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From Swish Appeal: NCAA Women’s Sweet 16 Predictions: Fresno Bracket, NCAA Women’s Sweet 16 Predictions: Des Moines Bracket

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution: MaChelle Joseph’s development mirrors Ga. Tech’s

The last time the Georgia Tech women’s basketball team visited Des Moines, Iowa, the Yellow Jackets were in a hotel so close to the interstate that they found earplugs on their pillows.

“So I was like, ‘Not a good sign,’” coach MaChelle Joseph said this week.

They are stationed this time in quieter environs. It isn’t only Joseph’s ear canals that recognize that the Jackets have attained a loftier status. The NCAA bracket can do that, too.

I remember speaking with coach Joseph a while back about officiating. I had no idea about what her coaching skills were, but it was obvious to me she was willing to put in the time and effort needed to understand the WHOLE of the game.

This past fall, for example, when Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph was on her “just before practice starts” vacation, she got an invitation from Struckhoff to participate in a coaches/officials discussion panel during the NCAA’s Division I Regional Officiating Clinic. She immediately cut her vacation short and flew back to attend.

“For me it was a no-brainer because I felt like it’s our responsibility to give back,” said Joseph. “Officials have done so much for our game. [It] couldn’t continue to keep growing at the pace that is if the officiating hadn’t improved as much as it has over the years. [Coaches] want the officiating to continue to grow and improve and get better. Well, the only way we can do that is for us to exchange ideas and thoughts and address issues.”

During the afternoon session, coaches and officials discussed and debated questions across a wide range of topics: travel fatigue, assessment and evaluation, recruitment, attitude and communication.

“Having that experience has really changed my approach this year with how I deal with the officials,” noted Joseph. She cited an instance when she asked how refs wanted to be approached during games. “A veteran official, someone I’d known for a while, said, ‘We just want to be respected. We want to be treated like you could talk to anybody else.’”

“And you don’t think about that,” admitted Joseph. “Sometimes I think with coaches we’re in that mode we use with players: ‘Take what we are saying, not how we are saying it.’ That kind of thing. And you have to shift gears right in the middle of the game — you got the intensity level of the coaches and the competition that’s going on — and then you have to shift gears how you’re approaching the official. I think that’s a pretty good point.”

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Well, you’ve got to believe that this was Georgia Tech’s biggest win in the Joseph era: nipping #8 (and no longer undefeated) UNC 71-70. The Tar Heels has a 7-point lead with 1:40 left. Oops. That’s three straight at home for the Yellow Jackets, and just third victory in the last 17 meetings vs. UNC.

#10 Kentucky didn’t have much time to recover from their loss at Duke — and Arkansas may have given some “pushover no more” notice — as the Razorbacks knocked off the Wildcats.

Duke was in a Terp-fight with Maryland, but (as they seem to do in close games) clamped down and pulled away in the end for the 71-64 victory.

Michigan St. took care of business against Wisconsin, while the WHB Jinx did its work on Michigan v. Purdue. Virginia Tech was no match for Florida State, and Green Bay dispatched a stubborn Youngstown State.

I think it would be an act of kindness not to discuss the masacree that was the Tennessee/Alabama game, or the 30pt-answer Stanford gave to Tom’s question in the Mechelle chat.

tom: Pac 10 questions. What do you think of Niya Butts and the Arizona program? They seem to be winning solidly. As things stand, could they be the fifth Pac 10 team (behind Stanford, UCLA, USC and ASU) to get in? Cal is a bit of a question mark at this point, correct?

Mechelle Voepel: The Wildcats lost to Texas A&M in November but kept the game pretty close, which was a good sign. Another sign will be how they fare against Stanford tonight – not whether they win, which is unlikely, but how well they play. As for Cal, the vast majority of teams are still NCAA tournament “question marks” now, so they have plenty of time to make their case for a tournament bid. Will need to show more determination and fight than they did against Stanford over the weekend, which I’m sure Coach Boyle has been talking to the Bears about this week.

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