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Upset 1: #7 Washington over #2 Maryland

The Terrapins started slowly, caught up in the second, then stumbled badly in the third. Washington, behind the super (will she leave for the W?) Plum held off the Maryland in the fourth… Though, when Brene Moseley nailed that three with 32 seconds left… gulp. But, the Huskies free throw shooting held steady. They claimed the upset and a spot in the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2001.

UW women stun Maryland, reach Sweet 16 of NCAA tournament

Of all of her key plays Monday night, none sent Washington women’s basketball guard Kelsey Plum into the same life-affirming giddiness as her game-sealing pass to Talia Walton.

Mechelle: Voepel: How Plum and UW stunned Maryland

Sweet Plum: UW astonishes Terps, marches to Sweet 16

Washington’s success plan comes with Plum benefits

Maryland women’s basketball loses to Washington, 74-65

Maryland women’s basketball saw its season screech to a halt against Washington

Gene: Maryland women stunned by Washington in NCAA tournament round of 32

Maryland women ‘numb’ after upset loss to Washington means early exit from NCAA tourney

Upset 2: #5 Florida State over #4 Texas A&M

Honestly, you’ll never really know… but you’ve got to believe that having the second leading scorer on the court would have made a difference for Texas A&M. No do-overs, as Florida State used a dominant first quarter to demoralize the Aggies and glide to a 18 point win.

Florida State overpowers A&M, ends Aggies’ season

FSU Women Dominate Aggies 74-56, Advance to Sweet 16

A&M women fall behind early, lose to Florida St.

Florida State saw the epic comeback of the Texas A&M’s men over Northern Iowa on Sunday night, and the Seminoles were not about to let the Aggies do the same thing to them on Monday night.
With a 21-point lead down to just 10 points with two minutes remaining, senior Adut Bulgak implored her teammates not to let up.
“I was like, ‘Yo, they’re creeping up on us. Get to work,’ ” she said.

Almost an upset: Stanford over South Dakota State

‘Ware the Wabbits indeed. Lili Thompson came to Stanford’s rescue with a last second and-1 to get the win. Coach Tara will look at the box score (10 of 22 from line) and just shake her head. South Dakota State will probably kick a wall.

How Stanford rallied past South Dakota State and into the Sweet 16

Gritty Stanford ekes way to Sweet 16

Thompson’s 3-point play with 8.2 seconds left lifts Stanford

NCAA women’s tournament: Stanford punches ticket to Sweet 16

Women’s basketball survives scare to advance to ninth straight Sweet 16

Cardinal’s grit just enough to eke past upset-minded Jackrabbits

Heartbreak in Cali: Stanford rallies to stun Jacks

South Dakota State’s upset bid over Stanford falls short in NCAA women’s basketballtournament

Boever, South Dakota State lose heartbreaker

Almost an Upset: UCLA over South Florida

UCLA had a Jordin-free early run to put them up over South Florida… and then it became the Canada v. Williams extravaganza. Their hug at the end of the game said it all… the Bruins hold off Bulls’ upset dreams.

UCLA battles past South Florida to reach Sweet 16 for first time since 1999

UCLA Women’s Basketball Are Heading To The Sweet Sixteen!

Women’s basketball handles USF in second round, advances to the Sweet 16

USF rally comes up short against UCLA at NCAA women’s tournament

Not an upset: Notre Dame over Indiana

What a great effort by Teri Moren’s Indiana team. They went toe-to-toe with in-state behemoth and kept the Irish honest. Plenty for the Hoosiers to be proud of and build on (they only have ONE senior) Plenty for coach McGraw to work on.

Notre Dame Women’s Basketball Gets By Indiana, Advances to Sweet 16

If Monday night’s second-round match-up against ninth-seeded Indiana is any indication, it will not be an easy road to the Final Four for the Notre Dame women’s basketball team. But in the end, the Irish did what they usually do, which is to say they prevailed, 87-70.

Notre Dame women earn Sweet Sixteen berth with victory over Indiana

Notre Dame gets by pesky Hoosiers

Indiana gives Notre Dame plenty to think about

Buss, IU Bow Out of NCAA Tournament

Not an upset: Kentucky over Oklahoma

An 8-point second quarter doomed the Sooners against the Wildcats. Yes, Kentucky came away with the win, but they’ve got to be concerned about Epps and her (sprained?) shoulder.

Hays: How Kentucky ousted Oklahoma

UK women advance with win over Oklahoma

Any hope of a Sooners comeback ended when they missed 11 of their final 12 shots in the game.

“If we play defense like that and we continue to get better, we’re hard to beat,” senior guard Janee Thompson said.

Kentucky pulls away from Oklahoma 79-58 in NCAA second round

Cats’ lone senior comes up big in final game at Memorial Coliseum

Epps’ return inspires Kentucky to Sweet 16

Lady Sooners Fall to Kentucky in NCAA Second Round

OU women’s basketball: Kentucky finishes OU’s season

 

Not an upset: Texas over Missouri

#2 Texas started strong and rebuffed any and all of Missouri’s attempts to make it a game.

Interior game lifts Texas women into Sweet 16

As a reward for its best regular season in 12 years, the Texas women’s basketball team was allowed to spend the first week of the NCAA Tournament using its home baskets.

But that didn’t mean the Longhorns had to let their visitors near them.

Atkins and Texas overpowers Missouri 73-55 to Sweet 16

Missouri women’s basketball ends season with second-round NCAA loss to Texas

Not an upset: UConn over Duquesne

UConn started slow, but then blew it open in the second half. Stewart had some fun, too.

Charlie: UConn’s seniors go out on top in Gampel farewell

UConn’s Second-Quarter Wave Swamps Duquesne

Record-setting season for Duquesne women’s basketball ends against mighty UConn

I’m wicked excited about the next round…

Voepel previews each matchup of the Sweet 16

Charlie: Quick Dish: Welcome to the Sweet 16

Richard D: Six thoughts heading into the Sweet 16

1. Washington blows up the Lexington region

The tournament’s most impressive win came on Monday when No. 7 Washington knocked off No. 2 Maryland on the Terps’ home court. This wasn’t just a No. 7 seed upsetting a No. 2 seed, though: Maryland was a top-5 team all season and plenty of people believed it would end up Indianapolis for a third consecutive Final Four.

WNIT:

Tulane (American) over Georgia Tech (ACC)
Tulane started slowly but surged in the second to snatch the lead away from Georgia Tech. The Green Wave held on for the 64-61 win.

Florida Gulf Coast University (A-Sun) over Wake Forest (ACC)
FGCU did their best to put the game away in the first quarter and kept Wake Forest at arms’ length through the rest of the game. Eagle’s win, 67-48.

St. Louis (A-10) over Ball State (MAC)
Up one at the half of a low scoring game, the Billikens and Cardinals went neck and neck through the second half. In the end, St. Louis had just enough to win, 59-55.

Western Kentucky (C-USA) over Tennessee-Martin (Ohio Valley)
A monster second quarter gave Tennessee-Martin a 9-point halftime lead over Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers roared back with a 25pt third and held off the Skyhawks to earn a 64-57 win. WKU’s Tashia Brown scored an efficient 32 pts (11-22).

UTEP (C-USA) over Arkansas State (Sun Belt)
It was a battle (is it me, or can you describe a LOT of the WNIT games like that?) but the Miners dug deep and got the win.

Monday night’s game was a battle of two talented mid-major teams who deserved NCAA Tournament bids, but instead they took their frustrations out on each other in a hard fought, 74-68 UTEP win in the second round of the WNIT Tournament.

Utah (Pac12) over Gonzaga (WCC)
Four quarters of 20+ scoring (on the Gonzaga’s home court!) guaranteed the Utes moved in to the next round. Yup, something good is happening in the program under coach Roberts.

Oregon (Pac12) over Fresno State (MW)
The Ducks overwhelmed the Bulldogs, 84-59. Makes you say, “If not for those @&$^%@! ACLs.”

You can have football’s power play of three yards and a cloud of dust, or baseball’s power standard of the three-run homer.

When it comes to his power game in basketball, Oregon coach Kelly Graves will take three-pointers and a blur named Maite Cazorla any day of the week.

Hoping fans have notice the quality of the play and coaching across these Tourney Teams. I’m so encouraged… am I evil, peeking ahead at next year and thinking “Wide. Open.”? Am I hopeful, thinking the NCAA committees will meet to not just discuss the rules of the game but the rules of the selection process? It’s a conundrum, I know, on how to give the mid-majors the respect that they deserve. BUT, it’s worth some serious, creative thought, dontcha think?

 

 

 

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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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Things we’ve noticed so far:

Suspensions hurt: LSU, missing Ballard, lost at home. To the Trojans. Now, the Trojans are no slouch…within the Sun Belt Conference, but the taking down the Tigers was huge.

“This type of win gives the kids instant belief in what you’re trying to accomplish especially when you do it against a top-25-caliber team,” Coach Joe Foley said. “There are a lot of ups and downs in the season. It’s a long season. You want to get off to a good start and that helps.”

Suspensions don’t hurt (for the moment): Oregon rolled over Utah State.

Suspensions don’t hurt (and, hopefully, neither do injuries): Tennessee pulled away from Penn to earn a 97-52 win.

Courtney Banghart’s still got a team, Susie McConnell-Serio is still working on it: Princeton over Pittsburgh, 59-43.

Ya, James Madison knows how to duke it out — especially at home. They roared back in the second half, pulling out the overtime win over #23 UCLA. JMU shot poorly, but the Bruins’ offered up a generous 26 turnovers  to help the Dukes to their first win over a ranked team since 2009. From Lady Swish: 

Now just as we weren’t going to make a huge deal had JMU lost, well, we won’t get too carried away with the win. After all, we don’t really call it an upset. JMU advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year. UCLA didn’t have a winning record. But this will no doubt an eye-opening win for the Dukes, who bested the team that boasts the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation in a trio of freshmen who are McDonald’s All-Americans.

There is an “I” in team, as Iona sends an early message, taking down Fordham, 72-51, in their season opening. Nice to see Bowling Green, KU, UCF and Rutgers on their schedule (though Bowling Green lost a bit of a shocker – Bucknell defeated the Falcons, 54-52.).

I’m thinking it’s going to be a bruising season for Penn State.

Well, hello, Washington State! The Cougars proved to be unfriendly hosts to #22 Dayton – forcing 30 turnovers and come away with a 76-60 win. The Flyer’s Andrea Hoover did all she could, but WSU’s Lia Galdeira got more support from her teammates.

Richmond won their first game of the season.

Joe Doyle, a northern New Jersey resident, never missed his sister Ginny’s basketball games — not the games she played for the University of Richmond Spiders from 1990-92, nor the games she coached for 15 seasons as a beloved and respected assistant for the women’s team.

So for Joe to return to the Robins Center on Friday night for the Spiders’ home opener, six months after Ginny and women’s director of basketball operations Natalie Lewis died in a tragic hot air balloon crash, was both fitting and hard.

“It was very emotional,” Joe said afterward. “It was difficult to see [their photos] in this venue, at the first game of the season, without them being here. It’s tough and devastating. Every day, we think of Natalie and Ginny, from the minute we wake up until the minute we close our eyes. And it doesn’t get better.”

Freshmen are fun: Louisville’s Mariya Moore (announcers are going to have to be very careful when identifying her, no?) opened her career with 22 points in the #12 Cardinal’s win over IUPUI. Notre Dame’s Brianna Turner only played 19 minutes, but managed to take 18 shots…and made 13 of them.

Ah, a game Debbie Antonelli would have enjoyed: San Diego State over Sacramento State, 99-91.

Beth Mowin’s Leopards start of the season well with a win over Delaware.

The big dogs are still big: Albany over St. Francis, 90-47. Penn State is up next.

Wings Up! FGCU opens the season with a win over George Washington and – surprise! – shoots 46% on threes.

Yah, it’s early in the season, but a nice 2-pt win for the 49ers over Liberty.

Arizona State opened strong…. strongly?… well with a 81-67 win over Middle Tennessee.

Ohio State opened their shorthanded season against Virginia and couldn’t hold a first half lead, falling 87-82. Shout out to the Cavaliers’ Sarah Imovbioh for setting a new single-game rebound record (24).

Win #400 for Sherri Coale. How is it possible that she’s been coaching for 19 years at Oklahoma??? Ahem – I can’t think of a better reason to produce a new Write Space and Time, can you? (HINT, HINT!)

UConn’s 47th win in a row for was also an opportunity for Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis to remind folks how ridiculously good a three-point shooter she is: she scored 30pts on 10-13 shooting.

#5 Texas A&M needed a 10-2 closing run to take down #18 DePaul, 76-68.

Are we going to call her Double-Double Davis? Nina got off to a good start in that quest in Baylor’s game against Oral Roberts.

Hmmm…. South Dakota State over BYU, 75-65. Watch out for the Wabbits.

Penguins win!

Quinnipiac wins their opener against a stubborn Army team, 79-64.

In a season full of expectations, #9 Texas got off to good start, keeping UT-San Antonio to 15 points the first half and cruising to a 68-48 win.

Was USC-east bending under expectations in their match up against USC-west? Only time will tell, but the short-handed Trojans sure gave the Gamecocks a run for their money. South Carolina pushed through for the 70-61 win.

Every career starts with a first step. Tyler Summitt’s at La Tech started with a 76-69 win over SF Austin.

In kindergarten, when classmates wanted to be firefighters, police officers and doctors, Tyler always had the same unflinching ambition: “I want to coach basketball.”

It drove his mom crazy. Be an astronaut, a scientist, anything but a coach.

So, are you ready to look a the brackets yet? Charlie is. (Remember,  all top 16 teams (seeds 1-4) play at home for the first 2 rounds before the winner of each site is sent off to “neutral” regional sites.)

Mechelle wonders if  North Carolina be even better?

While DeShields seemed naturally suited for the spotlight, Gray has the kind of low-key, low-maintenance personality that made her too easy to overlook last season. But that probably won’t happen as much this year. The 6-foot Gray should be one of the top players in the ACC and a leader — albeit still a fairly quiet one — for the Tar Heels.

“I know more of what to expect, and more how to handle different situations,” Gray said. “I think our offense is way more balanced, and everybody knows what everybody else can and can’t do. It’s more of a team this year.”

As always, Graham shines some light on the mid-majors:

Like the videos we no longer watch or the records we no longer listen to, mid-major is a term that might be in the process of outliving whatever it was that it was originally supposed to describe.

Are there five major conferences or seven? What is Dayton that Butler is not? If a tree falls in the forest near Storrs, Connecticut, does it make the American Athletic Conference important? And if we have high majors and mid-majors, where are the low majors? All reasonable questions that philosophers could ponder on windswept Himalayan peaks.

Check out his top player list. 6. Damika Martinez, Iona, guard

Martinez is the only one of last season’s top 10 scorers nationally who returns this season, so that’s a place to start. She’s also one of the more efficient high-volume scorers you’ll find. It takes a lot of shots to average 24.9 points per game, but Martinez connected on 44 percent of her nearly eight 3-point attempts per game. Only DePaul’s Megan Rogowski connected on a better percentage among players who hit at least 100 3-pointers. Martinez also shot 88 percent from the free throw line and 47 percent on her two-point attempts. If you prefer big moments to big numbers, it was her jumper with 2.9 seconds remaining on the road that ended Marist’s 36-game MAAC winning streak.

Mel writes up wins by the Scarlet Knights and the Temple Owls (amongst others).

Did you catch David’s Dishin & Swishin 11/13/14 Podcast: The roundtable returns to preview the 2014-15 NCAA DI season?

So, there’s this game on Monday night, ESPN 9pm: Stanford v. UConn.

From John Altavilla: Chiney Ogwumike On What It’s Like At Stanford

 “It was a pleasant surprise for me to be asked to write about the upcoming Stanford-UConn game. As a recent graduate and former Stanford player (and a very outspoken, opinionated, biased Nerd Nation minion) that request comes second nature to me. 

 “Basketball is a game of respect. If Wilson or Spalding created college hoop commandments, the top ones would be: respect your school, respect your coaches, respect your teammates and most importantly, when the ball is tossed up, respect your opponents because if you don’t, you will feel their wrath.

Get ready for some stuff from ESPN: Experienced Core of Commentators & New Faces Enhance ESPN’s Women’s College Basketball Coverage

“3 to See” & “Need to Know”
ESPN will continue to promote the top players in the women’s game through it’s’ “3 to See” and “Need to Know” initiatives. The two brands will be present all season long on ESPN platforms with additional content on espnW.com.

  • Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Breanna Stewart (Connecticut) and Jewell Loyd (Notre Dame) make up the “3 to See” brand.
  • “3 to See” will be integrated in games involving Mosqueda-Lewis, Stewart and Loyd.
  • “Need to Know” players include: Nina Davis (Baylor); Brittany Boyd (Cal); Moriah Jefferson (UConn); Elizabeth Williams (Duke); Lexie Brown (Maryland); Rachel Banham (Minnesota); Tiffany Mitchell (South Carolina); Aleighsa Welch (South Carolina); A’ja Wilson (South Carolina) and Isabelle Harrison (Tennessee).
  • The “Need to Know” brand will used throughout all women’s telecasts, and also include the “3 to See” players.

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make helpful assessments? Whatever your take, it was an interesting open day in women’s ball.

Burnt Orange nation has got to be excited to see Aston get her first win as Texas’ coach — and over a ranked (though new head coached) St. John’s. FYI: Some of the St. John’s coaches were hard hit by Sandy.

Orange Nation has got to be a bit nervous at what happened to their team in Warlick’s debutespecially because it was over an unranked Mocs team Tennessee had stomped last year. (So, Ms. Fagan, I know you don’t watch the WNBA because you don’t like the game. Do you watch the college game? If so, how are you feeling about your rationale for your Final Four prediction?) Next up for the Vols, feisty Georgia Tech.

Green and Gold Nation (IN) might be a little queasy after their squeaker on the sea over Ohio State.

Green and Gold Nation (TX) might be a little hungry after the Bears feasted on Lamar.

The Cardinal were happy to walk away with a win over the (new coached) Fresno State Bulldogs.

It’s not “impressive” as much as it is “indicative:” The Penguins beat the Panthers. Any ADs paying attention to coach Boldon?

Central Michigan started the season with a nice win over Bradley.

Hampton rocked and rolled over Southern Miss.

Remember when VaTech was respectable? Coach Barefoot and her ODU Monarchs toasted them. Check out Lady Swish’s essential rundown of the stars of opening day/night.

In Chicago’s Maggie Dixon Classic, Dayton put a hurtin’ on Mississippi Valley State.

It’s weird to think of North Carolina as being unranked. They did take down Davidson in the first round of the preseason WNIT.

Gotta be a relief for coach Donovan: Seton Hall stormed back in the second to overcome NJIT.

The Major Mid-Majors win: Marist, Middle Tennessee and Delaware (are they still allowed in the MMM club?).

Kim Arico Barnes‘ new team, Michigan, got a nice win in their opener over Detroit.

Indiana’s new coach, Curt Miller, wasn’t as successful, as Valpo downed the Hoosiers, 64-52.

Some good news for Ole Miss after their self-imposed post-season ban: the were winners over SE Louisiana, 95-85.

Terps win, Huskers win.

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Lots of coaching exits and entrances — so many the WBCA hasn’t been able to keep up.

Seems to me the Big 10 is pushing itself to be…. well, “big” and the Big East is wondering “wha’ happen?” Any chance Hartford’s Jen Rizzotti would consider a move down to Queens? Other questions are: who wants to move where and, more importantly, what kind of institutional support *cough* Providence *cough Georgetown * cough* is there?

Speaking of coach Kim: Leaving St. John’s ‘100 times harder’ than new Michigan women’s basketball coach Kim Barnes Arico imagined

The Statesman does a Q&A with new Horns coach Karen Aston

Do you understand the pressure of winning here?

I get the thing about expectations. I really do. But that’s not the reason I coach. I coach for the same reason Jody (Conradt) coached: I want to help the players get better. If for some reason I don’t do the job I’m expected to do — and I don’t think that will happen — it’s still my job to help young people grow.

It’ll be intriguing to follow Aston. Some Texas fans are concerned about the small pool of coaches contacted, not to mention that tapping back in to the Jody-pool feels like going backwards, not forward. And you might not be too impressed with Aston’s lack of “big time cred.” Of course, no one thought much of Kim (Adelphi?!?) when she stepped in at St. John’s, and looked what happened.

Swish Appeal does a little catching up: Barnes Arico & Other Coaching News

Some random stuff:

From the LA Times’ Ben Bolch: Violet Palmer is just another NBA official and that’s a good thing

In 1997, Palmer and Dee Kantner became the first female referees to work in a major U.S. professional sport. Palmer is still here and has been assigned to the playoffs six straight years.

She has become every bit as much a fixture in the playoffs as Kobe Bryant, Marv Albert’s signature “Yesss!” call and a first-round flameout by the Portland Trail Blazers.

From the AP’s Teresa Walker: Warlick’s UT challenge: meeting Summitt’s standard

Holly Warlick has her work cut out for her as Tennessee’s new women’s basketball coach.

She is replacing Pat Summitt, which has been compared to following Dean Smith at North Carolina, John Wooden at UCLA or Bear Bryant at Alabama.

Warlick, however, says she’s simply taking over a program she’s very familiar with for her close friend.

And just like Summitt, Warlick welcomes a challenge.

From Jason Whitlock at Fox Sports: Pat Summitt’s wild ride

From Sally Jenkins at WaPo: Pat Summitt is still much more able than disabled

Let me make something clear: Pat Summitt’s dignity is unassailable. And thus far, so is her basic good health and fundamental acuity. It’s fair to say that the stigma of the diagnosis has been harder on Summitt than the actual effects of the disease. Ask her if she feels sick, and she says sharply, “No.” What’s more difficult is being treated as if she is sick, as if she can no longer have a valuable purpose, as if it’s necessary to talk around her instead of to her, as if she doesn’t know her own mind.

“Everybody wants to know how I’m doing,” she says, “but they forget to ask me.”

From Mechelle: Summitt always larger than life

Now that a very, very different conclusion to Summitt’s coaching career has come, we can’t quite believe it. We don’t want to. Because among the many things that Summitt gave women’s basketball, one of the most cherished — at least by me — was unassailable legitimacy. The person who never big-timed anybody was undeniably big-time even in the most macho corners of the sports world.

When Summitt walked into a room of reporters, everyone sat up a little straighter. I loved watching that. Even the curmudgeons who thought they were above covering this sport had respect for her. She had a presence that everyone felt, almost like her own personal force field that protected her integrity and status at all times. The biggest critics in my business didn’t dismiss Summitt, nor did they even seem to want to. She was so much bigger than any of their prejudices.

From Erin Bolen at the Springfield News Leader: Summitt’s influence felt by local coaches

When Shelly Jones went to visit Kickapoo High School girls’ basketball coach Stephanie Phillips a few months before Phillips lost her battle with colon cancer, Phillips couldn’t wait to tell her what had happened that day.

“She said, ‘You won’t believe who I talked to today,’” said Jones, a former Drury University assistant who was recently named girls’ basketball coach at Marshfield. “I said, ‘Who?’ And she said ‘Pat Summitt.’”

From Dan Felser at the Knoxville News: Lady Vols thankful for easy transition

From Dave Fairbank at the Daily Press (VA): Women’s basketball recruiting a complicated, evolving issue

Geno Auriemma remembers when he could call recruits all the time or watch a prospect in person four or five days a week. Believe it or not, he misses those days.

Even with seven national championships, 800 wins and the visibility that accompanies his position as one of the giant figures in women’s basketball, the University of Connecticut and U.S. Olympic team coach thinks that shoe leather and extra miles and conversations over the phone and face-to-face remain the best avenues to properly evaluate and recruit players.

Auriemma is troubled by the shrinking evaluation and recruiting calendar in women’s basketball, even though he and other Bigfoot programs are the primary beneficiaries.

***

But Auriemma said that many wounds caused by the current system are self-inflicted.

“Every time a new rule is enacted, it’s because coaches voted on it and that’s the rule they want,” he said. “Coaches may complain that they want more days in July. But the reality is that when the surveys go out, the majority of the coaches vote for not adding any days in July because they don’t want to be out recruiting.

Some random thoughts on the above:

Recruiting, in light of the recent issues at Baylor, is a hot topic for many reasons. I’ve heard some argue that the NCAA should have no limits on contact between colleges, players & parents (and, of course, their AAU coaches, since high school coaches are marginalized more and more –it’s an ongoing tension). They argue that any player or parent or AAU/HS can say, “back off, enough.” I’m thinking that it’s a rare high school kid who would have the chutzpah to say “Mr. Auriemma? Ms. Mulkey? Ms. VanDeerver? Would you please stop contacting me and saying you want me to play for your school?”

Additionally, you’ve got to wonder how these rules and regulations impact every player BELOW the Top 50 DI.  Landing a Top 50 recruit is what’s newsworthy – and those ranking organizations are often linked to AAU programs that have an investment in saying, “my kid got recruited by *fillintheblank* university so your kid should play for my club if they want a fighting chance.” That’s not bad or good — that’s just a marketing reality. So those organizations have a vested interest in the Top 50 or 100 recruits. So who’s keeping up with the under-50s? With the DII and DIII student-athletes?

After the news of Baylor’s violations broke, Brad Wolverton at the Chronicle of Higher Ed asked: How Clean Is Women’s Hoops? Listen to the Players, referring to a 2010 NCAA survey that said “More than a third of the Division I players surveyed said they had been contacted too often during the recruiting process, and just 39 percent of players—the lowest percentage across all sports—said they “strongly agreed” that they could trust their coach.” *Dabnabbit! Another reason I may have to upgrade my ‘puter, the NCAA survey is in .doc-bloody-x so I can’t go back and review it.*

Since I can’t review the document, I can only wonder:

1) Did 2/3 of the players “feel” they were contacted too often, or were they actually “in violation” contacted to often. Either way, the follow up question is, “Did you say something to the coach and/or report them? If so, what was the reaction/response.” If not, why not? (Or, how about, do you and your parents and coaches know what the contact rules are?)

2) Trust. 39% “strongly agreed they could trust their coach.” What is the rest of the breakdown and what were the areas of “trust?”  For instance, “I trust that my coach will treat me fairly when it comes to playing time” is different than, “I trust that the coaches will abide by the NCAA regulations.”

This goes beyond the question of players actually knowing what the recruiting/practice rules are. It’s about power. The power to speak up, the power enjoy by being wanted, the power of promises and potential, the power of name recognition. And that leads to the power of the top 25. Because, face it, when people bemoan the “state of college sports,” they’re rarely talking about women’s basketball, and they’re surely not talking about fencing, or wrestling or cross country. They’re talking about men’s basketball and men’s football.

I know it’s all the rage but I’m not sure I’m interested in getting into a discussion about whether student-athletes (read: male, football/basketball) should or shouldn’t be forced to stay in college for their four years of eligibility (even though colleges work on a year-to-year scholarship system). If some brilliant scientist-sophomore-on-scholarship got offered a job by, say, Dow Chemicals, would you force them to complete their four years? Many of the players in the Top 25 (men’s football/basketball, itty bit of women’s basketball) are using college as their internship-interview for their professional life in sports (witness the Kentucky men’s team).  The college is a farm system the pros don’t have to fund. I guess it could be argued that how much “responsibility” a school should feel for the success or failure of an elite athlete (read: in football, men’s basketball) in their given profession should be measure the same way they measure the success of, say, their lawyers or doctors or teachers: did they get a job? were they prepared for the job? did they have the skills necessary to perform and excel in their job?

As for paying student athletes, whoa is that a slippery, swampy mess. Let’s not talk about the legal ramifications (Hello, congress!), or the not-Division I Top 25 BCS football/men’s basketball ramifications (remember Pennington’s series back in 2008: Expectations Lose to Reality of Sports Scholarships), or the “let’s really take a look at the cost effectiveness of college athletics across the board” discussion. I certainly haven’t heard anyone discuss the poverty level living status of non-athletic scholarship students, or the fact that partial scholarships in the “non-revenue” sports are still par for the course.

The NCAA keeps reminding us that “There are over 300,000 NCAA student-athletes, and most of them will go pro in something other than sports.” The reason those student-athletes are going pro in something other than sports is because it’s a limited profession that gets a disproportionate amount of attention of the public’s attention (and yes, I’m guilty — I’ve spent hundreds of hours writing and blogging about women’s basketball — a fraction of that on my own profession: education). But, as the situation at Kean shows (NCAA drops hammer on Kean University women’s basketball, warns athletic department of more penalties to come), lack of ethics crosses Divisions.

So what’s the answer? Hell if I know — but this is what happens to my brain on a rainy Sunday morning when the spring migration is slow…. honestly, this is a discussion best suited for a sports bar accompanied by wings and beer, but…

The un-realist in me wonders “should athletic ability be a reason for a scholarship?” Should we simply “track” elite high school athletes and separate them from general high school sports? Should BCS football and the Big Six basketball just admit what they are and become professional?

What I do know is that the term “college sports” is simply not specific enough. Right now, to the majority of the public and journalists, it means “men’s football and basketball of the top 25.” So, perhaps, all I can really ask is that writers to be more specific when they outline their concerns and complaints. And that, when the NCAA (as in, the athletic directors and coaches) looks to “fix” college sports, they dare to pay more attention to the majority of the 300,000.

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Iowa’s Kathryn Reynolds out with torn ACL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Taking over at Texas, Take 2

Coaches taking a new position often will use the phrase “dream job,” prompting eye rolls from a few of us more cynical media folks. Because of all the times we’ve seen coaches leave one “dream job” for another “dream job.”

With Karen Aston and Texas, though, there is no doubt that today really is a dream come true: She is, after more than two decades in the profession, the head coach at the place she wants to be more than anywhere.

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Aston to Texas.

Flashback to last year.

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but readers of this blog wouldn’t be surprised at all: Texas, Karen Aston talk

In another “who knows if this is going to happen” vein, at Auburn looks like they’re talking to Georgia Tech’s Joseph and North Carolina State’s Harper.

In other coaching news, big shoes to be filled: Time for Northern Kentucky coach Nancy Winstel to move on after building Norse

“I’m a 100 percent-type person, and I tell my players, you’ve got to be 100 percent in,” Winstel said. “I think I was starting to feel like maybe I wasn’t 100 percent in all the time. And when the leader may be thinking that, then it’s time to take a good, hard look at what you’re doing.”

The Norse evolved into a national power, tallying 636 victories and winning the 2000 and 2008 NCAA Division II national championships, under the six-time Great Lakes Valley Conference coach of the year.

She retires with a 675-255 record in 32 seasons. That makes her the third winningest coach in NCAA Division II history.

Wow. Trinity Valley coaching duo leaving for Ole Miss

Side by side they helped lead Trinity Valley Community College to its sixth women’s national championship.  Side by side Michael and Kenya Landers will leave for assistant coaching positions at the University of Mississippi.

The husband and wife who acted as co head coaches the last two years in Athens, submitted their resignations on Thursday.  The resignations are effective Friday.  TVCC President Dr. Glendon Forgey said the search for a replacement to lead the women’s basketball program would begin immediately.

Hmmm… seems all this “coach talk” as got people thinking about the future: Stanford assistant Paye could succeed VanDerveer

Every once in a while a large bug crawls around on the court at practice. Stanford assistant coach Kate Paye loves to see who’s the first to jump, since she’s the one who planted the plastic creature.

Last year she had the whole team thinking she had crossed some kind of threshold and gotten her arm tattooed. They kept getting a glimpse of her body art during practice. Finally they surrounded her to find out if it was real. It wasn’t, and she relished hooking them in.

Otherwise, Paye is the real deal.

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49ers plan to introduce women’s coach today – Sources say Consuegra, a Marquette assistant and former Iowa player, will replace Aston.

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A surprise opening

Aston resigns as women’s 49ers coach

Rose was caught by surprise Wednesday when Karen Aston, who led the 49ers to the semifinals of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament this season, resigned without having another job immediately in place.

“This is very disappointing,” said Rose. “I got no hint of this coming at all. But when somebody says it’s for family reasons, that makes it very hard.”

What’s interesting is that there’s some twitter muttering that Aston and North Texas are chatting.

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