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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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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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that “knee” and “injured” struck from the women’s basketball lexicon?

MRI today for Natalie.

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So, I’d posit that upsets in the Sweet Sixteen are less likely, especially if you’ve had upsets in the 32, simply because the disparity in talent (on the court – height and speed in particular) is still wonky in the women’s game. But, that didn’t stop Maryland and North Carolina. And BYU sure gave it a shot.

BYU was composed and confident and UConn was out of sorts in the first half but, eventually, the Huskies got their act together and dismissed the Cougars, 70-51.

The Terps looked as if they belonged and Alyssa was dominant. Tennessee was unimaginative on defense and single-minded on offense. The result? The #1 Vols go down, 73-62, and Maryland moves on.

The Carolinas engaged in a messy, physical game. The Gamecocks couldn’t pull it together in the last few minutes, and so the most questioned #1 seed goes home, and North Caroline keeps on dancin’.

While the Tar Heels battled, Stanford breezed. Penn State’s Maggie Lucas was stifled by a Cardinal team that was hitting on all cylinders. Chiney is the engine that’s making Stanford roar. Lions go down, 82-57.

Speaking of engines, Shoni demonstrated her growth over the last four years, playing with what Graham called “poise and efficiency.” (My friend Jeff LOVED being court side for the game, listening to Walz coach.) It also guaranteed her one more home game as Louisville overwhelmed a short-handed, but game, LSU, 73-47.

Live by the three, die by the three” met “We don’t take no stinkin’ threes” — but it was the Aggies defense that won them the game. DePaul’s high power offense never got going, and TAMU cruised, 84-65.

BTW: Kudos the the Nebraska faithful. They’ve turned out to support women’s basketball.

Saturday’s announced attendance for the two Sweet 16 games was 9,585, highest in this year’s NCAA women’s tournament. It obviously helps to have top-ranked Connecticut in town. Folks no doubt were curious to get a close look at the Huskies (A bit underwhelming Saturday, were they not?)

The strong attendance, though, also is a reflection of how well this state supports women’s basketball and women’s athletics in general, as Darnell Dickson points out in his Sunday column.

Baylor was not interested in making the game interesting and neither, it seemed, was Kentucky. Bears over the Wildcats, 90-72, and we get more chances to admire Sims in action.

Notre Dame put the pedal to the metal in the first half, and kept the Cowgirls corralled in the second, winning 89-72. The Irish are looking balanced and fierce.

Mechelle writes: Regional finalists truly elite group – Field includes ACC trio; seven of eight teams have won an NCAA title

Monday on ESPN (Elite Eight coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET), unbeaten Notre Dame and Connecticut will try to secure their tickets to Nashville. The Irish are seeking their fourth consecutive Final Four berth, UConn its seventh in a row.

Their challengers are both recent champions. At Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish take on No. 2 seed Baylor (ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET) in the only regional where the top two seeds made it to the final. The Lady Bears won the 2012 national championship, and were a good pick to repeat last year before being upset by Louisville.

The Huskies meet No. 3 seed Texas A&M (ESPN, 9:30 p.m. ET) in Lincoln, Neb. The Aggies won the 2011 title, but like Baylor the subsequent year, they did not beat UConn in the Final Four. In both 2011 and ’12, Notre Dame took out the Huskies in the national semifinals before falling in the final.

From Charlie:

Getting ahead: Previewing Baylor vs. Notre Dame

Only two teams with worse seeds won games in the Notre Dame Regional to this point, so it no surprise that No. 1 seed Notre Dame and second-seeded Baylor meet Monday night (ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET) with a trip to Nashville and the Final Four at stake.

The game features two great offenses, three of the best players in the country in Baylor’s Odyssey Sims and Notre Dame’s Kayla McBride and Jewell Loyd, and programs that have combined for five Final Fours appearances since 2010, including a meeting in the 2012 national championship game.

Here are five observations heading into what could be the most explosive of all the Elite Eight games:

More on the battle of the Gold and Green:

From the AP: Odyssey Sims tries to reach one last Final Four with Baylor Lady Bears

Chris Goff, Journal Gazette: Irish will test ways to control Baylor’s superstar and Irish fans will bid adieu to 3 seniors

Curt Rallo continues a theme: Notre Dame women’s team targets Baylor point guard

I think that (Sims) creates so many problems for you because when she attacks and gets in the lane, you focus on her, which is what a lot of people did last year with Skylar (Diggins),” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “I think the problem is that you focus on her and you forget about the other people and they put themselves in great positions to score.”

Curt also mentions that Payback is low on Notre Dame’s priorities

Notre Dame is 0-4 all-time against Baylor, the team standing between the Irish and a fourth consecutive trip to the Final Four. The Bears, featuring 6-foot-8 national Player of the Year Brittney Griner, beat Notre Dame 80-61 in the 2012 national championship game. Then on Dec. 5, 2012, Baylor beat the Irish, 73-61, the last time Notre Dame has walked off its home court on the short side of the scoreboard.

Reaching the Final Four is the main task on Monday night, but the Irish are trying to channel the energy that a payback game provides into the right direction.

As UConn prepares for Texas A&M, Mechelle writes: Discipline key to UConn’s success

… this year isn’t the first time that a great Huskies team didn’t have all that much depth. It’s been the case before, and the hope of forcing UConn starters to the bench with foul trouble has been floated in the past. It’s a wish by opponents that almost never gets fulfilled.

The Huskies are trained very rigorously not to foul. That takes good athleticism, yes. But it’s just as much about playing smart and — you guessed it — being disciplined.

“The minute you smack somebody, all of your hard work is negated,” Auriemma said in regard to playing solid defense, only to end up sending a foe to the line with a mistake out of bad judgment or frustration. “After a while, they understand that, ‘If I want to stay in the game, I can’t foul.’

TAMU is hoping for for one magic night against undefeated UConn

“They’ve got five future WNBA first-round choices in their starting lineup. That’s how good they are,” Blair said Sunday. “But for 40 minutes Monday night, why not? Why not? … I like my team, I like our chances.”

There’s more (thanks Nan!):

Low anxiety: UConn women don’t feel Final Four pressure, Post
UConn women’s game day: Monday night vs. Texas A&M, Post
UConn Offers Glimpse Of Future As It Contemplates Present Vs. A&M, Courant
UConn vs. Texas A&M, Courant
Chris Dailey, Quizmaster, Keeps Team Engaged, Courant
UConn’s Jefferson, Texas A&M’s Jones excited to face off in Elite 8, Register
Texas A&M assistant Bob Starkey helped hand UConn its last loss in Elite 8, Register
UConn women face Texas A&M in Elite Eight tonight, Day
KML is keeping the art of shooting alive, Day
UConn to play A&M for a shot at the Final Four, Daily Campus
Perfect UConn looms in Elite 8, Texas A&M The Battalion
A&M looks to play the role of spoiler against 37-0 UConn, AggieSports.com
They’ve been known to do the impossible, but beating UConn will be tougher, AggieSports.com

Charlie is Looking ahead: Louisville vs. Maryland preview

Many felt Louisville was underseeded at No. 3 and now the Cardinals, after easily disposing of LSU on Sunday, have reached the precipice of a second straight Final Four anyway. On Tuesday, they get that chance at home at the KFC Yum! Center against No. 4 seed Maryland (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET).

The Terps, who haven’t been to the Final Four since winning a national championship in 2006, had little trouble with No. 1 seed Tennessee in their regional semifinal.

Here are five observations of the two teams in what sets up to be an evenly matched Elite Eight contest:

Check out espnW’s Elite Eight picks.

 

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Busy as all get out, but I got to see the mom for Thanksgiving – so it’s all good.

Speaking of good, it was wicked scary, but it seems better: Antonita Slaughter collapses on bench

At 9:57 Tuesday night, U of L player Tia Gibbs posted a picture on Twitter of a text message Slaughter had sent to her teammates saying she was doing OK and congratulating them on the victory.

“I’m good,” Slaughter wrote. “First thing I (asked) was how many turnovers we had.

Things are getting somewhat clearer in the land of women’s basketball. Certainly the very anticipated game between Duke and UConn (Dec. 17th in Durham) got more interesting with the news that Morgan Tuck and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis are well on the way to mending.

On the topic of “anticipated games,we’ve got the Wildcats v. the Bears looming (Hmm? So much for the Sooner Supplanting?). Whoops!

Speaking of interesting match ups, after some intriguing back-and-forth, it looks like there is a chance Notre Dame will continue to play Connecticut.

Speaking of Notre Dame: nice homecoming for Natalie Achonwa in Toronto.

“She’s done so much for our program and really for all of Canada basketball, being the youngest member of [the 2012 Canadian Olympic women’s basketball team],” McGraw said of Achonwa. “She’s very well known in Toronto, and it was just great that her family, friends, teammates could all come out and see her play. We were just so happy to be able to do that for her.”

In a random survey of things missed, I will say Ohio State is proving a stubborn out.

Putting the lie to the old saw, “There are no upsets in women’s basketball:

Spartans defense stunned by IPFW

(Now ranked) Syracuse over Texas A&M – but, of course, it may be the Aggies don’t like (burnt) orange.

In Mexico, ASU took down UNC.

UCLA knocked off Oklahoma on the Sooners’ homecourt.

Washington State got a huge win over Nebraska. And Nebraska also lost to UNC — which might be called an upset.

Too early to know if Kentucky over Louisville was an upset — but when state bragging rights are on the line, it’s all about the emotions.

Speaking about state bragging rights: Northwestern over DePaul.

How much is San Diego State missing Beth Burns?

Yes, I noticed!

Dem Great Danes are sitting pretty at 7-0.

ACC is chock full of undefeateds: Duke, Syracuse, Notre Dame.

Ditto in the Big 12: Baylor is joined by Iowa State and Oklahoma State.

Yup, that’s Villanova at 7-0 in what used to be the Big East. And congrats to co-captain Jessica Wamala, who was named a Rhodes Scholar.

Yes, it’s early, but the Big 10’s Indiana is 8-0.

C-USA could be fun: UTEP and East Carolina are both 7-0.

Hello, EMU in the Mid-American. The Eagles are 5-0.

There have been some tests, but Colorado is 7-0 in the Pac-12.

With a 6-0 record, Holy Cross seems to have regained its mojo.

The SEC has several in the ranks of the unblemished: Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee. Three one-loss teams lurk behind them, so much will be revealed during conference play.

West Coast looks like it’s going to be fun: San Diego (Congrats, Coach Fisher: best start in school history), BYU and St. Mary’s are spotless.

In a world often full of coulda-shoulda-woulda’s, here’s an interesting story: SDSU coach Johnston has no regrets about UWGB decision

It’s been six years since Aaron Johnston called former University of Wisconsin-Green Bay athletic director Ken Bothof from a Minnesota airport to inform him he was having second thoughts about replacing Kevin Borseth as the women’s basketball coach.

He ended up boarding his flight to Green Bay. But by the time he arrived, he had made the decision to return to South Dakota State University.

It’s not been easy in the land of the upstart Eagles, but coach Smesko is encouraged by last victory

No matter how you cut it, 900 wins is extraordinary. Belated shout out to Tara VanDerveeer who, despite her ridiculous record, seems to fly under the radar.

She believes her style is a reflection of her parents, who were both teachers.

“I think I knew from the beginning that coaching is really teaching,” VanDerveer said. “You have 30 public exams a year. I am a student of the game. I know the more I learn, the more there is to learn. I keep studying players and games and try to learn from everyone I’m around.

“I just try to get better every day. Tomorrow, I hope I do a better job than today.”

“I just try to get better every day. Tomorrow, I hope I do a better job than today.” Now that’s a role model.

Bits and pieces from the W:

In a WATN? moment:Adrienne Johnson – Injured Former WNBA Player Loses Comp Case

The Shock, amongst others, are hoping for top prize as WNBA draft lottery is set for next Tuesday, Dec. 10th, 3:30EST on SportsCenter. So, it makes sense that Nate at Swish Appeal has Five guards to watch

I begin this “watch list” with a look at Hartley because she was one of the hardest prospects on this list to “figure out” after the way she played last season – the harsh reality is that the WNBA’s current 11-player rosters aren’t forgiving enough to assume a player will automatically make a roster based on pedigree. But all those challenges she had during her junior season leave us with questions for her senior season, which frame the purpose of a “watch list”.

It doesn’t really matter what league you look at: in most years, the top 10 prospects for any draft are going to change over the course of a season, even if the top three remains the same from start to finish. In the WNBA in particular, we know that players can’t just leave when their stock is high or the moment they show upside, meaning scouts get the added benefit of watching a player for four years – from a prospect with upside to a finished (college) product.

So this “watch list” is the set of players who showed something statistically in their junior season that put them on pace to possibly make a WNBA roster after they leave the collegiate ranks if they stay on pace or improve.

Speaking of guards, Kate Bennert at the .com says Skylar Diggins  is Working Harder Than Ever in the Off Season

Speaking of hard workers, WNBA Tamika Catchings Talks About Giving Back to Community

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