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…’cause it’s never too early to look towards 2017 (yes, I’ve already made hotel reservations – hasn’t everyone?), Marc Tracy at the Times: Mighty UConn Faces a Future of Rising Powers

Take a peek at the 10 all-Americans selected this season by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. UConn’s Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck each made the cut.

But Stewart and Jefferson are seniors, and Tuck, a redshirt junior, announced Wednesday that she will join them in the W.N.B.A. draft (where they may well comprise the top three picks).

By contrast, all-Americans likely to return include Baylor’s Nina Davis, a onetime Big 12 player of the year; the big scorers Kelsey Plum, of Washington, and Kelsey Mitchell, of Ohio State; and South Carolina’s A’ja Wilson, who is just a sophomore.

Folks are already discussing next year’s top 10.

Yes, they made the WNIT finals, but FGCU women’s basketball roster facing big makeover

Four years after replacing a massively sized, massively successful senior class with an even larger group of newcomers, the FGCU women’s basketball team now is repeating the process.

The unknown is great.

Maryland Basketball: Kaila Charles gives hope for Lady Terps’ future

Maryland should have high hopes for the future of the women’s basketball program. 

Next year, the Lady Terps will welcome in the No. 1 recruiting class in the country. It’s a class that features three McDonald’s All-Americans and one of the players that has the potential to make a great impact to an already talented Maryland team.

Yes, UConn’s losing three seniors, but don’t count’em out yet. Jim Fuller at the New Haven Register writes: Stewart worked to leave UConn women’s program prepared for future

Knowing the pressure that awaits the returning players with herself and fellow All-Americans Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck graduation, Stewart has offered some guidance. Whether it was taking Katie Lou Samuelson out for dinner when Stewart thought Samuelson hit the proverbial wall or cracking jokes to Napheesa Collier during the stretching portion of the warmups before the national championship game, Stewart took the responsibility of bringing along the younger Huskies to heart.

Graham offers up: Sophomore Kia Nurse holds the cards for UConn

Four national championships in four seasons. It is one of those feats that can be matched but never bested, Connecticut seniors Moriah Jefferson, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck as secure in that legacy as a golfer who wins four majors in a calendar year.

Unless …

With two championships in her first two seasons, Kia Nurse is halfway to matching that haul. Granted, halfway is a long way from the whole way, but when it comes to tiebreakers, Nurse earned an unbeatable one almost a year ago on a basketball court in Toronto.

Also: Returning UConn players say they’re ready to take baton

Freshman Katie Lou Samuelson said the team has heard the critics say that without the three seniors, the gap will close between UConn — which beat teams by nearly 40 points a game — and programs such as Baylor, Notre Dame and South Carolina.

She said they’ll use that as motivation.

“We kind of want to prove to everyone that we can still do it, and I think all us are going to be ready when that time comes,” she said.

Howard Megdal: How Geno Auriemma still gets excited for next year

…it is through that lens, accomplishment as a subset of personal journey, that leaves Auriemma excited for what comes next. He said that until he and associate head coach Chris Dailey come to the decision that they can’t “get the kids to where they need to go”, he wants to keep coaching. He doesn’t usually get to think much about his championships because there’s always so much to do. He revealed that conversations about next year had already begun—Gabby Williams was in his office discussing how she needed to get better to compensate for the lost greats. Next year, Auriemma said, is never far from their minds. He doesn’t make it sound like such a bad thing.

“These three leaving, the rest of the players coming back are in for a rude awakening,” Auriemma said. “But you can’t disregard what all this, the impact that it has on the players coming back. And it will last for a while. But then obviously it will—they’ll have to earn it like these other guys.

From John Walters, Newsweek: FOUR SPORTSWRITERS HAVE DECADES OF EXPERIENCE WITH UCONN COACH GENO AURIEMMA

To cover UConn on a daily basis affords these writers unfettered access to the John Wooden of women’s basketball without having to combat, for most of the season, the incursions of big-time media outlets (even if ESPN headquarters in Bristol is just 45 miles west). “It doesn’t matter if you’re from The New York Times or from the JI [Adamec’s paper], Geno treats everyone the same,” says Adamec. “The first time I showed up to a practice, he approached me and said, ‘You made it all the way from Vernon [another tiny eastern Connecticut hamlet]?’ As if to congratulate me for finding them.”

The banter, over the years, has led to a rapport that has laid the foundation for a trust and candor between both parties that is rare if not unique in sports. For years Geno would host a Final Four party on the eve of the national championship game—even in the years UConn was playing—to which media were also invited. “At the 2000 Final Four party in Philadelphia, I brought my wife, whom Geno had never met,” says Jacobs. “He gave her a hug and said, ‘Your husband’s an asshole.’ She replied, ‘I know.’”

Hello again, Lindsay Kramer at Syracuse.com: Quentin Hillsman plans on staying in charge of Syracuse women’s basketball

The breakout star of the 2016 NCAA women’s basketball tournament wasn’t a player.

It was Syracuse University coach Quentin Hillsman.

Hillsman has been highly regarded in coaching circles during his decade of running the Orange, as evidenced by the steady stream of compliments from opposing coaches in SU’s streak to the national title game Tuesday night in Indianapolis.

An encouraging word: Bonvicini to Barnes: Go for it.

Winner. That’s the first word that comes to mind for Joan Bonvicini when speaking of her former star Adia Barnes.

“Adia’s the kind of person that you never want to say you can’t do something.” 

Not so encouraging words out of Nebraska: Yori resigns following athletic department investigation | Women’s Basketball

Hmph. I know there are some head coach openings, but….Lady Vols, associate coach Kyra Elzy agree to part ways

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And, if you’re one of the folks running around in it, “Please be safe, please be safe, please be safe!” Or, perhaps a better warning: “Don’t be THAT idiot.”

For instance, those involved with the MSU/Maryland game which was postponed because of snowstorm

YEAH!!! Graham is writing about Kelsey!!! Minato is hoops’ best senior who won’t play professionally

That career continues when Army and Navy play in Madison Square Garden on Saturday. As the 10-year anniversaries of both Army’s first NCAA tournament appearance and former Army coach Maggie Dixon’s death at 28 years old approach this spring — two events inexorably bonded by the respective joy and sorrow they engendered and the brief time that separated them — what Minato has accomplished is a new chapter in the story.

What Dixon envisioned, Minato embodies.

The only team in the Patriot League to beat Army this season, Bucknell did so at home earlier this month only after enduring Minato’s 35 points on 16-of-26 shooting. After that game, the team’s second win in seven tries against Minato, Bucknell coach Aaron Roussell listened to people offer congratulations for a strategy as bold and daring as to allow Minato her shots and instead focus defensive attention on stopping her mortal teammates.

Jinx? Mechelle writes about Coach Vic Schaefer builds Bulldogs into national contender (and then, Barbee helps Georgia upset No. 10 Mississippi State 47-43)

When Schaefer got the Bulldogs job, the player who would turn out to score more points than any girl in Mississippi state high school history — 5,745 — was a prep sophomore: Victoria Vivians, a 6-foot-1 guard from Carthage.

“The first call I made was to her high school coach,” Schaefer said. “We worked our tails off in recruiting her because we knew the importance of keeping her here. Obviously, it’s been big for us. It’s a special time to have a kid like her on our basketball team.”

What the Bulldogs are still trying to establish this season, though, is that they are a consistently solid offensive team around Vivians too. In her second collegiate season, she is averaging a team-best 17.6 points per game for No. 10 Mississippi State.

Speaking of offense: Fast-Paced Offense Leads OSU Women’s Basketball Team Resurgence

SB: As Thomas said, you have played the four Final Four teams from last year. You lost to three of them. Is there a worry that you’re a good program but not an elite program at this point?

KM: Well. I’m at first I think you’ve got to play those teams to see where you are. And when I came here I knew we had a lot of work to to go to build the program and part of that wanted to be aggressive scheduling. And so you know, I like the fact that we kind of measured ourselves against the best we know where we have to to get better.

They got off to a fast start – and Cheryl takes note: 

Like many teams on the rise, Santa Clara continues to be a major work in progress, even during midseason. The Broncos have not had a winning season in seven years. They earned less than 12 wins in five of those years.

This season, the team added seven new players including junior forward Lori Parkinson, a transfer from Southern Utah and the team’s top rebounder, freshman guard Savanna Hanson who leads the Broncos in assists and made three-pointers, and senior forward Devin Hudson who led the team in scoring vs. Stanford.

“Honestly we’re just trying to get better every day, so we’re excited about the fact that we’re actually getting better as a ball club. We have seven new players, it has just taken a while to get everybody on the same page, but we’re excited about where we are.”

More reading: Tamika Catchings on a Lifetime of Hoops, and the Legacy She’ll Leave

When Tamika Catchings was a little girl, she was sitting with her dad and noticed the scar on his leg. So she asked him, “Well, what happened to you?”

Harvey Catchings, a former NBA player, told her that he walked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Jackson, Mississippi, as a young teenager. Harvey had grown up in that southern city, and here were his neighbors gathered by the thousands to march with King. He was injured when the large throng of marchers swelled and he passed a parked car that had a broken piece of chrome sticking out. His own father wasn’t far behind and helped him move to the sidewalk and clean the wound.

It was a day that forever made a mark, inside and out.

“That was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever experienced,” Harvey said.

Graham rights about Three new teams who entered mid-major rankings

Believe it or not, we are running out of mid-major rankings. Only two more check-ins remain before conference tournaments will end the subjective portion of the season and settle which teams will get a chance to play David, or occasionally under-seeded Goliath, in the NCAA tournament.

And we haven’t even had a chance yet to talk about Albany’s perennially underrated Shereesha Richards, St. Bonaventure again punching above its weight (or at least its enrollment) and the pipeline apparently linking Colorado State to basketball courts across Scandinavia.

There are so many stories left to tell as the final month of the regular season approaches.

By the way, Doug asked, “Where have the great mid-major teams gone?

Coach Aaron Johnston’s team’s only other losses came to then-No. 6 Maryland, by seven points, and Green Bay by one.

“The margin of error for mid-majors is so small,” Johnston said. “We played Maryland and Notre Dame close this year, beat DePaul who’s ranked and lose by one to Green Bay. Unfortunately one loss gets us out of people’s minds.”

LadySwish responded

Mid-major implies there’s a second tier of teams, an “everybody else” of women’s basketball lumped together outside of the Power 5 conference. They are the Power 5 because of football; nobody grouped them as such having to do with anything related to women’s basketball.

All the teams in the sport are playing the same sport, vying for the same trophy. But the NCAA committee and the media who vote in the poll rarely treat them as such.

Alabama, Wake Forest, Boston College, Pitt, Illinois — are these teams better than, say, South Dakota State, James Madison, Duquesne, George Washington, Green Bay, Florida Gulf Coast or Gonzaga?

More stuff: Washington’s Chantel Osahor makes her Husky women’s basketball teammates better

From Seton Hall to the WNBA

What are some of your most memorable experiences as an athletic trainer working in the WNBA?

Laura London: As a female athlete growing up in the ’90s, I remember when the WNBA was formed. Being able to work with the New York Liberty absolutely has been an all-around memorable experience. Walking out of the tunnel and stepping onto the court for my first time at Madison Square Garden, “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” was a wonderful moment as a sports fan. As a newly certified athletic trainer (ATC), being able to join an efficient and effective professional sports medicine team was a major milestone for me. Having that team be led by Laura Ramus, PT, ATC, a female athletic trainer and physical therapist, was an added bonus that has been career-shaping and inspirational.

Curt Miller Seeks to “Establish a Culture” with Young Connecticut Sun

Curt Miller may not have set out to be a pioneer, but when he accepted the job as the Connecticut Sun’s new head coach, that’s just what he became. By virtue of the move, Miller is now the first publicly gay man to be the head coach of an American professional sports team.

It’s just the latest step in an impressive coaching journey that has spanned 20-plus years in both the collegiate and professional ranks. In 13 years as a head coach at the collegiate level, Miller compiled a 290-124 record, won five MAC regular season and conference tournament championships with Bowling Green, and also lead the Falcons to the Sweet Sixteen in 2007. Last year he joined Brian Agler’s staff as an assistant coach out in Los Angeles with the Sparks. Now, after being hired in December, he’s the head coach of the Connecticut Sun.

Sky player Allie Quigley’s close call with Turkish bombing shows risks of playing overseas

Two blocks away was too close for Allie Quigley.

When a suicide bomber attacked Istanbul’s main tourist district last week, killing 10 Germans and wounding 15 others, the explosion rattled the Sky guard like nothing she had ever experienced.

Yah, they stopped that: IHSAA cancels seasons for Pike, Ben Davis varsity girls basketball teams after fight

Podcast: Dishin & Swishin 1/09/16 Podcast: Channeling John Wooden? Cori Close has UCLA climbing the polls

For the first podcast of the year, Dishin & Swishin looks out West where the Pac-12 currently has the best RPI of any conference in the country. This week’s polls rankings, with Stanford ( No. 9/13), Oregon State (No. 11/12), Arizona State (No. 14/14), UCLA (No. 15/21), and California (No. 21/RV), show the respect the conference is getting nationally.

One of the most interesting of those teams is UCLA, where Cori Close’s Bruins are 11-3. The three losses are a three-point loss to second-ranked South Carolina, an overtime loss to third-ranked Notre Dame, and a thrilling double overtime loss to California.

Reviewing…the situation…

Tough sledding for Cal in the Pac-12. Ditto for Colorado.

Hofstra and James Madison are 5-1 in the CAA

George Washington has moved to 7-0 in the A-10. Keep an eye on Jones’ shoulder….

It’s been a tough year. Wichita State got its first win in the MVC.

Makin’ Debbie happy: #7 Ohio State over Michigan, 97-93.

The SEC is South Carolina... and everyone else, as #9 Kentucky gets upset by Ole Miss.

Ragin’ Cajuns are 6-1 in the Sun Belt.

Yah, UTEP is diggin’ in the C-USA.

Hello, Teddy Bears! They take down Chattanooga and move to 4-0 in the Southern.  “The loss was the Mocs’ first in league play since January 2012 at Elon, snapping a 52-game conference win streak.”

Ruff! Albany is now 6-0 in the American East.

Strong start to stumbling in the ACC: Virginia Tech (2-3) and BC (1-4)… BTW, North Carolina (2-4) lost to Wake Forest (1-4). Speaking of which: Transfers leave ACC women’s basketball feeling growing pains

“We’re a young league right now,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “When you look at this senior class, you’re not looking at a lot of WNBA draft picks in the senior class. When you look at the freshmen and sophomores, you’ve got loads of talent in the conference.”

The ACC arguably has been hit harder by transfers than any major conference.

Abilene Christian is still rolling through the Southland.

San Diego and BYU are lookin’ like the top dogs in the ever-interesting WCC. St. Mary’s one-point win over Gonzaga (3 Ls in a row) keeps everyone nice and tight.

The South Dakota teams are headed for a showdown – both are 5-1 in the Summit… as is Oral Roberts.

Hey! That snuck up on me: UT Rio Grand is 5-0 in the WAC. This didn’t sneak up on me: New Mexico State has the same conference record.

This could be fun: Eastern Washington (6-0) gives Montana State (6-1) their first loss in the Big Sky.

Don’t wanna jinx’em, but the Gauchos handed UC-Davis their first conference loss, and are now 4-1 in the Big West.

Games to keep you entertained if you’re snowbound:

Oklahoma v. Texas – how do these teams play the game after a “recovery win”?

ESPN 3: The Zips face the Chippewas at 1PM EST

FS1: Interesting test? Baylor v. Iowa, 1:30 EST

The Bonnies (6-2) v. the Dukes (7-1), 2PM EST

EPSN3: Horizon bragging rights: Green Bay v. Wright State, 2PM. (BTW: Congrats to Raider Kim Demmings, who set the all-time career scoring record in Horizon League women’s basketball history

Montana State visits the Vandals, 5PM EST.

The Battle of the Washingtons, 5PM EST.

UC Riverside v. UC Santa Barbara, 10PM EST.

SUNDAY

ESPN 3: The Battle of the Floridas – Miami v. Florida State, 1PM EST

SECN: Florida v. Missouri, 2PM EST

This one feels like it could be fun: Michigan v. Nebraska, 2pm EST.

ESPN3: It doesn’t have the usual national draw, but it’s always a fun rivalry: Duke v. UNC, 3PM EST.

Despite everything, the Heels were giving virtually everyone a tough game, and they came from behind to upset Syracuse. However, that was when they had McDaniel in the frontcourt. Even though she wasn’t close to being in shape, her sheer talent and size made a big difference for UNC. When she went down, the Heels lost by double digits to Miami (understandable) and Wake Forest (far less so — this was Wake’s first league win). Not only is McDaniel’s talent irreplaceable, it means the Heels have only six scholarship players available. Right now, they are desperate for any kind of wins.

It’s odd to set up this game with so little at stake in terms of national or even league ramifications for both teams. If Duke had lost to Clemson or Wake Forest prior to this game, it would have been the first time ever that the two teams met with losing league records. As it stands, this is the first time since 1993 that neither team has been ranked going into their rivalry showdown. That said, this game should be fiercely contested, though not necessarily a thing of beauty.

ESPN2: Will South Carolina give Mississippi State their first home loss? 5PM.

Indiana v. Northwestern. One team is trying to make its mark, the other team is trying to make up its mind. 5pm EST.

Stanford v. UCLA. This. Is. Not. Even. Streamed? 9PM EST.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Penguins bounce back and win!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Had a wonderful time working with some amazing educators, eating yummy food and seeing new birds! (Black Rosy Finch)

Black_Rosy-Finch

In the Pac12, no new birds this year: #19 Stanford was down early to Cal, but put just enough distance between them (1pt.) to escape with a win and earn their 11th Conference Championship.

 Even the ending was a little weird. Cal’s Mercedes Jefflo buried a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded, and there was an odd pause in KeyArena, as if, for a moment, no one knew quite how to react.

Stanford won its 11th Pac-12 tournament title Sunday night by defeating Cal 61-60, and the moment seemed a little hesitant — much like the Cardinal have a lot of the season.

Stanford didn’t come flying off the bench in a raucous celebration. Rather, it felt more like a reserved, happy relief.

 Even the ending was a little weird. Cal’s Mercedes Jefflo buried a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded, and there was an odd pause in KeyArena, as if, for a moment, no one knew quite how to react.

Stanford won its 11th Pac-12 tournament title Sunday night by defeating Cal 61-60, and the moment seemed a little hesitant — much like the Cardinal have a lot of the season.

Stanford didn’t come flying off the bench in a raucous celebration. Rather, it felt more like a reserved, happy relief.

Maryland also struggled against the feisty Mitchell, but a late travel by the Buckeyes helped the #4 Terps secure a three-point win and the B-10 Championship, 77-74.

The Maryland women’s basketball team didn’t make life easy for itself or the fans. After building a 15-point lead just four minutes into the second half, the Terps saw the Ohio State Buckeyes chip away several times, cutting the lead to a single point. Through the tense final minutes, the Terrapins’ shells never cracked and the Buckeyes could never quite get over the hump as the the Terps held on for a thrilling 77-74 win to capture the Big Ten Tournament Championship.

Eastern Tennessee State was down 24 in the second but roared back. #17 Chattanooga had to go to overtime against the up-and-coming Bucs to earn the Southern Conference title with a 61-56 victory.

Sunday they nearly kept Chattanooga from winning its 57th consecutive game against a SoCon opponent, a streak that includes 48 regular-season wins and nine in tournament games.

“There’s not a combination of 26 letters in the alphabet to tell you how proud I am of these kids,” said ETSU coach Brittney Ezell, who is in her second season with the program.

“To play with those kind of guts and to fight back the way that they did, that’s all them and I’m just honored to sit in that first chair for them and I’m really proud of that group.”

#2 Notre Dame had no such issues as they dealt with #7 Florida State with aplomb, 71-58, and snared the ACC title.

“I’m really proud of this team for where we came from to win this,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “To go through the league with just one loss was a remarkable accomplishment. We had so many new pieces to fit together, and I think with Jewell’s leadership we were able to get a little bit better in every game. This was the best game we’ve played all year.”

#3 South Carolina struggled against #5 Tennessee the last time they met. Not so much this time, when the SEC Conference Championship was on the line. Gamecocks win, 62-46.

There’s really only one time when South Carolina’s Elem Ibiam doesn’t fully appreciate the megawatt power source that is fellow senior Aleighsa Welch.

“I’m not her roommate, but we’re always in each other’s rooms,” Ibiam said. “And there are some nights when I’m like, ‘It’s time to go to sleep,’ and she wants to talk all night.

“She always has energy — always. It’s not just on the court. It’s when she’s in her room, when she’s driving to the gas station — it doesn’t matter. And when you’re having a bad day, you know she will pick you up.”

#21 George Washington picked up their fifth Atlantic 10 tournament title (first since 2003) by grounding the Flyers, 75-62.

Jonquel Jones stood tall and played taller at the defining moment of her career as a Division I basketball player.

George Washington’s 6-foot-4 junior forward did everything other than sell programs and sweep the floor during the Colonials’ 75-62 victory over Dayton in Sunday’s Atlantic 10 women’s tournament title game at the Coliseum.

She scored 21 points, sank four 3-pointers, grabbed six rebounds, blocked a pair of shots and helped GW play lockdown defense on the perimeter – yes, the perimeter – in the second half.

Liberty earned their 16th Big South title, defeating High Point, 74-64 and returning to the NCAA tourney.

The offseason is usually a relaxing time for Liberty women’s basketball coach Carey Green. An avid outdoorsman, the longtime Flames mentor likes to take advantage of all of Central Virginia’s natural offerings.

The time between the end of the 2014 Big South tournament and the start of the 2014-15 season was anything but calming, however. When you’re the head coach of a program in which the baseline expectation is to qualify for the NCAA Tournament on a yearly basis, anything less is hard to swallow.

A huge win for Hartford means huge heartbreak for (now WNIT bound) Maine Bears. The Hawks upset the top-seed in the American, 65-54.

Top-seeded UMaine’s NCAA season came to an unceremonious end in the America East semifinals, where the fifth-seeded Hawks rode a dominating post performance by Cherelle Moore to earn a 65-54 victory at Binghamton University’s Events Center.

“Cherelle Moore played like one of the best players in the league, and she is,” said UMaine coach Richard Barron.

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There’s a vocal constituency that’s mighty cranky about coach McCallie’s coaching and post-game style. One can only imagine what they’ll say now that #16 Duke has lost three in a row. This time Georgia Tech was the topple-er, beating Duke for the first time since February,  1994.

For what it’s worth, if Duke can’t handle #15 North Carolina at home on March 1, they will match the four-loss streak that ended the ’93-94 season. Perhaps the Blue Devils can take some comfort in the fact that UNC barely escaped Virginia – needing a last-second putback to avoid overtime.

Speaking of upsets – HUGE win for St. Peter’s. Patty Coyle’s team took down Marist, 66-58.

Yes, I’m calling this an upset: Wake Forest got its second ACC win by defeating Miami, 60-59 on freshman Amber Campbell‘s second buzzer-beater of the season.

#19 Stanford traipsed into Corvallis and said, “No, #7 Beavers, thou shalt not take down this Tree and use it as a torch. Cardinal win, 69-58, handing Oregon State their first home loss this season. BTW, missed this tidbit: OSU’s current total of 25 wins in the most in school history.

Just when you think Gary Blair’s got his team figured outMizzou’s Maddie Stock nails a game-winning 3-pointer with 0.1 seconds left to lift the Tigers to a 70-69 win over #12 Texas A&M.

Georgia showed a little more fight, but Tennessee prevailed, 70-59. The loss of Izzy seems to have made the Ledger’s Dave Link a little anxious: Lady Vols seem to be slipping off national stage

Speaking of fight: let’s talk Richmond battling back to take #22 Georgetown into OT. The Spiders ran out of steam, though, and were outscored 14-2 in the extra five. Colonials win, 81-69.

And still speaking of fight – ya, Wisconsin is 8-19, but these last few games they’ve proven to be a tough out. #17 Iowa escapes, 78-74. That’s the 300th career win for coach Bluder.

Glad Debbie wasn’t on hand to call this one:#13 Kentucky was just able to keep ahead of Arkansas, 56-51. 

I’m guessing Maryland got a bit more of a fight than expected from Indiana, but the Terps prevailed, 83-72, earning their 20th straight win as Laurin Mincy scored 28pts, a career high.

Florida State made sure North Carolina State wouldn’t repeat their upset ways. In front of the largest home crowd in four years, it was the Seminoles over the Wolfpack, by 20. Their 26 regular season wins ties the school record. One more game to break it: season finale at Miami.

Both coach Frese and Semrau are on the latest Dishin and Swishin podcast.

In the Sun Belt, Arkansas Little-Rock, Arkansas State and Troy kept rollin’.

So did #2 South Carolina.

So did #4 Notre Dame, who shot a breathtaking 62% against Pittsburgh. Mechelle has a little something on The Jewell:

In our best Marlon Brando voice, we’re going to make you an offer you can’t refuse. Settle into your seats, indulge in some popcorn … and read about the Jewell Loyd movie marathon experience. Hope you don’t mind if the line between film hero and villain is sometimes a little ambiguous.

“‘The Godfather’ is kinda our family movie,” Loyd, the Notre Dame junior guard, said of her parents, older brother and herself. “I like the concept of family, loyalty and getting the job done.”

Then Loyd laughed and added, “Obviously, we’re not going to be beating anyone up or anything.”

Loyd took part in a bit of “reel talk” recently at espnW’s request, as she’s a film, television and theater major at Notre Dame.

Jewell’s coach talks about Fighting Through February.

“February is a grind,” McGraw said before a recent home game at Purcell Pavilion. “You’re ready for the tournaments to begin, you want to see where you’re going to finish and what the seeds are going to look like, but you know you have to get through February to get to March.”

#20 Rutgers’ return to anemic offense and inability to defend doomed them against #25 Northwestern, 80-60. Kinda makes ya wonder, can ya justify C. Vivian Stringer making $1.6M in 2014?

Of note: the Knights’ loss, combined with Minnesota’s loss to Nebraska on Tuesday, means that Ohio State’s 88-70 win over Penn State moves the Buckeyes up into fourth place in the B10 standings. Seems like the Ohio State is not interested in waiting till next year to be good.

You know what’s notable about Tom Keegan’s column, End nearing for Bonnie Henrickson? The thoughtful, informed comments.

Ah, the joys of Senior Night and a reviving program: Making her first start of the season, senior Teneka Whittaker set career highs with 16 points and eight rebounds to help Rhode Island to a 68-53 win over St. Louis. With the victory, Rhode Island has clinched at least a .500 record in conference play for the first time since 2003-04.

Speaking of reviving: Hello, Hawai’i! Big West champs. First time in 21 years. Nice job, third-year coach Beeman.

Not only has #24 Cal inched its way back in to the rankings, but their 74-59 victory over Oregon gave coach Lindsay Gottlieb her 100th win at Cal. She’s the quickest to the milestone in program history.

This is nice news to read on a cold February day: Lauren Hill makes it through full season despite tumor

The Mount St. Joseph’s women’s basketball team held its postseason banquet in a hospital room warmed by Lauren Hill’s smile.

The 19-year-old freshman made it through a full season while raising more than $1.3 million for research into the type of brain tumor that will likely end her life. She’s occasionally hospitalized for treatment now, but still holding to each day as tightly as she can and urging others to appreciate their time together.

A little W news from Lois Elfman: Epiphanny Prince returning to her Brooklyn roots

“To be able to come home and try to win the championship with my home team and do it in front of my family and friends is very exciting for me,” said Prince, 27, who made her Madison Square Garden debut at age 12, playing a halftime exhibition at a Knicks game, and won four PSAL titles with the Murry Bergtraum Lady Blazers. She’s played five seasons with the Chicago Sky, which went to the WNBA Finals last year.

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Or, in this case, you’d have to say, “An Instagram is.

On a night of upsets and close calls, one would be hard=pressed to rank the “biggest” upset.

In a year of promise thwarted by injuries, it’s hard to vote against NC State taking down #10 Duke with authority, 72-59. From Mechelle:

No offense to Duke, but on this weekend, most of the women’s basketball world becomes part of Wolfpack Nation.

The annual Play 4 Kay weekend, of course, is in tribute to longtime NC State coach Kay Yow, who died in 2009 but lives on in the hearts of all who knew her. And you can be sure that the way the Wolfpack played Sunday in their 72-59 upset of No. 10 Duke would have a big smile on Yow’s face.

Not just because it was a win against one of NC State’s nearby rivals. But also because it showed the resilience of this season’s Wolfpack squad, which lost so much to graduation from last season’s NCAA tournament team.

Then again, don’t overlook Michigan State’s 10-pt win over #19 Rutgers, 60-50. The Spartans haven’t had a season to write home about, but Rutgers offense has sputtered since its early promise. MSU sophomore Aerial Powers set a single-season marks for points and double-doubles in victory over Scarlet Knights.

But wait, there’s more: Hofstra eked out a one-point win over de facto Conference Queens #23 James Madison. AT JMU.

“I wouldn’t say we had [the game] at hand, but I thought we had a chance to win,” Brooks said. “For that, I’m very proud of the kids. I’m very proud because they fought.”

According to Mickens, this game was far from a “wake-up call.” It was a loss to learn from and an opportunity to get better.

“I don’t believe in wake-up calls personally,” Mickens said. “It’s a humbling loss. It shows that we’re not invincible. But hey, it’s definitely a motivating loss.”

Certainly the Seawolves deserve a shout out for toppling Conference Big Dog Albany, 68-64. 

Last season, the Stony Brook women’s basketball team halted Albany’s conference-record 38-game America East winning streak. 

In front of 1,098 fans Sunday afternoon at Island Federal Credit Union Arena, the streak snappers struck again when Stony Brook took down Albany, 68-64, putting an end to the Great Danes’ 30-game conference road winning streak. Sabre Proctor led all scorers with 21 points, including 17 in the second half, on her Senior Day.

Clearly, defense was optional as the Buckeyes obliterated #13 Iowa, 100-82. Gosh, it’s fun to read Jim Massie’s stuff.  (Why hasn’t he been awarded the WBCA’s Mel Greenberg Media Award?)

Ohio State tied a scarlet ribbon around a signature win for its postseason resume last night in its final regular-season game at Value City Arena.

The Buckeyes scored 55 points in the second half and roared past 13th-ranked Iowa 100-82 in a Big Ten game in front of a crowd of 6,471.

The victory avenged a 73-65 loss in Iowa City on Feb. 5 and kept Ohio State (19-9, 11-5) in a tie for fourth place in the conference with Minnesota with two games remaining in the season.

And then, for sheer inter-state-conference rivalry sake, how about Cal over #18 Stanford, 63-53. On Senior Day. The Bears were just returning the favor the Cardinal gave’em a game ago. And ended the Cardinal 14-year run as Pac 10-12 champs.

Sun Belt upstart, Troy, takes down AR-Little Rock, 65-62.

“We really didn’t play like underdogs today, even when we were down by 10 points,” Troy head coach Chanda Rigby said.  “At that time my first inclination is to get in that frantic pressing mode, but we stayed back and played our zone defense, kept our gameplan and stayed in control.  The maturity of our team was a big difference in this game.”

Whoopsie! Charlotte knocks off Southern Miss, 83-72.

A “Yah, you won the Conference again, but wait until the conference tournament” win: Pacific over Gonzaga (the Zags first WCC loss), 71-59.

Some near misses:

#17 North Carolina over Miami by one. Make. Your. Free Throws.

Old Dominion over LaTech by one.

New Mexico State over Grand Canyon by one, clinching a share of the WAC title for the first time since 1995.

Ball State over Northern Illinois by one.

#14 Mississippi State over Alabama by two.

Seton Hall over Villanova by two, courtesy of a last second basket by senior Ka-Deidre Simmons From Steve Politi: 

Ka-Deidre Simmons thinks about the moment every day and wonders how she’ll react. Will she leap for joy? Will she start to cry? Will she play it cool like so many athletes do when their school pops up in the bracket during the NCAA Tournament selection show. 

She has no idea. She only knows that this moment — when the words “SETON HALL” finally appear in the field in three weeks — will be even sweeter because of her decision to stick it out in South Orange.

Hawai’i over UC Davis by two. The Wahine’s 19 wins is the most since 2001-02, when they won 23.

#12 Arizona State over USC by three — in TWO OTs.

“I’m so proud of this team,” Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “When Kelsey was out, it was like ‘Wow.’ Our bench has stepped up and people stepped up. It’s only going to make us better, obviously, for March, because we should be getting Kelsey back, hopefully, maybe this week.”

Northwestern over Wisconsin by three — in one OT. The win propelled the Wildcats into the polls for the first time in 19 years.

American over Army by three.

 A win against Navy on Wednesday in Annapolis would secure the Patriot League regular season title for the Eagles.

“They’ve always been a tight group. I love their camaraderie and how they really care about one another,” second-year Eagles coach Megan Gebbia said. “But I think it’s been our defense. That’s the biggest change that we’ve made. I think it’s that end of the floor and just shooting with confidence.”

Bryant over Robert Morris by three.

Western Kentucky over Middle State Tennessee by three. The Toppers hadn’t beaten the Blue Raiders in Bowling Green since 2008.

“I know 19 turnovers is the difference in the ballgame,” MTSU coach Rick Insell said. “We didn’t take care of the ball. (We) did a very poor job.

“(Western Kentucky) did a very good job.”

After an incredibly ugly first half, #20 Chattanooga over Samford by 7.

Wichita State over Southern Illinois by eight.

In other games:

How happy is FSU that Romero got to play this year? VERY happy.

In one of the best all-around performances in school history, Florida State sophomore point guard Leticia Romero recorded the program’s second-ever triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists as FSU defeated Boston College, 86-68, on Sunday afternoon at the Conte Forum.

What happened to Pittsburgh’s offense in the second half? Up 41-35 in the first, they only scored 13 in the second, losing to #25 Syracuse, 68-54.

Speaking of offensive offense – Debbie Antonelli better shield her eyes: Georgia only scored 28 points. Auburn only scored 44. I think they should be forced to replay that game until they get it right.

And let us not discuss the 36-32 Presbyterian earned. In overtime. Gak!

Debbie would have enjoyed this one: Minnesota over Michigan in double overtime, 91-88 . Zahui B only went for 27 points and 27 rebounds. Slacker.

Amanda Zahui B. should be the last women’s basketball player to wear No. 32 at Minnesota.

Call it insane to say a redshirt sophomore’s number should be retired when her career ends, but in two years, the decision to retire her number won’t even be arguable.

The month of February produced some unbelievable moments for the Swedish export.

Wowza – push-me/pull-you Washingtons: First Washington State pokes Washington in the eye, 83-72 . Then Washington kicks State in the shin, 83-43.

Nobody knows who UMass-Lowell is (and their first-year coach Jenerrie Harris, ex-Navy staff member). Even ESPN doesn’t have a page for them. But the River Hawks DID take down UNH, 70-65, so someone better pay attention soon.

The UMass Lowell women’s basketball team really should start campaigning for more games at the Tsongas Center. 

The River Hawks have certainly looked quite comfortable under the bright lights of the 6,111-seat arena in 2014-15. 

Playing at the Tsongas for the third time this season on Saturday, UMass Lowell delivered an inspired performance and remained poised down the stretch against one of the America East Conference’s upper-echelon teams. 

That’s five conference crowns in a row by Baylor.

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…waiting to go to the airport and return to the “bitterly cold” northeast. Will say that, whatever weather comes to mind when you think “the Bahamas,” it’s not what we’ve had this week. Nothing like scuba diving w/ a 25mph wind and 65 degree weather. Fleece alert! (and no, I’m NOT complaining, ’cause I’m on vacation! :-)

On the hardcourt:

Don’t wanna jinx’em, but the A-10 regular season title is George Washington’s to lose. (They’ve beaten Dayton both times they’ve played). Tough to beat a team three times in a row, though, so keep an eye on the Conference Championship.

With a win over a Bradford-less Central Michigan, Ball State moves to 10-3 in the MAC, easing in to the top spot in the West. Overall MAC leader Ohio was stunned by Eastern Michigan, 73-61.

That was unexpectedly close: Maine Slips Past Vermont in Women’s Basketball, 57-54 And yes, Women’s basketball risen in standings from two years ago

Two years ago, Maine was one of the worst teams in women’s basketball. Now, Maine has won 10 consecutive games and is ranked no. 23 in the Mid-Major poll.

It is amazing what you can accomplish when everybody is working together and when everybody has the same goals and dreams. It almost took us two years to get to the point where we are right now, and we are not even close to reaching our potential.

People keep asking, “What happened? How can you go from winning four games total to having one of the best seasons a Maine basketball team has had in a long time?” I don’t think there is a simple answer to this question.

A Debbie Antonelli Special: Troy needed OT – and every single one of Ashley Beverly-Kelley’s 46 points – to escape Sun Belt cellar-dwellar Georgia Southern, 99-93. BTW, this is Troy’s first winning season since 2008-09.

Boink! WHB Curse in effect: Rhode Island loses a lead, and then the game, to LaSalle, 47-45.

Speaking of losing leads: Miami must be kicking themselves – they were up 18 at the end of the first half, then lost to NC State courtesy of a last-second three by Len’Nique Brown-Hoskin.

Whomp! The up-and-down #15 Aggies were up against #11 Kentucky, 81-69.

James Madison, #5 Maryland and FGCU are sailing through their conferences. So’s Gonzaga (clinching their 11th straight)  but it’s not been a lark.

It’s been a tough one: SMU women’s basketball already with second-most losses in school history; Can team recover?

When your women’s team is playing six freshmen, your point guard bolts and your go-to player is gone for the season, you celebrate small victories, such as getting three male students through the NCAA Clearinghouse to fill vacancies for scrimmages.

Change has been the lone constant for SMU.

For a young team in a rebuilding year, adjustments have become routine. Each game seems to open a new chapter in the crash course.

Speaking of tough ones: The Gauchos are still win-less.

Hawaii seems to be pulling away in the Big West.

Wondering how probation will impact West Virginia.

No surprise, Debbie likes Kelsey (Mitchell).

“Why isn’t Kelsey Mitchell on the @BigTenNetwork promo on great (freshmen) in the @bigtenconf,” Antonelli tweeted Tuesday night. “She leads nation in scoring!”

Mitchell’s resume is quite lengthy. And her scoring numbers has made Antonelli start to consider if Mitchell has an opportunity at all-time career leading scorer Jackie Stiles (3,393 points). Antonelli has been calling women’s basketball games for 27 years and can’t recall another player to cause her to look at Stiles’ numbers.

“If you are a fan of women’s basketball how could you not like that?” Antonelli told Cincinnati.com.

Yup: Injuries wreak havoc on SEC women’s basketball season

Not an unexpected job opening: Portland State fires Sherri Murrell as women’s basketball coach with five games remaining

In W news: One Knight for another: Breaking Down the Epiphanny Prince-for-Cappie Pondexter Blockbuster and The age-old thought process behind Liberty’s WNBA megadeal plus, what’s really cool: Epiphanny Prince to finish Rutgers degree after trade to NY Liberty

When she stunned the basketball world in 2009 with an unprecedented decision to leave Rutgers one year early to start her pro career, Epiphanny Prince vowed that she eventually would return to school.

That time has come following a WNBA trade Monday that sent two former Rutgers stars back to their homes as Prince was dealt to the New York Liberty, while Cappie Pondexter is joining the Chicago Sky.

In high school news: Two high school girls basketball legends combining to make history at Gilmour Academy

It started with a phone call, seemingly out of nowhere.

That’s how a legendary high school girls basketball coach ended up at Gilmour Academy. That was 10 years ago.

And a second totally unexpected phone call led to the daughter of a former Ms. Ohio Girls Basketball Player of the Year playing for that same coach at the Catholic prep school in Gates Mills.

That’s how Bob Beutel, with 644 career victories, ended up coaching Naz Hillmon, one of the top freshman girls basketball players in Northeastern Ohio. Hillmon is already receiving attention from Division I colleges. The 6-foot-2 center is averaging 18 points, 14 rebounds and more than four blocks per game.

How about this: Alden-Hebron makes history with 5-player roster

Alden-Hebron’s “Fab Five” huddled on the bus ride home and talked strategy after winning the school’s first postseason title for any Giants basketball team – boys or girls – since 1957.

Hannah Behrens, Bailey Ogle, Hannah Warren, Tally Lalor and Emily Webber have played exclusively for the past 13 games as the Giants’ roster has dwindled from eight players to five. Kelsey Baker, A-H’s tallest player at 6-foot-2, moved away, and sophomores Brittany Standish and Sam Mendez suffered knee injuries and cannot play until cleared by doctors.

Congrats: Swin Cash earns Chuck Cooper Award for ‘extraordinary’ service

Admittedly, Swin Cash once had no clue who Charles “Chuck” Cooper was or what he represented.

She grew up in the same region and played the same sport, but as someone born nearly 25 years after Cooper played his final professional basketball game, the name of the first African-American player drafted into the NBA didn’t resonate.

So last year, when Cash was told that she was going to be honored with an award named after Cooper, she did some research. What she found was a legacy that she works to this day to strengthen and uphold.

WATN? TV spot highlights Markham basketball star Sutton-Brown

Tammy Sutton-Brown has a true story to tell.

It’s one the 37-year-old Markham native revealed that changed her life — all for the better — when she elected to attend a high school that offered a well established girls’ basketball program rather than go to one closer to home.

Thus began the road for the 6 ft. 4 in. centre in becoming one of the top Canadian basketball players hailing from the Greater Toronto Area that tipped off when she was a Grade 9 student at Markham District High School and then earning a collegiate athletic scholarship south of the border at Rutgers University.

But that’s not where it ended.

A little history: Women’s basketball pioneers honored at UAF

It’s no surprise Nanooks women’s basketball players Victoria Elleby and Stephanie Toumson asked Linda Dolney for her autograph after Saturday’s game.

Forty years ago, Dolney and her teammates paved the way for the current women’s basketball team.

That moment in history and several others were recognized Saturday at a remarkable gathering of women.

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Things we’ve noticed so far:

Suspensions hurt: LSU, missing Ballard, lost at home. To the Trojans. Now, the Trojans are no slouch…within the Sun Belt Conference, but the taking down the Tigers was huge.

“This type of win gives the kids instant belief in what you’re trying to accomplish especially when you do it against a top-25-caliber team,” Coach Joe Foley said. “There are a lot of ups and downs in the season. It’s a long season. You want to get off to a good start and that helps.”

Suspensions don’t hurt (for the moment): Oregon rolled over Utah State.

Suspensions don’t hurt (and, hopefully, neither do injuries): Tennessee pulled away from Penn to earn a 97-52 win.

Courtney Banghart’s still got a team, Susie McConnell-Serio is still working on it: Princeton over Pittsburgh, 59-43.

Ya, James Madison knows how to duke it out — especially at home. They roared back in the second half, pulling out the overtime win over #23 UCLA. JMU shot poorly, but the Bruins’ offered up a generous 26 turnovers  to help the Dukes to their first win over a ranked team since 2009. From Lady Swish: 

Now just as we weren’t going to make a huge deal had JMU lost, well, we won’t get too carried away with the win. After all, we don’t really call it an upset. JMU advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year. UCLA didn’t have a winning record. But this will no doubt an eye-opening win for the Dukes, who bested the team that boasts the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation in a trio of freshmen who are McDonald’s All-Americans.

There is an “I” in team, as Iona sends an early message, taking down Fordham, 72-51, in their season opening. Nice to see Bowling Green, KU, UCF and Rutgers on their schedule (though Bowling Green lost a bit of a shocker – Bucknell defeated the Falcons, 54-52.).

I’m thinking it’s going to be a bruising season for Penn State.

Well, hello, Washington State! The Cougars proved to be unfriendly hosts to #22 Dayton – forcing 30 turnovers and come away with a 76-60 win. The Flyer’s Andrea Hoover did all she could, but WSU’s Lia Galdeira got more support from her teammates.

Richmond won their first game of the season.

Joe Doyle, a northern New Jersey resident, never missed his sister Ginny’s basketball games — not the games she played for the University of Richmond Spiders from 1990-92, nor the games she coached for 15 seasons as a beloved and respected assistant for the women’s team.

So for Joe to return to the Robins Center on Friday night for the Spiders’ home opener, six months after Ginny and women’s director of basketball operations Natalie Lewis died in a tragic hot air balloon crash, was both fitting and hard.

“It was very emotional,” Joe said afterward. “It was difficult to see [their photos] in this venue, at the first game of the season, without them being here. It’s tough and devastating. Every day, we think of Natalie and Ginny, from the minute we wake up until the minute we close our eyes. And it doesn’t get better.”

Freshmen are fun: Louisville’s Mariya Moore (announcers are going to have to be very careful when identifying her, no?) opened her career with 22 points in the #12 Cardinal’s win over IUPUI. Notre Dame’s Brianna Turner only played 19 minutes, but managed to take 18 shots…and made 13 of them.

Ah, a game Debbie Antonelli would have enjoyed: San Diego State over Sacramento State, 99-91.

Beth Mowin’s Leopards start of the season well with a win over Delaware.

The big dogs are still big: Albany over St. Francis, 90-47. Penn State is up next.

Wings Up! FGCU opens the season with a win over George Washington and – surprise! – shoots 46% on threes.

Yah, it’s early in the season, but a nice 2-pt win for the 49ers over Liberty.

Arizona State opened strong…. strongly?… well with a 81-67 win over Middle Tennessee.

Ohio State opened their shorthanded season against Virginia and couldn’t hold a first half lead, falling 87-82. Shout out to the Cavaliers’ Sarah Imovbioh for setting a new single-game rebound record (24).

Win #400 for Sherri Coale. How is it possible that she’s been coaching for 19 years at Oklahoma??? Ahem – I can’t think of a better reason to produce a new Write Space and Time, can you? (HINT, HINT!)

UConn’s 47th win in a row for was also an opportunity for Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis to remind folks how ridiculously good a three-point shooter she is: she scored 30pts on 10-13 shooting.

#5 Texas A&M needed a 10-2 closing run to take down #18 DePaul, 76-68.

Are we going to call her Double-Double Davis? Nina got off to a good start in that quest in Baylor’s game against Oral Roberts.

Hmmm…. South Dakota State over BYU, 75-65. Watch out for the Wabbits.

Penguins win!

Quinnipiac wins their opener against a stubborn Army team, 79-64.

In a season full of expectations, #9 Texas got off to good start, keeping UT-San Antonio to 15 points the first half and cruising to a 68-48 win.

Was USC-east bending under expectations in their match up against USC-west? Only time will tell, but the short-handed Trojans sure gave the Gamecocks a run for their money. South Carolina pushed through for the 70-61 win.

Every career starts with a first step. Tyler Summitt’s at La Tech started with a 76-69 win over SF Austin.

In kindergarten, when classmates wanted to be firefighters, police officers and doctors, Tyler always had the same unflinching ambition: “I want to coach basketball.”

It drove his mom crazy. Be an astronaut, a scientist, anything but a coach.

So, are you ready to look a the brackets yet? Charlie is. (Remember,  all top 16 teams (seeds 1-4) play at home for the first 2 rounds before the winner of each site is sent off to “neutral” regional sites.)

Mechelle wonders if  North Carolina be even better?

While DeShields seemed naturally suited for the spotlight, Gray has the kind of low-key, low-maintenance personality that made her too easy to overlook last season. But that probably won’t happen as much this year. The 6-foot Gray should be one of the top players in the ACC and a leader — albeit still a fairly quiet one — for the Tar Heels.

“I know more of what to expect, and more how to handle different situations,” Gray said. “I think our offense is way more balanced, and everybody knows what everybody else can and can’t do. It’s more of a team this year.”

As always, Graham shines some light on the mid-majors:

Like the videos we no longer watch or the records we no longer listen to, mid-major is a term that might be in the process of outliving whatever it was that it was originally supposed to describe.

Are there five major conferences or seven? What is Dayton that Butler is not? If a tree falls in the forest near Storrs, Connecticut, does it make the American Athletic Conference important? And if we have high majors and mid-majors, where are the low majors? All reasonable questions that philosophers could ponder on windswept Himalayan peaks.

Check out his top player list. 6. Damika Martinez, Iona, guard

Martinez is the only one of last season’s top 10 scorers nationally who returns this season, so that’s a place to start. She’s also one of the more efficient high-volume scorers you’ll find. It takes a lot of shots to average 24.9 points per game, but Martinez connected on 44 percent of her nearly eight 3-point attempts per game. Only DePaul’s Megan Rogowski connected on a better percentage among players who hit at least 100 3-pointers. Martinez also shot 88 percent from the free throw line and 47 percent on her two-point attempts. If you prefer big moments to big numbers, it was her jumper with 2.9 seconds remaining on the road that ended Marist’s 36-game MAAC winning streak.

Mel writes up wins by the Scarlet Knights and the Temple Owls (amongst others).

Did you catch David’s Dishin & Swishin 11/13/14 Podcast: The roundtable returns to preview the 2014-15 NCAA DI season?

So, there’s this game on Monday night, ESPN 9pm: Stanford v. UConn.

From John Altavilla: Chiney Ogwumike On What It’s Like At Stanford

 “It was a pleasant surprise for me to be asked to write about the upcoming Stanford-UConn game. As a recent graduate and former Stanford player (and a very outspoken, opinionated, biased Nerd Nation minion) that request comes second nature to me. 

 “Basketball is a game of respect. If Wilson or Spalding created college hoop commandments, the top ones would be: respect your school, respect your coaches, respect your teammates and most importantly, when the ball is tossed up, respect your opponents because if you don’t, you will feel their wrath.

Get ready for some stuff from ESPN: Experienced Core of Commentators & New Faces Enhance ESPN’s Women’s College Basketball Coverage

“3 to See” & “Need to Know”
ESPN will continue to promote the top players in the women’s game through it’s’ “3 to See” and “Need to Know” initiatives. The two brands will be present all season long on ESPN platforms with additional content on espnW.com.

  • Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Breanna Stewart (Connecticut) and Jewell Loyd (Notre Dame) make up the “3 to See” brand.
  • “3 to See” will be integrated in games involving Mosqueda-Lewis, Stewart and Loyd.
  • “Need to Know” players include: Nina Davis (Baylor); Brittany Boyd (Cal); Moriah Jefferson (UConn); Elizabeth Williams (Duke); Lexie Brown (Maryland); Rachel Banham (Minnesota); Tiffany Mitchell (South Carolina); Aleighsa Welch (South Carolina); A’ja Wilson (South Carolina) and Isabelle Harrison (Tennessee).
  • The “Need to Know” brand will used throughout all women’s telecasts, and also include the “3 to See” players.

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what might be…

Top 25 celebrates 20th anniversary as writers poll

This season marks the 20th anniversary of the AP women’s basketball Top 25 poll’s shift to voting by writers and broadcasters.

Before the 1994-95 season, the poll was determined by coaches and compiled by Mel Greenberg, who started it in 1976. Here’s a look at some of the highlights over the past 20 years

AP Division I Poll

USA Today Coaches Division I Poll

…and what might have been.

From Tennessee: Lady Vols’ DeShields discusses transfer from UNC

From Cincinnati: Senior guard Alyesha Lovett, the team’s best returning player, injured her Achilles tendon and will miss the season.

From Ohio: And then there were seven: Injury knocks Chelsea Mitchell out for season

“It stinks,” McGuff said before adding. “It stinks. It stinks. It stinks. It stinks.”

Freshman forward Makayla Waterman already had knee surgery to repair meniscus and ACL injuries that she suffered during the first official practice of the season. Chelsea Mitchell will join Waterman as a redshirt freshman next season.

That puts 40 percent of McGuff’s highly regarded recruiting class from last November on the shelf before the team has played a game. Nearly two months will have to pass before transfers Shayla Cooper or Kianna Holland are eligible to play per NCAA rules

From Iowa: Iowa State guard Nikki Moody suspended indefinitely

“Nikki’s attitude in the team setting has become a distraction to our learning environment,” Fennelly said in the release “We have high behavioral standards to allow us to develop our team in a way that we can have success on and off the court and her behavior has been inconsistent with those values. Nikki can return to team activities if/when improvement is seen.”

Nearby, Ryan Murken says the Iowa women’s basketball team has depth to match talent

“I think this is the deepest we have been in a long time, if not maybe since I’ve been here,” Bluder said Thursday at Iowa’s annual media day. “We have 14 women on scholarship right now — which that alone is going to give you more depth — but it’s really the quality of the depth.”

From Arizona: ASU women’s basketball returns enough to contend

I’m fine about being the only one of 35 voters to include Arizona State women’s basketball in the Associated Press preseason top 25.

It’s not a homer pick because I believe ASU returns enough to build on last year’s surprising 23-10, NCAA second round season. The Pac-12 is good, that’s why the Sun Devils are picked to finish sixth by the media and seventh by the coaches. But they have more offense that stats suggest given the loss of leading scorers Deja Mann and Adrianne Thomas and more size than their starting lineup will indicate.

An editing note: I’d love to give credit to the author, but I can’t seem to find a name attached to the article.

Go Behind the Scenes during the 2014-15 BGSU Women’s Basketball Media Day

From the land of the Cavaliers: UVa women’s basketball team’s freshman trio making quick adjustment

UVa is into its fourth week of practice as it prepares for its Nov. 14 opener with Ohio State at John Paul Jones Arena.

Come that Friday, everybody will still be more than a tad raw on the defensive end of the floor.

“When you teach it for the first time,” Boyle said, “it’s a two-year process.”

That should suit her four-year players just fine.

Down the road, Lexie Brown takes on leadership role for Maryland women’s basketball

…the season-ending loss soon became a learning experience, one that Brown is taking with her as the Terps enter their first season of Big Ten play. And after logging big minutes in the 2014 NCAA tournament — including a team-high 38 against Notre Dame — the sophomore guard has emerged as what teammates call “a natural leader.”

“She just understands what things to say when we’re going through adversity, and how to get out of it,” center Malina Howard said.

Across the thruway: New Lady Lion players have high expectations and Penn State women’s basketball: 5 takeaways from media day

The expectation of the Lady Lions—to win—doesn’t change with the lineup, Coach Coquese Washington said. The standards are still set as high, even with the graduation of all but one starter from last year’s  24-8 squad that won a third consecutive Big Ten title and made it to the Sweet 16.

“How we do those things, what it looks like on the court may change depending on our personality from year to year, but the expectations certainly don’t change,” she said. She got that advice from women’s volleyball coach Russ Rose.

Heading south to the home of the Blue Devils: Duke women’s basketball ready for new faces to step up

Today’s scrimmage showed the Blue Devil faithful that though they lost familiar faces, change can be a good thing.

At the Blue-White Scrimmage at Cameron Indoor Stadium Sunday, Duke’s highly touted second-ranked incoming class—along with redshirt Rebecca Greenwell and transfer Mercedes Riggs—made their first public appearance. Combining for 63 points, more than half of all points scored all afternoon, the Blue Devil newcomers are ready to make their presence felt in the ACC and beyond.

From the west coast, the Cal Bears’ blog previews The supporting cast

Previous WBB season preview installments: Part 1: Boyd and Gray, the best duo in the west. ; Part 2: Predicting the Pac-12 standings + previews with Rosalyn Gold-Onwude.

Before we get into the preview content, some important pieces news:

David speaks with the Bears’ coach: Lindsay Gottlieb & Cal look to take the next step

Sue has been previewing the Pac 12:

The good news for Oregon State is the bad news for everyone else: the team that roared to a 24-11 record, tied for second place in the Pac-12, played for the conference tournament championship and made it to the NCAA Tournament’s second round last season is the only team in the Pac that returns all five starters this year.

Sophomore guard Sydney Wiese (14.3 points, 4 assists per game), junior guard Jamie Wiesner (12.5 points, 5.3 rebounds per game), junior center Ruth Hamblin (9.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4 blocks per game), senior guard Ali Gibson (9 points per game) and junior forward Deven Hunter (8.8 points, 7.4 rebounds per game) are all back, as are four reserves. Three promising newcomers round out a solid roster that already has both players and coaches chomping at the bit to begin play.

About that elephant in the room… “I know no-think!” (Yes, I’m a tad cynical): Hatchell says she was unaware of academic fraud, lauds Boxill

The report indicated that women’s basketball players were steered to the classes by Boxill, the academic counselor for more than 20 years beginning in 1988 and the faculty chair from 2011-14. Boxill acknowledged editing some athletes’ papers, and a review of her e-mails disclosed several instances where she made specific grade suggestions so that women’s basketball players could stay on track academically.

In one exchange, Deborah Crowder – the AFAM secretary who issued grades for the illegitimate classes – wrote Boxill to ask if a D would be okay for a specific player, since her final paper had no sources and had “absolutely nothing to with” the class.

A little WNBA stuff…

Out of Minnesota: Taylor Does Little Things Needed To Win

Asia Taylor certainly wasn’t the flashiest player on the Lynx last season. She was last pick in the 2014 WNBA Draft, and while she saw tons of collegiate success as with Louisville, she was by no means a lock to make the team at the start of Training Camp last season. 

Until she was. 

Taylor showcased her skills as a versatile swingman throughout Training Camp and caught the attention of coach Cheryl Reeve. Reeve saw a lot of value in some of the things Taylor brought to the team and ultimately decided to keep her on the roster. 

“I knew I was an underdog coming in,” Taylor said at the start of last season. “They basically say third-round picks are just here until the veterans get back and … wanted to prove differently.” 

Pierson used career crisis as springboard to success

In the early part of the 2001-2002 basketball season, Plenette Pierson wasn’t thinking about her legacy at Texas Tech. She was thinking about whether she wanted to finish her Texas Tech basketball career at all.

A star player who was suspended for most of her junior year, Pierson sandwiched a pair second- and third-team all-America seasons around that one and wound up one of the leading scorers in Lady Raiders history. The center from Kingwood was inducted Friday night into the Texas Tech Athletic Hall of Fame.

From the Nigerian Tribune: Nigerian-American basketball star sisters celebrated in US

Nneka and Chiney are award-winning basketballers based in the United States of America (USA). Not forgetting their roots, they have decided to give back to their country of descent, Nigeria, by raising funds for girls, who are either denied or lack access to qualitative education. 

Looking to the future, Swish Appeal’s Albert has 3 key differences between two of the WNBA’s and NBA’s oldest teams

Last week, Conor Dirks of Truth About It wrote about the transformation of the Washington Wizards NBA team from one of the league’s youngest teams in 2010-11, to the oldest team based on average age at one point during the 2014-15 preseason.

This caught me off-guard at first, as I recently criticized the Seattle Storm and their team building strategy. Like the Wizards at that point (they are now second oldest per RealGM), the Storm was the league’s oldest team based on average age during the 2014 WNBA season. While it’s easy to just look at average age and simply say that the Storm and the Wizards are old teams in their leagues, they don’t share that much in common based on how they are currently constructed.

Speaking of the WNBA & NBA: NBA, WNBA legends with Olympic ties to run New York City Marathon relay

WNBA rallies around Lauren Hill

Elena Delle Donne had chills when she first heard about Lauren Hill.

The WNBA star was brought to tears the more she read about the Mount St. Joseph freshman, who has inoperable brain cancer.

Delle Donne will attend Hill’s game on Sunday as a fan, moving a speaking engagement to make sure she could be there.

“It’s a once in a lifetime thing for her and I want to be there to support her,” Delle Donne said.

The game will be streamed:

The matchup with Hiram College at Xavier’s 10,000-seat arena will be available for free on FOX Sports Go online and through the app, even for users who usually can’t access the service. FOX announced Friday the game will also air on FOX Sports Regional Networks, including in Ohio, and FOX College Sports.

The Big East is producing the game, which starts at 2 p.m. EST.

Says Cincinnati.com: Lauren Hill’s game now the nation’s

Lauren Hill’s college basketball debut is here.

At 2 p.m. Sunday, Hill and the Mount St. Joseph women’s basketball team will tip off against Hiram College at Xavier’s Cintas Center. The sellout crowd of 10,250 will be there to see Hill realize her dream of playing for the Lions.

Hill’s story, by now, is everywhere. Nearly 60 media members from local, regional and national outlets will continue documenting the aspirations of No. 22, the forward with an inoperable form of brain cancer called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. Tickets were snapped up in 30 minutes for the player with a positive outlook and a terminal diagnosis.

Lauren Hill fundraiser invites schools to donate basketball jerseys for auction

From across the ocean: Basketball more than just a game for Saudi women

Women’s basketball is gaining in popularity in a kingdom rife with public restrictions on female movement and activity. With the help of some U.S.-trained coaches, female enthusiasts are using basketball to push for greater rights for women on and off the courts in Saudi Arabia.

“We are an activist team,” said Lina Almaeena, who started the first women’s basketball team here 11 years ago. That led to the creation of Jiddah United in 2006, the first sports club in Saudi Arabia to include women. “We took it upon ourselves to really promote the sport at a time when it was a big time taboo … when there was a self-imposed censorship on women’s sports.”

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we remember those who will not join us.

Vic Dorr Jr. from the. Richmond Times-Dispatch: University of Richmond women’s basketball team moves forward with heartache as constant companion

The pain they felt when it happened — shock, anguish, suffocating grief — was largely visceral. Temporary remedies were abundant: tears, hugs, the snug harbor offered by family and friends.

The pain they feel today is to a great extent cerebral. There are few, if any, effective remedies.

Lauren Sage Reinlie at the Daily News: Spirit lives on: Community gathers to remember beloved basketball coach

With hundreds of people gathered in the auditorium, Coach Patrick Harrington’s voice rang out again.

In a video playing on a large screen, the man stood on the sidelines of the basketball court, talking about his players and how he wanted to give them a chance to know what great opportunities they have to grow and change their lives.

From South Bend: Expectations still high for youthful Irish women’s basketball team

It’s been a few years since Muffet McGraw first put a whistle around her neck and stepped on a court in a dimly-lit gymnasium not far from the Main Line in suburban Philadelphia, to begin her first practice as a basketball coach.

And while it’s true Archbishop Carroll High School is a far cry from the bright lights of the University of Notre Dame’s Purcell Pavilion and college basketball’s biggest stage at the NCAA Final Four, don’t think for one second that the Fighting Irish Hall of Fame head coach isn’t excited about the start of another season.

Nice turn around in Austin: Women’s Basketball picked as preseason favorite to win the Big 12

From Spokane: Gonzaga women’s basketball rookie coach Lisa Fortier ushers in new era

The Gonzaga women’s basketball team opened practice Tuesday with a new head coach for the first time in 14 years and without a clear picture of the guard rotation for at least three years.

Out of Columbia: For USC women’s basketball, a national championship is the only goal

It was only the first day of practice, but the members of South Carolina’s women’s basketball team were already thinking of the ultimate goal.

“Our goal is definitely nothing short of a national championship,” said senior forward Aleighsa Welch, a Goose Creek native. “I think we have to put that in our minds and keep repeating to ourselves that we don’t want to settle for anything less than that. So that’s the main goal. That’s what we know we can accomplish this year. But it all starts right here.”

From their competition down the road: Lady Vols say they’re heeding Warlick’s message

Tennessee guard Ariel Massengale says the Lady Vols are listening more closely to coach Holly Warlick this season.

 The Lady Vols are hoping that extra attention helps them earn the Final Four bid that has eluded them since their 2008 national championship season. Tennessee opened practice Monday with most of the nucleus back from a team that went 29-6 and reached a regional semifinal last season.

From Notre Dame: Irish Women’s Basketball Tips Off 2014-15 Preseason,

It’s been a few years since Muffet McGraw first put a whistle around her neck and stepped on a court in a dimly-lit gymnasium not far from the Main Line in suburban Philadelphia, to begin her first practice as a basketball coach. And while it’s true Archbishop Carroll High School is a far cry from the bright lights of the University of Notre Dame’s Purcell Pavilion and college basketball’s biggest stage at the NCAA Final Four, don’t think for one second that the Fighting Irish Hall of Fame head coach isn’t excited about the start of another season.

From Jim Fuller at the Citizen Register: UConn’s Moriah Jefferson has chance to step into leadership role

The casual onlooker may wonder how the UConn women’s basketball team plans to replace the production of graduated All-Americans Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley.

While it will be no easy task replacing what Dolson and Hartley brought on the court, the bigger issue facing the two-time defending national champions could be who fills the rather sizeable hole in the leadership department.

Big things are expected from seniors Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Kiah Stokes, but the reality is that they are more of the lead-by-example types. Certainly reigning national player of the year Breanna Stewart will be a leader just based on her incredible skill set and list of accomplishments. But junior point guard Moriah Jefferson could be the most likely candidate to become the Huskies’ unquestioned leader.

UConn’s Dailey thankful for World Championship experience

Two days ago Geno Auriemma and Chris Dailey were in Istanbul, Turkey as the United States team, featuring five current or former UConn players, won the FIBA World Championship for Women.

After a long day of travel, the UConn head coach and associate head coach were back on campus and back at work. Auriemma looked absolutely spent and considering how he graciously gave me more than 15 minutes of his time when I was up at UConn for a football press conference before diving head long into his national team responsibilities, I resisted the temptation to corner him for an interview. However, when Dailey walked by me earlier today, I was able to spend a couple of minutes with her so she could reflect on her time as an advance scout for the gold-medal winning U.S. team.

Lady Raiders search for Rowe’s replacement

It’s been only a week of practice for the MTSU women’s basketball team, so it’s no surprise coach Rick Insell has more of his own questions than he has answers.

At this point, the 10th-year coach is simply emphasizing “repetition, repetition, repetition.”

“We gotta keep doing what we’re doing right here in practice,” he said. “Make them work harder.”

He added, “We’re not too bad. I’m not happy with where we’re at, but I don’t need to be happy right now. I need to be happy, in January.

“We’ll get there.”

Out of Lincoln: NU women’s basketball notebook: Huskers begin to try to replace Hooper

“Right now the elephant — the big things — are a little scary,” Yori said Wednesday. “Can we score on a consistent basis, and can we get defensive rebounds? Those are scary, because you think, who did we lose? We lost one of the best scorers of all time in the history of this program, and one of the best defensive rebounders of all time. Those are big things. Those are areas right now where we’re not very good.”

From Oregon: OSU women’s basketball: Beavers focused as practice begins

Over the first three days of practice, there was a focus unlike anything previously seen for Scott Rueck’s Oregon State women’s basketball program.

It makes sense as the Beavers return a plethora of talent that contributed immensely to one of the best seasons in program history.

Tough news for the Buckeyes: Ohio State women’s basketball: Makayla Waterman out indefinitely, facing knee surgery

Similar bad news in Colorado: CU women’s basketball: Buffs kick off practices without Roberson

Throughout the offseason, Arielle Roberson felt as healthy as ever and went through workouts determined to lead the Colorado women’s basketball to a great season.

On Tuesday afternoon, she sat in the Coors Events Center seats with crutches nearby as she watched her teammates go through their first official practice of the 2014-15 campaign.

“It just really sucks,” the junior forward said.

Cappie’s off to Australia: WNBA star signed to replace import Monica Wright, who is also injured

The loss of star recruit Elizabeth Cambage to a season-ending Achilles tendon injury and the failure of import Monica Wright to recover from what was seemingly minor knee surgery forced Dandenong to send out an SOS less than two weeks before the start of the 2014/15 WNBL season.

And it was answered on Thursday by WNBA superstar Cappie Pondexter, who signed a one-year deal to join the Rangers. The 31-year-old American guard is expected to be in uniform for the season-opener on October 18.

From Jonothan Lintner at USA Today: Native American community recognizes Shoni Schimmel

Shoni Schimmel often recognizes her Native American following, signing autographs and taking pictures after games with those who travel to see the University of Louisville graduate who grew up on an Umatilla reservation in Oregon.

This week, it was Schimmel who was recognized for her prominence as a 2014 Native American “40 under 40” award recipient.

From  at The Wrap:  WNBA Star Brittney Griner Talks About Becoming First Openly Gay Athlete Endorsed by Nike

Suivez-la Swoopes: Sheryl Swoopes’ son commits to Texas Tech

From Stephanie Kowalsky at the starsnews.com, timely but tough news: Ruthie Bolton: Ex-WNBA Star Victim of Domestic Violence; “It’s a Very Lonely Place to Be”

Breaking down in tears in front of a packed room, Bolton admitted in public for the first time that her ex-husband was abusive and that she used to live every day in fear of what he may do to her.

“I was living in an abusive marriage,” Bolton said, according to ESPN. “I could do whatever I wanted on the basketball court, I could defend an opponent, or hit a big shot, but I couldn’t get a grasp on my personal life.”

Out of Chicago: She didn’t play a minute, but Jersey City college student a star for WNBA team

“I was just scared to talk to people,” said Ortega, 21, who was born in Hoboken, but lived all her life in Jersey City with her family. “I thought my thoughts were either stupid or weren’t worth saying, so I just kept most of it to myself.”

Fast-forward to her final year at Centenary College in Hackettstown, and Ortega is the president of its Sports Management Association, is a mentor to freshmen students, and most of all, had finished a summer internship with the WNBA team Chicago Sky, where she was ranked No. 1 out of 8 interns in sales.

From Fast Company: Will the Future of Sports Reporting Include Sports Reporters? 

Dano first approached the men’s major leagues, but didn’t get anywhere. “There was interest, but the bigger leagues are a bit more cautious and guarded with how they adopt things,” he says. So he decided to focus on the WNBA, a league that could benefit more from the publicity. “The WNBA was really receptive,” says Dano. “Once we broke that ice, that validated things. We had one good partner, and they talked to their colleagues in the other leagues.” There are now about 40 WNBA players using the service, the most from any league. “Just about every player idea that we’ve gone to SportsBlog with, they’ve accepted and helped out with,” says WNBA Players Association director of operations, Pam Wheeler.

Out of the NCAA: June Courteau named coordinator of women’s basketball officiating

June Courteau has been named the NCAA’s national coordinator of women’s basketball officiating, bringing more than 45 years of officiating experience to the position.

“I have had the unique opportunity to work closely and learn from the last three national coordinators and am thrilled to be provided this great opportunity,” said Courteau. “Maintaining the momentum created by Anucha Browne at the national office on both the rules and officiating fronts is job one. The stakeholders in our game, including the rules committee, coaches, coordinators of officials and the officials themselves must continue to be heard and have buy-in towards these decisions. We continue to strive for a free flowing and up-tempo game.”

WATN? Lafayette women’s basketball staff adds Hall of Famer Theresa Grentz, former U.S. Olympic coach

“Passion, charisma, expertise and integrity are just a few adjectives describing coach Grentz,” Leopards head coach Dianne Nolan said in a news release. “I am very excited for our players, staff and the Lafayette community to interact with coach Grentz, as she shares her wealth of knowledge and experience.”

BTW: NBA Announces Major 9-Year TV Deal With ESPN, ABC, TNT: WNBA And NBA D-League Get New Contracts

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Kevin McGuff becomes the new women’s basketball coach at Ohio State.

Tell me again why players — who have a year-by-year scholly — have to sit out a year when they transfer and coaches — who often have multi-year contracts — don’t?

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Jim Foster out at Ohio State

From B10 Network: Jim Foster will not return to Ohio State. From Jim Massie at the Columbus Dispatch: Coach Jim Foster fired

Cal State Fullerton needs a new head coach, too: Foster Not Returning as Fullerton’s Head Women’s Basketball Coach

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From New Hampshire: Londonderry girls basketball coach Fagula earns 600th win

“It doesn’t feel like 31 years, it really doesn’t,” sais Fagula. “But around Christmas time when I’m getting cards from people I coached in the 70’s and 80’s who already have kids in high school or beyond, that’s when I start to realize I’ve been around for a long time.”

Mechelle chats and gives the Rams some love:

Blake Whitney (Washington, D.C.): Fordham was 0-29 in 2008. This year, under Stephanie Gaitley, the Rams are 18-7 and 8-2 in a pretty competitive (at least at the top) Atlantic 10. Fordham has been at the very, very, very bottom of the A10 in both men’s and women’s hoops ever since joining the league. How impressive is this turnaround?

Mechelle Voepel  (2:43 PM): It’s fantastic, because it’s very hard to recruit after a program has hit that kind of rock-bottom. You’ve got to get kids who believe in a quick but real rebuilding process. Gaitley has been able to do that.

Debbie and Beth pod where they recap the Baylor-UConn game. Plus, they’re joined by Duke’s Haley Peters.

Michelle writes: ASU regroups after coach’s absence – One of Pac-12’s most consistent programs is 4-11 in conference play 

Taking a season away from the game didn’t diminish Charli Turner Thorne’s competitive drive. It was meant to reinvigorate it, to recharge the fire that Turner Thorne was afraid was starting to flicker after 20-something years of the coaching grind.

So when she checks the Pac-12 standings and sees her program — which has finished no worse than fifth place in the past decade — sitting at 4-11 and tied for 10th place, it hurts.

A recent seven-game losing streak, the program’s longest since 1996-97, burns, as any baptism by fire would.

Graham talks Flyers and Hens in his mid-major poll, where five of the top ten teams are undefeated in conference play. Creighton is in the tenth spot with their 10-3 record in the MVC.

David’s Dishin & Swishin and Looking at the “Student” part of “Student-Athlete” with UConn’s Heather Buck & Duke’s Haley Peters

Tully is keeping busy: Bevilaqua takes workouts old-school at Gym41

In Cali, Chiney fesses up: It’s hard to say: I’m becoming a California girl

In Ohio, the Buckeyes know where they stand

The marathon metaphor, so popular from the beginning to the middle of most sports seasons, has reached the point for the Ohio State and Minnesota women’s basketball teams where the kick to the finish is all that matters.

In Colorado, Terry Frei notices, CU Buffs shining this season in women’s basketball too

The upswing in men’s college basketball fortunes within the state has captured the attention of Coloradans, and generated party atmospheres among the students in the stands in Boulder and Fort Collins.

Another hoops renaissance in the state has been lesser noticed.

In Michigan, an Unremarkable vibe part of extraordinary feat for MSU’s women’s basketball program

Asking a coach for contemplation during the throes of a season rarely produces any perspective analysis.

But what MSU women’s basketball has become is worthy of pause.

Before 2003-04, the Spartans had produced only four 20-win seasons since the program’s inception in the early 1970s.

A big game — on a warm weekend, against a rival or ranked foe — might draw 1,000 fans, if MSU was lucky.

Now, 5,000 fans and 20 wins is the baseline. Even for a cold night and trying season such as this, one that began with three season-ending injuries and two nine-game suspensions.

In St. Louis, OU coach receives Most Courageous Award

Oakland University women’s basketball coach Beckie Francis was named the winner of the Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award, presented by the United States Basketball Writers Association on Thursday. A victim of childhood sexual abuse, Francis has achieved a successful coaching career and now serves as an advocate for sexual abuse victims in addition to coaching.

In New Jersey, Megan Bowen’s impact on Princeton women’s basketball will be felt for years to come

After the 6-foot-3 Bowen committed to Princeton early in her senior year at Northampton, she kept track of the Tigers and watched some of their games in person. Bowen saw promise, though the Tigers’€™ 14-14 record and losses to Lehigh and Lafayette (after squandering a 16-point lead) may have indicated otherwise.

“€œThey had had a couple of tough seasons and the team that was there my senior year in high school had some really tough losses,”€ Bowen said. “€œI knew a little bit about the background of the other three (incoming freshmen) and I had seen Niveen’€™s (Rasheed) accomplishments, but I couldn’™t have pictured this. Coach (Courtney) Banghart has done a great job building the program and each year we’ve been getting better.”

In Arizona, WNBA president Laurel Richie talks Mercury, No. 1 pick

In Iowa, they do it old school: Posting Up with Granny Basketball

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while work has been kickin’ butt?

A whole lotta Griner and Baylor kickin’ Big 12 butt.

Oklahoma is continuing to win, despite injuries, and continuing to make Aston’s welcome to the Big 12 miserable.

TCU ain’t enjoying the Big 12 much, neither.

Texas Tech getting a nice, and somewhat surprising win, over #23 Kansas — unless, of course, KU ain’t all that, or TTU is something more than that.

Sacred Heart got a little of it’s swagger back, and handed St. Francis (PA) its first NEC loss.

Those Stetson Hatters are now 7-0 in the A-Sun (school record 10 wins in a row). They meet up fellow 7-0ers, FGCU, on January 26th, in Florida. Looks to be fun game.

It’s been a tough year so far, but the Bonnies can still beat UMass.

The Big South is kinda feisty. Winthrop took down Presbyterian. Liberty beat the Fightin’ Camels, and face Conference leader Longwood (who came back from 17 down to get a victory) next.

With a squeaker over New Hampshire, the Terriers have moved to 6-0 in the America East. They face 5-0 Albany next.

I’m not reading too much in to it, but it looks like the youngsters at Villanova have gotten some seasoning — they’re 4-0 in Big East play.

I’m still not reading too much in to it, but St. Francis (NY) won another game. Yes, wins in the past have been that rare that I notice. Credit new coach John Thurston.

Central Michigan stomped all over Northern Illinois, and is now 4-0 in the MAC. Akron got surprised by Western Michigan, but Toledo took care of Buffalo.

Looks like coach Michelle Clark-Heard learned a lot at Louisville:  The Hilltoppers are now 8-1 in the Sun Belt. They’ll meet fellow 8-1ers MTSU in a couple of games, January 27th AT Murfreesboro..

Hampton had a nice second half over Morgan State, and is now 4-0 in the MEAC.

In the Battle of the Big Sky, Tricia’s Montana State took down Robin’s Montana, 58-49.

Gonzaga has put together three straight wins since its lost against the Gaels of St. Mary.

Nice win for IUPUI and coach Parkinson (remember when they were a hot-coaching mess?) as they handed the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State their first Summit Conference loss, 57-56.

In the battle of the birds, the Phoenix took down the Penguins, and Green Bay is now 4-0 in the Horizon.

Boink: The Shockers moved to 4-0 in the MVC, after they gave Creighton their first Conference loss, 67-45.

Hmmm… that’s Seattle U at 7-0 in the WAC. Not looking too far ahead, but… they’ll go up against Utah State (currently 5-2) on Feb 2.

Chattanooga gave Davidson just enough hope to keep the game interesting, but exited with the win, 60-56, taking them to 6-1 in the Southern. That helps them keep pace with Samford and Elon.

In the past two days, two Elon University basketball players had something special happen to them on the hardwood in Alumni Gym.

One of them started most of their first two seasons. Then after suffering an injury two games into their junior season and missing the rest of the year, their playing time lessened, all the way to playing just 42 minutes in ten games this season.

Another one played two games of their sophomore season before tearing their ACL and missing over a year of basketball before returning to action this week.

Both played efficient minutes in their respective teams’ most recent games, helping to spark their teams to victory.

Marist may not be making national noise, but their still winning in the MAC. They held Canisius to 9 points in the first half.

Win or lose, Ohio State still has the Dispatch’s Jim Massie’s fine writing to fall back on. He reflects on the Buckeye’s struggles: Ohio State wants to add to success

As the Big Ten losses mounted, the Ohio State women’s basketball team had to develop the kind of tunnel vision that spelunkers need while exploring a cave as confining as a coffin.

At 0-4 in the conference, the only direction the Buckeyes could move was forward. And even after Ohio State trounced Indiana 68-45 on Thursday to end its losing streak, the single-mindedness couldn’t change.

While Nate considered Three things we learned about Stanford from the Battle of the Bay, Chiney made sure UCLA didn’t get any ideas, and led Stanford to a Bruin-stomping, 75-49. Writes Michelle:

Maybe playing Stanford on Friday night was a little like stepping in front of a freight train.

The Cardinal stared at the business end of a three-game home losing streak, something that hadn’t happened since way back in the 1986-87 season when Tara VanDerveer was a second-year Cardinal coach and parachute pants were all the rage.

Tomorrow, undefeated Duke goes to Connecticut to play the Huskies. At DWHoops, Rob Clough has a preview:

UConn’s top priority will be disconnecting Chelsea Gray from the rest of the team. They’ll face-guard her in an effort to get her to give up the ball or never get it in the first place. They’ll flood passing lanes in an effort to pick off passes made under duress. They’ll let her take contested jump shots all she wants, especially if Gray hesitates before shooting. If you hesitate before taking a shot against UConn, then they’ve already won.

As for UConn, Hartley was better against Louisville, but rolled her ankle (again) against Syracuse.

At Mel’s blog, Mike Siroky has his SEC Report: New Uniform for Bone – Still an SEC Star

Kelsey Bone is used to coming out parties.

Maybe all children born on New Year’s Eve arrive with great expectations.

She is back in the SEC after once playing at South Carolina and earning Newcomer of the Year honors with nine double-doubles. She transferred to Texas A&M and sat out the required year, but stayed busy. Last season, as a sophomore, she was the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and a member of the conference all-tournament team.

A good, but hard read, from Lady Swish: You’re Old Dominion’s Sara Jones, and here’s what that means

The doctor didn’t believe that the cancer had come back.

“For that to be so,” he explained to Sara Jones, “it would have to have eaten through the bone.”

Somehow, it did.

For the third time, Sara Jones had cancer. For the third time Sara Jones, 40 years old, has cancer. Metastatic cancer, and metastatic — the cancer has spread to other parts of the body — is one of those words —malignant, chemotherapy, tumor — that it hurts to say. Especially when you think you’ve beaten cancer not once, but twice. Remember, you weren’t supposed to even have it in the first place. That’s what the doctor said not once, but twice.

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Texas senior Cokie Reed and junior Chelsea Bass retire from basketball

On the opposite side of the spectrum, looks like Duke commit Becca Greenwell took a little inspiration from the FGCU Eagles — making 17 three-pointers in a game. Oh, and so did a high school team: Michigan girls basketball squad sets new state record with incredible 22 made 3-pointers)

How’s Kim doing at her new gig in Michigan? It’s still early, but consider this: Women’s basketball ranked for first time since 2002

Their in-state rivals won their first Big 10 game of the season.

It ain’t easy being a Buckeye these days: They took Purdue to three OTs but,  their Valiant effort ends in defeat

It ain’t easy being a Ute, neither: Cold-shooting Utah loses to No. 23 Colorado

Make that “Hatters 6-0 in the A-Sun.”

Ditto with the 3-happy Eagles.

Got a little WATN? for ya: Usha Gilmore Named New Women’s Basketball Coach

And here’s a little, “You Stay Put” for ya: Silver Stars head coach accepts contract extension

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Notre Dame survived a post-big win let down, but it took overtime.

Connecticut failed to lose two games in a row for the zillionth time, but there was some serious butterfingers involved.

In the battle of the Reds, Rutgers gave Louisville a scare, but the Cardinals pulled away in OT.

The Longhorns started the year strong, but Big 12 competition is proving to be another matter. Newcomer to the Conference West Virginia wrangled them good, 53-49.

Seton Hall still doesn’t care their coach is leaving for the W. They take down the Bearcats, 64-56.

Stanford thought about it… and then said, no, we don’t want California to win.

The Buffs got back on track against Utah. The Cowgirls did, too.

Speaking of big cats, the Tigers aren’t going away: Rookie quintet making early contributions

Every season, there are always uncertainties about how the freshmen on a team will adjust to college-level play and the extent to which they will be able to contribute. For the five freshmen on the women’s basketball team, however, these questions have hardly been an issue. Despite the presence of a talented senior class, the freshmen quintet, consisting of guards Amanda Berntsen, Michelle Miller and Annie Tarakchian along with forwards Alex Wheatley and Taylor Williams, has received considerable playing time and provided an offensive boost in scoring and rebounding for the Tigers. The Class of 2016 has combined to score nearly a quarter of the Tigers’ total points so far this season, with each member averaging at least five minutes per game.

A full-strength Baylor continues their demolition of the opposition. This time, Iowa State.

Hmmm… UTEP looks to be strong again this year. We have to wait until Feb 7th for their game against Tulane.

Keeping an eye on Cal-Northridge and Fresno State — both still undefeated in conference play.

Nice check in from the “local paper” on Iowa’s freshman: Ex-Mainstreeter great acclimates to being a Hawkeye

No, it wasn’t the dreaded three letters: Stokes relieved injury not worse

Given the alternative, Ohio State women’s basketball team co-captain Amber Stokes didn’t complain yesterday about needing a pair of crutches to reach the practice gym in Value City Arena.

The fifth-year senior suffered a sprained left knee near the end of the first half on Sunday in a 79-73 loss to Illinois. The possibility that she had suffered a season-ending ligament tear crossed her mind.

Jim Massie at the Dispatch writes about Ohio State’s 0-2 Conference record: Buckeyes’ slow start must end with stops

Tough times for the Catamounts: Overwhelmed by the first-place women’s basketball team in the America East Conference, the University of Vermont suffered a 58-30 defeat to Boston University.

Still tough times for the Black Bears: Hartford hands University of Maine women’s basketball team 11th straight loss

Looks like Williams-Flournoy got outta the Big East when the going was good. Writes Mechelle: Coach Flo has plan for Auburn

Terri Williams-Flournoy had been here in Missouri before, but this was the first time in her new role as Auburn coach. In her 12-year apprenticeship as an assistant, she spent two seasons at Missouri State.

Williams-Flournoy — known as Coach Flo by her Tigers — has paid her dues in the profession she was practically born into. Part of a basketball family in Virginia that includes brother Boo Williams — he’s one of that state’s most influential youth hoops gurus — Williams-Flournoy climbed the coaching ladder with a purpose and a plan.

And now, she’s in her first season in what is a new era for the SEC. Pat Summitt is in an emeritus role at Tennessee, but not head coach of the Lady Vols for the first time since 1973.

Have you noticed? FSU women’s basketball quietly excelling – With recent winning ways, Seminoles may soon cast shadow on other sports

The women’s basketball team has silently tip-toed to a 12-2 record and have placed themselves among the game’s most elite programs. The Seminoles are No. 5 in the nation in scoring, averaging 82.3 points per game and their field goal percentage of 49 percent only trails Baylor and Connecticut, two perennial National Title contenders.

The .com says that Angel McCoughtry wants you to trust and believe.

Speaking of Angel, from Mechelle’s chat:

kevin (macon ga): Angel McCoughtry said on wnba.com that she had “nothing to do with the coaching change”. Should we believe her?

Mechelle Voepel: Maybe that means she actually wasn’t the one to call Marynell Meadors to tell her she was fired? :) Of course she had something to do with it. But, anyway, it’s water under the bridge now. Fred Williams is the Dream’s coach, and Angel will be back as his star player. These things happen in pro sports … look at the NBA and coach firings and players saying, “Oh, I had nothing to do with it!” Meadors, I believe, would still like to return in some capacity to the league, but if not, she’s had a long career in the sport with a lot of accomplishments. I feel bad for her that things ended in Atlanta as they did, though. She deserved better. Now Angel and Fred will have a revamped East – at least in terms of the new coaching hires – to deal with.

Congrats are in order: U.S. Men’s, Women’s Olympic Teams Honored By USA Basketball and Taurasi Is Named USA Basketball’s Top Female Athlete (sorry anti-tank-Merc fans)

Oops! WNBA’s Maya Moore’s Olympic Ring Stolen, Sold to Gold Buying Store and Phew! Man charged with selling ring stolen from WNBA player Maya Moore

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Rocks with Wings?” (If no, check it out.)

The Lady Chieftains are looking to make some noise: Shiprock ready to make a run under new head coach Larenson Henderson.

Speaking of 2000-01, the Utes are 6-0 — the first time since their run into the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in ’01.

“We just love to play, and I think we play really good together,” junior Michelle Plouffe said of the hot start. “Our chemistry on the court and off the court is just top notch. It’s the best it’s been since I’ve been here, and it just shows out there.”

This could be an interesting game: From Jim Massie, Buckeyes gear up for speedy Tar Heels

The North Carolina women’s basketball teams always play the game at a pace that would warm the heart of a greyhound with a mechanical rabbit in its crosshairs.

So when 16th-ranked Ohio State takes the court against the No. 22 Tar Heels tonight in Carmichael Arena in Chapel Hill, N.C., surprise should have nothing to do with anything in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge game. (ESPN3)

The Huskers ain’t skeered of no turtles: NU women look to stand tall against Terps

Don’t make out Wednesday’s tilt with No. 11 Maryland to be too daunting for the Nebraska women’s basketball team.

Since coach Connie Yori’s arrival in 2002, the Huskers have beaten 25 teams in the AP Top 25 — including six in the top 10. So No. 21 Nebraska (5-1) has faced and slain giants before.

DWhoops has a preview of tonight’s Duke v. Michigan game.

The dismantling of the Big East continues: Louisville to the ACC.

Oh, yeah, dey be Flyin’: Dayton new No. 1 in mid-major poll.

MTSU’s Kortni Jones gets one last shot vs. Lady Vols, which gives Graham an opportunity to offer up this on her teammate: Ebony Rowe rules court, classroom

Few people can stop Ebony Rowe when she gets going.

On the basketball court, that reality is most definitely Middle Tennessee’s gain. The latest in a long line of undersized and overlooked All-America candidates for the Blue Raiders, Rowe is a relentless force in the post. She put up 25 points and 16 rebounds in 40 minutes in her first college game, against Big East member South Florida, three seasons ago, and has yet to ease off the throttle. The 6-foot-1 forward averaged a double-double as a freshman and again as a sophomore. And through the first five games of her junior season, wouldn’t you know it, she’s averaging 19.8 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.

For Janay Brinkley, on the other hand, it’s not such a great thing off the court. It seems the Blue Raiders teammates, roommates and best friends can’t go anywhere in the car without Rowe, a physics major who plans to pursue a career in engineering, interrupting whatever music or conversation might be under way to explain why, for example, the exit ramp they are in the process of taking was designed the way it was.

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I enjoy really crispy bacon, from C&R over at Swish Appeal:

Well, now that the dust has cleared and the letter written about disrespect has been read (Hampton), they actually played the games starting Saturday. And Stanford, as befitting a number 1 seed, beat Hampton University 73-51.

Ya know, it’s tough for a #16 seed. Here you go and win your conference, scrape and scrap and suffer and sweat all season long, and your reward is to play a bigger, better team and lose and go home, which was about 10 miles from the gym in this case. So unfair to Stanford if you want to talk about disrespect, Hampton!

Looking forward:

From the South Bend Tribune: Notre Dame women’s basketball: Carol Owens’ ‘project’ [with Peters] a huge success and ND plans to bring heat

From the SBT some non-ND: Iowa/Cal: A contrast in styles

From the Naples News: NCAA tournament wait ends Sunday for FGCU

From the Fresno Bee: Fifth time a charm for Fresno State women?

From the Canton Rep: GlenOak grad gets up close look at Baylor’s Brittany Griner (no, the grad is not a 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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Could be emotional: Senior Day at Tennessee. (ESPNU, 3:30EST)

Could be a massacree: Duke v. UNC (3pmESPN2/3)

Could be a trap: Minnesota v. Penn State and Georgia v. LSU (5pm, ESPN2/3)

Could have implications: South Carolina v. Arkansas (3pm, ESPN3)

Could be a chance to rebound: Nebraska v. Ohio State.

Could be perfect: UTEP v. Rice.

Could be a spoiler: MSTU v. WKU (2pmEST, ESPN3).

Could be the start of a Colorado team making the tourney: Denver v. North Texas.

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damned if you don’t when it comes to the question of parity in women’s basketball: if you say, “Look at all the ranked teams that lost (many to unranked teams)” folks will say, “The ranked teams aren’t that good,” or “it’s a down year for women’s basketball.”

Of course, if all the ranked teams win, then they’ll say, “There’s no parity.”

So, Sunday, clearly the ranked teams aren’t that good:

#9 Ohio State lost to Minnesota (12-11), 76-65.

#19 Penn State lost to Michigan State (13-9), 83-77.

Yes, #12 Rutgers had Rushdan go down (hopefully temporarily), but how do you only score 36pts in your loss to #16 Georgetown?

Ranked, and lucky to escape with a win:

#13 Texas A&M by 2 over Iowa State (11-8).

#16 Delaware by 7 over James Madison (15-5).

#24 Georgia Tech by 9 over Clemson (5-14)

#25 North Carolina by 4 over Wake Forest (12-9).

In the spirit of “there’s no parity in women’s basketball:”

#6 Kentucky over Alabama by 14.

#8 Miami over Boston College by 31.

#9 Tennessee over #15 Georgia by 17.

#21 Nebraska over Illinois by 20.

Conference undefeated UTEP over UCF by 29.

Conference undefeated Marist over Sienna by 11.

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got upset. And yes, we know that they had the lead 99.999% of the game. And yes we know that it took a last second three to get Gonzaga the win.

But the ‘dogs went on a 22-4 run to end the game. So look at Georgia’s schedule/record. Were they really the #12 in the country?

Ohio State, DePaul and Delaware (ouch, upward curve no longer in play in Providence?) rolled. Louisville snuck by, helped by Daugherty having the misfortune of pulling a Chris Webber.

Paying attention to “bowl eligible” Florida Gulf Coast, now sitting at 7-1. Their only loss: Seton Hall?

I’m not going to get excited about Arkansas’ 9-1 record until they’re midway through their SEC schedule – but I know friends of the blog Teddy and Candy must be thrilled. Ditto with Mississippi State.

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today at 3pm. Check out ESPN  and ESPN.com for coverage. (There’s lots of Liz)

Mechelle has: Prospects put a lot of effort into prep – Players must move forward from the NCAA tourney and focus on draft-day mindset

Jantel Lavender was patient, looking around with her sister to get just want she wanted. There was a time when a 6-foot-4 woman usually despaired of finding dress clothes she liked that would fit — unless she had them personally made.

But Lavender, the Ohio State senior post player who was searching for just the right thing to wear to Monday’s WNBA draft (ESPN, 3 p.m. ET), says things have gotten much better for tall women when it comes to fashion.

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’cause the Saturday games were worth it.

#1 Tennessee moved into their first Elite Eight since ’08 by holding off a revitalized and feisty #4 Ohio State. After coach Summitt’s…. impressive halftime speech propelled the Vols to victory, Graham wrote: “Ohio may just want to close its southern border at this point.”

#2 Notre Dame had little trouble with #6 Oklahoma, taking down the Sooners 78-53. Said Sherri post-game: “Maybe they don’t get enough credit for their defense because their offense is so salty.”

Did you wanna know “who dat?” for some of the heroines of the ND and TN games? Check out Graham’s: Unheralded players become elite.

Anyone who’s watched #7 Louisville knows that you live by the Shoni and, sometimes, you die by the Shoni. There was no magic for the frosh against #11 Gonzaga, but the Bulldogs’ 76-69 win means I can type “Vandersloot” again, and that makes Steve happy. He ain’t the only one. Writes Mechelle:

Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves summed up the effect that his point guard, Courtney Vandersloot, has not just on the outcome of a game, but on those watching it.

“She’s mesmerizing,” Graves said. “It’s hard to take your eyes off her.”

Like Tennessee, #1 Stanford was down to #5 North Carolina and, like the Vols, the Cardinal fought back to claim the victory. “This is one of those classic survive and move on,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. Mechelle says, thank the sisters.

Can’t wait for tonight’s Elite Eight!

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on Kim’s Daily News site.

Also, at ESPN, Graham writes “Lady Vols look to make statement”

The more things change, the more we wait to see whether they stay the same for Tennessee.

The locker room top-seeded Tennessee occupies for Saturday’s Sweet 16 game against No. 4 seed Ohio State (ESPN, noon ET) is the same one it occupied four years ago at University of Dayton Arena, an instance of history repeating itself that allowed longtime team trainer Jenny Moshak to sit in the same spot along one wall Friday morning while the Lady Vols waited for their turn to practice, as she had while players endured similar waits four years ago in the Sweet 16. Pat Summitt is most definitely the same, save for a couple of additional championship rings now in her possession. Even the infamous ramp that leads to and from the locker room is familiarly steep.

Check out the Ohio State v Tennessee and and the Notre Dame v. Oklahoma previews.

Did you catch Graham and Mechelle’s piece Breaking down the Sweet 16.

Mechelle also has Versatility is Pedersen’s calling card

Did you ever face one of those miserable-weather days in the winter when you were chilled to the bone? And maybe you thought to yourself, “Why do I live here? I’m moving somewhere warm.”

Of course, many people think that … but don’t actually do it, right? But Gary and Kelli Pedersen, then living in Flint, Mich., felt that way once and decided to do something about it.

“We had an ice storm, and I couldn’t get either car out of the garage,” Gary remembered. “And I said to my wife, ‘Remember that place we went on vacation? Let’s just pack up and move.'”

At espnW Michelle Smith has Gonzaga’s fairy-tale tournament

At the beginning of the season, Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves told his team a fairy tale. We’re not saying it started with “Once upon a time.” But we’re not saying it didn’t, either.

“I told them the story about how, 10 years ago in Spokane, a little blond-haired girl — the kind of girl who was something special, the kind that people don’t see all the time — led her team to the Final Four.”

That little blond girl was Jackie Stiles, the former Southwest Missouri State star, whose transcendent performance in Spokane a decade ago helped her team become the last non-BCS conference team to reach a women’s Final Four.

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Point guards lead the way in Sweet 16

We may be living in the year of the quarterback, but March will always be the month of the point guard.

When the Sweet 16 gets under way on Saturday afternoon, some of the biggest stars on the court will be the smallest players on the court. From eight standout seniors looking to play at least one more game to four freshmen who appear ready to battle for bragging rights for years to come, the weekend’s most intriguing subplots may come from duels between players who do considerably more than merely bring the ball up the floor.

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of basketball. Tonight’s crew is going to have to pull out the stop to match’em. Mechelle sizes up the games.

Every team except Green Bay that will be playing in the second round of the women’s NCAA tournament Tuesday night has previously been to the Sweet 16. Even though for some of them, it has been a long time.

That includes No. 3 seed Miami, which faces sixth-seeded Oklahoma on Tuesday for a trip to the Dayton Regional semifinals.

About last night:

The Stomp:

#1 Stanford was pushed in the first, but pulled away in the second behind their sister act to take down the #9 Red Storm, 75-49. Writes Michelle Smith:

Connecticut. Tennessee. Duke. Texas. DePaul. Gonzaga. UCLA. Xavier. Rutgers.

All have been to Maples Pavilion in the last four years. None of them have won.

Now add St. John’s to that list.

The Stanford seniors bade farewell to their beloved home court Monday night in impressive style, as the top-seeded Cardinal overcame an early eight-point deficit to blow past ninth-seeded Red Storm, 75-49.

So it’s time for the final tally: 63-0. Kayla Pedersen and Jeanette Pohlen walked off the floor for the last time in their careers never having experienced the disappointment of a home-court loss.

The Semi-Stomp:

#2 Notre Dame took a lead into the half and maintained it through the second half to defeat the #10 Owls, 77-64.

Notre Dame had the impressive NCAA tourney resume.With a dominating inside game Monday night, the Fighting Irish just padded it some more.Their 77-64 victory over Temple advanced the Irish to the regional semifinals for the ninth time, and second in a row.It wasn’t exactly easy as Temple refused to quit, pulling within five points early in the second half and within nine late thanks to a defense that forced 19 turnovers. But when they needed a play, the Irish got it.

Almost a stumble:

It’s not as if #1 Tennessee was totally out of sorts as much as it was that #8 Marquette simply would not stop. Writes Mechelle:

…for a while, it looked like the Golden Eagles just might be able to pull what would have been one of the bigger upsets ever in the women’s NCAA tournament. Not because Marquette isn’t a strong team; the Golden Eagles proved they were. But because Tennessee has been impossible to beat at home in Thompson-Boling Arena in NCAA tournament games.

That record remained intact, but not until after the Orange Nation probably needed to munch on a Tums or two.

It was a tale of halves: the first one went to #6 Penn State, the second to #3 DePaul, as the Blue Demons survived, 75-73. PA native Keisha Hampton’s free throws were the difference. Writes Graham:

The NCAA tournament isn’t sentimental. It’s thrilling precisely because it’s ruthless, an unfeeling entity that exists not to reward the valiant or the deserving but simply the team that scores more points.

If you want a happy ending, you have to go out and write it yourself. And DePaul junior Keisha Hampton wrote one for her seniors Monday night.

#2 Duke was down, then up, then survived as Marist gave’em all they could handle, even after losing their best player to an ankle injury. From DWHoops.com:

Incredibly, Marist’s resolve hardened even further when their star guard Erica Allenspach when down with an injury and did not return. The Red Foxes pushed the lead to 11 on a couple of occasions and still led by 6 late in the game, but Chelsea “The Closer” Gray led the late charge, along with key baskets from Jasmine & Krystal Thomas. The mantra from the players after the game was simply “Survive and advance”. Duke played poorly for much of the game but their experience, toughness and resolve allowed them to ultimately prevail.

#5 Georgia Tech had a slim halftime lead over #4 Ohio State, but Lavender said, “Nope.” (Um, AP editor? How do you let someone get away with a sentence like this: “MaChelle Joseph said when Lavender got untracked, the game shifted.”

“She is the best post player in the country, and one of the top three players,” Joseph said. “She was aggressive in the second half. In the first half, she was a little passive, setting picks outside away from the basket. But then they started getting the ball to her on the block.”

The Trip Ups

#5 North Carolina was up on #4 Kentucky by 10 at the half and won by 12. I don’t know that I’m surprise the Wildcats fell, but I’m slightly surprised it was the Tar Heels who took’em down.

“We just haven’t had a game like that that our team just wouldn’t go to the boards,” Mitchell said. “We just got caught standing in the middle. So we wouldn’t go rebound, jogging back, it was a real uncharacteristic game for us. That’s why I’m so disappointed I could not get the team motivated to play North Carolina.”I thought it was a very pathetic performance in transition. When you let North Carolina get out and go 3-on-1 and you’re just jogging back; lights out, you’re done. It was one of the most disappointing performances I’ve ever seen from our team here at Kentucky.”

The Bruins were up by three over the Bulldogs, but Standish and Vandersloot put down the hammer and pushed #11 Gonzaga to a 89-75 win over #3 UCLA. (Vandersloot became the first player in Division I history — men or women — to record 2,000 points and 1,000 assists in her career.) Write Mechelle:

…no one can argue that Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves has built a terrific program in Spokane, and Vandersloot has been the centerpiece. The senior guard was sensational Monday: 29 points, 17 assists, 7 rebounds, 5 steals. During the game, she scored the 2,000th point of her career. Are you watching, WNBA scouts?

And it’s not too often that a player could score 30 points and be overshadowed by her teammate, but Gonzaga’s Kayla Standish was. Not that she minded.

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the WaPo article, Dissecting women’s college basketball, is in the Arts & Leisure/Style section? (Yah, I know, don’t look gift coverage in the mouth, Helen)

Other random articles of interest:
From Illinois: After serious illness limits her hearing, Mingo calls basketball ‘a blessing’

From Ohio: Buckeyes claw their way back out of losing spiral and OSU women can’t let off the pedal

From Graham: Ta’Shia Phillips is one of a kind and Ebony Gainey starts, shoots … and scores

There are times, Ebony Gainey admits, when she wonders about what could have been or thinks back to what she envisioned the present would look like when it was still a future waiting to take shape. Only a belief that all things happen for a reason offers the strength to keep regret and bitterness at bay, the past less deserving of her attention than the future.

Whatever happened Saturday when Gainey took the court for Dayton’s game against Fordham, the first game of a college career seemingly cut short by a heart ailment before it began four seasons ago, wasn’t going to change any of that. As Dayton coach Jim Jabir suggested beforehand, whether Gainey got a shot or scored mattered less than simply seeing her in a uniform and in the starting lineup after withstanding years of adversity, including the loss of a beloved older sister and the loss of a sport that enthralled her.

From New York: UConn’s Hopes for 8th Title May Rest With Dolson

From California: Stanford seniors look to finish 63-0 at home

From Michigan: After starting during turbulent time for Michigan State women’s basketball squad, seniors now have special bond

From North Carolina: Heels’ Breland is struggling

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From Chris Solari at the Lansing State Journal: Keane rock solid for Spartans – Kalisha Keane plays with fierce exuberance and rarely gets rattled. Even when off-court matters weigh heavily on her mind.

Tonight against Ohio State, the Spartans can clinch the program’s first outright title. And by Keane’s side, as the fans celebrate a special senior class, will be her parents – supportive survivors who she’s quietly helped through a series of serious medical ailments and who’ve been a driving force in her carpe diem attitude.

“I think earlier in her career, maybe some of that might transcend onto the court. But now I feel like you can see that maturity come,” MSU coach Suzy Merchant said. “And between the lines, that’s where she belongs. And that’s where her family wants her to be. No matter what’s going on around her, that’s her outlet and she plays with a great passion.”

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AP Poll Thoughts, CAA Scramble, NCAA Bracket

Quick thoughts while killing time before heading up on post-midnight ride to Yukon, er, UConn territory for the Duke showdown.

Looks like several showdowns are ahead for the Huskies on this stretch.

Incidentally, it seems there could be as many as three vacancies in the AP voters minds as of this writing – caused by Georgia, Ohio State and possibly Georgia Tech depending on value of an overtime loss to Miami – in casting their ballots this week.

Which leads to Charlie’s latest bracketology and bubbles.

Which leads to Lady Swish: ODU, JMU, UNCW remain deadlocked atop CAA and The (Hampton) revolution will be televised

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