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It’s almost as hot as L.A. and Minnesota are… yup, counting down to June 21st.

Meanwhile, folks in Chicago and Phoenix are scratching their heads.

Excelle: What’s wrong with the Phoenix Mercury?

Prior to the season, the Phoenix Mercury were favorites to take home the 2016 WNBA Championship. The majority of the league’s general managers picked Phoenix to win it all in their annual survey. Multiple Associated Press voters and some betting sites also favored the Mercury. But not two weeks later, the team is 0-4 and playing the worst defense in the WNBA. So, what happened?

It’s important to note that we’re just four games into the season, so hitting the panic button would be premature. Two of Phoenix’s losses were at the hands of the Minnesota Lynx, the defending champions. The other two were tight games against solid teams. Things could turn around quickly, but not without addressing some red flags.

Meanwhile…

SlamOnline: Q+A: Imani Boyette – With patience and hard work, Chicago’s rookie center is staying ready for when her number is called.

One record-setter salutes another – Pro from Don Lugo congratulates athlete who took her place in book

“My dad sent me this article and the photo and it said you broke my record,” Ms. Taurasi told Ana during their meeting on the court. “That’s good, records are meant to be broken.”

Their meeting was video taped, and was part of a 90-second video shown to the 10,000-plus fans in attendance that night during a time out.

Star Tribune: Lynx aim to stay undefeated vs. familiar foe

Moving on up: Unbeaten Sparks 2nd in AP WNBA power poll and WNBA: The Los Angeles Sparks Will Fly

Jeff Jacobs: Chiney And Nneka Ogwumike Foes On Court, Sisters Off

They went to dinner together Wednesday night. And when this game had ended, Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike walked off the court together, arms wrapped around each other’s shoulder.

After the 77-72 loss to the unbeaten Los Angeles Sparks, a heartened rookie Sun coach Curt Miller would say he felt his team had “grown up” Thursday night at Mohegan Sun Arena. The coming schedule, of course, will prove Miller correct or not.

This much is certain. Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike have grown up together and will never grow apart. Sisters forever.

Rolling Stone: Elena Delle Donne’s Silent Supremacy

Amsterdam Times: Liberty drop two overtime games (Yah, we know. Sigh)

Billboard: Ballin’ Out Podcast: Fat Joe & the WNBA’s Breanna Stewart on How They Came ‘All the Way Up’

ESPN: WNBA veteran DeLisha Milton-Jones wants to go out on own terms

After another “Year of Women’s Sports” is it any surprise we get this from the Times? Pro Basketball|After Two Decades, WNBA Still Struggling for Relevance or AJC’s Is WNBA’s expectation for success just a dream?

Then there’s MSR: Youngsters inspired by WNBA trailblazers

These are the post-1997 players. These women hoopsters saw first-hand America’s longest running and most successful women’s pro basketball league as it moved from the drawing board to reality. As youngsters they could finally join their male counterparts and dream about something that many pre-WNBA generation players could only do abroad — one day playing pro ball in the States.

“The first time I thought about it, I was in fourth grade,” said Morgan Tuck, a rookie with Connecticut.

Dallas rookie Aerial Powers noted, “I can’t remember a specific moment [when she thought about playing professionally], but I do remember the Lisa Leslie dunk and her putting her hands up to the crowd.”

NCAA

Welp: Ole Miss self-imposes postseason ban for women’s basketball; reduced scholarships in football

Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie battles on and off the court

This was planned as the story of a 50-year-old coach who uses her celebrity to help raise awareness and funds to combat a deadly disease that haunts her life and scarred her body. The fact her 2016 team failed to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time in her nine-year tenure, the first time at Duke since 1994, only made it a more compelling tale of struggle and challenge.

But things have a way of turning out differently than we expect.

Hello: Hartford Hires Kim McNeill As Women’s Basketball Coach

Not too surprising, considering her record: Alabama A&M University: Head coach Semeka Randall resigns

Bye/Hello: Syracuse Women’s Basketball: Florida Guard Isis Young to Transfer to Orange

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So, yeah, there’s this thing going on: Players saying their coaches are so mean they’re either leaving their programs or suing them.

Chicago/Swoopes: Ex-Loyola players say Sheryl Swoopes’ coaching methods behind mass transfers

ISU/Fennelly: FENNELLY WOULD CHANGE “NOTHING” IN HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH MOODY

Illinois/BollantBollant speaks for the first time since allegations

Nebraska/YoriNatalie Romeo denies Yori allegations, gets permission to transfer; another Husker looking at schools

Duke/McCallie: Duke investigating McCallie’s basketball program

Kentucky/Mitchell: The Kentucky women’s basketball crisis and the battle over culture

College of Charleston/Jackson: Former women’s basketball player sues College of Charleston

SFA/Kellogg: SFA officials investigating complaint made by Ladyjack basketball player

 

First, I’m not quite sure I’m loving some of this “kids these days” reactions. Not only did we raise these kids, but we created the environment they’re playing in: travel teams, *fillintheblanksportscompany*  gear, pretty locker rooms, rating systems and a society that seems to value athletic skill over personal virtue.

Who wouldn’t struggle to keep their head on straight when faced by that wave of privilege?

“Kids these days” is the reality you’re dealing with. It IS a different world – and looking back to the “golden” past (some of it real, some of it mythologized) won’t help you figure out what actions you need to take with the players in front of you.

Second, it smacks of the dismissive “why don’t they just suck it up and get over it” mentality that undermines those who try to speak up against abuse, it whatever form it takes (Summitt/LaTech & Chinn/FIU come to mind). It moves to accepting the phrase “PC” as a pejorative.

For me, “politically correct” is the radical assumption that an individual can recognize that there are power dynamics in the world and that they are manifested in language and behavior. For me, being sensitive to those those dynamics doesn’t make you weak. It challenges me to be thoughtful and intentional in my practice. It asks me to consider the consequences of my actions before and after I take them. It’s hard and annoying and exhilarating and confusing and, sometimes, threatening and humiliating as I recognize behavior and patterns that don’t necessarily fill me with pride.

Coaches are often held up as educators. Now, there are all sorts of educators – with different styles and pedagogy. (And I’m guessing that we can agree that some of what happens in a gym would be unacceptable in a classroom – that, itself, is an interesting discussion). And, as educators, it’s not just what you know. How you share it makes a difference, too, because learning is an emotional, physical and intellectual process.

Coaches know this – you often hear them talking about “what works for this player doesn’t work for that player.” Sometimes it’s called “pushing buttons.”

Well, sometimes the buttons we push are the wrong buttons. And as educators… as the adults in the room, it’s on us to reflect, “What was my role? If I could do it over again, could I have done it differently? How will this impact my decisions and practice moving forward?”

Hey, maybe you wouldn’t change a thing. And please, don’t mistake my intent. I’m not advocating that folks avoid honesty, hard truths, pushing folks, being direct etc. Again, being sensitive and respectful is. not. being. weak. In fact, it requires a certain amount of courage to say, “Huh. By my actions, I made someone feel a certain way. Am I okay with that?”

How you answer that question determines your next steps.

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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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Kinda feel like the rain outside is symbolic of what’s been happening to our game in the last few days….

Mechelle weighs in: Tyler Summitt’s fall crushing to Louisiana Tech and Tennessee

The school saw bringing him on board despite his inexperience as a calculated risk. Louisiana Tech was willing to roll the dice on that.

Every time I interviewed him over the years — starting when he was still in high school — about his potential future in coaching, I came away impressed, too, with his passion for the sport and how polite and well-spoken he was. I’d bet most journalists had a very favorable impression of him.

But the biggest key to coaching is managing people, and that’s something Summitt apparently wasn’t prepared for.

USA Today adds: Tyler Summitt’s favoritism divided Louisiana Tech team, say parents

I’d say “congrats” to South Dakota’s Amy Williams for being named the new head coach at Nebraska (agree with Mechelle), but one still wonders what exactly went on behind the scenes.

On the heels of that, we have this from Swish Appeal: Duke launches investigation into possible player mistreatment

And this: Illinois reaches a settlement with former women’s basketball student-athletes

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reached a proposed agreement with former women’s basketball student-athletes who had filed a lawsuit against the university. The students alleged racial discrimination and mistreatment that included verbal and emotional abuse from coaches. Associate coach Mike Divilbis left the program in May 2015 but head coach Mike Bollant remains at Illinois.

Yikes!

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Honestly, why do you bother? You get a UConn game on your channel, thousands of Husky fans realize you exist and desperately look for you… and then you bring out Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) – someone who 1) Doesn’t do his homework (ummm, have you checked out how many upsets happened in the last week?) 2) Doesn’t know his facts (ummm, have you checked out UConn’s SOS?) 3) and DISRESPECTS the women’s game… *smh, surprised that Swin didn’t smack HIS head*

Doug, honey, if you’re worried about a sport that is diluted, where folks don’t play competitive games and is parity-free, let me quote a wise observer from Miami who suggests you check out college football: “Alabama and their ilk go 13-1 outscoring their opponents 2.3 to 1. They just beat the #3 ranked team 38-0. At least women’s basketball is a little competitive!”

Not quite yet: #6 Baylor rumbled in to Longhorn territory, grabbed an early lead an never let go, sending #4 Texas to its first loss of the season.

The Texas women’s basketball team lost on Sunday.

On the court. In the press conference. Inside their minds. Everywhere it counts.

Except in the Erwin Center stands, where 8,996 fans — the largest crowd of the season — convened to watch the fourth-ranked Longhorns’ breakthrough moment this season.

But that moment didn’t come.

ACK! #15 TAMU had overtime against #2 South Carolina in its sight, courtesy of a spectacular pass/lay in and then… brain freeze: foul the inbounder and Sessions seals a one-point win for the Gamecocks. Staley speaks.

Too muchToo much firepower: #5 Ohio State gave Purdue its first in-conference loss, 90-70.

“We started the game with a much better sense of urgency,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. “We talked about it. We were going to need it. Purdue is a really good team. If we didn’t show up today, it wasn’t going to go our way.”

Not this game: #8 Maryland poured it on in the first half against Northwestern and never looked back.

Not pretty, but we’ll take it: #9 Kentucky over Auburn, 54-47.

Perhaps Kentucky fans should start sending Sonya Murray some residential listings in the Lexington area.

With her mom in Memorial Coliseum on Sunday, Taylor Murray had career highs in points and steals and helped lead the No. 9 Cats to a 54-47 victory over Auburn.

“She has next-level speed that is unlike most people on the floor,” UK Coach Matthew Mitchell said of the freshman guard. “That’s a great weapon for us.

12 straight: #10 Arizona State used strong first and third quarters to show Utah the door, 80-60. Nice piece on Utes coach Lynne Roberts.

As much as Lynne Roberts loved sports as a youngster, Don Roberts never expected his only daughter to make a living in athletics.

“She was always a very strong person, had a lot of personality and a lot of drive,” he said. “But she was always going into science. There was never an idea of being a coach. It was never talked about.”

A lot of local women’s basketball fans are grateful that somewhere in her college basketball career, her passion to compete and her ability to teach persuaded the history major to pursue a career in a much misunderstood and often maligned profession.

Those most grateful for her choice are likely the Utah players who are exceeding the expectations of almost everyone — except their first-year coach.

0-29 no more: Beavers over Trees. #12 Oregon State got the win over #11 Stanford on the merits of a comeback. Feels like OSU is learning from its games… and if Sydney Wiese can return….

#16 Florida State kept the Panthers defeated in the ACC, 66-55.

So, yah, this Pac12 is a thing: #17 UCLA escapes Washington State, 75-73.

See above, as #25 USC didn’t escape Kelsey Plum and her 32 points. Washington wins, 69-60.

There wasn’t anything anyone could do to stop this second-half comeback.

After an abysmal first half, which preceded a “crazy” halftime outburst from typically mellow coach Mike Neighbors, the Washington women’s basketball team rallied to beat No. 25 USC, 69-60, Sunday afternoon to complete a weekend sweep of the ranked L.A. schools at home.

 The Huskies (14-4) have won three in a row and sit in third place in the Pac-12 at 5-2. This week, they could also find themselves ranked in The Associated Press poll for the first time since 2003. 

It was close early, but then the #19 Bulls pulled away from the Pirates, 75-54.

Is the SEC allergic to scoring? #20 Florida had to rally with 20 in the 4th to defeat LSU, 53-45.

Make that 200: Katie Meier and #21 Miami get the win over UNC, 76-61, to reach the win milestone. Rats: Xylina McDaniel, a four-year starter for North Carolina, will miss the rest of the season because of an ACL.

Bounce back: #22 Duke made sure they didn’t lose two games in a row, and BC stays winless in the ACC, 71-51.

“I think that the team is beginning to understand what it takes to prepare and to really get themselves in a good space in which to play. The team was very fun to coach today because there was activity everywhere,” McCallie said. “You love it if you have to turn down instead of turn up. If anything today, I was turning down things and that makes for a really good team performance.”

Moore, Moore, Moore: Mariya, that is. It took all of Moore’s 31 points to help #23 #23 Louisville escape the Wolf Pack, 92-90.

“It’s a win. Now, am I pleased? No,” said Cardinals coach Jeff Walz. “We got extremely lucky. In my opinion, we got out-played. NC State deserved to win that game, but unfortunately for them and fortunately for us, we had a few bounces at the end that went our way.”

Hog Heaven: That’s three wins over Top 25 teams in 10 days for Arkansas.

Albany and Stony Brook still share the America East top spot (1/21, y’all). Speaking of Albany: Shereesha Richards’ next stop likely to be WNBA

The Bonnies.

“You see what our players have been doing on the floor, but what most didn’t see is all the time they put in during the spring, summer and fall,” Crowley said of his team. “Now they’re being rewarded for it. There’s a long way to go and we try to stay focused on what’s next. If you don’t do that in this league, things can go away quickly.”

GW over the Dukes: 

George Washington 6-foot-4 forward Jonquel Jones led all players with 23 points, 18 rebounds and 7 blocks, giving the Dukes fits down low.

“In my 19 years of Division I, she’s got to be one of the 10 or 12 best players,” Burt said.

Farleigh Dickinson (2-3) went on a tear in the second half, giving Robert Morris (4-1) their first NEC defeat.

“It certainly was a disappointing effort on our part,” Robert Morris coach Sal Buscaglia said. “All the credit has to go to Fairleigh Dickinson. They played harder over the 40 minutes, and when we tied the game in the second half, they responded and we didn’t.

In a Big South show down, it was Gardner-Webb squeaking out a 2-point win over UNC Asheville, 58-56. Of note: the Bulldogs were missing two starters (center K.J. Weaver and point guard Ja’Da Brayboy)

Chattanooga is feeling right at home in the Southern.

It was, no surprise, a tough one, but Ohio managed to squeak out a 2-pt OT win over Central Michigan, 86-84, thanks to Kiyanna Black’s career high 39.

Troy is looking strong in the Sun Belt. Congrats to senior guard Ashley Beverly Kelley, whose current career total (1,621) is the most by a player in Troy’s 23-year Division I history. I might mention that coach Chanda Rigby seems poachable…. The program won just two games in 2011-12, the season prior to Rigby’s arrival, and has most recently won 20 games in 2014-15.

No jinx, please, but that is three wins in the Big West for Santa Barbara.

Congrats! EKU to honor women’s basketball great Lisa Goodin and first NCAA tournament team. Goodin is in the Indiana Basketball HOF. At EKU

Goodin, who played for Eastern from 1980 to 1984, is the all-time leading scorer in EKU women’s basketball history with 1,920 career points. The guard from Austin, Indiana is second in program history in field goals made, free throws made and free throw percentage (87.4 percent).  She is fifth in assists (374) and 10th in steals (182).

A sharpshooter with consistent accuracy, she led the NCAA in free throw percentage as both a freshman (.897) and junior (.910).

Stop this: Fight involving players and fans halts girls basketball game in Indiana

It’s been a while since it felt like a coach’s job was in the balance before a game. Elzy tries to calm fans:

“The fans were disappointed that we lost (to Arkansas),” Elzy said. “We were disappointed as well. We have a responsibility to uphold the legacy and play the Lady Vol way, which we did not against Arkansas. I know for the fans, right now, it seems like it’s over. It’s not over. It’s a long year.”

Elzy urged Tennessee fans not to panic despite the disappointing loss to the Razorbacks.

OT: Listening to John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey spin discs on Radio Deluxe is musical heaven.

 

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“So what’d I miss?

A little Fresno, Frisco, Flooding and Fever threw me off my game this week. Wheeee!

Some interesting, interesting stuff happening on the boards. Obviously, the folks who say there are no upsets in women’s basketball are looking more and more like the uniformed idjits they are. That being said, if some of the upsets aren’t setting of alarm bells in the Athletic Director’s offices, I’d be disappointed… but not surprised.

Let us count the upsets – and note how many unranked teams were involved:

Indiana over #18 Michigan State, 81-65. Lesson: It would be nice if local papers paid attention to Moren’s team:

“As I expressed to our players tonight, I hope this win gives them a dose of confidence,” head coach Teri Moren said. “And they believe when they communicate, when they stay connected defensively, when they hit shots—they’re going to be in the game and win a lot of ball games. That’s my hope that this win gives our kids a shot in the arm that they can play with the best teams in the Big Ten…I’m just really, really proud.”

Northwestern over #5 Ohio State, 86-82. Lesson: You’ve got to play four quarter, youngsters.

Northwestern brought Ohio State back to earth on Thursday night in Evanston, Ill., with a thud that sent ripples around Lake Michigan.

The Wildcats jumped to a 48-30 halftime lead and withstood a late comeback by the fifth-ranked Buckeyes to hand them an 86-82 defeat at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

The loss snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Buckeyes (12-4, 4-1) and knocked them out of a tie with Purdue for the Big Ten lead.

Arkansas over #13 Tennessee, 64-59. Lesson:  Whatever the upheavals outlined by Mechelle, it’s fair to point a finger at Holly.

Let’s be clear…this was a bad team at 7-10.

And with the No. 146 ranked defense, No. 155 in field goal percentage defense, Tennessee responded with another atrocious shooting night.

The Vols shot worse than 35 percent from the field and below 30 percent from beyond the arc. In general women’s basketball, that’s okay.

But it’s not okay when you’re Tennessee and you have the talent. While there’s only one senior starter, there are two three-year players and another four-year player in the lineup. So the excuses are running thin, and Warlick’s misuse of her team’s strengths is evident.

Georgia over #20 Florida, 71-61. Lesson: Nice time to get your first SEC win, coach Taylor. (Gotta fix the Georgia page, though. A.nnoy.ing!

NC State over #22 Duke, 65-62. Lesson: There may be some changes in the ACC: The win improved the Wolfpack to 13-5 and more importantly 4-1 in ACC play, while Duke fell to 12-6 and 1-3.

2015-16 has been a record-setting season to date for Duke Women’s Basketball, in all the worst possible ways. Duke lost to an unranked opponent at home for the first time since 2002 (when an Iciss Tillis flub at the end of the Duke Classic championship game led to an overtime loss to South Carolina). Tonight the Blue Devils lost to the Wolfpack Women in Cameron for the first time since 1996, when Chasity Melvin led her team to a win. In this contest, NC State rode a 30-11 edge in points off turnovers to edge Duke, 65-62. This loss will no doubt drop #22 Duke (12-6, 1-3 ACC) out of the rankings for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.

Washington over #17 UCLA, 64-56. Lesson: The Pac12 teams are like the Old Big East teams: Not to be dismissed.

[Talia] Walton’s performance Friday night — 22 points and six rebounds in 39 minutes — went a long way toward helping legitimize the Huskies’ hopes of reaching the NCAA tournament for a second consecutive season. The win was the first for UW (13-4, 4-2 Pac-12) against a ranked opponent this season.

“When she plays like this,” Plum said, “we can beat anyone.”

Washington State over #25 USC, 73-61. Lesson: Pac12 means No. games. off.

“We just lost our focus,” head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke said. “We didn’t come out ready to play and they outplayed us. They hustled more and just played better than us.”

Oklahoma State over #14 Oklahoma, 73-42. Lesson: Who knows WHAT is going on in Stillwater? The Cowgirls just came off a 47-44 loss to Kansas. Perhaps all games should be listed as “Bedlam” games?

#24 Missouri over #7 Mississippi State, 88-54. Lesson: Get out fast.

Missouri’s hot start was a stark contrast compared to its two other games this season against ranked opponents. The Tigers trailed Tennessee 24-11 less than 10 minutes into a 71-55 loss on Jan. 4 and trailed South Carolina 25-10 just more than 13 minutes into Sunday’s 83-58 loss.

Thursday’s result could prove to be a big one for a Missouri team seeking its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2006.

With conference play in full swing, here are some teams deserving of your attention:

Albany (45-0) sits atop the America East and Shereesha Richards broke the 2,000-point milestone. They play Stony Brook (4-0) on the 21st. When is someone going to poach coach Abrahamson-Henderson?

Bucknell is making a run at the Patriot League title. With their win over Colgate, the Bison start 6-0 in league play for the first time since the 1999-2000 season, remain all alone in first place in the Patriot League, win its sixth straight game, the longest streak of the Roussell era and the program’s longest streak since 2006-07 and Improve to 61-47 in Aaron Roussell’s four years as head coach. I’ve got my eyes looking forward to their game against Army, Jan 30th.

St. Bonaventure (5-0). Couple of years ago they were darlings, then they had a tough year. Now, hello! 

This year’s Atlantic 10 preseason polls didn’t think much of St. Bonaventure University. The guys picked 8th.

“Eighth is the second highest we’ve been picked in my nine years here so we looked at it as a compliment,” said St. Bonaventure Head Men’s Basketball Coach Mark Schmidt.

The ladies’ team picked 9th.

Senior forward Katie Healy said, “Nobody saw what we put in this summer, all the work, all the hours we put in. Both teams, now in first place and combined, are 25-5 to start the year. That’s never happened before.”

While it might be the guys’ best start in 16 years, for the ladies, it’s their best start ever.

The Bonnies other A-10 compatriots are no slouches. Duquesne who, for the first time in program history, was ranked in the USA Today/Coaches Top 25 Poll, will take their 15-game winning to ESPNU (Sue Bird & Melissa Lee on the call) on Sunday. They’ll face George Washington, who has won nine in a row. (Speaking of poachable coaches…Tsipis)

Ohio – the 3-time MAC champs are looking for a fourth title. In a matchup of two poachable coaches (Bolden & Verdi), the Bobcats defeated their 2015 MAC Tournament Championship game opponent, Eastern Michigan, 71-64.

Abilene Christian (4-0) continues to win in the Southland.

Colorado State (4-0) has already defeated San Jose State. Fresno State (4-0) defeated them today. They don’t play each other until March 1st. Who scheduled only one regular season game between these two teams?

Swoopes, there it is: Chicago (Loyola) is 4-0 in the MVC.

Purdue (5-0). We’ve been calling their name. Let’s see what they’ve got: OSU tomorrow.

Green Bay (5-0) faces Wright State (4-0) on the 23rd. Winner stays #1 in the Horizon. Loser may have to wait for the rematch end of February.

Montana State (5-0). Maybe John Stockton is a good assistant coach, huh? They play 4-0 Eastern Washington on the 21st.

Sienna (7-0) in the MAAC and its best start in 14 years. But, don’t get to cocky – and never count the Foxes out. Marist they held on to give Iona its first conference loss, 62-61.

Western Kentucky (5-0) continues its resurgence under coach Michelle Clark-Heard (poachable!).

The WCC!!! 5-1, 5-1, 5-1, 4-2. ’nuff said.

I’m keeping an eye on the NBE.  While it’s been tough times for Seton Hall, St. John’s and Xavier are on a roll.

Is it too early to suggest Muffet McGraw as COY? Her competition, if the continue to improve, would be Louisville’s Walz. Both are, is sports-speak, “coachin’ their team up.

Did I jinx the Tribe?

Just sayin’ – Utah is 4-1 in the PAC 12.

Upcoming games to keep an eye on:

The aforementioned George Washington v. Duquesne.

The oft mentioned #4 Texas v. #6 Baylor, 3:30 on ESPN2.

South Carolina is 4-0 in the wacky SEC. They’ll face TAMU at 1:30 on ESPN2

Purdue at #5 Ohio State, 2pm.

#23 Louisville v. North Carolina State – who keeps up their momentum?

#24 Missouri v. Arkansas…. see above.

#17 UCLA v. Washington State. Does WSU continue to show how dicey the Pac12 is?

Speaking of: #11 Stanford v. #10 Oregon State. 

#22 Duke v. Boston College. How do the Blue Devils react?

#10 Arizona v. Utah. How legit are the Utes?

MLK Day

#13 Tennessee v. #3 Notre Dame, 7pm ESPN2. Will the Vols’ good game-bad game-good game pattern continue?

In other news:

Florida: UF women’s basketball surging thanks to talent infusion

Snap: Jackie Young breaks Indiana girls basketball scoring record

Through four seasons on the floor, Princeton girls basketball star Jackie Young has attacked the opposition and record books, steadily climbing up the scoring charts.

Now she’s in the record books.

A large crowd gathered Thursday night to see Young make history, including two players from the 1976 undefeated Hoosiers basketball team. 

A free throw late in the fourth quarter of the game against Wood Memorial landed her one point ahead of former record-holder Shanna Zolman.

Aztec girls basketball team aiming for championship, community revival

Most of the awards that decorate the glass cases at Aztec High School’s gymnasium have something to do with football.

The Tigers are best known for being able to push a pigskin ball down a football field but in the last year or so, they’ve had to make room for a new group of athletes that the school just wasn’t used to.

Over the last several years, the Aztec High School girls’ basketball team has emerged from the bottom of the local basketball barrel and into the spotlight.

Their newfound success is something Aztec junior Kairai George isn’t used to.

Congrats! West Bridgewater girls basketball coach notches 600th win

Congrats! DePaul’s Doug Bruno gets 600th win

Former WNBA President Orender gives insight into gender in sports

Candace Parker interview: ‘The hardest thing I’ve had to overcome…’

Hello: Wings Star Skylar Diggins Makes Surprise Appearance at High School in Dallas

GW basketball’s rebounding machine could score big in WNBA draft

Breanna Stewart Watch: Top Prospects Raising Her Game Even Higher as a Senior

Countdown to the WNBA Draft: No. 17 Kahleah Copper

Paul Nilsen’s Women’s Basketball Worldwide Looking forward to 2016 with relish

 

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16,332 Banker’s Field hearts breaking as Maya Moore nailed her game-winning three. Yah, Indy and their fans were stunned, but what. a. game!  Eight lead changes and 11 ties, including four in the final quarter? Here’s hoping they pack the stands on Sunday and Watch This!

More on the game:

David Woods: 

“I think that might have been one of the best-played WNBA Finals games in our history,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said.

It was. Not that it made the Fever feel better. Reeve referred to the 2009 WNBA Finals as perhaps the best in league history, and that one opened with the Phoenix Mercury beating the Fever 120-116 in overtime. The Mercury beat the Fever in Game 5 at Phoenix to take the title.

Bleacher Report: Indiana Fever vs. Minnesota Lynx Game 3 Score and Reaction

Doug at the AP: 

“(1.7) seconds is a lot of time,” Moore said. “I’m a basketball junkie, watch basketball a lot.  . . . Everything fell on the line, did what I could. It was a basketball move and I was able to get it off. Fortunately I have a pretty quick release and it worked out. I haven’t seen the replay yet, when I let it go I knew I got it off.”

Moore was hard-pressed to remember the last-time she hit a buzzer-beater. She had to go back to her AAU days when she hit a winner for her Georgia team to win a championship.

“It’s been a while, I know that,” she said.

That shot ended a thrilling game that both coaches said was one of the most entertaining in WNBA Finals history and gave Minnesota a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.

SportsPage Magazine: Moore’s Clutch Three-Pointer Downs Fever, Lynx Take 2-1 Series Lead

 The Minnesota Lynx received much a needed insurance policy during Game 3 of the 2015 WNBA Finals when forward Maya Moore hit a three-point shot as time expired to lift the Lynx to an 80-77 victory over the Indiana Fever in front of 16,332 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday night. Minnesota now holds a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series. But unlike previous post-season games, officiating was not a subject of post-game discussion among the players or coaches, nor did it lead to furor among the fans.

.com: Maya‘s Game Winner From All Perspectives

Doyel asks: What more could Marissa Coleman have done?

More than 16,000 people at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and Marissa Coleman had a better view than anyone. She didn’t just see it happen – she saw it happen to her. She was the Indiana Fever player trying to defend Minnesota’s Maya Moore with 1.7 seconds left and a tie score Friday night in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals.

She was the player who failed.

And Coleman, she wanted to see it again. Where she went wrong. Why? How? That’s what she was doing when I entered the Indiana locker room after its 80-77 loss in Game 3 that left the Fever on the brink of elimination.

Gwinnett Daily Post: Maya Moore 3-pointer at buzzer lifts Minnesota Lynx to WNBA Finals win | PHOTOS

For three quarters on Friday night in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Minnesota Lynx standout forward Maya Moore was more of a spectator than a participant in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals.

As the Lynx built a 59-57 lead through 30 minutes, the Collins Hill grad played only 12:11 and scored 12 points.

Swish Appeal: Moore and more: Lynx win behind Moore’s clutchness

Friendly Bounce: HmmmohhhMayaGod: Moore’s buzzer beater lifts Lynx

Bring me the News: Moore burns Fever with buzzer beater, Lynx lead series 2-1

Pioneer Press: Lynx reserves almost steal the show in Game 3 win

Before Maya Moore posed like a superstar, her game-winning three-point shot beating the buzzer and breaking the Indiana Fever for an 80-77 win in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals, Friday night belonged to the unsung players.

From Parrish Alford of the Daily Journal: WNBA on the rise

Basketball fans will no longer watch Armintie Price-Herrington in the WNBA, but that doesn’t mean they’re not watching the WNBA.

The former Ole Miss All-American retired from the women’s professional league last month.

She says interest is growing in women’s basketball, and the WNBA is strong, because it has quality players who promote the sport.

“We’re doing such a good job of becoming great role models. Once we take the court we’re giving it our best. We’re not limited to, ‘Oh, they’re just girls.’ We’re playing hard and doing our jobs,” she said. “You got girls dunking, girls scoring 40 points a game. Doors are open for women’s basketball because of the hard work we’re putting in.”

In other news: KU women’s basketball embraces change

So much changeover exists within the Kansas University women’s basketball program right now, you’ll have to be patient with first-year head coach Brandon Schneider when it comes to figuring out one fairly significant aspect of this roster’s makeup.

Only sophomore point guard Lauren Aldridge, junior forward Jada Brown and sophomore guard Chayla Cheadle — all complementary players last season — have started more than two Division I games. That’s the number of career starts for junior big Caelynn Manning-Allen. No other available Jayhawk can even claim one.

As a result, the Year 1 transition for the former Stephen F. Austin and Emporia State coach includes discovering who KU can count on for points.

No real surprise: MTSU women’s basketball picked to win C-USA

Red & Black: Second to command: Lady Bulldogs start practice under Joni Taylor, the program’s second full-time head coach

Lots from Iowa State: Young Cyclones have lofty goalsBlaskowsky, Baier embracing role as senior leadersISU women’s basketball reloads with trio of freshmenFennelly not worried about rule changes

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved a handful of changes for this season, the biggest change being in the game’s format. NCAA women’s basketball games will be played in four 10-minute quarters this season. Fennelly believes that will add excitement to each contest.

“I don’t think it’s a big deal,” he said Thursday at ISU’s women’s basketball media day. “I think it’ll speed the game up. What you’ll have to do is, your players will have to be in better shape because there will be less timeouts.”

From Mike Potter in Durham: Foundation of women’s basketball at Duke cemented firmly

Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie is probably losing a bit less sleep than she was a year ago at this time.

The 2014-15 Blue Devils women’s basketball team had exactly one proven player – then senior center and eventual WNBA first-round pick Elizabeth Williams – when they took the floor last November. They finished ranked No. 16, played in another NCAA Sweet 16 and concluded 23-11.

But now Duke has a pair of proven sophomore stars in combo guard Rebecca Greenwell and play-everywhere 6-foot-5 Azura Stevens, the nation’s top recruiting class, enough proven role players – and next season will welcome two-time Maryland All-American Lexie Brown as a junior transfer.

Quack: A look at this year’s Ducks women’s basketball team

As Jeff tries to ignore the ugly circus over on the men’s side of the hallway, some (tentative) good news: Durr expected ready for U of L’s opener

Asia Durr’s recovery from a groin injury suffered in the spring has come slower than expected after Louisville women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz in July anticipated the top-rated recruit would be “full go by mid-September.”

U of L started practice Wednesday, and though Durr was involved, she isn’t yet participating in every activity.

North Carolina: UNCW women’s basketball team pushing for winning season

The stated mission during Wednesday’s media day for the UNCW women’s basketball team was clear as fourth-year coach Adell Harris put the focus on the weeks ahead and not some of the other issues the program dealt with over the last month or so.

After a successful season in which the Seahawks surpassed most of their stated goals for the year, UNCW heads into practice without two of their key contributors, who made up about 50 percent of its scoring from the 2014-15 slate.

Will the growth continue at Rhode Island? Start of the Season has Team Pumped

How about in Orono? Performance staff help UMaine basketball players achieve next level

Minnesota: Gophers Replacing Amanda Zahui B. is tall task for newcomers

New Mexico:  Lobos adjusting to life without Antiesha Brown

With the departure of Antiesha Brown, New Mexico is in search of leadership.

Brown’s offensive presence led UNM to the longest winning streak in UNM women’s basketball history. In last season’s campaign, Brown led the team in games played, minutes played, points, free throws and free throw percentage.

“You have a leader that’s been here for three years,” head coach Yvonne Sanchez said. “She was a very good basketball player, number one — but she was a phenomenal leader.”

After the storm: Wichita State women’s basketball starts practice with inexperienced roster

Jody Adams has had such a successful coaching career at Wichita State she can look back on her own rebuilding projects when it’s time to do it again.

The Shockers started women’s basketball practice on Tuesday at Koch Arena with 10 players, none of whom are seniors. Four are freshmen and the three returners who played last season combined to start three games. Adams, who started at WSU in 2008, went back to her notes on previous inexperienced teams to see what she might expect. On Tuesday, the players performed more like an experienced group.

Former Western Michigan University women’s basketball assistant coach John Swickrath was fired for making “sexually-related and/or very personal” comments to a former student-athlete, according to documents obtained by MLive Kalamazoo Gazette through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Nice: 

Already having etched his name as the most successful head coach in USF women’s basketball program history, Jose Fernandez has taken another step toward securing the future success of the program he has built.

Just a few months after signing a contract extension that will keep him at USF through 2021, Fernandez and his wife, Tonya, announced a gift to create the Jose & Tonya Fernandez Women’s Basketball Scholarship. It marks the first endowed scholarship for the program that has made 11 post-season appearances in the last 12 years under Fernandez.

From the NCJAA ranks: Women’s basketball begins quest for national championship

When the women’s basketball team took a heartbreaking loss in last year’s national championship game, the Lady Cobras knew expectations had been set for this season. This doesn’t mean the Cobras are short on challenges this season.

Last year’s NCJAA D-2 Women’s Basketball Player of the Year Hannah Wascher has moved on to southern Indiana and starting point guard Laura Litchfield is now at University of Illinois, Chicago. That leaves head coach Mike Lindeman searching for replacements to keep his fast paced and unrelenting style of play going to fire the Cobras into the championship.

D3 News: Women’s Basketball Ranked Preseason #5 in Nation

The New York University women’s basketball team is ranked #5 in the nation in a preseason poll by Women’s DIII News, a monthly Division III women’s basketball publication.

The Violets return four of their five starters from 2014-15, a season in which they went 22-5 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament.

Basketball history on the page, anyone? Charles Riley writes book about history of girls basketball

Charles Riley doesn’t like to make people mad.

While doing research for his 2014 book “From Hard Dirt to Hard Wood,” which chronicles the history of boys basketball in Morgan County, he was asked by several people, “What about the girls?”

“When I was doing the boys book, I had no plans on doing a girls book,” Riley said. “When I visited the schools looking for information, a lot of people asked when I was going to do a book about the girls. Some of them sort of got a little mad when I told them I wasn’t. I felt like I needed to get back in their good graces.”

The result is “Remember the Girls: A Century of Girls High School Basketball in Morgan County.”

Basketball history on the stage, anyone? 

As early as the 1930s, though, women played team sports. The 1992 film “A League of Their Own” portrayed the women who played baseball during World War II.

And Meg Miroshnik’s play “The Tall Girls,” which makes its East Coast Premiere at Luna Stage this week, dramatizes teenage girls who play basketball in the heart of the Dust Bowl. In the town of Pure Prairie in Miroshnik’s play, basketball is more than a game: it’s an outlet, and an opportunity.

The play begins at Luna Stage, 555 Valley Road, West Orange tonight, Thursday, Oct. 8, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 1. For more information visit Lunastage.org

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…and it’s pretty frightening!”

Mechelle goes all “Sound of Music meets Sweet Sixteen”

That most feel-good of films, “The Sound of Music,” turns 50 this month, and there’s no way I’m letting the opportunity escape without somehow getting a basketball column out of it.

I’ve written about “The Sound of Music” and hoops before, but that was in 2002. You should be allowed to do it at least once a decade, right?

So now as the regionals are upon us, here are 16 (going on 17) observations about the Sweet 16.

As for yesterday’s games….

That was close…(someone will be chewing on that ill-advised three for a while). Gamecocks survive clash with nemesis North Carolina. From Mechelle:

South Carolina’s nightmare from the 2014 NCAA tournament almost came back to haunt the Gamecocks again in 2015. This time, though, the top-seeded Gamecocks are moving onto the Elite Eight.

In a game that was not for the faint of heart, the Gamecocks survived 67-65 over a tough, gritty North Carolina team that nearly upset South Carolina for the second consecutive year in the Sweet 16.

It looked rather dire for the Gamecocks here at Greensboro Coliseum, as they trailed by three points with 1 minute, 21 seconds left. They had made just one shot from the field in the previous four minutes.

And: Gamecocks topple another barrier – South Carolina in first Elite Eight since 2002, is one win away from first Final Four

Olivia Gaines stood on the foul line with the end of her college basketball career staring at her.

That’s not really what she was thinking about, but she knew. So did fellow South Carolina seniors Aleighsa Welch and Elem Ibiam. The Gamecocks were down by three points against North Carolina, the team that had cut short their season the year before. Here they were with just 81 seconds left to keep it from happening all over again.

That was not… Irish by 21 over Stanford. Late show with Lindsay Allen lifts Notre Dame past Stanford

Lindsay Allen picked the right time to have a career night for Notre Dame’s second-ranked women’s basketball team.

Allen, a quiet 5-7 sophomore point guard who usually plays third fiddle to her equally dangerous and well-known teammates Jewell Loyd and Brianna Turner, poured in 24 points in the first half – matching her season high alone in the first 20 minutes of play – and finished with a career-high 28 as Notre Dame disposed of stubborn Stanford, 81-60, late Friday night to reach the women’s Oklahoma City Regional championship game.

That was close...(Ole! to my right. Ole! to my left!)

“At the end of the game, you just don’t think,” Romero said. “You just want to help your team to win the game. … All those games that we have had, it has always been somebody different. Today was me shooting the last shots. I’m sure (Sunday) we are going to have a lot more weapons. … Having a team like this, you just play, and it’s just easy.”

That was not… Bears by 15 over Iowa (Live by the three, die by the three?) Baylor WBB advances to Elite Eight with 81-66 win over Iowa

For a minute, the Iowa Hawkeyes looked like they were in Oklahoma City to give No. 2 seed Baylor a ball game. Iowa senior Bethany Doolittle ignited an 11-0 run late in the first half and brought her team within two points of the Big 12 champions.

But just as the game became interesting, a youth movement broke out momentarily in Oklahoma City.

Sweet 16 trip ‘special’ for Dixon, Iowa women, despite loss

Melissa Dixon was a woman on the run.

Seemingly on the move all night, Dixon was looking for an opening, looking for a screen, looking for anything that would allow the nation’s most prominent 3-point shooter a chance to get off a shot.

But Baylor’s defense was too tight and the second-seeded Bears downed Dixon and third-seeded Iowa, 81-66, in the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament Friday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Graham on the Bears/Irish: Supporting casts step up

It was no surprise to see Baylor coach Kim Mulkey react to a successful offensive sequence by pirouetting partway toward the crowd and pumping a fist in exaltation during the second half of her team’s Sweet 16 game Friday night. It wasn’t all that surprising to see her do it again just a few minutes later. You need only read body language on a kindergarden level to know what Mulkey is thinking at any given moment during a basketball game.

Even she acknowledged, “I’m not responsible sometimes for what I do or see or say on that sideline.”

On today’s games:

Texas v. UConn

Texas’ twin towers to test UConn – But will Longhorns have an answer for Huskies’ hot hand from 3-point range?

Stats gurus warn against predictions based on the last game you watched, but that might be Texas’ best hope against No. 1 UConn in the NCAA women’s regional semifinal here Saturday (ESPN/WatchESPN, noon ET).

The Longhorns played a “Twin Towers” lineup for much of their 73-70 victory at Cal in the second round on Sunday, and 6-foot-7 junior forward Imani McGee-Stafford and 6-5 sophomore center Kelsey Lang together scored 34 points while converting a combined 13-of-19 shots from the field.

Meanwhile, the inside presence of Lang (two blocks, two steals) and McGee-Stafford (11 boards) frustrated Cal’s talented tandem of Brittany Boyd and Reshanda Gray, holding the latter to just seven points.

And thanks, HuskyNan:

Texas Women Return To Spotlight, But UConn Casts Big Shadow, Courant
Capsule: Texas (24-10) Vs. UConn (34-1), Courant
UConn women face tall task against Texas front line, Register
Texas assistant coach quite familiar with competitiveness of Moriah Jefferson, Register
Women’s NCAA tournament preview capsule: Texas vs. No. 1 UConn, Register
NCAA TOURNAMENT: Geno Auriemma builds UConn into gold standard in women’s basketball, Daily Freeman
NCAA Albany: UConn capsule, Saratogian
UConn’s Breanna Stewart playing in familiar surroundings, Troy Record
Is There Anything UConn Can’t Do? Tweet, for One, NY Times
Hadley: Notre Dame, Stanford and Connecticut: the transitive property, The Observer
How Texas can pull a mammoth upset of No. 1 UConn women in Sweet 16, Sports Illustrated
Texas glad for big challenge, Albany Times Union
Texas has chance to take down Goliath, Troy Record
Texas Ready For Sweet 16 Matchup With UConn, CBS Local
Texas Longhorns ready for No. 1 Connecticut, 247Sports

From Mike DiMauro: The Texas of women’s basketball meets … Texas

The absurdity of it all.

Connecticut versus … Texas.

Texas, with its roughly $160 million athletic budget, only $100 million more than UConn’s.

Texas, from the Indian word “tejas,” meaning “friends” or “allies.” Connecticut, loosely translated from its Algonquian origin, must mean “uptight.”

Texas, famed in slogans, like “Don’t Mess With Texas” and “Remember the Alamo.” All we have is Alamo Rent a Car at Bradley Airport.

Texas, feted in song: “All My Exes Live in Texas,” the “Yellow Rose of Texas,” “Galveston.” After the Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, what do we have, really, besides traffic and people who like to complain a lot?

Gonzaga v. Tennessee

Gonzaga relishing improbable run – Gonzaga looking to make a splash against Tennessee in its own backyard

This opportunity, to play deep into the NCAA tournament as a double-digit seed, is not a new one for the Gonzaga women’s basketball team. It has one it more than any other women’s team in tournament history.

And this opportunity, to play deep into the NCAA tournament as a double-digit seed 2 miles from campus, isn’t a new one, either, for the Bulldogs. They reached the Elite Eight here in 2011.

But this opportunity, this season at No. 11, might not have seemed like it was going to happen for Gonzaga.

Kelly Graves, the coach who built this program into one of the nation’s best mid-major programs, left last spring to take over at Oregon.

Dayton v. Louisville

U of L women not looking past Dayton in Sweet 16

Louisville has won its past three regional semifinals and is facing a team out of the Atlantic 10 that has never made it this far.

“When you get to this point in time, I don’t think the kids even know what round they’re playing in,” Cardinals coach Jeff Walz said Friday. “It’s just the next team that you have to face. The ball’s still the same size, the court’s the same length, everything’s the same.”

Dayton trying to knock off second team from Kentucky

Dayton has already upset one team from Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament and the Flyers don’t see why a game with Louisville should be any different.

“Playing UK on their home court really prepared us,” said senior guard Andrea Hoover. “That was a tough environment for us and playing here on a neutral court against Louisville, we’re more than prepared.”

Dayton, Louisville set for NCAA Tournament matchup

The Flyers will try to solve an unpredictable Louisville defense that uses halfcourt trapping and fullcourt pressure to force 20.1 turnovers per game.

“I think it’s a great challenge,” said Dayton head coach Jim Jabir, who held the same title at Siena from 1987 to 1990. “They’re a very well-coached team. They’re very aggressive. We just played Kentucky, and we pretty much knew what we were going to see. With Louisville, you’re going to see pressure, but it’s going to be different kinds. It’s going to come at you in different ways.”

Whitaker enjoying march to Sweet 16 – Former Lady Topper coaching against Louisville

Rob offers a 2015 NCAA Preview – Spokane Regional

Maryland has size with the 6-4 Howard, 6-3 (and massive) Jones and 6-2 Pfirman. They will need that size against Duke’s frontline, especially the versatility of Azura’ Stevens. Maryland is not a pressure defense team, nor do they play a lot of junk defenses. They play man-to-man and depend on their size and rebounding to get stops and extra possessions. This is a team better known for its offense (80 ppg) than its defense (60 ppg). Their scoring balance is excellent, and while they don’t have great shooters, they get enough out of them to make sure that the sturdy Jones gets plenty of touches and the aggressive Walker-Kimbrough gets to attack the basket. The true catalysts for the team are Mincy and Brown, who make and take big shots. This isn’t actually a bad matchup for Duke; Maryland has depth but not as much as Mississippi State. They can shoot but their shooters are streaky. Maryland has size but not as much as Duke. These are two teams that are extremely familiar with each other, teams that battled tooth and claw for a number of years. That rivalry will fuel this game beyond simply the desire to make it to the Elite Eight and could make it a very close game.

Duke v. Maryland

Maryland women’s basketball finds edge inside the lines starts between the ears

Put aside pick-and-rolls and fast breaks for a minute, and let the top-seeded Maryland women’s team take you inside their heads.

Let them tell you about their trigger words and their best selves. About the outside pressures they face and the internal focus they need. About dealing with their fears and increasing their mental performance. About making sure they don’t get trapped in downward spirals, and about focusing on process rather than outcome.

If it sounds a bit more clinical than your typical whiteboard diagram, it should. 

Maryland women’s basketball meets former ACC rival Duke in Sweet 16 – Terps to play Blue Devils in NCAA tournament for first time since 2006 national championship overtime victory

After two knee surgeries, Laurin Mincy leads Maryland women to Sweet 16

As shot after shot ripped through the net and her thin blade of a frame bounced around the Xfinity Center court, possessed by some rare electricity, Laurin Mincy felt like the player she was always meant to be.

No longer was the Maryland senior defined by the surgical scars on each knee, by the angst of playing in a body that would not answer her spirit’s call. She was back — back to being the 5-year-old girl who’d reduced opponents to tears with her precocious crossover dribbles, back to being the middle schooler who’d had her jersey retired because she was just that dominant.

Top-seeded Maryland getting ready to face longtime rival Duke in Sweet 16

Duke, Maryland rekindle rivalry in Sweet 16

The Duke Blue Devils have waited 13 months to renew their heated women’s basketball rivalry with Maryland. Now that the teams are set to square off Saturday afternoon in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament, Duke plans to keep the explosive Terrapins waiting even longer whenever the Blue Devils have the ball.

“If we speed up and play at their tempo, then it could be disastrous,” Duke guard Ka’lia Johnson said Friday at the Spokane Arena.

The Blue Devils are 23-10 and ranked 16th in the most recent Associated Press poll, but turnovers and a lack of depth have posed problems all season.

“We have no depth whatsoever,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said.

 Okay – off do some spring cleaning… in the hopes it will encourage spring to show up…

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There’s a vocal constituency that’s mighty cranky about coach McCallie’s coaching and post-game style. One can only imagine what they’ll say now that #16 Duke has lost three in a row. This time Georgia Tech was the topple-er, beating Duke for the first time since February,  1994.

For what it’s worth, if Duke can’t handle #15 North Carolina at home on March 1, they will match the four-loss streak that ended the ’93-94 season. Perhaps the Blue Devils can take some comfort in the fact that UNC barely escaped Virginia – needing a last-second putback to avoid overtime.

Speaking of upsets – HUGE win for St. Peter’s. Patty Coyle’s team took down Marist, 66-58.

Yes, I’m calling this an upset: Wake Forest got its second ACC win by defeating Miami, 60-59 on freshman Amber Campbell‘s second buzzer-beater of the season.

#19 Stanford traipsed into Corvallis and said, “No, #7 Beavers, thou shalt not take down this Tree and use it as a torch. Cardinal win, 69-58, handing Oregon State their first home loss this season. BTW, missed this tidbit: OSU’s current total of 25 wins in the most in school history.

Just when you think Gary Blair’s got his team figured outMizzou’s Maddie Stock nails a game-winning 3-pointer with 0.1 seconds left to lift the Tigers to a 70-69 win over #12 Texas A&M.

Georgia showed a little more fight, but Tennessee prevailed, 70-59. The loss of Izzy seems to have made the Ledger’s Dave Link a little anxious: Lady Vols seem to be slipping off national stage

Speaking of fight: let’s talk Richmond battling back to take #22 Georgetown into OT. The Spiders ran out of steam, though, and were outscored 14-2 in the extra five. Colonials win, 81-69.

And still speaking of fight – ya, Wisconsin is 8-19, but these last few games they’ve proven to be a tough out. #17 Iowa escapes, 78-74. That’s the 300th career win for coach Bluder.

Glad Debbie wasn’t on hand to call this one:#13 Kentucky was just able to keep ahead of Arkansas, 56-51. 

I’m guessing Maryland got a bit more of a fight than expected from Indiana, but the Terps prevailed, 83-72, earning their 20th straight win as Laurin Mincy scored 28pts, a career high.

Florida State made sure North Carolina State wouldn’t repeat their upset ways. In front of the largest home crowd in four years, it was the Seminoles over the Wolfpack, by 20. Their 26 regular season wins ties the school record. One more game to break it: season finale at Miami.

Both coach Frese and Semrau are on the latest Dishin and Swishin podcast.

In the Sun Belt, Arkansas Little-Rock, Arkansas State and Troy kept rollin’.

So did #2 South Carolina.

So did #4 Notre Dame, who shot a breathtaking 62% against Pittsburgh. Mechelle has a little something on The Jewell:

In our best Marlon Brando voice, we’re going to make you an offer you can’t refuse. Settle into your seats, indulge in some popcorn … and read about the Jewell Loyd movie marathon experience. Hope you don’t mind if the line between film hero and villain is sometimes a little ambiguous.

“‘The Godfather’ is kinda our family movie,” Loyd, the Notre Dame junior guard, said of her parents, older brother and herself. “I like the concept of family, loyalty and getting the job done.”

Then Loyd laughed and added, “Obviously, we’re not going to be beating anyone up or anything.”

Loyd took part in a bit of “reel talk” recently at espnW’s request, as she’s a film, television and theater major at Notre Dame.

Jewell’s coach talks about Fighting Through February.

“February is a grind,” McGraw said before a recent home game at Purcell Pavilion. “You’re ready for the tournaments to begin, you want to see where you’re going to finish and what the seeds are going to look like, but you know you have to get through February to get to March.”

#20 Rutgers’ return to anemic offense and inability to defend doomed them against #25 Northwestern, 80-60. Kinda makes ya wonder, can ya justify C. Vivian Stringer making $1.6M in 2014?

Of note: the Knights’ loss, combined with Minnesota’s loss to Nebraska on Tuesday, means that Ohio State’s 88-70 win over Penn State moves the Buckeyes up into fourth place in the B10 standings. Seems like the Ohio State is not interested in waiting till next year to be good.

You know what’s notable about Tom Keegan’s column, End nearing for Bonnie Henrickson? The thoughtful, informed comments.

Ah, the joys of Senior Night and a reviving program: Making her first start of the season, senior Teneka Whittaker set career highs with 16 points and eight rebounds to help Rhode Island to a 68-53 win over St. Louis. With the victory, Rhode Island has clinched at least a .500 record in conference play for the first time since 2003-04.

Speaking of reviving: Hello, Hawai’i! Big West champs. First time in 21 years. Nice job, third-year coach Beeman.

Not only has #24 Cal inched its way back in to the rankings, but their 74-59 victory over Oregon gave coach Lindsay Gottlieb her 100th win at Cal. She’s the quickest to the milestone in program history.

This is nice news to read on a cold February day: Lauren Hill makes it through full season despite tumor

The Mount St. Joseph’s women’s basketball team held its postseason banquet in a hospital room warmed by Lauren Hill’s smile.

The 19-year-old freshman made it through a full season while raising more than $1.3 million for research into the type of brain tumor that will likely end her life. She’s occasionally hospitalized for treatment now, but still holding to each day as tightly as she can and urging others to appreciate their time together.

A little W news from Lois Elfman: Epiphanny Prince returning to her Brooklyn roots

“To be able to come home and try to win the championship with my home team and do it in front of my family and friends is very exciting for me,” said Prince, 27, who made her Madison Square Garden debut at age 12, playing a halftime exhibition at a Knicks game, and won four PSAL titles with the Murry Bergtraum Lady Blazers. She’s played five seasons with the Chicago Sky, which went to the WNBA Finals last year.

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Wicked early flight meant getting up wicked-er early, so I’m looking forward to a nap soon.

It’s chilly-greening-spring here in Tennessee – 40 or so when we landed, but the Final Four greeter promised us 64 by noon. When you’re in the sun, yes….when you’re not? Brrrrrr!

Easy car pick up, then headed to East Nashville for some breakfast at Marche Artisan Foods. Great service, yummy food…

With time to kill before the hotel opened up, drove into, through and around downtown Nashville. Small and bustling at the center. Different, more concentrated vibe than when I was in Knoxville for the WBHOF induction ceremony a while back. Strong mix of old and new architecture.

Continued our wandering exploration and end up driving past Vanderbilt (yes, as we researched, started by THAT Vanderbilt – hence the “Commodores” nickname.) Did you know the campus was also an arboretum? Did a quick drive through – really, really lovely. Also stopped by Centennial Park to visit the Parthenon and did some walking. Yup, it’s big. Nearby lake is being dredged/cleaned, so that wasn’t so scenic.

It’s early for birds – but there is a list: RobinsBlue Jays, a lone Turkey Vulture, cackling Grackles, some beautiful Bank Swallows, noisy Northern Mockingbird, a gregarious Carolina Wren, and an early Hermit Thrush.

Next on the agenda, the aforementioned nap, then a return to East Nashville to partake of the fare at the Eastland Cafe. Then, we’re off to the Grand Ole Opry!

Phew!

Hoping tomorrow features a visit with a WBHOF inductee, coffee, brunch, barbecue and two fabulous games.

Until them, some more reading (and listening): First, make sure you check out the Tennessean’s coverage:

Fans show love early in Women’s Final Four

Kara Lawson: No favorite between Pat, Geno

Rebecca Lobo: UConn is beatable

Legendary lady Pat Summitt: Pride of Cheatham County

WOOT! WOOT! WBB HISTORY!! Nashville Business College: Champions before their time – LONG BEFORE TENNESSEE AND UCONN, THESE FARM GIRLS DOMINATED WOMEN’S BASKETBALL AND THEIR RECORD IS UNMATCHED TODAY.

Final Four teams have fun at Ryman

UConn’s Dolson, Hartley old hands at Final Four, Post
More Than Anything, Geno Demands Sweat From UConn Women, Courant
More Awards For Stefanie Dolson, Courant
Capsule: No. 1 Seed UConn Women Vs. No. 2 Seed Stanford, Courant
Pictures: Behind The Scenes With UConn Women In Nashville, Courant
It’s a Great Time to be a Husky, Stefanie Dolson

Stanford’s supporting cast stepping up to help Ogwumike, Register
ESPN analyst touts Ogwumike’s pro potential, SFGate
Lawson Says Stanford Has Best Shot At UConn, Hartford Courant

U-Md. abuzz as women’s basketball team heads to Final Four, Washington Post
Nashville already full of Maryland fans, ABC
Majoring in Chemistry, Chloe Pavlech

Before UConn, ND should fear Terps, Observer
Notre Dame Women: Save Your Pity, Blue & Gold
Irish must prove doubters wrong, Kate Fagan
Geno (And USA Basketball) Love Kayla McBride, Hartford Courant

Dishin & Swishin 04/03/14 Podcast: Breaking down the Final Four with coaches Doug Bruno, Lindsay Gottlieb & Coquese Washington, HoopFeed

Duke coach’s analysis of women’s Final Four, Bradenton Herald

In Women’s Final Four, Jousting Before the First Jump Ball, yea! It’s Harvey at the New York Times

Beating UConn rarely leads to title – Most teams that beat UConn in NCAA tourney don’t win NCAA championship, Mechelle Voepel

Rematches story of women’s Final Four, AP Teresa M. Walker

Five minutes with ESPN analyst Kara Lawson, Nashville Business Journal

NCAA hosting women’s hoops summit at Final Four, AP Doug

 

As coach Mitchell cuts to assistant coaches, Sea of Blue is Taking a Moment To Celebrate The Season That Was

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No. 2 Duke hasn’t come close to No. 1 UConn, Register
No. 2 Duke Ready To Take Another Swing At No. 1 UConn, Courant
Capsule: No. 1 UConn Women Vs. No. 2 Duke, Courant
No. 1 UConn women’s game day: Tuesday at No. 2 Duke, Post
No. 1 UConn, expected to be at full strength, set for No. 2 Duke, Post
UConn women in No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdowns, Post

No. 2 Duke women set for No. 1 UConn challenge, News & Observer
No. 1 UConn, No. 2 Duke both look to stay unbeaten, Durham Herald Sun

Mechelle Voepel: Can Duke compete with UConn?, ESPN

There are some “big” games you anticipate with confidence … and others with trepidation. In women’s basketball, Connecticut vs. Duke — No. 1 vs. No. 2 Tuesday (ESPN2/WatchESPN, 7 p.m. ET) — is the latter.

For this one, we’re all a bunch of Fox Mulders saying, “I want to believe.” Yes, I’d bet even most UConn fans would like to see this be an exciting game between two 10-0 teams that sit atop the rankings.

Rebecca Lobo: X factors to keep an eye on – Fouls? Free throws? Offensive flow? These elements might impact showdown

The top two teams in the women’s game meet Tuesday night when top-ranked UConn heads to Durham, N.C., to play No. 2 Duke. The Huskies have beaten the Blue Devils six straight times with an average margin of victory of nearly 30 points. (Duke kept it close for a half last season, down only two points at the break, but UConn blew it open in the second half.)

Does Duke have the talent and experience to beat UConn? Yes, without a doubt. Will the Blue Devils finally be able to play a full 40 minutes in order to get the W? We’ll have to tune in to see (ESPN2/WatchESPN, 7 p.m. ET).

Here is what I’ll be keeping my eye on while watching the game.

Charlie Creme: The history behind 1-vs.-2 matchups – Blue Devils riding 24-game home winning streak into showdown

Just more than a month into the season, there is little to no debate over which are the two best women’s college basketball teams in the country. With possible apologies to those in Knoxville, South Bend and Lexington, Connecticut and Duke entered the season at Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, and neither team has done anything up this point to indicate any errors in that assessment.

The real question, as we embark on another 1-versus-2 matchup on Tuesday night (ESPN2/WatchESPN, 7 ET) in Durham, N.C., is whether the Blue Devils are right there with the Huskies as a true threat to the top spot … or merely closer to the rest of the pack that includes Tennessee, Notre Dame, Kentucky and a few others.

From espnW: Demanding Perfection – Top players for UConn describe what practice is like playing for coach Geno Auriemma.

From Doug: No. 2 Duke ready to meet No. 1 UConn

Today will mark the 52nd meeting between the top two teams in the poll, with the No. 1 team holding a 31-20 edge in the series. UConn has been in that game 17 times, including going 10-1 as the top-ranked team. Duke has played in this game six times, going 3-3. The two teams met once as the top two teams in the nation in 2003, with No. 2 UConn beating top-ranked Duke 77-65.

In other news:

As Rutgers women’s basketball continues to roll, No. 16 Georgia looms

Somewhat surprisingly, little has gone wrong thus far in the Rutgers women’s basketball team’s season.

After losing four of their top-six scorers from a year ago, the Scarlet Knights, who feature no seniors, have quietly blended youth into balanced offense. Four Knights — three underclassmen — are averaging double figures through 10 games. As a team, Rutgers is actually scoring 12 more points per contest (68.1) than last season (56.0).

Buckeyes try to shake out of slump

The Ohio State women’s basketball team gathered for a film session yesterday that served as a double feature without the box of popcorn.

The Buckeyes (7-6) had to watch the postmortem of their 64-49 loss at Cincinnati on Sunday and follow that with a look at Tennessee Martin (6-3), their opponent tonight at Value City Arena.

Coach Kevin McGuff entered the room knowing that his young, largely inexperienced team is at a crossroads.

From the .com: Sheryl Swoopes Embraces New Role as Head Coach at Loyola Chicago

It’s been two years, three months, and five days since Sheryl Swoopes last played a game of basketball, but I was still surprised when she said she didn’t miss playing.

“My passion for the game doesn’t come from playing anymore, my passion for the game now comes from watching and teaching, instructing and coaching and giving back,” Swoopes told WNBA.com over the phone from her new office in Chicago. She had just gotten off a post-practice conference call – one of her many new duties as the head coach of Loyola Chicago’s Women’s Basketball team.

Stinky news for Asjha Jones and the Sun: She’ll Miss WNBA Season

Meanwhile, the Lynx continue their Roster Review: Janel McCarville

 … coming into the season, though, McCarville hadn’t played in the WNBA since 2010. 

The center quickly answered any and all questions. As she got into shape during Training Camp, her knack for finding open teammates became obvious and it seemed like she was perfect for a team with offensive threats like Whalen, Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore. Throughout the season, her role became extremely important for the Lynx and she averaged a career-high 2.9 assists per game while helping the Lynx win the 2013 title in her first season with the squad. 

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In this case, it’s women’s basketball players and blood clots:

Antonita Slaughter from Louisville.

Kyvin Goodin-Rogers from Kentucky.

Rebekah Dahlman from Vandy.

Other injury news: Washington freshman Chantel Osahor out indefinitely with stress fracture

Returning from injury news: Marist visits rivals with Casey Dulin set to debut

The last time Casey Dulin played in a game she scored 13 points to lead the Marist College women’s basketball team in its NCAA tournament opener in March.

Today, 266 days since that loss to Michigan State, the senior guard returns to action, making her 2013-14 debut against host Boston University after breaking her right foot in late October

Speaking of Marist: Marist hurdled obstacles to find success again

In transfer news: She moved in high school, and it looks like she’s moving in college: Breanna Hayden to leave Baylor.

Friday the 13th brought no bad luck for East Carolina, which made mincemeat of Alcorn State and kept their record unblemished.

San Diego resisted the WHB curse and moved to 10-0 with their win over Long Beach State.

In the battle of the W’s (Williams and Wetmore v. Wurtz and Whyte) it was Washington over Wisconsin.

Army played Ohio State tough, but the Buckeyes squeezed out a win.

The Ohio State women’s basketball team got a do-over with the clock ticking toward zero last night at Value City Arena and left smiling this time.

The Buckeyes, who lost to Gonzaga on a buzzer-beater on Sunday, rallied from a six-point deficit in the final 2:23 to reel in Army 59-56 in front of a crowd of 4,183.

Wow — tough to got through two overtimes and lose by 13. Welcome to UCF’s fate against the Owls of Florida Atlantic.

Mechelle adds her voice to the good wishes sent to the Frese family: Frese’s son wraps up chemotherapy- Tyler Thomas, 5, will get his blood checked regularly for the next year and a half

...the image you immediately see in your head when the Maryland women’s basketball coach is mentioned is her standing on the sideline, nodding, clapping and sending out good vibes to her players.

Likewise, with every public mention of her son, Tyler Thomas, and his battle with leukemia, Frese has been similarly upbeat. One can imagine that in private, she and husband Mark Thomas have shed tears and had their low points of fear and worry. There is no worse emotional pain than that felt by a parent or guardian of a sick/injured child.

But Frese has always talked about Tyler winning against the disease and about how he received terrific medical care at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg Children’s Center. You can surmise that 5-year-old Tyler both inherited and was inspired by his mom’s buoyant attitude.

Speaking of Mechelle’s voice, check her out as she (and Coach McCallie) talk Duke v. UConn with David at Dishin’ & Swishin’: Is #2 Duke ready for #1 UConn?

More on the upcoming game from John Altavilla: Coach McCallie On A Number Of UConn-Duke Topics

On the current condition of senior guard Chelsea Gray, who is back after a dislocated knee cap ended her junior season on Nov. 17, 2012:
“It’s been extraordinary; I have never been a part of that kind of story [recovering from knee dislocation]. She’s worked hard, preserved, put herself into position to be in tip-top shape. … We’re not there yet. It’s December, but we are at a good stage with her. I’m proud of her. It’s a hard injury.”

And: Jay Bilas Offers A Fresh Insight Into Duke-UConn and Gray And Jones A Potent Duke Guard Combination

Over at Mel’s blog, Mike Siroky toots the SEC horn: Kentucky Plays Another Masterpiece Game

The Southeastern Conference women’s college basketball teams retain their mastery of the rest of the world.

Those AP-ranked teams are now 47-3 (and there is another undefeated league team and two with one loss each, which makes the top nine 73-5).

Déjà vu all over again: For the second straight week, the biggest win was by the team we have dubbed the best in the league, the national Game Of The Season (so far).

From Lady Swish: JMU preps for St. John’s tourney

For JMU, the next five days are filled with opportunity and possibilities.

The Dukes (6-2) will play three games over this span, with two of them coming against resume-enhancing opponents. If successful, JMU can brand itself as not just a team good enough to make the NCAA Tournament, but one capable of making some noise once they get there. And trust us, perception is important when it comes to the NCAA selection committee.

Some players making an impact:

From Carl Adamec: UConn’s Chong reports for freshman duties

“Sometimes it’s hard being the only freshman. A lot of times I’m doing things on my own,” Chong said. “I’m the only freshman and I know they have their eyes on me. I have to give them my 100 percent every time and let them know I’m working hard.

“My roommate (Jade Strawberry) is a volleyball player so I didn’t always see her during her season. She’s out practicing or I’m out practicing so I have to do a lot of things on my own. I’ll go to class by myself. I’ll interact with other people on my own. But when things get tough I just ask the older girls on the team and they’ll help me.”

From Vicki L. Friedman and Paul White Shae Kelley doing it all for ODU

Through eight games, Shae Kelley leads Old Dominion in points, rebounds, steals, blocks, field goals made and attempted, free throws made and attempted, minutes played, yards after the catch, goals-against average….

OK, we made a couple of those up. But only a couple.

From Aggie Sports: Gilbert making an impact on and off court in her hometown

Gilbert does her student teaching in the area and enjoys when she is recognized for her on-the-court work, but she also takes great pride when fans recognize what she hopes to do in the classroom.

“It defines me as not only a basketball player, I’m also someone who desired to teach and help out younger kids and be a big part of the community,” she said.

From Mike Esse at Penn State Athletics:

Two words: patience and dedication. Put those two together and you get Lady Lion senior Talia East.

The 6-foot-3 forward from Philadelphia wasn’t seeing the playing time she wanted in her first two years due to injuries and veterans in front of her. In 2012-13, East began to show flashes of the player she could be and now in her final year in Happy Valley, she is a dominating force inside for the Lady Lions.

From Ken Sickenger at the Albuquerque Journal: Lobo women’s hoops: Alexa Chavez goes from walk-on to key performer

“Honestly, I told her what I tell all our walk-ons,” Sanchez said. “‘You probably won’t play much, you probably won’t travel, and your main job will be to work hard at practice and help the team get better.’”

Chavez was undeterred by the high-work, low-reward prospects.

“Alexa came in and just never stopped working and never stopped improving,” Sanchez said. “Now she’s in a position to help us win basketball games and she’s skilled enough to do it.”

So, where are you traveling to in 2015?

In W news: Use Of Instant Replay Headlines WNBA Rule Changes

In Arizona, the New Phoenix Mercury GM is Phoenix Suns exec

From the Daily Nebraskan: Former Husker basketball player Kelsey Griffin finds happiness playing abroad

Kelsey Griffin left Nebraska as a 2010 First-Team All-American, a three-time First-Team All-Big 12 selection, the 2010 Big 12 Player of the Year and the No. 3 player on Nebraska’s career scoring list with 2,033 points.

Yet somehow, when she entered the WNBA after being drafted as the No. 3 overall pick by the Minnesota Lynx and subsequently traded to the Connecticut Sun, she felt as if she was on her own.

Jim Massie writes about what we already know, but it’s always fun to read his work: Katie Smith returning to WNBA — as a coach

Next spring will find Katie Smith feeling a familiar itch that time finally has persuaded her to scratch in some other way.

Smith, the most-decorated player in Ohio State women’s basketball history, ended her long playing career at the end of the 2013 WNBA season. The 39-year-old returned to her home in Upper Arlington to finish her graduate work for a degree in dietetics and to serve as a grad assistant mentor to the current OSU women’s team.

Several basketball players on espnW’s “Impact 10

NO. 2 BRITTNEY GRINER

NO. 6 ELENA DELLE DONNE

NO. 7 MAYA MOORE

NO. 9 CANDACE PARKER

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my trip last week to Nebraska and my trip this week to New Orleans: Nebraska was freezing, New Orleans is not.

Things that happened in New Orleans:

  • Sitting at the WBCA All-Star game and listening in a couple of SEC folks deconstruct the second half of Kentucky/UConn game.
  • Coming up with a new game to play: Guess which high school player is going to which program based on their style of play.
  • Watching Griner take a moment for a picture with a young fan. Griner standing on the arena floor, fan in the stands: Fan is almost as tall as Griner’s upper body.
  • Yummy, yummy po’ boys at Mothers.
  • Being stalked by friend Renee and her crew. Always good to see familiar faces — even if it’s only once a year.
  • Chatting with deeply-in-the-know-folks about certain coaches who make goofily loud statements about how they’d rather be in a place known for its pasta v. goin’ to New Orleans. Clue-free, much?
  • Walking. Lots of walking. Staying up on St. Charles — a little nearer than I was back in my youth hostel days, but still a walk into the center of the city. Beautiful buildings — brick being the specialty of the house.
  • Pelicans. Brown, that is, are all over the city ’cause, you know, it’s the state bird. And their NBA basketball team is renaming itself the Pelicans. (Guess they got jealous of the Stormy Petrels, huh?).
  • Actually, pelicans are a similarity to my trip to Nebraska, in that we saw a string of 9 migrating white pelicans. And we’re staying nearish to the Blind Pelican.
  • Teasing coach McCallie as you meet her walking the streets ’cause she’s got that “I lost my rental car in the parking lot” look. Liking the fact that she can go with the flow and approve of the sleek silver corvette I point out for her. (BTW, she did find time to provide some F4 analysis.)
  • Knowing my day is brunch, basketball, basketball, dinner. What could be better?

From those folks actually working:

About that Purple, Black and Neon-Green High School Game: Black Team Clinches Win in 2013 WBCA High School All America Game, and no, celebrity coaches Swin and Catch did not throw basketballs at each other. But they got close to throwing on a jersey to secure their team a win.

Sports Illustrated points out that In women’s Final Four, it’s a heated rivalry and two newcomers (even though I know Richard knows Walz has been there before.).

The Times-Picayune’s Trey Iles says, California women’s basketball a Bear of a team when it comes to rebounding, Rachel Whittaker says Connecticut freshmen adjusting to Women’s Final Four stage, hoping to give seniors one more shot,
Cal, Louisville feature tough teams looking to continue Women’s Final Four runs,and Terrance Harris writes, Notre Dame and UConn leaving past in the past as the rivals square off — again– in the Women’s Final Four

The entire state of Connecticut might be in frenzy these days trying to figure out just how deep No.1 Notre Dame has gotten into the heads of its beloved Huskies these past two years.

Arguably the best rivalry in women’s college basketball has become awfully one-sided these last 24 months, with the Fighting Irish winning seven of the last eight games over UConn.

But as far as Notre Dame senior All-American point guard Skylar Diggins is concerned, nothing in the past, not even the three wins over the Huskies this season alone, has meaning as the two powerhouse programs from the Big East get set to square off for a fourth time this year during the national semifinal round of the NCAA Women’s Final Four on Sunday night at the New Orleans Arena.

No surprise, a ton of stuff from the Horde (thanks, Nan):

Huskies believe they’re ready to avert failures vs. Irish, Post
UConn vs. Notre Dame: Who has the edge?, Post
Breaking down the women’s Final Four, Post
Incoming freshman Saniya Chong will get close up look at her future teammates, Post
Auriemma Says Whatever He Can (To Anyone) To Motivate Players, Courant
Dolson, Mosqueda-Lewis Join Exclusive Club Of All-Americans, Courant
UConn Women Face Common Dilemma Vs. Notre Dame – Not Letting Another Team Get Inside Your Head, Courant
Jeff Jacobs: UConn Women Will Win This One, In First 39 Minutes, Courant
Dolson, Mosqueda-Lewis named to WBCA All-America squad, Register
Roads for seniors Skylar Diggins, Kelly Faris lead to the same place, Register
Notre Dame vs. UConn, Register
UConn gets one last chance to beat Irish, Day
This is the one that counts, Hour

Kelly Whiteside at USA Today thinks that For Notre Dame, Connecticut, it comes down to crawfish:

It’s easy to be unnerved by a bowl of crawfish.

“It was looking back at us,” Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins said as she described her team’s experience sampling the local Final Four fare. “Had eyes in it still.”

In a way, the Notre Dame-Connecticut women’s national semifinal on Sunday is little like a bowl of crawfish. We’ve seen it more than once (or twice or thrice) but it’s still transfixing. You don’t want to look away.

From the Chicago Tribune: Loyd and Tuck: A tale of two seasons

Gene Wang, WaPo: Louisville women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz basking in Final Four

From the YouTubes, Notre Dame athletics is workin’ it: During the 2nd day of the Final Four, the Fighting Irish women’s basketball team practiced at Tulane University, had their head shots taken for the ESPN broadcast, and celebrated at the Final Four Salute dinner.

Congrats – and so well deserved – to AP COY McGraw (Gives me chance to shout out a former Lib player, WATN? COY: Vanessa Nygaard is girls’ basketball coach of the year)

Yup, AP Tom, McGraw, Auriemma have crossed paths for years

From the SBT:

From the Mercury News’ Stephanie Hammon: Brittany Boyd shows maturity in sophomore season for Cal women’s basketball team

“I knew that going with a very exciting, dynamic freshman point guard there were going to be some times where you say, ‘OK, that’s a growth moment,’ but a lot more times that you see the spectacular,” Gottlieb said. “I wanted to give her that rope and that empowerment to be her and she has continued to stay with us and try to get better every step of the way.”

“I grew up in a sense,” Boyd said. “I understand the game more.”

Hammon also adds: Cal women’s basketball team expects the unexpected from Louisville’s defense

“After our Baylor win, we went into the press room, and they’re all asking me how long are you going to enjoy this, and I said, ‘For a lifetime,’ ” Walz said by telephone from New Orleans, site of this year’s Final Four. “I said, ‘We’re going to talk about this the rest of the day, tomorrow, the next day, next week, next year.’ I’ve been doing this for 18 years now and really just come to the conclusion life’s too short. You have to enjoy your moments.”

The Louisville Courier Journal makes up for lost time:

Louisville’s Shoni Schimmel is shining bright in the NCAA Tournament

Q&A with U of L’s Monique Reid: Been there, done that, doing it again

Women’s NCAA: Cards’ defense can baffle Cards, too

If you find yourself puzzled as to what kind of defense the University of Louisville women’s basketball team is running, take heart.

Sometimes the U of L coaches and players don’t know, either.

The Cardinals’ shifting schemes have keyed their surprising run to the Final Four. They will switch defenses as many as three times in a single possession, and as you might expect, that occasionally causes confusion on both sides. During the Elite Eight victory over Tennessee, coach Jeff Walz’s assistants asked him what defense the team was in.

“I turned around and said, ‘I don’t know. Shut up,’ ” Walz said. “ ‘Who cares? They’re playing hard.’ They started laughing.

Inside the Louisville-California women’s matchup

Akoy Agau in his words on Louisville basketball in the Final Four

‘If it can happen three times . . .’ Auriemma’s Huskies face an Irish streak

Jere’ from the NY Times adds: Far From Reservation, Sisters Lead Louisville

Louisville had just advanced to the women’s Final Four, and the sisters Shoni and Jude Schimmel had helped cut the nets in celebration, a rare achievement for American Indian athletes. But it was not the biggest family news of the day.

NBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry and folks on “Women’s Basketball as a Model for the NCAA”

Griner says, “Why not, ” Swin says, “Why should she have to?”

Some chick offers The UConn perspective — historical, physical and emotional — on Sunday’s semifinal

From Harvey Araton at the New York Times: At Intersection of Fading Eras in Women’s Game

Donehew, who was a graduate assistant and director of operations for Summitt’s team from 2001 to 2008, was close enough to be inside the circle after the painful diagnosis came in the summer of 2011. She was part of a small group that included Summitt’s son, Tyler, meeting one day to plot a strategy with Summitt on how to proceed publicly.

“We talked about what she wanted to do moving forward: her career, her plans, her legacy,” Donehew said.

But what of the heritage of the Big East, where Donehew has worked for the past four years, joining the conference at a time when its women’s basketball fortunes had become very much the competitive equal of its acclaimed and soon-to-be-mourned big brother?

And, since there are folks on the gentlemen’s side who are all het up about the officiating in the Syracuse/Michigan game, I have an excuse to revive this brilliant April Fool’s from a few years back: 

Cleveland, April 1 (AF) – The NCAA and the Women’s Basketball Officiating Consortium announced new assignments for game officials in Tuesday’s women’s Division I national basketball championship game today, replacing the previously-assigned officials with a new group who had not previously officiated in this year’s NCAA tournament. The original crew, Sally Bell, Dennis DeMayo and Dee Kantner, will be replaced by University of Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma, Maryland coach Brenda Frese and Baylor coach Kim Mulkey.

Mary Struckhoff, the National Coordinator of Women’s Basketball Officiating for the NCAA, announced the new officiating crew at a press conference last night. “While we realize that many fans will be surprised by this change, we think it will make for a more exciting contest. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to seeing this group try to manage a basketball game. We’re particularly delighted that Brenda was able to take time out from updating her resume to officiate on Tuesday night.”

The reactions of the referees originally scheduled to officiate the game were surprisingly upbeat. “I think this is the finest group of coach/referees they could have assembled,” said DeMayo. “I know that every one of them has corrected my officiating mistakes dozens of times, and made sure I knew exactly how I had missed each call. It’s an honor to give up my spot in the national championship game for these outstanding individuals. I’m looking forward to reviewing the game tape with them so I can learn how someone can call a game so well from 30, 40 or even 70 feet away from the play.” (Click to continue reading)

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maybe I’m old fashioned, but I find the Swish Appeal formatting confusing…but there’s lots of good stuff, so check it out.

2013 SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament: Preview, predictions, schedule and games to watch for

Joanne P. McCallie’s journal: Preparing for the 2013 ACC Tournament

2013 Pac-12 tournament: Stanford’s path to reclaiming title will be tougher than usual

2013 Atlantic Sun tournament: FGCU looks to repeat as champions

From student-athletes:

Sarah Hansen’s journal: Studying for North Florida, and Sarah Hansen on FGCU’s win in A-Sun tournament

Lindsey Moore’s journal: Huskers ready for Iowa

Brittany Kennedy’s journal: Ready for N. Florida

Brianna Sanders’ journal: Excited for B1G tourney

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didn’t get T’d up earlier in the game for her on-the-court wanderings? (I thought that had been a point of emphasis.) When she finally did earn a double T, WaPo thinks the damage was significant: Maryland women’s basketball falls to Duke, 71-56, after Coach Brenda Frese is ejected.

Mechelle seems to echo their headline:

Then Monday, Gray took command against Maryland, not just offensively but as the spark plug of a defensive effort that made things really hard for the Terps. Alyssa Thomas and Tianna Hawkins were a combined 7-of-30 from the field, totaling 20 points. The Terps had 24 turnovers.

Yet despite Maryland’s struggles, the Terps were down just 57-50 with 4 minutes, 3 seconds left. It was still a winnable game for Maryland, which was pretty remarkable all things considered.

But then Thomas missed a shot, Gray got a layup, and Frese lost her cool. Actually she seemed on the verge of that all night. Two technicals during a TV timeout sent Frese to the locker room and Gray to the foul line.

It wasn’t a particularly elegant game — unless you were Chelsea Gray — as the Blue Devil press harassed the Terps into a ton of TOs and some poor decision-making on offense.

“Just a great, physical game – an excellent game to help prepare us for the NCAA tournament and the way those games go,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said.

“So that was important to us – to be physical and play against a physical team.”

The Notre Dame-Louisville was a little more elegant — if you were a member of the Fightin’ Irish. Says Al Lesar: Notre Dame women’s basketball: Message: Get out of ND’s way

Every defensive stop. Every drive and bucket. Every spot-up 3-pointer.

With every Notre Dame possession, the gap between women’s college basketball’s elite and the rest of the pretenders got wider.

The “haves” (Baylor, Notre Dame and Connecticut) really have it. The “have-nots” don’t have a clue.

Louisville came into Purcell Pavilion Monday night ranked No. 10 in the country. The Cardinals left as another overwhelmed victim of the second-ranked Irish after Notre Dame administered a 93-64 spanking.

CARDINAL COUPLE columnist Sandy Walker provides today’s report on the game in South Bend last night.

In other games of interest, yes, Texas Southern kept on winning, but was a squeaker against (5-20) Grambling State, 59-58. Southern couldn’t keep up, getting SWAC’d by Mississippi Valley State, 61-57.

In the Southern, Chattanooga put some distance between themselves and Davidson as they earned a win over UNC Greensboro and the Wildcats got surprised by the College of Charleston, 74-71.

Hampton continued to roll in the MEAC.

Yes, Florida Gulf has the right to say the A-Sun is “Mine, ALL MINE,” but Stetson is determined to make keep it interesting.

An important Big 10 win for Nebraska, on the road against Iowa.  Perhaps it’s because the Unofficial mascot, Basketball Head, brings support to NU women’s basketball. (Is it just me, or do the I’s in Iowa/Iowa St. stand for inconsistent?)

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*fingers crossed it’s not “Blowout Monday Time”

From Zach Ward at Swish Appeal: ACC’s best square off in much-anticipated showdown

The wait is nearly over.

No. 7 Maryland (19-3, 10-1 ACC) and No. 5/4 Duke (21-1, 11-0 ACC), the top two teams in ACC women’s basketball both by ranking and conference record, will meet at 7 p.m. Monday in Durham.

The past two seasons Maryland and Duke have split, with both teams winning on their home floors.

The teams figure to do the same again this year unless one of them can step up on the road. The Terps are a perfect 11-0 at home, but are definitely more vulnerable when they travel away from the friendly confines of College Park.

Did you miss Rebecca’s preview? Terps’ season still full of potential – Game will help decide ACC — and which center is the best in the league

Duke, Maryland’s opponent, was well-acquainted with injuries earlier in the season but is healthy now. If you wrote off Duke after the beatdown at UConn a month ago, you need to give the Blue Devils another look. They are a much-improved team since that 79-49 Jan. 21 loss. 

What has changed? The Blue Devils have inserted Chloe Wells into the starting lineup and she has been solid on offense (shooting 56 percent on 3-pointers) and a spark on defense. The move also allowed coach Joanne P. McCallie the luxury of bringing the country’s third-most-accurate 3-point shooter (46-for-96, 48 percent shooting), Tricia Liston, off the bench. The Blue Devils are still working to become a team that plays well for an entire 40 minutes instead of just 20, but they are getting closer each game.

Here’s what I’ll be looking for in this insideoutside and upside down Big Monday matchup:

Rob at DWHoops has his preview:

The Skinny:

This is the ACC game of the year, part 2. The ramifications are simple: if Duke wins, they will have a death grip on the league standings. If Maryland wins, they will tie Duke at the top of the ACC and get the rematch at home, giving them a tremendous lift down the stretch. The Terps are a makeshift team that are riding superstar forward Alyssa Thomas hard; she’s the reason why this six-woman team keeps winning. She can play so many positions on the floor that if a player gets in foul trouble, the Terps can simply sub in frosh Malina Howard (7 ppg, 4 rpg) and shift Thomas to the frontcourt or backcourt. Thomas’ line is as follows: 17 ppg, 10 rpg, 5 apg, 2 spg. She’s second in the ACC in scoring and leads it in rebounding.

Sam Wiseman at the Herald Sun says, Duke women look to rebound vs. Term

Gene Wang over at the WaPo chimes in: Chloe Pavlech boosts Maryland women’s basketball with clutch play

“I think they call that a show pony,” Pavlech said somewhat mischievously when asked about her knack for playing her best against the highest-caliber opponents.

That remark got Thomas laughing so much that the normally placid junior all-American forward had to bow her head in order to regain her composure and finish answering questions from reporters. Soon enough Frese and Hawkins also were smiling broadly, much like the rest of the team often does when Pavlech provides witty observations that keep the atmosphere light.

Happy to know the DC Basketcases are back in town, having taken what looks to have been a glorious trip to see penguins, petrels and albatrosses. (Can’t believe they didn’t take me!)

The Louisville/ND game isn’t getting a ton of prep press (Beth and Debbie did podcast on it.) I’m betting beat writers are terrified they’ll try and copy the men’s 5OT game….

At the SBT, Curt points out that Braker’s offense is a bonus point

The Journal-Courier pieces together this: Louisville women’s basketball will meet No. 2 Notre Dame tonight

The University of Louisville women’s basketball team, coming off a 78-45 whipping of Pittsburgh on Saturday, will be expecting a much bigger challenge tonight.

In Graham’s week in review, he notes that Michigan and LSU got much-needed wins

We might be in the midst of the shortest month, but February has a knack for setting up long summers.

There is always another game and another opportunity at this point in the season, which is one reason why it can feel a little like these weeks are the equivalent of running in wet sand. The real drama of the postseason is visible on the horizon, but still far enough away that staring at it can mean running smack into what’s more immediately proximal. Immediacy is still hard to find.

On the other hand, if there is no such thing as a must-win game in early February, there are wins that make it considerably more likely a team will have a chance to play some real must-win games a month or so from now.

And for Michigan and LSU, Sunday was the biggest day of the season.

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The USBWA has an interesting list.

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Specifically, the injuries and suspensions that might have spelled disaster. Yet, writes Mechelle, this season, when other teams are using injuries as an explanation for their poor season, Duke keeps overcoming setbacks

Friday morning, I listed some of the candidates for the coach of the year … but, of course, there are always others who deserve mentioning. One, in fact, got a big victory Friday night.

Duke maintained its mastery over Miami, and in the process earned the No. 1 seed in the ACC tournament and at least a share of the league’s regular-season championship.

The No. 7 Blue Devils’ 74-64 victory over the No. 5 Hurricanes moved Duke’s all-time record over Miami to 9-0. And Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie did it with a team that doesn’t really look like what she was hoping/expecting it to when the school year began.

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(or, perhaps use picture in picture?),  some pre-game reading before the #5 Duke- #7 MD game (3:30pmEST- ESPNU).

Duke women put streak on line in showdown with Maryland

Terps have no trouble getting fired up for rival Blue Devils

Maturing Blue Devils welcome Maryland

McCallie Previews the Maryland Game

ACC Leaders Clash in Cameron

Live Blog!

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— as in the four teams are ready for the Final Four. Which explains why my reaction to the games last night is a tad musical.

Killing the Blues is just what UConn did.

First Georgetown, and then Duke. The Blue Devils kept it close in the first, but then Maya did her Roadrunner impression (beep! beep!), and the Huskies were off to the races. Duke’s offense suffered from bad decisions and Connecticut’s found its groove: 24 assists on 32 baskets. The end result? A deju vu-esque 35pt win. Write Rob at DWHoops:

Duke kept it interesting for a half, but they once again were blown out by the UConn Huskies. The Blue Devils didn’t accomplish any of the pregame goals I outlined in our DWHoops game preview, and they paid for it with the worst NCAA Tournament loss in Duke history. Rebounds? UConn led, 40-27. Tempo? UConn ran the ball down Duke’s throat, with a 12-4 edge in fast break points. Shot-making? Duke shot an excruciating 25% from the floor. The Devils hustled and scrapped to stay within 3-6 points for most of the first half, thanks to some timely shooting by Shay Selby and the usual hustle by Jasmine Thomas. Duke was within 3 points with under four minutes to go, and one could see UConn start to wear down a bit. Maya Moore and Tiffany Hayes both picked up 2 first-half fouls that were silly. The Devils not only were unable to capitalize, they inexplicably didn’t hold the ball for the final possession of the half. They missed 2 late cracks at the basket and gave Moore enough time to hit a shot at the buzzer, giving UConn the double-digit halftime lead they wanted so badly. Then the Huskies shot an absurd 72% in the second half against a Duke defense that had completely broken down.

Graham on Maya:

As the story goes, at some point during the team’s stay in Philadelphia, sophomore Kelly Faris’ mom gave her daughter a paddleball, partly in jest for a team that finds a way to compete at anything and everything, if also as a way to kill the tedious hours of hotel time that come during the postseason. Faris, Stefanie Dolson and Lauren Engeln promptly spent a good portion of an evening passing the paddleball, and the corresponding record for consecutive hits, back and forth. Welcome to Connecticut basketball.

But when the new toy made its way into wider circulation on the bus soon thereafter, Moore wanted to know why she hadn’t been included in the initial record chase.

“We said that we didn’t want to invite her the first night because she probably would have been up until 5 in the morning trying to break it,” Faris said. “But she told us it wouldn’t have taken her that long.”

For Texas A&M, it Feels Like the First Time, as their third time against Baylor proved the charm. The Aggies took an early lead, survived foul trouble, got a lot of help from Sydney 1 and Sydney 2, and now are going to the Final Four for the first time in program history. Writes Joanne Gerstner at the New York Times:

In most ways, it’s hard to make 6-foot-8 Baylor sophomore star Brittney Griner disappear. But Texas A&M found the magic wand Tuesday, reducing Griner’s normally game-changing play at center into a non-factor.

Mechelle on coach Blair and the Aggies:

It all began in this city for Texas A&M coach Gary Blair, literally. He was born and raised in Dallas, graduating from high school in 1963, the year JFK was assassinated here.

He served time in the Marines, then went to Texas Tech and played baseball. In 1973, he started coaching the South Oak Cliff High girls’ team in Dallas. It was a job not many would have wanted, but Blair saw something in the sport that captured his imagination as a certified sports junkie. He recognized what was beautiful about a sport with such growth potential.

Michelle Smith has Five storylines to watch in Final Four

Tim Newcomb at Time magazine says the Final Four is A Lesson in Staying Power

Ann Killon at Sports Illustrated Breaks Down the Final Four.

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a little SEC news:

Tennessee beats LSU in SEC opener without making a 3-pointer, first time since
1999

Vanderbilt loses lead and game to Ole Miss in SEC opener

Georgia overpowers South Carolina in SEC opener

Auburn pulls away from Alabama in SEC opener

Kentucky prepares for Duke

From me, on one of tonight’s more intriguing games:  Check out the non-Duke affiliated site DukeReport:

Joanne P. McCallie Previews Kentucky

Jasmine Thomas & Krystal Thomas Preview Kentucky

No. 3 Duke and No. 10 Kentucky Will Tip at 7:00 PM on Tuesday on ESPNU.

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From Graham: A look at the week ahead

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

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400: With Duke’s 75-50 victory over USC, Joanne P. McCallie gets her 400th win.

18: Tennessee pounds Chattanooga behind school-record 15 3-pointers

500: Bill Fennelly wins 500th career game as Iowa State cruises

29: Don’t know if it’s a record, but it IS a heck of a lot of turnovers. But the Seminoles survived to defeat Auburn.

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From Graham: Jasmine Thomas is key for Duke – Senior guard and coach McCallie hope to make most of their final season together

Entering her fourth season as Duke’s coach, Joanne P. McCallie for the first time has a roster comprised almost entirely of players she recruited. Yet amid the talent carefully assembled to fit her particular philosophy of basketball, it’s the one who got away who will play the biggest part in attempting to guide the Blue Devils back to the Final Four for the first time since 2006.

(I wonder if the Texas-Duke history/writing link was on purpose. <g>)

 

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