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After upsetting the Cardinal, USC looked like they had nothing left as they faced Oregon State. But, Coop helped them “raise the roof” and earn a trip to the dance.

If there was a title to the story of the Southern California women’s basketball team over the past decade, it might be: “Promise Lost.”

The talent, the potential, the parade of All-Americans that should have made this one of the premier programs on the West Coast, seemed to dissolve into a smoldering heap every single year.

There was the cruel succession of ACL injuries that cut short the careers of Jackie Gemelos and Stefanie Gilbreath, who were among the most elite recruits in the country when they committed to USC. There were inexplicable late-season losses to lower-division conference teams that would leave the Trojans’ résumé lacking when it came in front of the NCAA committee. There were coaching changes and personality conflicts and, to be very honest, a whole lot of underachievement.

But USC changed the narrative on Sunday night at KeyArena.

Scott Rueck will await the Committee to see if he’s managed to shift the Pac12 paradigm. As the Oregonian asks: If Scott Rueck leads Oregon State women to NCAA Tournament, how big of an accomplishment is it?

Speaking of the Committee, Charlie tries to work through their headache predict AND explain the brackets.

Fordham took any mystery out of the Committee’s hands by upsetting Dayton to claim the A-10 crown. This accomplishment is six years removed from their 0-for season and gives New Zealander Rooney what she missed by a sliver last year: An NCAA berth.

We’ve been watching this unfold over the season: High Point v. Winthrop. In the end, Dequesha McClanahan leads Winthrop to first-ever Big South title

“What a game and what a tournament. I’m very proud of our players, this program and very thankful to our administration and all of our loyal fans and supporters that were here and suffered without a championship for over 30 years,” said Winthrop head coach Kevin Cook. “That’s what really makes it meaningful for them and our team.”

Yes, THAT Kevin Cook.

After an up and down season on and off the court, Nebraskan sophomore Rachel Theriot took control of the Huskers future and guided them to their first Big 10 conference title.

“It was a game where we couldn’t make a shot, but we found a way to win,” Husker coach Connie Yori said. “That says a lot about our mental toughness. We did a great job on the offensive glass. Every game doesn’t come down to playing pretty, but you find a way to win.”

No surprise, the Irish claimed their first AAC title – but were you a little surprised by how close the game was (at first)?

When is two points more than two points? When it’s a basket that sends a figurative bolt of electricity through a team and its fans. And that was exactly what Jewell Loyd’s alley-oop did in the second half of the ACC tournament title game.

The Fighting Irish are champions of their new league, and they will go into the NCAA tournament undefeated at 32-0. They execute offensively, are patient even when things aren’t clicking as well (which is rare, but happens), and are very dependable on defense.

But … they are also just really darn fun to watch.

Yes, a bit of a surprise, because of the upset of South Carolina, but Kentucky falling apart at the end? Not so surprising this season. Tennessee’s SEC title might give them a #1 seed, which would be (be honest) a surprise.

Tennessee adopted the motto of “Grind for Nine” at the beginning of this season, referencing the team’s blue-collar mentality as it pursues the program’s ninth national championship. The Lady Vols haven’t been to the Final Four since 2008, which is also the last year they won a national title. Back then, Pat Summitt coached the Lady Vols, before resigning in 2012 because of health reasons. Warlick, Summitt’s longtime assistant, became the team’s head coach.

The conference tournament title won Sunday was the first for Warlick as a head coach. As she accepted the trophy afterward, she said hello to her longtime mentor, who did not make the trip. “I want to say hi to Pat Summitt,” Warlick said to the crowd. “I know she is watching this broadcast.”

The crowd erupted in cheers.

Yes, most of us had Marist v. Iona penciled in to the MAAC finals. Quinnipiac decided to erase that prediction.

“(Quinnipiac) did a great job executing,” first-year Iona coach Billi Godsey said. “When it comes down to it, we didn’t do a terribly wonderful job of stopping them in the defensive end.”

BTW, there was news in the MAAC quarters as the Rider team scored its biggest win in years — maybe ever — with a 63-56 upset of Fairfield.

Interesting games coming up:

BYU women’s basketball: Cougars will meet “scary” Pacific in WCC semifinals Monday. Of course, the other WCC semi is classic rematch: Gonzaga v. St. Mary’s.

America East: Stony Brook continues to surge under coach Beth O’Boyle — and gets a second shot at Albany for their efforts. Can they pull off the upset – again?

Quakers v. Tigers: Penn (21-6, 11-2 Ivy) and Princeton (20-7, 11-2 Ivy) are both tied atop the Ivy standings and face each other in the season finale at Jadwin Gym on Tuesday (5:30 p.m.). The winner earns the outright Ivy League title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The loser has already clinched second place and therefore, an automatic berth in the WNIT.

Davidson will try and stop Chattanooga‘s quest for the Southern Conference title.

Same old, same old in the Patriot semis: Navy v Holy Cross, Army v. American, with a little extra oomph:

However, Gibbons readily admits the greatest motivation comes from preserving history as Holy Cross wants to prevent Navy from equaling its feat of capturing four consecutive Patriot League Tournament championships. The Crusaders set that standard from 1998 through 2001 under the direction of Gibbons.

“We certainly would like to stop them from tying our record,” Gibbons said. “We’re playing for a lot of alumni who were part of that great run.”

Yup, it’s UConn (with Stewart’s block earning a SportsCenter nod) agains the Cardinals. In the classic, “Careful what you wish for,” the New York Times notes that “Louisville Confronts Elephant in Its Room”

For all the strides the Louisville women have made in becoming a perennial basketball power, the climb to the top remains daunting. Connecticut, the Cardinals’ opponent in the final of the American Athletic Conference tournament Monday night, has won 14 straight against them.

Speaking of former Big East teams: It’s the Mountaineers hunting Bears in the Big 12 title game. Remember Sims’ 48 against West Virginia in January? And the rematch in March? (TV: Fox Sports 1?)

From the Boston Globe, some nice coverage of Barb Stevens at Bentley: Barbara Stevens has Bentley women’s basketball program point toward perfection

This is where it all happens, in Barbara Stevens’s warm and inviting office on the second floor of Bentley University’s Dana Center. A large bookshelf behind her neatly arranged desk in the far left corner of the room is adorned with trophies and nets cut down from Northeast-10 title games and framed photos of the teams she has coached in 28 seasons as the head coach of Bentley’s wildly successful women’s basketball program.

“I keep telling my players if they keep winning them, then I’ll keep putting them up,’’ Stevens jokingly remarked to an office visitor Thursday afternoon.

But this is where Bentley’s unrelenting pursuit of perfection is mapped out on a daily basis. It is where Stevens doggedly prepares through exhaustive film study and advanced scouting. And, as anyone will tell you, Stevens, 58, is nothing if not a evangelical minister of the coaching gospel, “Practice makes perfect.’’

Also from the Globe, there are a couple of back-and-forth stories: Bullying accusations continue against BU coach Kelly Greenberg.

I think we may have heard this coming a few years back: K-State women’s basketball coach Deb Patterson fired after 18 seasons

Happier news out of the Sunflower state: They stumbled, but didn’t fall: Wichita State’s women’s basketball wins second consecutive MVC title. The conference tourney looms.

Coale is guaranteed $1.01 million per season, but bonuses and fringe benefits will lift her annual compensation well beyond that figure. Lot of money for the coach of an 18-13 basketball team that enters the Big 12 Tournament this weekend in the league’s lower division.

But Coale isn’t paid just for basketball. She’s paid for her ambassador skills. She’s paid for her promotional and PR skills. Coale is a virtual spokesmodel for the university, be it talking to engineering alumni or youth groups or coaches all across the country or all of America itself, courtesy of Northwestern Mutual.

When Coale talks about the importance of sport in young girls’ lives, or the importance of education, or the importance of hard work to fulfill dreams, people listen. Some of those people are impressionable. Others are influential. Coale reaches them all. I’ve said it before; Coale’s next job won’t be coaching a basketball team, it will be vice president of the university.

A little W news:

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Looked what happened!

Richmond over George Mason by 3. 

Navy over Bucknell by 2 (2OT).

Sam Houston Over SE Louisiana by 1. 

Fairfield over Siena by 1. 

Presbyterian over Costal Carolina by 3.

Liberty over Winthrop by 7. (You’ll remember their coach, Kevin Cook)

#18 Nebraska over Minnesota by 3.

And that there are no upsets in women’s basketball?

#25 Texas A&M over #8 South Carolina AND it was in OT.

Michigan knocks of confusing #22 Purdue, 65-49.

West Virginia (unranked ’cause???) stomps all over #13 Iowa State, 73-59.

#20 NC State dittos that over #17 Florida State, 80-57.

(5-9) San Diego State over (10-6) Fresno State, 70-69, giving the Bulldogs their first loss in the Mountain West.

(SPOILER ALERT!!)
From tonight: #19 Arizona State over #15 Cal, 68-59.

In other fun games:

Oh, yeah, the A-10 is gonna be fun: Fordham Rams by 3 over the VCU Rams.

Wondering how the new job is sitting for coach Boyle as #3 Duke dismantles Virginia, 90-55.

#2 Notre Dame dusts fellow gold-wearing Pittsburgh, 109-66.

Hey! Penguins are 3-0 in the Horizon AND they beat Green Bay!

Welcome to the ACC Syracuse (12-5, 1-3).

Yes, this Kulas kid for Missouri is good, but even her 30 couldn’t save the Tigers from the Geaux Tigers.

So, anyone notice that Michigan State is undefeated in the Big 10? They face #16 Penn State on Sunday.

Coach Godsey and the Gaels get some well-deserved press: A new era begins at Iona

So far so very good for the new women’s basketball coach at Iona College, Billi Godsey. A 2003 graduate of Hofstra, Godsey is one of several young female coaches of color recently hired for head coaching jobs in Division I women’s college basketball.

“I knew I was coming into a very talented roster,” said Godsey, who has been acquainted with assistant coach-recruiting coordinator Ashlee Kelly since both coached at Division II schools. “I’m one of the lucky ones. It was easy for me to get them to buy into what we wanted to do a little bit differently from last year and still play in a style they’re successful in, an up-tempo type of style.”

Superb news: Women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell in remission

Well yes, Beth and Debbie, the new rules have increased scoring dramatically. And yes, that is different than improving shooting percentages, though. No rules will replace the skills that need to be learned in high school and AAU ball. What’s the solution, folks?

Speaking of solutions... “Please buy the Sparks!”

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The Lynx were  going to see if eight is enough and Seattle wss going to try and show they don’t do old school tv shows. (Check out Jayda’s game blog) Oops. Seattle Storm’s Rough Start Continues In Minnesota.

Richard at WNBAlien gets delightfully dramatic: Here lies the Seattle Storm (a.k.a. Requiem for a Team)

’cause it’s never too early:Nate has 2012 WNBA MVP Watch: Sylvia Fowles Leads Early Season Candidates and Slam Online has A look at the top-10 WNBA players gunning for the MVP trophy.

Oh, and no pressure, but (says Nate) The Chicago Sky Should Only Expect To Improve After Their Franchise Record Start

Time for a little WATN: WNBA player Chasity Melvin becomes first female participant at Sportscaster U

A little more WATN mix in with a little college intrigue (for those of us who’ve followed the story from the beginning): Winthrop names Kevin Cook new women’s basketball coach.

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D.C. (at least to WHB readers), where Gaullaudet makes its point loud and clear

Sustaining success at Gallaudet would seem be a difficult task, as the pool of deaf athletes skilled enough to play intercollegiate basketball is finite when compared with the hearing.

“I often get two different types of players,” Stern said. “I have some players who, like me, have said from when they were young that they want to come to Gallaudet, and I have other types of players who have never heard of Gallaudet or feel nervous about coming to Gallaudet.

“My selling point for those players … I try to explain that Gallaudet is a very special place not because you discover your deaf identity. You come actually and you finally become not deaf.”

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Gallaudet women’s basketball coach resigns for personal reasons

Kevin Cook not only lead the Gallaudet Bison women’s basketball program back to nearly it’s former glory, but also into the national spotlight. But today it was announced that Cook has decided to walk away, leaving the team and the Gallaudet athletics program to search for a new coach to continue the comeback.

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reads the blog?

His article: Gallaudet makes noise with 14-0 mark, top 25 spot

The head coach is battling Parkinson’s disease, daily mourns the loss of his sister and isn’t fully fluent in the language used by his players.

One senior co-captain nearly quit school after her brother died. The other is a junior college transfer who was picked on as a kid.

Those would be compelling stories for any basketball squad, but this is Gallaudet, the university for the deaf whose women’s team is making noise with a 14-0 start and a No. 24 ranking in Division III, its first appearance in the top 25 since 1999.

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but Gallaudet’s team is undefeated.

Faafiti and Hayes have become a dynamic duo for Gallaudet (14-0), propelling the Bison to their best season in more than a decade and their best start in school history. They are ranked No. 24 in Division III, their first appearance in the rankings since 1999. Their 14 consecutive wins are one shy of the school record.

You may previously have followed them through the book, Winning Sounds Like This, or through the stories tracking coach Cook’s challenges.

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on the draft lottery (Minnesota Hits The Maya Moore Draft Lottery Jackpot) and Maryland’s game against Gaulladet (Freshman Cloud Brings Sunshine to Maryland Preseason Win).

You may remember Wayne Coffey’s book, Winning Sounds Like This: A Season with the Women’s Basketball Team at Gallaudet, the World’s Only University for the Deaf.

No word from Mel on how Kevin’s health is doing.

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