossed up, respect your opponents because if you don’t, you will feel their wrath.

Get ready for some stuff from ESPN: Experienced Core of Commentators & New Faces Enhance ESPN’s Women’s College Basketball Coverage

“3 to See” & “Need to Know”
ESPN will continue to promote the top players in the women’s game through it’s’ “3 to See” and “Need to Know” initiatives. The two brands will be present all season long on ESPN platforms with additional content on espnW.com.

  • Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Breanna Stewart (Connecticut) and Jewell Loyd (Notre Dame) make up the “3 to See” brand.
  • “3 to See” will be integrated in games involving Mosqueda-Lewis, Stewart and Loyd.
  • “Need to Know” players include: Nina Davis (Baylor); Brittany Boyd (Cal); Moriah Jefferson (UConn); Elizabeth Williams (Duke); Lexie Brown (Maryland); Rachel Banham (Minnesota); Tiffany Mitchell (South Carolina); Aleighsa Welch (South Carolina); A’ja Wilson (South Carolina) and Isabelle Harrison (Tennessee).
  • The “Need to Know” brand will used throughout all women’s telecasts, and also include the “3 to See” players.

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If they want a chance to go dancing, they have to win:

CAA: No surprise James Madison is in the Finals, but their opponent is (somewhat surprising): the Blue Hens.

Discussing UD’s youth, Martin said, “This team has come so far this season. We’re so young and I’m so proud of these kids as they’ve grown so much in the past few months. Nobody thought Delaware would be sitting in this position right now. We’ve climbed the mountain all year long of people not believing in us and now we have a job to finish.”

Southland: Northwestern State (Lady) Demons v. the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks. (Sounds like a CW show) The teams split the regular season, each winning at home by double digits.

Horizon: #1 Green Bay will face off against #2 Wright State.

NEC: Upstart Robert Morris and their star from Greece, Artemis Spanou, will try and overcome St. Francis (PA), who’ve had a less than .500 season, but made the finals after an epic triple-overtime win over Sacred Heart and a tight win over Mount St. Mary’s. Thank goodness there are a couple of days between games.

MVC: The Shockers have righted their ship —  if they sail by 5th seed Drake their season will continue. But don’t take the Bulldogs lightly – they rallied to take down top-seed Indiana State.

A-SUN: This seems to be the game of the day. 26-6, 16-2) Stetson faces off against (25-7, 17-1) FGCU.  Will the Eagles fans show?

As for those Dancers:

Ball State couldn’t sustain the magic, nor stop 5th years senior Rachel Tecca (30-12). So, after 40 years, it’s the Zips who earns their first MAC trip to the NCAAs.

“This group of seniors is very, very special,” said Kest, in her eighth season at the school. “They believed in us when we recruited them. It’s not easy to come into a program that has had some losing seasons and to take a chance on us. It’s easy to go to a school that already has been successful and already has fans.”

The Zips tied the program record for single-season victories, which was set in 2012-2013.

Prairie View A&M DID sustain the magic, upsetting SWAC #2 seed, Texas Southern, earning their fourth consecutive championship title and sending a 14-17 team onto the dance floor. 

Washington added 20 points in the winning effort, which capped a season-long turnaround after the Lady Panthers lost their first 11 games under first-year coach Dawn Brown.

“I just let them know that you can’t let Texas Southern take this moment from you,” Brown said she told her team. “Since 2011, this is what Prairie View A&M University does. You see our best basketball in March.”

The third time was almost the charm for Coppin State, but Hampton prevailed in the MEAC championship game — by three points.

“When I woke up this morning,” Hamilton said, “I said to myself, I had to be a point guard today. We needed everybody in order to win. I actually wanted to play a part in the championship.”

Hamilton’s fingerprints were all over the title game, with a game-high 20 points, seven rebounds, three assists and a couple of blocks.

“She was overdue,” HU coach David Six said. “Nikki’s a big-time player — first-team all-conference. She’s been in these situations before. I’m glad she’s on my team and she was able to make some clutch shots for us.”

Sun Belt: A lot has happened to the Hilltopper program since they sent Shea Mahoney to the New York Liberty – and some of it not good. Different story yesterday as Western Kentucky came back from 14 down against Arkansas State to earn a berth to the NCAA tournament. And the video of the coaches celebrating is worth a thousand words.

Middle Tennessee State left no doubt as to who rules the C-USA, rolling over Southern Mississippi. 84-55.

“I feel like Middle Tennessee is one of the top 20 programs in the country,” Blue Raiders coach Rick Insell said. “We’re not the best program in the country, but we’re in the top 20, and we’re there every year.

“We’re real proud of what our program stands for. The basketball gurus know about Middle Tennessee, and they know that Middle Tennessee is a tough, tough team.”

Patriot: Army entered the NCAA tournament on the shoulders of Kelsey Minato, who scored 31 points to lead the Black Knights over a resilient Holy Cross, 68-58.

 “We had the great equalizer,” Magarity said of his sophomore guard. “She’s an incredible player and as special a player as I’ve ever coached in my 32 years as a head coach.

Mountain West: Fresno State knocked off top seed Colorado State, 77-68, and earned its fourth consecutive conference championship.

“I think (tournament experience) does help a lot, especially when teams go on runs,” Farley said. “If you’re not experienced, you can get really frazzled in that type of situation. Us being more experienced, we learned to accept the runs and not freak out, if that makes sense. It definitely did help us today.”

Big West: It’s been 23 years, and this is only the second time the Cal State Northridge team has gone dancing, this time by virtue of their 15-point win over Cal Poly.

“Every day is a championship day for us,” Matadors coach Jason Flowers said. “The intensity never drops off, whether it’s a shootaround or weights or conditioning. These young women have prepared for this moment for the past two or three years. I was interested to see how they would respond to being on the big stage. They woke up this morning in great spirits, they were really relaxed and I just stayed out of their way and they worked their tails off.”

North Dakota left no doubt as to who was going to earn the Big Sky bid to the NCAA, handily beating Robin Selvig’s Montana, 72-55.

The win was historic for UND (22-9). The Green and White will play in the Big Dance for the first time in program history.

“Credit Montana, a very well-coached team that battled,” North Dakota coach Travis Brewster said. “But it’s an exciting experience for these players to get a chance to play in the NCAA tournament and to do it in front of our fans was awesome. It’s a pretty unique honor and takes a special group.”

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In the Southern, Chattanooga has returned to it traditional conference dominance.

Speaking of Southern, they’re atop the SWAC, but Texas Southern is lurking. Their first matchup went to OT and was a 2pt win for the Jaguars. Southern will host T.S. for their final conference game of the season. The Jags will have a chance to avenge their only in-confernce loss (Alcorn State) March 1st.

Hampton rules the MEAC and, though Coppin State put up a better fight the second time around, it doesn’t appear that anyone will threaten the Pirates. That being said, never underestimate the power of a rivalry (Hello, Howard?).

Yes, it’s slow climb to relevancy, and it is the NEC, but St. Francis (NY) took down traditional powerhouse St. Francis (PA), 90-76, to equal the program’s record for victories. The NEC leaders are the Robert Morris Colonials (which SF/NY took to double-overtime) with a multi-national team: Greece, France, Italy, Spain and the Democratic Republic of Congo are all represented on their roster.

The race to the finish in the MAC’s going to be fun: Central Michigan is 11-0 and Bowling Green is 10-1. The Chippewas gave the Falcons their only loss (at CMU, in OT, 82-79). They meet again Feb 19th.

Ditto with the MAAC. Iona is 13-1 (Rider!!?? – in OT) and Marist is 13-2 (losses to Iona and, rather surprisingly, Fairfield). They’ll close out conference play against each other on March 2nd.

How much is the ACC enjoying the addition of Notre Dame? The Irish are making mincemeat of their opponents and are perched confidently atop the conference. Coach McGraw’s win against Syracuse tied her with North Carolina State Kay Yow for 11th place in career wins (737-258).

Vroom! That’s the sound of James Madison racing to the top of the CAA. Don’t know that anyone else can put up with the Dukes.

Zap! That’s the sound of the Wichita State Shockers (11-0) taking control of the MVC. The Sycamores are in second place (still wonder what happened at Indiana State way back when) at 7-3.

The Danes rule the America East, but hello! Congrats to coach Magarity, who’s got New Hampshire in second.

I’m not sayin’ nuthin’ about the A10, ’cause it’s a hot mess: Flyers, Bonnies, Rams, Dukes…. sort it out folks!

Ditto with the Horizon!

Who knows what’s true in the Atlantic Sun. It’s the Hatters and the Eagles both with one conference loss, but Stetson’s was courtesy of FGCU (72-56). The Eagles lost to Northern Kentucky (8-3), 63-43.

The Eagles of Winthrop (12-3) are having a nice season, the result being they’re perched at #1 in the Big South.  They’ll meet High Point (11-3) again Feb. 27th, where the Panthers will try and exact some measure of revenge for their earlier 79-72  loss.

Typical C-USA, even with newcomer MTSU: It’s the Blue Raiders, East Carolina, UTEP and Tulane beating each other up.

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