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this: Women as sports analysts? Yes, we can

Years ago, when I was a young, single gal in Los Angeles, I was set up on a blind date. I was promised this guy would be perfect for me — an Ivy League graduate, tall, funny, ambitious and into sports. Less than five minutes into the date, upon hearing I was an associate producer for a national nightly highlight show, he blurted out, “You’re probably going to hate me for saying this, but I can’t stand hearing women talk about football.”

I bit my tongue, hoping somehow he’d save himself.

“I mean, even if a woman does know what she’s talking about when it comes to football, which is rare, I still can’t stand hearing a female voice talk about it.”

Needless to say, there was no second date.

And so, I encourage you to make an effort to listen to Michelle & Mechelle and Debbie & Beth (easier when ESPN updates the link to their LATEST blog) or David & Sundry Folks. All have “cred” — even if you don’t like what they say. And they’re talking about our game because, as somebody name Helen wrote in her article: Media Coverage and the Alternatives: Paper, Pods, Streams, and Blogs

Even as we track the steady growth in popularity of women’s basketball, it’s not unusual for coaches, players and fans to feel that media coverage has not kept pace.

“Progress doesn’t necessarily move on a linear line in terms of coverage of sports,” explained Mechelle Voepel, sportswriter for the Kansas City Star and a regular contributor to ESPN.com. “It really depends on the personalities that are involved at a newspaper and the commitment of that newspaper to diversify its coverage. Also, it can follow an economic cycle. And all those things can change over time. For instance, you could have a newspaper that ten years ago might have been doing a much better job of women’s basketball than it is doing now, just because of one of those factors.”

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PODS ‘R US
Podcasts – recorded audio that can be accessed on-demand through an online link or downloaded onto a portable media player – have become an increasingly affordable way to offer access to post-game news conferences or one-on-one interviews with players and coaches. “Shootaround with Beth and Debbie,” is a slightly more ambitious project. Developed in collaboration with the WBCA and hosts Beth Mowins and Debbie Antonelli, it’s the first weekly podcast offering in-depth coverage of women’s basketball.

“You can hear ten different opinions from ten different guys on the national scene with radio shows and T.V. shows,” observed Mowins, “and we thought there was a need for discussion around the country [about women’s basketball] and nobody’s doing it. Debbie [Antonelli] and I like talking about basketball and so we said, let’s try this.”

Self-admitted technical neophytes, the pair first sought advice from the television and radio people they’d worked with concerning the necessary software and hardware. Now, months later, they’re negotiating the logistics of mixers, time zones and conference calls to produce a half-hour show that features interviews, opinions, and the occasional dose of intriguing stats. “It’s all fallen into place and now it’s a matter of being as creative as we can,” said Mowins. “We’re starting to get more emails from people – folks who know a good story in college basketball or are making suggestions. We’re getting some reaction emails, too: ‘Hey, you said this and I agree or I disagree.’ Now the challenge is trying to build this is — how do you market this, who’s our audience.”

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some stuff to prep for the weekend (please excuse the clashing fonts):

Auburn: Fortner’s farewell

Cal Berkeley: Cal women having great year in Stanford’s shadow

Cal State Northridge: Matadors hit road one last time to protect top spot

Cincinnati: UC stays sharp as tourney nears

Colorado: CU Buffs face monumental task vs. No. 2 Stanford Cardinal (Michelle Smith will be live blogging from Maples: http://www.leftcoasthoops.com.)

Florida: Aragones’ journey one of love, loss and perseverance

Kansas: With loss comes redemption

Michigan State: Experiences shape Johnson’s outlook on basketball, life and Alton a true team player

Nebraska: Spartans’ muscle to test Huskers

Oregon State: Marchbanks leaves it all on the court

Stanford: Card looks to keep Maples streak alive against Colorado

Tennessee: Dean Lockwood: Lady Vols still seeking solution to inconsistencies

espnW’s Hoops Across America lands in Houghton, Michigan, where “I ain’t afraid of no snow” is a catch phrase because the hoops team brings warm glow to Michigan Tech

While many schools go to great pains to sell themselves to any student, from any place, Michigan Tech clearly is sticking to the snow-covered road less traveled.

The truth is, this place is not for everyone, due to the academic rigors, relative isolation, and frigid cruelty and length of its Upper Peninsula winters. Houghton, a town of 7,700 tucked into the Keweenaw Peninsula, and its neighboring town, Hancock, population 4,600, sit centered in the slender pinkie finger of rolling hills and deep woods that juts into the icy, winter-black waters of Lake Superior. There are no shopping malls or 24-screen cineplexes, no giant warehouse clubs where you can buy a 3-gallon container of laundry detergent. Getting to the state’s biggest city, Detroit, means a 10-hour drive — if you’re lucky enough to evade a snow or ice storm this time of year.

(Oh, and a literature reference clarification: we know that “The road less traveled” wasn’t “less traveled,” right?)

Via Sue via Cal State Northridge assistant media relations director Geoff Herberg: “Biggest turnarounds in women’s basketball this year.” Nice to see some names we’ve been noticing make an appearance on the list, in particular SDS, North Tx, UTEP, Towson, Florida Atlantic, ‘nati, SIEU, Howard, and clearly the one we should have paid attention to: Cal State – Northridge. Congrats to second year coach Jason Flowers and his +12 improvement.

Oh, and welcome to the real world of sports journalism, espnW, (Weekend warriors no match for elite women) and why I don’t allow comments on my blog. Comments are, as a wise man said, PART of the article (or post) and if you don’t monitor it, it’s amazing how quickly the “conversation” veers off into something you didn’t intend – though it is very revealing about general attitudes and ignorance towards women’s athletics.

It’s likely that the majority of sports fans could care less about female athletes — but it is amazing how passionate and vocal the “anti” female athletes contingent is. Gosh, I wonder why that is so….? Actually, I don’t wonder, but this is not the place to get into a deep discussion about ego and self worth and the fear of being challenged in the work place and on the sports field.

BTW, Adena, I think your seething is misplaced and, perhaps, you don’t understand sarcasm and/or self-deprecating humor.

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join Debbie and Beth for a women’s basketball roundtable.

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Makeover has Cardinal looking younger

This season, espnW will spend time with the Stanford Cardinal and their Hall of Fame head coach, getting behind-the-scenes access to the players. Come to espnW every Friday throughout the season to get to know the Cardinal and how they live their lives off and on the court, from the start of practice to the last game of the season in March and, perhaps, into April.

(And yes, I KNOW it’s Cardinal like cardinal, not a cardinal, but hey, I couldn’t resist)

(And I’m still not sure what the raison d’etre is for espnW. I mean, why isn’t Michelle simply writing for ESPN Women’s basketball?)

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Like the Liberty, Their Home in Newark Is a Work in Progress.

Average attendance after the Liberty’s first nine home games, which included six victories, was 7,079, a drop of 28 percent from the 9,899 average for the first nine games at the Garden last season.

“That’s 14 years of hard work; that’s not a snap the fingers and 11,000-plus show up,” O’Neil said. “So I’m kind of happy where we are. I think you’ll see some growth over the next couple of years.”

Interesting that there’s no real discussion about those the Liberty left behind.

From Staten Island Live: Nicky Anosike making another transition in her WNBA career

Nicky Anosike has learned over time that a basketball venue such as a near-empty Prudential Center on a weekday night in July doesn’t give off quite the same sizzle as an NCAA championship game in front of 21,655 screaming fans, most of them draped in some variation of University of Tennessee Orange.

The Island native experienced the best of the women’s game, which is still the big-time college match-ups, as a cornerstone player for two of Pat Summitt’s national title teams.

But that was 2007 and ‘08.

Jayda’s got her WNBA power rankings and a Q&A with new 7-dayer Allie Quigley.

Yahoo has a SASS/Seattle preview.

And yup, the loss in CT was frustrating, but Michelle Smith writes that Angel McCoughtry and Atlanta are dreaming big again.

Over at the Alien, Richard says Two out of three ain’t bad

We may have only recently passed the halfway point, but the brevity of the WNBA season means that you can already feel the intensity ratcheting up. At least in a lot of games you can. Sunday started out with the first meeting this season between the top two in the Western Conference, a game which inevitably carried a little extra spice as the teams fought it out to be top dog. The day continued with a hard-fought Eastern Conference battle played with the physicality and aggression of a playoff game. And then it closed out with a cross-conference matchup where one team quit after about five minutes. We’ll get to that one later. First let’s deal with the teams who deserve to be talked about.

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of basketball. Tonight’s crew is going to have to pull out the stop to match’em. Mechelle sizes up the games.

Every team except Green Bay that will be playing in the second round of the women’s NCAA tournament Tuesday night has previously been to the Sweet 16. Even though for some of them, it has been a long time.

That includes No. 3 seed Miami, which faces sixth-seeded Oklahoma on Tuesday for a trip to the Dayton Regional semifinals.

About last night:

The Stomp:

#1 Stanford was pushed in the first, but pulled away in the second behind their sister act to take down the #9 Red Storm, 75-49. Writes Michelle Smith:

Connecticut. Tennessee. Duke. Texas. DePaul. Gonzaga. UCLA. Xavier. Rutgers.

All have been to Maples Pavilion in the last four years. None of them have won.

Now add St. John’s to that list.

The Stanford seniors bade farewell to their beloved home court Monday night in impressive style, as the top-seeded Cardinal overcame an early eight-point deficit to blow past ninth-seeded Red Storm, 75-49.

So it’s time for the final tally: 63-0. Kayla Pedersen and Jeanette Pohlen walked off the floor for the last time in their careers never having experienced the disappointment of a home-court loss.

The Semi-Stomp:

#2 Notre Dame took a lead into the half and maintained it through the second half to defeat the #10 Owls, 77-64.

Notre Dame had the impressive NCAA tourney resume.With a dominating inside game Monday night, the Fighting Irish just padded it some more.Their 77-64 victory over Temple advanced the Irish to the regional semifinals for the ninth time, and second in a row.It wasn’t exactly easy as Temple refused to quit, pulling within five points early in the second half and within nine late thanks to a defense that forced 19 turnovers. But when they needed a play, the Irish got it.

Almost a stumble:

It’s not as if #1 Tennessee was totally out of sorts as much as it was that #8 Marquette simply would not stop. Writes Mechelle:

…for a while, it looked like the Golden Eagles just might be able to pull what would have been one of the bigger upsets ever in the women’s NCAA tournament. Not because Marquette isn’t a strong team; the Golden Eagles proved they were. But because Tennessee has been impossible to beat at home in Thompson-Boling Arena in NCAA tournament games.

That record remained intact, but not until after the Orange Nation probably needed to munch on a Tums or two.

It was a tale of halves: the first one went to #6 Penn State, the second to #3 DePaul, as the Blue Demons survived, 75-73. PA native Keisha Hampton’s free throws were the difference. Writes Graham:

The NCAA tournament isn’t sentimental. It’s thrilling precisely because it’s ruthless, an unfeeling entity that exists not to reward the valiant or the deserving but simply the team that scores more points.

If you want a happy ending, you have to go out and write it yourself. And DePaul junior Keisha Hampton wrote one for her seniors Monday night.

#2 Duke was down, then up, then survived as Marist gave’em all they could handle, even after losing their best player to an ankle injury. From DWHoops.com:

Incredibly, Marist’s resolve hardened even further when their star guard Erica Allenspach when down with an injury and did not return. The Red Foxes pushed the lead to 11 on a couple of occasions and still led by 6 late in the game, but Chelsea “The Closer” Gray led the late charge, along with key baskets from Jasmine & Krystal Thomas. The mantra from the players after the game was simply “Survive and advance”. Duke played poorly for much of the game but their experience, toughness and resolve allowed them to ultimately prevail.

#5 Georgia Tech had a slim halftime lead over #4 Ohio State, but Lavender said, “Nope.” (Um, AP editor? How do you let someone get away with a sentence like this: “MaChelle Joseph said when Lavender got untracked, the game shifted.”

“She is the best post player in the country, and one of the top three players,” Joseph said. “She was aggressive in the second half. In the first half, she was a little passive, setting picks outside away from the basket. But then they started getting the ball to her on the block.”

The Trip Ups

#5 North Carolina was up on #4 Kentucky by 10 at the half and won by 12. I don’t know that I’m surprise the Wildcats fell, but I’m slightly surprised it was the Tar Heels who took’em down.

“We just haven’t had a game like that that our team just wouldn’t go to the boards,” Mitchell said. “We just got caught standing in the middle. So we wouldn’t go rebound, jogging back, it was a real uncharacteristic game for us. That’s why I’m so disappointed I could not get the team motivated to play North Carolina.”I thought it was a very pathetic performance in transition. When you let North Carolina get out and go 3-on-1 and you’re just jogging back; lights out, you’re done. It was one of the most disappointing performances I’ve ever seen from our team here at Kentucky.”

The Bruins were up by three over the Bulldogs, but Standish and Vandersloot put down the hammer and pushed #11 Gonzaga to a 89-75 win over #3 UCLA. (Vandersloot became the first player in Division I history — men or women — to record 2,000 points and 1,000 assists in her career.) Write Mechelle:

…no one can argue that Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves has built a terrific program in Spokane, and Vandersloot has been the centerpiece. The senior guard was sensational Monday: 29 points, 17 assists, 7 rebounds, 5 steals. During the game, she scored the 2,000th point of her career. Are you watching, WNBA scouts?

And it’s not too often that a player could score 30 points and be overshadowed by her teammate, but Gonzaga’s Kayla Standish was. Not that she minded.

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during a blowout, by Michelle Smith: Thursday night Fashion Report

After absorbing the grunts and groans of my male colleagues in the press room last night, I feel compelled to put my head even further into the proverbial lion’s mouth.

Considering that last night’s Stanford-UCLA game was not close, I think it’s appropriate for a diversion.

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and Michelle Smith: Tara VanDerveer Set to Win 800th Game

In the women’s basketball cult of personality, Connecticut‘s Geno Auriemma is the yeller, stalking the sidelines. Tennessee‘s Pat Summitt comes with the icy glare of disapproval and expectation.

Stanford‘s Tara VanDerveer is the professor. Studious and detailed, reserved and competitive, VanDerveer has carved out one of the most impressive resumes in the game.

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Milton Kent: FanHouse Women’s Basketball Terrific 12

Welcome to the inaugural edition of the FanHouse Terrific 12!

Each Tuesday, FanHouse’s Michelle Smith and Milton Kent will walk you through the best of the week gone by in women’s college basketball, identifying the dozen best teams and performances, not just from the power leagues, but also from the mid-majors.

I want to know why their stuff rarely comes through my news alerts..,.. (hint, hint)

We’ll also give you a quick preview of the big games on the docket for the coming week, with an eye toward the most meaningful inter-league and non-conference contests between teams that are bound to make a splash come tournament time.

Speakin’ of Michelle, from her Left Coast Hoops blog: Candice Wiggins talks about World AIDS Day

I’ve known Candice Wiggins since she was a 17-year-old at Stanford. She has always been remarkably dignified and open about her family story and her father’s death from AIDS.

Dec. 1 is World AIDS Day and Candice talked to me yesterday with her usual honesty and passion.

She is participating in a Public Service Announcement with the NBA and the organization Greater Than AIDS. This is worth passing along.


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Tara talks Utah, UConn and other topics…

Michelle Smith and company have Cal above UCLA in their Best of the West – Power rankings for the week of Nov. 15. Wonder if that’ll change.

Speaking of Cal, are you keeping up the youngsters through the Cal Triple Threat blog?

UConn Senior Maya Moore goes back to Georgia this Sunday: This homecoming story has Moore

Maya Moore left the state of Georgia as a winner. In her final high school game on March 9, 2007, she had 29 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, and four steals to lead Collins Hills High to a 61-37 rout of South Gwinnett and the Class 5A state tournament championship.

As she came out for the final time with about 2:00 left, she received a standing ovation from a crowd of 10,000.

The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team’s senior All-American may not get as warm of reception Sunday when the top-ranked Huskies face Georgia Tech at Alexander Memorial Coliseum in Atlanta.

As a former right fullback and goalie, I like the fact that the DC BasketCases are “avidly” following the Terps run to the NCAA Field Hockey Championship game. Did you catch the NY Times article on Maryland’s Katie O’Donnell? Maryland Attacker Flashes Skill That Defies Her Size

Go Dragons! From Mel: Drexel Rallies Over Penn In Battle of West Philly

Lady Swish has Saturday’s previews and picks,

and, though the WNBA season is years away, Cheryl Coward is writing about the new sheriff in Chicago: From Russia to the Midwest, Pokey Chatman expects nothing less than success

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Michelle Smith asks

Is this the year that the Eastern Conference’s inferiority complex comes to an end in the WNBA?

Complex? What complex!

You know what Conference won the first WNBA title, dontcha?

The Eastern Conference Houston Comets.

Then you Westerners STOLE OUR CHAMPEENS! STOLE’EM I SAY!!!

*mutter, mutter, mutter…*

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