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A couple of nice primetime games last night.

#8 Louisville hung around for a while, but the combo of  Loyd (2opts) and Reimer (8-8 & game changing blocks) plus poor shooting (33%) doomed the Cardinals against #4 Notre Dame. (Great crowd for TV.)

As usual, junior shooting guard Jewell Loyd led the way for Notre Dame, finishing with 20 points and seven rebounds, but this performance was more about guts than flash.

“I think everybody’s going to try to be physical with us,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “That seems to be the game plan. It was a really physical game. That was something you could see we needed to get better at.”

#2 South Carolina v. #6 Tennessee was mighty entertaining – and heartening for the Vols. When South Carolina remember that Izzy was out, they scored. When they didn’t, Tennessee kept it close. It came down to the wire – or, should I say, the endline. Dozier sealed the deal and the Gamecocks, who hadn’t beaten the Lady Vols at home since 1980 and stand 4-47 all-time against them, got the win. (Another great crowd.) Writes Mechelle: 

You hear all kinds of crazy things coming from the stands when you sit on media row. But sometimes, you also hear the absolute truth.

In Monday’s intense, riveting, entertaining, “March-is-right-around-the-corner” game between South Carolina and Tennessee, the Gamecock fans were doing all they could to emotionally power their team to firmly gain the upper hand on the Lady Vols.

Then a fan said, “This is Tennessee. They don’t go away.”

Indeed, even against the No. 2 team in the country, even without their top scorer and rebounder, even with a rotation that realistically went no deeper than six, the Lady Vols pushed South Carolina right to the wire.

But that made the Gamecocks’ 71-66 victory even a little more special. This was a high-level game with a lot on the line: the SEC’s two best teams, both unbeaten in league play, battling it out.

The SEC gave us one upset for the night, as a tight game eventually went to Mississippi, beating #13 Kentucky for the first time in six tries.

“It is a very special victory. It is a program victory,” coach Matt Insell told reporters. “I can’t put into words how satisfying it is to beat a ranked-team like Kentucky. They have had unbelievable wins all year and we beat them by eight. Our team just really went out there and took control.”

Samford gave us the second, as they took down #2 in the Southern Conference, East Tennessee State, 69-46.

“I was really pleased with our preparation,” Samford head coach Mike Morris said. “We have really good young women with good character. And when you have that, you can really challenge them in different ways and their character comes out in their work ethic and how they work through different things. I thought we did a great job of just taking care of the ball tonight. And then, when they made a run, we didn’t fold, and I thought that was big at end of the first half.”

Speaking of the Southern, the conference’s top team, #20 Chattanooga, had its second loosy-goosy game in a row, having to fight off the Mercer Bears, 56-51. The Mocs, who won their 19th SoCo title,  face ETSU next.

#5 Maryland squashed Penn State like a bug, 65-34, and got a nice, shiny Big 10 trophy for their efforts.

I’m really, really proud of this group,” coach Brenda Frese said. “Going into this season there were a lot of unknowns — young team, new conference. To be able to come out and play the way they have in these first 16 games is not easy.”

The NEC got nice and tight as Robert Morris couldn’t shake off its 3-point loss to Bryant and fell to Sacred Heart, 69-60. Bryant and Central Connecticut St. continued their winning ways.

The Central women’s basketball team took control of Monday night’s home game against St. Francis Brooklyn the way it has taken control of most games.

Trailing 16-10 and facing the second-best defense in the Northeast Conference – only Central’s own defense is better – the Blue Devils outscored the Terriers 17-2 over the final 10 minutes of the first half and cruised to a relatively easy victory, 61-43 at Detrick Gymnasium.

Graham offers up a little somethin’ somethin’ on Iowa:

“I feel we have beaten teams that are more talented than we are,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “But because we do those little things better, we have come out on top.”

This is far from the first place wherein it is suggested that what we call chemistry when it comes to sports is much closer to alchemy. It is more magic than science. It can’t be measured. It can’t be quantified. It can’t be tested. Its existence might not be a matter of faith — almost all of us have been part of a workplace, athletic team or club where people got along and have likely experienced the same when such harmony was absent. But its place in the equation of success, whether it resides closer to cause or effect, is entirely a matter of belief. The basic conundrum remains.

Do teams win because they have good chemistry?

Or do teams have good chemistry because they win?

Did you catch this piece on The real Diamond DeShields

The world might never know why Diamond DeShields left the University of North Carolina, but we do know she is ready for a new start at Tennessee.

The 2014 national freshman of the year sat down with espnW recently to discuss her decision to transfer, her relationships with Tar Heels coach Sylvia Hatchell and the Lady Vols’ Pat Summitt and Holly Warlick, and explains why she initially committed to North Carolina.

More than anything, DeShields is eager to bring closure to her decision to transfer to Knoxville. Speculation ran rampant when DeShields left the Tar Heels after her freshman season. 

Oregon State’s gain wasn’t George Fox’s loss:

Kylie Dummer was in tears following her freshman basketball season at Southridge High School in 2010, where the Skyhawks had won their fifth state title in six years.

That was when coach Michael Meek announced to the team he was leaving for a college coaching opportunity at Division III George Fox University in Newberg. The team’s previous coach, Scott Rueck, had left to take the same position at Oregon State – giving Meek an opportunity to bring his success to the collegiate level.

Now in his fifth season leading the Beavers, Rueck has taken that program to new heights. In the same time span, Meek has maintained and built upon the legacy Rueck first created at George Fox.

And in the “no, you really don’t get the idea of ethics”: Riverdale, Smyrna girls basketball teams removed from postseason

The TSSAA removed Riverdale and Smyrna from the high school girls basketball postseason on Monday following a report from a high school referee in charge of their District 7-AAA consolation game held Saturday where he said that both schools “played to lose the game.”

Both Rutherford County schools were placed on restrictive probation by the high school association for the rest of the school year and probation for the 2015-16 school year.

Both schools were fined a total of $1,500 apiece.

In the “we let our play do the talking” news: Neumann-Goretti tops Archbishop Wood for PCL title

FWIW, I’m tossing this out with a h/t to Slam: Filmmakers Seek Crowdfunding for Doc Series on Evolution of Women’s Basketball.

A feature­length documentary, Concrete Rose will use stylized interview portraits of the men and women who are the games trailblazers to tell a universal story about women’s basketball. Thematically organized around on the court play that reflect a wide range of human emotion and experience, the film seeks to reveal a larger more complex portrait of our shared love for basketball.

To be honest, the description is a little fru-fru for me.

In other history news, Ray is Catching up with Carol Blazejowski: Youth basketball, the WNBA, and reflecting on women’s basketball history

The moment stood frozen in time.

“Hi, I’m Carol glad to meet you.”

Over the years I frequently met a new officiating partner in this manner, but this was one of those situations in which I met a former player whose games I covered – a player of legendary proportions whom I virtually idolized for her achievements both on the floor and off of it in the women’s game.

“Hi, I’m Ray nice to meet you,” was the simple response.

Where do you even start when discussing the career of Carol Blazejowski?

On the Aussie front: Canberra Capitals skipper Abby Bishop signs with WNBA side Seattle Storm and

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Superb win for a program that’s been rebuilding under Lisa Stone: St. Louis upsets #20 George Washington. It was Saint Louis’ first win over a ranked opponent since defeating No. 20 DePaul 73-71 in overtime on Jan. 24, 2003.

Don’t include me? (NCAA’s top 20 reveal holds surprises. Reax from Mechelle.  Why we do this? An explanation. ) Fine, we’ll just go out and stomp all over some Sooners. Baylor wins its 22nd straight, 89-66, behind Nina Davis’ 31pts.

Another program showing huge signs of improvement under first year coach Daynia La-Force: Rhode Island over Saint Joseph’s in OT, 63-61. URI snapped a 10-year losing streak against the Hawks. They’ve also got a five-time Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week in Charise Wilson.

Ohio is having a happy time in the MAC. Bowling Green not so much. And Miami (OH) is just glad to have gotten their first MAC win.

American keeps rollin’ (though the were down early by 11) and Army is looming behind.

The Skyhawks are skylarking through the OVC.

Still not back on track – New Hampshire falls to its neighbor Vermont, 63-60.

I may regret saying this, but it’s hard to imagine Maine and Albany not being co-champions in the America East.

Tough year to be a Penn State or Purdue fan.

Better to be a New Mexico fan: Lobo women’s basketball is on a roll

Grrrrrr: Fresno State women’s basketball: ’Dogs focused on UNLV after loss

Well, hello! USF women’s basketball team crashes the Top 25

The University of South Florida women’s basketball team has made history.

For the first time in the program’s history, the Bulls are ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 women’s basketball poll.

Bu-bye: Longtime Pennsylvania girls basketball coach resigns amidst ugly allegations of recruiting interference

A longtime head girls basketball coach in the Philadelphia region resigned on Monday in the aftermath of a scandal focused on his alleged attempts to scare collegiate recruiters away from opposing athletes in the area.

As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Archbishop Wood girls basketball coach John Gallagher tendered his resignation Monday after his name was entered into the public record during a lawsuit filed by former Neumann-Goretti girls basketball coach Letty Santarelli, who has sued her predecessor for a sum of $50,000, citing slander, defamation of character and libel.

Games of interest today:

Revenge Part Deux? FGCU v. Northern Kentucky.

Revenge Part Uno? Marist got Quished by the Q last time they met, 73-55. The Red Foxes get to host the Bobcats and hope to return the favor.

Rebound Part Uno? #1/2 South Carolina v. LSU.

South Carolina players broke from a meeting after practice with smiles, laughs and goofy poses.

Bothered by their rout at Connecticut? Not this group.

#6 Tennessee looks to stay undefeated in the SEC until they meet fellow undefeat-ee USC (Feb 23rd).

Green Bay (8-1) looks to maintain their spot atop the Horizon when they face Wright State (7-2).

The Horizon League goes 20 deep for rebounding leaders on its women’s basketball stat sheets.

In the latest report, it took a scan of the entire list to find a University of Wisconsin-Green Bay player. Megan Lukan is No. 20 with an average of 5.0 rebounds per game.

Chalk it up as another example of how stats can be misleading.

Some top WCC teams going up against each other: San Diego v. Pacific and BYU v. Saint Mary’s.

#7 Florida State goes up against #17 North Carolina, as the Seminoles try and keep up with Notre Dame (7pm ET ESPN3).

#11 Duke goes up against Virginia, as the Blue Devils try and keep up with FSU.

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in California: “Berkeley’s girls basketball coach Cheryl Draper took her team off the court with 1 minute, 20 seconds left in a game in a loss to Miramonte-Orinda, claiming she and her players heard racial slurs.”

And now we have this in Pennsylvania: Smear campaign against nation’s top girls basketball team – Philly’s Neumann-Goretti – traced to rival coach (nice job by write Joseph Santoliquito)

It attempted to discredit the NG program, alleging that the African players on the Saints, here legally, are older than their actual age and are in the United States illegally. Contents of the email were posted on comment forums of media websites (since removed) alleging institutional misconduct, and stating that the “FBI” is looking into the matter.

What PhillyVoice has uncovered is that the email Aston received was not just from anyone. It emanated from an email address that is registered to the name and home address of another Philadelphia Catholic League coach, Archbishop Wood girls basketball coach John Gallagher, who through an attorney neither confirms nor denies sending the email to Aston “and others.”

Additionally, Archbishop Wood has known about this — and has taken no action to date. 

And this from Maine: Witnesses: Calais girls basketball teammates exchanged obscenities, one pushed coach during game

An altercation between two Calais High School girls basketball players during a recent game is believed to have sparked a controversy that prompted the superintendent of schools to tender his resignation, after the school board reduced his disciplinary action against the players.

On the flip side: From the Deseret News: Copper Hills reaping the rewards of years of building program

“To be honest, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” said Morley, who spent nine years coaching boys basketball, as well as football. “There was no tradition, no anything. They basically handed me a bunch of deflated balls and old uniforms and said, ‘Hey, turn the program around.’ I knew there would be work, but to be honest, I didn’t quite know how much.” Morley quickly diagnosed a number of issues. First, he was new to girls basketball so he wasn’t even sure if his experience would translate.

Yes, you can call Kansas State over #20 Texas an upset, but a bigger upset was Oakland (10-11, 4-4) over Green Bay (17-4, 7-1)), 70-67. And it was on the Phoenix’s home court.

By ending UWGB’s season-high winning streak of eight games, Oakland became the first team to knock off the Phoenix in Horizon play at the midway point of the league schedule. What’s more, the feisty Grizzlies handed UWGB (17-4 overall, 7-1 conference) its first home loss.

“I’d be lying to you if I said it wasn’t a little bit of a surprise,” said an elated Jeff Tungate, Oakland’s second-year coach. “But, we’ve had a really good week of practice, and our players have been really determined. I knew we were going to play well coming in. I just didn’t know, is ‘playing well’ going to be enough? Thankfully tonight, it was.”

You may recall that Tungate inherited a program that was a hot mess.

Another big upset: San Jose State (10-11, 4-6 MW) stunned Fresno State (17-4, 9-1), 56-51.

I’m have a funny feeling this group of Mountaineers maybe driving coach Carey bonkers. They take down TCU, 76-71.

Ouch. Albany took out its frustration on New Hampshire, 74-48.

It’s not quite Monday, but it’s never too early to start throwing down gauntlets: Editorial: Greatness awaits USC women’s basketball team

 AS WE WATCHED the University of South Carolina women’s basketball team evolve under the leadership of coach Dawn Staley over the past few years, it was evident that it was on a trajectory toward elite status.

We believe it has crossed that threshold this season, having spent 11 straight weeks at the top of the national rankings. A showdown with No. 2 Connecticut on the road presents a grand opportunity for the Gamecocks to step into rarified air and send a message that not only can it run with the big programs, it can defeat them.

Last season, Kansas State enticed fans to attend a women’s basketball game by offering free bacon.

This season, Georgetown is one-upping those Wildcats with something even better: free kale.

Congrats: Brittany Boyd breaks Cal women’s basketball all-time assist record

Congrats, (but I think the Harvard English professors might want to chat with the headline writer): Fagbenle Reaches Century Mark in Women’s Basketball’s Loss to Penn

Though the Harvard women’s basketball team may have been on the losing end of a back and forth contest against Penn (11-6, 2-1 Ivy) Saturday evening at Lavietes Pavilion, the game was one for the record books.

As the first half came to a close, senior forward Temi Fagbenle sunk a free throw to become the 19th player in Crimson history to score 1,000 points. Fagbenle was Harvard’s leading scorer in the game, earning 19 points to bring her career total to 1,010.

Intersting: Pepperdine Students to Protest Alleged Discrimination Against Lesbian Basketball Players – The women claim their coach told them, ‘Lesbianism isn’t tolerated here.’ 

Some great stuff by Sue on Diana’s decision to sit out the WNBA season:

A Washington Post columnist says Diana Taurasi’s decision to sit out this year’s WNBA season for $1.5 million to play for her Russian team next winter is “a sobering message for the WNBA.”

Nope. It’s business as usual.

It’s a sad situation for Taurasi, the WNBA’s highest-paid player at just less than $107,000 a year, and a problem for the WNBA.

No, this is a sad situation, as is any player who is so worn down after year-round playing that they look tired in WNBA press conferences. And there are lots of those. Taurasi is taking advantage of her skills and her popularity and accepting a great offer that will take care of her financially when she’s older. She’s doing it on her terms, her way. As my source who first told me this news Friday night said, taking the money was “a no-brainer” for Taurasi.

It’s curious that Russian teams will pay big bucks to American players, but U.S. teams will not.

Again, no. I wrote about the differences between U.S. and European/Asian salaries in 2012:

Women’s professional basketball in Europe and Asia is directly effected by the worldwide recession because teams there are sponsored by businesses and governments. When faced with keeping their enterprises alive, companies cut the extras, like their team sponsorships. Ditto, governments. And as up to 100 percent of a team’s budget can come from sponsors, some franchises are forced to fold……

Nice piece on the NCAA’s Champion Magazine on FGCU’s Kaneisha Atwater:

Ninety-eight percent of teen moms do not graduate college before they turn 30. Kaneisha, though, is on the cusp of being counted among the other 2 percent. She is on pace to receive a degree in criminal justice from Florida Gulf Coast University in May 2016, thanks to a basketball scholarship.

For decades, a birth often marked the death of a college career. News reports told stories of scholarships that weren’t renewed, of free paths to a degree blockaded, of pregnant athletes whose fear of losing their place on a team steered them to abortions. Those accounts spurred culture change: In 2008, Division I adopted legislation preventing athletes from losing their scholarships for medical reasons the year they became pregnant. Seven years later, schools like Florida Gulf Coast are willing to make accommodations so athletes like Kaneisha can juggle diapers and textbooks and basketballs.

Having a flashback to Yolanda Griffith’s experience at Palm Beach Community College under coach Sally Smith.

The door she opened led her to one of the top programs and coaches in the country, Iowa and C. Vivian Stringer. But, not long after enrolling, Griffith discovered she was pregnant. With the father uninterested in raising a child, she left school and returned to Chicago where her family banded around her. The birth of her daughter, Candace, in May of 1989 found Griffith unsure what the future held for her. Realizing she wanted to continue to play basketball, a game plan was laid out: go to a Junior College, graduate, then finish out her career at a four-year college. The first thought was to stay local, but a good friend knew the head coach at Palm Beach Community College, Sally Smith. Interestingly enough, Smith, who had been the first black All-American on the legendary Nashville Business College team, herself had had a daughter when she was 18. “He said,” recalled Griffith, “’This is the best place for you as far as the facilities, getting education, and helping single parents.’”

Wait, isn’t this a recruiting violation for UConn-Notre Dame-Louisville? Mo’ne Davis, Charles, Diggins, Schimmel to Play in Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game

 

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