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WHO LET THE DOGS OUT!”

Okay. I’m done. But wow. Something the Prez and I have in common!

Upsets

#12 Albany stuns #5 Florida in comeback NCAA tourney win

The mini-dynasty being built by Katie Abrahamson-Henderson at University of Albany was missing just one thing: a NCAA tournament victory.

No longer.

Times Union:

Down by as many as 16 points and with their star player fouling out with 6:18 remaining, UAlbany rallied to stun Florida 61-59 Friday afternoon in an NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament first-round game at the Carrier Dome.

Portland Press Herald: Carter helps Albany secure upset

Imani Tate and the Albany Great Danes weren’t going to have senior Shereesha Richards’ record-setting career end while sitting on the bench.

And not even an official’s scoring error that gave Florida an extra point was going to stop them.

#10 St. Bonaventure over #7 Oklahoma State, 65-54.

Tulsa World: OSU falls to plucky St. Bonaventure

Time and time again Friday night, the Oklahoma State women’s basketball team made a run at St. Bonaventure in their first-round Women’s NCAA Tournament game at Gill Coliseum.

Each time, the Bonnies had an answer.

The State/AP:

St. Bonaventure didn’t know whether it would be invited to the NCAA Tournament when the field was announced, and chances seemed slim.

On Friday, the Bonnies showed they belonged.

#9 Auburn over #8 St. John’s, 68-57.

Al.com: Freshman Janiah McKay guides Auburn into 2nd round of NCAA Tournament

Behind a career night from Janiah McKay, Auburn advanced to the Round of 32 at the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Friday with a 68-57 win over St. John’s in Waco, Texas.

McKay, a freshman point guard, poured in a career-high 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting and dished out three assists for the Tigers in the win.

Defense leads Auburn women to NCAA Tournament win over St. John’s

A fantastic defensive start for the Auburn women held up for the remainder of the evening, and it has them bound for the second round.

The ninth-seeded Tigers gave up just six points in the first quarter and Auburn’s patent defensive press forced 25 turnovers to frustrate No. 8 seed St. John’s, ultimately to the tune of a 68-57 win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Friday at the Ferrell Center.

#9 Kansas State over #8 George Washington, 56-51.

The State/AP

Kansas State second-year coach Jeff Mittie entered the year hoping to move the program forward. He and the Wildcats took a big step in that direction Friday with their first NCAA Tournament in four years.

Close: 

#7 Tennessee over #10 Green Bay, 59-53. It took a second half surge to secure the win.

#6 West Virginia over #11 Princeton, 74-65.

#5 Mississippi State over #12 Chattanooga, 60-50.

A good showing

#4 Michigan State over Belmont, 74-60.

Not so close

A horrible first quarter doomed the Black Knights. #4 Syracuse over #13 Army, 73-56.

Not close

Raining threes, #6 Depaul floated over #11 JMU by 30.

Did they play the full fourth? #2 Arizona State over #15 New Mexico State by 22.

Nice first quarter…#3 Ohio State over #14 Buffalo by 19.

At least for a game, life without injured senior guard Ameryst Alston worked out well for Ohio State in the opening round of the NCAA tournament on Friday at St. John Arena.

The third-seeded Buckeyes ended the first quarter with a 22-1 run and powered past 14th-seeded Buffalo 88-69 to advance to a second round matchup Sunday against sixth-seeded West Virginia.

#3 Louisville over #14 Central Arkansas, 87-60. Great first quarter for the Sugar Bears, not so good second.

Really not close:

#2 Oregon State over #15 Troy by 42.

#1 Baylor over #16 Idaho State by 3o.

#1 South Carolina over #16 Jacksonville by 36.

Charlie’s Quick Dish: Five observations from opening day

Games I’ve got my eye on tomorrow:

Duquesne/Seton Hall
Purdue/Oklahoma
South Dakota State/Miami
Colorado State/South Florida

WNIT

Utah (Pac12) runs over Montana State (Big Sky), 95-61.

FGCU (A-Sun) soars over Bethune-Cookman (MEAC), 78-51.

Temple (American) snufs out Drexel (A-10), 74-66.

Quinnipiac (MAAC) mauls Maine, 90-44, for their first post-season win in program history.

Fresno State (MW) over Santa Clara (WCC), 59-53.

Some fun games tomorrow:

TCU v. Eastern Michigan, 8pm EST
Drake v. Northern Iowa, 8pm EST
IUPUI v. San Diego, 7pm EST
Villanova v. Hofstra, 6pm EST
Michigan v. Bucknell, 2pm EST

UCLA women’s basketball Coach Cori Close learned from a legend, John Wooden

Cori Close played basketball for UC Santa Barbara and was an assistant coach for 18 years at three different universities before taking over as UCLA‘s coach in 2011.

But her roots at UCLA run deep and are personal.

UCLA was her first stop as an assistant, and it was there she met John Wooden, who became a mentor and confidant.

Awful Announcing: ESPN BROADCASTING GAMES REMOTELY SENDS A BAD MESSAGE FOR NCAA WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT COVERAGE

ESPN (and other sports networks) have been broadcasting more and more sporting contests from the studio rather than sending announcers to game sites.  This has become an increasingly popular trend for the networks to save every penny they can while the price of poker goes up, up, and up thanks to soaring rights fees.  While this has traditionally been done with international soccer over the years, we’ve seen it happen with much more frequency for college basketball and college football recently.

This is NOT just the women’s NCAA tourney. If you haven’t been paying attention to ESPN’s irrational exuberance you’ve missed a big story.

From the NY Times: Changing the Rules of the Women’s Game, With the Hope of Altering the Interest Level

Last spring in Indianapolis, the N.C.A.A. women’s basketball rules committee focused on ways to increase the sport’s appeal.

The major changes approved at the meeting provided a face-lift this season. Notably, the two 20-minute halves were changed to four 10-minute quarters in an attempt to improve the flow and quality of games.

Then in January, the W.N.B.A. revamped its playoff system, eliminating conference alignments and creating single-game eliminations through the first two rounds.

Women’s basketball is entering a pivotal time to entice a national audience.

Nylon Calculus: Visualizing WNBA history

Yesterday, at FiveThirtyEight, I waded into the discussion about a gender gap in basketball analytics with a report on the scarcity and fragility of data in women’s college basketball. I received a lot of comments about how the lack of public data in women’s basketball, both college and the NBA, is a reflection of a lack of demand. The argument was that if there was an audience for the data than leagues and media companies would provide it for their fans and customers.

Frankly, I think that perception is backwards. An increase in data sparks curiosity and drives demand.

BTW – Data fuels the fantasy leagues. (Something the W needs to have, because it fuels interest in the ENTIRE league).

No. Why WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne wants to lower the rims from 10 feet

From the .com: Senior Watch: Top WNBA Draft Prospects in the NCAA Tournament

Hello! LA Sparks hire Flint native Tonya Edwards as assistant coach

Whoa. Sanchez out as UNM Lobos women’s basketball coach

Following up on some high school news: Rutgers Prep has arrived as a true state power

The Rutgers Prep School girls basketball program is no stranger to success, having won 10 state Prep B titles and five Somerset County Tournament championships during head coach Mary Klinger’s 32 years at the helm, a run that’s earned her 519 career victories. But when the decision was made for the Argonauts to join the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association prior to the 2013-14 season, perhaps the biggest draw was the opportunity for the tiny Franklin Township school to show the rest of the state that Rutgers Prep was perfectly capable of running with the big dogs.

Less than three years later, with the program’s first sectional and group titles already in hand, the Argonauts have not only proven that fact, but thanks to a special group of players who have progressed as individual athletes and teammates, Rutgers Prep is well within striking distance of the state’s most prestigious hoops prize.

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like a bunch of clueless, self-delusional, profoundly tone-deaf  dingbats.

The university changed its stance, granting Romero a release as a result of a newly modified policy that allows athletic director John Currie the freedom to release student-athletes if new information or circumstances warrant the release.

When we see one person standing in opposition to a large entity, passions can be easily inflamed as people empathize. It’s the mini versus the monolith.

But that’s even more the case when, no matter how hard you look, you can’t figure out what the monolith stands to gain by exercising its power. Ultimately, that’s why so many people were baffled and angered by Kansas State’s treatment of women’s basketball player Leticia Romero.

“I’m thrilled for Leticia — this is what she deserved all along,” Romero’s attorney Donald Jackson said Tuesday morning. “I think Kansas State made the right decision and we’re thrilled about it. Sometimes things like this take a little time, but I congratulate the athletic director and the board at K-State on the decision they made.
Dang, but don’t I love a little sarcastic, subtle gloating….
Moving to a happier place: Rookie Alert!!!
BOOM! McBride drops 30 and the winner.
Story of the Game: Both teams were insanely hot from outside in the first half, combining to hit the first 11 three-point shots attempted. There were under four minutes left in the half when Shameka Christon tossed up the first missed three of the evening. The star of the show amongst the floor-wide bombing was a former Notre Dame guard – but not the one who tends to get all the press. Kayla McBride was smoking hot from the perimeter, not afraid to put the ball on the floor to create easier looks, and even made a couple of nice passes along the way as well. This is why Dan Hughes took her #3 in the recent draft, ahead of players like Alyssa Thomas and Natasha Howard who might’ve filled a more obvious hole on his roster.

Moments after becoming the first WNBA player to score 30 or more points in four consecutive games, holding a bag of ice on the five stitches over her right eye, Lynx forward Maya Moore was making the point that it’s not all her.

“Of course they are going to see I scored 30, looking at the points,” said Moore, who had 30 points in just under 31 minutes in Saturday’s victory over the New York Liberty. “But my teammates do so much for me. It’s all a team aggression; I just try to set the tone in the beginning.’’

(how cranky am I? I’ll be in Minny for a conference and the Lynx are on the road. Who’s in charge of scheduling!)
In the “it’s about time” category: Braxton waived. So much talent, so determined to squander it….
If you wanna catch up on WNBA games, check out Richard at WNBAlien.
Connecticut’s Carl Ademac catches up with old OLD Big East foe Barnes Arico: Ex-Red Storm coach is all ‘Go Blue’ at Michigan
“The Midwest is terrific,” Barnes Arico said. “It’s a great place to raise a family and the people in Ann Arbor and the state of Michigan have been so welcoming. The people in Michigan are all about the Block M and all about Michigan. I put on a Michigan t-shirt and go anywhere from California to Paris, France, somebody sees me and goes, ‘Go Blue.’ So it’s just the tradition and the pride, and to be able to work at a University that has all that is incredible. I’m loving it and enjoying it.
From the Sports Business Education Network: Muffet McGraw’s Keynote Address, “Women in Leadership
Speaking of leadership: Congrats to St. Francis’ third year head coach John Thurston as St. Francis Brooklyn women’s basketball team has been invited to the pre-season WNIT for the first time in program history.
In USA Basketball news, the U-18 team was announced. Check out Clay Kallam’s notes from the 17s and 18s tryouts.
Speaking of USA Basketball, from Anna Wilson: Red White and Dream Come True
Last year I was invited to participate in the USA U16 national team trials. Unfortunately, I was not selected to be a part of the team and missed out on the FIBA Americas U16 championship in Cancun, Mexico. This year I was invited back to Colorado Springs, Colo., to try out for the USA U17 world championship team, and this time I had more experience and more confidence. And I made the team.
Q: Team USA, coached by Geno Auriemma, will look to retain the gold medal at the FIBA world championship for women Sept. 27-Oct. 5 in Ankara and Istanbul, Turkey. What is the process of reducing the current pool of players down to 12?
Interesting flashback from Emily Nkosi: Basketball, Jesus and young lesbian identity in Waco, Texas

“I will always worry about Emily.”

That is what coach Kim Mulkey said about me in her book, Won’t Back Down. Though this is not a flattering line to have your basketball coach write about you, I actually appreciate it. I have been worried about me too, and with good reason.

Things have not been easy for me over the past decade. I don’t think my struggle is particularly unique. We all have struggles. The clearer I get on my own pain, the more compassion and authenticity I have in relating to the world around me. I hope I can share parts of my story and my pain in a way that others can relate to and learn from. That’s why I’m writing this. It’s not about setting the record straight or telling my side of the story in my own words, but rather trying to excavate the hard earned nuggets of wisdom that, if shared, could help someone else avoid the same mistakes or feel less alone.

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From Joshua Kinder, who’s all over this story: Romero exploring other options to gain her release

When Leticia Romero first asked for her release more than two months ago, she had no idea she’d still be waiting for it today and in the fight of her life with the university she’s called home for the past year. The All-Big 12 point guard has seemed to run out of conventional options when it comes to getting a release from Kansas State after the university’s statement Wednesday night that the appeals committee’s decision is “final and binding.”

Though K-State’s official stance is firm — case closed — Romero’s attorney, Donald Jackson, might just be getting started. 

Wait, there are NO take backs, K-State: Leticia Romero plans MTSU visit, could transfer

MTSU women’s basketball appears to have exclusive rights to one of the nation’s more coveted possible Division I transfers — at least for now.

Joshua: Back and forth: MTSU allowed to contact Romero, again

Kellis Robinette at The Kansas City Star: Leticia Romero still not released from K-State scholarship but can contact two schools

Enough is enough.

Someone at Kansas State needs to step in and realize that the school is getting mountains of negative PR for an athlete in a non-revenue sport by upholding a rule that is likely to be changed when the Power Five conferences are given autonomy.

This is going beyond negative PR, dontcha think?

Another blog kicks in: Let her go

Kansas State is one of my favorite schools…. It is in that spirit I tell you: I have absolutely no idea what Kansas State is doing in this bizarre Leticia Romero case.

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Swish Appeal Interviews Romero: Leticia Romero discusses the frustrating denial of her transfer release by Kansas State

Make it go away! University attorney requests Currie letter be removed, claims it was stolen

She’s free! Joshua Kinder @Joshua_Kinder · 41m  :Just learned Middle Tennessee State has was granted permission today to contact Romero — one of 94 schools on her list. #KState And story: Middle Tennessee State given permission to contact Romero 

Ooops. No she’s not: Joshua Kinder Tweet: Just Learned #KState has retracted its contact release to Middle Tennessee State and Romero due to a clerical error. This is real.

Honestly, just how many bullets and how many feet to shoot them in DOES K-State have?

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So we’re thinking that they’re getting SOMEwhere close to a rational decision, even if it does involve finger-pointing and blame-gaming and responsibility shifting, and Mechelle weighing in again:

I have seen and reported on some strange happenings in women’s college basketball over the years. This Romero/Kansas State dispute joins a short list of the most confounding.

I think of it as improvisational because it seems like with the decision-making process in this case, Kansas State’s administration has been making it up as it goes along.

Initially, Kansas State completely denied her release. In the past week, Romero said the administration would release her, but to none of the 100 schools she had included when K-State requested a list of programs she might be interested in. 

Kansas State has brought itself negative publicity, has put a foreign teenage student-athlete through nearly two months of stress and uncertainty, has marred the start of new coach Jeff Mittie’s tenure and now might be in a legal battle, as Romero is being represented by a lawyer.

And then we get this from K-State: “She ain’t goin’ NOwhere.”

Recent media reports may have created the impression that the university is reconsidering student athlete Leticia Romero’s request for a transfer. The news reports are based on an apparent photo of a confidential letter from Athletic Director John Currie to Pat Bosco, vice president for student life at Kansas State University.

Under university policy, the Appeals Committee’s decision is final and binding, and there is no university procedure to reexamine one of those decisions. Thus, the university process concludes with the Appeals Committee’s decision. Also, the final and binding nature of these decisions does not allow for them to be overturned by university administrators.

Is this the new K-State logo?

firedisney

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in Spanish?

AD asks committee to change ruling

Kansas State athletics director John Currie has sent a letter asking that a school committee which had denied Wildcat player Leticia Romero’s request to transfer to reconsider its decision, ESPN’s Outside The Lines has learned.

In the letter, dated May 5, Currie wrote to committee chairman Dr. Pat Bosco that “new information regarding student-athlete Leticia Romero” has become available. It also said that “I believe it is in this student-athlete’s best interest for the committee to reconvene to consider this new information and potentially approve her request for a conditional transfer release.”

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as those who knew coach Ginny Doyle and Natalie Lewis mourn and regroup….

A women’s basketball history tweet-scusion brought this back: More Than a Game: 6-On-6 Basketball In IowaIn 1993, the era of girls’ six-on-six basketball in Iowa came to an end. This one-hour IPTV documentary takes a look back at the game and what it meant to generations of girls who played it. Check out the video.

Almost lost is the shuffle: a good move for VCU, and a hiccup for Stony Brook.  We (as in the royal we) at WHB had watched with an eager eye last season as Beth O’Boyle  continued to shift the Stony Brook Seawolves from a “walkover” to “watch out.” Her work caught the eye of a smart AD, and so she’s off to another state. From Hanaa’ Tameez at the Statesman: Former Women’s Basketball head coach O’Boyle prepares for new challenges at VCU

“VCU is an opportunity for me where one of the biggest things is to get closer to home,” O’Boyle said in a phone interview. 

“My family is all in Maryland, less than two hours from here. The opportunity for them to share in my coaching a little bit more and be a closer to them was really a big part of the decision.

“I absolutely love my players at Stony Brook and I couldn’t even imagine not coaching them next year,” she continued. 

“It was extremely difficult and it was really important to me that they hear my decision from me and not on Twitter.”

Speaking of moving: Old Dominion star Shae Kelley transferring to Minnesota (guess the Monarchs don’t have an issue with releasing folks, huh, K-State.)

Speaking of NOT moving, how about Mechelle on K-State’s mean-spiritedness?

Let’s hope ego doesn’t trump common sense and recognizing the decision was wrong. Because it was. I spent a lot of time talking on and off the record to people involved in this decision. I think the university jumped to the conclusion that since she asked to leave, it had to be because a member or members of the former staff was behind it. I interviewed Romero over the phone and in person. I talked to her nearly three hours between the two. I asked her a ton of questions. She is extremely bright, very well-spoken even though she has only been speaking English regularly for less than a year, and she has a very strong personality. I believe her. I think school officials did not take enough time to just *listen* to her. John Currie, the athletic director, did not even meet with her before signing off on the decision to deny her release. He may say that’s because she didn’t ask him directly for the release. She went to the compliance office, because she thought that was where she was supposed to go. Why didn’t the AD reach out to the best player on the team last year and say, “Let’s have a face-to-face meeting about you wanting a release. Let me hear from you why, and let’s talk about it.” Was she not important enough? Was it easier to just deny the release, assume she was a puppet, and then toss her to the appeals committee, which never gave her any reasons for denying her appeal? What more does she have to say? She’s said, “I wasn’t tampered with, but if you are so sure I was, then block ANY school you want to block.” Do they really have to block every D-I school in the United States by denying the release? Does that seem even marginally reasonable?

OPA! UMaine women’s basketball team completes recruiting class with Greek guard Gerostergiou

Guess who I’ll be hanging with in Istanbul this fall? Bruno, Staley, Reeve assist women’s national team (Should I watch out for flying jackets? <g>)

Speaking of the Flying Jacket: From Mechelle: Lynx again the WNBA favorite – League’s 18th season opens Friday; defending champs open at Mystics

The champagne was still wet on coach Cheryl Reeve’s clothes when her mind took a quick look ahead. Her Minnesota Lynx had just won their second WNBA title last October, so players and coaches were celebrating with some bubbly. But Reeve also had the big picture in sight.

Three consecutive appearances in the WNBA Finals? Winning two of those three series? Great … but Reeve knows every WNBA team is still measured against a higher standard set long ago.

It ain’t going to be a walk in the park, though: No Wright, Peters and now no Becky.

From David Woods at the Indy Star: 13 seasons in, Tamika Catchings can still provide for Indiana Fever (how can it possibly be 13?)

Tamika Catchings doesn’t need to be treated as delicately as a museum artifact.

After all, the Indiana Fever forward is coming off a season in which she averaged 17.7 points and 7.1 rebounds a game, comparable to her WNBA career statistics (16.7 and 7.5). Moreover, the Fever recovered from a 1-7 start and reached the Eastern Conference finals for a fourth time in five years.

However, the 34-year-old “Catch” is in the fourth quarter now. She has pledged to play through the 2016 Olympic Games and is looking ahead to a new career in a WNBA front office. She is looking for a successor to her decade-long position as president of the players’ association.

Also from SwishAppeal: Q&A: Chicago Sky coach Pokey Chatman on Elena Delle Donne’s strength, Sylvia Fowles’ injury, and trading Swin Cash and Q&A: Chicago Sky center Sylvia Fowles talks about her injury, rehab, and the loss of Swin Cash

So, yah, it’s only preseason, but have you noticed what Diggins’ been Doin’?

And yah, the Liberty are “Back in Black” (y’all better EARN those jerseys) and have Tina Charles (will the locals come?)…. but how successful are they going to be with Cappie alone at the point?

And the “Live Access” mishegoss begins. It’s breathtaking how much effort the League puts in to MISSING a chance to join the 21st Century and build a happy fan base. BTW, Muffet? The discount code is: WNBALA2014

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This Is Why College Athletes Need a Union – The case of a Kansas State basketball player reveals the NCAA’s moral bankruptcy.

Leticia Romero came to Kansas State University from the Canary Islands to play basketball. After Romero’s freshman season—a successful one on the court, in which she averaged more than 14 points per game—the coach that recruited her was fired, and several assistant coaches chose to leave as well. As a consequence, Romero decided she wanted to transfer. The Kansas State athletic department had other ideas.

Mechelle Voepel of ESPN.com has the full story, and it’s yet another infuriating example of how college sports administrators control unpaid NCAA athletes. Kansas State has thus far refused to release Romero from her scholarship, which means she can’t receive financial aid from any other Division I institution for at least a year. The Kansas State athletic department has mostly refused to explain itself, on account of “student-privacy concerns.” That excuse would make more sense if someone had told Romero why the university is blocking her release. The player says she hasn’t gotten any explanation at all.

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It’s a battle between the Rutgers and the Kansas State folks. From Mechelle: Controversy swirls at Kansas State

Leticia Romero sits in a Starbucks, about 4,600 miles away from her home in Spain’s Canary Islands. It’s a gray afternoon, an average April day in Kansas.

For the Kansas State breakout freshman star, this is her first spring in the Little Apple. It also appears to be her last.

A 5-foot-8 guard, her dark hair pulled back in a ponytail, Romero wears a purple Kansas State shirt. Which — all things considered — seems ironic. “This last month has been really frustrating,” Romero said. “And right now, I’m in a position where I don’t know what to do.”

That position happens to be at the center of yet another NCAA-at-a-crossroads issue, as amateurism has become the story of the past college sports year. We’ve seen Oklahoma’s Pastagate, Johnny Football’s autograph scandal and Northwestern players’ attempt at unionizing. But Romero’s situation touches on another hot-button issue — the NCAA’s transfer rules.

In the W:

Ouch: Devereaux Peters out indefinitely

No surprise, but…sadness: Indiana Fever coach Lin Dunn to retire after 2014 season

On the move: Dream add depth with the acquisition of veteran Swin Cash

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and what a great trip. The landing, though, was a tad tough, what with having to jump deep back into work. What is it about taking a break seems to make work want to take it out on you…

So, about that championship game. Yah, it was a while ago, and ya, the final score says comfortable blowout, but it was a fun game, with Notre Dame showing a lot of heart (after a lot of nerves). I sure hope the ridiculousness between the two coaches/programs fades like so many family blowups.

Some of the good news: ratings.

Now, for those who are moaning, “oh, here we go again, UConn is “bad” for women’s basketball,” I simply say: don’t ignore what happened with the REST of the teams this past season. Lots of parity. Lots of young coaches. Next step: demand excellence from them. Raise expectations. Identify best practices. Stop complacency. Push for Title IX compliance. And hope for a little bit of luck and courage in the recruiting wars.

Case in point: From Mechelle –  A’JaWilson decision a big win for Staley – Nation’s top prospect averaged 35 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks as senior

....even though South Carolina was regarded as the favorite to land Wilson — a 6-foot-5 forward from the Gamecocks’ own backyard in Columbia, S.C. — the fact that she really did stay put is a big victory for coach Dawn Staley’s program.

It matters from a national perspective, as does the fact that UCLA has signed what’s considered the top-ranked recruiting class for 2014. The Bruins are also underdogs in women’s hoops that fans of the sport in general will root for to provide more diversity at the elite level of Division I.

I keep using terms like “fans of women’s basketball in general,” which might sound nebulous. But after so many years of following the sport, I think I have a pretty good handle on who they are.

Intriguing case in point: Diamond DeShields’ decision to transfer from North Carolina. Clearly, the actually reasons behind her move is still to be revealed, but it’s hard not to speculate (homesickness? looming NCAA sanctions?). Mechelle reflects on her interviews with Deshields this past season.

Remember when the news broke in May 2012 that four blue-chip juniors all decided to commit to North Carolina’s women’s basketball team?

Diamond DeShields was the point person in bringing them together, and it appeared to be a lottery-jackpot day for the Tar Heels. DeShields, Allisha Gray, Stephanie Mavunga and Jessica Washington — ranked third, eighth, 15th and 17th, respectively, in their 2013 recruiting class — were all headed to Chapel Hill, N.C.

What could go wrong?

Well, it might have crossed your mind that day — it did mine — that when a group of teens makes long-range plans to do something complicated together, it might go awry. Not being ageist; it’s just that kids are kids. We’ve all been there.

Good news for Purdue: Hamby, Bays on the mend.

Interesting news for a CSU team that had a resurgent season: Four women’s basketball players are transferring

I was saddened to hear the news of coach Joe Curl’s passing. Most within the basketball world knew of his health struggles. They forced him to step away from his position as Houston Cougars’ coach. He came into national prominence during the 2003-04 season, where he and three-time C-USA Player of the Year, Chandi Jones, led  the Cougars to the second round in the NCAA tourney and earned AP National Coach of the Year honors. I remember him smiling as he picked up the award, almost embarrassed at being surrounded by press and the “elite” of basketball — Alana Beard was the AP’s NPOY. 

I was not surprised by Terri Mitchell’s dismissal from Marquette — she never quite seemed to be able to break through within the recruiting ranks.  I wonder if she’ll thrive better on different soil. We shall see if the Anonymous Eagles’ impression (Marquette has decided that being middle of the road in team sports is no longer acceptable.) is correct.

The Bulldogs didn’t look far to find their new coach, appointing longtime assistant Lisa Fortier as Gonzaga’s next leader. She’s going to have to find some new assistants, though.  I don’t know about you, but if Kelly Graves can do in Oregon what Scott Rueck has done at Oregon State, the west coast will be wicked fun to watch. (Interesting that associate head coach Mark Campbell left the Beavers to join the Ducks.)

Congrats to Natasha Adair, who’s moved from the College of Charleston back to Georgetown. Here’s hoping she can grow a program that seems to have lost the ground that Terri Williams-Flournoy seemed to have gained. Does the athletic department triply give a hoot about women’s basketball?

I remember Maren Walseth from the first Final Four I attended (2000 in Philly). She’s now the head coach at North Dakota State University. Interesting tidbit: Walseth’s sister, Annika, played for NDSU during the 2007-08 season.    

Nice to see Yolanda Moore move up the ranks. She’s now head coach at  Southeastern Louisiana University. “Moore spent the 2013-14 season as the head coach at LSU Eunice. Taking over a program that had won 17 games combined in the previous two seasons, Moore led the Lady Bengals to a 26-3 overall record and the program’s first-ever Miss-Lou Conference championship.”

Keep Fresno State on your “watch list,” as they plucked Jaime White from Northern Colorado.

More on the “WTF list:: Women’s basketball player appeals K-State transfer denial

 Leticia Romero has known she wanted to transfer for several weeks, but she will have to wait a little longer to find out if Kansas State will grant her a release from its women’s basketball program.

Romero, a rising freshman from Las Palmas, Spain, decided she wanted to leave K-State after the Wildcats fired Deb Patterson, the coach she signed on to play for, but the athletic department denied her initial transfer request. On Wednesday afternoon, she took her case to an appeals committee led by K-State Vice President of Student Life Pat Bosco. As of Wednesday night, the committee had not informed Romero of its decision.

Fashion Week in Illinois: Illini women’s basketball first in country with new jerseys

In WNBA news, Nate ranks has his 2014 Draft recap: The big winners and great value drafts (Spoiler alert: Connecticut, New York and Seattle do well).

Don’t miss Swish Appeal’s other musings:

Take a listen to Dishin & Swishin’s 04/17/14 Podcast: Anne Donovan & Fred Williams discuss Connecticut and Tulsa’s draft picks and offseason moves

Have you read Griner’s book “In My Skin” yet? Did you read Kate Fagan’s piece on Griner: Held Up n Customs: Live in China Gave Brittney More Than She Bargained For. 

THE NUMBER OF moving obstacles at a busy intersection in China can feel paralyzing for a pedestrian. None of the cars, mopeds or bikes appears to be following the traffic laws, which makes stepping off the curb a game of chance, like real-life Frogger.

And Brittney Griner is about to step off the curb.

“I’ve been hit once,” she says, seemingly unfazed at a busy corner in Zhejiang. “A moped ran into me from behind, but it wasn’t going that fast. It was my fault. I was trying to avoid traffic.”

Wait … what? Trying to avoid traffic is bad? “Totally wrong here,” Griner says. “You can’t stop walking. If you’re in motion, they’ll flow around you. It’s when you stop, when you freeze, that it becomes dangerous.”

Brittney Griner talks about her experience in China to ESPN’s Kate Fagan

In other news, Pokey is optimistic surgery won’t stop Fowles (as in, back mid-season?)

Welcome to Chicago, Markeisha Gatling. And be careful!

It’s been tough sledding for Chicago Sky centers lately.

Gatling, a 6-foot-5 rookie center out of North Carolina State, was selected by the Sky Monday with the 10th pick in the WNBA Draft.

What seemed at the time to be a rather nondescript addition, compared to last year’s blockbuster selection of superstar forward and eventual rookie of the year Elena Delle Donne, could now be a key piece to the puzzle for the Sky, which opens its season on May 16 with a home game against the Indiana Fever.

Gatling could be counted on heavily. And right away.

As a counter to the seemingly never ending “Will the W fail” articles: For The WNBA, Jersey Sponsorships Signal Corporate And Community Support

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Dragons v. Utes (no longer).

Behind Hollie Mershon’s double-double (26/10), Drexel took down Florida, 67-57.

“When you look at the SEC and where it stands and you look at what we have done this year, absolutely this is the biggest win,” said Dragons coach Denise Dillon, the product of Cardinal O’Hara and Villanova. “Auburn was the last biggest win. So, yeah, this is certainly the biggest win for our program. I’ve been here 10 years so I would certainly say this is it.”

In what sounds like an unlovely game, Utah overcame Kansas State, 54-46. In OT.

“We made just enough plays down the stretch to get the win,” said head coach Anthony Levrets. “I thought we had a really great game plan tonight. I’m really proud of our team.”

Utah travels to Drexel for the Finals, Saturday, April 6, 3pmEST.

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from Full Court:

Jim Clark: Notre Dame, UConn rule the Big East, and its last tournament as a major conference

I hate college football.

Greedy college presidents looking for football TV money have eviscerated the Big East, arguably the best basketball conference in the country over the last ten years. Boston College, Virginia Tech, and Miami wandered away in the last decade. Now the seven catholic institutions are seceding together. Rutgers is going to the Big 10 in 2014 (or sooner if they pay an exit fee), Louisville and Notre Dame are off to the ACC.

When “re-alignment” is over, UConn, Cincinnati and South Florida are all that will be left of the conference that has sent eight teams to the women’s NCAA Tournament the last two years. Nobody knows what that conference will be called. No one is quite sure what additional teams will be added and no one knows yet which conference will get the Big East automatic bid to the tournament. I’ll leave explanation of all the machinations still pending to the football writers.

Clay: NCAA seeds at stake in Big 12 tourney

It doesn’t matter to Baylor – but the Big 12 Tournament could make the path to the Sweet 16 a lot easier for teams that play well.

The Bears are going to be a top seed no matter what happens in their first-round game Friday against the winner of the Thursday’s Kansas State-Texas game. Even should one of the Big 12 bottomfeeders pull off an upset for the ages, it won’t affect Baylor’s chances of winning a national title at all – and it wouldn’t even help Kansas State or Texas unless the winner rode that momentum all the way to the conference title.

Paul Gackle at the SF Examiner says Cal, Stanford women’s basketball appear destined to meet this week in Pac-12 women’s tourney

James Kelley says, Arizona women’s basketball must dominate Pac-12 tournament to reach NCAA’s

Seattle’s Q13 has this story: Husky women’s basketball: Overcoming odds on and off court

The Husky women’s basketball team heads into the Pac-12 Conference Tournament after posting their best record since 2007.

And they’re ready, to say the least.

“I think it’s a real testament to the competitive character of our players that they didn’t accept that we had some limitations; therefore, couldn’t have success,” head coach Kevin McGuff said.

Marcus Fuller at the Pioneer Press wonders:  Gophers women’s basketball: Pam Borton’s secret deal a big deal for Big Ten tourney?

From the outside looking in, Pam Borton’s job status no longer appears tenuous, her team’s performance entering tournament season apparently no longer critical to the immediate future of Minnesota’s women’s basketball coach.

When Gophers athletics director Norwood Teague revealed last week that predecessor Joel Maturi had quietly given Borton a two-year contract extension last June, the women’s basketball coach no longer had to worry about a deal that would expire after next season. A new buyout clause was more university-friendly, but Borton needed a new deal to focus on rebuilding.

FC also has some player features.

Cal – Gennifer Brandon
Colorado – Chucky Jeffery
Maryland – Tianna Hawkins
Notre Dame – Natalie Achonwa
Penn State – Maggie Lucas

Time to revisit Vickie “Just Call Me Winner of the WBCA Mel Greenberg Award Media Award” Friedman’s look at the Mid-Majors:

We’re betting you’ve heard the name Elena Delle Donne.

But how about Naama Shafir, Jerica Coley or Victoria McGowan? You might not be as familiar with their credentials, but the Toledo offensive machine, the explosive Florida International guard and the Stetson floor general (who set an impressive Division I mark last season) have plenty of them.

Learn move below, along with info on several other monster resumes in a list we’ve compiled of this year’s best players from the non-BCS conferences.

Graham focuses on EDD: Elena shines in and out of spotlight – We rarely see Delle Donne play, but her story and game are as good as it gets

Most of the country didn’t experience Elena Delle Donne’s final regular-season home game.

There wasn’t a national television audience for the Colonial Athletic Association game between Delaware and Georgia State as there was when Skylar Diggins and Notre Dame played Connecticut on Monday night.

What transpired wasn’t likely to become part of any national conversation, as it did when Baylor’s Brittney Griner went for 50 points in her regular-season home finale the same night as the triple-overtime thriller in South Bend.

Basketball operates on a smaller scale in the second-smallest state.

Beth, Debbie and the Nell-ster discuss the upcoming NCAA tournament on their podcast.

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a glass half full or glass half empty kinda person?

I guess tonight it depends on which side of the glass you ended up on.

Texas got its most significant win of the season (so far) by going in to College Station (perhaps for the last time?) and upsetting #10 TA&M, 76-71.

It was touch-and-go there for a while at the YUM! Center, but #15 Louisville survived South Florida, 63-57.

#10 Texas Tech earned their first loss of the season at the Hand(s) of Oklahoma, 71-68.

The phrase “a tale of two halves” is  clichéd for a reason: it’s often true. Oklahoma State was within two of #1 Baylor at the end of the first half. And the end of the second half, they were within 25.

St. John’s squished the Orange.

Erfh: It’s going to be a long road back for Maine. They lose to the Terriers, 75-34.

The Bonnies dealt Temple their first A-10 loss, 74-65.

Don’t look now, but the Great Danes are 4-0 in the American East.

Still pretty glum in the land of the Musketeers: the lose to the Dukes, 68-49, and fall to 3-12.

Were Beth and Debbie at this game? Akron over Buffalo, 91-82.

A little wake up and smell the coffee at Missouri? With their 72-46 loss to K-State, they drop to 0-3 in the Big 12.

It took two overtimes, but Kansas got the win over Iowa State.

Ouch, the Monarchs let one get away: they had a nice lead over VCU, but lost in OT, 76-72.

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All hail the Kansas resurgence?

Kansas State took #8 Texas A&M to OT and won the game on a last second lay-up.

Kansas traveled to Austin and won its big 12 opener against #25 Texas, 72-67. (“It was the fifth-straight year coach Gail Goestenkors and the Longhorns have lost the conference opener.”)

#17 Texas Tech held of a pesky Oklahoma State to earn a 58-53 win and stay undefeated. Great respect shown by the Raiders to the Cowgirls:

After the game, Tech and Oklahoma State players stood side by side with locked arms during an emotional playing of the OSU Alma Mater.

“There’s some things a lot bigger and more important than a basketball game,” Curry said. “I know Kurt and Miranda had the best seat in the house, and I know he was proud of the way both teams competed.”

Not so fast, there, other Mitten: Michigan State roared back in the second half to knock off Michgan.

More games Debbie and Beth would like: Miami (Ohio) took down Akron in OT, 95-85. The teams combined for 112 points in the second half and 32 in the overtime. Writes Matt Sussman at Hustle Belt:

Come for the women’s basketball information, stay for the Saturday Night Live mid-level skit references. But even sans gimmicky reasons to click-thru and read, this was truly a wild back-and-forth game. Courtney Osborn had an eye-popping game: 48 points, the most by a Division I player in the last two years.

How bare was the cupboard when McGuff left? With their 60-54 loss to the EIU Panthers, Xavier is now 3-10.

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How Cal, Miami Went In Opposite Directions After 2010 WNIT Finals ‘Learning Experience’

SBN Links: K-State “Owns” TAMU, The First Women’s College Basketball Team & Why Cal Fans Can Root For Stanford

Oklahoma Women Sweep Bedlam: Sherri Coale sends seniors Robinson, Roethlisberger & Willis out in style

OK, if Pat has “The Stare” and Geno has “The Hair Smooth,” can we say Sherri has the “Flat Hands Clap”?

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