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Bob Corwin offers his 1st impressions from opening weekend

Having followed the league since inception, I decided to watch the six WNBA openers and write down some first impressions (many to be proven wrong) from these games.

A WNBA season is a combination of a soap opera and a marathon.  Information can be hard to come by as players listed as “day to day” can, in reality, be out a month.  What impression you get today, particularly very early in a season, may be viewed as very wrong by the next week.

For young players, announcers tend to cling to how the player was as a collegian, especially if she had “rep” at that level.  Above all else, be cautious not to draw too much from a game or two.  Again think marathon, not sprint!

How about this? Draymond Green says he learns more from watching the WNBA than the NBA

In between the time he works on his game, Green also finds time to relax. Of course, Green chooses to chill out by watching basketball, mostly the WNBA.

“In the NBA there’s always a guy who is only around because he can jump,” Greentold Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins in a wide-ranging profile. “He doesn’t have a clue about the fundamentals. I learn more from the WNBA. They know how to dribble, how to pivot, how to use the shot fake.”

Lindsay Gibbs @ Excelle: Washington Mystics point guard Natasha Cloud is finding her voice

In the lead-up to the launch of the WNBA’s 20th season, Washington Mystics’ coach Mike Thibault repeated a few loud and clear messages to his young team: take ownership of the game, get rebounds, play until the whistle, and, above all else, communicate on the court.

The latter message was particularly directed at point guard Natasha Cloud, the Mystics’ second-round pick of the 2015 draft.

From the .com (and points for coming up with a snazzy title, “Web Editorial Associate”): Practice Report | The Importance of the Second Unit

One of the big reasons why the Lynx were able to pull away and maintain a nice lead after that first quarter was the play of their second unit.

“Coach talked about really trying to elevate the second-team’s play in order so there’s not a drop off when anybody comes out from the first unit,” Janel McCarville said. “We had a great first game against Phoenix, it wasn’t much of a drop off at all. Today in practice it was a little bit of a drop off with all of us out there together (the second unit). I don’t think we have the cohesiveness that the first-team has. Hopefully within the next couple of weeks we’ll come together as a second-squad and pick it up in practice and it’ll carry over into games.”

Paging Ms. Whalen: Minnesota’s Hometown Heroes

Seattle Times: Stewart set for big WNBA step

Swish Appeal’s Power Rankings

Barbara Barker: How the WNBA ‘changed everything’ for girls in first 20 years

“Symbolically, you have all these women who are role modes for young girls to be able to look up to and say, ‘Those people look like me. They are stars. They have money and a career. I want that too,’” said Mary Joe Kane, the director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota. “If you aren’t playing basketball, you can take pride that someone who looks like you can achieve at the highest levels.

“Achievement and performance in America, it’s hard to top that right. For your girls to see that, it sends a very powerful message.”

The league opened its 20th season this weekend with more media coverage than I personally can remember seeing before. It’s an anniversary year, sure, but also I think most people didn’t expect the NBA’s sister league to come this far or last this long. Take a look at the women’s soccer professional league, which has had three different iterations, the most recent of which is only four years old.

Not only that, but the WNBA is now also filled with a number of household names – not just one or two token players used in Under Armour campaigns and Lean In ads. This is a competitive league with players comparable to their male counterparts in both ability and in some cases name recognition.

The concept of ability has come into contention while I’ve written this article, but I think it comes down to how you define it. Personally, I don’t think ability means how often or ferociously you can dunk. When I think of how able a person is to play basketball, I think of the sport as a whole.

Wait, they heard and acted? WNBA to offer advanced box scores after each game.

Cool. Now… about that hideous website, might I make a suggestion? Set up a “So you think you can code” competition working with suggestions from fans. Anything folks came up with would be better than the hot mess we’re slogging through today.

From Mel: Guru’s Addendum and Context to ESPN Magazine’s Story on Founding and Growing the WNBA

In reading Mechelle Voepel’s very fine piece with voices on the creation and development on the WNBA the Guru’s memory was jogged to some of the discussions people had with him prior to rolling out the league.
Also clues exist from comments in the narrative to recent discussions so here is a combo of Guru comments, some recollections, and further interpretations.
We begin right from the top with this comment in the piece from Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner. To avoid confusion in the thread, Guru will be in front of items that are his remarks, etc.

NCAA

Bonjour: Mickie DeMoss Joins Lady Tiger Basketball Staff

Au Revoir: Kentucky’s Mitchell tweets letter to fans denying rumored ‘scandal’ as UK resignation letters, personnel file offer little insight into women’s basketball turmoil and  Chanin Scott gets her release and opens recruiting process

The Minnesota Athletics Department may be a mess, but the  Gophers women’s teams have no shortage of star power

By the time she took the mound for her 24th inning pitched in two days, Sara Groenewegen’s right arm was running on fumes. Nearly 400 pitches in the Big Ten softball tournament — 395 to be exact — tested her physical limits.

**

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 Her display of individual domination was not uncommon for Gophers women’s sports this school year. Those who didn’t pay close enough attention, myself included, missed one heck of a show.

Nine Gophers women athletes in seven sports rank among the best nationally in their respective sports.

Any Olympics is special and Rio 2016 could be incredibly so, on the simple basis that some of the biggest names in the women’s game are ready to step out at the event for the first time.

Ahead of what promises to be a spectacular showcase of women’s ball, I have had some real fun drawing up a list of 12 players from around the globe who are likely to tread their first ever Olympic boards.

Random thought about the Zika virus: has anyone thought about all the non-athletes working the Rio Olympics?

 

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at least four or five times: “‘Ware the Wabbits!”

#16 DePaul learned the hard way. It’s the 4th-straight year the Jackrabbits have defeated a Top 25 team.

Have you noticed Oklahoma State is undefeated?  Looking forward to their 12/20 matchup with USF.

Have you noticed #12 Northwestern is undefeated? (Blame Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah) Looking forward to their 12/19 matchup with DePaul.

Have you noticed Oregon is undefeated? (Blame senior Liz Brenner) Looking forward to their 1/2 match up with UCLA.

Southern Miss couldn’t defeat the “other” in-state rival – Mississippi State wins, 78-65.

So, Tennessee visited Maples and it was. not. pretty. Stanford’s balanced attack overwhelms uninspired Lady Vols

 It was a game that was, in many ways, a shell of its former shelf [sic?].

Not just because, for the first time in the 33-year history of the annual matchup, neither Stanford nor Tennessee was ranked in the top 10.

Not because Maples Pavilion, which is historically full to the rafters and rocking when the Lady Vols come to town, was a little more than half full and sufficiently enthusiastic.

But because neither the 14th-ranked Lady Vols nor the 15th-ranked Cardinal look like obvious contenders to be in Indianapolis in April.

The two most storied programs in the history of the game, the standard-bearers in their respective conferences, are looking up at long line of teams with more talent, more potential right now.

Both still have to prove they belong in that line.

Penguins win!

Okay – so New Mexico, which seemed to have taken a half-a-step back this season, toasted Rachel Banham and Minnesota, 72-53. At the Barn. Nice homecoming for Benilde-St. Margaret’s star Khadijah Shumpert.

In other news:

Congrats Connecticut Sun.

Namaste, Ms. January: Briann January promotes basketball in Delhi

Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Erin: Opal and WNBA player Erin Phillips agrees to become Port Adelaide’s first female player

Hello Lady Swish on ESPN! Path of a pioneer: Old Dominion is fourth program to win 1,000 games

The Old Dominion women’s basketball history book is its own “War and Peace,” a thick chronicle about a program that was a pioneer for all of women’s sports. Many of the significant characters — Nancy Lieberman, Marianne Stanley, Anne Donovan and Ticha Penicheiro — still resonate and influence sports in 2015.

Several chapters document a glorious time, recalling national championship victories over coaches such as Pat Summitt, Leon Barmore and Andy Landers. And the plot thickens with the program’s resurgence in 1997, when the southeastern Virginia university — highly regarded for its business, engineering and distance learning programs — reached the Final Four alongside Tennessee and modern-day stalwarts Stanford and Notre Dame.

With Old Dominion’s 83-64 victory at Howard on Tuesday, the team and coach Karen Barefoot added another chapter: The Lady Monarchs became the fourth Division I program to amass 1,000 victories, joining Tennessee, Louisiana Tech and James Madison.

No, really, #ByeGilbert. (I will say it’s funny how some folks recognize how misogynist Arenas’ bile was don’t see how racist that Washington NFL team’s nickname is.)

Florida es mi otra casa, says Leticia Romero

Through basketball, Leticia traveled across the world and into the world of college basketball. However, coming to the United States meant more than a change of scenery or a change of culture—it meant a change to the way she played basketball.

“When I first came, it shocked me the way they played because it’s very physical. We don’t use the contact as much and they play really fast,” Romero said. “I was the type of point guard that came from Europe and our game was running the play and being poised. It took me some time to adjust to be able to run the floor.”

Speaking of Florida: UCF’s Aliyah Gregory gives back in honor of late aunt

Aliyah Gregory was riding the bus home from high school in Tampa when she heard the news. Three hundred miles away in Jacksonville, the day before Gregory’s 15th birthday, her aunt, Nicole Bush, was killed in a domestic violence incident.

“It changed my whole life,” Gregory said. “No longer having someone in your life that you are used to having there. It’s been a big adjustment.”

FiveThirtyEight Podcast: Will UConn’s Dominance Of Women’s Basketball End Anytime Soon?

Speaking of UConn: On the Road Again: UConn Freshman De’Janae Boykin Transferring; Hadn’t Played Because Of Injury

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the WHB curse is alive and well and kicking. Sorry Texas Tech – you encountered a Santa Clara team (Remember them? The folks that beat Stanford?) that is reaping the benefits of hiring JR Payne away from Southern Utah. The former point guard at St. Mary’s is in her second year.

Two horrific quarters doomed the Vandals against #7 Oregon State, 69-44.

A spectacular third quarter lifted the #18 Blue Demons over #15 Texas A&M, 80-66.

Burn the tape of the fourth quarter for both teams, okay? The Wildcats down the Blue Raiders, 68-52.

Welcome back, Ms. Moos! #24 Arizona State eked out a win over #18 Syracuse, 61-54.

It took OT, but Cal escaped the Huskers, 87-80. Yup, learn to spell it: Kristine Anigwe.

Baylor’s Niya Johnson was delightfully generous during the Bear’s romp over McNeese State, 105-46.

Alaina Coates triples herself up as South Carolina smooshed Winthrop, 86-37. A little concerned that Wilson was sitting because of being dinged up….

Penguins bounce back and win!

Hello, Bonnies! They take down struggling Penn State, 70-60, for their eighth win.

Hartford v. Dartmouth... yikes. Just look away, folks, nothin’ to see.

Princeton’s monster first quarter propelled them to a 61-47 win over Pittsburgh.

Rachel Banham made sure her “award day” was a good one.

Pushing through the legal distractions,  Bollant has his team at 7-1.

In a back and forth game, it was St. Mary’s over Washington State, 75-71.

With their 72-68 win over Fresno State, San Diego is now at 9-1.

Seton Hall moved to 9-1 with a solid thumping of Liberty, 92-56.

Ahhh, in-state battles: Southern Miss topped Ole Miss, 57-38.

FGCU is still winning – perhaps not with the dominance we (and they) are used to… but Kaneisha Atwater scored her 1000th point.

Everyone has a different story about what his or her life was like at 18 years old. For Kaneisha Atwater, her story continues to follow her.

Last week, in a Monday evening away game against FIU, single mother and star point guard Atwater scored her 1,000th career point. With Whitney Knight out with an injury, Atwater has stepped up to lead the team in all aspects.

A not insignificant win for #5 Texas, as the hosted and then, behind Empress Davenport’s 23, handled the #14 Cardinal, 77-69.

Michigan gave #20 UCLA a battle, but the Bruins pushed through for a 86-77 win.

IUPUI had Louisville down 18… and couldn’t hold on.

Sheryl Swoopes’ Ramblers gave undefeated #12 Northwestern all they could handle in the first three quarters, but ran out of gas in the fourth. Wildcats stay undefeated, 81-72.

Record breaker: Alisa Jenkins took down USF/WNBAer Wanda Guyton’s rebounding record as USF took down Chattanooga.

The good news is the Buckeyes won. The bad news: Ohio State assistant coach, two players suspended. The good news: Former Kentucky guard Linnae Harper to play for Ohio State.

Boston College has moved to 8-1… keep an eye on their game against Florida State, Jan 7th.

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they must play the rest of their games with their shoes tied together…

@NDsidMasters: During pregame radio interview, Coach McGraw announced Taya Reimer has left @ndwbbfor balance of 2015-16 season for personal reasons.

But never fear, Muffet is here:

It’s been almost 15 years since the University of Notre Dame women’s basketball team won its first — and so far only — national championship, and began a journey that has cemented the Irish as one of the most respected programs in the country. The number of All-Americans who don the blue and gold jersey has become constant. Loyal fans still pack into Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center to cheer on their favorite squad. The wins continue to accumulate.

And leading the way is Notre Dame’s Karen and Kevin Keyes Family Head Women’s Basketball Coach Muffet McGraw, who still paces the sideline and stomps her high heels to get her team’s attention during games. But plenty has changed — and some hasn’t — in that decade and a half. Universal changes to women’s basketball itself and personal changes for McGraw that have molded her ability to coach on and off the court.

“I think overall there have been a lot of great changes to women’s basketball, and we’re heading in a really good direction,” McGraw says. “At least here we’re heading in a good direction.”

Of course, she probably felt a little different near the end of the #18 DePaul game, having watched her team squander a huge lead. Yes, they won, but this will not be a comfortable season… though it might be one of her best coaching jobs.

#1 UConn rolled through Colgate, and then used a series of runs to take down #11 Florida State. “Under-appreciated” will become an overused word when it comes to UConn’s Tuck – but I can’t imagine opposition coaches feel that way about her. Certainly, Auriemma doesn’t: ‘She’s pretty special’

Gotta love in-state games: Cyclone Comeback Topples No. 23 Iowa, 69-66

Speaking of in-state games, weird: Analyst: ‘Quite unusual’ for UK defectors to be behind bench

Perhaps television analyst Brenda VanLengen summed up best what many fans were thinking as they watched Kentucky top Louisville on Thursday night.

“This is quite a surprise honestly,” the ESPN play-by-play announcer said just before halftime as the cameras zoomed in on two specific fans among the 14,425 at Rupp Arena.

Didn’t distract the Wildcats, though, as they took it to struggling (Walz: Cards women have talent, not work ethic) Louisville, 72-54. Graham says that With big win over Louisville, Kentucky quiets any talk of a crisis in Lexington. I say, it’s still early in the season…

Speaking of the “defectors,” the Hilltoppers get a nice pickup: Former Kentucky guard Kyvin Goodin-Rogers transferring to Western Kentucky

Texas Tech is continuing its rise from the ashes, defeating the not-to-be-triffled-with Vandals, 78-62.

Sigh. BU is still 0-fer.

Ummm… things are NOT good in the land of the Hartford Hawks. BC humbled them, 62-28.

Good: Texas ramps up efforts to sell women’s team to fans

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: How much does San Diego State miss Beth Burns.

You know, UNC Asheville has been pretty awful for a while… and I don’t want to jinx them, but…. they were 6-1 for the first time in 31 years. And now they’re 7-1. AND they have a junior named Knuckles. What’s not to love?

Winning is important, but so is handling the expectations of the coaching staff and not getting too caught up in the early season success.

“The thing I’m most proud of with this team is their commitment to the process,” Kirkpatrick said. “I really think they’ve bought into treating each game separately and getting better with every opportunity.”

Super congrats to Army’s Kelsey Minato. In their win over NJIT, she became the first Army women’s player to reach the 2,000-point milestone. The 8-1 Black Knights look particularly fierce this season – might they return to the Big Dance for the third time since that fateful 2005-06 season? (watch this space for more on that team.)

Speaking of Army….#5 Maryland is 10-0, but Syracuse is the only ranked team they’ve faced. Looking forward to see how they hold up against UConn in the Maggie Dixon Classic at the Garden Monday, December 28th. (This year, I have 189 folks joining me! Come visit sections 10, 11, 12 if you want to say hi. I’ll be the shy, quiet, demure one… not!)

“Ruff!” says Gonzaga to Dayton, “we should be the top-dog in the mid-majors.”

Banham gets some love from the Star Tribune: 

Banham was 107 points shy of the record when she collapsed at the end of a fast-break layup on Dec. 10, 2014, in Grand Forks, N.D. She had torn her ACL and suffered a partial tear of her MCL, forcing her to spend the next three months watching from the bench as the Gophers returned to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009.

 

That gave her plenty of incentive for a rehabilitation period she described as the hardest thing she ever has done. Her doctors followed a strict, cautious timetable, prohibiting her from jogging until three months post-surgery and forbidding any basketball activities for seven months. As she healed, she worked with the Gophers’ new strength coach, Ralph Petrella, and began reshaping her diet.

Good to hear: Texas A&M’s Jordan Jones rebounding well after injury

Gary Blair’s plan early in the season was to lighten the load for senior point guard Jordan Jones, who was coming off knee surgery. But when the Texas A&M women’s basketball team played at 14th-ranked Duke in the second week of the season, the Aggie head coach leaned on Jones for 41 minutes to pull out a 72-66 overtime victory.

“She had played 15 minutes in her first game, 22 in her second game, and she just came in [at Duke] and kept going,” Blair said. “I did not want to play her that many minutes just coming off of that ACL, but she is the heart and soul of our team.”

BTW: That’s 700 for Mr. Blair.

Dishin & Swishin 12/10/15 Podcast: Miami leads group of upstarts changing the guard in the ACC

Notre Dame, Duke, North Carolina, Louisville are the teams we expect to be at the top of the ACC every year. In the last couple of years Florida State became a regular to the discussion too. This year? It is early, but Miami at 10-0, Virginia Tech at 8-1, and Boston College at 7-1 are crashing the party.

One of the reasons Missouri is 9-0: they generating more steals, fast-break chances

If the Lady Vols seeking to reverse tailspin on the road, their performance against a short-handed, shadow-of-its-former-self Wichita State can’t be seen as a good sign. Next up: Stanford (who must deal with Texas) followed by Oregon State. Seatbelt time, y’all.

Speaking of the Beavers: Weisner in a groove offensively

Jamie Weisner entered last Thursday’s game at Marquette hitting 60 percent of her 3-point attempts through the season’s first five games.

But Weisner, No. 7 Oregon State’s senior sharpshooter and leading scorer, for some reason couldn’t find the range against the quick and aggressive Golden Eagles.

She missed all seven of her attempts.

Earlier in her career, that may have led to a bit of frustration for Weisner.

But last Thursday, she wasn’t fazed.

The New York Times: A Life on the Move Molds a U.C.L.A. Basketball Star

Home for Nirra Fields these days is a room in a five-bedroom suite on the U.C.L.A. campus. It is not luxurious: Fields has decorated it with basketball and family pictures, and she shares a common space and a single bathroom with four other students. But the space is clean, and it is organized, and — this is most important — it is all hers.

After the route Fields took to get to it, that is enough.

Ah, high school:

Louisiana: Mothers of Salmen High School girls basketball players who were kicked off team make emotional appeal to School Board

Pittsburgh: West Jefferson Hills school board retains controversial girls basketball coach

Mississippi: Parent puts girls basketball coach in hospital

Seattle: Review of Bishop Blanchet football, girls basketball confirms recruiting violations, self-imposed penalties

Not high school:

Hello, Nancy Lieberman: Sacramento Kings assistant coach nails backward one-handed half-court shot

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Bad news for Liberty fans: Epiphanny Prince has surgery for torn ACL

Hmmmm…. Goldstein resigns from WNBA players union

“I’m very passionate about player rights and, having worked at the MLBPA, was excited to see how I could advance the causes of this union,” Goldstein said. “I think we’ve made some good strides. But as things transpired during my tenure, it seemed there might not be a shared vision of how to continue moving this union forward. So I decided to step aside.

Natalie Achonwa has never been so busy.

The Canadian forward is a promising newcomer for Dike Basket Napoli in Italy’s Serie A1, latest stop in a roundabout basketball career that’s yielded two gold medals and brought her within one game of the WNBA title. It’s Achonwa’s first season of overseas basketball and the start of a brand new, round-the-clock cycle in her pro career – WNBA and international duty with Canada in the summer, Euroleague in the winter.

“That is reality for us. Playing overseas is how we make a living,” says Achonwa. “Whether we are going into a qualifier summer, a World Championship summer, or an Olympic summer, it is what we have to do.

When she gets back home, she better study the rule book: New rules changes for the 2016 WNBA season announced

NCAA:

From Graham: Dayton rules the Mid-Majors (but will they stay there after the loss of Kelley Austria?), followed by the Wabbits and Tigers and…lookee! The Army Knights.

Army probably isn’t a program that can compete at this level on a regular basis, but this shapes up as a once-in-a-long-time kind of season. The three most important players are seniors who have started most or all of their time in the program: Kelsey Minato, Aimee Oertner and Jean Parker. And Minato can play on any court against anyone. In going to Duke and closing within four late in the fourth quarter or beating an Albany team on the cusp of these rankings, Army played the kind of defining games it simply didn’t have on the schedule en route to 23 wins a season ago.

The Women’s Mid-Major poll has a different top three: Gonzaga, Princeton, Green Bay.

LadySwish has Gimme Five (or six): the state’s top teams (Dec. 8)

Resounding road victories at Penn State and at Tennessee sent an emphatic message, particularly from a Tech team that had stumbled badly at Georgetown (73-56 losers) in its only previous road contest. While the win over the Lady Vols generated the headlines – and understandably so – in some ways we were even more impressed with what happened in State College, Pa. Tech seized control early, held it together during a Nittany Lions’ second-half run then used back-to-back 3-pointers from Hannah Young and Vanessa Panousis to snap a 44-44 tie and re-assert command. Tough stuff, particularly in the other team’s building. Of course, they don’t hand out trophies for what teams do in December, and the Hokies still have some things to clean up (23 turnovers vs. Penn State; 10-20 FT shooting at Tennessee). But as we sit here today, this looks like a team that can compete for a spot in the top half of the powerful ACC.

Penguins…lose!

Hello, Washington State – they take down Gonzaga, 55-48. The 8-1 Cougars are off to their best start since (fakers) Milli Vanilli’s “Blame it On the Rain” was atop the charts. Next up: The Gaels.

Nice win for San Francisco over Long Beach, 66-52. Take a moment to check in with coach Azzi.

Speaking of coaches trying to turn a program around, I’m noticing that Erik Johnson has Boston College off to a 7-1 start.

So far so good for Georgia, who stand a 8-1, having passed their first test. Speaking of tests: Point guard Marjorie Butler is redefining “student-athlete”

The Georgia Bulldogs came home last week from a Thanksgiving tournament in Southern California on an overnight flight that got them there early Monday morning. After landing, everyone headed home or to class except senior point guard Marjorie Butler.

She stayed at the airport to catch another flight – to Virginia, to interview for medical school. After that, she flew to Tennessee for another interview with a school the following day.

Wednesday night, Butler put in 7 points, dished 5 assists and grabbed 4 rebounds in Georgia’s home win over Mercer.

Extra air miles aside, it was a pretty typical week for the 22-year-old starter, who will graduate next spring with two degrees before beginning her quest to be an orthopedic doctor.

Oregon’s rising: Mark Campbell’s tireless approach helping Oregon women’s basketball turn corner

Louisville’s recovering: Psychology keeps Cards women ‘above the line’

Cortnee Walton acknowledges that not everyone believes in the benefits of sports psychology, but the Louisville women’s basketball veteran does, and she credits it for the Cardinals’ recent bounce back from a 1-4 start.

U of L topped then-No. 19 Michigan State last week before routing Valparaiso on Saturday, victories that set up Walton and company with some momentum heading into Thursday’s game at No. 8 Kentucky.

Break my record? I’ll come to your party: Banham to be Honored.

Prior to tipoff against Memphis on Saturday, the Gopher women’s basketball program will recognize Rachel Banham for breaking the Minnesota career scoring record. Former record holder Lindsay Whalen will be part of the ceremony. The game will begin at 2 p.m. at Williams Arena.

Banham passed Whalen’s total of 2,285 points during the Gophers’ game against Auburn in Puerto Rico. She has tallied 2,349 points entering the matchup with the Tigers.

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to the start of the 2015-16 season.

Utah: Under Lynne Roberts, Utes are pursuing new fans

Some people sketch out their vision on a napkin, or a whiteboard, or store it in the files of their mind.

As of Friday, Lynne Roberts has a website.

Utah women’s basketball rolled out a website dedicated to its players, coaches, tradition and home. The website, utahwomenshoops.com, features video interviews of everyone in the program, and images touting past success — implying success to come.

In Roberts’ profile, she quotes Henry Kissinger: “The task of the leader is to get their people from where they are to where they have never been.”

It’s what the 40-year-old head coach has in mind for the Utes: making the program a headline attraction.

Nebraska: With a deeper roster, Creighton women’s basketball has a good problem

There have been seasons in which Creighton women’s basketball coach Jim Flanery didn’t have enough healthy bodies to practice.

Not this season. Flanery has 15 players on the roster. He has more depth than he knows what to do with. Although not a big fan of redshirting, he’s going to ask two of his players to sit out this year.

Nebraska, too: Meet the Husker women’s basketball team

Iowa State: Johnson trying to be more vocal, show she’s an all-conference performer

“Her ability to rebound, her ability to get to the basket in situations — her numbers are eerily consistent,” Fennelly said. “But we have to find that solid starter as a sophomore, good player, that bumps to great, all-conference, unquestioned leader kind of thing. I think she’s capable.” 

More Iowa State: Buckley set to takeover at point guard

“This is the first year in a long time where we don’t have an incumbent point guard that you know is really, really good,” Fennelly said. “You look at that wall in there, and it’s full of really good point guards. I honestly believe Jadda Buckley could be the next one. 

Connecticut: UConn Women’s Insider: Gabby Williams Has Put In Extra Work – And It Shows

Last year was a busy one for Gabby Williams, filled with transitional tasks that would easily spin the head of any 18-year-old freshman.

She moved from high school to college, from Nevada to Storrs. She worked on mending after a second season-ending knee injury early in her senior season at Sparks High in Reno. And she accepted the challenge of a shift from guard to forward, presented by the UConn coaching staff during her first summer on campus.

And yet, from just about every imaginable perspective, her freshman season was a great success.

South Dakota: SD fervor for women’s basketball is unique and appreciated

The fervor for women’s basketball is a legend across South Dakota, and now nationally as teams from colleges across the state continue to draw record crowds, surprising the out-of-state spectators and lifting the players with the energy, enthusiasm and support the sport garners here.

“I try to make sure our players take a step back and appreciate it when we’re setting attendance records (in the Premier Center),” said USD coach Amy Williams. “Whether they go on to play (after college) or their careers are over, they probably won’t ever have another experience like that.”

Hoping for further growth in NY: New faces for Stony Brook women’s basketball team have winning pedigrees

New Jersey: Dynamic duo leads Rutgers into second year in Big Ten

New Hampshire: Coaches’ Corner With Maureen Magarity

North Carolina: Brown guides from the bench for Duke women’s basketball

Duke’s roster boasts several electric backcourt players this season, but the guard that may have the biggest impact on the team will never see the floor during a game.

Lexie Brown was a third-team All-American as a sophomore last year at Maryland, leading the Terrapins to back-to-back Final Four appearances before deciding to transfer to Duke in the offseason. She will have to sit out of competition this year due to NCAA transfer regulations, but the Suwanee, Ga., native will still practice with the team and challenge the Blue Devils’ young backcourt in practice all winter.

Kansas: Breaking down the WSU women’s basketball team

What will life after Alex Harden be like for the Wichita State women’s basketball team?

Harden is playing for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA and Wichita State is left with an average of just 5.3 points returning from the team that paired its third straight Missouri Valley championship with its third straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

It’s just the latest challenge for coach Jody Adams, who has taken on – and conquered – a myriad of them to build Wichita State to its current status atop the MVC.

Florida: 

Last season was the first time the Gators failed to make the postseason in eight years under coach Amanda Butler. A 5-11 SEC record doomed them and led preseason prognosticators to peg UF for a 12th-place finish in the SEC. The Gators have reasons to believe last year was a blip rather than a trend. UF has a strong five-member senior class and only two freshmen, so inexperience should not be a concern. Six players averaged at least 7.1 points per game last season, and five are returning.

Who’s in charge?

California: Mikayla Cowling set to lead Cal women’s basketball in 2015-16

Unlike years past, the Cal women’s basketball team won’t be entering the 2015-16 season as one of the contenders to win the title. While its three-point loss at home to Texas in the second round of the NCAA tournament last year was devastating, the more crushing blow to the future of the program was the loss of its top three scorers.

California, too: UCLA women’s basketball looks to bolster teamwork efforts

Sue has a preview of all the Pac 12 teams.

Fingers crossed in Minnesota: Banham’s return buoys Gophers’ lineup revisions – Guard back from knee injury nears scoring record. 

The thing that’s most exciting to me is the way the fan base has embraced us and what we’re trying to do,” Stollings said. “People have said, ‘You know, you’ve electrified the fan base again. You’ve instilled pride back into the program.’ For me, it’s been awesome being embraced by our fans.

In DIII hoops: No surprise, Thomas More is picked to repeat.

For most of our Top 25 voters, the easiest decision was the first one: putting Thomas More No. 1. The defending champions return four starters and seven players from their regular rotation, including D3hoops.com Player of the Year Sydney Moss, and were a unanimous No. 1 selection in the D3hoops.com preseason women’s basketball Top 25 poll.

Wisconsin: Johnson forgoes WNBA for one last chance with UW

For Michala Johnson, the training room became the place she resided during games almost as much as the bench. Thanks to two ACL injuries, the sixth-year senior has become as versed in the anatomy of a knee as the Wisconsin playbook. Twice, she has watched her team suffer on the floor knowing full well she could do very little to affect the outcomes of their games.

“The hardest part is just having to go through it again. Always being in the training room, when I want to be out, watching practice or being a part of the team,” Johnson said of her latest ACL injury, which kept her out of most of the 2014-’15 season. 

Audio: Dishin & Swishin 11/05/15 Podcast: Vanderbilt’s Melanie Balcomb on the transfer epidemic, returning to prominence in the SEC and more

Video: Auriemma on First Take

Video: Super Vol Fan Margo has her preview,

Like Margo, we’re wondering: Can Diamond DeShields lead Tennessee back to the Final Four?

Oooo – Reporter Flashback parallels WNBA fashback: Ailene Voisin: Monarchs join party for Women in Sports festivities

While the Kings limp through the opening weeks of 2015-16, their final season inside the soon-to-be archived Sleep Train Arena, the trip down memory lane continues.

Everyone has a personal favorite. Opening night against the Los Angeles Clippers in the temporary facility in 1985. Mike Bibby’s side jumper against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5. The sobfest finale in 2011 that gave NBA owners pause about relocating the franchise. The Oct. 28 regular-season opener against the Clippers, suggesting it was time to start prepping for the move into Golden 1 Center.

But there is no forgetting the Monarchs.

Never, ever, ever, ever.

Staying on the West Coast: Rhea finds home with Seattle Storm 

Talisa Rhea has always had a head and passion for the game of basketball.

Whether competing on the court or sitting on the sidelines, she was a student of the game, the 94-by-50-foot court serving as a classroom of sorts.

That classroom now includes a promotion to the position of manager of basketball operations for the WNBA’s Seattle Storm, the next best thing to playing, according to Rhea, a 2007 Juneau-Douglas High School graduate.

Texas: Dallas’ new WNBA team look to be ‘market disrupters’

From the video series “The Makers”: The WNBA’s Candace Parker On Winning at Work (Plus, Her Must-Try “24-Hour Rule”)

Adam Silver confident in WNBA, plans to be more involved. (Okay… how about asking Lin Dunn, “What’re you up to these days….”?) Writes Mechelle:

The league must look for someone who can build on what’s been accomplished, and remedy (or at least start to) some of the things that haven’t. I believe someone with both strong basketball and business backgrounds is the best target.

Wednesday night, I spoke at length with NBA commissioner Adam Silver about where the WNBA goes from here. And although you don’t typically see the word “passionate” used in regard to Silver, he genuinely sounded that way about his commitment to the WNBA. And frankly, that was very good to hear.

Following up on the post below: From David: Black Mizzou Football Players Are Going on Strike Over Campus Racism – In a game changer that could bring down a university president, the Missouri football players are showing just how powerful their labor is.

The power of this action cannot be overstated. These football players have forced people to educate themselves about a campus environment that has been on fire for months, if not years. (Here is a timeline.) This year activists on campus have protested over the rights of adjunct professors, the cutting of health care benefits, the rolling back reproductive rights for women, and a hostile climate for students of color. And a recent series of ugly racist incidents led the football players to take collective action. For a team that two years ago stood in solidarity with teammate Michael Sam when he told the world he was gay, they again made the lionhearted decision to rise to the moment.

I spoke with Dr. Rebecca Martinez, an assistant professor in women’s and gender Studies. She said, “The football program here at Mizzou is a central part of the university culture.  The collective athletes of color who made the decision to go on strike do so with conviction for social justice for marginalized students on our campus. Given the importance of football here, they are taking a significant stand. They are not thinking of themselves, their play, and their careers at this moment. It is not an easy thing to do on a football-centered campus like ours, especially around the issue of racism. There will likely be no shortage of those who put football above humanity and who are convinced that racism doesn’t live here. And they are wrong.”

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A little history from Michelle: Oral history: Harvard stuns Stanford – A look back at the 1998 NCAA tournament, the only time a 16-seed toppled a No. 1

A week before the NCAA tournament opener, Stanford was positioned as one of the best teams in the country, after three straight trips to the Final Four. Seven days later, the Cardinal became the first and only No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16, with a 71-67 defeat against Harvard. As with all great sports upsets, there is an intriguing backstory only the people involved can tell. We consulted our colleagues at FiveThirtyEight for some statistical context. Then we spoke with nine prominent people involved in the game and asked them to set the scene in an oral history of that game — starting with a devastating moment at the end of Stanford’s Pac-10 finale against Oregon State.

Vanessa Nygaard, former Stanford forward and longtime WNBA, college and high school coach: “We were ahead comfortably, but then Oregon State started closing the gap, and I went back in.”

Beth Goode, former Stanford sports information director and current senior women’s administrator: “Vanessa’s injury happened right in front of me. It was one of those unmistakable things when she went down. You knew it wasn’t good.”

Tara VanDerveer, Stanford coach, one of five coaches in NCAA women’s history with 900-plus wins: “The doctor at Oregon State said it was not an ACL, and we would have it looked at when we got back on Sunday, which was selection day.”

From Kate, a little history that’s a tad more modern: The swagger Of UConn – A look at how the Huskies’ dominance came to be — but it’s not for everybody

During last year’s college basketball season, Rebecca Lobo watched in person a number of Connecticut’s practices.

And during one of these afternoons, the former UConn star and current ESPN analyst noticed something strikingly familiar: coach Geno Auriemma running ragged one of the team’s best players.

Lobo also instantly recognized the drill: one-on-one from the wing, the emphasis on defense. The players form a line at each wing. First player in line is the defender; next one has the ball. If the defender gets a stop, she rotates to the back of the opposite line; if she gives up a bucket, she immediately runs to the opposite wing to try again — against a fresh offensive player.

The thing about this drill: Each repetition is exhausting. So if you don’t get a stop within the first two attempts, the likelihood of ever getting one plummets. After successive reps against fresh teammates? Might as well wave the white flag.

Except, of course, a white flag doesn’t exist at UConn.

From Mechelle: Massengale steps up at Tennessee – Senior guard and fellow Chicagoan Nia Moore look to make big impact in tourney

Mechelle’s been busy! Wilson right at home with Gamecocks

The fact that A’ja Wilson didn’t have to look far to find her college destination didn’t mean that she didn’t look hard. She explored different options, and waited until last April to announce her decision.

And when the hometown kid said she was staying with the hometown school, the rest of the country could almost hear the cheers of happiness mixed with relief coming from Columbia, South Carolina.

Some things are meant to be. Like Wilson playing for the Gamecocks. She’s from Hopkins, South Carolina, just outside the state capital city, and went to Heathwood Hall in Columbia. As she prepares for her first NCAA tournament for South Carolina, the No. 1 seed in the Greensboro Regional, Wilson knows she’s right where she’s supposed to be.

How about some other youngsters? TOP FRESHMEN READY TO MAKE NCAA TOURNAMENT DEBUT

How about some previews?

Albany Regional breakdown – UConn

Three observations

1. What an interesting road it’s been for Seton Hall senior guard Daisha Simmons. She struggled first to obtain a release from Alabama, and then to get a waiver to play this season at Seton Hall. But it worked out, as the Pirates are back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1995. Simmons is averaging 16.9 points, plus has 131 assists and a team-high 80 steals.

Greensboro Regional breakdown – South Carolina

Three observations

1. It has been a big season for Ohio, which is the No. 14 seed and faces No. 3 Arizona State in the first round.

Oklahoma City Regional breakdown – Notre Dame

Three observations

1. It’s time for the annual Sherri Coale appreciation salute. She took over at Oklahoma for the 1996-97 season, which was also the first year of the Big 12. At that point, the Sooners had made just two NCAA tournament appearances, and the school had infamously shut down the program for roughly a week in 1990 before sanity prevailed.

Spokane Regional breakdown – Maryland

Three observations

1. Kudos to New Mexico State coach Mark Trakh, who has the Aggies in the NCAA field for the first time since 1988. Trakh, in his fourth season in Las Cruces, also has taken Pepperdine and Southern Cal to the Big Dance. His Aggies, the Western Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament champion, are the No. 16 seed and take on No. 1 Maryland in the opening round.

Michelle says: Savor all 63 games — not just final

We’ve arrived, a little earlier than in previous years, at the start of the NCAA tournament. And while many people might want to jump straight to the ending — one they think they can already write — we refuse to do that.

We are going to soak in the process of reducing a field of 64 teams down to one champion over the course of three weeks.

Because whether conventional wisdom suggests this in an exercise in inevitability, that Connecticut will be cutting down nets like last year, and the year before that, there are still 63 other teams determined to make sure they’re hoisting the championship trophy in Tampa.

Before the first games tip off (ESPN2/WatchESPN, noon ET Friday), let’s take a moment to appreciate the journey. We have plenty of time to focus on the end result, let’s not miss all the great stuff in the middle.

From Cheryl Coward: Cal refocused after the Pac-12 tourney, ready to help showcase women’s basketball in the Bay area as an NCAA early round host

Nearby: OSU women’s basketball: Beavers refocus after Pac-12 tourney loss

Scott Rueck doesn’t ever like, nor does he typically believe a team needs, to lose a game.

But Oregon State’s fifth-year women’s basketball coach was OK with his team’s loss to Colorado in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament two weekends ago for one simple reason — it wasn’t the NCAA tournament.

In order to win a tournament, Rueck says, a team has to be hungry enough and know exactly what it is playing for because every other team will bring its best performance.

It’s about doing everything you do as well as you possibly can, he says.

Also nearby: From Marcus Thompson II: Stanford needs Thompson’s ‘A’ game in NCAAs

They say it takes great guards to make noise in the NCAA tournament. That gives hope to Stanford, coming off as uninspiring a season as it has had in years.

Guard Amber Orrange, a battled tested senior who’s as smooth as they come, is a rock on which coach Tara VanDerveer can rely. If Lili Thompson can take her game to another level for the postseason, that gives the Cardinal an advantage to milk.

The recruiting standard has been set high by new coach Marlene Stollings and her staff at Minnesota.

The one-player class of senior forward Shae Kelley has flourished.

The first and only player Stollings signed since taking over the Gophers, Kelley has entered the NCAA Tournament with the fifth-best scoring average in the Big Ten at 17.5 points per game. She’s seventh in the conference with 9.4 rebounds per game. Her leadership was relied on even more after the loss of star guard Rachel Banham to a season-ending injury.

Pat Eaton-Rob from notices that “other” team from Connecticut:

Quinnipiac has quietly put together a 31-3 season, joining UConn and Notre Dame as the only teams in the tournament with more than 30 wins. They swept through an undefeated Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular season in just their second year in the league and then dethroned 9-time conference champion Marist, 72-61, in the conference title game.

The Bobcats are 104-29 since the 2011-12 season, with the second-highest winning percentage (.782) of all New England Division I schools during that span. They trail only UConn (.933).

Tim May at the Columbus Dispatch notices that “other” team from Ohio:

As Kiyanna Black recalled, coach Bob Boldon had a grand plan for Ohio University women’s basketball when he was named the 10th coach in school history two years ago.

“When he first got here, his first words were ‘MAC championships,’” said Black, a junior from Africentric. “And I’m just sitting there looking at him, ‘We’ve got to win a few games, first.’

“At first it felt so far away. But we just kept working and kept grinding, and believing in him and his staff. And we’re here.”

Speaking of coaches: Sue Semrau still building legacy at Florida State

And more coaches: Seton Hall’s Tony Bozzella set to enjoy father-daughter dance at NCAA Tournament

And more coaches: From Sue Favor: New Mexico State, coach Mark Trakh moving on up

New Mexico State has vaulted back on to the national basketball stage this spring, in a big way.

They won the Western Athletic Conference Championship earlier this month, for the first time in program history, after going 13-1 in league play and 22-7 overall. That put them into the NCAA Tournament, after a 27-year absence.

And MORE coaches: A first for American, and its coach

 To many Easterners, Iowa is a “flyover state.” Count Megan Gebbia among them.

“My initial reaction (after the NCAA women’s basketball selections were made Monday) was, ‘Wow, Iowa, I’ve never been there,’” said Gebbia, second-year coach at American University.

She’ll be here sometime today, when the Eagles arrive for preparations for their NCAA debut.

Hey! It’s time for the Mascot Bracket!

Don’t wanna read? Then take a listen to Dishin’ and Swishin’s NCAA Tourney Roundtable featuring Doug Feinberg, LaChina Robinson, Debbie Antonelli and Lin Dunn

Don’t wanna listen? How about dance?

In non-tourney news:

Ouch: Three players leave Vanderbilt women’s basketball team

Vanderbilt women’s basketball has announced its third departing player in the past week following the program’s first losing season in 16 years.

Freshman guard Paris Kea will transfer, per a Vanderbilt news release. Last week, the program lost freshman twin sisters Audrey-Ann and Khalèann Caron-Goudreau, who will also transfer.

Echo ouch: Brooks to leave Indiana University, third to depart program in last 3 days

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