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Some coaching gigs filled:

Hartford’s Jen Rizzotti moves up into the George Washington job. She did a fine job at Hartford, but it seems that she’s hit some recent roadblocks. Clearly the Colonials have returned to paying attention to women’s basketball, and previous coach Tsipsis had everything to do with that. Time will tell if Rizzotti can keep the momentum going.

Hello, Ravens coaching tree! Heather Jacobs Named Wagner Women’s Basketball Coach

Jacobs is a 2006 graduate of Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, NH, where she earned magna cum laude honors with a Sports and Recreation Management major, and a minor in Marketing. 

Interesting side note. Is Adelphi the new Maine?  Jacobs is leaving Division II Adelphi…which is the same institution Kim Barnes-Arico left to move to St. John’s…

Great Dane! UAlbany hires Joanna Bernabei-McNamee as women’s basketball coach

McNamee, from Weirton, W.Va., led Pikeville to the NAIA Final Four in what was her third season. It was the team’s second consecutive National Tournament berth. She also has Division I experience as an assistant at Maryland and West Virginia.

Santa Clara hires Bill Carr as new women’s basketball coach…and he has no women’s basketball experience. Cool.

More on UMass’ Tory Verdi

“The culture that surrounds this program will change. Expectations will be on the rise. Accountability will be apparent and a winning attitude will be instilled,” he added. “Our team’s image will be unselfish, tough, hard-nosed, disciplined, prepared, composed and lastly, relentless. It’s time to gain respect from the Atlantic 10 Conference and the rest of the country. It’s time to win and win big.”

Ouch: Luke Decock @ the News Observer: Women’s basketball in the Triangle bottoms out

From the trendsetting tenure of Kay Yow at N.C. State to North Carolina’s three Final Fours and national title under Sylvia Hatchell to Duke’s late-’90s ascendance under Gail Goestenkors, these three programs sat at or near the epicenter of the sport for a long, long time. Decades.

And now? Women’s basketball in the Triangle has reached maximum irrelevancy.

Opposite: Women’s basketball back on the rise in the Northwest

Mark it down. The months of March and April of 2016 are when the sport of women’s basketball regained a position of prominence in the Puget Sound Region.

When, at 4:11 p.m. PDT Thursday afternoon, WNBA president Lisa Borders announced Breanna Stewart as the Seattle Storm’s selection with the first-overall pick of the WNBA draft, it was the final incantation in the resurrection of a sport that not so long ago found itself forgotten on a dusty shelf in the back of the local sports closet.

But like a family heirloom that was rediscovered while packing up for a move, women’s hoops will once again find its place on the living room mantle.

 

From Ann Killion: USF’s Azzi, basketball’s lone out LGBT head coach, draws support

Blair Hardiek was taking a picture. Through the camera lens, she saw University of San Francisco women’s basketball coach Jennifer Azzi standing on stage and taking a deep breath. Hardiek sensed something big was coming. 

She was right. As she watched, Azzi told a crowded ballroom at the Fairmont Hotel that she and Hardiek — her associate head coach — are married. With that statement on March 31, Azzi became the only publicly out LBGT head coach working in Division I college basketball.

The moment wasn’t planned. It wasn’t intended to make history.

“You just get to the point where it’s so stupid to not be honest,” Azzi said recently at the Mill Valley home she and Hardiek share with their bulldogs, Izzy and Ella. “When you’re with someone who gives you so much courage there’s no reason to be afraid.”

WNBA:

MavsMoneyball: The new Dallas Wings should get you excited about the WNBA

So I know we’re all focused on the NBA Playoffs, but before long the Warriors will be back-to-back champs and the NBA season will be finished. And at that point, we’ll all need something fun to do. Luckily, there’s a new basketball team in town: the WNBA’s Dallas Wings.

Thursday night was the WNBA draft, and I went to the draft party at UT Arlington’s College Park Center, which is the new home of the Wings. First confession: I do not love having to drive out to Arlington, even though the arena is plenty nice. I would’ve much preferred SMU’s Moody Arena as the home of the Wings, but I guess not everything can be perfect. Speaking of which, everything else about the Wings is perfect.

The first event on the schedule tonight was the unveiling of the new team’s new uniforms. Check out this majesty:

NBPA: Q&A with Top Pick Breanna Stewart: ‘It’s a New Challenge and New Chapter’

It will likely be a while until we see another women’s player like Breanna Stewart. Standing at 6’4″, the Syracuse native is coming off six straight championships—two in high school and four at the University of Connecticut—and on Thursday, the Seattle Storm selected her with the No. 1 overall pick.

The NBPA’s Michael Goldsholl caught up with the UConn legend at the WNBA draft as she prepared for the next step in her already storied career. Their conversation touched on draft week highlights, memories with the Huskies, preparation for the WNBA, how the ladies’ game is changing, Kobe’s Bryant legacy and her off-the-court interests.

Tuck Realizes Her WNBA Dream, Drafted By The Sun At No. 3

“This day means so much,’’ Tuck said. “The first time I thought about it I was in fourth grade. I loved Lisa Leslie. She was my favorite. I did a project on her in school. And since then I knew that I wanted to play in the WNBA. And then to now to get drafted into it it’s kind of surreal that it’s actually happened just because at such a young age of wanting to do it and now I’m able to. So it’s great.’’

Thank you: Saxony Lutheran girls basketball coach Sam Sides reflects on 38-year Hall of Fame career

It was March 8, 2014, and the Saxony Lutheran girls basketball team had just walked off the floor following a Class 3 quarterfinal victory over Lutheran St. Charles. The result sealed a first trip to state for the program, which had only been in existence since 2006. It was a good feeling; the Crusaders were feeling good. Into the locker room they headed.

“So we were going to state and making history,” recalls Brianna Mueller, now a senior, “and we go down into the locker room and Coach Sides starts to dance. He did the worm. He got down on the ground and did the worm, and we’re all like, ‘What is happening right now?'”

On Saturday, Saxony girls basketball coach Sam Sides will be one of an 11-coach class inducted into the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame following the 38th year of his coaching career. His basketball coaching resume has earned respect and accolades. His dancing?

“I’m not a very good dancer, but I get emotional,” Sides says. “I get a lot more emotional as I get older. I get fired up on occasion, but I try not to do that in public.

Thank you, Pt. 2: Burleigh retires after 42 years

Girls basketball has certainly gone through changes over the last four decades.  However, at South Burlington High school, one thing has remained constant, head coach Sheila Burleigh.

“The girls are great athletes,” Burleigh said.  “They’re bigger, faster, stronger, because they’re understanding that you really need to lift. You need to train year round. You don’t just pick it up in November and expect you’re going to do well.”

After 42 seasons, nearly 600 wins and five state titles, Burleigh announced her retirement on Thursday.

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’cause it’s the most wonderful time of the yeeeeeeear… Take a deep breath, y’all, shut the door and pull up a chair ’cause you’ve got a lot of reading to do!

First things first: WNIT!!
Saturday, April 2  |  3 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. CT
CBS Sports Network – Thad Anderson (play-by-play) and Chiney Ogwumike (analyst)

The finals are set and it pits two programs who’ve got something to prove (to the selection committee): South Dakota v. Florida Gulf Coast University.

The Coyotes earned a birth by throughly handling Oregon, 88-54.

DakotaDome’s long goodbye as a basketball facility will now officially be talked about for a very long time. The old gal just doesn’t want to give up on roundball just yet. USD will now play the winner of Michigan vs. Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday accompanied by a crowd expected to be bigger than Wednesday’s.

“Even when we were just warming up at 60 minutes (before the game), the people were filling in,” said Kelly Stewart, who was one of six Coyotes who hit double-figures. “Then every time we came out of the locker room there was more people. And finally, when we were about to do the starting lineups, I looked up and I got a huge smile on my face. Everyone was smiling.”

The Eagles took on Michigan in from of a record crowd, and came away with the 71-61 win.

“It was a great defensive effort against a great offensive team,” said head coach Karl Smesko. “Now we’re excited to get to play for the WNIT Championship. The crowd was exceptional tonight. It was a huge advantage for us to have it here with that type of atmosphere. I’m sure it’s the type of game that these players will remember for a long time.”

FYI: WNIT NOTES

-Minnesota’s Rachel Banham scored 48 points on March 16 to lead the Gophers to an 87-80 win over Milwaukee in Round 1. That set a Postseason WNIT record for most points in a game, surpassing Tamika Whitmore of Memphis (45 against Arkansas State, 1999). 

-Sharnae Lamar of Northern Iowa dished out 15 assists to set a single-game WNIT record in the team’s 64-58 victory over Drake, 64-58. 

-The 2016 title game between South Dakota and Florida Gulf Coast is the second time since 1998 that two mid-major programs have played for the Postseason crown. In 2004, Creighton beat UNLV for the title.

-Before 2016, there have been 13 mid-major teams to reach the Postseason WNIT championship game. The six mid-major champions are Creighton (2004), Missouri State (2005), Wyoming (2007), South Florida (2009), Toledo (2011) and Drexel (2013).

About that stuff happening in Indianapolis: FREE Women’s Final Four Activities

General:

Indianapolis set to be center of women’s basketball world

All of the women’s basketball world will descend on Indianapolis this weekend in a celebration of the sport.

For the first time in NCAA history the Division I, II and III women’s titles will be decided on the same court.

“We can’t wait for the 2016 championship games in Indianapolis,” NCAA vice president for women’s basketball Anucha Browne said.

Celebrating 35 Years of NCAA Women’s Basketball

Beth Mowins to replace Dave O’Brien as announcer in Final Four, first-time all-female crew for ESPN at event

Women’s basketball | Final Four: Three first-timers crash party with UConn

Meet the Women’s Final Four

Audio: ‘Around the Rim’: Final Four preview

Audio: Kara Lawson with SI’s Richard Deitsch

Audio: Sue Bird talks about the low pay for women’s professional basketball in the United States on this edition of our Keeping Score with Rick Horrow audio podcast

Audio: HBO and The Ringer’s Bill Simmons is joined by Diana Taurasi to discuss her WNBA return from Russia, UConn’s dominance (6:00), the stupidity of lowering the rims (13:00), GSW’s selflessness (16:30), playing pickup with Westbrook and Draymond (21:00), and the struggling Lakers and D’Angelo Russell (30:00).

Audio: Special Dishin & Swishin Podcast: “Ambassador” Tamika Catchings welcomes the WBB world to Indy

Audio: Dishin & Swishin 3/31/16 Podcast: Doug Bruno is back to break down the 2016 Final Four

Women’s NCAA tournament: Four keys to the Final Four

Women’s Final Four: Can Anyone Stop UConn?

At Women’s Final Four, male-coached teams not a bad thing

These Are The Last Three Teams That Have A Chance To Beat UConn

SNYDER: UConn overshadows parity among other women’s basketball teams

VanDerveer: UConn’s rule isn’t bad for the sport — but next year it could be

Jeff Jacobs: In Women’s Final Four, It’s The Men Who Beat The Odds

Jeff Jacobs: Think UConn’s Geno Auriemma Is A Rock? You Should Meet His Wife

Pac-12 Feature: From ground floor to Final Four

My turn: JUST CATCH UP

Washington:

How UW’s and OSU’s Final Four run is a breakthrough for Pac-12 women’s basketball

Pac-12 Feature: From ground floor to Final Four

7 things to know about Washington Huskies (Syracuse women’s basketball Final Four foe)

Meet the Final Four-bound UW Huskies women’s basketball team

Washington’s jump shooter doesn’t jump

HUSKIES WOMEN: Masters of the Unexpected

Four knee surgeries later, UW’s Walton unfazed by doubts

Mike Neighbors: From Blockbuster To The Final Four

Oregon State

Five questions for Beavers-Huskies

Washington and Oregon State new faces in Final Four

New to following Oregon State women’s basketball? Here’s a crash course on the Beavers

Oregon State Beavers women’s basketball blending intensity, playfulness during Final Four run

Final Four newcomer Oregon State scrappy on defense

Watch: Gary Andersen and Pat Casey on Oregon State

OSU dreams big, embraces Final Four berth

Watch: Oregon State women’s basketball Final Four appearance called ‘incredibly miraculous’

Can Oregon State Shock The World?

Rueck’s Beavers have big fans in OSU’s 1963 Final Four team

OSU has unfinished business in Final Four

Aki Hill and the bliss of the Final Four

Open tryouts to the Final Four: Oregon State’s dramatic rise

Syracuse:

Syracuse’s Hillsman, Read preparing carefully for Washington

Syracuse women’s basketball guard Alexis Peterson brims with confidence

Keep shooting: Syracuse women’s basketball senior Brianna Butler does what she’s told

Turning point for Syracuse women’s basketball this season began with a loss

Kayla Alexander: Syracuse Orange Nation on Cloud Nine

Syracuse women’s basketball center Briana Day: Bigger foes aren’t going to push me around

Go Orange! Syracuse men’s, women’s basketball teams head to Final Four

Connecticut:

Is UConn’s sustained dominance bad for women’s basketball?

UConn may be the greatest college basketball dynasty ever

Geno Auriemma: Having to defend success ‘makes no sense’

Geno: Ignore UConn Women If You Want, ‘But Don’t Demean Those Who Appreciate It’ –

Why the dominance of the U-Conn. women’s team should be embraced

UConn’s opponents need to step up their game

Jeff Otterbein: UConn Women Simply The Best, Just Watch And Learn To Live With It

Here are a few additional assignments for sports columnist

Fans appreciate greatness, even when the games aren’t close

Fans don’t agree with columnist who says Huskies are killing the game

UConn Women’s Basketball Team Confronts Consequences Of Being ‘Too Good’

UConn too good? Quit the whining, beat ’em!

Respect the Women!

Be Great. Don’t Apologize.

UConn women don’t find winning boring

UConn women should be respected

UConn can join a pair of 4-peat pioneers in women’s basketball

Connecticut poised to make history again

UConn making something hard look easy

Huskies closer to place no team has ever been

Freshmen provide Huskies with needed backup help

UConn freshmen stepping up in NCAA Tournament

Samuelson’s family is UConn women’s basketball’s family, too

Women’s basketball: Connecticut’s Breanna Stewart leads a star-studded Final Four

Other basketball news:

Rachel for threeeeee: Banham edges Smith in 3-point championship

Brava: Jennifer Azzi comes out as gay, announces marriage to her USF assistant coach

“I, too, lived a long time not being 100 percent honest,” Azzi said. “Kind of the don’t-ask-don’t-tell kinda of thing. And it’s so stupid. I don’t know why we do that, but we do that. I’m a college coach. Is it going to hurt me with recruiting? What are people going to think? And you are constantly worrying about those things.

Supporters laud Jennifer Azzi for her bravery – but you can read the fear…

New women’s basketball coach Kenny Brooks raves about recruiting potential at Virginia Tech

Jonathan Tsipis’ plan to grow Badgers women’s basketball attendance starts with being visible –

New UW women’s basketball coach wants to keep state’s best players

Tsipis tasked with turning tide for women’s hoops

Wisconsin Women’s Basketball: Tsipis’ energy stands out during initial meeting with team

Bradbury named UNM women basketball head coach

KSU Women’s Basketball Coach Agnus Berenato

Kim Rosamond named Tennessee Tech women’s basketball head coach

Finally poached: UCF announces Katie Abrahamson-Henderson as head coach of women’s basketball

Former UConn players apply Auriemma lessons as coaches

Bye: Jatarie White to transfer from USC women’s basketball program

Bye: Two leave Duke women’s basketball team

WNBA:

Updownup-down… honestly, I think the NBA should raise their rim. It’s ridiculous how easy it is for the giants who play the game to score…

Army brass supports Minato in WNBA bid

Jennifer Gish: The next goal for UAlbany’s Shereesha Richards — the WNBA

Lindsay Whalen Joins Timberwolves’ Broadcast Booth

Deep Diving WNBA Data — Griner’s Paint Defense

WNBA Award Accuracy by Win Shares

Girls Sports Month: Candace Parker on what drives her, dunking and being a mom

WNBA Reveals New Apparel Items Celebrating Landmark 20th Season

The Legend of Lauren Jackson

Cool: Boomers And Fire GMs Head To WNBA Again

Following on from a successful visit last year to work alongside management at the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA, the off-court leaders at the Deakin Melbourne Boomers and JCU Townsville Fire will again embrace a fact-finding mission in Los Angeles and Phoenix this June, this time taking in eight sporting events in 10 nights.

WNBA star Chamique Holdsclaw “hitting game-winning shots” on and off the court

In case you missed it: Blake Griffin’s ‘Broad City’ appearance included a discussion about the WNBA

OT, but not really: Nike responds to U.S. national team jersey controversy

The sportswear behemoth that has outfitted the national team program for decades has been hit especially hard on two issues.

First, with the women’s jerseys, the low-cut neckline has been called unnecessarily sexualizing by some fans, and simply inconvenient anatomically for others whose body shapes aren’t the same as the widely used industry standard.

Second, with the men’s jerseys, you can’t buy one emblazoned with the three stars that represent the World Cups won by the women’s team. There are plenty of men who support Jill Ellis’ reigning champions just as much as they support Jurgen Klinsmann’s collection of question marks.

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Oh, yes, ‘ware the rabbits: #12 South Dakota State held on to upset #5 Miami, 74-71.

It is me, or is no one paying attention to the job Moren’s done at Indiana? Maybe the 9-seed taking down #8 Georgia, 62-58, for the program’s first Tourney win in 33 years will get folks to sit up and notice.

And a freshman shall lead them… to an upset win. #10 Missouri toppled #7 BYU behind Sophie Cunningham’s 20pts.

Pirates got Duked. #9 Duquesne earned their program’s first NCAA victory with authority. They take down #8 Seton Hall by 21.

Nice showing by #10 Penn as #7 Washington needed every minute and made shot by Walton, Plum and Atchley to secure the 12-pt win.

Jordin Canada had a tough shooting night, but so did the #14 Wahine. #3 UCLA survived and advanced with a 66-50 win.

No style points will be awarded, as #11 Colorado State gave #6 South Florida fits. The Bulls escape with a 48-45 win.

Movin’ on. #6 Oklahoma dispatches #11 Purdue with ease, if not elegance.

Despite having to suspend two players (dumb, dumb, dumb), #4 Texas A&M handled #13 Missouri State, 74-65, behind Anriel Howard’s NCAA Tournament record 27 rebounds.

For a moment it looked like the #12 Blue Raiders wanted to mess up the Prez’s bracket… but the #5 Florida State’s Romero got the band together and the Seminoles earned a 17pt win.

Getting run over by the Wildcats shouldn’t diminish the season #14 UNC-Asheville has had… but you know they wished for a better showing. #3 Kentucky by 54.

#2 Maryland earned every single bit of their 16-point win over #15 Iona.

Notre Dame was hitting on all cylinders and then eased off the gas a tad as they cruised to a 95-61 win over North Carolina A&T.

No rust for the rested. Yes, UConn had huge first quarter, scoring-wise, against Robert Morris, but did you notice Stewart’s 8 steals? Or Coach Sal Buscaglia’s heartfelt post game press conference?

#2 Texas couldn’t shake #15 Alabama State in the first half. Different story in the second as the Longhorns , 86-42.

Fun/not fun? #4 Tara Vanderveer over #13 Jennifer Azzi, 85-58.

From Graham: Quick Dish: Five observations from Day 2 of the NCAA tourney

With one round down and five to go, what else did we learn from Saturday’s 16 games?

1. Texas A&M and Florida State earn another chance to live up to expectations

Ranked among the top baker’s dozen of teams in the nation in the preseason, Texas A&M and Florida State took the court in November with no worse than Sweet 16 expectations.

They will meet Monday in the second round of the NCAA tournament, which means only one will get to the Sweet 16. For stretches Saturday, it wasn’t clear either would get even that opportunity.

FiveThirtyEight:  These Are The Only 4 Teams With Any Chance Of Beating The UConn Women

CNN: 5 reasons why UConn’s women’s hoops dominance is incredible

Upcoming games that have caught my eye:

NY (Syracuse) v. NY (Albany)
Old Big East (DePaul) v Old Big East (Louisville)
Tennessee v. Arizona

From Mechelle: How Lady Vols handle ASU defense could determine matchup

WNIT advancers:

TCU (Big 12) over Eastern Michigan (MAC), 85-81
Michigan (Big 10) over Bucknell (Patriot), 95-72
Hofstra (CAA) over Villanova (Big East), 82-74.
San Diego (WCC) over IUPUI (Summit), 59-48.
Northern Iowa (MVC) over Drake (MVC), 64-58.

In other news: Mystics Great Holdsclaw Discusses her “Unquiet Journey”

Washington Mystics fans know the legacy of Chamique Holdsclaw, the WNBA great who left her mark on D.C. The former #1 overall pick recently returned to the area to discuss her current work as a mental health advocate. 

A new documentary, “Mind/Game: The Unquiet Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw,” chronicles her rise to stardom and struggles with mental disorders, providing a platform to discuss the impact of mental health issues in sports. The film won Best Documentary Film honors at the 2016 DC Independent Film Festival. 

Hayley Milon caught up with Holdsclaw to discuss her journey.

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but first, the WNIT kicks us off with a fun story: Double Duty In Des Moines: Kansas Band Gets The Assist For Drake Women’s Basketball

A college basketball game without a band present … it’s just not the same, is it? Drake’s women’s team was facing that, though, for its WNIT opener Thursday night in Des Moines, Iowa. The school is on spring break, and the Drake band members aren’t on campus.

However, Drake got a capable substitute: The Kansas band was in Des Moines for the Jayhawks’ NCAA men’s tournament game Thursday afternoon.

As for the games:

The band helped! Drake (MVC) over Sacred Heart (NEC), 95-59.

Road-weary UT Rio Grande (WAC) got swept away by TCU (Big12), 97-73.

Arkansas State (Sun Belt) chomped on Southern (SWAC), 68-45.

It was a tight one, as short-handed Nebraska (Big10) fell to Northern Iowa (MVC), 64-62.

Ball State (MAC) went on the road and topped Iowa (Big Ten), 77-72.

Arkansas Little-Rock (Sun Belt) and St. Louis (A-10) went down to the wire, but… Billikens win! 70-69.

And I swoop! Tennessee-Martin (Ohio Valley) came back to defeat Memphis (American), 79-73. It’s the programs first post-season win since 1999.

Dayton (A-10) fell to Western Kentucky (C-USA), 89-72.

San Diego (WCC) escapes Northwestern (Big 10), 69-65. The Wildcats scored 8 in the first and 35 in the fourth. Coach must be banging his head against the wall.

No, really, remember when they stunk? IUPUI (Summit) over Central Michigan (MAC), a tough program, 63-55.

Bucknell (Patriot) over Akron (MAC), 74-70. The Bison are the first team from the Patriot League to ever win a game in the WNIT, while also posting the program’s first victory in a national postseason tournament.

“We have had a lot of great things happen this year, but to get a postseason win is pretty sweet,” said Bucknell head coach Aaron Roussell. “It’s a great accomplishment for our program and our league, and a huge feather in the cap for this gritty team. I am incredibly proud of them.”

Gonzaga (WCC) chewed up undermanned UC Riverside (Big West), 88-54.

Oregon (Pac12) over Long Beach State (Big West) by 8.

After all the waiting and working and wondering, Oregon coach Kelly Graves finally got the glimpse of his team’s future that he’d been looking for the past two weeks.

And he liked it so much that Graves told his rejuvenated Ducks to go play couch potatoes for a day like the rest of America as their reward.

 Welcome to March Madness, ladies. WNIT style.

Nice showing against a program that in no joke: Marshall (C-USA) falls to Ohio (MAC), 76-68.

Eastern Michigan (MAC) led wire to wire, and eked out an away win over Saint Mary’s (WCC), by one, 74-73.

Graduate transfer Chanise Baldwin’s ffensive rebound and put back with 1.8 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter lifted the Eastern Michigan University women’s basketball team to a 74-73 victory over Saint Mary’s College in the opening round of the WNIT Thursday, March 17. The Eagles led by as many as nine, but needed Baldwin’s late game heroics to propel the Green and White into the second round of the tournament. 

In a back-and-forth battle, it was Abilene Christian (Southland) who blinked first. UTEP (C-USA) won, 66-62.

Virginia Tech (ACC) over Elon (CAA), 68-59.

Villanova (Big East) ousted Liberty (Big South), 67-51.

Hofstra (CAA) over Harvard (Ivy), 76-50.

Even with the loss of top-scorer Mikayla Venson, Virginia (ACC) managed a two-point win over VCU (A10).

Georgia Tech (ACC) stung Mercer (Southern), 73-56.

Rutgers (Big East Big 10) last-second-shot-ed a win over Georgetown (Old Big East), 57-55.

An improving Wake Forest (ACC) held off Charlotte (C-USA), 72-69.

First round NCAA games I’m keeping my eye on:

Albany/Florida
JMU/DePaul
Chattanooga/Mississippi State
Green Bay/Tennessee
St. Bonaventure/Oklahoma State

Michelle Smith: Tara VanDerveer vs. Jennifer Azzi

Asked to remember the last time they talked on the phone before they found out they would be matched up in the NCAA tournament, both Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer and University of San Francisco coach Jennifer Azzi came up with the same answer.

“Probably just a few weeks ago,” Azzi said.

“Not that long ago,” VanDerveer confirmed. “We talked about some things she was dealing with.”

There will be no talking this week.

Katie Barnes: UConn freshman Samuelson finds her footing

Bonnie and Karlie Samuelson, both of whom played at Stanford, are as responsible as anyone for making Lou the player she is.

“When I was younger, I wanted to be just like them, so that’s where it all started,” Samuelson said. “But once I got older, all I wanted to do was to be better than them.”

When will DePaul Women get their due as NCAA contenders?

Every year, I hear the same thing. “There are no Illinois teams in the NCAA tournament.”

And for the past 14 years, all those who have said that have been wrong.

Why, oh, why, do Illinois residents overlook the DePaul Blue Demons (25-8), who’ve achieved a berth in the NCAA Women’s Tournament for 14 CONSECUTIVE YEARS… also, their 21st overall appearance since 1990?

Jonathan Lintner: Cards’ Hines-Allen hitting high gear in March

Recently named the ACC Player of the Year, Hines-Allen registered a pair of double-doubles to open the postseason and hit 19 of her 33 shots.

“I want to prove to people it’s not a fluke and just give my all every single day,” the sophomore forward said. “That’s how I got the award.”

BTW: Division II has reached the Elite Eight.

4 Florida Southern v. 1 Lubbock Christian (March 22, 1pm)
2 Anchorage-Alaska v. 7 Francis Marion (March 22, 7pm)
1 Virginia Union v. 1 Bentley (March 22, 3:3o)
2 Grand Valley State v. 7 Pittsburgh State (9:30)

The big shockers were seeing #1 Union, #1 Azusa Pacific and #1 Limestone go down in the first round. #1 Ashland feel in the second round. #1 Emporia State lost in the 3rd round.

Division III’s Final Four is scheduled for March 19th, Capitol University, Columbus Ohio.

Tufts (27-3) v. Wartburg (23-7), 5pm.
Wartburg’s Final Four run stranger than fiction

 Amsberry’s Nine will do for a working title. Wartburg College’s surprise run into the NCAA Division III women’s basketball Final Four has the makings of a green-lit sports movie.

The plot is a season salvaged off life support by a group of athletes that had moved on before reuniting to accomplish an ambitious goal.

The script has more than final credits left to be written.

Jumbos book trip to NCAA tournament semifinals for third year in a row

For the past two years, Tufts had gotten it done at home in the postseason. The Jumbos had qualified for the NCAA tournament by winning the NESCAC championship, earned home court advantage and fought their way through dominant first-round wins and overtime thrillers alike to reach the NCAA Div. III championship semifinals, the Final Four.

This year was different. Tufts fell by one point in a heartbreaking loss to Amherst in the NESCAC championship but still earned an at-large bid. 

Amherst (30-1) v. Thomas More (31-0), 7:30PM

Saints on a different kind of mission

You already know what’s the same about the defending champs, so let’s look at what’s different about Thomas More this season.

It all starts with a change in hashtag philosophy.

Sister act adds to Amherst’s legacy

If Amherst head women’s basketball coach G.P. Gromacki hadn’t been persistent when reaching out to junior twins Ali and Meredith Doswell during the recruiting process, no telling what he would be doing this weekend.

 

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Just ask Jeff Walz.

He offered Tuesday to email or call the boss of anyone who wanted to come to the game but couldn’t because of work. He’s already had 100 or so fans take him up on that, including someone in the mayor’s office.

”Whoever sends me a note on Twitter or on Facebook – if they give me their boss’ email – I’m writing them a note asking if they can make the ballgame,” Walz said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Check out Aneela’s “Top 25 Players To Watch in NCAA Tournament

Washington: ‘Sharp’ Huskies Head To NCAA Tournament

The Huskies are sharp, because they share a common goal and have rallied around each other. They are in sync. They are focused.

“The difference between last year and this year, last year we were happy to be there,” junior Kelsey Plum said. “It was a cool accomplishment after having not been in the NCAA tournament for a long time.

“We were just so excited about the whole thing, we lost focus in the game. This year, we’re not just happy to be here. We’re trying to do something with it.

Connecticut: Stewart, Tuck and Jefferson looking to make history

UConn coach Geno Auriemma jokes that when the trio now known as ”The Big Three” first arrived on campus, he wasn’t sure they should play as freshmen either.

Stewart, he said, had unbelievable talent, but was often lackadaisical, because things were too easy for her. Jefferson, he said, had no grasp of running an offense. Her idea of playing point guard, he said, was to run at full speed until she ran into something.

Tuck was the best of the three in practice, but that didn’t always translate to games.

Little by little, he said, they began to gel.

Connecticut: Former Huskies break down UConn’s winning ways

Utah: Jeff Judkins keeps Cougars steadily successful

As BYU’s women’s basketball players, assistant coaches and supporters reacted excitedly when the Cougars received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament last Monday, head coach Jeff Judkins stared stoically at the large screen, realizing the task that lies ahead.

It was almost LaVell Edwards-like, which is fitting, because Judkins is having the kind of success that the legendary football coach had in Provo in the 1980s and ’90s, albeit in a sport mostly out of the national spotlight.

“He doesn’t get the credit he deserves,” BYU guard Makenzi Pulsipher said. “He’s such a good, nice person, but he’s also a really, really good coach.”

California: Jordin Canada leads UCLA back to the Big Dance

During a recent practice at UCLA, one of the Bruins players commented out loud about point guard Jordin Canada, “She’s our all-conference player, let’s just get it to her.”

And Canada cringed.

“Her shoulders went in, and she looked uncomfortable,” UCLA coach Cori Close said. “She didn’t like it. But at the same time, when the lights brighten, she’s at her best.”

California: USF coach Azzi welcomes chance to return to Stanford for NCAAs

Jennifer Azzi’s expression — an ear-to-ear grin — didn’t change when she saw that her USF team was matched against her alma mater Stanford, during Monday’s NCAA selection show.

Azzi knows how these things work — Azzi against her mentor Tara VanDerveer is the kind of story line selection committees love. She knows how often basketball can bring one full circle — such as when the Tennessee kid won a national championship with Stanford back home in Knoxville in 1990. 

“These things happen,” she said.

Florida: NCAA women’s bracket has distinct Florida flavor

It has been a season of firsts for women’s college basketball teams Florida, and the roll will continue in the NCAA Tournament.

When the field of 64 was announced on Monday, it marked the first time that five teams from the Sunshine State were selected.

Georgia: Georgia back in tournament under 1st-year coach

New York: Syracuse women’s basketball team a victim of bad timing

What’s the old cliche, if they didn’t have bad luck, they’d have no luck at all?

The Syracuse University women’s basketball team is living proof of that. The Orange have had their best regular season in program history. Syracuse went to the ACC championship game and received a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament, again, its best ever.

The high seed means the Orange are rewarded with one — possibly two — home games for the first two rounds of the tournament. And when does the NCAA Tournament committee (with help from ESPN) have Syracuse playing.

Friday at 2:30 p.m. Right after the Syracuse men’s game. A weekday afternoon when the majority of local people are working or in school.

New York: With Two Bids, Iona Savors ‘Incredible Accomplishment’

For Cluess and Godsey, that made last Monday twice as sweet. They understand better than most the challenges midmajor programs face in facilities, recruiting and financing when competing against major conferences for players as well as victories.

“It’s so hard for one team to make it, let alone two, especially in a conference our size,” Cluess said.

Missouri: The three steps the women’s basketball team is taking in preparation for the big dance.

This time last season, the Missouri women’s basketball team was sitting around coach Robin Pingeton’s house, eyes glued to the television during Selection Monday. They were on the outside looking in. 

While watching other teams celebrate their success, the overall mindset of the team was, “That’s going to be us next year,” according to senior Morgan Stock.

New Jersey: PU Women’s Hoops Sees Silver Lining in Penn Defeat, Becoming 1st Ivy Team to Earn At-Large Bid to NCAAs

North Carolina: Coaches of Asheville men, women share special bond

Seconds after the UNC Asheville women beat Liberty on Sunday at Kimmel Arena to earn a berth in the NCAA tournament, some of the first people on the floor to celebrate with the women were members of the Bulldogs’ men’s team.

It was a scene that didn’t surprise those close to the program.

There is a closeness between the teams and it begins with the coaches.

Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick and Nick McDevitt can’t help but run into each other several times a day because their offices are separated by a conference room, which they share along with a printer.

They wouldn’t want it any other way. McDevitt is a fan of Kirkpatrick and her staff and Kirkpatrick feels the same way about the men’s coaches.

Tennessee/Michigan: Belmont, Michigan State coaches are friends, now NCAA foes

“Suzy and I got to be good friends back then,” said Newbauer, who was an assistant at Georgia at the time. “My sister almost went to Michigan State and instead went to Indiana, so I’ve known Suzy since my first year in women’s basketball. I’ve just been really good friends with her since then. We were texting each other about, ‘Wouldn’t that be great if we wound up in the same place?’ But I didn’t think we would be playing them.”

Wanna listen while you work? LaChina Robinson and Chiney Ogwumike break down the Sioux Falls Region of the women’s NCAA Tournament with special guest L.A. Sparks F Candace Parker. 2) They then break down the Bridgeport Region of the women’s NCAA Tournament with special guest Indiana Fever G Briann January.

As a self-identified Conference Generalist, I take great pleasure in tracking programs raising their profiles. Marshall was one such story: A Different `Long Season’ for Daniel’s Herd

Marshall makes its first trip to the Women’s NIT with a visit to longtime rival Ohio on Thursday night, and riding on the bus with the Herd as it heads up the road this evening is an attitude that has carried Coach Matt Daniel’s team all season.

It’s not where you start; it’s where you finish.

When Marshall opened the 2015-16 season back on Nov. 13 with an out-of-breath, 104-101 triumph at Morehead State, eight of the 12 healthy players on Daniel’s roster were in their first game in a Herd uniform. Six were freshmen … and Marshall had been picked to finish 10th in the 14-team Conference USA race by Daniel’s sideline peers.

Four months later, the Herd (21-11) has more wins than all but one team (24-5 in 1986-87) in the Herd women’s hoops history dating to 1969-70. Marshall has only its third postseason bid in its major college era, which dates to 1981-82. And while finishing tied for sixth in the C-USA standings, the Herd won a school-best 11 C-USA games (regular season and tournament) in its 11 years in the league.

So were the Jacksonville Dolphins: Mentee vs. Mentor

It happens at the start of every athletic competition. Typically after the national anthem and player introductions, and often overlooked as one of the unwritten rules of the game. It’s the coaches’ handshake, a brief meeting a midcourt that will have a deeper meaning for Yolett McPhee-McCuin Friday.

When the head coach of the Jacksonville University women’s basketball team shakes the hand of Dawn Staley, she will see more than the opposition, she’ll also see a mentor and a friend.

“Dawn Staley is someone that I mirror my program after,” said McCuin. “Not every step but definitely the how and the why. How to build a program and why we do what we do?

And: Though not a surprise, first NCAA bid reason for Duquesne women’s basketball team to celebrate

“I don’t think any of us were expecting this in the beginning of the season, so the fact that we’re even here is so exciting,” senior Emilie Gronas said. “From the preseason, we could feel this was a different team with a lot of new faces. A lot of people didn’t expect us to do as great as we did.” 

But after playing in other postseason tournaments in each of the last seven seasons, Duquesne didn’t have any preseason intentions of receiving another WNIT bid.

The Dukes broke record after record this year, setting program highs for wins (27) and conference wins (13) while earning a share of the Atlantic-10 regular-season title. Now, all of those accolades come second to achieving an ultimate goal.

Damn: A Website Went Offline And Took Most Of Women’s College Basketball Analytics With It

If you’re filling out your bracket for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and want some statistical background to the broader forecasts, you have a slew of options. Start at Sports-Reference.com: powerful search tools; team rankings for anything from pace to point differentials adjusted for strength of schedule; and player pages with stats such as usage percentage, win shares and Box Plus/Minus. Ken Pomeroy’s site offers more detailed and adjusted team rankings and a wide array of individual player metrics. For $100 a year, Shot Analytics delivers detailed spatial analysis of shot selection, including weighted shot charts.

If you’re looking for similar information to help you fill out an NCAA women’s basketball tournament bracket, you’re out of luck.

Thank you: Tonya Mirts ends 21-year tenure as Hickman girls basketball head coach

Mirts, who played college basketball for Missouri, appreciated the challenge of not being able to recruit players for high school basketball, instead developing the young women in her district.

“You get what you get and you try to make a masterpiece out of it year in and year out,” she said.

Thank you: Wanda Watkins steps down as Campbell women’s basketball coach after 35 seasons

In addition to her coaching achievements, Watkins holds a special place in Campbell athletics history. She was the school’s first female athletic scholarship recipient after graduating from nearby South Johnston High School in 1975. She was a member of that school’s 1974 North Carolina state championship team.

She served as team captain of the Lady Camels basketball team as a senior and captained the softball team for three years. Despite suffering an injury in her final season, Watkins was named MVP of the 1978-79 team and selected as Campbell’s Outstanding Female Athlete.

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I’m no bracket expert, so I’ll defer to Charlie who, in the end, defers to the Selection Committee… but DePaul’s loss popped a couple of bubbles and so, methinks, did the Dons stunning upset of BYU. “No. 6 seed San Francisco rallied from a 15-point first-quarter deficit, took its first lead with 17.2 seconds left and held on to knock off the Cougars, 70-68.

“Wow. What a game. Our team fought so hard tonight,” said USF coach Jennifer Azzi. “BYU’s an incredible program, an amazing team. When you get down 10-0 you go, ‘Oh no.’”

Not that Azzi was necessarily surprised by what her team was able to do.

“You do have to have luck to get to this point,” she said. “This is what we’ve wanted for years. So I don’t think any of us are actually shocked by it because it’s been what we’ve been working towards. But certainly, the stars have to be aligned.”

Longtime readers of the WHB know we’ve been tracking Jennifer Azzi’s effort to rebuild the San Francisco program. Clearly, the Dons have gotten better under her leadership… but the WCC is (as ye longtime readers know) no joke. There’s Gonzaga, then BYU, then Saint Mary’s and now Santa Clara… so breaking into the NCAA is bloody challenging. But, her team met the challenge and are going dancin’ for the first time since 1997.

Remember what was happening in 1997? Spice Girls, Boyz II Men, Toni Braxton and Elton John… and the WNBA. Which means Kurt Kragthorpe can write: an Ex-Utah Starzz guard outwits BYU’s Judkins in WCC final

The former point guard for the Utah Starzz of the WNBA outcoached ex-Utah Jazz forward Jeff Judkins at the end of a game that left Azzi “absolutely, honestly, speechless right now,” she said.

The Dons took down each of the WCC’s top three seeds in reverse order — and less spectacular fashion as they went along, actually. USF’s run began with Taylor Proctor’s banked-in 3-pointer to force overtime against San Diego, then the Dons topped Saint Mary’s and BYU by two points each.

Summit Final: It was a tight battle between the South Dakotas. In the end the Jackrabbits upset the Coyotes, 61-55. That’s SDSU’s 7th trip to the NCAA in the last 8 years. BTW: A total of 8,647 fans packed the Denny Sanford Premier Center on Tuesday afternoon, setting a record for a women’s Summit League championship.

Ivy: Penn, on Princeton’s home court, claimed their spot in this year’s Big Dance.

The Princeton women’s basketball team has lost seven Ivy League games in the last seven seasons. Penn won its second Ivy title in three seasons Wednesday night at Jadwin Gym, beating the Tigers, 62-60, in a game the Quakers led from late in the first quarter until the final two minutes. Penn gave up the lead for exactly 15 seconds, got it back on a three-point play from Anna Ross, the most skilled player on the court, and held it to the wire.

“As I just told my players you don’t get these opportunities too many times in sports to celebrate something like this,” Penn coach Mike McLaughlin said. “I just talked about some space being at the Palestra for them.”

Big East Final: I know the ESPN blurb says “St. John’s wins Big East title for 1st time since ’88” and it’s great for the Red Storm and New York basketball… but the headline is a bit disingenuous, dontcha think? (Yes, I’m still bitter the Old Big East is gone.) BUT, kudos to Creighton and congrats to St. John’s – ya took down the top dog and then earned a spot at in the Dance.

Big 12 Final: So, how good is Baylor lookin’? Ask Kim.

“Honestly, we’ve been playing pretty good, and I wish we could just keep playing,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “You hate to stop and take a break, for fear that you can’t get back to where you just finished these last two or three weeks, because we’ve really played good basketball.”

Alexis Jones, who scored 16 points for the Lady Bears, was named the tournament’s most outstanding player after averaging 15.7 points and 7.7 assists in three games. Beatrice Mompremier scored 15 points, and Niya Johnson added 11 for Baylor (33-1), which swept the conference’s regular-season and tournament titles for the sixth consecutive year.

American Final: Stompity, stomp, stomp by UConn.

“If we play defense the way we played it tonight, we’re always going to have a chance,” Auriemma said. “Then how much we win by depends on how many shots go in for us.”

The shots were going in for Samuelson in the second quarter and she finished with 13 points and seven rebounds. Freshman nights like this make UConn fans dream that, yes, Samuelson has what it takes to be the next great player. “Stewy is obviously a lot more gifted, she can do so many more things,” Auriemma said. “But Lou has a different way of doing kind of the same things. The thing I like is if you challenge Lou really, really hard she responds. Those are the ones who usually turn out to be really good players, the ones who early on when you get after them they don’t wilt. They come of stronger.”

Oh, boy, opponents must love reading they have to look forward to.

Mechelle writes about those top four seeds: 

There are seasons when conference tournaments add some intrigue — if not downright doubt — about the projected No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament. But this was not one of those years.

For all practical purposes, UConn, South Carolina, Notre Dame and Baylor had their top seeds wrapped up for the Big Dance even before any of them tipped off in their respective league tournaments.

But there might have been just a little uncertainty raised about how they would play in the NCAA tournament if one of them had looked a little shaky these past few days. That didn’t happen.

In progress conference tourneys had a couple of early upsets:

C-USA– First Round: North Texas (11-18, 5-13), who got our attention early in the season, faltered down the home stretch. That stop them from taking down Florida Atlantic (14-16, 6-12), 79-74. It’s the program’s first post-season win since 2011-12.

“I’m ecstatic to get a good team win,” head coach Jalie Mitchell said. “If you look at the stat sheet, it’s pretty balanced and everybody stepped up and did something to help us advance. Everything that we did helped us to get to this point”

C-USA – First Round: There’s lots of really upsetting news swirling around Florida International (5-25, 2-16). But, under interim head coach Tiara Malcom, the managed to pull it together and surprise Texas San Antonio (10-19, 6-12), 61-56.

Tomorrow games:

NEC Semis: Hello, old friend! Bryant v. Robert Morris; Sacred Heart v. St. Francis (PA)

Mountain West Semi: New Mexico v. #22 Colorado State

A-Sun Semis: FGCU v. old rival Stetson; upstart Jacksonville State v. South Carolina Upstate

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you should have been watching the Dukes v. the Colonials

Welcome back JJ!! It’s not quite Willis Reed-esque – she actually made an impact on the court (10 points, 15 rebounds,six blocks) – but what a lift for George Washington to have Jonquel Jones return for the A-10 Championship game. The Colonials brought a smothering defense to the fourth quarter and shut down Duquesne, earning the 63-60 win. Kudos to coach Tsipis and his “other” players for keeping the team on track in Jones’ absence. With a healthy Jones? Hmmm….

As for the rest…

Mercer tried to crawl back in the fourth, but Chattanooga was too much for them. Mocs over the Bears 65-57. It’s their fourth SoCon title in a row. Keep an eye on both these teams next year – especially Mercer –  there was only one senior on the court.

#2 Notre Dame earned its third consecutive ACC championship, getting an early lead on Syracuse and then moving on to a 11pt win. Next!

#3 South Carolina handled #16 Mississippi State, 66-52, to earn their second straight SEC title.

Don’t let the fourth quarter fool ya: The Ruth was on fire… and #8 Oregon State absolutely decimated #12 UCLA and claimed its 1st Pac 12 title.

#5 Maryland won its second connective Big 10 title by 16.

In the Big 12 semis it was #4 Baylor by 27 and #6 Texas by 16.

The AAC semis had #1 UConn by 47 and #20 USF by 18. Note/Flashback: Good to see Jim Clark back in the women’s basketball fold: AAC semifinals sees predictable results as UConn, USF advance

Sheer artistry. UConn in March (& April) over the last four years is just basketball at its best. Play after “Wow!” play. Defensive rotations that are smooth, switching and smothering an opponent. This year the Huskies feature a defense with 6-4 Katie Lou Samuelson at the top of the arc, and 6-5 Breanna Stewart blocking shots in the paint.

The opening minutes of Sunday’s American Athletic Tournament semifinal game were not quite perfect. UConn actually turned the ball over on its first possession. The Huskies followed that with nine buckets on the next nine possessions.

On edit: To be clear, I’m not dismissing the quality of the play by the victors. I just want to highlight that there are a big handful of teams giving it their all – and playing quality ball – outside of ESPN’s view. Take a moment to read about ’em. Or, if you’re in the area, catch a game.

On tap tomorrow:

MAAC final. It’s a Marist-free affair as Quinnipiac goes up against Iona.

WCC semis: If you’re in Las Vegas….  Santa Clara v. BYU and St. Mary’s v. San Francisco. It would be kinda cool if it was coach Payne v. coach Azzi. Talk about program builders!

Summit semis: Congrats, Omaha! In your first conference tourney, you took down the 3rd seed, IUPUI. Lucky you (that’s NY sarcasm), you’ve got the Wabbits next. In the other bracket, it’s South Dakota v. Oral Roberts.

AAC: #UConn v. #20 USF. The Bulls are playing the Huskies for the third time this season. If Kitija Laksa, conference Freshman of the Year, can’t return from her high ankle sprain, it’s tough to see a different result.

Big 12: #4 Baylor v. #6 Texas. Last time, the Bears mauled the Longhorns by 26. The previous time, by 13. Has Texas gotten tougher?

Looking ahead:

Ivy: Tuesday features Princeton v. Penn for a trip to the Big Dance. We’ve had our eye on this game since for.ev.er.

America East: We’ll have to wait until Friday for the 1/2 matchup between Albany and Maine. The Black Bears got a battle from Stony Brook, while Shareesha Richards led the Great Danes to a 36pt wins. Richards’ 33-point performance helped break her own Albany single-season scoring record of 694 points set last season. Richards is averaging 23.5 points per game.

Podcast alert: Army’s Kelsey Minato and West Viriginia’s Bria Holmes are two seniors leading the way to postseason success

First, Minato returns for her second appearance on the podcast; her first was a freshman when she left the California sun for upstate New York, following a family history of military experience. Fast forward four years, and Minato is now the leading scorer in the history of the Patriot League, breaking Molly Creamer’s record last night. On senior night, Minato became the first active player in Army West Point women’s basketball history to have her number retired and raised to the rafters.

The Black Knights finished the regular season 26-2, tied with Bucknell for top spot in the Patriot League and the top seed in the conference tournament due to tie-breakers. That means they will host all of their tournament games, where they are 14-0 for the season. They are a senior heavy team, and have been to either the WNIT or NCAA tournament each year of their careers.

You’re out (Dawley).

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On cue, the LIU moves to 4-5 in the NEC with a win over Fairleigh Dickinson, 65-62.

In their first meeting, Bucknell hosted Army and beat’em by 10. In the West Point rematch, the Black Knights pulled away in the fourth for a 5-point win. With both teams at 8-1 in the conference, there’s no margin for error in the race to the Patriot League title.

Okay, then. With their first victory in 11 tries against Stetson, Jacksonville moves to 6-0 in the A-Sun and is tied with Florida Gulf Coast in the A-Sun. Guess who the Dolphins get to play on the 4th…in Naples? And host on the 10th…in Jacksonville.

Looking to keep everyone in the Horizon honest, Northern Kentucky takes down the Penguins, 88-77. A little sting to the win: former YSU guard, Shar’Rae Davis who finished the half with a total of 12 points off the bench. She was one of three players who didn’t receive scholarship renewals in 2014,

*no jinx, no jinx* UNC Asheville is now 9-2 in the Big South.

*WHB talked cr@p about us. Let’s show her!* Rutgers starts ugly but finishes strong against Nebraska, earning a 66-55 win.

*continued jinx?* UT Rio Grande lost – but it was to WAC top dog, New Mexico State.

The Miners are still perfect in C-USA play (9-0), but after Marshall, Western Kentucky (8-1) (who lost to MTSU) looms, Feb. 6th. MTSU (7-2), which has had some “stuff” going on this year, lost to UTEP 84-73 earlier this season, but doesn’t get a rematch.

Fresno State (ummm… shout out to the Bee: ““I just feel like we know how to come back,” senior co-captain Toni Smith said in a phone interview after the game.) and Colorado State have unblemished Mountain West records – will that last until March 1st, when they get to face off against each other?

Squeak! Ohio moved to 9-0 in the MAC with a one-point win over Ball State, 68-67.

Hmmmm… the Bulldogs are struggling, yes, but I’m sure San Francisco is enjoying beating Gonzaga.

On a day when USF honored its 1996 Sweet 16 team, the 2015-16 San Francisco women’s basketball team made a place for themselves in program history as well. The Dons scored the first bucket of the game and never trailed to earn a big 71-52 win over the Bulldogs at War Memorial Gym at the Sobrato Center on Saturday afternoon.

The victory was their first win over the 11-time WCC defending champions since a West Coast Conference tournament win on March 2, 2006. The 19-point deficit is also the largest loss of the season for Gonzaga, who lost to Stanford 65-48 on Nov. 15 during non-conference action.

Gotta love in-state games: Bobcats knock off Lady Griz

A year ago this month, the Montana State women’s basketball team crumbled and lost its composure in a 62-48 loss to Montana that sent the Bobcats to 1-4 in conference, searching for answers.

A year later, it seems like the Bobcats of head coach Tricia Binford have all the right ones.

Ooooooooh, De-bbie: Eastern Kentucky over Morehead State, 100-93; Eastern Washington over Sacramento State, 100-83.

What to look for Sunday:

#12 Kentucky at Florida – will the Wildcats bounce back, or with the Gators camp.

St. John’s at #23 DePaul. The Blue Demons have been up and down… and the Red Storm has been knocking at the door of the polls.

UNC at NC State. A missing coach adds intrigue to the 101st edition of this in-state rivalry.

St. Louis at George Washington. The Billikens (7-1) are SO much better.… but the Colonials are undefeated (8-0) in conference….

Alabama at Tennessee. One would thing the Tide would be just what the doctor ordered for the Vols…. but remember, they gave TAMU a scare.

#13 Mississippi State at Arkansas. The Razorbacks have been snacking on ranked teams. How focused will the Bulldogs be after their big win over Tennessee?

#2 South Carolina at Texas A&M (ESPN2). It’s never fun to play against the 12th man.

It’s likely that #14 Louisville will stay hot against Wake Forest... so I can’t help but look ahead to Feb 7th when they face Notre Dame.

BTW, in Division II news:

McKendree University men’s basketball coach Harry Statham posted his 1,098th career victory Thursday night, matching Pat Summitt’s mark for the most at a four-year school.

Statham is in his 50th season at the Division II college. He guided the Bearcats past Wisconsin-Parkside 92-85 on the court named in his honor.

The 78-year-old Statham has a career record of 1,098-474. He can top Summitt’s record Saturday when McKendree hosts Lewis. (Didn’t)

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(inspired by this past season, and a brief twitter exchange with @ladyswish) Some names to jot down when you’re pondering your next women’s basketball coach – be it for next year, or in three years. And, as I read some of these bios, it simply reinforces the connection between point guards and coaching.

Katie Abrahamson-Henderson – Albany. She’s only been there for 5 years, and accomplished a ton! Four straight league titles, anyone?

Jody Adams – Wichita State. Coach Adams, now  in her 7th year, has transformed the program. When when she took over in 2008, the Shockers had recorded 11 wins in the previous seaon.  WSU just won their third MVC conference title in a row and, with a team so young, it’s hard not to imagine there’s not more success in their future.

Jennifer Azzi – San Francisco. The revival of the Dons has been well chronicled at the WHB. Don’t know if Azzi would be interested in attempting to “rebuild” another program. I’m sure her current gig has been exhausting. But, a program that’s settle and needs a spark? Maybe.

Cedric Baker  – Savannah State. It’s been a long 12 seasons, but they won their first MEAC title this year.

Courtney Banghart – Princeton. She’s young. She’s smart. She just went undefeated and has earned her program a ton of attention. Who knows if she wants to leave the Ivy, but wow, what potential.

Laura Beeman – Hawai’i – The Wahine was a hot mess. Now, after three year’s of Beeman, not so much.

Bob Boldon – Ohio. First the Penguins. Then the Bobcats. Bob is a builder.

Anthony Bozzella – Seton Hall. Wherever he goes – LIU, Iona, Seton Hall – he turns programs around.

Kenny Brooks – James Madison University. In his 13th year, all he does is coach teams that win. They just earned their fourth CAA title in six years.

Michelle Clark-Heard – Western Kentucky. The ‘toppers just won the C-USA conference title and this year marked the first time WKU has been ranked in 17 years.  Shouldn’t be a surprise, considering that, in her first year Clark-Heard helped WKU to a 13-win improvement over the 2011-12 season output. It was the largest in Sun Belt Conference history, as WKU turned a 9-21 mark into a 22-11 record.

Brittney Ezell  – East Tennessee State University. In only her second year at the program, ETSU was picked for a bottom finish in a conference preseason poll. Instead, the Lady Bucs finished second to UT-Chattanooga and scared the you-know-what out of Mocs in the So-Con tourney.

Tricia Fabrini – Quinnipiac. Since the Bobcats moved up into the Division I ranks, they’ve shown they belonged – be it in the NEC or the MAAC. It’s been a 20 year journey, but maybe she could be tempted by another position?

Donna Finnie – Houston Baptist – It’s way early in her career with HBU, but consider what the Scotland native has already accomplished:

As Donna Finnie begins her second year as head coach in 2014-15, the HBU women’s basketball program looks to soar to new heights after a record-breaking inaugural season in the Southland Conference. In Finnie’s first year at the helm of the program, the team made huge strides both on and off the court. The Huskies won 12 games, the most since HBU began the transition to NCAA Division I in 2007. The Huskies also boasted the highest RPI in program history (251); a significant improvement from the 2012-13 campaign. Offensively the team exploded to produce one of the most efficient scoring attacks in the nation.

On this year, from WHB: The Huskies (15-17) were the 8th seed in the Southland and yet made it to the finals.

Cindy Fisher – San Diego. In her 10 year tenure, Fisher has moved the Toreros into the “often win” column.

Megan Gebbia – American. In only her second year, Gebbia took her team to their first Patriot League Championship.

Kellie Jolly Harper – Missouri State. Seems to me Harper was the sacrificial “next coach” at North Carolina State. She handled a no-win situation with grace, but couldn’t move the program forward. She’s having better fortunes at Missouri State, where she’s revivng the profile of a program that sailed to the stratosphere behind Jackie Stiles.

Yvonne Sanchez – New Mexico. She’s rebuilt a program that fell rather precipitously after coach Flanagan retired. Her first few years were not particularly encouraging, but this year has been different – even after she had to dismiss the team’s captain and center. The Mountain West predicted UNM to finish ninth in the conference, after finishing in ninth place a year ago, but they made it to the conference finals. She has not gotten a contract extension (yet). Folks I spoke to while I was in Albuquerque said the admin wanted more butts in the seats.

Karl Smesko – Florida Gulf Coast. Since joining Division I, all the Eagles have done is terrorize the A-Sun.

Brooke and Scott Stoehr – Northwestern State. Hired in 2012 to revive the Demons’ program that had won just six games the year before, the Stoehrs have done just that. The Demons just won the conference tournament title and earned their fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in the school’s history.

Jonathan Tsipis – George Washington. – In 2012, Tsipis took over a program that had won 25 wins over three seasons. WHB’s has been tracking the return of the Colonials to the top-25 all season long.

Kevin McMillan – Tennessee Martin – Six years ago, McMillan inheirited a team that went 2-27. Now, the Skyhawks have repeatedly ruled the roost in the OVC.

Amy Williams – South Dakota. Not easy to win in the Summitt, with in-state rival ‘wabbits lurking, but she has.

Ryun Williams – Colorado State. Left South Dakota and, in three years, has turned around a Colorado State program that had a decade of poor results. The #1 seed in the Mountain West was upset in the conference tourney, but I expect they’ll be back.

I’m sure there are plenty of other folks out there, ready to move up, including assistants that I know nothing about…. So, who else would you put on this list? womenshoopsblog @ gmail.com.

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who goes to the Dance… but at least Seton Hall was ranked when DePaul upset them in the (New) Big East final. Both will go dancin‘, and the Pirates will learn from this experience.

DePaul is one of the nation’s highest-scoring teams. However, its defense took over Tuesday night.

The Blue Demons held No. 24 Seton Hall to 42 percent shooting in a 78-68 victory over the top-seeded Pirates for DePaul’s second consecutive Big East tournament title and automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

“They defended better than I’ve seen them play in all the games I’ve watched, and their experience showed,” Seton Hall coach Tony Bozzella said.

Ummm… I’ve got a bone to pick with the ESPN/AP headline writer. BYU did NOT “dominate” San Francisco on its way to the WCC championship. They punched their card effectively, 76-65.

“Our defensive energy wasn’t what it probably should have been, especially in the first half,” San Francisco coach Jennifer Azzi said. “We turned it up but just fell short.”BYU shot 61 percent in the first half and were 13 for 18 on 3-pointers in the game, primarily against a zone. The Cougars had success inside with Bailey, who was 9 for 17 and had eight rebounds, and outside with Eaton and Morrison.

On the other hand, the ‘rabbits DID dominate (and upset-ish) the Coyotes. South Dakota State earned their 6th Summit League conference championship in seven years.

South Dakota State (24-8) got off to a strong start, leading by 22 points in the first half before taking a 37-19 advantage into the break while limiting the Coyotes to 13 percent shooting from the field. The Jackrabbits were never really challenged in the second half.

“Definitely, I thought we played really well defensively,” South Dakota State coach Aaron Johnston said. “But USD missed some shots that they’re accustomed to making. When those things happen to a team, it’s hard to dig yourself out of it.”

It was an “upset-State” kinda day.

Coppin State (7-21. 5-11) surprised Morgan State, 71-56, and moves in the next round of the MEAC.

San Jose State (15-16, 7-11) got a nice lead on Colorado State (23-7, 15-3) in the first, then held them in check through the second to pull the upset of the top-seed and reach the semis of the Mountain West.

Cal State Fullerton (12-18, 5-11) pulled away in the second half to upset UC Riverside (17-14, 8-8), 71-59 , and will continue in the Big West tournament.

Squeak! New Mexico moved into the Mountain West semi’s by virtue of a one-point win over San Diego State.

We got this: After a tied first half, Fresno State pulled away for the win over Wyoming, 74-66.The Lobos (see above) are next.

Princeton finished the season undefeated, weathering cold shooting and a stubborn Penn team. It wasn’t a particularly elegant game at the ” cozy, cacophonous Palestra,” and it Tigers’ play may not strike fear into the heart of future opponents heart, but there’s no diminishing their accomplishment. From the NY Times

“Thirty and 0 hasn’t hit me yet,” said the junior forward Alex Wheatley. “Thirty and 0 doesn’t compute.”

It seemed so far-fetched that Blake Dietrick, the team’s point guard and its only senior starter, asked Annie Tarakchian, a junior, if she would be willing to bleach her hair if the team went undefeated. It was early in the schedule and Tarakchian, knowing the long odds, shrugged her shoulders and agreed.

“Annie will have her hair bleached for the tournament,” Dietrick said.

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Spent the morning meeting a second cousin, visiting the Coronado Historic Site and the ruins of Kuaua Pueblo and eating yummy food at Sophia’s Place.

Should now be working on that keynote thing, but decided procrastination was necessary because of the wins by St. Peter’s and San Diego.

As a reward for their upset over Rider, Patty Coyle’s team gets to face Marist.

The Marist College women’s basketball team has not lost a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament game since March 6, 2005, exactly 10 years ago on Friday.

Now, all the Red Foxes want is to make that streak last four more days.

This weekend, and this year’s MAAC tournament, may be the greatest test Marist has faced since its string of nine consecutive titles and nine consecutive automatic bids to the NCAA tournament began.

(BTW, Patty’s sister Mary’s team, is doing well: Knight’s career-high 24 helps Rutgers Prep advance past Gill St. Bernard’s)

USF entered the WCC tournament “brimming with confidence,” and that showed with their 74-64 upset of Pacific.

“I’m really, really proud of the team. This was a huge team win,” said USF head coach Jennifer Azzi. “They defended, they had a look in their eye tonight like ‘we are going to win this game,’ and it was fun to see them out there and be able to just pull things together. They’ve really come out strong at the end of the season. They’ve bought into continuing to work and continuing to improve throughout the season.”

Next up: the winner of San Diego v. Santa Clara.

Gonna watch’em play on the 10th: Penn women’s basketball’s senior class is four-ever a winner – Quakers bid adieu to winningest class

The year was 2011.

The Dallas Mavericks had just won their first NBA title. Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” was named the number one song of the year. Nearly all of America had woken up at 5 a.m. to watch the Royal Wedding.

And four talented freshmen joined Penn women’s basketball, eagerly hoping to make their mark on what was, at best, a mediocre — if not downright dismal — program.

Da Bears: International cast re-establishes UMaine women’s basketball team as title contender

The Black Bears have achieved their recent success with a roster that includes seven international players.

“It’s a lot of fun. It’s never boring because you’re always learning something new,” said junior Liz Wood of Catlett, Virginia.

Fourth-year head coach Richard Barron has assembled the group during the last three years, including seven players recruited in 2012. The European contingent features players from Austria, Finland, Sweden, Germany, England, Serbia and Greece.

UMaine, the league regular-season co-champs, includes two players each from Maine and California and one apiece from Virginia, Kentucky and Utah.

In Charlie’s bracketology, there are no easy answers.

After delving into some more history and the underlying stated goals of earlier committees, it seems the commitment to the S-curve takes a distant second place to keeping teams as close to home as possible. So Oregon State, as the last team on the No. 2 line, is back in the Spokane Regional, paired with the final No. 1 seed, Maryland.

That also means the top No. 2 seed, Tennessee, is now with Connecticut, the No. 1 overall seed. That isn’t exactly even at the top, but with the right mix of 3- and 4-seeds, and geography still a priority, the overall regional balance is there.

It’s not ideal for some, but it accurately follows what past committees have done and honors what the NCAA has said is the hope of the individual institutions — to enhance the experience by playing closer to home even if it means a more difficult path.

At Swish Appeal, Mike Robinson argues that Why the Atlantic Sun deserves two teams in this year’s NCAA tournament

No more clockgates? Division I men’s and women’s basketball championships to use advanced timing and replay technologies

Know Your KU History: Tamecka Dixon

Tamecka Dixon is one of only three women’s basketball players to have her number hung in the rafters at Allen Fieldhouse. That’s how good she was.

The Linden, New Jersey native came to Kansas in the fall of 1993 and immediately got started on an impressive Kansas career. As a freshman, she only started six games, but averaged 17 minutes per game off the bench. That year, she averaged 6.8 points per game and helped KU to a second round NCAA tournament appearance. The 22-6 Jayhawks were a nine seed and lost to the top-seeded Penn State Nittany Lions in the second game.

Former Southwood star Alana Beard still on center stage

Watching Alana Beard with a basketball in her hand, while sporting the orange, blue and white uniform of the Southwood Lady Cowboys from 1997-2000, was the sporting equivalent of Princess Odette slicing through the air at the Bolshoi Theater.

“Alana was so smooth in her movements. Great body control,” is how former Southwood head coach Steve McDowell described her.

Ironically, the ballerina-like Beard would more than likely turn down an invitation to ply her trade at the famed Moscow venue…for climatological reasons.

Thanks for losing, Knicks! From the New York Times: The Shy One? She’s the Red Storm’s Fiercest Rebounder – St. John’s Amber Thompson Transforms Herself and Her Team

When Amber Thompson arrived at St. John’s four years ago as the recipient of a basketball scholarship, her body language was not promising. She would hold her hand in front of her face when she spoke. She would look away from others to avoid eye contact. She was so painfully reserved it raised questions about her ability to assert herself on the court.

But then practice began and Thompson unveiled a strikingly different persona, that of a fierce, no-holds-barred competitor intent on succeeding.

Also : F.D.U.-Florham, Division III Champion, Sets Its Sights on Repeating

Marc Mitchell was born and raised in Newark. Now 46, he has coached New Jersey basketball teams — recreation league, middle school, high school and college — for more than 20 years.

Still, he had never heard of Fairleigh Dickinson University, Florham, before applying for the position of women’s basketball coach there in 2009. A few days before interviewing, he called the admissions office and set up a campus tour. He wanted to learn about the college, which is in Madison, about 15 miles west of Newark.

Six years later, Mitchell has helped make F.D.U.-Florham a recognizable name in Division III athletics. The Devils were 33-0 last season and became the first team from New Jersey to win an N.C.A.A. women’s basketball title. This season, their only loss came on Feb. 7, in overtime, when Eastern University ended their 53-game winning streak, the longest in the nation at the time for a men’s or women’s team, regardless of division.

A little W news:

Someone’s cranky: The 2015 Mystics: A lot like the 2014 Mystics

LeanIn.Org Launches “#LeanInTogether” Public Service Campaign

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Lehigh traveled to Arizona State and earned its first loss, 81-61.

ASU continued it’s undefeated-slaying by taking down Northwestern, 88-75.

The Penguins lose! After a rough start, Pittsburgh seems to have found it’s sea legs.

It took two overtimes, but Indiana State (10-1) handed St. John’s their first loss, 73.67. ISU’s record send me to their websitet, because I remember a while back they were very good… and then something mysterious happened and their coach was dismissed. Much not-good followed. Good started when coach Joey Wells entered the scene four years ago. How cool to know that Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir has landed there as a Graduate Manager (she finished her career there)!

As for the still undefeateds: I’m still looking at #21 Mississippi State and #15 Georgia with a jaundiced eye. They face each other on Jan 2nd.

In what one hopes for in the match up between two undefeated teams: #3 Texas and #4 Texas A&M, the Longhorns captured the victory with a last-second Davenport layup. How fun will in-state THIS rivalry be over the years!!

Speaking of in-state rivalries: South Dakota over North Dakota, 86-81. Off topic – I’ve not been to either state… and boy, is the mid-June birding festival in Carrington, ND is soooooo tempting. But, I might be conferencing in New Orleans… sigh. ;-)

Akron is 10-0.

#16 (and climbing) Oregon State. They’re at Tennessee on the 28th.

Princeton. Honesty, if they stay focused and injury-free, an undefeated regular season should be in the bag. If the can get a high seed in the tourney, they might move into the next round. BUT, they need to beef up their out-of-conference schedule. Unless folks are afeared of them….

#1 South Carolina. Looking at their schedule I see #12 Kentucky on the Jan. 11th… #5 TAMU on Jan. 26th…. but isn’t everyone looking towards their game at UConn on Feb. 9th?

As I called it, Stanford v. Tennessee was ugly. Graham seems optimistic about the future of the Vols (Better defense, Harrison’s return boost Lady Vols), but I’m not convinced. And Stanford is looking mighty shaky, aren’t they? When you need 30 from Samuelson to overcome 4-7 UC Davis…. Doug talks PAC12: Oregon State rises in AP women’s poll.

Is #17 Rutgers reverting to type? 66 v. Iona (a win.) Still no Laney.

#8 Baylor spotted #18 Michigan State a nice lead at half time, then quickly reeled the Spartans in, clamped down on defense and pulled away for the 19pt victory.

Not a huge win, but for someone who seems to be painstakingly building a program, San Francisco over San Jose State, 77-62, is something Azzi must be proud of. Junior Taylor Proctor earned West Coast Conference Player of the Week honors – the first Don do earn in-season mention in two years.

Speaking of painstakingly building a program, I’m guessing Patty Coyle knew what she was taking on when she stepped into the head coach position at St. Peter’s, but 0-9′s still gotta hurt.

Yup, I’m paying attention to Tsipis’ George Washington team, who defeated Saint Mary’s, 70-52. The Gaels aren’t quite the force they’ve been in the past, but when was the last time folks could think encouraging thoughts ’bout GW? Baby steps, y’all, baby steps.

Yes, they’re missing Goss, but to fall to #13 Duke, 89-68? Makes you go “hmmm” about the Wildcats.

You know, even in a “down” year, Marist is a force to be respected. The Red Foxes took down the Wabbits, 82-64.

Good news for the #5 Irish: Turner is back. Not so good news: they needed all of her 19ptsp to take down (3-7) Saint Joseph’s. 

Debbie Antonelli Special: Penn State v. South Florida. After the first half, tied 37-37. After the second half, tied 77-77. After one OT, the Bulls come away with the win, 90-87.

Debbie Antonelli Special, Part 2: (No overtime needed) #23 Iowa over 5-6 Drake, 100-98. (24 points in the last 65 seconds!) Guess we need to keep an eye on Bulldog sophomore Lizzy Wendell, huh. (41pts)

Debbie Antonelli, Special Part 3 includes some usual suspects: San Jose State 102, Sacramento State, 94.

Kudos to Cynthia Cooper and her team for not bowing under the challenges they’ve faced this year. West Coast USC has a lot of fight in them – as #19 Oklahoma State found out, though the Cowgirls escaped with a 66-62 win. Looking to the Trojans’ future, they will absorb UConn transfer Sadie Edwards and Alabama transfer Kaneisha Horn.

Speaking of teams that haven’t given up. Ohio State seriously stomped #21 West Virginia. This is a weirdly iffish Mountaineer team. They “let” the Buckeyes’ Kelsey Mitchell score 39pts in 27 minutes.

Got to see UCLA in person v. #2 Connecticut. The score says “rout” but man, the Bruins play hard and have some players. Looking forward to watching them grow.

So, I find this score interesting, how about you? Kennesaw State 61, Xavier 60.

Remember when I was wondering what happened to Florida (and Vandy and LSU)? Well, they faced Eastern Washington from the Big Sky and got schooled, 67-56.

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#19 (8-0) Georgia, 49. (1-5) Coppin State, 29.

No. You are not going to suck me in, #23, 7-0 Mississippi State. Not until you play those three games in February.

Lehigh is rolling (6-0) and Hampton is not (0-5).

Interesting: Hofstra over Albany, 65-55. The Pride offers up a great basketball name: Loftus, and Kelly delivered: 7 three-pointers.

I’m going to say this very, very quietly, so as not to draw the basketball gods’ attention: San Francisco is now 6-1 and atop the West Coast standings. Tough string of games coming up, though.

Tonight’s Debbie Antonelli special: San Jose State, 110, Southern Oregon, 91.

Watch Out Wednesday!!! #2 Notre Dame hosts the #15 Terps (in Ft. Wayne) ESPN3 @ 7PMEST.

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UNC got coach Hatchell her 900th win with a healthy stomping of Boston College.

North Carolina women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell never misses an opportunity to market her team, whether it’s printing shirts in her kitchen, buying ads in the student newspaper or driving a car that’s fully wrapped with promotional material.

When it came time to celebrate Hatchell’s own accomplishment Thursday, her players returned the favor. Sophomore guard Erika Johnson designed hats with the words “Sylvia Hatchell 900 wins,” which everyone on the team wore proudly after the Tar Heels defeated Boston College 80-52.

“I am so excited for her,” Johnson said. “It’s just cool to be in the presence of someone who has accomplished so much.”

Mechelle has Hatchell’s milestone moments.

Three ranked SEC teams had surprising battles on their hands, but prevailed.

In OT, it was Kentucky over Arkansas, 80-74.

Auburn served notice, pushing Georgia until the Bulldogs prevails, 61-58.

Graves continues to impress. Her steal and last bucket secured Tennessee’s two-point win over LSU.

Marist is rollin’, rollin’, rollin‘.

Woot! Woot! Da Penguins are at 6-2 in the Horizon.

Hello, Sam Houston — with their win over McNeese St., they get a little revenge (the Cowgirls gave them their only conference loss) and are now 9-1 in the Southland.

That sigh of relief may have come out of Michigan: the Wolverines get back on the winning side with their 72-69 win over Illinois.

Whoa! Lookee here! Ball State took down Central Michigan, 68-61! That puts them in a tie for the best record in the (entire) MAC.

Another upset: North Dakota (5-8 Big Sky) defeats Montana St (8-5).

Montana (10-3) kept pace, though, losing to Northern Colorado (9-3), 54-41.

A near upset: Green Bay(8-0, Horizon) squeaked by Loyola (IL) (2-5), 65-62.

The wheels seem to have come off the Presbyterian (8-4 Big South) bus: they lost to Gardner-Webb (4-7, Big South), 55-38. It was coach Reeves 400th win.

In a key C-USA match up, it was an undermanned Tulane (6-2) over UTEP (5-3). (Contrary to what the ESPN scoreboard said earlier.)

Ouch. Pacific  (8-2, Big West) got some national attention, but couldn’t take down Cal Poly (7-3).

Hawai’i is 7-2 in the Big West. I’m just sayin’.

Jen Azzi’s Dons still have a ways to go: Gonzaga (9-1) dismissed them, 84-46.

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No, I’m not talking about Baylor’s 17pt win over Oklahoma (or BG setting the all-time block record), or Notre Dame’s 45pt win over Providence (or Diggins’ 2000th point, joining Morgan, Gaither and Riley), or UConn’s 36 pt win over Cincinnati, or Oklahoma State’s 13pt win over Kansas, or Iowa State’s four point win over… well, actually, that was fun, in that they came back from 9 down in the first to beat West Virginia.

No, I’m talking about Stetson walking in to Naples and getting stomped by FGCU, 74-55. Yah, there’s bad blood between the programs, but don’t stir the pot if you can’t bring the needed ingredients, I say.

“It’s obviously a very big win for us,” said FGCU coach Karl Smesko, acknowledging Stetson as a top rival despite FGCU’s sizable advantage in the series. “Stetson’s not going to lose very many games in conference, so you’ve got to win your games at home against them.”

The Hatters will get a chance to even the score on February 23rd.

American squeezed by Army. They’re  joined by Navy atop the Patriot League, making the conference name seem quite appropriate.

It was all Enemkpali, as Texas got its first Big 12 win.

Ball State moved to 5-1 in the MAC, but at 6-0, Central Michigan may be the class of the league. We’ll see how they handle Bowling Green on the 3rd. Their rematch against Toledo (which they won, AT Toledo) is on the 24th. The Rockets had to do everything they could to escape MAC-winless NIU, 44-42.

In the Southern, Davidson powered past Elon in the second half, to move to 8-1 in conference play — .5 behind the Mocs, who defeated Appalachian State, 59-55. That rematch, the Wildcats lost at home the first game, will happen on Feb. 25th AT Chattanooga.

Green Bay dismissed Valpo, moving to 5-0 in the Horizon.

Quinnipiac held Fairleigh Dickinson to 13 in the second half, on their way to a 66-39 win. The Bobcats are now 7-0 in the NEC, and have their best start in program history.

After opening the season with three losses, and suffering their first conference loss, Seattle U recovered against Texas State and moved to 8-1 in the WAC. Utah State (7-2 in the Conference) is up next.

Nebraska-Omaha gave the Wabbits a wun for the munny, but South Dakota State held on for the 10pt win and the 7-1 Summit record.

St. Joe’s keeps up with Dayton, Duquesne and Fordham, and now  sits at 4-0 in the A-10.

‘Ware the Bengals: Idaho State took down conference top dog Montana State, 63-55. That made Montana, relieved 61-53 winners over winless Weber State, quite happy.

Albany is proving they’re the American East’s Big Dog.

Nice, nice win for San Francisco and coach Azzi: 65-56 over BYU, avenging their 80-58 loss in the WAC opener.

Coop’s Texas Southern keeps winning. This time, it was Alabama A&M on the losing end.

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1996: VanDerveer leads U.S. women to ’96 gold

At Stanford, Tara VanDerveer and Jennifer Azzi helped transform women’s basketball from a virtual club program into a headliner and a must-have ticket at Maples Pavilion. Of course, two national championships and a pipeline of outstanding talent perpetuated the success and the popularity of the game at Stanford.

But on a national or international scale, women’s basketball had not quite caught up to what was happening in the college game, at least in pockets like Stanford. The U.S. women’s team had produced a series of disappointing results heading into 1996 – bronze medals in the 1991 Pan Am Games, ‘92 Olympics and ’94 world championships.

With the 1996 Olympics to be held in Atlanta, a concerted effort was made to raise the profile of the women’s team, which paled in the public’s imagination to the resounding success of the 1992 men’s Olympic team – the “Dream Team.”

No, really, I mean it — read Tara’s Shooting from the Outside and Sara’s Venus to the Hoop. The games don’t start for a few days. You have time, and it’ll give you a truly rich understanding of what’s going on in London.

1997: Nothing like the Reign – The Seattle Reign 1997 (Look! It’s Tari, Tari, Tari! She must be psyched about her cousin, Tayyiba Haneef-Park)

Flash forward, from FIBA’s Paul Nilsen: Thinking of Sanchez when The Games begin

When the eagerly anticipated Olympics finally swing into action later this week, my thoughts won’t only be with those ready to step out in London but also those who missed out – and none more so than Argentinian legend Carolina Sanchez.
 
Four years ago, when Argentina failed to punch their ticket for Beijing, it was a painful experience in more ways than one for the veteran. A broken nose caused a premature exit from the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament and rubbed an unnecessary dose of salt into a deep emotional wound.
 
And, perhaps even more agonising and disappointing than what she endured in 2008, was the way in which she recently bowed out of international basketball altogether last month.

More from Paul and FIBA: Serbian straight talking from Jokovic

Even accounting for the cynics who will hint at political motivations whenever representatives of any Federation speak, Jokovic is direct, very much matter-of-fact and that’s a hugely appealing quality.
 
“I suppose that we have started repairing the long-term consequences of inaction and the neglect of women’s basketball,” she admitted.
 
“We have improved the financial situation, set up the system, laid the foundations to build something that we will all be proud of.
 
“But, it takes maybe two Olympic cycles of serious work to get closer to our former successes.

A great tweet from Paul: Paul Nilsen@EuroLeagueWomen

I’ve no time for the bigotry, prejudice and intolerance shown towards our women players. You know who you are. Shame on you. You’re blocked!

Paulo Kennedy: Will the Opals be first class?

Julio Chitunda: What next for Mali?

From Doug: US coaches not marching in Olympic ceremony

Don’t expect to see Geno Auriemma or Mike Krzyzewski marching with the U.S. delegation Friday night at the opening ceremony.

They aren’t allowed because Olympic organizers decided to cut down the number of people marching to shorten the ceremony.

“It really was something special to do, but to be honest the Olympics are about the athletes,” Auriemma said. “No one really remembers who the coaches were. No one remembers who coached Jesse Owens.

“I’m OK with it. The focus is, as it should be, on the athletes. They are the ones who got here and deserve the attention and praise.”

Important tweets from Doug:

With Ichiro’s trade to the Yankees; Sue Bird is now the longest tenured athlete in Seattle sports.

Turkish women’s basketball team got a strong sendoff to its first Olympics. Music blaring and 70 members of hotel staff waving Turkish flags

Just the stats, m’am: Cumulative stats from USA Basketball.

Also from USA Basketball: USA Women’s National Team Ready To Roll Into London

Geno Auriemma (head coach, USA and University of Connecticut)
Is this team shaping up to look as you expected? Yeah, I think so. We just talked a little bit about how we can’t be great at everything because we just don’t have the time to be great at everything. If we did have a couple months together, we could be great at everything because the collection of players that we have is phenominal. But the things that I thought we’d be good at, we are very good at. The flexibility that we have, the versatility that we have with this team is exactly what I thought it would be. The leadership is exactly what I thought it would be. People buying into their roles is exactly what I thought it would be. So yeah, the only downside is I wish I had three months with these guys, even three straight weeks, because it would be a lot of fun to watch.

Oi! Some Aussie video with LJ.

From Swish Appeal: 2012 London Olympics Preview: Turkey

From Lee/Full Court: London 2012: Russia — As usual, an enigma

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which one was the BIGGEST one, asks Nate: Finding The NCAA Women’s Basketball Upset of the Year By Reframing Expectations

Shortly after the San Francisco Dons defeated the BYU Cougars on Thursday night, Matt Olson of Omni Rankings tweeted what many women’s basketball fans were already thinking: Jennifer Azzi’s Dons might’ve pulled off the upset of the year.

Helen of Women’s Hoops Blog reiterated the point on Friday, also suggesting that USF’s feat wasn’t quite as “sexy” as the Alabama Crimson Tide’s 77-75 upset win over the Kentucky Wildcats. Then there was the St. John’s Red Storm’s 57-56 win over the UConn Huskies, which was an upset in part because of the Red Storm interrupted a 99-game home win streak for the Huskies.

But this brings up a fun dilemma for basketball geeks, inspired by the very existence of Omni Rankings’ upset rankings: What constitutes the “Upset of the Year? And how on earth would we go about determining that with all the games that are played during any given season?

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by ESPN (Baylor, Notre Dame, Purdue, Duke, Kentucky, Stanford, right?)

American University Eagles

Boston University Terriers

Bowling Green Falcons

Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens

Eastern Illinois Panthers

Florida A&M Rattlers

Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles

Fresno State Bulldogs

Green Bay Phoenix

Hampton Pirates

High Point Panthers

Idaho State Bengals

McNeese State Cowgirls

Marist Red Foxes

Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders

New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders

Princeton Tigers

St. Bonaventure Bonnies

San Diego State Aztecs

University of Texas-El Paso Miners

Wichita State Shockers

By the way, HUGE win for Jennifer Azzi’s San Francisco squad: they got their second win in the WCC by taking down St. Mary’s (who’ve defeated conference leaders BYU and Gonzaga) courtesy of Mel Khlok’s 32pts, six steals  a buzzer-beater by Rheina Ale. The Dons played the Gaels a couple of weeks ago and got stomped by 22.

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Listen in:

In the women’s college game, there are so very few coaches with the programs, the resume, and the success of Coach Tara VanDerveer.   One of only five women’s coaches to win 800 games, she has won two national championships, a ridiculous amount of conference championships, NCAA tournament appearances galore, produced many All-Americans, Naismith winners, Wade Trophy winners, WNBA first round draft choices, and USA basketball participants.

As I can’t make it to Springfield this weekend, I thought it would be a good idea to pay tribute on Dishin & Swishin to the woman that deserved this honor several years ago.  With the help of Aaron Juarez, Stanford SID extraordinaire, we put together one of the infamous Dishin & Swishin roundtables.  When Aaron and I put out the information on what we were doing, the response was amazing, as former players lined up to pay homage to a coach/mentor/friend that means so much to them all.

Participants are:

Jennifer Azzi
Angela Taylor
Kate Paye
Vanessa Nygaard
Candice Wiggins
Jayne Appel
Jeanette Pohlen
Melanie Murphy

http://www.hoopfeed.com/ content/2011/08/11/dishin- swishin-august-11-2011- podcast-3-part-2-a-tribute-to- tara-vanderveer/

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Stanford University Trying To Find Themselves: Are They Ready For Xavier?

It’s possible that with forwards Nneka Ogwumike and Kayla Pedersen returning this season, people underestimated how much Appel and Gold-Onwude meant to the team last year, not to mention JJ Hones. While Gold-Onwude’s graduation has left a void on the defensive end, Appel’s role in facilitating offense from the high post was magnified by the Cardinal’s rocky start to the game during which USF played them even.

I’m intrigued to how Xavier responds to their loss at Duke.

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Stanford University Coach Tara VanDerveer Finally Gets #800: A Special Moment At USF

…that USF also actively facilitated a post-game celebration befitting of the moment after being so thoroughly outplayed by a far superior Cardinal team was confirmation that that there was probably no better situation in which VanDerveer could have reached the milestone. Not only was it that she won it with former players Jennifer Azzi and Katy Steding in attendance as USF’s coaches, but the response from the mixed crowd of Stanford and USF fans in addition to the support of an opposing program speaks volumes about what VanDerveer means to women’s basketball.

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Best of the West: Power Rankings for the Week of Dec. 6

She’s also Checking in with USF’s Jennifer Azzi

Checking in with USF coach Jennifer Azzi, whose Dons are on something of a roller-coaster in her first season as the head coach.

“We’re doing OK,” Azzi said late last week. “We had a couple of good wins and some not-so-great losses. There are definitely a lot of challenges.”

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From Q: Five Preseason Questions: What makes Azzi a ‘natural’ coach? How will that help her at USF?

If you were wondering how much University of San Francisco players know about first-year coach Jennfier Azzi, you’re not alone.

“These guys? Not so much,” said Azzi’s former Stanford teammate and current USF assistant Katy Steding. “I think they know that we were successful and things like that. But, you know, I think it’s a different ball game because it was so long ago. I think they know the name, but it’s another thing to have watched them play a lot because most of them were in junior high or so even when Jennifer was playing (in the WNBA) and I retired two years before that. It’s a little bit different.

Some prognostications: Dishin & Swishin: Who Will Cut ‘Em Down in April? 2010-11 NCAA Top 10 Predictions

And finally, what kind of limb is Q goin’ out on? 2010-11 Pac-10 Preview: A Conference Poised To Restore Its National Reputation

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as if anticipating the *soon to come* list of the WHBMDRCOY list, Q writes about one obvious candidate:

Jennifer Azzi Makes A Strong First Impression On San Francisco Players

For most coaches, exhibition games are just a chance to play somebody different, most meaningful to the extent that they serve as something of a dress rehearsal.

But for first-year University of San Francisco coach Jennifer Azzi, there might have been a little added significance to the Dons 61-34 home win against Sonoma State University Friday night.

“Now no one will tell me anymore that I haven’t done it before,” quipped Azzi when asked about her first game coaching.

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have been busy:

As Cal addresses budget issues, Q offers: Jennifer Azzi On Title IX: “Why wouldn’t you want equality?

This can be read and framed two ways depending on your perspective:

1. Cal needs to cut men’s programs to meet Title IX requirements.

2. Cal needs to make opportunities for women proportional to their population in order to meet Title IX requirements.

Both are true, with one will come the other. However, the reason the framing matters is because at stake with Title IX is not an attack on men, but equity for women that has been denied for until Title IX was passed. As University of San Francisco coach Jennifer Azzi described when I spoke with her about the value of the WNBA last week, part of it is providing girls with the opportunities to aspire for things that boys always have.

The implicit assumption with the first framing is that the opportunity for women to play sports is less important than the same opportunity for men. Some will say fan interest in women’s sports is low, but that’s as much a consequence of women’s sports not even being guaranteed until 1972 as much as anything else. Others will resort to cost/benefit analysis relative to fan interest, but that point ultimately doesn’t hold much weight because usually the only programs that make money are football and men’s basketball. Last year, two Pac-10 men’s basketball programs weren’t profitable.

Q also has Azzi, Robinson Discuss The Value Of The WNBA Beyond Basketball and Why Nate Robinson Enjoys Women’s Basketball: “They go all out at all times.”

Dishin’ wonders about the bigs and asks: Sylvia Fowles, Is the Key to USA Gold in Her Knee? He also talked to Jayne Appel, Healthy & Banging for Team USA

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Debra Gore-Mann resigning as USF AD

This after hiring Jen Azzi and then having the program suffer NCAA sanctions.

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