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Upset City!

I’m sure there were mixed feelings on the Tiger bench. # 16 LSU ruined Candace Parker’s return for her jersey retirement ceremony… and gave Coach Caldwell the biggest win of her young coaching career – though they almost let it slip away: They had a nice double-digit lead with under five minutes left and lost their composure, resulting in a ton of turnovers. #5 Tennessee took advantage, cutting it closer and closer… until they lost their composure – two technicals later, and the Tigers get the three-point win. Glad I’m not a coach.

Speaking of big wins: If you thought Indiana’s game against #22 Iowa would mean the Hoosiers would soon exit the ranks of the undefeated, you were wrong. Important win for “drama free” coach Miller.

Take a deep breath, Indy, ’cause #17 Purdue is up next… and they might be ticked after being blown out in the second half by (I told ya!) tough out Ohio State.

“Every night, you’re going to play a well-prepared team and it’s going to be a challenge,” head coach Kevin McGuff said. “It’s a great league for women’s basketball and hopefully we continue to be better, so we meet these challenges head on. I thought our defense was good, but more importantly, we took turnovers and turned them into points.”

Coach Landers got a T, but coach Balcomb and Vandy got the win.

“Honestly, I didn’t think we ever really looked that good,” head coach Andy Landers said. “The scoreboard looked good when we were up seven, but we turned the ball over 24 times. We started it off turning it over and we were turning it over the last five minutes. You really don’t have to go any further than that. You’re playing on the road against a quality basketball team.”

James Madison almost joined the upset wave, but the Diamond Deshields-less #10 Tar Heels escaped with a three-point win. Next game ought to be fun – in-state rival NC State (13-1).

Speaking of  “almosts” – #18 Nebraska clawed back from a deficit in the first half, then squeaked out a one-point win over Northwestern.

It’s looking like Aston will be a nice hire by Texas. The Longhorns fought Oklahoma State tooth and nail throughout the game, finally falling to the #11 Cowgirls by 6.

Speaking of tooth and nail — South Carolina dealt Arkansas their first loss of the season, but Dawn and crew are lucky the game ended when it did. In the second half, the Razorbacks roared back from a 12-point deficit, but fell short by 4.

Speaking of a Conference that would be wicked fun to watch:

  • St. Mary’s couldn’t slay undefeated San Diego. “With the win, the Toreros remain perfect on the season at 14-0, mark the best start for any sport at USD in the Division I era, extend the program’s longest winning streak, and are now one of six undefeated schools left in Division I.” (Who’ going to be knocking on Cindy Fisher’s door next year?)
  • Pacific (6-7) took down perennial powerhouse BYU (12-2) for their first WCC win, 75-62.
  • Azzi’s Dons took down Loyola Mary for their sixth win of the season. (Baby steps, pt. 1)
  • Pepperdine and St. Clara went to double overtime and made Debbie happy: The Waves prevailed, 100-93. (Baby steps, pt. 2: Pepperdine’s five wins already matches its total from last season.)

Not interested in being part of the news frenzy:

# 6 Kentucky took care of Alabama, 85-63.

#2 Notre Dame got some dead-eyed shooting from Kayla McBride as they went huntin’ wabbits, 94-51.

#3 Duke dominated Old Dominion, 87-63.

#25 Oklahoma crushed Texas Tech, 68-38.

Simms… I mean, #9 Baylor was 29 points better than the Wildcats.

#14 Iowa State took care of TCU, 71-49.

Considering the state of Pittsburgh basketball, I consider Suzie’s loss to #21 Florida State by 9 impressive.

Mississippi State didn’t survive their encounter with the Gators.

Not sayin’ nothin’ about Fordham ’cause I don’t wanna jinx’em.

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so I guess that means #1 Stanford didn’t go down to #4 Georgia, 61-59.

Chiney did everything she was supposed-expected to, but the rest of her teammates couldn’t make shots. It also hurt that Greenfield went to the bench with a sprained finger, but honestly, the loss wasn’t a HUGE surprise:

Somehow the shock of seeing Stanford’s run of five straight trips to the Final Four come to a premature end, didn’t carry the same sting.

Along with the sense of disappointment came perspective for what the top-seeded Cardinal accomplished.

“I think the reason that I’m not going ballistic right now is like we’re 33-3,” Stanford star Chiney Ogwumike said. “That was a huge achievement for our program.”

Still, it’s surprising that for the first time since 2007, Stanford won’t be playing for a spot in the Final Four.

That’s because Andy’s team did what it needed to do to advance to the Elite 8 for the first time since 2004.

“The senior class … this is our fourth NCAA tournament, and we have been to three Sweet 16s,” guard Jasmine James said. “So to finally make the next step and go to the Elite Eight and now to be going into another game to try to compete to go to the Final Four is definitely back to where Georgia basketball needs to be – trying to compete for a national champion

Smith also offered up some quick analysis of the game.

From Full Court: Jasmine James guides Bulldogs to upset of No. 1 seed Stanford

With her team clinging to a two-point lead with just 23 seconds to play, Georgia senior point guard Jasmine James headed to the foul line for two crucial free throws. Well, almost.

James cast a look to her left, toward the first rows of the stands, mere feet beyond the sideline.

There sat her parents — Greg and Janine — who’d flown almost six hours and endured a lengthy layover to watch their daughter in the regional semifinal against No. 1-seeded Stanford.

They will face the Cal Bears, who find themselves in their first Elite 8 after defeating the upstart Tigers.

The sum of LSU coach Nikki Caldwell’s fears about the Golden Bears came true in the game’s final 20 minutes. And as quick as you could say “transition basket,” the Lady Tigers’ season was over.

“We really tried to establish an inside attack and put the ball inside quite a bit,” Caldwell said. “I thought (Cal guard Brittany) Boyd really took it upon herself to push the tempo, which really got their transition game going. And that gave them some easier looks.”

Writes Elliott Almond:

This time Cal made its free throws, and the Golden Bears are headed into uncharted territory.

Second-seeded Cal broke open a close game in the final six minutes Saturday night in a 73-63 victory over Louisiana State to reach its first Elite Eight in school history in front of a crowd of 6,146 at Spokane Arena.

That Bay Area showdown local women’s basketball fans wanted? Not happening.

The Bears (31-3) will face Georgia on Monday after the Lady Bulldogs upset top-seeded Stanford in the other regional semifinal.

“We’re kind of in awe of this whole thing,” coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “We were us in the second half. I’m excited more people are seeing what I already know.”

Michelle Smith adds:

As Georgia celebrated its 61-59 upset of top-seeded Stanford, the chant began from the corner with the Georgia pep band.

“S-E-C, S-E-C.” Pretty soon, the LSU band, seated in the opposite corner of the gym, joined in.

But Cal spoiled the sing-a-long.

The Bears, willing to play as aggressively and as physically as any team in the SEC, completed the power shift in the Pac-12 on Saturday by defeating LSU 73-63 in the Spokane Regional nightcap, punching their ticket to their first Elite Eight.

So while Stanford, the team that has always stood in line in front of Cal, takes an early flight home Sunday morning, the Bears play on. How’s that for a changing of the guard?

I’m not quite buying the implications of the phrase “changing of the guard,” but the Pac12 sure has gotten more interesting.

Michelle offered up some instant analysis of the Stanford-Georiga game and the Cal-LSU game.

BTW, if you can get behind the pay wall, you  can read Ann Killion’s lovely piece:  Why Lindsay Gottlieb has Cal women’s hoops in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen Elite Eight 

Elena Delle Donne was magnificent against the Wildcats, and Martin’s adjustments in the second half — daring to go man-to-man, urging her players to crash the boards — almost got her Hens an enormous upset. But Delaware could quite get out of the hole they dug. Writes the News Journal’s Kevin Tresolini:

Down 14 at halftime Saturday, Delaware drew considerable confidence from what had become its not-so-secret weapon in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament – the second-half comeback.

Delaware had rallied from seven down at halftime against West Virginia and eight behind after 20 minutes against North Carolina at the Carpenter Center to win in the first two rounds.

“We wanted to go down with a fight if we were going to go down,” Elena Delle Donne said. “Even at half, we didn’t think we were going down.”

The Hens played better defense in the second half, but writes Fagan:

The pace was, in fact, brutal. Delaware was expending so much energy just getting the ball up the floor and getting a shot off without a turnover that little was left for other crucial things like closing out on outside shooters and boxing out on defense. Because of this, each time the Blue Hens pulled within striking distance — like late in the second half when they cut Kentucky’s lead to two — the Wildcats would fly down court and force a foul or whip the ball around and get an open look. Then they would set up their full-court press and make things difficult for Delaware, often forcing a turnover. (The Blue Hens turned over the ball 19 times.)

The key was that, when the rest of the Hens began to rise to the occasion, so did Kentucky’s “no-names.”  Especially Kastine Evans who nailed a killer 3-pointer with 2:21 remaining to all but seal the game.

“Kastine has no fear,” said Mathies. “She hustles on every play. We ran a play and the play is designed for anyone that gets open. She got open off the stagger screen and she made it. That shows how confident she is in herself and we’re glad she took the three and made it.”

Added coach Mitchell

“We’re extremely excited to win. We beat a very good team in Delaware. I’m so proud of our team, of finding a way to advance to the next round.”

Kentucky will face a familiar foe, and they think they might finally have enough to get past UConn

They will face Connecticut because, while Dolson gamely & gimpily fought to play 26 minutes and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scared the you-know-what outta UConn fans by going down with what looked to be an ankle injury (no, that wasn’t responsible for her going 1-6 from 3, her shot was off and rushed. “I guess it would have been worse if they were all air balls, said an honest KML), it was the freshmen (Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck combined for 35 points and one turnover) who stepped up to guide the Huskies to a 76-50 win over Maryland:
Jefferson, Stewart and Tuck did not consider themselves to be freshmen. They considered themselves as impact players. Their intentions were to come in and play a definitive role on a team with national championship aspirations.For months their plan did not completely come together. No matter how relentless UConn assistant coach Shea Ralph was with Jefferson or no matter how relentless associate head coach Chris Dailey and assistant coach Marisa Moseley were with Stewart and Tuck, there were questions whether they were getting through, whether the players were making any progress.

As it turns out, it was all a part of the process.

While the frosh finally “showed up”, UConn’s defense has been a consistent. Said coach Frese:

“I said the other day Connecticut can make really good teams look really bad, and that was on full display today. Obviously we really struggled against their defense. They made it very difficult. They were quicker to loose balls. I thought they were aggressive with their rebounding, but just disappointed overall in how we played.”

It’s likely the Huskies will have to lean heavily on their youngsters if they want to defeat Kentucky. That might be okay. Writes Mike DiMauro: Watch ‘Stewie’ and you see Elena

It was either fitting, or ironic, that two games ended with two standing ovations for two such similar players. Elena Delle Donne and Breanna Stewart. Except that maybe – probably, even – nobody in women’s basketball has them occupying the same airspace.

Delle Donne’s college career ended Saturday at Webster Bank Arena in the Sweet 16, succumbing to Kentucky and Kastine Evans’ killer three late in the game. When it ended, a UConn crowd gave Delle Donne a standing ovation, prompting a tweet from Elena after the game saluting UConn’s “classy fans.”

Stewart’s college career, meanwhile, accelerated into the passing lane a few hours later, helping the Huskies reach the Elite Eight for the eighth straight season. “Stewie,” as her teammates call her, was magnificent: 17 points, eight rebounds, a 3-pointer and four blocks.

From Mechelle: Win or lose, it really has all worked out

Let’s face it: Not many kids have the chance to play for UConn, which has won seven NCAA titles. Fewer still get that opportunity, then decide to walk away from it. Which Walker did, after appearing in 17 games for the Huskies in the 2010-11 season before transferring to Kentucky, and Delle Donne did after leaving Storrs before ever playing for them. 

But it has all worked out for Delle Donne, for Walker, for UConn and for women’s college hoops.

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Big East Finals? Yes, please, thank you!

Meanwhile, there’s a lot of basketball being played, including BG going all “Simple Minds” on us as she drops 50 and a dunk. La-di-dah.

From Lynn Zinser at the Times: In Women’s Basketball, a Season of the Powerhouses

If there was ever a year when men’s and women’s college basketball were more different, well, it’s hard to remember it, and Monday summed it up in one nice little package. The women’s game is all about powerhouses, about Baylor’s Brittney Griner’s being one in and of herself, scoring 50 points and dunking on Kansas State; about Notre Dame elbowing Connecticut out of its usual spot atop the Big East hill; about UConn hyperventilating because it hasn’t won a national title in three whole years. Gasp.

Lots of experts chiming in on what’s going to happen over the next week and a half or so:

Mechelle on the SEC: Tennessee is No. 1 seed in SEC tourney

Tennessee’s seniors had their moment Thursday in Knoxville, Tenn., when the Lady Vols clinched the program’s 17th regular-season SEC title with a win over Texas A&M. Kentucky’s seniors had their moment Sunday, when they defeated Tennessee in front of a packed Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Ky.

So which seniors will be the ones celebrating next Sunday in Duluth, Ga., at the conclusion of the SEC tournament? Those from Tennessee, Kentucky, or another school?

Might that other school, asks Mechelle, be wearing purple? Red-hot LSU heads to SEC tourney

There are a great many things more strenuous for a soon-to-deliver pregnant woman than coaching at the SEC tournament. LSU’s Nikki Caldwell didn’t seem fazed by it last year as her team made it all the way to the championship game.

Still, a couple of us reporters — admittedly nonparents and so a bit squeamish about such things — kept nervously looking over at Caldwell back then in Nashville, Tenn., as if her little one might just suddenly appear on the sideline.

It turned out, though, that this baby knew exactly what she was doing. Justice Simone Fargas was born exactly a year ago — on March 6, 2012 — which was three weeks earlier than her projected arrival time.

Slightly hidden (thanks, ESPN.com) Cara Capuano notices It’s TOURNAMENT TIME for SEC Women’s Basketball!

“Anybody who loves basketball… loves this time of year.”  That, the opening comment from Georgia head coach Andy Landers to the media who participated on Monday in a conference call leading up to the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament.

Kelly at Full Court riffs on a similar theme: Race for SEC tournament title is wide open

One thing is clear heading into this year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament: There is no clear favorite. The conference has six teams ranked in the top 25 — No. 7 Kentucky, No. 9 Tennessee, No. 12 Georgia, No. 17 South Carolina, No. 13 Texas A&M and No. 22 LSU — and any one of these squads has a legitimate chance of winning the tourney.

Busy V also has: PSU out to end Big Ten tourney drought

Penn State ran into an emotional senior night last Thursday at Minnesota … and the Gophers handed the Big Ten leader just its second league loss.

Penn State was in a similar situation Sunday in the regular-season finale at Nebraska. It wasn’t just the seniors that the Huskers were bidding a fond farewell to (although they still have the Big Ten and NCAA tourneys to play, of course).

Sharon Crowson at Full Court asks, Can the Big Ten stick to the script in the conference tournament?

Usually, it’s hard to recap a season in less than a long article – but this year’s Big Ten conference play can be summed up in one word: Strange.

All right, maybe three words: Very, very strange.

Maggie Blogs: I bonded with my dad over love of game

At FullCourt, Rob offers up: ACC Tournament has contenders but Duke and Maryland on course for rematch

There are a lot of wild cards in this year’s ACC tournament. Sure, Duke dominated the regular season at 17-1 and finished three games ahead of the nearest competitor, but they did most of that with Chelsea Gray at the helm. Gray is now an unpaid but highly vociferous assistant coach, making it her personal mission to channel her energy and savvy into frosh Alexis Jones. Still, Duke has looked highly shaky at times, especially on the boards. Teams like UNC and Maryland feel like they have a real shot at knocking off Duke, while regular season underachievers Georgia Tech and NC State lurk as potential dark horse teams. For those latter two squads, winning the ACC tournament is the only way they’ll be playing in the NCAA tourney.

Michelle’s on the West Coast, and offers up this: Huskies hope for home turnaround – Washington holds Pac-12 tournament advantage at Seattle’s KeyArena

Washington coach Kevin McGuff insists his team didn’t circle these dates on the calendar, that they stayed focused on what was immediately in front of them, not way ahead on the horizon.

But that horizon is now what’s next, and Washington has a distinct opportunity to disrupt the balance of power in the Pac-12. Summoning the ability to take advantage of that opportunity is the trick.

The Pac-12 tournament is moving to Seattle’s KeyArena, home of the WNBA’s Seattle Storm and one of women’s basketball’s most dedicated fan bases, this weekend. The Huskies are hoping to take advantage of the hometown crowd.

Sue Favor at Full Court adds: Cal or Stanford? Rivals expected to decide season series in Pac-12 finals

The Pac-12 Tournament is in a brand new city this year, and for the first time in many seasons, there could be a new champion too.

Seattle, with its large women’s basketball fan base, will play host to the 12-year-old tournament March 7-10, and though Stanford has won nine of the previous 11 titles, unlike years past, the Cardinal are not necessarily the favorite this time.

Since conference play began, Stanford and Cal have spent most of it ranked side by side in national polls, as numbers five and six or six and seven. They split the regular-season series, and both teams are surging lately, with loaded benches. In the end, each team ended Pac-12 play Saturday at 17-1, which gives Cal a share of the title for the first time in program history.

The Buffs are eager to begin their postseason

Graham ponders the mid-majors and says, Gonzaga remains as consistent as ever

There were 60 teams from the six major conferences that did not advance as far as Gonzaga in the 2012 NCAA tournament.

There were 62 teams from those same conferences that averaged fewer fans per game than the Bulldogs drew to the Kennel, as the 6,000-capacity McCarthey Athletic Center is affectionately (at least to home fans) known.

We might be a long way from a mid-major No. 1 in women’s college basketball, but there is at least equal distance between many, maybe most, supposedly major programs and the dynasties that rule the rest of the country.

As a freshman newly arrived from Germany a season ago, Gonzaga’s Sunny Greinacher had a rather visceral reaction to one of the best atmospheres in women’s college basketball.

Time for the WBH “WhadoIknow” Conference Champeen Prediction/Thoughts:

America East: Yes, it is hard to beat a team three times in a season, but I think Albany could have. Since BU ain’t invited, it’s the Danes.

Atlantic 10: Play it safe, say Dayton. But the 49’ers have intrigued me all season….

ACC: It feels like Duke has regained its equilibrium. I’m not sure it’s going to help them in the NCAA tournament, but it feels like they’re ready for the ACC. Unless UNC can kick it up a notch or three.

Atlantic Sun: What, you think I’m going to bet against the Eagles? Don’t make me laugh.

Big 12: Baylor is 18-0 in the conference. The #2 Iowa State team is 12-6. ’nuff said.

Big East: So, will three be the charm? Dunno – but Hartley is the key. Gold wins out in the BEast – but don’t know if it’ll happen in the NCAAs.

Big Sky:…is just a hot mess. Common sense would say Montana, but Northern Colorado has this edge about them.

Big South: This was “everybody else’s year,” and then Liberty said, “I don’t think so!.”

Big Ten: Machine Gun Maggie rules, especially if Co can keep the rest of her team present. (Congrats, coach Yori)

Big West: Pacific should win, but Hawai’i has been coming on strong.

Colonial: There are several bubble teams pulling like heck for Delaware. James Madison has proven to be a serious threat, but a healthy EDD is quite a force of basketball.

Conference USA: Will SMU hold up under the pressure of being in the spotlight, or with coach Stockton reclaim her Conference?

Horizon: I know it’s the Phoenix’s to lose, so I’m pullin’ for the Penguins.

Ivy: Yup, it’s the Tigers.

MAAC: “Down” year, my azzz… Marist rules.

Mid-American: Toledo should rule easily, but I’m guessing next year, Ball State will be exacting some revenge.

MEAC: Hampton and their band will be in the Tournament.

Missouri Valley: I’m going for the Blue Jays. It’s a birding thing.

Mountain West: Beth Burns has San Diego State at 13-1 in the conference, but my gut says Fresno.

North East: There are a lot of letters between Quinnipiac and the rest of the teams.]

Ohio Valley: You’d have just as good a chance making the correct guess using research as trying ernie-meenie-mynee-moe. Which is how I chose Tennessee Tech.

Pacific-12: Stanford has lost Kokenis for the tournament. That might just throw them off their stride enough for Cal to win the title.

Patriot League: There’s no doubt it’s going to be either Army or Navy. I refuse to pick, and think both should win.

SEC: Tennessee has had an amazing season, but injuries are the constant theme. That’s why I’m saying Kentucky.

Southern: The Mocs are back on top.

Southland: If they can survive the WHB curse, they (Sam Houston) can win the championship.

SWAC: I didn’t bet against her when she played for Houston, and I won’t bet against her when she’s coaching Texas Southern.

Summit: As in the MAC, the Jackrabbits should win, but next year they better keep an eye on IUPUI.

Sun Belt: There have been some surprising stumbles, but Middle Tennessee has the experience Western Kentucky lacks.

West Coast: The boys are #1 and the women will win the WCC

Western: Don’t yell at me, Jayda, but I’m going with Utah State.

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While the rest of the ranked teams (UCLA-recovering nicely from that Cal-Northridge oops, TAMU, Tennessee, Maryland, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma State and Cal) were dispatching their overmatched opponents by various ridiculous margins, two “undefeated” and ranked teams were tested: Georgia by the mighty Illini (6-5) and #25 Arkansas by the fierce Coppin State (4-7). One escaped, the other didn’t. What up with your scheduling, Dawgs and Hogs? (And yah, there are no upsets in women’s basketball, just inaccurately ranked teams, right? Which explains what happened to #20 Texas at the hands of Iowa, right?)

Is the Stanford/UConn game on yet? (UConn’s Geno Auriemma, Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer expect lots of offenseStanford-UConn: More Than A Fairy Tale,

While you’re waiting, check out Mel’s blog on early Maggie Dixon Rookie Coach of the Year candidates. (I’ll say, as a Lib fan of “a certain age and longevity, I’ve been following the Hilltoppers since Shea Mahoney. Flashback, much?)

Then wander over to Swish Appeal and check out The state of the WNBA: 2012 edition

Hmmm… maybe the third year’s the charm for Caldwell. Her LSU team goes down to FGCU.

Will Spidey make the Tourney? Bilney! They might!

How tough is it in Sooner-land? The volleyball players are coming to the rescue.

From at Amy Farnum the NCAA.com: Forging the path – Kansas star Goodrich looks to inspire other Native Americans

Kansas senior point guard Angel Goodrich may be known for her vision on the court in women’s basketball circles, but it is her perseverance that may be her greatest strength.

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Miami’s Katie Meier To Lead 2012 USA Basketball U18 Women – LSU’s Nikki Caldwell, Gonzaga’s Kelly Graves Tabbed As Assistant Coaches

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people pay more attention to your first game.

#8 Ohio State got silenced by #9 Florida, 70-65 (even though the Gators did try to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.) Enjoy it while you can, Florida: Baylor is up next.

The bigger upset was #13 Marist taking down #4 Georgia, 76-70. Kudos to the Red Foxes for not folding after losing the lead late in the second half. Even more kudos to coach Giorgis for getting the win (his third 13 over 4) with a team many thought was vulnerable. Writes Graham: Brian Giorgis makes Marist magic happen

#6 Nebraska gave #11 Kansas the early 8-point lead and never could catch up. Jayhawk Angel Goodrich notched 20pts and 5 rebounds.

San Diego kept it close, but in the end, Nikki Caldwell and LSU earned a 64-56 win – mostly in part to the return of LaSondra Barrett.

There were some serious near misses for the higher ranked teams: Dem #14 Creighton Blue Jays gave #3 St. John’s all they could handle, and then some (even the ESPN headline writer thought they’d pulled off the upset: Creighton wins at buzzer  (Dated line Sunday, 7:40pm, EST). But no, it was a coast-to-coast layup by (who else) Jeanette Pohlen… I mean, Nadirah McKenith that rescued the Johnnies, 69-67.

#12 Fresno State shot poorly, and yet still had a chance to take down #5 Georgetown. The Hoyas pulled it out, 61-56, but you’ve got to wonder how far they can go without more Sugar.

A last second layup got #12 FGCU into overtime, but the #5 Bonnies regrouped and gutted out a 72-65 win.

Put it in the books: the first Tourney win for the #3 Delaware program, and the player people were waiting to see didn’t disappoint: 39pts, 11 rebounds against # 14 UALR. Oh, and she took some time to do some writing: Expect a large Delle Donne contingent.

Nice, solid effort by #8 Cal’s “newbies to the Tourney”, as they took down a stubborn #9 Iowa, 84-74. Writes Matt Fortuna: Brittany Boyd delivers for Bears

#10 Middle Tennessee didn’t have enough in the tank to deal with #7 Vanderbilt: ‘dores win, 60-46.

#4 Georgia Tech freshman Wallace left nothing to chance, and her Yellow Jackets stung #13 Sacred Heart, 76-50.

#6 Oklahoma enjoyed every inch of home court, tattooing Michigan, 88-67.

#4 Penn State outscored a stubborn #13 UTEP team in the second by 8 — and that was the margin of victory.

The #1s took similar paths: crush their opponents in the first half, cruise in the second half. Side note: Sims did not start and Kim says “She knows why.” Ummm, hello folks, it’s the TOURNAMENT. Keep yourselves together.

Duke didn’t need Williams (24 minutes, 4/10, 3rebounds) to defeat Samford 82-47, but I’m sure they will soon.

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who welcomes a little girl into the world known as “NCAA tourney time!”

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humiliation, it’s important to notice the real moments of human kindness and generosity. For instance, Vanderbilt’s Melanie Balcomb gives LSU senior a gift

Prior to last week’s Vanderbilt-LSU game in Baton Rouge, LSU Coach Nikki Caldwell asked Vanderbilt’s Melanie Balcomb for a favor.

Caldwell wanted senior guard Destini Hughes to start the game on senior night with four other seniors. Hughes had not played since suffering a knee injury Jan. 19.

Then, there was this, a few years ago, but coming to light now after St. John’s Smith nailed the 3 that snapped UConn’s 99-game winning streak:

The relationship between Auriemma and Smith originated at Big East Media Day in New York City during her freshman year in 2009-10. Barnes Arico had brought her along and Smith asked her if she could introduce her to Auriemma. “She always looked up to him,’’ Barnes Arico said. “She always idolized him. He’s the greatest coach in the game. I have a good relationship with him so I brought her over to him and they chatted and she was just in awe afterwards.’’

The two talked again at Big East Media Day in 2010. This time the meeting was again set up by Barnes Arico. She felt that Smith needed some guidance. And she felt that Auriemma was the perfect candidate to get Smith on the right path to success.

“She was going through a lot of struggles and she had her little bumps in the road,’’ Barnes Arico said. “People were trying to get in her mind and people were trying to do different things with her. She was struggling. And I said to Coach (Auriemma), `Coach, can you grab Shenneika for a minute? Can you talk to her for a minute?’ He did and that kind of turned the kid around. She’s the greatest kid ever and the commitment she’s made to our program and the strides that she has made are tremendous. He really pumped her up. He gave her a bit of confidence and he really made her feel good. She came back and she was a different player.’’

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other conferences got into the upset act:

Ohio State fell in rather spectacular fashion to the up and down and up Huskers.

Taking their cue from Nebraska, Purdue got an early lead on Penn State, and then, cue Rayburn heroics, they hang on to earn the upset, 68-66.

LSU found a ton of offense to go with their defense, and Kentucky was flummoxed. Writes Mechelle: LSU makes all the right adjustments in SEC

LSU coach Nikki Caldwell has certainly had an interesting first season in Baton Rouge, La. And the most exciting stuff hasn’t even happened yet.

On March 24, Caldwell is due to deliver her first child … although she wouldn’t mind if the little one showed up before that. But not too soon, considering her team is still playing in the SEC tournament.

Oral Roberts (20-10, 14-4, Summit) got overwhelmed in the first half by Western Illinois (12-18, 7-11) and didn’t have enough in the second half to prevent the upset: 83-71.

The Gonzaga-BYU finals is set, but the Bulldogs had to work to get through St. Mary’s (83-78) while the Cougars handled the Toreros, 64-46.

So I guess we can officially call Baylor a “second half team.” When you have Griner score over half your total 77, it ain’t so bad a title. Neither is 31-0.

They’re dancin’! (Part 1): Tennessee-Martin let Tennessee Tech hang around for the first half, then let their 2nd-in-the-nation scoring kick in. Skyhawks 82 (Butler for 35pts), Golden Eagles 65,

They’re dancin‘! (For the very first time): FGCU had no trouble topping the Hatters, 67-39. McCowan went for 17 and 8 in the loss.

Dunno if it’s enough to save her job, but Cowles’ Western Kentucky (9-20, 5-11 Sun Belt) team upset LA-Monroe (9-21, 7-9) to advance. Lucky them, they get to play MTSU.

Beth and Debbie would have loved this first round MAC tourney game: Akron over Buffalo, 96-82.

In what might be the final nail in the Packard coffin, Central Michigan stomped all over Ball State, 86-62.

How long will the Westhead experiment at Oregon go on? The Ducks (15-15, 7-11) fall to Utah (15-14, 8-10).

A scheduling lesson in the battle of the Arizonas: the Sun Devils win, 70-63, Of the Wildcats 16 losses, 15 have come in the Pac-12.

Monmouth’s new coach has guided the Hawks into the semi’s of the Northeast tourney.

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First win for Arkansas — ever — in Knoxville against the Vols. It took OT, and Stricklen is going to be kickin’ herself for a while. But I know that my friends Candy and Teddy are jumping up and down (even though T is an enormous Pat/Vols fan.). For Charlie, the Vols are still a #2.

First Big Ten win of the season for Indiana, as the seniors go out on a good, but tense (the win rested on the shoulder of a 44% FT shooter. Sound familiar?), night with a 2pt win over Wisconsin. The photos remind me of what Navratilova said about herself compared to, say the #100 ranked player: Winning is easy. Coming back, game after game, when you’re losing? That’s hard.

A first for Senior Night and Ohio State’s program: Prahalis scores a record 42 and makes sure the Gophers don’t even SNIFF an upset.

It’s been a season of firsts for Nikki Caldwell as first-year coach at LSU. The Tigers beat Vandy and earned their 20th win of the season.

A first-class stomping of Nebraska by the surging Spartans: 73-53.

First time I’ve said this: Shockers get shocked by Redbirds, 68-62.

Not really a first, but up there in terms of accomplishment: 6,532 in attendance at UTEP to witness the Miners’ earn the C-USA regular season title.

No firsts involved, just noting that EUI got surprised by Morehead State, and SIEU beat Eastern Kentucky, so the OVC got a tad tighter.

FIU (W flashback: Nagy’s alma) and MTSU of the Sun Belt and FGCU of the A-Sun all won. (Which is a mini-one/won pun, which is a blogger’s version of a 1st, which is what you get when you participate in the inanity!)

First time I can blame Sue for  jinxing a team (or did they jinx themselves?): CS Northridge (10-4) goes down to UC Santa Barbara, 61-44.

First time I’ve paid attention to the Northeastern Huskies of Boston because, well, they’ve kinda stunk it up since forever. They earned their third-straight victory for the first time since the 2009-10 season after taking down Old Dominion, 78-66. The Northeastern coach is Daynia LaForce-Mann, a former Georgetown player with strong coaching roots in New York (LIU, St. John’s).

Wright State continues to grow: they’re 11-4 in the Horizon.

Ditto with the Toreros: San Diego (11-4 WCC) takes down St. Mary’s (10-5), 74-59. Get your tickets for the conference tourney, y’all!

Okay, so maybe there’s no separation: UCLA 53, Arizona State, 38. Hey, did you see this WATN? Natalie Nakase: Ex-UCLA player 1st female coach in Japanese men’s basketball league

Colorado looked good (or was it the Cards looking bad?) in the first half… then they got stampeded by the champeens.

Yah, SC and UK should have been on the 3.

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From Mechelle: Normal in Knoxville? Even better – Tennessee, Texas A&M win top-10 clashes; both improve to 2-0

Meant to reference this before: Congrats to Coach Summitt on receiving the Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias Courage Award. The criteria:

The Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias Courage Award is presented to an individual who demonstrates courageous action in overcoming adversity to excel in sport. This individual should exhibit the qualities of courage, perseverance, grace, and strength in sport achievement.

Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias’ spirit and zest for life, as well as her courage, strength, and achievement, are the qualities for which this award is named. The Babe’s fight to overcome life-threatening cancer and return to the winner’s circle has withstood the test of time.

Happy Nikki, unhappy Sugar. What’s up with Ms. Rogers? (And we’re not going to mention the… scoring? Ick!)

Coach Kenny Brooks got his 200th win (and it took double-OT). How long will he stay at JMU?

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Caldwell her first win as a Tiger.

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Graham continues his good coverage of teams who should get more attention: The mid-major top 10 returns with the same ground rules. All conferences beyond the BCS six (ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC) qualify for consideration  as Graves, Zags move on after star leaves.

He also gives us the Top mid-major players to watch (and the first nominee for Sophia Aleksandravicius)

Mechelle is talkin’a little Bayou: Caldwell returns to comfort zone, SEC and, in keeping with the “where are they now” vein: New coaches seek success in first seasons

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From C&R

Spring Basketball Just Isn’t the Same

Has this been the slowest women’s college basketball off-season in the history of the world, or what? Maybe because we had such high hopes last year and knew we had a potential title team, and feel a little cheated we didn’t even make it to the championship game. But lets not dwell on the negative, and you can reread all the great things the Stanford Women’s Basketball team accomplished the past season. (Psst, it’s a lot!)

Also from the West Coast: Many still hurt by Nikki Caldwell’s departure as UCLA’s women’s basketball head coach

To those who think Caldwell owed UCLA anything, you’re operating in a fantasy world.

Caldwell followed the path of any successful employee. Do a great job and you get a promotion or a better job. She’s closer to her family in Tennessee and she’s back in the SEC, where people are more passionate about women’s basketball. And the $700,000 salary over a five-year contract, which UCLA couldn’t match, was too good to pass up.

It was a no-brainer.

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Warlick, Caldwell on the road again

Holly Warlick and Nikki Caldwell have picked up an additional former Lady Vol basketball player for their annual motorcycle ride to raise awareness of breast cancer. Jody Adams, the head coach of Wichita State, has joined “Champions for a Cause” for this month’s South Dakota-to-Nevada trek.

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UCLA Hires Cori Close As Head Coach: An Offensive-Minded Coach For A Defensive Team

UCLA introduced Cori Close as their new women’s basketball coach today to replace Nikki Caldwell, who moved on to LSU on April 4 after a record-breaking season for the Bruins.

As a California native and self-proclaimed fan of UCLA women’s basketball – who got choked up during this afternoon’s press conference – the hire is a natural fit.

NCAA Women’s Basketball Coaching: Why Developing Expertise At Mid-Majors Is Best For The Game

Brian McCormick, author of Cross Over: The New Model of Youth Basketball Development who writes at Brian McCormick Basketball (developyourbballiq.com), is an experienced coach and development expert whose basketball insights about everything from youth development to point guard play are valuable for any thoughtful basketball fan. He wrote and submitted the following guest post prior to UCLA’s hire of Cori Close today.

At the Final Four, some people wondered whether the fact that the previous four Pac-10 hires have been males – after the recent hiring of Kevin McGuff at the University of Washington – is indicative of a problem. However, rather than looking to blame the athletic directors for a gender bias, I feel that we need to examine the mentality of coaches in the women’s game.

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More on Flanagan’s retirement.

Seems LSU’s Nikki is ready to take on the Vols and the LSU Reveille is expecting an overhaul. Check out Maria’s extensive piece on Caldwell.

New Washington coach McGuff gets some coverage. Jayda offers:Getting to know new Washington coach Kevin McGuff

Don’t ignore the fact that Green Bay’s Bollant is still pondering.

Expect more pressure on coaches to win (hope this doesn’t mean it’ll be okay to lie and cheat): Salaries dramatically rise for top women’s basketball coaches

During the 2006-07 school year, Tennessee and Connecticut made money on women’s basketball, according to reports the schools file annually with the NCAA. In 2009-10, Tennessee lost about $715,000 on the sport and Connecticut lost about $725,000. Oklahoma lost about $1.1 million on the sport in 2006-07 and more than $1.6 million in 2009-10.

Head coaching compensation is not the only expense that has increased for these schools, and all three generated more revenue from women’s basketball in 2009-10 than they did in 2006-07.

Beth Bass, chief executive officer of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, says there are financial pressures throughout higher education. “Everybody’s looking at everything,” she says. “We have to figure out how to be smarter with our business models.”

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On Nikki

from Bruin Nation: Thank You Coach Nikki Caldwell – Early Reflections

By the way, have you caught what’s brewin’ vis a vis seating and students?

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UCLA fans are surprised and “sick.”

Said one, “We were just at a meet and greet to talk about the renovations (to the arena) and she came in to say how important it was to recruiting….”

It’s probably small comfort that the Bruins tried to keep Nikki:Caldwell Heads To LSU Despite ‘A Very Attractive Multi-Year Offer’ From UCLA

Wonder if the PAC 10 will feel happier if McGuff goes to Washington.

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(via the rumor mill) newest member of the Naismith Hall of Fame.

Wouldn’t it be nice to go in as the current DI champeen?

Mel also checks in on the current coaching carousel:

Several weeks ago the Guru alerted you that however the way the NCAA women’s basketball tournament games led to which quartet would become the Women’s Final Four for Sunday night’s national semifinal games, which begin at 7 p.m. on ESPN, in Conseco Fieldhouse, the spin of the coaching carousel may become as newsworthy.

That certainly is now true after the fate of UCLA’s Nikki Caldwell became officially known with the announcement by LSU that the former Tennessee star had been hired to coach the Tigers after Hall of Famer Van Chancellor was forced out late last month.

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Whoa!

So much for the PAC 10 becoming more than a one horse town: Nikki to LSU.

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Lots of chatter on who might take over from Debbie.

Dawn looks to be out.

Might it be Nikki? (I kinda hope not. She’s building something at UCLA and wbball could use some balance on the coasts.)

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during a blowout, by Michelle Smith: Thursday night Fashion Report

After absorbing the grunts and groans of my male colleagues in the press room last night, I feel compelled to put my head even further into the proverbial lion’s mouth.

Considering that last night’s Stanford-UCLA game was not close, I think it’s appropriate for a diversion.

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Some Stanford fans (and probably staff and players) were probably muttering something about, “Yah, but who’ve they’d played?” as they watched the Bruins climb up and (in one case) over them in the polls.

Well, they certainly hadn’t played the Cardinal, who blew UCLA out last night, 64-38.

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From Ben Bolch at the LA Times: UCLA plays host to USC in women’s basketball
Both the Nikki Caldwell-coached Bruins and Michael Cooper-coached Trojans come into the Pac-10 regular-season game having had their best season start in years.

From Curt Rallo at the South Bend Tribune: Mental approach key for Irish

From the Des Moines Register: ISU, Iowa women hit the big stage Saturday

Nine hundred miles apart, Iowa and Iowa State will share the national stage in women’s basketball today.

Both teams will be part of Top 25 battles that will be nationally televised.

From Tommy Piatchek, Jr at the Missourian: Yvonne Anderson returns to Columbia as starter for Texas women’s basketball

Missouri basketball fans normally view Mike Anderson as a coach. It’s easy to forget that the leader of the men’s team is a father off the court.

Saturday the Missouri women’s basketball team will host Mike Anderson’s daughter Yvonne Anderson and the No. 22 Texas Longhorns in the Tigers’ first game of Big 12 Conference play. Mike Anderson says he supports his daughter’s decision to play for Texas.

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Giorgis gets 200th win as Marist defeats Boston U.

Out in LA, Bill Plaschke is noticing the Bruins: Nikki Caldwell heats up UCLA women’s basketball (and I’m finding it hard to miss the double entendres)

I am scanning the office shelves of the hottest college basketball coach in Los Angeles.

Nikki Caldwell’s UCLA women are off to their best start in 30 years, and I tell her I’m trying to find things that are indicative of her personality.

I am check out the autographed basketballs, the team photos, the inspirational books, then she notices me staring for the longest time at an unusual pair of shoes.

“So I guess you think those leopard pumps are pretty indicative, huh?” she says with a laugh.

From the Daily Herald: Orender moves on with great memories of WNBA

Speaking of which, Clay chimes in on her exit: WNBA CEO Resigns, Leaving Future in Doubt – The WNBA took another hit this week, raising serious concerns

Yes, Donna Orender had her critics, but she was the model of a professional sports executive. Was she annoyingly upbeat all the time? Of course, but if she wasn’t in all-positive mode, who would be? Did she make the WNBA decision-making process as secret and  impenetrable as China under Mao Ze Dong? Regrettably, yes, but she clearly controlled the message.

But now she’s leaving — or already gone, really — and left behind is a vacuum of unanswered questions and troubling speculation.

Another milestone: 350 high school victories.

“We got a lot of young girls transferring over from high school, [where] you don’t have to defend some of the top players in the nation,” said center Lynetta Kizer, who has emerged as the team’s vocal leader, especially on the defensive end. “We want to be able to beat ACC-caliber teams; that’s why most of our focus today in practice was on defense.”

 

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a beautiful Saturday with a head cold.

Just as WHB gave a shout out to Georgetown, the work of Nikki Caldwell at UCLA and Sylvia Crawley at BC is making us stand up and cheer.

On the East Coast, there’s the Eagles. With the (odd) departure of Kathy I, the knock on’em was that the team has flourished only because of her drive, not because the Athletic Department had any real interest in anything that didn’t involve football and money (hence the awkward shift to the ACC). But, after some readjustment time, their with a win over Hartford, may mean Dunkin’ Syl is finding her groove. That being said, the schedule is pretty sugar-laden (Vermont isn’t what it was last year). But, I’ll admit, I’d like to see a player like (and named) Swords advance in the Tourney.

Out on the West Coast, the knock on UCLA was that they had some great talent, but coach Kathy O couldn’t coach’em up. The fabulous battle between the Bruins and the Irish showed the impact of Caldwell’s work. Young players making key shots (and yes, of course, omigodwhattheheckwereyouthinking choices), but they pulled out a double OT win against the perennially strong Irish. At South Bend. In front of 6000 screaming fans.

Watch out Tara. You might not be feelin’ so giddy in a couple of years.

Speaking of the Cardinal, there was no N.O., but Stanford still managed to quiet the Utes (hi, coach Elliot! Enjoy the season off!). Tara is five wins away from 800.

Andy Landers coached his 1000th… 1000th!!!! game, and the Bulldogs made it a victory.

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Actually, I won’t spoil it – but a helluva a game. Lots of clutch shots. Lots of DOH! moments. And an important note-to-self: Check the website of the teams — ND was streaming the game live. For free!

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Jessica Breland returns to Tar Heels’ lineup (in rout of Ospreys)

At times, Jessica Breland looked like her old self by confidently knocking down a turnaround jumper or pulling down one-handed rebounds in traffic. There were also reminders that North Carolina’s fifth-year senior will need some time to get all the way back after missing last season.

Still, with her Hodgkin’s lymphoma in remission, being out on the court again for a real game was a big step.

I’m thinking Foster is thinking, “One down, three to go.” From Mel: Temple women fall to Ohio State, 84-75.

Though one important player was missing from the roster of No. 7 Ohio State, another was trouble enough for the Temple women’s basketball team in the season opener for both Friday night at the Liacouras Center.

In Louisville, the Lady Vols improved to 34-3 in season openers under Pat Summitt (I’m sure it’s stunning, but the new Cardinals arena is called the KFC Yum! Center. Sounds like a playhouse for Hello, Kitty!) (And really, if we can’t let this crap go, investigate or have a friggin’ confab and figure out how to address it. Time to move on, folks!)

Nice win for UCLA on the road against a (young) San Diego State team.

Welcome back to the NCAA, Anne Donovan. Her Hall lose to an always solid Florida Gulf team.

Only real “surprise” is Gonzaga going down to USC. The Seattle Times had 5 things you should be watching about the Bulldogs, Jayda said they are not satisfied with last year’s Sweet 16, but the Trojans were not impressed.

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to get Sue’s report of the USC and UCLA dining/kick-off events

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