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The Albany Times Union continues to celebrate the Great Danes: How UAlbany built a women’s basketball dynasty

Coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson was the last person up the ladder after UAlbany defeated Maine 59-58 in the championship game. She cut the rest of the net off the hoop and then swung it over her head, motioning for the fans to cheer louder.

She’s the architect of a program that this week will play in the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight year, an achievement that was all but impossible to imagine when she was hired on April 19, 2010.

Coach Abe, as she’s known, arrived with a surprisingly simple blueprint: Build strong women, she often says, and you can build a winning basketball team.

But the culture change she brought and winning basketball that followed were hardly so simple. There were doubts to overcome off the court and challenges on the court. 

This is how UAlbany became a women’s basketball powerhouse.

Video: These are two SNY specials on UConn. I post them not to celebrate the Husky program, but to remind coaches and athletic directors that building a quality program takes time, thought and attention. You don’t always get to got to the Big Dance (ask Maine)… or the WNIT… or garner a winning season. But there are steps you can take…

Huskies All Access The Season 2015-16

UCONN ’95: BIRTH OF A DYNASTY


About roots: Syracuse’s 1st women’s basketball and field hockey coach Muriel Smith remembered for pioneering women’s sports

The Syracuse women’s basketball team greeted a small woman in a light-brown knitted hat and a blue SU basketball shirt standing behind the bench after a game in the Carrier Dome on Dec. 6. Each player shook her hand as she supported herself with a black cane in her left hand. They all uttered just two words: “Thank you.”

The woman was Muriel Smith, Syracuse’s first women’s basketball and field hockey head coach, who died on March 1. She was 87. Smith led the women’s basketball team to a 57-33 record from 1971-1978 and the field hockey team to a 22-16-7 record from 1972-1977. She was a gold medalist in the National Senior Games — a fierce competitor, yet still kind and gracious. She was a coach, teacher and trailblazer for women’s sports.

About the post-season: BYU men’s and women’s basketball prepare for postseason invites

More about the post-season: What a time to be alive in Middle Tennessee

There are no teams in America right now that believe in themselves more than the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee State University.

And that belief has worked wonders.

Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams, all but counted out ahead of the Conference USA Championship, proved critics wrong Saturday night in Birmingham securing a rare sweep of the conference tournament.

The men, who were battling through injuries late in the season, fought their way past skeptics and with a pair of Reggie Upshaw free throws as the Blue Raiders took their first C-USA tournament crown in school history.

Though the women closed out the season on a three-game win streak, they were also counted out by pundits when it came to bringing home a championship.

About finding out who goes where: NCAA Women’s Basketball Bracket 2016: Selection Show TV, Live Stream Schedule

About comparing the Committee’s picks v. Charlie’s picks on Dishin & Swishin 3/10/16 Podcast: Bracketologist Charlie Creme goes beyond 140-characters and

About moving from one team to another: Pac-12 Announces New Policy Dealing with Misconduct Issues of Transfer Student-Athletes

Under the new policy, student-athlete transfers who are ineligible to re-enroll at any of their previous colleges or universities will be automatically deemed ineligible to receive athletic aid from a Pac-12 university and cannot join any university team or participate in their activities. 

The transfer policy will apply only to student misconduct issues such as assault, harassment, academic fraud, and other violations of campus behavior conduct policies. It will not apply to academic performance reasons unrelated to misconduct.

Thank you: Barrier-breaker official Melanie Davis calls last SWAC Tournament

About the DIII Road to Indy, you should always check out D3Hoops:

Win Over Scranton Punches 3rd Consecutive Final Four Ticket for Women’s Basketball

Forward Melissa Baptista poured in a game high 23 points to lead the way, as Tufts held off a comeback attempt by the University of Scranton in the fourth quarter to collect a hard fought 57-48 victory in the Quarterfinals of the 2016 NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament on Saturday in the John Long Center.
 
With the victory, the Jumbos (now 27-3 on the year) advance to their third consecutive Final Four, which will be played next Saturday in Columbus, Ohio on the campus of Capital University. Scranton ends the season with a 30-1 record with the defeat.”It was a really fun game for me to be a part of and coach,” said Tufts head coach Carla Berube after the win. “Scranton brought it. When they tied the game up in the second half, I knew our team was going to have to dig deep and find ways to get stops and keep composed, and we were able to do that.”

Thomas More

Make it 31-0.

In its most closely contested game since December, the Thomas More women’s basketball team kept its unbeaten season alive and advanced to the NCAA Division III Final Four with an 88-72 victory over visiting Washington (Mo.) on Saturday.

The Saints’ average margin of victory this season is 39.3 points, but they led by just six going to the fourth quarter Saturday.

Amherst

For the first time in three years, the Amherst College women’s basketball team is back in the NCAA Division III Final Four.

Amherst earned a trip to Columbus, Ohio, Saturday following a 78-50 triumph over Rochester in an Elite Eight game at LeFrak Gymnasium.

Amherst outscored Rochester 26-10 in the third quarter to pull away.

“What an outstanding pace – I’m tired and I didn’t even play,” Amherst coach G.P. Gromacki said. “I am proud of them.”

Wartburg is in courtesy of Kailey Kladivo (who could have been competing in the Division III indoor track and field championships). This is the Knights’ first trip to the Final Four.

Division II is in the Sweet Sixteen stage.

About prepping for the W’s “Year 20.”

Countdown to the 2016 WNBA Draft: No. 4 Oregon’s Jillian Alleyne

Duncanville’s Tamika Catchings wants to end career on winning note

And, just in case you missed this, Amber Brown returns to Norfolk State:

Six weeks ago, it looked as if Norfolk State forward Amber Brown might die after suffering a diabetes-related stroke and three cardiac arrests.

On Saturday, the 20-year-old from Atlanta sat courtside at Echols Hall watching her Spartan teammates rally from 14 back only to fall four points shy against Morgan State. She snapped pictures with her iPhone, texted at a furious pace, ate a hot dog from the concession stand, giggled with her best friend and accepted handshakes, hugs and even flowers from fans who repeatedly told her how much they prayed for her during the 40-day ordeal when she was hospitalized.

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Syracuse WBB: Halfcourt Shot by Brittney Sykes Sinks St. John’s, 60-57 (video)

Mas Dunks, asked Debbie. Griner replies, Okay. Oh, and Baylor won.

Oklahoma State’s been having an up down up down season. This time the “down” was courtesy of Kansas State. The Wildcats are banding together after injuries.

Yup, the new coach has made a difference: St. Louis over Richmond.

The road up in New Hampshire has hit some roadblocks. Hartford over Hampshire.

The two top dogs in the Am. East met: The Danes’ slightly better first half was the key to their win over the Terriers.

Central Michigan moved to 5-0 in the MAC as they rolled over Ohio.

With their win over Colgate, Army is now 4-0 in the Patriot League. Navy did the Black Knights a favor by swabbing the floor with American U, 61-42.

Well, perhaps it’s not the WHB curse, but the Debbie Antonelli curse. She mentions ‘nova on the podcast, then “Voila!”, down they go. To Providence. Providence!

I’m thinking, yah, it IS Debbie’s curse, because lookee here: Fordham won again and is 4-0 in the A-10. They’ll travel to Pennsylvania to meet fellow undefeated Conference-mate Duquesne on the 27th.

Texas was down 46-12 at the half on their way to a 76-38 thumping by Kansas.

The Hilltoppers got tripped up by South Alabama, 56-46. They face their top – soon to be leaving the – Conference competition Middle Tennessee next.

Is there something in the air this season? Women’s basketball sets 3-point record in win

Lady Swish has a little somethin’ somethin’ on a surprising conference: Lookee, who’s in first place in the Big South! A chat with Longwood’s Chelsea Coward

One team sits atop the Big South — and no, it’s not Liberty for a change, and neither is it surprising Presbyterian. Instead, atop the league sits upstart Longwood, sporting a gaudy 6-1 mark in conference – every other Big South team has at least two losses – and a 9-9 record overall. We say upstart not because the Lancers are full of underclassmen — seniors Chelsea Coward (16 ppg, 9 rpg) and Crystal Smith (16.9 ppg) lead this experienced bunch — but this is the first year Longwood is in a conference.

Delle Donne, healthy or not, makes the difference. So says Graham, as Unranked Delaware still tops mid-major poll

From Mel’s blog: Mike Siroky’s SEC Report: Still Reaching for the Summit. Speaking of the SEC: Williams-Flournoy ready for her first game against Alabama, while the Lady Vols are not dwelling on past with Vanderbilt. 

Wondering who might “Got Next?” Check out Full Court’s list: 2013 McDonald’s All-American nominees announced.

Speaking of “Who’s Got Next,” Clay also offered up: The wheels are still turning in the WNBA

As the college season grinds into conference play, WNBA general managers, coaches and fans think about upgrading their rosters – and thus are contemplating the draft, free agents and possible trades.

The draft, as has been exhaustively discussed, starts with Brittney Griner (luckily she’s from Texas so the summer heat in Phoenix won’t be that hard to adjust to), moves on to Elena Delle Donne (as long as the Lyme disease is under control, she’s Chicago-bound) and pretty much finishes with Skylar Diggins (some star power lands in Tulsa).

There is more, though, and there will be surprise emergences over the next few years.

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Rocks with Wings?” (If no, check it out.)

The Lady Chieftains are looking to make some noise: Shiprock ready to make a run under new head coach Larenson Henderson.

Speaking of 2000-01, the Utes are 6-0 — the first time since their run into the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in ’01.

“We just love to play, and I think we play really good together,” junior Michelle Plouffe said of the hot start. “Our chemistry on the court and off the court is just top notch. It’s the best it’s been since I’ve been here, and it just shows out there.”

This could be an interesting game: From Jim Massie, Buckeyes gear up for speedy Tar Heels

The North Carolina women’s basketball teams always play the game at a pace that would warm the heart of a greyhound with a mechanical rabbit in its crosshairs.

So when 16th-ranked Ohio State takes the court against the No. 22 Tar Heels tonight in Carmichael Arena in Chapel Hill, N.C., surprise should have nothing to do with anything in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge game. (ESPN3)

The Huskers ain’t skeered of no turtles: NU women look to stand tall against Terps

Don’t make out Wednesday’s tilt with No. 11 Maryland to be too daunting for the Nebraska women’s basketball team.

Since coach Connie Yori’s arrival in 2002, the Huskers have beaten 25 teams in the AP Top 25 — including six in the top 10. So No. 21 Nebraska (5-1) has faced and slain giants before.

DWhoops has a preview of tonight’s Duke v. Michigan game.

The dismantling of the Big East continues: Louisville to the ACC.

Oh, yeah, dey be Flyin’: Dayton new No. 1 in mid-major poll.

MTSU’s Kortni Jones gets one last shot vs. Lady Vols, which gives Graham an opportunity to offer up this on her teammate: Ebony Rowe rules court, classroom

Few people can stop Ebony Rowe when she gets going.

On the basketball court, that reality is most definitely Middle Tennessee’s gain. The latest in a long line of undersized and overlooked All-America candidates for the Blue Raiders, Rowe is a relentless force in the post. She put up 25 points and 16 rebounds in 40 minutes in her first college game, against Big East member South Florida, three seasons ago, and has yet to ease off the throttle. The 6-foot-1 forward averaged a double-double as a freshman and again as a sophomore. And through the first five games of her junior season, wouldn’t you know it, she’s averaging 19.8 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.

For Janay Brinkley, on the other hand, it’s not such a great thing off the court. It seems the Blue Raiders teammates, roommates and best friends can’t go anywhere in the car without Rowe, a physics major who plans to pursue a career in engineering, interrupting whatever music or conversation might be under way to explain why, for example, the exit ramp they are in the process of taking was designed the way it was.

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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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“20GETHER”

MTSU decides to play.

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(if you ignore the results of the last match up) between #9 UCLA and #3 Stanford. Says Michelle Smith at Left Coast Hoops:

The Bruins, who have the best record in school history through 23 games, have a chance to stake their claim to a share of the Pac-10 title with a win over Stanford. But this is one of the toughest finishes in the conference, with the Bay Area schools, followed on the road at the Arizonas and then hosting two of the hottest teams in the league. Since the loss at Stanford, UCLA has won six games, five by a margin of 10 points or less.

Full Court has their take on the Big Ten chaos (Yah, I’m a day late and a dollar short — but they DID get the winner of the PSU/Ohio State game right).

Bob Corwin also has a nice piece on Rick Insell and his Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders.

In Part IV of our series, we take a look at Middle Tennessee, a mid-major program with a long history of success. But when two-time All-American Alysha Clark (5-10, C) graduated from the Blue Raider fold at the end of last season, it was hard to believe that Middle Tennessee Head Coach Rick Insell would come up with a similar player in his very next freshman class. Most would have expected to undergo several years of rebuilding after Clark’s departure, but that was before Insell found Ebony Rowe (generously listed at 6-1, C) out of Dunbar High School in Lexington, Kentucky. The Blue Raiders are currently 21-5 overall and clinched the Sun Belt title last weekend after dropping just one conference game to date (11-1). Of course, there’s more to the Blue Raider picture than just Rowe—outstanding coaching being a major part of that equation—but Rowe has done more than her part in contributing to the continued success at Middle Tennessee.

Speaking of “mid” Majors, Q’s got his eye on some hidden gems: 2011 WNBA Draft Prospects: Major, Mid-Major, Independent & NAIA Players To Watch

…at the beginning of the season, we posted a list of Top 13 WNBA draft prospects and five additional high-profile prospects in order to prepare for our own draft analysis. And as mentioned then, the list was by no means exhaustive and we’ve been keeping an eye out for additional players all season. With contributing writers from coast to coast, we’ve seen a number of strong prospects collectively and have come up with a list of 8 more players that have caught our eye including two lesser-known players who could end up in the WNBA Draft combine.

For now we’re neither ranking nor suggesting how high players might be drafted (or even whether they will be), instead just trying to take stock of the landscape of the talented players we’ve seen before doing a more extensive analysis later.

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