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“I am pleased to announce Graham Hays as this year’s recipient of the WBCA Mel Greenberg Media Award,” said WBCA Executive Director Danielle Donehew. “Graham has been an exceptional advocate for women’s basketball and has worked diligently to preserve, promote, and protect the priceless stories that make up our game’s historical record. The WBCA salutes Graham for his contribution of time and talent to advance women’s basketball.”

Well deserved! I’m sure that ESPN will now give you a raise, enthusiastically underwrite all your travel, housing and food expenses and earnestly invite you to cover women’s basketball year-round.

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Yes, there was the build up — the mutterings about Duke being disrespected or overlooked, the discussions of their depth and size — but in the aftermath of being totally dismantled by the not-so-swagger-free UConn Huskies, Duke is going to have to gather themselves like that Fred and Ginger tune says, and start all over again.

Writes Graham: UConn plays near-perfect game – Previously unbeaten and third-ranked Duke no match for No. 2 Huskies

“We just play,” Moore said. “You don’t get tired. We don’t talk about that at Connecticut. There’s plenty of reasons or opportunities where you could say, ‘I’m tired,’ but you find a way to get over it. You find a way every day in practice. … We have to, obviously, do certain things to make sure that we are able to compete at the highest level we can — taking care of our bodies, getting a lot of rest, doing all the little things that we probably have to do more so than any other year since I’ve been here.”

In the process, the Huskies exposed the Blue Devils as a team with a wealth of talent on defense and stll too few proven answers on offense. Duke’s pressure is a legitimate championship-caliber weapon, and at times flustered a Connecticut team that turned the ball over 20 times, its first game of at least 20 turnovers since a nailbiter at Notre Dame on Jan. 8. But the Blue Devils converted those turnovers into just 14 points, and 19 offensive rebounds into just 12 second-chance points. Without those tools that, to put it bluntly, amount to two of its three best offensive plays — the third being give the ball to Jasmine Thomas and let her go — Duke floundered on offense.

Rob Clough at DWhoops echoes Graham’s theme as he reviews the carnage: UConn Crushes Duke, 87-51

This game was Duke’s opportunity to prove itself as a true elite power this season. Instead, the Devils will have to fight to get a #1 seed. Duke hadn’t overpowered many good foes this year, but their ability to to find a way to win no matter what was judged and found wanting by UConn. This certainly offers hope to their ACC opponents. What this loss can do for Duke is give them a chance to work on bad habits. The first bad habit is an inability to lock in as a team, where all five players complement each other. Part of that is the nature of Duke’s very basic offense, which involves more read-and-react/one-on-one stuff than the sort of sharing the ball instincts that come so naturally for UConn. In other words, Duke’s offense sometimes gets into “I need to make a play” territory instead of “We need to make a play.”

Other highlights:

At the start of the game, Graham tweeting: Good crowd in Gampel for Duke-UConn, especially given the newest storm means people shorter than 5 feet are forbidden from going outside.

1st half: Duke team, 15 points, 11 boards, 1 assist
Maya Moore, 16 points, 6 boards, 3 assists

Kara Lawson speaking her mind (how refreshing!), ’cause she wants the last 45 minutes of her life back.

Carolyn Peck understanding Kara’s “perplexsiveness???””””

Rebecca Lobo being perplexed by Carolyn’s English.

Graham tweeting while watching the halftime show: A little kid in halftime show just spun a ball on his finger while doing a one-arm push-up. Glad to know I can do at least none of those.

Mechelle tweeting on the game: To blame this all on Duke’s “effort” and not point out the Duke staff’s deficiencies in coaching offense is not fair to the players.

Charlie tweeting on the game: I said 5 teams could win NC in my column today. I may be wrong there. I think it’s just 4. Duke doesn’t look capable.

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From Graham: A look at the week ahead

Thursday – Maryland at Duke:With Maryland coming off back-to-back quality wins against St. John’s at home and Saint Joseph’s on the road, this rivalry looks as enticing as it has in several seasons. The boards will be big. That Maryland is one of the nation’s statistically dominant rebounding teams came into question after St. John’s claimed an edge on the boards, but hang with the Blue Devils and any questions will be answered.

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Mechelle, today at 2pmEST.

Also, check out Graham’s chat wrap.

Glenn (Fresh Meadows): A little funtime, if 30 for 30 went to you and asked you for one story to do a film on for WCBB, which would you choose?

Graham Hays: Good one to close on, and my editor is rolling her eyes, knowing exactly where I’m going with this one. I’d choose Jackie Stiles, and it’s not even close. The more you look at the current power structure in the sport, the more amazing it is she got Southwest Missouri State to a Final Four as recently as she did. And then to tack on an initially promising WNBA career with the Fire derailed by injuries, it’s a perfect 30/30. Somehow I don’t imagine it will ever get the nod, but I’d volunteer my services for free in a heartbeat.

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Chat alert!

With Graham, 4pm EST.

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OT: Softball

Congrats to the US Softball squad, winners of their 7th consecutive World Softball Championship.

Graham has been following the games. And twittering. My fave:

Fantastic diving catch from Finch on foul pop. She hits, she pitches, she fields. If she could hit PKs, Ghana would take her.

Stoopid IOC.

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