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It’s the Billikens again! This time Sadie Stipanovich hit the game-winning jumper with five seconds to play to give them a win over Saint Joseph’s, 52-51.

It’s the Peahens again! This time over Niagara, 65-58, for the second win of their season. In their previous matchup, Niagara routed Saint Peter’s by 33 points.

Yes, in-state battles are awesome: Arkansas State (9-2 in the Sun Belt) gives Arkansas-Little Rock their first Sun Belt loss (9-1), 70-69.

It took double overtime, but #14 Texas gave #24 Oklahoma their first Big 12 loss, 84-81.

Tough battle by shorthanded #10 Kentucky (though Goss is back), but two key end-of-game blocks helped the #6 Vols prevail in Lexington, 73-72.

A game of back-and-forth runs, momentum swings, floor burns and all-out effort came down to the final possession.

Down 73-72, UK got the ball back with 46 seconds left after Jelleah Sidney blocked Cierra Burdick’s shot.

Before a roaring Memorial Coliseum crowd of 7,407, the Wildcats were one field goal from their fourth victory over Tennessee in the past six games.

What the Cats found instead was stomach-churning frustration.

Their efficiency from the floor helped the Terps, who entered the contest with the fourth-best field-goal percentage in the country, shoot 54.3 percent in the first half before finishing the game shooting 52.5 percent.

“One of our biggest jobs to do was to run them off the court,” Walker-Kimbrough said.

The Debbie Antonelli Special (#1) comes courtesy of Wright State v. Oakland: It was the Raiders over the Golden Grizzlies, 108-89. Nice story out of Oakland:

A basketball player who averages 21 points per game as a junior and 19.1 as a senior, along with showing an ability to rebound, block shots and steal, is likely to end up on an NCAA Division I roster somewhere.

And that is exactly what happened for Troy Athens graduate Sinclair Russell, who is currently in her redshirt sophomore season with Oakland University

DAS (#2) was #20 Iowa over Northwestern, 102-99. Melissa Dixon hit 9-10 on three’s as the Hawkeyes made a B10 record 19 during the game.

“You’re going to hear me ro-oar!” In a game that featured sister v. sister, Maine mauled New Hampshire, 87-56. Albany is up next, Feb 1st.

FGCU is flyin’ through the A-Sun, but the Eagles remember last year’s game against Northern Kentucky:

Since becoming eligible for the Atlantic Sun tournament, the Florida Gulf Coast University women’s basketball team is 59-1 against conference teams in the regular season.

The one loss came last year at Northern Kentucky. And it was ugly.

With a 63-43 loss, FGCU suffered its worst A-Sun defeat and tied for the fewest points scored in a game in program history. 

It’s looking like the fight for C-USA top spot will be between Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee. Going to have to wait until Feb. 21st for that game, though.

Auburn stays winless in the SEC, going down to Arkansas, 52-47.

Speaking of the SEC, Nell Fortner offers her top five by position.

Well, oops! Down goes Long Beach State for a second time, this time of courtesy of the Wahine, 72-64.

Kansas State stole Oklahoma State’s fan belt. They defeat the Cowgirls, 52-51, in OT.

Colorado State is now 7-1 in the Mountain West. Next up: Fresno State (8-0 in the conference).

Coming up, Todd McMahon writes: Road challenges await UW-Green Bay

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay women’s basketball team had its hands full with Ruvanna Campbell three times last season.

Horizon League-leading UWGB is bracing for its first encounter this season with Illinois-Chicago’s imposing 6-foot-3 junior forward.

“She’s in a league of her own in the conference,” Phoenix sophomore Mehryn Kraker said.

From Palo Alto: Stanford women’s basketball tops busy home weekend slate

Orrange and Samuelson are close to milestones. Orrange needs three assists to become the seventh player in Stanford history to reach 500. 

Samuelson is five 3-pointers shy of matching Nicole Powell (201) for sixth on the Cardinal’s all-time list.

Stanford faces the top three scorers in the conference this weekend and four of the top eight. Washington State’s Lia Galdeira (19.6) and Tia Presley (18.9) are second and third.

From ESPN’s MC Barrett: Geno Auriemma: By the numbers – UConn coach nears 900th career win; milestone could come as early as Tuesday. Mechelle adds: 10 defining moments – UConn coach, in his 30th season, is on verge of 900th career victory

My goodness: Girls basketball coach returns to team after losing arm

Well ouch: Buchholz girls basketball team forfeits 2014-15 season

Two years after winning the school’s first state basketball title, the Buchholz girls basketball team has forfeited its 2014-15 season.

Bobcats athletic director Jay Godwin asked for and got permission from the Florida High School Athletic Association on Monday to do so, three days after finding out the team had been using an ineligible player the entire season.

and then Buchholz fires girls basketball coach after forfeited season

Buchholz High School principal Vince Perez met Friday morning with the girls basketball team and coach Rebecca Williams. By the end of the meeting, he told the team they had to go in a different direction.

That meant, Williams, a Buchholz alum, is no longer the coach after eight years.

Mechelle writes about Drake sophomore Lizzy Wendell.

Kids in really large families sometimes look for ways to build their individual identities. But rarely do they look to the laundry room to establish such a distinction.

But Drake sophomore forward Lizzy Wendell, one of the nation’s top scorers this season, was once as a teenager the voluntary head laundry washer for her family, which includes her parents and eight siblings.

“She took over the laundry for about eight months,” said her father, Mike Wendell. “We have a washer and dryer upstairs and downstairs. She just wanted to do it; she’s pretty organized.”

Lizzy explained it this way: “My oldest sister, when she came back home from college, started paying me to do her laundry for her. And I said, ‘Oh, this is easy,’ and I did it for everyone for a while.”

Eventually, “Busy Lizzy,” as her family calls her, decided to give up the chore.

“But we all liked it while it lasted,” Mike said, grinning. “That’s a lot of laundry.”

Nowadays, Wendell focuses on taking opposing defenses to the cleaners. Her 22.6 points per game leads the Missouri Valley Conference and is tied for eighth in Division I.

Good to hear: Craft says young players hungry to get better

The skinned knee is a rite of passage for the young. Finding a bandage and the will to return to the playground tag game is the best way to address the pain.

The Ohio State women’s basketball team took a tumble midway through the second half Sunday at Purdue, falling behind the Boilermakers by 12 points before rising to win a 79-71 overtime decision.

“I think us really pushing through that was a big step for our team,” junior guard Cait Craft said. “In the past, we haven’t been able to do that. We just came together, had each other’s back and pushed through it.”

Check out Swish Appeal’s mid-season COY candidates.

In W news:

John Altavilla is Catching Up With Kelly Faris

Storm trade 2 players to Sun for No. 3 pick in WNBA draft

The Seattle Storm are continuing their rebuilding project.

The Storm traded Camille Little and Shekinna Stricklen to the Connecticut Sun on Wednesday for the third and 15th picks in the upcoming WNBA draft and Renee Montgomery. The Storm already have the No. 1 pick.

“As we get into the draft and look at the players coming out, we’re excited about having 1 and 3,” Seattle Storm president and general manager Alisha Valavanis said. “For us a key objective is to add youth to the roster, and this gives us an opportunity through the draft.”

Pat Friday grades the trade.

More on an Aussie: Abby Bishop shoulders Canberra’s final hopes, but don’t compare her to Lauren Jackson

Catch is in India: Journey on a difficult terrain

Finally, Emotional Eastern Michigan women’s basketball team starts healing process by playing first game since tragedy  and from Graham: ‘I want everybody to know who Shannise was’ Eastern Michigan’s 21-year-old junior forward died Sunday in a car accident

The first time Bud Schimmelpfenneg, a longtime Eastern Michigan fan and booster, met one of the new additions to the women’s basketball team he reached out to shake her hand.

Shannise Heady wanted none of it.

“Oh no, I’m not shaking hands,” he recalled her telling him. “I’m a hugger.”

There weren’t any handshakes after the final buzzer brought an end to Wednesday’s game between Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan, either. Just as players, coaches and staff from both teams locked arms for a moment of silence before the game and remained that way through the national anthem, jerseys alternating in a semi-circle that stretched almost all the way around the court, they eschewed handshakes for hugs when it was over. It wasn’t a normal night. It won’t be normal for Eastern Michigan for a long time. For these players, maybe ever.

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1-3. Griner, Delle Donne, Diggins go 1-2-3

BG: OMG it’s TH! and Teary-eyed Brittney Griner selected No. 1 by Mercury in WNBA draft

EDD: Delle Donne happy to be part of Sky and from Delaware: Delle Donne drafted No. 2; headed to Chicago

SD: Notre Dame women’s basketball: Diggins headed to Tulsa

4Washington Mystics select Tayler Hill with fourth pick

5. Bone Sets Aggie Women’s Basketball History, First Aggie Selected in WNBA First Round

6. Storm selects Tianna Hawkins in WNBA draft

7. Oklahoma State’s Toni Young selected seventh by New York Liberty in WNBA Draft

8. Syracuse women’s basketball star Kayla Alexander picked 8th in WNBA Draft

9. Cal’s Layshia Clarendon selected ninth overall by Indiana Fever in WNBA draft

10Mathies selected 10th in WNBA draft

11. UConn’s Kelly Faris drafted 11th overall by the Connecticut Sun

12Lindsey Moore picked in 12th the WNBA Draft

Who else got picked:

K-State’s Chambers, KU’s Goodrich chosen in WNBA Draft

St. John’s women’s basketball sees first two players selected in WNBA draft in Nadirah McKenith and Shenneika Smith

Lady Lions’ Bentley and Greene Drafted to WNBA

No pressure: What’s next for star trio? Griner, Delle Donne and Diggins must play well, help WNBA continue to grow

Now it’s official: Nothing outlandishly bizarre happened. The 3 To See were the top picks in Monday’s WNBA draft. So let’s examine what lies ahead for Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins.

Is Big Bad Bill back?  Draft grades: Liberty score an A

New York coach/general manager Bill Laimbeer snagged a slice of pizza as he was on his way out after chatting with the media here at the WNBA draft. He passed on the brownies, though. It already had been a sweet-enough night for the Liberty.

Asked if the draft could have gone any better, Laimbeer grinned and said, “No, actually. We came into this draft with certain names on certain spots, and they went exactly as we expected.”

Fagan writes about Bill’s draft picks: Young motivated by late coaches – Forward rededicated self to game after OSU’s Budke, Serna died in a plane crash

“Potential” means you haven’t done anything yet — or so the saying goes.

Toni Young heard it a lot from coach Kurt Budke during her first two seasons at Oklahoma State. “Potential is just what you can be,” Budke would say to Young. Sometimes he might change the phrasing, but the point was always the same: Young had a long way to go.

 Every day, Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna tried to light a fire under the 6-foot-2 forward. They wanted Young to dedicate herself to improvement, instead of just skating by on raw talent, which she had in abundance. “They would tell me all of the time that I could be a great player and play in the WNBA if I just put my effort into it,” Young said Monday night, after the New York Liberty selected her with the seventh pick of the first round in the WNBA draft. “When no one else believed in me, the two of them did.”

Swish Appeal has a Q&A with Brittney Griner on her 2013 WNBA Draft experience

They also offer a little pick-by-pick analysis.

So does the Bleacher Report. They’re also Breaking Down Top Picks That Will Have Biggest Impact

Mechelle takes time to reflect: Before 3 To See, this trio starred – Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes and Rebecca Lobo helped pave the way

In the spring of 1997, when they were poised to be “three to see,” the irony was that no one had actually seen them play competitive basketball for a while. All had been on a break from the sport. The pro hoops world that Sheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslie and Rebecca Lobo were about to enter was exciting, but uncertain. Would this WNBA thing actually last?

Leap forward to the Twitter generation. The expected top three picks in the WNBA draft — Baylor’s Brittney Griner, Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne and Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins — aren’t going into unchartered territory. The WNBA will start its 17th season in May.

From Chiney: Friendships make women’s basketball special

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From the .com, where they continue the “Three to See” theme, they also have have Prospect Files and Q&As:

Bone:

When did you know you wanted to be a professional basketball player? And, given that dream, when did you realize that you had a legitimate shot of doing so? 
I knew I wanted to play professional basketball when I watched the Houston Comets win four consecutive championships, and I was at all four of them. I knew I had a legitimate shot at being a professional when I went overseas for the first time to France and played international basketball at the age of 16. I played against superior talent and several of the players from foreign countries were going pro. I was able to do well in that environment and realized that I could play this game professionally.

Delle Donne:

What do you expect to be some of the biggest challenges or adjustments at the next level?
Defending the guard spot. I play this spot on offense and need to be able to defend this spot on the defensive end.

Faris:

What do you expect to be some of the biggest challenges or adjustments at the next level?
With each new level the competition gets tougher and tougher. Players become smarter and stronger than they were in college. Just as I learned when I got to college, I will have to learn to adjust again in the WNBA.

Hawkins:

What strengths, qualities or skills will be able to bring to a WNBA team?
Relentless rebounding ability; the ability to run the floor, the ability to shoot the midrange to 3-point range.

Rogers:

When did you know you wanted to be a professional basketball player? And, given that dream, when did you realize that you had a legitimate shot of doing so? 
When I won Rookie of the Year for the Big East and I was sitting on that podium with soon to be professional players Maya Moore and Tina Charles.

Young:

When were you introduced to the game of basketball?
Sophomore year in high school

Sue and Richard l’Alien speak in Mike Peden’s: After top three, WNBA Draft a top-heavy toss up

“Previous drafts show that (Pokey) Chatman and Chicago have been influenced by NCAA tournaments,” Cohen said. “Chatman is very hands on and picky with the way her guards play, seeing as Vandersloot has had her growing pains.”

However, the Sky suffered migraines after Epiphanny Prince was sidelined with a broken foot. Without her offense, opponents harassed Fowles, quashing a promising start to knock Chicago out of playoff contention.

“Delle Donne is so skilled. She represents the type of player you have to be now,” Favor said. “She has the greatest potential to succeed.”

The Hartford Courant adds: Top 3 Picks Predictable, So Suspense Starts With No. 4

There is a running joke about Monday’s 2013 WNBA Draft. It’s the one about the how one draft can suddenly resemble two.

“The joke around here is that I have the first pick in the other draft,” said Mike Thibault, the coach and GM of theWashington Mystics and owner of the fourth selection. “I tried to come up with creative ways to get one of the three, but none of it worked.”

Mike Brown at the Tulsa World is thinking: Shock could land Skylar Diggins in Monday’s WNBA draft

Nate reminds folks that Tianna Hawkins leads this year’s group of scoring interior forwards

Roger Cleaveland at the Republican-American warns: Sun not in position to draft impact player

From Virginia’s Daily Press, David Teel has Suffolk product Sugar Rodgers awaits Monday’s WNBA draft

Sugar Rodgers set Georgetown career records for points and steals. She was the nation’s No. 4 scorer this season and exited the college game with a 42-point epic in the Big East tournament.

So it’s no surprise to hear Mike Thibault, the Washington Mystics‘ coach and general manager, say Rodgers is among the top four perimeter players available in Monday’s WNBA draft. And it’s no surprise to read mock drafts — yes, such shenanigans have trickled down to professional women’s basketball — that project Rodgers as a top-10 lock, a perhaps a top-five selection.

Yet Thibault, whose team owns the No. 4 pick, has some reservations about Rodgers, a 5-foot-11 guard from Suffolk’s King’s Fork High.

The writer who makes me wish I were an Ohio State fan wonders: Ex-Buckeye Hill should go early, but to which team?

“She is not afraid,” said Laimbeer, who has the fifth and seventh first-round picks. “I think that’s the thing. She will attack the basket at will and can get to the free-throw line. She creates contact. Those are good characteristics to get to the next level. We’ve definitely eyeballed her.”

Speaking of Ohio State, the job that no one seems to want (According to a message from Wendy Parker on Mike Flynn’s Twitter page, Jeff Walz said this about the Ohio State job rumors: “The only person who has offered me a job job is Geno at his restaurant.”), here’s something on the Search for the Next OSU Women’s Basketball Coach: A Progress Report

Some interesting discussion of skill building in the women’s game: Nebraska’s Connie Yori: Game is ‘overcoached, undertaught’

Nebraska women’s basketball coach Connie Yori recalls a telling conversation with a seventh-grade girl who was on hand for one of Yori’s camps a few summers ago.

Yori told the girl that she hopes the camp is a good experience for her, and that she learns a lot.

“She said, ‘I played 100 games this summer,'” Yori said. “In other words, she thought she really didn’t need to work on her (individual) skills. Here’s a kid playing all these games and basically thinking she has it all figured out.”

Perhaps what Nebraska men’s basketball coach Tim Miles says about youth boys basketball — that it has become game-heavy and skill-light — also applies to the girls game.

Said Yori: “I’m not saying this about all kids, but there are some kids who are just not working on their individual skills enough. So, therefore, it isn’t as commonplace for people to make open shots.”

And finally, who says players are the only ones who can do videos? Check out this rockin’ ‘tube by the Trainers. (I mean, ATHLETIC Trainers – get it right, get it right).

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— or perhaps, even expected — but let us not forget the AMAZING run the Louisville Cardinals had this tournament. And yes, as Auriemma said, every program should use that run as inspiration for a “Why not us?” run.

Unfortunately, if the play of Stewart, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Tuck is any indication of UConn’s future, the answer to what question may be, “Because UConn is dominating again.”

From the professionals:

Rich Elliott: Championship a dream come true for Huskies, Post
Kevin Duffy: No. 8 for Geno a ‘team title’, Post
Kevin Duffy: 5 quick thoughts on UConn’s rout, Post
UConn’s Final Four Most Outstanding Players, Post
UConn in NCAA championship games, Post
Most points in women’s Final Four, Post

Eight Expectations: Huskies Top Louisville 93-60 For National Championship, Courant
Jeff Jacobs: UConn’s Greatness Arrives Earlier Than Expected, Courant

Each of UConn’s championships has taken on its own characteristics, of course, and this one is unique in the way a young team regathered, recalibrated in the final weeks and closed so fast, so furiously, on brilliance. This was supposed to be Baylor’s season again. Brittney Griner was supposed tower over the game a final time. Thanks to Louisville’s colossal upset in the Sweet Sixteen, it didn’t happen.

And thanks to a magnificent, young group led by Breanna Stewart, the first freshman to be named Final Four Most Outstanding Player since Tonya Edwards of Tennessee in 1987, it did happen for UConn.

After Tuesday, It’s All Over For Faris, Doty, Buck, Courant
A Look At UConn’s Eight National Championships, Courant
Our View: Huskies Reach The Summit, Courant
Bob Englehart: CONGRATULATIONS, UCONN … AGAIN!, Courant
Pictures: UConn Women Vs. Louisville For National Championship, Courant

Great Eight, JI
Huskies defeat Louisville to win eighth national title, tying Tennessee for women’s record, Register
Friendly rivals Bria Hartley and Bria Smith square off in title game, Register
Photos: Counting the Crowns – UConn Women’s Basketball, Register
Fans gather in Storrs in anticipation of eighth national title, Register
Huskies cruise to eighth NCAA women’s championship, Day
Mike DiMauro: Annie was looking down on this night, Day

Confetti rained on them from what felt like the heavens Tuesday night at New Orleans Arena, showering the UConn women with trimmings befitting a national champion.

Only this time, a piece just might have actually come from heaven.

It would have come from Ann Miller.

Ann, who made the UConn women one of her passions, died early Monday morning after a long battle with cancer. She fought to stay alive long enough for her Huskies to beat Notre Dame the other night at the Final Four.

“Just an update. Ann is comfortable,” Sandy Brouwer wrote Sunday night on Miller’s Facebook page, awash in tributes now. “She is unable to be awake now but I have the UConn game on for her so maybe she can hear it. I truly believe she has held on until game night. Hopefully peace tonight. Thanks everyone for all the kind thoughts and words. Ann was able to read or hear most of them.”

UConn women defeat Louisville, tie Tennessee for most national titles, Daily Campus
Three-point shooting propels UConn over Louisville, Daily Campus
It’s not about how, but when, Daily Campus
UConn win resonates with fans back home, AP article from SI
Breanna Stewart finds her footing, leads UConn to eighth title, SI
UConn leaves Big East on top but still left behind, USA Today
NCAA women’s basketball championship: Stewart, Connecticut show their title mettle, Washington Post

The University of Connecticut Huskies simply do everything harder. When they hit you, someone winds up flat out on the floor holding their mouth, and when they run, the score gets out of hand fast, and when they get anywhere near a national championship trophy, they just reach out and grab it.

U-Conn. does things different — and better — on a consistent basis than every other team in the country. You could see that in every single detail of their play as they demolished Louisville in the NCAA women’s basketball final at New Orleans Arena, 93-60.

Three keys to UConn’s 93-60 victory over Louisville in national title game, Times-Picayune
UConn’s dominant NCAA Tournament run continues in championship victory against Louisville, Times-Picayune
UConn senior Kelly Faris ends her college career with a national title, Times-Picayune

Louisville coach Jeff Walz cited Faris’ explosiveness as a main reason for UConn putting the dagger in the Cardinals on Tuesday.

She converted two devastating 3-pointers that Walz admired after the game.

“Kelly Faris was great for them,” Walz said. “She might not always be the high scorer, but just how hard she plays … she counters any kind of run we were trying to make with back to back 3s.

Deflating loss won’t diminish the magical run the Louisville Cardinals made to the national championship game, Times-Picayune

They were indeed the giant killers and quintessential Cinderellas of this year’s tournament. The Cardinals knocked off No.1 Baylor in the Sweet 16, No. 2 Tennessee in the regional finals and No.2 Cal in the national semifinals en route to becoming the first fifth seed to make it to the national championship game.

So with that thought Slaughter fought back her tears as she considered what ultimately went wrong Tuesday night at New Orleans Arena.

“Personally I think my teammates fought the hardest but we just came up short tonight,” Slaughter said. “We are not going to hang our heads. We did the unthinkable.”

Mechelle Voepel: UConn once again last team standing, ESPN

To understand just how great eight was for the victorious Connecticut women’s basketball team Tuesday night, let’s go back to how it began here in the Crescent City 22 years ago. Geno Auriemma was still kind of an “upstart” coach then, trying to establish UConn as a factor on the national scene.

Well, at least the Final Four part started in New Orleans. It was Auriemma’s sixth year coaching in Storrs, Conn., and the Huskies had broken through to the season’s last weekend in 1991. They played Virginia, for which Auriemma had previously been an assistant coach, and lost in the semifinals.

“We almost carried ourselves like & we didn’t belong here,” Auriemma said. “When we left and we didn’t win, I thought, ‘What if we never go back?'”

UConn’s Stewart lives up to hype, ESPN
Kelly Faris makes championship exit, ESPN

On this night, after UConn’s historic win, the two guards had only a moment together before the rest of the Huskies found Moore, too. And at one point during the celebration, Moore was surrounded by Faris, sophomore forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and assistant coach Shea Ralph, who won an NCAA title with the Huskies in 2000. Freeze-frame that moment, and there are multiple generations of Huskies, a lineage of greatness. And if you zoom in, you’ll see Faris and Mosqueda-Lewis, arms draped over each other’s shoulders, wearing oversized “2013 NCAA champs” T-shirts, sweat dried.

In a way, Moore turned over the team to Faris two years ago. And on Tuesday night, Faris did the same with Mosqueda-Lewis. The two players were standing shoulder to shoulder on the sideline as they waited out the last seconds of the game.

Auriemma, UConn blast into record book, NCAA.com

An 8th National Title, Built on Spirit, Not Stars, New York Times

Faris became the epitome of UConn’s resolve. Given her hustle and resourcefulness, Faris would never have a bad game, Auriemma often said. And she seldom did, always assigned to guard the opponent’s top scorer, succeeding with fundamental brilliance — a rebound, a steal, a defensive stop. Just as she muzzled Skylar Diggins on Sunday, Faris held Louisville’s Shoni Schimmel to 3-of-15 shooting in the championship game. And she hit four 3-pointers of her own.

“Will she leave as one of my favorite players?” Auriemma said. “Absolutely. They’re never going to introduce her as, ‘That was Kelly Faris, she was a great passer or a great shooter or a great ball-handler.’ Kelly is great at putting you in position to win. That’s what she’s great at.”

An Appreciation of Perseverance, New York Times

As often is the case in the separate but parallel worlds of the men’s and women’s Final Fours, the female experience is demonstrably understated. A lasting memory of the men’s tournament will surely be Kevin Ware cutting down the final threads Monday night for the Louisville players he inspired after sustaining a gruesome leg injury against Duke.

After three operations on her left knee, Doty knows what Ware has experienced and then some, just not as graphically or publicly.

From Swish Appeal: UConn’s eighth national championship could be dawn of a new era of dominance
Stewart guides Huskies to 8th National Championship, Full Court

Louisville women’s basketball falls to UConn 93-60 in National Championship game, Louisville Courier Journal
Tim Sullivan | Success is nice, but Louisville women’s basketball still has work to do, Louisville Courier Journal

There’s a scene in “Independence Day,” in which Will Smith finds himself at the controls of an alien spacecraft.

Its power and maneuverability are so advanced that the veteran pilot carries on like a child on a theme park thrill ride.

“I have GOT to get me one of these,” he says.

Jeff Walz must have had that same sensation Tuesday night.

UConn 93, Louisville 60 | Huskies snuff out the Schimmel spark, Louisville Courier Journal
Cards’ run still great, even in defeat, ESPN

After the United States men’s hockey team beat the Soviet Union in the “Miracle on Ice,” it still had to beat Finland for the gold medal. It did not, however, have to turn around and beat the Soviets a second time.

One giant too many left Louisville one win short of the greatest run in the history of the women’s NCAA tournament. 

Or maybe Louisville’s 93-60 loss to Connecticut on Tuesday night simply ended that run without damaging it so very much. Maybe even the most lopsided result in championship game history can’t dull the shine on what preceded it.

Nate talks about 2013 WNBA Draft prospects at the Final Four: Layshia Clarendon, Kelly Faris, and Skylar Diggins

Cal’s Layshia Clarendon, Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins, and UConn’s Kelly Faris are not the guaranteed, immediate WNBA superstars that Baylor’s Brittney Griner and Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne project to be, but there is a reason all three played in the Final Four, and each should be a 1st Round pick in the up-coming WNBA Draft.

Is it November yet? Mechelle offers up the Top five contenders for 2013-14

• Don’t think Notre Dame and Baylor, despite big senior losses, are just going away. Although they have to replace Skylar Diggins at point guard, the Irish bring back four starters. Baylor loses four starters, but the Lady Bears do have their All-American point guard back in Sims.

• The ACC should be mighty interesting next season, with Notre Dame joining the mix and a freshman class at North Carolina that’s projected to be the nation’s best.

• Who’s the favorite in the Big 12 after two seasons of Baylor running the table in the conference? Probably Oklahoma, led by Aaryn Ellenberg.

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In Louisville land: Mayor Declares Friday ‘Cardinal Red Day’

Mayor’s been busy: Louisville mayor bets bourbon on NCAA games

John Roach notes: Final Four ‘party crasher’ Louisville enjoys its run

From the Courier-Journal: Louisville women’s basketball team moving into elite company

Since 2009, six women’s basketball teams have made multiple appearances in the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four.

The University of Louisville joined that sorority with Tuesday night’s 86-78 victory over Tennessee to capture the Oklahoma City Regional. Connecticut, Notre Dame, Baylor, Stanford and Oklahoma are the only other programs to reach the sport’s premier stage twice in the past five years.

To put that in perspective, U of L (28-8) has enjoyed more recent NCAA Tournament success than Tennessee.

Stefanie Dolson is bloggin’: Off to New Orleans!

So’s Elena Delle Donne: I followed my heart, and it worked out

So’s Layshia Clarendon: We’re ready for beignets — and the Final Four

From the AP’s Janie McCauley (really short piece): Gottlieb’s upbeat approach leads Cal to Final Four

From the SF Examiner: Lindsay Gottlieb making remarkable impact on Cal in just her second year

Consider Barbour’s two big hires: Mike Montgomery and Lindsay Gottlieb. Montgomery’s men’s basketball team has reached the NCAA Tournament four times in his five years at Cal and Gottlieb’s women’s basketball team is getting ready to tip off in the program’s first Final Four appearance against Louisville on Sunday.

Montgomery’s success isn’t exactly surprising, but who other than Barbour believed that this fresh-faced 35-year-old from the East Coast would lead Cal to the Final Four in her second season at the helm?

This is a truly remarkable accomplishment and the exposure should elevate the program for years to come.

From Michelle: Now introducing … the California Golden Bears: Five things you should know about the upstart Bears

From Stephanie Hammon at the Contra Costa Times: Cal women basketball team prepares for Louisville, Final Four trip

From Curt at the SBT: Teammates get Diggins’ message

“I wear my emotions on my sleeve,” Diggins said. “I’ve always been a player who is very emotional. I think that gets my teammates going. When you have that look, people understand. ‘Oh, you better bring it.’ It gets my team energized, it gets the fans energized. It gets the coaching staff calm, because they know they can trust me. It gets me fired up. I don’t know if I do it for me or my team.”

Mike Lopresti at USA Today says there’s Nothing friendly but coaches in women’s UConn-Irish tilt

Rich Elliott says UConn’s Hartley thrives in new role off UConn bench

“Every decision you make, you make it with your fingers crossed and you hope that it works,” Auriemma said. “This particular decision, it was, `Hey Bria, we need some energy coming off the bench. We need some scoring. We need to change the way the game is played.’ You don’t know whether Bria is going to pout a little bit and feel sorry for herself and not be sure. But she’s come out and done exactly what we want her to do.”

Carl Ademac says Faris is getting what she deserves

Dueling writers:

From the Times-Picayune: 2013 Women’s Final Four features good storylines even without Baylor

From the Connecticut Post: No Griner a serious hit to Final 4 star power

The APs Brett Martel notices that the Old Big East is going out with a bang at women’s Final Four

Three of the four teams — Connecticut, Louisville and Notre Dame — hail from a league that has long thrived in both women’s and men’s college basketball, but which is breaking apart after this season.

“I guess the shout-out should go out to all the (university) presidents for having the foresight to tear apart the greatest basketball conference that ever existed,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma sarcastically said during a women’s Final Four coaches conference call Wednesday, noting that two teams in the men’s Final Four (Louisville and Syracuse) also are from the Big East. “But I guess it’s a great swan song.

Wondering What’s the buzz on Bourbon Street? Ask Charlie.

Mechelle has Five trendy topics for New Orleans

UConn’s Geno Auriemma and Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw are regulars. Louisville’s Jeff Walz has done this once before. Cal’s Lindsay Gottlieb is the boundlessly enthusiastic rookie.

All four spoke Wednesday during the annual Women’s Final Four coaches’ teleconferences, during which media are always scrambling for nuggets before everyone heads to the city where the national champion will be crowned.

This time around, fortunately, we had only one question about the ridiculous Brittney Griner/NBA nonstory. Auriemma got tossed that grenade, and he smothered it expertly. (Note to Mark Cuban: Here’s something about which we’d actually like to hear a “Why not give it a chance?” answer from you: owning a WNBA team.)

From Mechelle’s chat:

…does anybody else find it a little absurd – if that’s the right word – that we’re talking about whether Louisville’s women’s team – the No. 5 seed – was allowed to be too rough with Griner in the NCAA tournament and that disrupted her … and then supposedly also “debating” whether Griner could make an NBA roster right now?

Beth Mowins and Debbie Antonelli discuss the road to the Final Four on their podcast.

From Dishin’ and Swishin’: Doug Bruno of DePaul breaks down the three Big East teams, and Kevin McGuff of Washington breaks down Cal. 

Going to join me in New Orleans? Here’s the 2013 Women’s Final Four schedule of events

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before the second half of last night’s game, you might have heard this.

That was the sound of Indy girl Kelly Faris revving up to take over the game.

Consider what Rebecca Lobo wrote in her preview piece, Duke ready for big stage:

Chelsea Gray

I haven’t seen a better passer in the open floor than Duke’s Chelsea Gray. The junior point guard has superb vision and strength to make passes that others cannot. She already has more than 100 assists on the season, and many have come from no-look and highlight-reel passes. She has tallied two triple-doubles already this season and a 15-assist game (versus Clemson). If you haven’t seen her play, it’s worth tuning in to this game just to check out Gray.

Now consider what Graham wrote after witnessing Ms. Gray’s encounter with Ms. Faris: Faris delivers ‘one for the ages’: Huskies win with decisive second half, hand Duke its first loss of season

Faris finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals. Duke point guard Chelsea Gray — who spent a good portion of the night the subject of closer attention from Faris than President Obama received from his Secret Service detail during the day’s inauguration events in Washington, D.C. — finished with two points on six shots, four turnovers and a look of incalculable frustration.

Indeed, the numbers didn’t tell the whole story. They never do with Faris.

The interesting game we saw unfold in the first half turned into a Faris clinic on defense, offense and intensity. The end result? A two-point game turned into a 30-point blowout.

Mel was there to witness (ONE “s” Mel, ONE “s”): Faris solidifies star status as No. 3 Huskies rout No. 4 Blue Devils

“There have been a lot of great players and legends play in this building wearing the Connecticut uniform,” continued Auriemma, whose seven NCAA titles is just one short of Tennessee coach emeritus Pat Summitt’s collection. “But I don’t know if anyone has ever represented themselves, their family, and the University of Connecticut the way Kelly did tonight.

“I know there’s a lot of players out there that are really good … there’s a lot of All-Americans but man oh man, that was one for the ages right there.”

From Clay, we get: Duke takes another dive against UConn

In an epic second-half collapse, previously unbeaten No. 4 Duke unraveled like a cheap shirt, leaving nothing behind but shattered egos and yet another hammering at the hands of the unforgiving Huskies.

Of course, UConn is No. 3 for a reason – well, actually many reasons, but one of them is depth. In this game, for example, the Husky bench outscored the Duke bench 23-9; and two of the Blue Devil starters combined for four points.

Rob chimes in from DWHoops with a Nutshell and Analysis.

Areas For Improvement: Above all else, communication. A season’s worth of being slow to close on shooters, blocking out smaller teams and relying on talent instead of teamwork came back to haunt Duke in this game. They were thoroughly outplayed and outcoached, as UConn made a number of adjustments going into the second half while Duke basically kept doing the same thing. Coach McCallie was never able to find a way to stop the bleeding during the run and get her team’s attention.

In Michigan, the Wolverines were game, but the Lions were gamer. Penn State wins, 59-49.

“It was a quality team and they just wore us out,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “I guess that’s why they’re probably No. 8 and we’re probably No. 23 at this point because they had four more minutes than we did.”

Nice to see I didn’t manage to jinx Texas Southern — they easily handled Mississippi Valley State 58-47.

Stetson (school-record 11th consecutive victory) and FGCU were equally immune to the WHB jinx. (You can watch the Hatters/Eagles showdown at 7:05 Saturday, televised by Comcast Sports Southeast)  Ditto with Quinnipiac, which stifled St. Francis (PA) in the first half and then secured a 85-69 victory.

Obviously, by not mentioning them, I assured the Wichita State a 70-51 victory over Drake. The Shockers are now 5-0 in the MVC.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donohoe > than Christofferson as Oklahoma State pummeled Iowa State.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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