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#4 Duke v. #5 Mississippi State

Well, we know ONE official (or set of officials) that won’t be moving on. ’cause that was a clear offensive foul. But, Vic – remember what the Caterpillar said to Alice: “Keep. Your. Temper.” ’cause that T just hamstrung any comeback MSU had in its tank. The Escaping Devils say, “Next!” Writes Mechelle: 

She was also the only player on either side to play all 40 minutes — the first time this season that Stevens has done that — and Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie joked about it afterward.

“I guess I forgot that I never took her out,” McCallie said, “but she was absolutely fantastic. If you saw Azura play in December, she couldn’t play 20 straight minutes. She would have been just dying to come out.”

Sunday, the only people who were dying for Stevens to leave the game were on the Mississippi State side, to get some relief from having to guard her. Stevens — whose first name is pronounced AZ-er-ray — acknowledged she was “very nervous” before Friday’s NCAA opener, and thinks that showed in her play. However, it’s not as if she didn’t help Duke a lot in a 54-52 victory in which every point and rebound counted. She had 11 points and nine rebounds against the Great Danes.

#11 Miami v. #3 Iowa

Everything was flowing for the Hawkeyes. Hard to believe this is Iowa’s first trip to the Sweet Sixteen since 1996. 

#2 Baylor v. #10 Arkansas

Great crowd came out to support Baylor. Not much of a game... unless, of course, you were a Bears fan. 

#2 Kentucky v. #7 Dayton

What. A. Fun. Game. Were you yelling at your tv as much as I was? Flyers swoop into the 16 for the first time, Wildcats go off to practice free throws.

#1 South Carolina v. #8 Syracuse

Another great crowd. This is what folks are talking about when they say athletes want a “championship feel.” They don’t care that it’s the opposition’s fans… they just don’t want to play in an arena where they can hear their sneakers squeak. The Gamecocks move into the Sweet Sixteen looking ready for bear. From Mechelle: Depth, Dozier lead Gameocks

South Carolina guard Asia Dozier recalls attending Gamecock women’s games when she was in junior high school, and not having any problem getting a good seat. Dozier, a Columbia native whose father and uncle are twins who played basketball at South Carolina in the 1980s, realized she had a chance to help improve the atmosphere at Colonial Life Arena.

“I probably came to my first women’s game here in seventh grade,” Dozier said. “At halftime, they used to announce to everybody who was in the upper deck to come down and fill in the empty seats close to the court. Now to see the fans rush in when the doors open, it’s a complete turnaround. It’s an amazing feeling to know we played a role in changing the fan support here.”

#3 Oregon State v. #11 Gonzaga

Gonzaga handled the pressure, handled the OSU home crowd, handled their business and, behind the great game by freshman Wolfram, another “mid-major” makes the Sweet Sixteen.

#1 Notre Dame v. #9 DePaul

No surprise, the Blue Demons made the Irish uncomfortable for a bit — but Notre Dame recovered and dumped DePaul, advancing to the next round.

#4 Cal v. #5 Texas

After a strong start got derailed by injuries, Texas was dismissed by some. They’re out to prove folks wrong. They faced Cal on Hess Court and triumphing, 73-70, reaching the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in 11 years. From Michelle:

McGee-Stafford was the centerpiece of a dominate-the-paint strategy on both ends of the floor that propelled fifth-seeded Texas to a 73-70 win over No. 4 seed Cal at Haas Pavilion on Sunday and into the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2004.

“This is how we start our legacy,” McGee-Stafford said. “We were able to do something that hasn’t been done in over a decade and it just goes to show that hard work eventually pays off.”

From Graham: Five Observations From Sunday

Half of the Sweet 16 is set. Here are five takeaways from Day 3 of the women’s NCAA tournament.

1. You come at the king …: You probably know how the rest of the famous line from “The Wire” goes. No. 11 Gonzaga wasn’t whistling “The Farmer in the Dell” or anything else in the final seconds of its second-round game against No. 3 seed Oregon State in Corvallis, Oregon — although Gill Coliseum was probably about as quiet as a deserted street at night — but the basic premise is the same.

The Pacific Northwest is still property of the team from Spokane. Changing that goes through the Bulldogs.

Take a breath, ’cause up next:

#7 FCGU v. #2 Florida State

From the Cape Coral Breeze: FSU next for streaking FGCU women

From the News-Press: Notes: FGCU knows task gets tougher against FSU

#8 Princeton v. #1 Maryland

From Graham: Key classes fuel Terps, Tigers – Maryland, Princeton power on after losing stars Alyssa Thomas, Niveen Rasheed

Arguably the loudest ovation of the day inside the Xfinity Center on Saturday was not the one that greeted the man who works in the Oval Office. That had nothing to do with politics or partisanship on a day that saw President Barack Obama take in his niece’s game. Abraham Lincoln could have walked in during the opening game between Princeton and Green Bay, when the stands were still more empty than full save for concentrated patches of orange and green, and the reception would have paled in comparison to that a few hours later when Alyssa Thomas appeared on the video board during the game between Maryland and New Mexico State.

A year removed from her final college game, the best player in Maryland women’s basketball history is a hard act to follow.

So, too, is Niveen Rasheed, still perhaps the best player in Princeton history two years after she last played college ball.

#10 Pittsburgh v. #2 Tennessee

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Pitt women’s basketball team hopes to reach ‘Summitt’ of dreams at Tennessee

From the Knoxville Sentinel: Mike Strange: Pitt women’s improbable story leads to Knoxville

Also from KSN: Tennessee coach Holly Warlick makes impression on Pittsburgh coach

From the Chattanooga: John Shearer: Remembering Meeting The Pittsburgh Women’s Coach

#5 Oklahoma v. #4 Stanford

From the Oklahoma Daily: Women’s basketball to battle Stanford in second round

From the Stanford Daily: Card to play Oklahoma for Sweet 16 Berth

From the Santa Cruz Sentinel: Stanford women to face physical Oklahoma in NCAA Tournament on Monday

#5 Ohio State v. #4 North Carolina

From the Columbus Dispatch: Buckeyes, Tar Heels like to run

The NCAA tournament mountaintop that the Ohio State women’s basketball team intends to reach will take on a slightly steeper grade at 6:30  Monday night when the Buckeyes face North Carolina on its Carmichael Arena home court.

Fifth-seeded Ohio State (24-10) stopped 12th-seeded James Madison 90-80 in a fast-paced first-round game on Saturday to get a shot at the fourth-seeded Tar Heels (25-8), a traditional power out of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

From OSU The Lantern: Alston, Mitchell fueling Ohio State women’s basketball in NCAA Tournament

From the Daily Tar Heel: UNC women’s basketball wins for ‘mama bear’

From the New York Times: A New Start for Sylvia Hatchell, a Veteran Tar Heel

In this season of many returns — to health, to basketball, to the N.C.A.A. tournament — Sylvia Hatchell has embraced a saying.

“I tell people, ‘This is my 40th year,’ but in a lot of ways, it feels like my first,” Hatchell, the 63-year-old coach of the North Carolina women’s basketball team for the past 29 years, said of her coaching career after her fourth-seeded Tar Heels survived No. 13 Liberty, 71-65, in the first round of the N.C.A.A. tournament on Saturday at Carmichael Arena.

#8 Rutgers v. #1 Connecticut

From NJ.com:  Some reward: Rutgers now faces Geno Auriemma and UConn, his basketball machine | Politi

From Keith Sergeant: Rutgers women’s basketball team to President Obama: ‘We busted your bracket!’

From UConn: Top-Seeded UConn Set to Face Eighth-Seeded Rutgers in NCAA Second Round on Monday

From the Courant: Effort, Unselfishness Are The Keys To UConn’s Success and Rutgers Works To Return To UConn’s Level, Courant

From the Register: UConn women well aware of what Rutgers brings to the table, Register

The Knicks lost *again*, so from the NY Times: Rutgers’s Coach Is Used to Winning, but Not When She Faces UConn, NY Times

From NJ.com: NCAA Tournament 2015: Can the mighty UConn women’s basketball team be beat?

From NorthJersey.com: Tall task in Storrs for Rutgers women,

#6 South Florida v. #3 Louisville

From the Courier-Journal: USF a familiar foe for U of L women

Also from the C-J: USF’s Courtney Williams to test U of L women

From the Oracle: Bulls charge to second round

From the AP’s Mark Didtler: Louisville and USF look to advance to Sweet 16

”The one thing that we take great pride here at Louisville is the ability to play different ways for different opponents,” Cardinals coach Jeff Walz said. ”We’re quite aware we’re not going to be able to play that same way defensively, so we’ll have to figure out a new game plan and move on from there.”

#11 Arkansas-Little Rock v. #3 Arizona State

 From the Merced Sun-Star: Sun Devils in for tough test against Trojans

From FoxSports: UALR-Arizona St. Preview

Waiting for their turn in the NCAA Tournament, Arizona State’s players sat in the stands and watched Arkansas-Little Rock get knocked around by Texas A&M.

The bigger Aggies pushed the Trojans, bumped them, fouled them when they tried to get off shots.

What caught the Sun Devils‘ attention was the reaction of UALR’s players: Nothing.

”You can tell that nothing really bothers them,” Arizona State forward Sophie Brunner said. ”They just make things work.”

From the Examiner.com: Women’s NCAA second round matches ASU and UALR in Tempe Monday night

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A couple of nice primetime games last night.

#8 Louisville hung around for a while, but the combo of  Loyd (2opts) and Reimer (8-8 & game changing blocks) plus poor shooting (33%) doomed the Cardinals against #4 Notre Dame. (Great crowd for TV.)

As usual, junior shooting guard Jewell Loyd led the way for Notre Dame, finishing with 20 points and seven rebounds, but this performance was more about guts than flash.

“I think everybody’s going to try to be physical with us,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “That seems to be the game plan. It was a really physical game. That was something you could see we needed to get better at.”

#2 South Carolina v. #6 Tennessee was mighty entertaining – and heartening for the Vols. When South Carolina remember that Izzy was out, they scored. When they didn’t, Tennessee kept it close. It came down to the wire – or, should I say, the endline. Dozier sealed the deal and the Gamecocks, who hadn’t beaten the Lady Vols at home since 1980 and stand 4-47 all-time against them, got the win. (Another great crowd.) Writes Mechelle: 

You hear all kinds of crazy things coming from the stands when you sit on media row. But sometimes, you also hear the absolute truth.

In Monday’s intense, riveting, entertaining, “March-is-right-around-the-corner” game between South Carolina and Tennessee, the Gamecock fans were doing all they could to emotionally power their team to firmly gain the upper hand on the Lady Vols.

Then a fan said, “This is Tennessee. They don’t go away.”

Indeed, even against the No. 2 team in the country, even without their top scorer and rebounder, even with a rotation that realistically went no deeper than six, the Lady Vols pushed South Carolina right to the wire.

But that made the Gamecocks’ 71-66 victory even a little more special. This was a high-level game with a lot on the line: the SEC’s two best teams, both unbeaten in league play, battling it out.

The SEC gave us one upset for the night, as a tight game eventually went to Mississippi, beating #13 Kentucky for the first time in six tries.

“It is a very special victory. It is a program victory,” coach Matt Insell told reporters. “I can’t put into words how satisfying it is to beat a ranked-team like Kentucky. They have had unbelievable wins all year and we beat them by eight. Our team just really went out there and took control.”

Samford gave us the second, as they took down #2 in the Southern Conference, East Tennessee State, 69-46.

“I was really pleased with our preparation,” Samford head coach Mike Morris said. “We have really good young women with good character. And when you have that, you can really challenge them in different ways and their character comes out in their work ethic and how they work through different things. I thought we did a great job of just taking care of the ball tonight. And then, when they made a run, we didn’t fold, and I thought that was big at end of the first half.”

Speaking of the Southern, the conference’s top team, #20 Chattanooga, had its second loosy-goosy game in a row, having to fight off the Mercer Bears, 56-51. The Mocs, who won their 19th SoCo title,  face ETSU next.

#5 Maryland squashed Penn State like a bug, 65-34, and got a nice, shiny Big 10 trophy for their efforts.

I’m really, really proud of this group,” coach Brenda Frese said. “Going into this season there were a lot of unknowns — young team, new conference. To be able to come out and play the way they have in these first 16 games is not easy.”

The NEC got nice and tight as Robert Morris couldn’t shake off its 3-point loss to Bryant and fell to Sacred Heart, 69-60. Bryant and Central Connecticut St. continued their winning ways.

The Central women’s basketball team took control of Monday night’s home game against St. Francis Brooklyn the way it has taken control of most games.

Trailing 16-10 and facing the second-best defense in the Northeast Conference – only Central’s own defense is better – the Blue Devils outscored the Terriers 17-2 over the final 10 minutes of the first half and cruised to a relatively easy victory, 61-43 at Detrick Gymnasium.

Graham offers up a little somethin’ somethin’ on Iowa:

“I feel we have beaten teams that are more talented than we are,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “But because we do those little things better, we have come out on top.”

This is far from the first place wherein it is suggested that what we call chemistry when it comes to sports is much closer to alchemy. It is more magic than science. It can’t be measured. It can’t be quantified. It can’t be tested. Its existence might not be a matter of faith — almost all of us have been part of a workplace, athletic team or club where people got along and have likely experienced the same when such harmony was absent. But its place in the equation of success, whether it resides closer to cause or effect, is entirely a matter of belief. The basic conundrum remains.

Do teams win because they have good chemistry?

Or do teams have good chemistry because they win?

Did you catch this piece on The real Diamond DeShields

The world might never know why Diamond DeShields left the University of North Carolina, but we do know she is ready for a new start at Tennessee.

The 2014 national freshman of the year sat down with espnW recently to discuss her decision to transfer, her relationships with Tar Heels coach Sylvia Hatchell and the Lady Vols’ Pat Summitt and Holly Warlick, and explains why she initially committed to North Carolina.

More than anything, DeShields is eager to bring closure to her decision to transfer to Knoxville. Speculation ran rampant when DeShields left the Tar Heels after her freshman season. 

Oregon State’s gain wasn’t George Fox’s loss:

Kylie Dummer was in tears following her freshman basketball season at Southridge High School in 2010, where the Skyhawks had won their fifth state title in six years.

That was when coach Michael Meek announced to the team he was leaving for a college coaching opportunity at Division III George Fox University in Newberg. The team’s previous coach, Scott Rueck, had left to take the same position at Oregon State – giving Meek an opportunity to bring his success to the collegiate level.

Now in his fifth season leading the Beavers, Rueck has taken that program to new heights. In the same time span, Meek has maintained and built upon the legacy Rueck first created at George Fox.

And in the “no, you really don’t get the idea of ethics”: Riverdale, Smyrna girls basketball teams removed from postseason

The TSSAA removed Riverdale and Smyrna from the high school girls basketball postseason on Monday following a report from a high school referee in charge of their District 7-AAA consolation game held Saturday where he said that both schools “played to lose the game.”

Both Rutherford County schools were placed on restrictive probation by the high school association for the rest of the school year and probation for the 2015-16 school year.

Both schools were fined a total of $1,500 apiece.

In the “we let our play do the talking” news: Neumann-Goretti tops Archbishop Wood for PCL title

FWIW, I’m tossing this out with a h/t to Slam: Filmmakers Seek Crowdfunding for Doc Series on Evolution of Women’s Basketball.

A feature­length documentary, Concrete Rose will use stylized interview portraits of the men and women who are the games trailblazers to tell a universal story about women’s basketball. Thematically organized around on the court play that reflect a wide range of human emotion and experience, the film seeks to reveal a larger more complex portrait of our shared love for basketball.

To be honest, the description is a little fru-fru for me.

In other history news, Ray is Catching up with Carol Blazejowski: Youth basketball, the WNBA, and reflecting on women’s basketball history

The moment stood frozen in time.

“Hi, I’m Carol glad to meet you.”

Over the years I frequently met a new officiating partner in this manner, but this was one of those situations in which I met a former player whose games I covered – a player of legendary proportions whom I virtually idolized for her achievements both on the floor and off of it in the women’s game.

“Hi, I’m Ray nice to meet you,” was the simple response.

Where do you even start when discussing the career of Carol Blazejowski?

On the Aussie front: Canberra Capitals skipper Abby Bishop signs with WNBA side Seattle Storm and

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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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but a bunch of other folks sure as heck did: Tennessee vs. Connecticut 20-year Anniversary

From Mechelle: One game grew into a phenomenon – First UConn-Tennessee meeting was touchstone for one of greatest rivalries

The series lasted for 22 games, including four matchups for the NCAA title (all won by UConn) and two others in the national semifinals (split by the teams). Former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt called a halt to the regular-season series after the 2007 season, and the programs have yet to meet again in the NCAA tournament.

Loyalists on both sides — and the rest of us who just watched and chronicled the spectacle — haven’t completely stopped talking about UConn-Tennessee ever since.

Now, though, rather than exhaustively exploring the entire series — which stands at UConn 13, Tennessee 9 — or the tangled, endlessly debated intrigue of why it ended, let’s look instead at what isn’t in dispute: How important to women’s basketball it was that the rivalry started.

From Jim Fuller at the New Haven Register: Jen Rizzotti reflects on UConn’s historic win over Tennessee

“It has become pretty apparent since that game how important it was with the rivalry with UConn and Tennessee,” said Rizzotti, now in her 16th season as the head coach at Hartford. “But it’s also the attention that is being given to women’s basketball because of that game, the tradition of having a great women’s basketball game on Martin Luther King Day. I think we all get it now. But leading up to that game, it was just a chance for us, with a little chip on our shoulder, to show we were better than maybe they thought we were. We were good enough to compete at that level and beat a team like Tennessee.”

It’s a lesson Texas is learning. First they lose to ISU, and then they get stomped by the “what’s going on with them?” Sooners. Suddenly, the Longhorns are 2-2 in the Big 12 and Oklahoma is a 4-0. Yes, Baylor looks like the class of the 12, but keep on eye on Pebley’s Horned Frogs (Oklahoma’s next opponent.).

And THIS is why I couldn’t jump in whole hog with the Mississippi State folks: The #15 Bulldogs lose their first game to Vanderbilt, and then follow that with a double-overtime loss to “Oiy, we were having a season to forget until the indefinitely suspended Danielle Ballard returned” LSU, 71-69.

#3 Baylor looked at giant-slayer Iowa State and went, “Meh.”

Oklahoma State’s Liz Donohoe hit 1,500.

Liberty’s undefeated in the Big South and High Point only has one conference loss... to the Flames. Rematch on  January 31st.

Yah, I know Texas Tech is 12-4, but we know what tends to happen when you pad your stats with cupcakes… Next up is #4 Texas.

#4 Louisville is 16-1, but their play (and their schedule, so far) doesn’t fill me with confidence. Does it you?

The MAC hosted the Debbie Antonelli Special: Akron and Toledo went at it tooth and nail, with the Zips winning 102-101.

I said Lehigh would have to go through American … and they didn’t. AU is now 5-0 in the Patriot and the Mountain Hawks are 2-2.

Just sayin’ – it should NOT take you an overtime to reach a 44-42 conclusion. Nor should a regular game end 41-38.

They aren’t what they have been, but the Great Danes still atop the American East (and coach Abrahamsson-Henderson earned her 200th victory). AND they’ve already beaten their competition, the NH Wildcats. Rematch on Feb. 4th.

So Conference USA looks to be having an interesting year. Perennial power Middle Tennessee fell (again) (at home) to Southern Miss in OT (77-75)  and Western Kentucky is 4-0 within the conference. Mark your calendars: the Toppers face USM on Jan 31st and MTSU on Feb. 21st. BTW, next up for the Blue Raiders? Summitt’s Techsters.

The first-year Lousiana Tech women’s basketball coach was born here. He went to high school here. He went to college here. He even married his high school sweetheart, who – to no one’s surprise – is from Tennessee.

So when the 24-year-old takes the court Saturday as a head coach for the first time in the same state where he grew up and that his mother – former University of Tennessee coach Pat Summitt – racked up more than 1,000 wins and eight national championships in, he should feel right at home.

Both Fordham and George Washington are undefeated within the A-10. They don’t meet until Feb. 21st, but the Rams shouldn’t overlook their next opponent, VCU (3-1 in-conference.). BTW, congrats to Kimberly Beck and nice of WaPo to notice the Colonials: Jonquel Jones has GW women’s basketball team plotting return to NCAA tournament

Jonquel Jones returned to the Washington area because she wanted to play college basketball in a winning environment. In her first full season since transferring to George Washington, she is helping restore one.

Freshman in Name Only Brianna Turner’s 29 points and 18 rebounds powered #7 Notre Dame over #12 UNC, 89-79. A better showing for the Tar Heels in the wake of McDaniel’s season-ending injury.

Pittsburgh wasn’t able to build on its stunning of UNC and fell to #2o Florida State, 58-43.

BOOM, Ole Miss takes down #18 Georgia, 55-52.

Yes, #23 Minnesota is a lovely surprise this year – especially after losing Banham. And yes, I still think Ohio State is going to be scary next year.

The Blue Hens surprised Hofstra, handing the Pride their first in-conference loss, 64-53.

Man, the WCC looks like it’s going to be fun.

Long Beach State is having a season to remember. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when the 49ers meet Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 31st.

The Gazette’s Mike Hlas notes: Iowa women’s basketball team wins, entertains – Hawkeyes are 40-12 since start of last season

This isn’t exactly a news bulletin, but Lisa Bluder is getting it done at Iowa.

Bluder has been the Hawkeyes’ women’s basketball coach for 15 years, and her teams of the last two seasons have been as good as any she’s had at Iowa. They may be her best.

Yikes: 74-year-old man accused of stalking UCF women’s basketball coach

Hmmmmm: Calif. HS girls basketball coach suspended after 161-2 victory

Congrats: Kingsway girls basketball coach Karyn Pickard has Dragons on track after 300th win

BTW: A note from AP’s Doug on the Arizona/ASU “error:” It was fixed once it was noticed — and it wasn’t a “not knowing the difference” mistake.  The voter actually had Arizona State in their poll originally, but there was a cut and paste error.

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what might be…

Top 25 celebrates 20th anniversary as writers poll

This season marks the 20th anniversary of the AP women’s basketball Top 25 poll’s shift to voting by writers and broadcasters.

Before the 1994-95 season, the poll was determined by coaches and compiled by Mel Greenberg, who started it in 1976. Here’s a look at some of the highlights over the past 20 years

AP Division I Poll

USA Today Coaches Division I Poll

…and what might have been.

From Tennessee: Lady Vols’ DeShields discusses transfer from UNC

From Cincinnati: Senior guard Alyesha Lovett, the team’s best returning player, injured her Achilles tendon and will miss the season.

From Ohio: And then there were seven: Injury knocks Chelsea Mitchell out for season

“It stinks,” McGuff said before adding. “It stinks. It stinks. It stinks. It stinks.”

Freshman forward Makayla Waterman already had knee surgery to repair meniscus and ACL injuries that she suffered during the first official practice of the season. Chelsea Mitchell will join Waterman as a redshirt freshman next season.

That puts 40 percent of McGuff’s highly regarded recruiting class from last November on the shelf before the team has played a game. Nearly two months will have to pass before transfers Shayla Cooper or Kianna Holland are eligible to play per NCAA rules

From Iowa: Iowa State guard Nikki Moody suspended indefinitely

“Nikki’s attitude in the team setting has become a distraction to our learning environment,” Fennelly said in the release “We have high behavioral standards to allow us to develop our team in a way that we can have success on and off the court and her behavior has been inconsistent with those values. Nikki can return to team activities if/when improvement is seen.”

Nearby, Ryan Murken says the Iowa women’s basketball team has depth to match talent

“I think this is the deepest we have been in a long time, if not maybe since I’ve been here,” Bluder said Thursday at Iowa’s annual media day. “We have 14 women on scholarship right now — which that alone is going to give you more depth — but it’s really the quality of the depth.”

From Arizona: ASU women’s basketball returns enough to contend

I’m fine about being the only one of 35 voters to include Arizona State women’s basketball in the Associated Press preseason top 25.

It’s not a homer pick because I believe ASU returns enough to build on last year’s surprising 23-10, NCAA second round season. The Pac-12 is good, that’s why the Sun Devils are picked to finish sixth by the media and seventh by the coaches. But they have more offense that stats suggest given the loss of leading scorers Deja Mann and Adrianne Thomas and more size than their starting lineup will indicate.

An editing note: I’d love to give credit to the author, but I can’t seem to find a name attached to the article.

Go Behind the Scenes during the 2014-15 BGSU Women’s Basketball Media Day

From the land of the Cavaliers: UVa women’s basketball team’s freshman trio making quick adjustment

UVa is into its fourth week of practice as it prepares for its Nov. 14 opener with Ohio State at John Paul Jones Arena.

Come that Friday, everybody will still be more than a tad raw on the defensive end of the floor.

“When you teach it for the first time,” Boyle said, “it’s a two-year process.”

That should suit her four-year players just fine.

Down the road, Lexie Brown takes on leadership role for Maryland women’s basketball

…the season-ending loss soon became a learning experience, one that Brown is taking with her as the Terps enter their first season of Big Ten play. And after logging big minutes in the 2014 NCAA tournament — including a team-high 38 against Notre Dame — the sophomore guard has emerged as what teammates call “a natural leader.”

“She just understands what things to say when we’re going through adversity, and how to get out of it,” center Malina Howard said.

Across the thruway: New Lady Lion players have high expectations and Penn State women’s basketball: 5 takeaways from media day

The expectation of the Lady Lions—to win—doesn’t change with the lineup, Coach Coquese Washington said. The standards are still set as high, even with the graduation of all but one starter from last year’s  24-8 squad that won a third consecutive Big Ten title and made it to the Sweet 16.

“How we do those things, what it looks like on the court may change depending on our personality from year to year, but the expectations certainly don’t change,” she said. She got that advice from women’s volleyball coach Russ Rose.

Heading south to the home of the Blue Devils: Duke women’s basketball ready for new faces to step up

Today’s scrimmage showed the Blue Devil faithful that though they lost familiar faces, change can be a good thing.

At the Blue-White Scrimmage at Cameron Indoor Stadium Sunday, Duke’s highly touted second-ranked incoming class—along with redshirt Rebecca Greenwell and transfer Mercedes Riggs—made their first public appearance. Combining for 63 points, more than half of all points scored all afternoon, the Blue Devil newcomers are ready to make their presence felt in the ACC and beyond.

From the west coast, the Cal Bears’ blog previews The supporting cast

Previous WBB season preview installments: Part 1: Boyd and Gray, the best duo in the west. ; Part 2: Predicting the Pac-12 standings + previews with Rosalyn Gold-Onwude.

Before we get into the preview content, some important pieces news:

David speaks with the Bears’ coach: Lindsay Gottlieb & Cal look to take the next step

Sue has been previewing the Pac 12:

The good news for Oregon State is the bad news for everyone else: the team that roared to a 24-11 record, tied for second place in the Pac-12, played for the conference tournament championship and made it to the NCAA Tournament’s second round last season is the only team in the Pac that returns all five starters this year.

Sophomore guard Sydney Wiese (14.3 points, 4 assists per game), junior guard Jamie Wiesner (12.5 points, 5.3 rebounds per game), junior center Ruth Hamblin (9.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4 blocks per game), senior guard Ali Gibson (9 points per game) and junior forward Deven Hunter (8.8 points, 7.4 rebounds per game) are all back, as are four reserves. Three promising newcomers round out a solid roster that already has both players and coaches chomping at the bit to begin play.

About that elephant in the room… “I know no-think!” (Yes, I’m a tad cynical): Hatchell says she was unaware of academic fraud, lauds Boxill

The report indicated that women’s basketball players were steered to the classes by Boxill, the academic counselor for more than 20 years beginning in 1988 and the faculty chair from 2011-14. Boxill acknowledged editing some athletes’ papers, and a review of her e-mails disclosed several instances where she made specific grade suggestions so that women’s basketball players could stay on track academically.

In one exchange, Deborah Crowder – the AFAM secretary who issued grades for the illegitimate classes – wrote Boxill to ask if a D would be okay for a specific player, since her final paper had no sources and had “absolutely nothing to with” the class.

A little WNBA stuff…

Out of Minnesota: Taylor Does Little Things Needed To Win

Asia Taylor certainly wasn’t the flashiest player on the Lynx last season. She was last pick in the 2014 WNBA Draft, and while she saw tons of collegiate success as with Louisville, she was by no means a lock to make the team at the start of Training Camp last season. 

Until she was. 

Taylor showcased her skills as a versatile swingman throughout Training Camp and caught the attention of coach Cheryl Reeve. Reeve saw a lot of value in some of the things Taylor brought to the team and ultimately decided to keep her on the roster. 

“I knew I was an underdog coming in,” Taylor said at the start of last season. “They basically say third-round picks are just here until the veterans get back and … wanted to prove differently.” 

Pierson used career crisis as springboard to success

In the early part of the 2001-2002 basketball season, Plenette Pierson wasn’t thinking about her legacy at Texas Tech. She was thinking about whether she wanted to finish her Texas Tech basketball career at all.

A star player who was suspended for most of her junior year, Pierson sandwiched a pair second- and third-team all-America seasons around that one and wound up one of the leading scorers in Lady Raiders history. The center from Kingwood was inducted Friday night into the Texas Tech Athletic Hall of Fame.

From the Nigerian Tribune: Nigerian-American basketball star sisters celebrated in US

Nneka and Chiney are award-winning basketballers based in the United States of America (USA). Not forgetting their roots, they have decided to give back to their country of descent, Nigeria, by raising funds for girls, who are either denied or lack access to qualitative education. 

Looking to the future, Swish Appeal’s Albert has 3 key differences between two of the WNBA’s and NBA’s oldest teams

Last week, Conor Dirks of Truth About It wrote about the transformation of the Washington Wizards NBA team from one of the league’s youngest teams in 2010-11, to the oldest team based on average age at one point during the 2014-15 preseason.

This caught me off-guard at first, as I recently criticized the Seattle Storm and their team building strategy. Like the Wizards at that point (they are now second oldest per RealGM), the Storm was the league’s oldest team based on average age during the 2014 WNBA season. While it’s easy to just look at average age and simply say that the Storm and the Wizards are old teams in their leagues, they don’t share that much in common based on how they are currently constructed.

Speaking of the WNBA & NBA: NBA, WNBA legends with Olympic ties to run New York City Marathon relay

WNBA rallies around Lauren Hill

Elena Delle Donne had chills when she first heard about Lauren Hill.

The WNBA star was brought to tears the more she read about the Mount St. Joseph freshman, who has inoperable brain cancer.

Delle Donne will attend Hill’s game on Sunday as a fan, moving a speaking engagement to make sure she could be there.

“It’s a once in a lifetime thing for her and I want to be there to support her,” Delle Donne said.

The game will be streamed:

The matchup with Hiram College at Xavier’s 10,000-seat arena will be available for free on FOX Sports Go online and through the app, even for users who usually can’t access the service. FOX announced Friday the game will also air on FOX Sports Regional Networks, including in Ohio, and FOX College Sports.

The Big East is producing the game, which starts at 2 p.m. EST.

Says Cincinnati.com: Lauren Hill’s game now the nation’s

Lauren Hill’s college basketball debut is here.

At 2 p.m. Sunday, Hill and the Mount St. Joseph women’s basketball team will tip off against Hiram College at Xavier’s Cintas Center. The sellout crowd of 10,250 will be there to see Hill realize her dream of playing for the Lions.

Hill’s story, by now, is everywhere. Nearly 60 media members from local, regional and national outlets will continue documenting the aspirations of No. 22, the forward with an inoperable form of brain cancer called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. Tickets were snapped up in 30 minutes for the player with a positive outlook and a terminal diagnosis.

Lauren Hill fundraiser invites schools to donate basketball jerseys for auction

From across the ocean: Basketball more than just a game for Saudi women

Women’s basketball is gaining in popularity in a kingdom rife with public restrictions on female movement and activity. With the help of some U.S.-trained coaches, female enthusiasts are using basketball to push for greater rights for women on and off the courts in Saudi Arabia.

“We are an activist team,” said Lina Almaeena, who started the first women’s basketball team here 11 years ago. That led to the creation of Jiddah United in 2006, the first sports club in Saudi Arabia to include women. “We took it upon ourselves to really promote the sport at a time when it was a big time taboo … when there was a self-imposed censorship on women’s sports.”

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Our good friend Jon Krawczynski at the AP has Five things to know about the WNBA Finals

Dream’s motivation: If the Dream can’t defeat the Lynx, it would be their third finals loss in four seasons. They were swept by Seattle in 2010. The New York Liberty is the only team to accomplish that dubious feat (Ow. Thanks for the reminder), losing three of the first four championships. “We learned from our failures,” McCoughtry said.

Hopefully a sixth thing to know is that some WNBA franchises are (or should be!) holding viewing parties. Dunno if they are, but the Lynx are ready for game three at the Gwinnett.

From Mechelle: Lynx have edge over Dream in Finals

Minnesota is the favorite to prevail in the WNBA Finals, which begin Sunday at Minneapolis’ Target Center (ESPN and WatchESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET).

In 2011, the Lynx swept the Dream to win Minnesota’s first WNBA title. The Lynx were upset on the way to a repeat last year, falling in four games to Indiana. Which is probably the worst thing that could have happened from the Dream’s perspective.

Atlanta knows that the Lynx are still unhappy about the title getting away from them last year, and that Minnesota’s concentration will be very keen this year to keep that from happening again.

But Minnesota also has — at least on paper — a talent edge overall against the Dream. That said, the teams split their regular-season meetings this year, both winning on their home court.

Nate gives us the 2013 WNBA Finals X-Factor: Alex Bentley’s defense at the point guard spot key to Atlanta Dream success

For the Dream, the ability to even get back to the Finals with an entirely different point guard rotation in part reflects the quality of the rest of their personnel over the past few years: their frontcourt has helped them remain among the best rebounding teams in the league and of course there’s All-Star Angel McCoughtry on the wing along with defensive standout Armintie Herrington.

Yet the main reason the Dream have almost made the point guard position look irrelevant is their style of play: they’re a team that has always liked to push the pace to score in transition and they have wings who handle the ball efficiently enough to minimize their reliance on point guard play.

Mark Remme at Los Lynx writes. Lynx Key On Slowning Down McCoughtry’s Chaos

If you’re scouting the Atlanta Dream, the word chaos seems to come up regularly. The Dream certainly bring it defensively, and on the offensive end they will their way to victory through a collection of plays that tend to deviate on each and every possession. 

In the middle of that chaos is Angel McCoughtry, the dynamic scorer who essentially can do it all. And she does it in different ways—a noticeable trait for the Lynx guards preparing to try contain her in the 2013 WNBA Finals. On any given possession, McCoughtry might go left, go right, take a certain angle they’ve never seen before or shake her way to the hoop.

The prognosis? She never does the same thing twice.

Hello, old friend: Maya Moore Vs. Tiffany Hayes: UConn Reunion In WNBA Finals

During the three years they played together at UConn, Maya Moore and Tiffany Hayes traveled to three Final Fours and won two national championships, usually laughing at each other’s jokes along the way.

But starting Sunday, Moore and Hayes will be on different sides when the Minnesota Lynx andAtlanta Dream begin play in the best-of-five WNBA Finals in Minnesota.

“It’s a little different when you play against a friend like her,” said Hayes, the Dream’s second-year guard. “We have some little conversations, maybe have a laugh on the free throw line, but otherwise things are pretty much the same as playing against anyone else.”

In other news, a little history.

From Iowa: Charging Czech Day in Clutier

Most people in this area are aware of the Clutier girls basketball team’s remarkable history. From 1939 through 1948 the Clutier Charging Czechs dominated Iowa sports headlines. These girls, under the coaching of John Schoenfelder, had a record of 201 wins, 18 losses and 1 tie. They scored 12,295 points versus their opponents 5,660, and went to the state tournament six times, winning in 1942. Two of the Charging Czechs, Verna Mae Vorba and Adella Knoop were later inducted into the Iowa Girls Basketball Hall of Fame.

The Clutier Public Library proudly displays the trophy case and the pictures of the Clutier graduating classes. Also, the Library recently added the book, “From Six-on-Six to Full Court Press” by Janice Beran to the collection.

From Alaska: Sweet – Early team member named honorary captain of Palmer girls squad

[92 year-old] June Liebing’s time in the Valley pre-dates the Matanuska Colony, and her basketball career here came at a time when the Palmer High School girl’s team was shooting through rafters to make a basket.

So, it would seem to most, there’s really no better person to become the PHS girl’s squad’s first honorary captain.

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Cynthia Cooper’s Texas Southern takes on Mississippi Valley State: Though Texas Southern’s overall record isn’t impressive (no one in the SWAC’s out-of-conference record is anything to write home about), they are 5-1 in the conference, right behind Southern (the team who gave them their only loss. There’ll be a rematch end of February.)  What IS interesting is that last season, the Tigers went 2-16 in the SWAC. Her first signee’s committed in December and, no surprise, she’s drawn from the Community College ranks. That can be a quick fix — it’d be a better fix to establish a legacy of four-year recruits.

Stetson will try and stay perfect in the A-Sun as they take on Northern Kentucky. Their equally perfect Conference rivals, FGCU, ought not to have much trouble against Lipscomb. (Which might be the WHB kiss of death.)

Quinnipiac may be tested as they put their 5-0 NEC record up against St. Francis (PA). Oh, and the Q gets some attention from Full Court in their Mid-major musings midway through the season.

Preseason prognostication is always fun — but not necessarily all that accurate. So here’s a look at the difference between then (the received wisdom before the first shot was taken) and now (when actual games have been played).

Not surprisingly, some serious rethinking has had to take place, but it’s also true that a lot of the preseason predictions have proven to be pretty accurate. Well, at least so far.

The Blue and White (but not the one with a little Maize tossed in) “Big Monday” is getting it’s share of attention from ESPN. On the Duke/UConn game (7pm EST), we get this from Rebecca:

Duke has one of the best point guard/center combinations in the game. The Blue Devils lead the country in 3-point field goal percentage. At 16-0, they’re the only undefeated team remaining in college basketball.

But to many women’s basketball fans, Duke is the great unknown this season.

No pressure from Charlie, but he thinks a Win over UConn would propel Duke

While the rest of the preseason Final Four favorites have all had the opportunity to play at least two games against the rest of the group, Duke — not so coincidentally, the only remaining unbeaten team in Division I — has yet to play one.

That changes Monday night, when the Blue Devils visit Storrs. And if Duke wants inclusion in the list of truly elite teams this season, the Blue Devils must win this one.

If they do, they may solidify their Bracketology number one seed.

David Glenn chats With Joanne P. McCallie and Debbie and Beth have a podcast preview of the game — and their guest is UConn’s Kelly Faris, which forces D&B to spit out the word “defense.” Maybe some Sarsaparilla will get the bad taste out of their mouth. :-)

Over at the New York Times, Harvey is back! He talks with Geno Auriemma about Rivals, Old and New

The other “Big Monday” matchup will give folks a chance to see Michigan test its return to the polls. When they go up against Penn State (6:30EST), the top spot in the Conference is at stake.

“We’re excited and really honored that we’re finally recognized on the national level, especially the seniors because we know where this program has come from,” said Michigan guard Jenny Ryan on the school’s website this week. “Just to be able to say we’ve made it this far and that other coaches and media people around the country are recognizing the progress we’ve made is really and honor and exciting. At the same time we know the ranking is just a number and it doesn’t mean anything until the end of the year.”

Yesterday, TA&M gave Georgia a fine “Howdee Do There” at home, as Georgia couldn’t play defense and the Aggies could. End result: a win for TAMU. Wonder if it’ll be reflected in the polls.

Donohoe > than Christofferson as Oklahoma State pummeled Iowa State.

Unranked Iowa, on the other hand, had no trouble with Purdue, 62-46, giving coach Bluder her 600th career win.

The thing about knowing you have to stop Chiney to stop Stanford is, well, actually being able to stop her. USC kept it interesting, but Ogwumike (29/16) kept Stanford safe.

Ditto with Delle Donne, who shot 14-20 to notch 38 in the Blue Hen’s win over Towson.

Maryland’s win over Georgia Tech may be bittersweet. They’ve endured yet another injury. Next up for the Terps, the surprising Tar Heels.

Ooo, a game Debbie would have enjoyed: It took overtime, but Wake Forest beat BC, 92-87.

Dayton rules the A-10, but there are three other teams at 3-0 in the Conference: Duquesne, St. Joseph’s and Fordham. The Rams host the Flyers on Feb. 10th.

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While the rest of the ranked teams (UCLA-recovering nicely from that Cal-Northridge oops, TAMU, Tennessee, Maryland, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma State and Cal) were dispatching their overmatched opponents by various ridiculous margins, two “undefeated” and ranked teams were tested: Georgia by the mighty Illini (6-5) and #25 Arkansas by the fierce Coppin State (4-7). One escaped, the other didn’t. What up with your scheduling, Dawgs and Hogs? (And yah, there are no upsets in women’s basketball, just inaccurately ranked teams, right? Which explains what happened to #20 Texas at the hands of Iowa, right?)

Is the Stanford/UConn game on yet? (UConn’s Geno Auriemma, Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer expect lots of offenseStanford-UConn: More Than A Fairy Tale,

While you’re waiting, check out Mel’s blog on early Maggie Dixon Rookie Coach of the Year candidates. (I’ll say, as a Lib fan of “a certain age and longevity, I’ve been following the Hilltoppers since Shea Mahoney. Flashback, much?)

Then wander over to Swish Appeal and check out The state of the WNBA: 2012 edition

Hmmm… maybe the third year’s the charm for Caldwell. Her LSU team goes down to FGCU.

Will Spidey make the Tourney? Bilney! They might!

How tough is it in Sooner-land? The volleyball players are coming to the rescue.

From at Amy Farnum the NCAA.com: Forging the path – Kansas star Goodrich looks to inspire other Native Americans

Kansas senior point guard Angel Goodrich may be known for her vision on the court in women’s basketball circles, but it is her perseverance that may be her greatest strength.

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Iowa’s Kathryn Reynolds out with torn ACL

Riddle me this: Departing trio thins roster of U-Tennessee Martin women’s hoops program

The Bulldogs have a new boss: Pebley Takes Over Fresno St. Women’s Basketball

No pressure: With five starters back, Baylor women can shoot for 80-0

Mechelle follows up on her blog post about Aston’s hiring at Texas. (Did you see her blog on the Big 12?)

Karen Aston recalls piling into a car with some of her college teammates in Arkansas and driving to Ruston, La., to see what greatness in women’s basketball looked like in the 1980s. Southern California and Cheryl Miller were playing at Louisiana Tech.

An “epiphany” is how Aston describes it now. Watching Miller — one of the best athletes to have played the sport, regardless of era — was one thing. But capturing Aston’s attention even more was the atmosphere at Louisiana Tech’s Thomas Assembly Center: The way that women’s hoops seemed to really matter to the university and the community.

Nate’s been busy: 2012 WNBA Draft Prospects: A Statistical List Of 50+ NCAA Seniors

Mom and I are busy, too, lookin’ at this beauty (Red Legged Honeycreeper).

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Dabnabbit!

Iowa’s Jaime Printy (ACL) finished for season

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Watch to watch for in the week ahead

Iowa at Ohio State: The schedules are favorable for both of these Big Ten preseason favorites after this week, which also includes Iowa hosting Michigan State on Thursday, but that will be small comfort for Monday’s loser.

Miami at Florida State: The polls differ on which team should be favored, but Miami seems to have the most to gain in this ACC clash.

Abby Waner has a piece about Oklahoma’s Hand: Sooner or later, this Sooner would recover

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— just ask Delta State.

Clearly my good wishes caused the Lady Statesmen to lose to Harding U by three, and as a consequence, they tumbled from first to fourth in the NCAA DII Coaches’ Poll. Sorry about that, kids.

Lander University (SC) claims the top spot with their 17-0 record, followed by Arkansas Tech, Clayton State (Ga) and Fort Lewis (CO) tucked behind Delta in the fifth spot.

In NCAA DIII poll, Amherst’s loss to Kean (NJ) also dropped them from first to fourth. A familiar name, Hope College (MI), rules the roost, followed by Thomas More (KY) and Kean. Babson (MA) comes in at #5.

In NAIA Division I, that’s 41 straight weeks in the top spot for Union (TN). They’re followed by Oklahoma City, Campbellsville (KY), Freed-Hardeman (TN) and Lewis-Clark State (Idaho).

There was some movement in the NAIA Division II poll, but not at the top, which is where you’ll find Iowa’s Davenport. Then it’s Northwestern (IA),  Sioux Falls (SD), Morningside (IA), and Saint Francis (IN.) and Black Hills State (SD) tied at No. 5.

So, what are the top 5 in NJCAA, you ask?

Pensacola State College (19-0)
Trinity Valley Community College (17-0)
Vincennes University (12-2)
Jefferson College (14-1)
Independence Community College (16-0)

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Don’t tell that to #2 UConn and #13 Notre Dame, who put on a helluva a show yesterday. In a back and forth and back and forth game in a packed Joyce Center, it was Indiana native Kelly Faris who gave UConn the 79-76 victory, with Husky freshman Dolson sealing the victory with free throws.

“I just think sometimes it gets lost that this isn’t the team that won 78 in a row,” Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said. “This is a team that’s won 14 games. So they took a big step forward today by winning a game on the road where I think Notre Dame, I would bet you, outplayed us in just about every category — more points in the paint, more points in transition, more bench points, more offensive rebounds. Notre Dame outplayed us in every area today, and the last four minutes of the game, we won the game. That’s kind of how basketball goes sometimes.”

It took double overtime, but unranked Marquette took down #15 Georgetown, 75-73.

Missouri came back from 12 down in the final minutes of regulation to send it into OT and then upset No. 22 Texas 85-80.

#16 DePaul defeated #18 St. John’s handily, 69-54. (If Queenie was there she’ll write about it here.)

#21 Iowa sent #20 Ohio St. to their fourth loss in six game, 89-76.

Led by a very strong backcourt performance, Iowa prevailed 89-76 in front of 9,865 fans at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Not all of them spent the entire game booing Ohio State’s Samantha Prahalis — she’s not very popular in these parts after last season’s Big Ten tournament title game — but the junior guard certainly got an earful all afternoon.

#1 Baylor handled their new ranking, earning a 70-58 win over #17 Iowa State (even with BG had a little foul trouble).

Green Bay was in a tussle with Cleveland St., but emerged victorious, 64-55.

Of course, there was some stomping going on.

#4 Stanford by…holy kamole…47 over a team that shall remain nameless.

#12 UCLA by 19 over USC.

#19 Oklahoma by 20 over Nebraska.

#6 West Virginia by 28 over Cincinnati.

#7 Texas A&M by 29 over Colorado.

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From Mike Carmin at the Journal Online: Early upsets bad for Big Ten’s women’s basketball image

In the world of Big Ten women’s basketball, the universe is upside down.

Check the standings.Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin are 2-0. Those programs have a total of one conference championship. Meanwhile, Iowa, Purdue and Ohio State — winners of 29 league titles — are a combined 0-5.

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(And I typed that before I read Jim’s headline) Now, to Jim’s headline: Ohio State’s free fall is picking up speed.

Ohio State was schooled by Michigan, who snapped a 14-game losing streak to the Buckeyes. Looks like things got a little cranky during the game. Prahalis (1-13, no assists) got called for an intentional and a double-T was called later.

Speaking of cranky, C Viv is (somewhat confusedly) cranky because Tennessee wouldn’t reschedule last night’s game (Tennessee stomped all over the Knights):

“They never saw a tape [of Tennessee] or anything,” Stringer said of her team. “I tell you we could have had far better representation of ourselves. It could have been worth the money, worth the time to come here if we’d had a little bit more [time].”

If anyone is paying attention, Baylor’s won 10-straight and Duke is still undefeated (though you’ve got to believe that Temple’s pleased to have kept the game to single digits – especially in Durham.)

I’ve said before that I’m glad to be able to cheer for Penn State again (And players nicknamed Zha Zha). It’s said that it can take a new coach five years to rebuild a program. In her fourth year, Coquese Washington has had to battle the Portland-excusers and a program that was struggling with its reputation. So, nice to see Co get a big win for (at home), as the Lions took down #13 Iowa, 68-59.

“We made the big shots when we needed them down the stretch,” Penn State coach Coquese Washington said. “Zha Zha made some huge shots down the stretch. Alex made a really big basket driving to the basket.”

Oh, and there some records you just don’t want.

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Unranked Denver took down #23 Vanderbilt, 70-65.

Equally unranked Louisville took down #9 Kentucky, 78-52.

Being unranked didn’t stop Indiana from defeating#19 Nebraska, 67-61.

Georgia Tech earned state bragging rights by crushing #22 Georgia, 69-53.

#25 Michigan State ran all over Texas, 71-57.

Finally, while Florida’s not ranked, it’s hard not to call their 56-50 defeat by Brown — yes, BROWN UNIVERSITY– an upset.

And that’s a nice win for Co and Penn State over Texas Tech.

Meanwhile Connecticut (with Moore becoming their all-time scoring leader), Baylor, Tennessee, Notre Dame and Xavier (who got all they could handle from the Bearcats), UCLA, Ohio State, Iowa State and Iowa took care of business.

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Washington High School.

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