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And may I be this first (WHB blogger) to put in a request that Nashville host again… SOON! There’s just too much to see and do and I only have two feet and 24 hours in a day.

So, after a Holiday Inn breakfast that included bacon (!) and scrambled eggs (!) and biscuits (!), the rest of Monday morning was spent plotting and planning with two fellow basketball nuts. The brainstorming and opinionating was fast and furious (is there any better kind?) and we even managed to extract a couple of doable action steps. Watch this space for future actions in support of building women’s basketball attendance.

I then joined a small cohort of friends from the midwest and we *tried* to take in the Country Music Hall of Fame. There’s just too much stuff (and, said my Nashville friend, I didn’t push enough of the buttons). I’m not sure why I didn’t know about Bakersfield and the music business, nor why I didn’t connect the impact of the Dust Bowl on west coast music and filmmaking, but I’m glad that significant gap was filled.

Lunch/Dinner time followed at Jack’s barbecue (FOB Sue can now rest easy) ’cause that’s required dinning in Nashvegas. Love their potato salad…

Then came the games.

As always, it’s fun to see women’s basketball history walking the hallways of the (lovely) Bridgestone arena. Jody Conradt, Tina Charles, Lisa Leslie, Pokey Chatman, Lin Dunn, Andy Landers…. the list goes on. We watched the game next to the Best Uncle Ever – he brought his niece to the game as a present (she’d played basketball against TN’s Harrison, but softball is her love). A landscaper by trade, soccer coach by avocation, BUE had a great eye for spotting former players as they wandered by…

As for the games: I don’t know if it came across on TV, but there was a golden, glowing ball surrounding McBride. What a sight to see. It was not so fun watching Maryland’s matador defense in action nor their stationary offense. Que paso?

In the second game, Stanford came out confident and with a clear plan to slow the game down. And it worked beautifully, as Connecticut’s offense continued to stutter and start. But then that three rimmed out, and there was a missed layup, and before you knew it, I’m sure the phrase “patented Connecticut run” was being used by the game announcers. Unfortunately, having slowed down the game, the Cardinal couldn’t speed it up when they needed to catch up.

Highlights: The Firecrackers, a fabulous group of jump ropers, the marching band from local TSU, and Kiah Stokes – who was my “player on which the game turned” nominee. McBride’s performance was THE highlight, though.

We exited the arena into a drizzling rain (boo!) and hustled our way to the fancy, shmancy Omni for a post-game beverage and game dissection – only to find there were no late-night beverages available. Luckily, the staff was susceptible to my subtle NY charm and hangdog puppy face. Five minutes later we were sipping lovely martinis and leaning up next to a fireplace de-damping. Ahhhh….

Monday morning I put on my “yah, I’m on vacation, but I can do a little of my ‘real’ work if ya want.” Met friend Lattie to lead a session on questions and questioning with some fabulous teaching artists who work under the auspices of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. Far too little time — and SO much fun to be with them — but Lattie did treat me to some yummy Asian fusion and a walk through the extraordinary Nashville Public Library. And I do mean extraordinary. A new building that fits it seamlessly with the surrounding architecture — it reads 1930s — it manages to be “classical” without dominating or overwhelming. Best of all, it has a PUPPET THEATRE!!!! The library has a tradition of puppetry – initiated by a gentleman to loved to use puppets to engage young children. The new library honored that tradition is a delightful way. I had a chance to meet the amazing puppeteers and see their exquisite puppets. Oh, to have seen their show String City: Nashville’s Tradition of Music and Puppetry.

Squeezed in another meeting of mind — this time “women’s basketball history” nuts. What a delight to meet FOB Ellyn and talk history and research and ethnography and Susan Cahn and oral history and… well, just talk history. What more could you ask? So, if anyone reading is a good grant writer – or just has some extra cash they’ve been wanting to invest in a great cause – this is what we want: $50,000 to help capture the oral histories of women’s basketball. (Sort of a “StoryCorps of Women’s Basketball.)” We want to take advantage of reporters or educators and their love of stories and say, “Here’s $250 – go spend a couple of hours with this person (perhaps an area/neighborhood person) and get them to talk about what it was like to play, organize, officiate, manage, advocate and legislate for women’s basketball.” We’d then have them upload it and have the interview magically transcribed and catalogued.” (About $250 an interview). Simple, no?

Oh – and all this plotting and planning happen in the exquisite Hermitage Hotel. A kind staff member  gave us a thirty-second tour, that turned in to a discussion of NCAA, unions, the women’s suffragette movement with, of course, a little women’s basketball history tossed in for good measure. Wheee!

The day continued with delicious food (are you noticing a recurring theme on this trip?) at City House in Germantown. Knowledgable and friendly staff, intriguing beverages, too much food (meaning, there was no room for desert! *sad face*) Since friend Lattie was our guide, we got to make another too-quick pass through another part of the oh, so impressive Centennial Park — I really liked the timeline.

We capped off the evening with a Nashville tradition: the Time Jumpers at Third and Lindsley. Wow. Just wow. And the verse they added to Henry Strzelecki’s Long Tall Texan? Priceless… Thanks Vince and company!

A quick look at the basketball news before turning out the lights made my head spin and my eyes go wide. When I randomly wondered if some reporter would be ridiculous enough to ask Geno and Muffet the “If you were driving and saw the other coach on the side of the road with a flat tire would you stop question” I was KIDDING. What on earth happened in the bowels of the Bridgestone during the off-day media circus?

Honestly, coach McGraw – hush, now. It’s about the players. Because What’s Happening Tonight in the Women’s NCAA Final Has Never Happened In Any Other Sport

 

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Wicked early flight meant getting up wicked-er early, so I’m looking forward to a nap soon.

It’s chilly-greening-spring here in Tennessee – 40 or so when we landed, but the Final Four greeter promised us 64 by noon. When you’re in the sun, yes….when you’re not? Brrrrrr!

Easy car pick up, then headed to East Nashville for some breakfast at Marche Artisan Foods. Great service, yummy food…

With time to kill before the hotel opened up, drove into, through and around downtown Nashville. Small and bustling at the center. Different, more concentrated vibe than when I was in Knoxville for the WBHOF induction ceremony a while back. Strong mix of old and new architecture.

Continued our wandering exploration and end up driving past Vanderbilt (yes, as we researched, started by THAT Vanderbilt – hence the “Commodores” nickname.) Did you know the campus was also an arboretum? Did a quick drive through – really, really lovely. Also stopped by Centennial Park to visit the Parthenon and did some walking. Yup, it’s big. Nearby lake is being dredged/cleaned, so that wasn’t so scenic.

It’s early for birds – but there is a list: RobinsBlue Jays, a lone Turkey Vulture, cackling Grackles, some beautiful Bank Swallows, noisy Northern Mockingbird, a gregarious Carolina Wren, and an early Hermit Thrush.

Next on the agenda, the aforementioned nap, then a return to East Nashville to partake of the fare at the Eastland Cafe. Then, we’re off to the Grand Ole Opry!

Phew!

Hoping tomorrow features a visit with a WBHOF inductee, coffee, brunch, barbecue and two fabulous games.

Until them, some more reading (and listening): First, make sure you check out the Tennessean’s coverage:

Fans show love early in Women’s Final Four

Kara Lawson: No favorite between Pat, Geno

Rebecca Lobo: UConn is beatable

Legendary lady Pat Summitt: Pride of Cheatham County

WOOT! WOOT! WBB HISTORY!! Nashville Business College: Champions before their time – LONG BEFORE TENNESSEE AND UCONN, THESE FARM GIRLS DOMINATED WOMEN’S BASKETBALL AND THEIR RECORD IS UNMATCHED TODAY.

Final Four teams have fun at Ryman

UConn’s Dolson, Hartley old hands at Final Four, Post
More Than Anything, Geno Demands Sweat From UConn Women, Courant
More Awards For Stefanie Dolson, Courant
Capsule: No. 1 Seed UConn Women Vs. No. 2 Seed Stanford, Courant
Pictures: Behind The Scenes With UConn Women In Nashville, Courant
It’s a Great Time to be a Husky, Stefanie Dolson

Stanford’s supporting cast stepping up to help Ogwumike, Register
ESPN analyst touts Ogwumike’s pro potential, SFGate
Lawson Says Stanford Has Best Shot At UConn, Hartford Courant

U-Md. abuzz as women’s basketball team heads to Final Four, Washington Post
Nashville already full of Maryland fans, ABC
Majoring in Chemistry, Chloe Pavlech

Before UConn, ND should fear Terps, Observer
Notre Dame Women: Save Your Pity, Blue & Gold
Irish must prove doubters wrong, Kate Fagan
Geno (And USA Basketball) Love Kayla McBride, Hartford Courant

Dishin & Swishin 04/03/14 Podcast: Breaking down the Final Four with coaches Doug Bruno, Lindsay Gottlieb & Coquese Washington, HoopFeed

Duke coach’s analysis of women’s Final Four, Bradenton Herald

In Women’s Final Four, Jousting Before the First Jump Ball, yea! It’s Harvey at the New York Times

Beating UConn rarely leads to title – Most teams that beat UConn in NCAA tourney don’t win NCAA championship, Mechelle Voepel

Rematches story of women’s Final Four, AP Teresa M. Walker

Five minutes with ESPN analyst Kara Lawson, Nashville Business Journal

NCAA hosting women’s hoops summit at Final Four, AP Doug

 

As coach Mitchell cuts to assistant coaches, Sea of Blue is Taking a Moment To Celebrate The Season That Was

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Curt Rallo ‏@rallo_NDinsider 9m
ND source tells S.B. Tribune that Natalie Achonwa @NatAchon has ACL tear in left knee and will not play in Final Four for @ndwbb.

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