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Welcome: Former Mercury exec Parry joins WNBA as COO

.com: Face of the Franchise: How Number One Picks Have Defined WNBA History

Fox: Storm analyst Elise Woodward breaks down WNBA Draft on “Q It Up Sports”

.com: Déjà Vu In Seattle: 14 Years Later, Storm Poised for Another Rapid Rebuild

Countdown to WNBA Draft 2016: Rachel Banham

St. John’s: Grant and Handford Gear Up for WNBA Draft

BulletsForever: 2016 WNBA Draft Preview Part 1: The Mystics’ current needs heading to Draft Day

Sue at SlamOnline: WNBA Draft Index, Vol. 3

UConn’s Big Three Seniors Looking Ahead To WNBA Draft

Howard Megdal: WNBA Mock Draft 10.0: Pencils down

The posturing is over. The scouting, the evaluating, the pre-draft meetings and workouts—all the information is in front of the 12 teams who will gather Thursday night at Mohegan Sun Arena and pick the next 36 potential players in the WNBA.

Notice potential—there’s no guarantee that draft picks can make their teams, with a source at one WNBA team expressing skepticism that even a first-round pick could make that team’s roster.

However, this deep draft offers an array of players with virtually every skill imaginable. So much comes down to fit, to small gradations of difference. And the moment it’s all over, the fun starts—figuring out how and the way 36 new players integrate with their new teams.

College

Syracuse.com: Being Breanna’s parents: Skittles, Santa, shoes and the basketball journey of a lifetime

The two-day respite between the NCAA Regional and Final Four offers a fleeting moment to breathe. There is, however, no rest. Heather and Brian Stewart squeeze in a couple of days of work at Upstate University Hospital jobs, then returned to their home in North Syracuse for a blur of errands. That is, until basketball breaks out.

On a spectacular early evening when temperatures climb into the 70s, Conor Stewart is working on a two-handed reverse jam on the basketball goal in his family driveway. The goal is lowered several feet to allow Conor access above the rim. The opportunity is too alluring for Brian, who finishes a job sweeping the garage and is soon dunking way with his 14-year-old son. Heather asks if anyone needs her alley-oop feeds from the front porch. The family moment is filled with joy and routine, all worked into the window of March Madness.

The next day, the Stewarts are off to Indianapolis for the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship.

Siroky’s Musings: A Return to the Women’s Final Four After a Long Absence

For the first time in a long while I took a trip by myself.

When the women’s NCAA basketball tournament started 35 seasons ago, I was one of 37 accredited media. 

Two of my best friends were also there as broadcasters, I had a photographer and knew three other national writers. That’s seven of the 37. It was a small group then.

I thought of many of them, the departed and the living, coaches, players and media I had shared a time with. 

There are not a lot of us left. In fact, there are but two media.

You may remember that the Seawolves had some “issues” a while back. Now? A shift in culture: Coach McCarthy transforms women’s basketball program

At 38-3, the UAA women’s basketball team just completed their best season in school history, and were arguably the greatest team Seawolf Athletics has ever assembled. From placing as the runner-up in the national championship game, to shattering 32 school records, to breaking five NCAA Division II records (including the 38 wins), the Seawolves had what one might call a dream season.

However, the team was living more of a nightmare just four years ago, when the program was slammed with several sanctions by the NCAA.

Hartford Courant: With Big 3 Gone, What Are The UConn Women Left With Next Season?

“With these three leaving, the rest of the players coming back are in for a rude awakening. But you can’t disregard what the impact [this season] has on the players coming back. And it will last for a while. But then obviously it will [fade] and they’ll have to earn it like these other guys.

“But we don’t have anybody in the program right now that’s a Stewie or a Tuck or Moriah coming back. So it’s going to be really, really one of the more difficult adjustments that we’ve had in the time that I’ve been here. But it’s OK. I’m kind of looking forward to it. I really am. There’s a lot of new stories to be written by our group.”

Here’s a look at what the Huskies might look like next season:

Courant: Program Foundation Geno And CD Laid At UConn In 1985 Is Holding Up Just Fine

Kerith Burke, SNY: A behind the scenes look at UConn’s fourth straight NCAA championship

Forbes: 3 Ways to Convert Losses Into Wins From A ‘Defeated’ Basketball Coach

Buff Zone: CU women’s basketball: Buffs buy in to Payne’s positive message

Whenever Kennedy Leonard encounters one of her new basketball coaches — and that’s been happening a lot lately — she’s asked how her family is doing, or how she’s doing in school.

“You can tell she really cares about us — all of them do,” said Leonard, who recently completed her freshman season with the Colorado women’s basketball team. “It’s a different kind of feel, a positive feel.”

NC State: Moore looks to take team to next level

Chris Crowder: Wolverines’ WNIT streak ends next year

After four seasons at the helm, Michigan women’s basketball coach Kim Barnes Arico has made the NCAA Tournament only once — her first season when she took over the head coaching job in the 2012-13 season. However, over the past three seasons, the Wolverines have failed to make the Big Dance, instead settling for the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.

Now in Barnes Arico’s fifth season, she’ll finally have a team consisting solely of players she has recruited. And in the 2016-17 season, Barnes Arico will have the right pieces to lead Michigan back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013.

Hello: Justice named head women’s coach at Prairie View A&M

Bye: UWGB junior Latesha Buck granted release

Well, carp: Players’ Departures Bring Swoopes’ Demeanor Into Question

Betting Runner’s SportsChat asked me a few questions and I typed the answers.

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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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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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From Blue Devil land: Williams’ frustrating foot injury lingers for Duke women’s basketball

After being decimated by injuries late last season, this year was supposed to be different for Duke. But with the season just beginning, the Blue Devils already face a daunting obstacle as preseason All-American Elizabeth Williams has not yet recovered from a stress fracture suffered last March.

Dabnabbit! UTEP women’s basketball guard Jenzel Nash out for the year due to injury

From Bear land: Women’s basketball season begins with simple question: Can anyone stop Griner and Baylor?

Graham offers a possible answer: Breanna Stewart preps for debut – All eyes on the freshman expected to be the next great thing in Huskies history

Detroit has its auto show. Women’s basketball has media day at the University of Connecticut.

Come, crowd around to see the latest innovation, the new design that will set a standard and capture the public imagination in years to come.

Same time, same place every year.

But even at a school for which the annual unveiling of the next highly anticipated star seems as much a part of the autumn calendar as hot cider and pumpkin carving, this year feels different. Breanna Stewart has yet to play a game for Connecticut. She has yet to score her first point, grab her first rebound, block her first shot or draw her first regular-season rebuke from Geno Auriemma. And still people in Storrs sound a little like they’re talking about the flying car of tomorrow come to life when discussing the unassuming 6-foot-4 forward from upstate New York and consensus next great thing in women’s basketball.

Baylor’s women’s basketball team offered spectators plenty during a perfect season in 2011-12. There was the consensus national player of the year in center Brittney Griner. An exceptionally quick point guard, Odyssey Sims, with both great scoring potential and a natural zest for defense.

Destiny Williams, an eloquent team spokeswoman who also works the boards ferociously. The shouldn’t-be-overlooked tandem of Jordan Madden and Kimetria “Nae-Nae” Hayden, who hurt foes on both ends of the court.

And the maestro of it all was coach Kim Mulkey, who set the tone for a group of players who never seemed the least bit rattled by not just the hope, but the expectation that they would win it all. Even a flare-up of Bell’s palsy during the NCAA tournament didn’t seem to rattle Mulkey in the least. She downplayed it, even cracking jokes at her own expense.

Michelle gives us the A-to-Z rundown of what to expect
A: Arizona State. Coach Charli Turner Thorne took a year off to recharge and spend time with her family, a rare opportunity in the coaching universe. But she’s back on the floor with the Sun Devils and it’s time to rebuild a program that fell to the middle of the Pac-12 in her absence.
Z: Zero. Is Baylor ready for another zero-loss season? It could happen.
Charlie give us a Big 10 preview, and busy Mechelle gives us her Big 12 preview.

For decades it seemed as though Michigan regarded women’s basketball as a part of the athletic department it didn’t want anyone to see.

It was as if U-M fielded a team because it had to, not because it wanted to, and it was reflected in thousands of empty seats in Crisler Arena. A perennial nonfactor when it came to contending for Big Ten championships and NCAA tournament bids, the program suffered its biggest embarrassment last spring when coach Kevin Borseth resigned to return to Green Bay, the program he left to take the U-M job.

From their in-state rival: Michigan State women’s basketball putting puzzle together

From Terp land: Maryland women’s basketball: It’s Final Four or bust for the Terrapins (no pressure) and 2012 ACC women’s basketball preview: Can Alyssa Thomas carry the Maryland Terrapins to the top again?

Also, “YAY! The BasketCases are back!” : Early Late Returns

From the land of the Bluejays: 2012-13 Creighton Women’s Basketball Profiles: Sarah Nelson

From Bluegrass land: Kentuckiana women’s basketball at a glance and Western Kentucky women’s basketball | Young Toppers hope speed offsets height

More from the land of Bluegrass: (no pressure) SEC coaches pick UK women’s basketball as favorites to win 2012-13 conference title

From the Land o’ Bisons: (a really short)  Howard women’s basketball preview

From the Land o’ (Washington) Huskies: Washington women’s basketball: Five things to watch

From more of the West Coast folks: OSU women’s basketball: Beavers excited to play a better schedule

There are still some games that could be considered cupcakes, but the Beavers will get to face two NCAA tournament teams, with the possibility of another, and two teams that made the Women’s National Invitation Tournament before opening the Pac-12 season

“I think we’re in a position where we need that,” Rueck said. “This year we open Pac-12 play with the L.A. schools coming in. We need to know who we are and where we need to go before that weekend happens.”

From the land of the Commodores: Holzer out for season Center suffered injury in exhibition game versus Alabama-Huntsville.

From the Land o’ Swish Appeal, Nate says: Tennessee Lady Vols built to run after losing stars to the WNBA draft

Speaking of the W, thewiz09 asks: Does Regionalization and “Our Girls Syndrome” Adversely Affect The WNBA?

…to take a page out of the words of a former Washington Mystics head coach, the WNBA is a league that is building its identity, so teams often look for quick ways to get more fans to sit in. The largest overlapping fanbasewith women’s professional basketball is Division I women’s college basketball power program fanbases. A very quick way to attract fans from the local college power team is to draft or acquire players from that team. That leads to the regionalizationof a team.

One reason why a team may regionalize is also because there is a fear that fans of the WNBA team may not even want to watch the team at all unless some players are from the local college power or are from the area. This leads to a term called “Our Girls Syndrome (OGS).” This term, to the best of my knowledge, was introduced by Clay Kallam of Full Court. Kallam laid it out and showed applications of it really well in a piece for Scout.com back in 2003 (and it was updated in 2005). The concepts he lays out in that piece will be reapplied to today’s league.

From the Land of the Bun: Corey Gaines keeps his nose to Phoenix Suns’ grindstone

From the Times-Picayune: Temeka Johnson blogs: Russian team builds toward EuroCup game Thursday

WANT? Vicky Bullett? Winning: Women’s Basketball: HCC opens season with a Bullett

Speaking of the Washington Mystics, delve deep down in to Mel’s post to find out some stuff about the hot mess they’re in and the Rebkellians have some coaching suggestions.

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Or as “put” as any coach stays these days…

Cindy Fisher Receives Multi-Year Contract Extension

On the “not staying put” of coaches (What is it with these “Sources.” Does this mean wbball has hit the big time rumor mill?)

Source: KSU hires Perry as coach

Source: Kansas assistant Tory Verdi expected to be named EMU women’s coach

From Nate: The Significance of Michigan Hiring Kim Barnes Arico To Awaken A “Sleeping Giant”

Bibbs announced taking the position as head coach at Grambling State University

Source: ORU women’s basketball coach Jerry Finkbeiner to accept Utah State job (WHB readers will recall Oral Roberts was makin’ some noise this year.)

On the “staying put?” of players:

Girls basketball: Oral Roberts news affects Shawnee’s Taylor Cooper

On the “not staying put” of players

Former Great Oak star Sherbert leaving Cal

FGCU notes: Strong shooter Rechis transfers from team

Women’s hoops player leaving ODU for Hampton

Jenni Bryan among three players leaving OSU

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Morning Links: Recapping Barnes Arico’s Introductory Press Conference In Michigan

As a University of Michigan alum, I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few days struggling to even process the hiring of Kim Barnes Arico as head coach of the Wolverines women’s basketball team.

As a fan, it’s still hard to even put coherent words around it. As a women’s basketball blogger, I can say this: beware the sleeping giant in Ann Arbor.

Or, hm, maybe I got that backwards.

Well, whatever – back to processing for me, but thankfully other people have already summarized Barnes Arico’s introductory press conference in Ann Arbor that took place yesterday. In short, she “won” that press conference, but the details follow.

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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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Kim to Michigan.

The Big East coaches are getting picked off one by one.

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“Big Red.”

Meanwhile, when McNeese State, UConn, St. John’s and others are Preparing to face a Shot Swatter, they use other props.

From the Times: St. John’s No Longer Has to Dream of California

Da’Shena Stevens, a Connecticut snowbird, gazed lovingly at a long row of palm trees in front of the Save Mart Center here. Shenneika Smith, a daughter of Brooklyn, adored the sunny skies over her head and the lack of earthquakes going on under her feet.

As for Kim Barnes Arico, their coach at St. John’s, she put down the game film, made for the nearest In-N-Out burger joint and wolfed down a cheeseburger and fries.

“And a strawberry milkshake,” Barnes Arico said with a smile.

Excuse the St. John’s players for acting as if they haven’t been here before. Because they haven’t.

From Rich Elliot at the Connecticut News: Auriemma Happy With Penn State Deal, Fond Of Washington

I thought when she got the job, I thought it was a great, great hire by Penn State,’’ Auriemma said. “And they’ve done a phenomenal job since she’s been there. And I’ve been on a bunch of committees with her, including the board of directors of the WBCA, and she’s one of the most impressive young people that I’ve come across in a long, long time. She’s kind of got a whole lot of things in place. Notre Dame, an assistant there. Law school grad. Trying to run a family. It’s just a lot. And doing it at a place like Penn State where you’re in the Big 10 and it’s not just any school. I’ve got to tell you … I’m really, really impressed with the job that she’s done. There may not be five other coaches in her age group that are better than she is.’’

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Top NCAA women’s seeds could be tested on road

Putting together the NCAA bracket is one giant jigsaw puzzle. The selection committee tries to make every piece fit using a certain list of procedures and principles.

This year, the group was in a bind because many of the host schools for the opening two rounds were going to be seeded in the lower half of the bracket. Only three of the top 16 teams in the tournament were sites for the first two rounds, leaving many of the higher seeds left to potentially play on opposing floors.

The committee spent hours trying to avoid that situation. They actually had three brackets working at once, but in the end it was impossible to make it work.

From fellow-APer Tim Reynolds: Florida Gulf Coast’s long-awaited NCAA trip awaits

More 3-pointers made than any team in the country. One of only four teams ranked among the nation’s top 15 in both points scored and points allowed per game. Owners of the third-longest current winning streak in women’s basketball, along with the fifth-best record in the nation.

Yes, Florida Gulf Coast’s resume is catchy.

Forgive the Eagles if they’re not impressed.

Florida Gulf Coast—which is headed to NCAA tournament in its first season of eligibility, five years after playing in the Division II championship game and then transitioning to the top level of college sports—isn’t that keen about keeping up on all its numbers, even though many of those stats have the Eagles in line with the nation’s elite.

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looking for your next head coach.

COY Pac-12: Scott Rueck. Before he got to Oregon State, he was head coach of Division III’s George Fox.

COY Big East: Kim Barnes Arico. Before she got to St. John’s, she was head coach of Division II’s Adelphi.

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humiliation, it’s important to notice the real moments of human kindness and generosity. For instance, Vanderbilt’s Melanie Balcomb gives LSU senior a gift

Prior to last week’s Vanderbilt-LSU game in Baton Rouge, LSU Coach Nikki Caldwell asked Vanderbilt’s Melanie Balcomb for a favor.

Caldwell wanted senior guard Destini Hughes to start the game on senior night with four other seniors. Hughes had not played since suffering a knee injury Jan. 19.

Then, there was this, a few years ago, but coming to light now after St. John’s Smith nailed the 3 that snapped UConn’s 99-game winning streak:

The relationship between Auriemma and Smith originated at Big East Media Day in New York City during her freshman year in 2009-10. Barnes Arico had brought her along and Smith asked her if she could introduce her to Auriemma. “She always looked up to him,’’ Barnes Arico said. “She always idolized him. He’s the greatest coach in the game. I have a good relationship with him so I brought her over to him and they chatted and she was just in awe afterwards.’’

The two talked again at Big East Media Day in 2010. This time the meeting was again set up by Barnes Arico. She felt that Smith needed some guidance. And she felt that Auriemma was the perfect candidate to get Smith on the right path to success.

“She was going through a lot of struggles and she had her little bumps in the road,’’ Barnes Arico said. “People were trying to get in her mind and people were trying to do different things with her. She was struggling. And I said to Coach (Auriemma), `Coach, can you grab Shenneika for a minute? Can you talk to her for a minute?’ He did and that kind of turned the kid around. She’s the greatest kid ever and the commitment she’s made to our program and the strides that she has made are tremendous. He really pumped her up. He gave her a bit of confidence and he really made her feel good. She came back and she was a different player.’’

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The USBWA has an interesting list.

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Over at HoopFeed: Dishin & Swishin February 23, 2012 Podcast

Today’s podcast features St. John’s women’s basketball coach Kim Barnes Arico and a mini-roundtable with Doug Feinberg of the Associated Press and Wendy Parker of Basketball Times.

There’s also a Dishin & Swishin Special: Pokey Chatman from Russia on the signing of Ticha Penicheiro

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Win, and win big.

From a UConn fan:

Kim Barnes Arico on WFAN (Francesa). She’s being interviewed by Mike right now (3:10 EST). Glad she and her program are enjoying some attention. (On the flip side, as many of you know, Francesa hardly EVER has any coverage of WCBB. So of course a NY team beating us is HUGE news. She’s giving a lot of credit to Geno for being gracious in defeat. She mentioned how Geno helped her in the profession and when he saw her later after the game pressers he was still very complimentary and congratulatory.

And another: Kim also mentioned that Geno texted her a few times that night on their bus ride home. They play WV tomorrow. Will be a tough one.

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team’s 10-year journey: St. John’s Announces Its Arrival Noisily 

“A couple of years ago, when we were first on the scene nationally, it was a different role for us to fill,” said Barnes Arico, whose 170 wins are more than any other coach in program history. “But these kids have been there. They know what it takes to be successful. They’re not afraid of it. I think winning at UConn showed they’re fearless.”

Seems Kevin Armstrong was on point with his Times’ piece two year’s ago: Coach’s Career Risk Keeps Paying Off at St. John’s

A self-made coach who has had head jobs in Divisions I, II and III, Barnes Arico, 39, has St. John’s off to a 16-3 start going into Wednesday’s game at Syracuse. In her eighth season, she has refashioned the Red Storm from a winless outfit against Big East opponents to a trendy program attracting the nation’s No. 11 recruiting class according to HoopGurlz.com.

“We had a lot of parties in the office last year,” Barnes Arico said of the signings, which were highlighted by Shenneika Smith, a spindly guard from St. Michael Academy in Manhattan.

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From her chat:

kevin (macon ga): In the last week, 10 ranked teams have lost to unranked opponents. Is parity a reality?

Mechelle Voepel: I asked Geno Auriemma about this Monday. He said that parity is kind of like global warming: Not everybody believes in it or always sees the evidence, but it really is there. Now … for those folks who don’t believe in global warming, I guess I can’t convince them that either thing really exists. :) I actually think “parity” to a degree has been around a long time. It’s just taking a while for it to reach the very top with any consistency. I do think weeks like this past one are good evidence of progress. And, yes, I believe in global warming.

After yesterday’s events, she blogs: You can wake up, St. John’s. It wasn’t a dream

Opposing coaches watch film, do the scout, and run their players through practice before facing UConn, just like going against any other team. Except it’s not. You wonder how many coaches – for instance, one of a program that had lost its last 27 in a row to the Huskies – could truly keep 100 percent faith that this preparation really mattered.

Yet that’s what being a coach is: Believing you always prepare to win because that possibility always exists. Even if you are about the only one on Earth who believes it.

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Huge, huge, HUGE win for a St. John’s team that is finally healthy.

They go in to Storrs on Senior Night, with a 99-game home winning streak on the line, take UConn’s best shot early, then nail shot after shot, keeping their cool, flustering the Huskies until… tada! It looks like UConn’s going to squeeze out the 2pt win courtesy of their defense BUT, St John’s has the ball in their hands and, with 8 seconds left, Shenneika Smith nails the three-pointer: Red Storm 57, UConn 56. (Anyone remember a certain Aussie named Jessica Foley did something similar?)

What a delightful shot (there was?) of the St. John’s kids on the front page of ESPN. Doesn’t it seems like we’ve seen a lot of shots like that this season? How cool!

The Penguins of Youngstown tried to pull of a similar upset of Green Bay — had’em down 5 with about a minute left in the game…. then poof! It was tied. And then it was overtime, and then it was an opportunity missed. This time it was Ritchie to the Rescue.

Baylor, too, suffered from the Feb. blahs and Texas Tech almost took advantage. Didn’t manage to complete the deal, but you gotta believe all those fans in Waco were reaching for the Tums as BG struggled (yes, she got a double-double, but was 5-14), Simms too. Fortunately, there was enough Destiny to go around. Bears 56, Raiders 51, Baylor Big 12 champeens.

In a match up initials, SIUE (10-4, OVC) took down EIU (12-2), 59-54.

Bowling Green has clinched a share of the Division and, yes, coach Curt is back.

Middle Tennessee State, 14-0 (Sun Belt). (Oh, and don’t mess with coach Insell.)

Wow — was there something in the air tonight? Liberty (12-2, Big South) can’t escape Winthrop (8-5), and goes down in Flames: 71-69.

Yes, clearly there was: BU earned its first conference loss against Albany, 48-41. (I know that Boston stinks at supporting women’s sports — but, jeez, you think the Globe or Herald would notice the team.)

Dang, did I jinx’em? San Diego goes down to BYU, 64-50.

Yup, I jinxed’em: La Tech got hammered by Hawai’i, 61-49.

It’s just all bad deep in the heart of Texas: Longhorns lose to Kansas State by 20. Is Gail’s seat so hot that she has to get out of the pan and find a different fire?

Wowza — West Virginia had no-mentum, as DePaul exploded for 53 in the second (and to rally from 14 down) to snare the win, 77-63. Looking at their records (not RPI and such), this match up is a perfect example of how hard it is to figure out the rankings. The Mountaineers have a huge win (ND) and a record of 19-7 (9-4) while the Blue Demons are 20-7 (8-5). And guess who’s ranked #20?

That’s Toledo at 11-2 in the MAAC. Again, this is without their best player.

Stanford enjoyed making soup out of the Ducks, 81-46, clinching their “first” Pac-12 title. N.O. had a double-double in 23 minutes. C.O was one rebound away from having one in 27 minutes. Must be discouraging for coach Paul — earlier in the season, Oregon, at Maples, kept it within 23.

Cal got a fight from Oregon State, but prevailed 75-68. So, what’s Rueck’s rank in the Pac-12 COY race? And when do Cal and Stanford play again?

In the Summit, Oral Roberts (12-4) had to go to overtime to take down the Mastodons (5-10). Congrats to junior Kevi Luper, who became ORU’s career scoring leader (2193+) and steal(er?) (374 and counting).

American U took care of business against the Black Knights of Army, and now are 12-0 in the Patriot League. And League champeens. (Why are they a League and not a Conference?)

Not to be outdone, St. Bonaventure ran their conference record to 12-0 with their 18-pt win over Xavier.

FGCU is hitting their stride: they took down the Hatters 79-56, and now are 16-0 in the A-Sun. (And conference champeens.)

Great game in the MEAC (though not one Debbie and Beth would be cheering about): Howard (12-2) over Coppin State (10-3), 50-49.

Another good game: Davidson (15-2, Southern) took down Appalachian State (15-2), 61-54.

That sigh of relief was Missouri getting their first win in the Big 12. (And it may mean no NCAA tourney for Kansas.)

Wonder how much coach Donovan is enjoying non-WNBA life: Her Seton Hall team is now 0-13 in the Big East.

Once upon a time in 2010, IUPUI was a hot mess. So, I’m just pointing out that, with their win over South Dakota (18-7, 9-6), second year coach Austin Parkinson has them at 7-8 in the Summit.

Speaking of hot messes that are no longer hot messes: Fresno State took care of business against Utah State, and the Bulldogs are still undefeated in the WAC.

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but lost track of it.

From Katie Thomas at the New York Times (and no, you can’t blame the zebras, but you might want to call the AFLAC duck): St. John’s Women Start With 10, Finish With 4

The St. John’s women’s basketball coach, Kim Barnes Arico, called her players into a huddle late in a game last weekend. With 2 minutes 13 seconds left and the Red Storm beating Southern Mississippi by 34 points, she instructed her players not to worry about scoring — just run down the clock.

The sophomore guard Eugeneia McPherson jogged onto the court at Carnesecca Arena, then turned back to Barnes Arico in disbelief. “Coach, you know there’s only four of us,” she said.

“Yeah, I knew that,” Barnes Arico replied with a chuckle. “That’s why I called you over.”

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