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It’s basketball time!

TN/MD:

From the WaPo’s Gene Wagn: Terps see a ‘pretty even matchup’ with top-seeded Lady Vols

From the Diamondback: Women’s basketball looks forward to playing powerhouse Tennessee in Sweet 16

From the Baltimore Sun: After ‘limping’ to Sweet 16 in 2013, Terps women now healthy enough to charge ahead

The AP has: Lady Vols’ Simmons eyes elusive Final Four berth

Dan Fleser adds: Lady Vols hit the NCAA road as experienced travelers

While the Daily Beacon writes: ‘Battle-tested’ Lady Vols look to advance against Maryland

LSU/LOU:

From the AP: Seventh-seeded LSU faces No. 3 seed Louisville

Louisville knows that LSU will be a different team than the one it routed in November.

Not only do the seventh-seeded Tigers (21-12) enter Sunday’s regional semifinal confident following their second-round upset of No. 2 seed West Virginia, they’re unfazed by losing Jeanne Kenney and Raigyne Moncrief to injury in each of their NCAA tournament victories.

Louisville coach Jeff Walz quickly notes how LSU has overcome that adversity, an important fact he hopes his third-seeded Cardinals (32-4) remember because the Lady Tigers are hungry to prove they can play through their obstacles.

Times-Picayune: LSU women’s basketball draws on its past NCAA Tournament experience against Louisville

From the Monroe Star: LSU women limp to Louisville as we hear that a Concussion ends Jeanne Kenney’s career at LSU

From the Courier-Journal: Louisville coach Walz: Early win over LSU means nothing

Oh, and no surprise, a Big crowd is expected

PSU/STAN

From Walt Moody at the Centre Daily Times: Lady Lions take on Stanford in NCAA regional semifinal

To look at the numbers, the task would seem tall for the Penn State women’s — like Mount Everest tall.

Beating Stanford on its home court in the NCAA Tournament rarely happens.

The Pittsburg-Post Gazette’s Mark Dent writes: Familiar situation yet again for Penn State women

 

The AP’s Jane McCauley notes: Stanford’s VanDerveer offers tips to Penn State

For each of the past two summers, Penn State coach Coquese Washington has visited Tara VanDerveer at the Stanford coach’s New York home to talk basketball and, specifically, gather tips on the triangle offense.

“It’s almost like going to graduate school of coaching in six hours,” Washington said with a smile.

Rick Eymer from Palo Alto Online writes: Stanford, Penn State prepare for their Sweet 16 meeting

No surprise, Chiney is Excited to Be Back at Stanford

From Eliot Allmond: Stanford freshman Thompson hits the court running

A year ago, guard Lili Thompson was filling out NCAA brackets and watching games on television like many women’s basketball fans.

Sunday, Stanford is counting on the freshman when the second-seeded Cardinal (31-3) faces No. 3 Penn State in the Sweet 16 at Maples Pavilion.

“It’s kind of surreal,” Thompson said Saturday.

Elliot also notes, it’s a Bittersweet 16 for Stanford women: Ogwumike era winding down

With Ogwumike expected to follow her sister as a No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft next month, Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said, “Don’t worry about Chiney. Worry about us.”

Chiney, a 6-foot-4-inch forward with a personality as big as her game, will leave atop Stanford’s Mt. Rushmore of women’s basketball as the Pac-12 Conference’s career-scoring and -rebounding leader. With 2,673 points and 1,532 rebounds, and counting, she passed former Stanford stars Candice Wiggins and Kayla Pedersen in those categories, respectively.

Marcus Thompson II writes: 

For a program that’s been to five of the last six Final Fours, there’s a sense of urgency present among the Stanford women.

Star forward Chiney Ogwumike is closing her stellar career. And unlike in past years, the Cardinal doesn’t have a clear candidate to carry the torch for the storied program. The string of elite players Stanford has enjoyed looks to be on the brink of disruption.

So might Stanford’s tradition of dominance.

UNC/USC

Yup, Gamecocks Take on North Carolina Tar Heels in Sweet 16

Since UNC handed South Carolina its first loss early in the season, both teams have improved. The Gamecocks have gelled offensively after making an increased commitment to taking advantage of the athleticism in the post provided by Aleighsa Welch, Alaina Coates, and Elem Ibiam. The Tar Heels, like many young teams, have begun showing flashes of greatness late in the season, although the ugly first half against Tennessee-Martin suggests they still have streaks of bad basketball in them.

Tara’s not just mentoring Co. Writes Ann Killion at the SF Gate: VanDerveer passed on coaching’s golden rules to Staley

The Stanford women’s basketball team is back in the familiar comfort of Maples Pavilion. But one thing about this postseason isn’t so comfortable: The Cardinal are not the top seed in their own regional.

That distinction belongs to South Carolina, which has the first No. 1 seed in the history of its program. If the top two seeds meet in the regional final Tuesday night, it will be a matchup of old friends. Of mentor and protege.

Grace Raynor at the Daily Tar Heel: UNC women’s basketball team will face South Carolina in California

It hurts, North Carolina forward Xylina McDaniel said.

To see the emotion on her face, to feel the hurt in the undertones of her voice when she speaks, to know that after months of leukemia treatments and weeks in the hospital, Sylvia Hatchell is so close — yet still so far away.

With each day that passes, with each game that is played with Hatchell still sidelined, the only thing the North Carolina women’s basketball team has known to do is play in her honor. To hope — and to keep winning.

Speaking of coach, from Mike Potter at the Charlotte Observer: UNC women’s coach Sylvia Hatchell gives Tar Heels Final Four motivation

Ryan Wood says USC is ready for Payback against UNC

Michelle Smith writes: Carolinas are ready to battle it out

The Gamecocks now find themselves in a position to alter their own world in an impactful way, coming into the Stanford Regional as a No. 1 seed with a chance to earn a trip to the NCAA Final Four for the first time in school history.

So the question is, can the Gamecocks tap into their mantra of change on the court as well and defeat fourth-seeded North Carolina Sunday to advance to their first regional final?

And, yes, the Buzzing Tar Heels rely on DeShields in Sweet 16 round and USC knows Stopping UNC rookie DeShields a tough task

“You can take away something but then I’m pretty well-rounded,” DeShields said. “I feel like once you take one thing, I’ll just go do something else. If you put a short guard on me, a quick guard, then I’ll just go post up. If you put a long wing on me, and I’ll go by them.

“You know, certain players are just going to do what they do. You can only hope to contain them – and I’m blessed to have people say that about me.”

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ESPN has your region breakdown:

Mechelle has 10 first-round storylines to follow

The women’s version of March Madness tips off at 11 a.m. ET Saturday at 16 sites around the country, with early rounds concluding Monday and Tuesday. Here are 10 things to look for/ponder/debate during the opening steps of the Big Dance:

1. Leagues of legends?

 Who said this: “I think we have the toughest conference in the country. We beat each other up. On any given night, anybody can win. You have to bring your A-game.”

Answer: Almost every coach, although some do add the qualifier “one of the toughest conferences” because they know that saying the toughest is over the top.

UConn’s Geno Auriemma of the new American (“We have no real geographic link, but we’re all in the United States!”) Athletic Conference isn’t going to say this about that amalgamation of orphans, castoffs, left-behinds and biding-their-times. But he doesn’t need to. He can just say, We got Breanna, and you don’t. (Hmmm … rings a bell, doesn’t it?)

So which league really was the toughest to play in this season? Hah, as if there could be a consensus on that. But the conferences that received the most NCAA bids were the SEC and ACC, with eight each. We’ll see how many live on to the Sweet 16.

She’s also thinking the Vols have jelled at the right time.

The NCAA selection committee has gone away from making the previous 10 games of a team’s season such a huge priority in regard to tournament selection/placement. That used to be something that was consistently brought up as being very important. Now, supposedly, it’s just another factor to consider, but the whole “body of work” thing is bigger.

Still, this season, it seems clear that Tennessee’s No. 1 seed was secured by the Lady Vols winning the SEC tournament. And if you are going to focus on the “last 10,” that stretch looks quite good for the Lady Vols.

Yes, I’m sure the Lady Vols are eager to end their Final Four drought (even without Massengale for the first two games), but did you know that they’re putting a 52-game streak on line vs Northwestern State?

It’s a daydream savored by anyone who ever spent so much as an afternoon with a basketball in the driveway. The imaginary clock ticks down and the phantom crowd is on its feet. The game is on the line, the ball is in your hands.

It is your chance to be the hero. You survey the options — and pass the ball to an open teammate for the game-winning assist.

Wait, what?

Interesting: Duke’s depleted lineup, turnover problems give Winthrop hope

And in the “Who would?” department: Duke coach unhappy team in same region with UConn

DePaul women’s head coach Doug Bruno wasn’t nearly as excited as his players after winning the Big East tournament.  Bruno, who is in his 28th year as DePaul’s head coach, said he coaches solely for the NCAA tournament.

The LSU Reveille sounds the call:

LSU does not have another chance to get back on track.

The Lady Tigers have no more media sessions to talk about what they can do to get out of their slump. The only thing left to do is act on their words.

“It’s a time for my team to actually make history or make something happen,” said freshman guard Raigyne Moncrief. “Hopefully we can just pull together and get wins.”

The Bulldog Blitz unpicks Fresno State’s strategy: 

Within minutes of learning who they would play in the Women’s NCAA Tournament, a few Fresno State players anxiously searched their cellphones for statistics and video clips of the Nebraska basketball team.

The Bulldogs received a more detailed breakdown of the Cornhuskers the following day after the coaching staff assembled a video scouting report — with two agendas in mind:

For each clip that coach Raegan Pebley showed of Nebraska excelling, she also showed one of the 13th-ranked Cornhuskers getting exposed. 

No worries: Husker Laudermill is ready to spark Nebraska. Oh, and have you Met the Nebraska women’s basketball starting five

While the Cal women begin tournament in shadow of last season’s team, they are feeling confident as they enter NCAA Tournament play against the Fordham Rams, when we’ll see if the Boyd-Rooney Matchup deserved to be The Talk of Friday’s Media Day

As Akron women’s basketball rides dynamic duo into Mackey Arena to face Purdue, the Boilermakers defense might be the key in NCAA tourney

If the UTC women want better tourney results, they’re going to have to prepare for Syracuse’s zone defense. And 10 other things.

Florida State will look to stop ISU’s Christofferson from extending career at Hilton

Sure, Taylor Greenfield might be the only Stanford player happy about traveling 1,800 miles to the middle of Iowa to open the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, but the Coyotes have no issue with trying to make her and her teammates cranky.

Oh, yeah, USC, Northridge women are living the dream – but Trojans will face St. John’s

As the long wait is finished and Baylor prepares to play the NCAA opener without suspended Mulkey, the Hilltoppers are up to the challenge.

“We’re excited,” WKU sophomore guard Micah Jones said. “They’ve had a lot of success over the past few years, and that’s what we’re trying to get back to with our program. It’s a great opportunity for us to come here and play Baylor.”

Brandon Gurney from the Deseret news says the Cougars feel good about their matchup with the Wolfpack

We match up well and their team is very similar to ours,” observed BYU coach Jeff Judkins. “The way they play and how they do it (is similar).”

The starkest similarity involves the starting centers. BYU features 6-foot-7 senior Jen Hamson while North Carolina presents 6-foot-5 senior Markeisha Gatling. Both players lead their teams from the post, and Judkins believes whoever wins that specific matchup will go a long way in determining the outcome.

News from the WNIT:

Ducks dominate Pacific Tigers 90-63 in WNIT opener

Rutgers women’s basketball defeats Delaware in WNIT

If the Rutgers women’s basketball team is trying to use the WNIT as a platform to show it was worthy of receiving a NCAA Tournament berth, it will have to wait until at least the second round to begin proving its case.

Women’s Basketball Pulls Out Last-Second WNIT Victory

With seven seconds left on the clock and Harvard up by two, Iona guard Aleesha Powell drove to the basket for a hard layup, drawing the foul on captain Christine Clark and making the basket for the three-point play. Powell, an 84.9 percent free-throw shooter, completed the and-one.

One-point Gaels lead, 6.7 seconds on the clock.

But Clark was not about to let her season—and Harvard career—end with that.

Other games:

Colorado 78, TCU 71
Montana 90, Washington State 78
Minnesota 62, Green Bay 60
Villanova 74, Quinnipiac 55
George Washington 86, East Carolina 68

Michigan 86, Stony Brook 48
Duquesne 62, Mount St. Mary’s 52
St. Bonaventure 81, Charlotte 62
South Florida 56, North Carolina A&T 50
Saint Mary’s 75, CSU Bakersfield 68
UTEP 74, Arkansas State 64
Washington 67, Hawaii 50

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Vol fans are hoping the next game is out of state.

Mechelle says “It’s time for Tennessee to just play

If there’s any team that needs to just play this season — and not feel the pressure to play for something — it’s Tennessee.

Sure, the Women’s Final Four will be in Nashville, Tenn., three hours west of Tennessee’s campus in Knoxville. And by the time the national semifinals tip off in Bridgestone Arena on April 6, 2014, it will have been six years since Tennessee last played in the final games of the season. The Candace Parker-led squad brought Tennessee its eighth national championship in April 2008.

Ever since, it’s fair to say the subsequent Lady Vols teams felt a sometimes-debilitating weight of having something to prove, or the need to honor their legendary coach, or the responsibility to support their new coach … or all of the above.

Turtle fans are hoping that their next game doesn’t involve horns (and that Thomas becomes visible).

Oklahoma is hoping their next game doesn’t involve hats.

Penn State is hoping Maggie stays hot.

Cynthia Cooper got her first win of her USC coaching career.

Susie McConnell-Serio got the first win of her Pitt coaching career.

Delaware got its first victory of its post-EDD career.

Fordham was unimpressed with San Francisco.

Iona took down Arizona in OT.

It took St. John’s OT to survive Sacred Heart.

Yes, they lost to AR-Pine Bluff, but every time I see the name Philander Smith, I think of Missouri Arledge (Morris), the first black AAU All American. (And assistant principal

Illinois learned they should beware of Bradley.

Kristy Curry and Alabama learned they should beware of the Mocs.

Texas Southern shows it’s still strong, taking down Tulsa.

Pepperdine surged in the second half to defeat Seattle U.

Injury plagued UCLA falls to #17 Nebraska.

Bowling Green was unfazed by Michigan.

No surprise, Mechelle says Duke remains favorite in ACC as the Blue Devils’ Gray is ready to move on from injury

From Fagan: DePaul takes center stage in Big East

The Big East still exists, except it looks nothing like the Big East we remember.

Gone are the top four teams — Connecticut, Notre Dame, Louisville and Syracuse — from last season’s final standings. Gone are many of the marquee names that have made Big East women’s basketball arguably the most competitive league in the country over the past decade, including three of last season’s Final Four teams. A number of the old stalwarts (the Catholic 7) remain, but the 2013-14 season will introduce to the country a very different league as Xavier, Creighton and Butler join the fray and try to help keep the league on the map.

Lordy, I hate the loss of the (real) Big East: Huskies heavy favorite in American.

Graham adds: Schimmel back for final act – Equal parts skillful and impetuous, senior is game’s most fascinating character. Fagan offers The five faces of Shoni Schimmel

Previewing the Big 12: Youth will dominate; can OU, too?

Don’t be alarmed if you find yourself asking “Who is that?” while watching games involving Big 12 teams this year. There are a lot of new or unfamiliar faces, with a ton of freshmen and little-known reserves who will try to take more prominent roles.

We’ll start with the obvious: Baylor lost four starters — Brittney Griner, Kimetria Hayden, Jordan Madden and Brooklyn Pope — plus the equivalent of a starter in Destiny Williams. There’s no way to sugarcoat it: They had a nightmare ending to their Baylor careers, with an upset loss to Louisville in the Sweet 16.

That ended Baylor’s attempt to repeat its national championship, and it turned a page on one of the most successful chapters of any Big 12 women’s basketball program.

Charlie says Huskers should set pace in Big Ten, the Lady Vols, Wildcats on top in SEC. Injuries aside, Michelle writes League closing gap with Stanford.

When espnW offered up their  top five at each position, I was intrigued that KML was not #1. Time will tell if I’m sellin’ smoke.

Preseason POY? Rebecca says Nerd City. Mechelle says Gumby. (Or, better, this.)

Cranky about all the conference shifts? Next time you’re reading your favorite sports message board, consider this: 

So it turns out that person you don’t actually know using an alias on that message board may not be who you thought they were. It could just be somebody from a public relations firm who is being paid to try to change your opinion.

That’s what Maryland tried to do following its move to the Big Ten. As you’d expect, a lot of Maryland fans weren’t happy that the school was leaving the ACC for the Big Ten, and they did what any logical fan would do: they turned to the internet to voice their displeasure.

And according to the emails the Baltimore Sun got its hands on, Maryland hired a public relations form to try to stem the tide of negativity.

So, ya wanna learn more about basketball? This year’s “All Access” is taking on the Triangle for 2013-14: Season-long series will focus on Triangle region’s Blue Devils, Tar Heels, Wolfpack

Nerd City lives…on the football field.

As an educator who uses theatre to address social issues, I’m following the Miami Martin/Incognito story with interest. Thanks to Nate for pointing this out: Man Up –Declaring a war on warrior culture in the wake of the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal

I am here to start a fight, because I’m a man and that’s how I solve problems. I’m not here to help you. I am here to fucking hurt you. That’s what I’ve learned in my years as an NFL fan. You have an issue with somebody? You see somebody being stupid? You don’t look the other way. You don’t back down. You strap on your man boots and you shove it through their teeth.

Let me tell you how I know this. I know it because the NFL told me. Take the Dolphins. They suck, but they’re still in the NFL. I’m telling it like it is; that’s what men do.

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Summitt Retains Her Essence but Lets Go of the Reins

Inevitably, there have been awkward moments. Yet the Lady Vols (27-8) have reached an accustomed position, playing in a regional final here Monday against top-seeded Baylor (37-0), seeking a chance to play for a ninth national championship in what could be Summitt’s final season as the coach.

“No team has had to deal with something like this,” Alicia Manning, a senior guard, said. “I think at first, it was a little shaky. Everyone was trying to find their role without overstepping people’s boundaries. With anything, it takes time. They’ve developed a lot of chemistry. Things are rolling really well right now.”

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So, with these games on Sunday featuring Griner & Co. and coach Summitt and crew, don’t you have a sudden urge to come to New York on December 11th and join me and my crew of 50 women’s basketball fans to watch the Maggie Dixon Classic?

Tickets for the Maggie Dixon Classic start at $20.00 and go on sale Friday, October 7th at noon. They can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden box office, all Ticketmaster locations and online at www.thegarden.com.

The Dixon family and Madison Square Garden will honor Lady Vols’ head coach Pat Summitt with the Maggie Dixon Courage Award. Summitt recently announced that she was diagnosed with early onset dementia. Distributed annually, the award is presented to an individual who exhibits courage in the face of adversity and continue to exemplify Maggie’s mantra of never allowing adversity to get in the way of achieving a dream.

Of course you do!

I’ve got an extra pair ($35, Section 11) if you can handle the pressure of courtside and being part of the loudest section in the Garden. Just drop me a line: womenshoopsblog @ gmail.com. (Oh, and if you go through Ticketmaster-esque site or the Garden, ignore the fact that the Baylor game isn’t mentioned or that the Classic isn’t a “featured” event.)

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From the WBCA:

Shootaround with Beth & Debbie”

Be sure to tune in and listen to today’s Shootaround with Beth and Debbie podcast as they discuss the NCAA Divison I Women’s Basketball Championship tournament bracket. Joining the Selection Show podcast this week are head coaches Pat Summitt (University of Tennessee), Curt Miller (Bowling Green State University), Jim Foster (The Ohio State University), Kevin McGuff (Xavier University), Gail Goestenkors (University of Texas) and Charli Turner-Thorne (Arizona State University). These six schools were among 64 that received word last night they will be playing in the NCAA Tournament. First round action on will begin March 19.

For those of you who will join us this year in Indianapolis, Ind., for the WBCA National Convention, held in conjunction with the NCAA® Women’s Final Four® please make sure to stop by the Werner Ladder presents Shootaround with Beth and Debbie live show on Friday, April  at 9:30 p.m. ET at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown Ballroom Salons 6-10.

Please remember story ideas, questions and comments are always welcome at shootaround@wbca.org.

I’m hitting this year’s Final Four early so I can catch the live show. Now all I need is a ticket to the games….

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#5

from SlamOnline: Candace Parker

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