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it sorta feels like spring!

From Tennessee: Carolyn Jackson retiring as Brainerd High’s girls’ basketball coach

Carolyn Jackson said she played very little when she was on Riverside’s basketball team. Little did she know then that spending time on a high school basketball team’s bench would become what she’s noted for.

Now after 40 years, a 965-285 record, numerous district and region titles and a state championship, Jackson has decided to retire as girls’ basketball coach at Brainerd, where the gymnasium is named for her and longtime boys’ coach Robert High.

“I’ve been coaching for so long, I felt it was about time to step down,” Jackson said. “I don’t have anything left to prove. I’ve done just about all I set out to do.”

Something seems to be brewing in Rocky Top: Heather Mason relieved of duties as UT’s associate strength and conditioning coach

In Pennsylvania, Lewiston coach Kevin Kodish reflects on 29 years at the helm

The one single factor that enabled me to coach for 29 consecutive years was the loving support of my family. No one can truly appreciate how much a coach’s family has to sacrifice unless they go through it. My wife, Shelly, and daughters Katy and Brooke gave up a lot of for me, and there aren’t words I can come up with that can give them their true due.

To the future athletes of Mifflin County, I ask three things:

Do right

Do your best

Treat others as you want to be treated

I humbly ask parents and athletes to remember that not everybody will be an all-conference performer. Not everyone will be a starter. Not everyone will be a great player. But everybody can do the best they can each and every day.

More news from PA: Dan Burt named Duquesne women’s basketball coach

“Dan Burt is the perfect choice to lead our women’s basketball program,” Duquesne athletic director Greg Amodio said in a statement Saturday. “He has demonstrated a strong commitment to the university and our student-athletes. I expect the program to grow under his leadership and compete for the Atlantic 10 Conference championship annually. The addition of Dan ensures that everything is in place for the continued success of Duquesne women’s basketball.”

You stay put: Hartford Coach Jen Rizzotti Signs Contract Extension Through 2018

Reaping the benefits:

Jay-Z Adds WNBA’s Skylar Diggins To Roc Nation Sports

Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury Player And Gay WNBA Draft Pick, Signs Deal With Nike

Patricia Babcock McGraw explains Why Griner’s game matters more than anything else

Kelly Kline says It’s time for the WNBA to acknowledge Griner and other gay athletes

Did Brittney Griner really “come out” last week or did she just quietly and politely remind all of us of the importance of living our lives authentically?

In last week’s widely publicized interview with SI.com, Griner, the No. 1 pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft, said simply, “Being one that’s out, you know, it’s just … being who you are. Again, be who you are. Don’t worry about what other people say because they are always going to say something. But if you’re just true to yourself, let that shine through. Don’t hide who you really are.”

After that answer, dozens of media outlets wrote “coming out” stories.  Yes, she is one of the first athletes to acknowledge her sexuality before turning pro, but coming out? I don’t think so! 

What are Griner’s soon to be teammates and opponents doing? Battling in Russia

Having previously secured European women’s professional basketball supremacy by winning the prestigious EuroLeague Championship back in March, Candace Parker, Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird and Deanna Nolan are now driving their Russian club UMMC Ekaterinburg to the Russian League title.

McCarville, Whalen Hoping To Pick Up Where They Left Off

There are differences these days for Lindsay Whalen and Janel McCarville. The two no longer wear the maroon and gold at Williams Arena. They’ve traded in Dinkytown for downtown, and they certainly have more experience and basketball mileage on their odometers. 

It’s no longer 2004, and they’re no longer chasing Final Fours together. 

But it sure is hard to tell when you see them in action.

Find out about The Mercury’s New Point Guard

Clay at Full Court says, Despite setbacks, San Antonio concedes nothing

“We’re never picked to do well,” says San Antonio coach and general manager Dan Hughes, and this year is no exception. Not only did the Silver Stars lose their leading scorer and rebounder to injury (Sophia Young, 16.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg), the West now has three of the strongest rosters ever assembled in the same conference.

Oklahoma State’s Young ready for fairy tale in New York

The road to the WNBA hasn’t been easy for Young. From nearly giving up basketball in high school to breaking her arm while dunking in practice at the end of her sophomore year to losing coaches she practically considered family in a plane crash, Young has had more than her fair share of heartbreak.

Perhaps that’s why the wait seemed like an eternity.

Swish Appeal wonders, What are your ways to improve WNBA attendance in 2013?

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From Steve Wulf at espnw: 

This could be just any high school girls’ basketball game. The players stretch as rapper Macklemore plays over the loudspeakers. Students and family members settle into the wooden pullout bleachers for the 5:15 tipoff. Championship banners at both ends of the Hawks’ Nest remind everyone of the school’s proud athletic heritage, although the coach of the 2012 Connecticut Class LL champions is still worried. “We haven’t been practicing well,” said Jeremy O’Connell. “They’re good. This might get ugly.”

The only hint that this Jan. 22 game is unique comes when the Panthers from Pomperaug High in nearby Southbury go over to the Nighthawks to present them with white warm-up shirts similar to the ones they’re wearing. On the front, both sets of shirts have a now-familiar town seal attached to a blue-trimmed black ribbon. The backs are different, though. The Panthers’ shirts read: YOU’RE NOT ALONE. The Nighthawks’ read: NEWTOWN STRONG.

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Some are calling it the one of the best high school games ever.

See for yourself: Game replay: Ossining vs. St. John Vianney girls basketball

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Assuming a Heavy Mantle in a Season of Sorrow

“I’m a pretty laid-back coach,” said Best, 29. “I’m more interested in changing the lives of some of these young women than changing the calls of referees, and through basketball, I think I have been able to do that.”

Best stepped into the coaching spotlight in January after the death of Apache Paschall, who led Nazareth to the Brooklyn/Queens, state and federation championships in 2011. Paschall, who died at 38, apparently of a heart attack, was replaced by Best and another assistant, Ron Kelley.

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ESPN ranks the recruiting classes.

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from HoopGurlz: Best Of Summer: Skills Edition

In addition to the bags under our eyes, what the travels confer upon us is a great sense of where the game of girls’ basketball sits today. It’s not much of a revelation to point out that players now are taller, faster and more athletic than ever before. Just watch the officials huff and puff to keep up with them. What we’re also seeing is an extraordinary climb in the game’s discernible, baseline skills. And, in keeping with ESPN HoopGurlz tradition, we present our annual systems check in the form of Best of Summer, version 2010. These, of course, is are not all-inclusive lists (though all alphabetized) but, as far and wide as we traveled this summer, we came as close as we ever have.

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and Sue’s there:

More on FILA Nationals, including photos
FILA Nationals pictures are here, for your viewing pleasure.

It was an amazing scene, as I alluded to previously: two huge facilities with a total of 12 courts. There were positive and negatives, so I’ll touch on the positives first.

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