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(Hello Houston, site of so many Liberty heartbreaks… at least your airport has free wifi! And at least we were able to find a hotel for our unexpected overnight due to bad weather.)

So, to the big news: Blue Devils/Buffalo roots (tinged with a little Hotlanta) bring Lisa Borders to the presidency. Mechelle says, Lisa Borders’ biggest challenge: Proper exposure for WNBA

She’s 58 and a part of the Baby Boomer generation that lived its entire young adulthood before social media. The players in her league are late Generation Xers and Millennials. The oldest of the active WNBA players have no memory of a world before Title IX; the youngest have no recollection of a world without the WNBA.

Even so, the main question WNBA players, coaches and fans of all generations ask is the same: How can the league be better marketed? No one is looking for NBA-type exposure, of course. But can the WNBA, or at the very least a few of its more prominent players, break through to the mainstream?

From the Times: By Hiring Lisa M. Borders, W.N.B.A. Gets a Leader Who Follows the Game

“Sometimes I’m literally screaming at players to box out, move their feet or drive the lane,” she said by telephone. “And I’m asking, ‘Whose man is that?’ ” She added, “I’m the No. 1 fan.”

Borders is essentially looking for more fans like herself as the W.N.B.A. heads into its 20th season in May. Average attendance peaked well above predictions at 10,864 in the league’s second season, but it fell last season to 7,318 a game, a record low. Viewership on ESPN and ESPN2 tumbled 15 percent last season and declined 21 percent during the finals, which were on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC.

In the other news: Just what you expect from the WCC: 40-foot jumper by Lexi Rydalch secures BYU’s improbable 65-62 win over San Francisco. Then, of course, San Francisco takes down San Diego.

Top Dogs: UAlbany women’s basketball defeats New Hampshire in front of 3,016 fans

Not so fast: The Q overcomes deficit, tops MAAC-leading Iona

Post-game unpicking: Maryland women’s basketball learning hard lessons from turnovers. Still learning, as they had 24 in their win over Northwestern.

Resurgence: Multi-threat Utes aiming for surprise postseason berth

Anyone else impressed with the noise Oklahoma State is making late this season?

And what about their in-state rivals, #21 Oklahoma taking down #6 Texas, 74-56.

#16 Florida can’t make up its mind who it wants to be, falling to Auburn 80-58.

Coaches across sports consistently preach about the importance of a renewed focus in games following losses.

Florida, however, did a poor job of taking that wisdom to heart on Sunday.

In their worst loss of the season, the No. 16 Gators were defeated 80-58 on the road to unranked Auburn.

The same might might be said for #17 Michigan State, who got schooled by Nebraska, 73-66.

Sunday provided another example of the ever-changing emotions of a college basketball season.

On Thursday, Nebraska got drilled 110-73 at Minnesota in one of the worst losses in program history. Nebraska coach Connie Yori said in that game the Huskers looked like they didn’t want to be there.

Three days later, Nebraska got its best win of the season, defeating No. 17 Michigan State 73-66 in front of a season-best crowd of 8,338 at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Told you about this game: Maine tipped Albany, 65-53.

There was a distinct postseason atmosphere at the Cross Insurance Center on Sunday afternoon.

And the University of Maine women’s basketball team gave a playoff-caliber performance for a crowd of 3,231 at the Cross Insurance Center. 

Coach Richard Barron’s Black Bears played suffocating interior defense, limiting two-time conference player of the year Shereesha Richards to eight points while grinding out a 65-53 America East victory.

Huge win for UNC-Asheville as they win their re-match with Liberty, 56-51, claiming sole possession of first place in the Big South and clinching its first 20-win season since 2006-07.

Huge upset, as UMass earned its first A-10 victory by taking down the Bonnies, 69-60.

Almost as big: Though senior forward Nathalie Fontaine became only the second Cardinal in program history to reach the 2000th career point after scoring 28 points,  Ball State stumbled in the MAC, falling to Kent State, 59-50. Meanwhile, Ohio and Central Michigan look to be on a collision course.

Okay, so I’ve been keeping my eye on Wake Forest, and what do they go and do? Beat Duke, 64-58.

In what was the worst loss of the entire McCallie era, Duke had its 44-game win streak against Wake Forest snapped, 64-58. Pick a Duke problem and it showed up in this game. Being outrebounded by a smaller team? Check. Giving up easy looks on the perimeter? Check. Inexplicable scoring droughts? Check. Missed free throws? Yup. The fact that it came against a team that has been an ACC doormat for a long time, one that Duke beat handily earlier in the year, is an indicator that the program is very much at a tipping point this year.

Boink! Canisius took advantage of a nightmare 3rd quarter by Marist to squeak out a 2-point win, 71-69.

Nice: Greenland has built storied girls basketball program

Sporting a black Greenland Lady Pirates pullover, greatness encircles him. High on the gymnasium walls, Kelly green and white banners detail the school’s dominance in girls basketball for the past 15 years. Hardware from the program’s six state championships since 1999 stuff the trophy cases in the foyer.

Barton said while the winning is nice, that’s not his ultimate goal as a coach and leader of one of Northwest Arkansas’ most successful girls basketball programs. Success to him goes beyond the hardwood court.

“Winning, developing habits, being a strong personality, that’s all part of it,” Barton said. “But for them to tell me I’ve made a difference in their lives, man, that’s everything.”

Nice: Miami’s Octavia Blue to have her jersey retired

North of the Border: Canada’s women’s basketball team ready for high Olympic expectations

And South of the Border I’m seeing this:

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And this!
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but a bunch of other folks sure as heck did: Tennessee vs. Connecticut 20-year Anniversary

From Mechelle: One game grew into a phenomenon – First UConn-Tennessee meeting was touchstone for one of greatest rivalries

The series lasted for 22 games, including four matchups for the NCAA title (all won by UConn) and two others in the national semifinals (split by the teams). Former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt called a halt to the regular-season series after the 2007 season, and the programs have yet to meet again in the NCAA tournament.

Loyalists on both sides — and the rest of us who just watched and chronicled the spectacle — haven’t completely stopped talking about UConn-Tennessee ever since.

Now, though, rather than exhaustively exploring the entire series — which stands at UConn 13, Tennessee 9 — or the tangled, endlessly debated intrigue of why it ended, let’s look instead at what isn’t in dispute: How important to women’s basketball it was that the rivalry started.

From Jim Fuller at the New Haven Register: Jen Rizzotti reflects on UConn’s historic win over Tennessee

“It has become pretty apparent since that game how important it was with the rivalry with UConn and Tennessee,” said Rizzotti, now in her 16th season as the head coach at Hartford. “But it’s also the attention that is being given to women’s basketball because of that game, the tradition of having a great women’s basketball game on Martin Luther King Day. I think we all get it now. But leading up to that game, it was just a chance for us, with a little chip on our shoulder, to show we were better than maybe they thought we were. We were good enough to compete at that level and beat a team like Tennessee.”

It’s a lesson Texas is learning. First they lose to ISU, and then they get stomped by the “what’s going on with them?” Sooners. Suddenly, the Longhorns are 2-2 in the Big 12 and Oklahoma is a 4-0. Yes, Baylor looks like the class of the 12, but keep on eye on Pebley’s Horned Frogs (Oklahoma’s next opponent.).

And THIS is why I couldn’t jump in whole hog with the Mississippi State folks: The #15 Bulldogs lose their first game to Vanderbilt, and then follow that with a double-overtime loss to “Oiy, we were having a season to forget until the indefinitely suspended Danielle Ballard returned” LSU, 71-69.

#3 Baylor looked at giant-slayer Iowa State and went, “Meh.”

Oklahoma State’s Liz Donohoe hit 1,500.

Liberty’s undefeated in the Big South and High Point only has one conference loss... to the Flames. Rematch on  January 31st.

Yah, I know Texas Tech is 12-4, but we know what tends to happen when you pad your stats with cupcakes… Next up is #4 Texas.

#4 Louisville is 16-1, but their play (and their schedule, so far) doesn’t fill me with confidence. Does it you?

The MAC hosted the Debbie Antonelli Special: Akron and Toledo went at it tooth and nail, with the Zips winning 102-101.

I said Lehigh would have to go through American … and they didn’t. AU is now 5-0 in the Patriot and the Mountain Hawks are 2-2.

Just sayin’ – it should NOT take you an overtime to reach a 44-42 conclusion. Nor should a regular game end 41-38.

They aren’t what they have been, but the Great Danes still atop the American East (and coach Abrahamsson-Henderson earned her 200th victory). AND they’ve already beaten their competition, the NH Wildcats. Rematch on Feb. 4th.

So Conference USA looks to be having an interesting year. Perennial power Middle Tennessee fell (again) (at home) to Southern Miss in OT (77-75)  and Western Kentucky is 4-0 within the conference. Mark your calendars: the Toppers face USM on Jan 31st and MTSU on Feb. 21st. BTW, next up for the Blue Raiders? Summitt’s Techsters.

The first-year Lousiana Tech women’s basketball coach was born here. He went to high school here. He went to college here. He even married his high school sweetheart, who – to no one’s surprise – is from Tennessee.

So when the 24-year-old takes the court Saturday as a head coach for the first time in the same state where he grew up and that his mother – former University of Tennessee coach Pat Summitt – racked up more than 1,000 wins and eight national championships in, he should feel right at home.

Both Fordham and George Washington are undefeated within the A-10. They don’t meet until Feb. 21st, but the Rams shouldn’t overlook their next opponent, VCU (3-1 in-conference.). BTW, congrats to Kimberly Beck and nice of WaPo to notice the Colonials: Jonquel Jones has GW women’s basketball team plotting return to NCAA tournament

Jonquel Jones returned to the Washington area because she wanted to play college basketball in a winning environment. In her first full season since transferring to George Washington, she is helping restore one.

Freshman in Name Only Brianna Turner’s 29 points and 18 rebounds powered #7 Notre Dame over #12 UNC, 89-79. A better showing for the Tar Heels in the wake of McDaniel’s season-ending injury.

Pittsburgh wasn’t able to build on its stunning of UNC and fell to #2o Florida State, 58-43.

BOOM, Ole Miss takes down #18 Georgia, 55-52.

Yes, #23 Minnesota is a lovely surprise this year – especially after losing Banham. And yes, I still think Ohio State is going to be scary next year.

The Blue Hens surprised Hofstra, handing the Pride their first in-conference loss, 64-53.

Man, the WCC looks like it’s going to be fun.

Long Beach State is having a season to remember. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when the 49ers meet Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 31st.

The Gazette’s Mike Hlas notes: Iowa women’s basketball team wins, entertains – Hawkeyes are 40-12 since start of last season

This isn’t exactly a news bulletin, but Lisa Bluder is getting it done at Iowa.

Bluder has been the Hawkeyes’ women’s basketball coach for 15 years, and her teams of the last two seasons have been as good as any she’s had at Iowa. They may be her best.

Yikes: 74-year-old man accused of stalking UCF women’s basketball coach

Hmmmmm: Calif. HS girls basketball coach suspended after 161-2 victory

Congrats: Kingsway girls basketball coach Karyn Pickard has Dragons on track after 300th win

BTW: A note from AP’s Doug on the Arizona/ASU “error:” It was fixed once it was noticed — and it wasn’t a “not knowing the difference” mistake.  The voter actually had Arizona State in their poll originally, but there was a cut and paste error.

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but a nice end for some teams.

Interested in these two games today:

Tough stretch for San Francisco. They let St. Mary’s slip through their fingers, 68-66. Today, the go up against San Diego (10-1) followed by BYU and then Gonzaga (who just stomped San Diego).

It’s a good news, good news/bad news day for Rutgers: coach Tasha Pointer just had a baby girl, and junior Briyona Canty’s knee is only bruised. She won’t be on the court when the #16 Knightss go up against the feisty Buckeyes.

Friday games:

#11 Kentucky v. Alabama (11-4)

#19 Georgia v. #17 Mississippi State. Which team blinks?

#23 Seton Hall (13-1) v. St. John’s (13-1).

#7 Louisville v. Georgia Tech. They Yellow Jackets have some interesting/close losses.

I’ve been muttering about Florida teams for a while now. Florida State (13-1) could shut me up with a good showing at #4 Notre Dame. The Seminoles lone loss is against Washington – who just obliterated #5 Texas A&M.

Indiana State (10-1) v. Wichita State (9-3) on ESPN3 ought to be fun. The Sycamores seem to enjoy playing away (they’re 6-0 on the road, including a 2OT win against St. John’s) and the Shockers enjoy defending home court (they’re  7-0 at Koch arena).

Coming off a bad home loss to Missouri State, 57-52, it will be interesting to see how Mizzou handles a visit to TBA.

After two back-to-back losses (#3 Texas and unranked Washington), TAMU was mean to Green. Now they host Vanderbilt, who’s been having a bit of a hot mess season. The Aggies defend their home court ferociously, so this could get ugly.

Saturday games.

Yah, I know their schedule isn’t impressive… but still, when you consider how far they’d fallen, I consider Maine’s 8-4 record a positive accomplishment. They go up against Albany, who lost to Northeastern, who the Black Bears beat by 9. Nice way to take the programs temperature.

Who wouldn’t want to watch 10-1 Oklahoma State (#18) go up against 11-1 Baylor (#8)? Nina Davis v. Liz Donohoe!

Then there’s the “Ain’t the PAC 12 interesting this season” game between #22 Arizona State (11-1) and the (soon-to-be-ranked?) Washington Huskies (11-1).

And how about the #12 Huskers hosting the #14 Terps? Nebraska has had two “Oiy” losses (Alabama (!) and Minnesota (where they lost a lead)). Maryland’s two losses were against Washington State and Notre Dame.

BTW, the Penguins gave the Zips their first lost of the season, 75-62. Next up for Youngstown State: Cornell, but it’s the Jan 10th game against Green Bay that I’m looking forward to.

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Aetna And Travelers Go Back In Time To Play Women’s Basketball Game

Travelers had a successful team — the “Tower Five” — first, starting in 1921. The 1921-22 team went 20-2 and outscored its opponents, 469-180. According to Bermel, the people from Travelers encouraged Aetna to start a team in 1923. Adrian Brennan, who worked at Aetna, was the coach.

Over the next decade, the Aetna girls — the “Crimson Tide,” who were also known as the “hotsy-totsy girls from Hartford” in the New York press — won 111 of 133 games. They played in (and won) the first women’s basketball game at Madison Square Garden in 1928. Dr. James Naismith traveled from Springfield to watch them play.

Glad to see this. I uncovered some of the Aetna photos on their website back in the day when I put together the (now out of date) women’s basketball timeline, but they disappeared. Even reached out to Aetna – confusing the heck out of some folks – but to no avail.

In the Bayou, LSU women’s basketball striving to cultivate new leaders

Last year, seniors Jeanne Kenney, Shanece McKinney and Theresa Plaisance led the LSU women’s basketball team on both ends of the floor.

Coming into this season, the Lady Tigers are looking for ways to replace the production of these players by adapting to a style of play that fits the current roster and their leadership.

From the Big 12: 

Each of the last two seasons, Sherri Coale’s challenge was finding enough healthy players to practice. Two years ago, Coale had to borrow two players from the volleyball team.

This season, the Sooners have a full 15-player roster.

“I love the fact that my gym is crowded and I want it to stay crowded,” Coale said Thursday during the Big 12 Women’s Basketball Tour visit. “We have a lot of options. The question is who will be our starting five. I have no idea and that’s a fantastic problem to have.”

Nearby at Oklahoma State

Point Guard University has a new player ready to continue the tradition.

Andrea Riley, who was the Big 12’s career scoring leader before behind dethroned by Brittney Griner, started Oklahoma State’s run of outstanding guards in 2006.

Tiffany Bias then took over and helped the Cowgirls with an all-around game that last season produced 13.9 points, 6.2 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Her career ended with Oklahoma State’s loss to Notre Dame in the Sweet 16.

Next up? Sophomore Roshunda Johnson.

Speaking of the Big 12: Cindy Brunson provides an in-depth 2014-15 preview

Speaking of the other 12, from Sue: Pac-12 preview: Stanford University

The biggest mystery in the Pac-12 going into the season is what Stanford will look like this year. Conference coaches picked the Cardinal to win the conference again, but the fact is that no one will know for sure until they step on to the court.

For starters, Stanford is Ogwumike-less for the first time in six years, with the graduation of Chiney Ogwumike last spring. Not only did the sisters lead the team statistically, but they carried it and kept the Cardinal relevant for the past three seasons.

From Connecticut: UHart women’s basketball adds 6 year old team member

The University of Hartford’s Women’s basketball team has a new team member that will never see a minute of action, but the impact she will make is immeasurable. Six year old Zoe Brown, who suffers from a rare immune system disease Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome, is the newest Hawk, thanks to the program Team Impact that pairs youth with life threatening illnesses with college and pro sports teams.

Well, this is unpleasant: Army used alcohol-fueled party, cheerleaders to woo recruits

The Colorado Springs Gazette reported Saturday that U.S. Military Academy documents show that the Army football program wooed recruits with an alcohol-fueled bus party, small amounts of booster cash, and dates with cheerleaders and female athletes.

Per the Gazette, the academy “acknowledged the misconduct” and admitted 20 cadets had been disciplined with two officers and two Army coaches facing reprimands. The academy also self-reported a recruiting violation to the NCAA.

Speaking of unpleasant. From EDD: No One Should Have to Go Through the Bullying That I Did

No one should ever experience being bullied. It’s a cowardly action that unfortunately occurs all too often in our schools. According to the National Education Association, it is estimated that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. I was one of those students being bullied. I would hear constant comments and snickers from students about my height. “Hey, you are taller than my dad and all dads! You are taller than the rest. Why are you so tall? Why aren’t you normal?” Those comments bothered me, made me feel small — made me wonder why I was different than everyone else. Why I was the one being picked on.

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Yes, I’ll admit it — I woke up, had a cup of coffee, and “Basketball Jones!” popped into my head.

Nate has 2014 his NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Sweet 16 predictions: DePaul, North Carolina, Texas A&M are teams to watch

While I previewed the Sweet 16 by looking at a few of the top WNBA prospects still playing, I threw out a few questions to other bloggers around SB Nation who cover women’s basketball. Today we begin with a set of questions I asked the writers who have been covering the tournament for Swish Appeal.

From Mechelle: Storylines abound in Sweet 16 – Regional semifinals tip off on ESPN at noon ET Saturday in the Notre Dame region

Graham is Previewing a very Sweet 16

Welcome to the tournament within the tournament, the roped-off section of the postseason club that is the Sweet 16.

Getting to the tournament in the first place is a big deal. Just as it’s not easy to get to base camp on Mount Everest, it’s not easy to get to the starting line of the NCAA tournament. And once there, it only gets more difficult with each step.

Reaching the second week, when the basketball summit really starts to come clearly into view, is a big deal.

Look at the math.

Wondering who the experts pick? Click here.

Lincoln Bracket: Mechelle’s got the Lincoln Regional breakdown

Yup. Hosting is a crap shoot – just ask Nebraska (or Chattanooga). They’re not playing, but that doesn’t mean they’re not going to bring it. Connie Yori went all Jody Conradt on us.

In 1985, when the Longhorns were hosting the Final Four, they were huge favorites. But, they were upset (even though that doesn’t happen in women’s basketball) on the way to the Championship. Down, but not out, Jody put all her efforts into getting folks out to the games — and notched the first F4 sell out.

Now it’s the Huskers’ turn: For good of NU, Yori hopes UConn draws big crowds and Why Connie Yori Wants NU Fans to Pack PBA

“Because UConn doesn’t play in the Midwest very often, so it’s an opportunity of a lifetime to see perhaps the best women’s program of all time,” Yori said before adding: “This UConn team also might be one of the best, if not the best, college women’s team of all-time. They’re phenomenal. Nebraska fans wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity like this when they can see one of the greatest teams of all time playing in their own backyard. You don’t have to go to the Final Four in Nashville. All you have to do is buy a ticket and head straight down to the Haymarket.”

So… About those games:

Huskies v. Cougars

Game day: No. 1 seed UConn women vs. No. 12 BYU,
BYU women at a glance
BYU looks to N.C. State men’s championship team for motivation vs. UConn
Cougars, 6-7 Jennifer Hamson Defy Odds Advancing To Meet Huskies
Cinderella story inspires Bailey, BYU

There are players who have to search the nation and scour the Internet to find the inspiration needed to lead their teams to improbable March Madness upsets.

Brigham Young junior forward Morgan Bailey did not have any such issues.

As luck would have it, her uncle is Thurl Bailey, one of the stars of a North Carolina State team which recorded perhaps the most improbable national championship run in college basketball history. While Thurl Bailey was not part of the Brigham Young traveling party to Lincoln for Saturday’s regional semifinals, he did reach out to his beloved niece.

Will BYU, Hamson block Huskies’ path?
Mike DiMauro: BYU’s approach against UConn women … on any given night
BYU women’s basketball team enjoying sudden attention in Sweet 16
Cougars embracing, relishing underdog role vs. top seed UConn

NCAA would change sked for BYU and BYU will attend Sunday press conferences, but not play or practice

Stewie is coming of age

She came bounding out of practice Friday, down the tunnel and through the curtain at Pinnacle Bank Arena. This is Stewie. Happy. Giddy. Dare we even suggest innocent?

This is Stewie. The same kid who exited the court for the final time this season at Gampel Pavilion earlier this week alongside Stefanie Dolson, saluting the crowd with the royal wave, the Queen of England in Nikes, the slight hand twist accompanied by the 50,000-watt smile.

This is Stewie.

Could this be the same kid her coach was yelling at earlier this season for being stubborn? Stubborn. Stewie? C’mon. This is Ms. Sunny Disposition. Stubborn?

Steven M. Sipple: Auriemma proves a master at his calling, Lincoln Journal Star

Oh, he retains plenty of fire. But he doesn’t allow a subpar game, or a subpar half, to send him off the rails like he might have done when he took over a foundering UConn program in 1985.

“You tend to view things more big-picture as opposed to reacting to what’s going on in front of you right now,” he said. “I think that helps the players, too, if you’re kind of like, ‘We’ll be all right. …'”

He also noted the importance of celebrating great plays and great games, but moving forward quickly.

Never too high, never too low.

He paused for a few seconds.

“That’s just the long way of saying I’m too old to give a damn about what’s going on, and I have no control over it,” he said with a chuckle.

Slideshow: Pursuit of Perfection, ESPN

Aggies v Blue Demons:

Texas A&M women prepare for DePaul sharpshooters

Texas A&M’s Gary Blair sounded more like a carnival barker than coach as he discussed his team’s matchup with DePaul on Saturday in the NCAA women’s regional semifinals.

“Our game against DePaul will be one of the most entertaining games you’ve ever seen,” Blair said, adding that it would be like a “ping-pong match.”

Aggies back in ‘flow,’ strive for Elite Eight

Texas A&M women’s basketball team feeling elite going into Sweet 16 matchup against DePaul

Texas A&M women’s basketball team learning from watching other teams

DePaul women’s basketball playing their ‘best ball of the season’ going into Sweet Sixteen

Going into their first Sweet Sixteen appearance since 2011, DePaul women’s basketball continues to feed off of the momentum from their upset win against Duke while preparing to play Texas A&M.

“The win (over Duke) was huge for our program…definitely a momentum-builder,” sophomore Chanise Jenkins said. “It gives us tons of confidence going into the next game.”

Senior Jasmine Penny said the win meant a lot to her. With no plans to play after graduation, Penny has no idea when she will play her final game as a Blue Demon.

“It seems like we’re always the underdog and it was so amazing to see us come out and fight the way we did,” Penny said.

DePaul women ride fast-paced offense into Sweet 16 – Doug Bruno’s run-and-gun style carries risk but has high reward

Bruno’s Blue Demons not just a run-and-gun team

With Rogowski’s shooting, DePaul aiming high

‘(Texas A&M) is a business trip’ said Coach Doug Bruno of DePaul women’s basketball

DePaul and Texas A&M Tangle on Saturday in the Sweet 16

CESSNA: With UConn at this regional, second place not so bad

It’s un-American to strive to be second best, but when the 64-team bracket for the NCAA women’s basketball tournament was unveiled, it was a given Connecticut would advance to the Final Flour from the Lincoln Regional.
The only thing left to settle was who would be second. It’s not a defeatist outlook — it’s reality.

Notre Dame Regional breakdown

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw can’t stand the idea of having regionals at home sites. It doesn’t make for a truly fair tournament, she says. She’s right.

But the way the Irish have played this season, the fact that Notre Dame is hosting a regional is hardly the reason they are favored to go to the Women’s Final Four again. Rather, it’s that this Irish team — despite the loss of Skylar Diggins — is an undefeated powerhouse no matter where it is playing.

Admittedly, so is that other former Big East giant on the other side of the bracket. While UConn travels to Lincoln, Neb., for what appears a not-very-challenging regional, Notre Dame is home, where the Irish have lost just two games over the past three seasons.

Irish v. Cowgirls:

Irish’s McGraw: Notre Dame has unfair advantage or  is it that Notre Dame enjoys “comfort zone” of home court advantage in NCAA tournament. Either way, Berry Tramel is grumpy about it.

Players know their roles for unbeaten Notre Dame women’s basketball team

Irish won’t settle; want to improve

Notre Dame excited to play Oklahoma State at home

Martin leads Cowgirls into Sweet 16

Oklahoma State’s Brittney Martin and her teammates are in the NCAA Sweet 16 but will have to face No. 1 seed Notre Dame on the Irish’s home court. Pretty tough assignment for the No. 5 seed, right?

Sure. But, hey, Martin is a pretty tough kid. She was only about a month into her first college basketball season when she got a tooth knocked out.

She dove for a loose ball against Stephen F. Austin in early December 2012. One of the SFA players lost her balance and fell on Martin, whose face went into the floor.

“The initial hit was not painful; it kind of felt like if you bend a piece of licorice, maybe,” Martin said. “Then I felt my mouth, and my teeth were in my hand. So …”

Martin then smiled and pointed to her mouth.

Expect Tiffany Bias back in Cowgirls’ lineup vs. Notre Dame – OSU arrived in Stillwater about 3:30 a.m. Tuesday. By 8, Bias was in the training room getting treatment on an injured ankle.

Cowgirls have something to lose against Notre Dame

Bears v. Wildcats:

Five things to know about Baylor vs. Kentucky

Kentucky, Baylor set for rematch of 4-OT thriller

The last time Baylor and Kentucky met, they played one of the most exciting games in the history of women’s basketball.

Neither coach expects another four-overtime thriller today in the Sweet 16. Still, both are looking forward to another entertaining matchup with a berth in the regional finals on the line.

Kentucky, Baylor women on edge for rematch of December’s ‘instant classic’

Kentucky’s Goss’ quest for perfection paying off

Kentucky not sure it can slow Baylor scoring machine Sims

Homer’s The Odyssey was an epic adventure filled with twists and turns.

So is any attempt to guard Baylor’s Odyssey.

In the epic adventure that was Kentucky’s four-overtime victory over the Bears in December, the Cats threw four different defenders at Odyssey Sims.

Kentucky could have used about six more. In the losing effort, Baylor’s senior guard scored 47 points.

Another sweet season for Sims and Baylor women

Odyssey Sims and Baylor are having another sweet season.

The Lady Bears have made it to the third round of the NCAA women’s tournament for the sixth year in a row. But there are still surely plenty of people surprised to see them back in the Sweet 16 this year.

Baylor women’s basketball team tops list of No. 1s

Looking ahead?

Graham has the Louisville Regional breakdown

Michelle Smith has the Stanford Regional breakdown South Carolina is the top seed, but will Stanford rediscover its Maples magic?

She adds: Ruef used to juggling multiple roles – Stanford senior has started 33 of 34 games and worked as an engineering intern

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ESPN has your region breakdown:

Mechelle has 10 first-round storylines to follow

The women’s version of March Madness tips off at 11 a.m. ET Saturday at 16 sites around the country, with early rounds concluding Monday and Tuesday. Here are 10 things to look for/ponder/debate during the opening steps of the Big Dance:

1. Leagues of legends?

 Who said this: “I think we have the toughest conference in the country. We beat each other up. On any given night, anybody can win. You have to bring your A-game.”

Answer: Almost every coach, although some do add the qualifier “one of the toughest conferences” because they know that saying the toughest is over the top.

UConn’s Geno Auriemma of the new American (“We have no real geographic link, but we’re all in the United States!”) Athletic Conference isn’t going to say this about that amalgamation of orphans, castoffs, left-behinds and biding-their-times. But he doesn’t need to. He can just say, We got Breanna, and you don’t. (Hmmm … rings a bell, doesn’t it?)

So which league really was the toughest to play in this season? Hah, as if there could be a consensus on that. But the conferences that received the most NCAA bids were the SEC and ACC, with eight each. We’ll see how many live on to the Sweet 16.

She’s also thinking the Vols have jelled at the right time.

The NCAA selection committee has gone away from making the previous 10 games of a team’s season such a huge priority in regard to tournament selection/placement. That used to be something that was consistently brought up as being very important. Now, supposedly, it’s just another factor to consider, but the whole “body of work” thing is bigger.

Still, this season, it seems clear that Tennessee’s No. 1 seed was secured by the Lady Vols winning the SEC tournament. And if you are going to focus on the “last 10,” that stretch looks quite good for the Lady Vols.

Yes, I’m sure the Lady Vols are eager to end their Final Four drought (even without Massengale for the first two games), but did you know that they’re putting a 52-game streak on line vs Northwestern State?

It’s a daydream savored by anyone who ever spent so much as an afternoon with a basketball in the driveway. The imaginary clock ticks down and the phantom crowd is on its feet. The game is on the line, the ball is in your hands.

It is your chance to be the hero. You survey the options — and pass the ball to an open teammate for the game-winning assist.

Wait, what?

Interesting: Duke’s depleted lineup, turnover problems give Winthrop hope

And in the “Who would?” department: Duke coach unhappy team in same region with UConn

DePaul women’s head coach Doug Bruno wasn’t nearly as excited as his players after winning the Big East tournament.  Bruno, who is in his 28th year as DePaul’s head coach, said he coaches solely for the NCAA tournament.

The LSU Reveille sounds the call:

LSU does not have another chance to get back on track.

The Lady Tigers have no more media sessions to talk about what they can do to get out of their slump. The only thing left to do is act on their words.

“It’s a time for my team to actually make history or make something happen,” said freshman guard Raigyne Moncrief. “Hopefully we can just pull together and get wins.”

The Bulldog Blitz unpicks Fresno State’s strategy: 

Within minutes of learning who they would play in the Women’s NCAA Tournament, a few Fresno State players anxiously searched their cellphones for statistics and video clips of the Nebraska basketball team.

The Bulldogs received a more detailed breakdown of the Cornhuskers the following day after the coaching staff assembled a video scouting report — with two agendas in mind:

For each clip that coach Raegan Pebley showed of Nebraska excelling, she also showed one of the 13th-ranked Cornhuskers getting exposed. 

No worries: Husker Laudermill is ready to spark Nebraska. Oh, and have you Met the Nebraska women’s basketball starting five

While the Cal women begin tournament in shadow of last season’s team, they are feeling confident as they enter NCAA Tournament play against the Fordham Rams, when we’ll see if the Boyd-Rooney Matchup deserved to be The Talk of Friday’s Media Day

As Akron women’s basketball rides dynamic duo into Mackey Arena to face Purdue, the Boilermakers defense might be the key in NCAA tourney

If the UTC women want better tourney results, they’re going to have to prepare for Syracuse’s zone defense. And 10 other things.

Florida State will look to stop ISU’s Christofferson from extending career at Hilton

Sure, Taylor Greenfield might be the only Stanford player happy about traveling 1,800 miles to the middle of Iowa to open the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, but the Coyotes have no issue with trying to make her and her teammates cranky.

Oh, yeah, USC, Northridge women are living the dream – but Trojans will face St. John’s

As the long wait is finished and Baylor prepares to play the NCAA opener without suspended Mulkey, the Hilltoppers are up to the challenge.

“We’re excited,” WKU sophomore guard Micah Jones said. “They’ve had a lot of success over the past few years, and that’s what we’re trying to get back to with our program. It’s a great opportunity for us to come here and play Baylor.”

Brandon Gurney from the Deseret news says the Cougars feel good about their matchup with the Wolfpack

We match up well and their team is very similar to ours,” observed BYU coach Jeff Judkins. “The way they play and how they do it (is similar).”

The starkest similarity involves the starting centers. BYU features 6-foot-7 senior Jen Hamson while North Carolina presents 6-foot-5 senior Markeisha Gatling. Both players lead their teams from the post, and Judkins believes whoever wins that specific matchup will go a long way in determining the outcome.

News from the WNIT:

Ducks dominate Pacific Tigers 90-63 in WNIT opener

Rutgers women’s basketball defeats Delaware in WNIT

If the Rutgers women’s basketball team is trying to use the WNIT as a platform to show it was worthy of receiving a NCAA Tournament berth, it will have to wait until at least the second round to begin proving its case.

Women’s Basketball Pulls Out Last-Second WNIT Victory

With seven seconds left on the clock and Harvard up by two, Iona guard Aleesha Powell drove to the basket for a hard layup, drawing the foul on captain Christine Clark and making the basket for the three-point play. Powell, an 84.9 percent free-throw shooter, completed the and-one.

One-point Gaels lead, 6.7 seconds on the clock.

But Clark was not about to let her season—and Harvard career—end with that.

Other games:

Colorado 78, TCU 71
Montana 90, Washington State 78
Minnesota 62, Green Bay 60
Villanova 74, Quinnipiac 55
George Washington 86, East Carolina 68

Michigan 86, Stony Brook 48
Duquesne 62, Mount St. Mary’s 52
St. Bonaventure 81, Charlotte 62
South Florida 56, North Carolina A&T 50
Saint Mary’s 75, CSU Bakersfield 68
UTEP 74, Arkansas State 64
Washington 67, Hawaii 50

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UConn’s Morgan Tuck To Have Surgery, out for season, leaving the Huskies with 8 scholarship players for the rest of the season. (7 for their next game: Banks is out with an ankle sprain.)

You can hear coaches game planning: “What we need to do is get them into foul trouble.” True, but not as easy as it sounds. UConn has adjusted nicely to the new rules, especially considering the fierce defense they play. Things could get interesting in the paint!

Speaking of interesting:

Gaels are now 9-0 in the MAAC. Their biggest threats the rest of the (conference) season lurks at the end of their schedule: Quinnipiac and Marist.

As mentioned, big win for Cynthia Cooper as USC takes down #19 California. (Somebody stop Ariya Crook, writes Nick Kranz) With some nice recruits coming in next year, things are looking good for the Trojan program.

Staying with the Pac 12, Oregon surprised Washington State and earned their first conference win.

The #14 Sun Devils needed free throws to escape the Utes and, in the battle of great names (Nyingifa v Ogwumike), it was close in the first half but #4 Stanford pulled away in the second for a 17pt win over UCLA.

In the Battle of CAA Unbeatens, JMU returns to the Beast of the CAA role with 74-47 win over Drexel.

Upcoming games of interest:

Sunday brings us a little SEC “legit” road test: #10 South Carolina v. #16 Vanderbilt (2pm ESPN2) followed by #11 Tennessee v. #17 Texas A&M at 4pm. BTW, Dave’s podcast asks: #WhyNotVandy? Melanie Balcomb & Vanderbilt host South Carolina in a battle of SEC upstarts.

“Big Monday” means USC v. Stanford for the top spot in the Pac 12. Which means  Tina Thompson and Candice Wiggins will do a little Twitter ‘Smack Talk’

From Todd Carton: Can the Terps stop the Irish Invasion?

Glenn Logan worries about Kentucky:

I hate to say it, but right now, the women’s Kentucky Wildcats basketball team is just not very good. They are shooting the ball extremely poorly, and the object of the game of basketball, or at least one of the two main ones, is to put the ball into the basket. Kentucky is defending well enough to win, but when they simply cannot score.

Better, but a lot of ground to be made up: Texas women’s basketball still struggling to reinvigorate fan base – Over past decade, average home attendance has declined by half

Spotlight #1: Dunbar’s Rowe poised to become Middle Tennessee’s all-time scoring leader

Also the school’s all-time rebound leader, Rowe is averaging 22.2 points and 11.7 rebounds this season. She has 16 double-doubles, including 10 in a row, and a school-record 69 in her career.

“I’m not the fanciest, I can’t do the best moves, not the quickest, can’t jump the highest. But I’m just in a system that all five people on the court know what to do, and we work so well together.”

Spotlight #2: UNC’s Diamond DeShields dares to dream

UNC’s leading scorer can splice two defenders, perform pirouettes on her way to the basket, make passes that some point guards would never dare try to make. When she makes a routine play by her standards, a highlight reel, “did-you-see-that?!” play by layman’s standards, DeShields, 18, simply smiles, a cheek-to-cheek glow that lifts her 6-foot-1-inch body off the hard court.

“It can make me very happy,” DeShields said of basketball, “but it can also make me really mad.”

Spotlight #3: Jersey girl Mabrey boosts Irish

In WNBA land, Nate has: 2013 Tulsa Shock season review: What kind of talent did Fred Williams inherit?

In the “Please Buy The Sparks” vein, it’s James Bowman with Sparks Watch Day 24: The Vetting Process

SPOILER ALERT!!! That’s 900 wins for Bentley’s Barb Stevens. BTW, the Falcons are undefeated this season, and sit atop the DII poll.

Up next, Jim Foster going for #800.

Don’t have Netflix? Check this out! “Off The Rez,” the documentary about Louisville’s Shoni and Jude Schimmel from the Umatilla reservation, will finally be available for download TODAY, Jan 24, on iTunes and VOD platforms.

Great excuse to remind you of more good stuff (though it’s old): Eight Native Basketball Players You Need to Know Better: Cliff Johns the first Native American to play for legendary NCAA coach Lute Olsen at the University of Arizona; Kenny Dobbs, the all-universe dunking star; University of Kansas and WNBA star guard Angel Goodrich; Hall-of-Famer Reyneldi Becenti who was the first Native American to play in the WNBA; Two-time Continental Basketball Association champion with the Yakama Sun Kings Richard Dionne; GinaMarie Scarpa, cofounder of the Native American Basketball Invitational basketball tournament.

And did you catch this piece from Graham? Green Bay’s Tesha Buck embraces heritage

To understand her is to understand the universality of a father’s influence on a daughter. Her struggles with separation from what was familiar are the same as those of freshmen across the country. So, too, her ability to eventually adapt and thrive in that new setting. It is a story of someone who aspires to live up to the words tattooed above an ink basketball on her torso: Strong Hearted Woman.

To understand why that is only part of the story is to understand that “Strong Hearted Woman” is merely a translation of the words inscribed permanently on her skin. The words themselves are written in the Dakota language. The language of those who came before her. Of where she comes from. A language and a history rarely represented on Division I basketball courts.

Back in November, Brent Cahwe’s 10 Native American Basketball Players to watch this College Basketball season included Tesha and also named Lakota Beatty, Oklahoma State; Keli Warrior, Kansas; Abby Scott, New Mexico State; and Shauna Long, Lamar University.

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I must believe the following are ESPN errors:

Marist over #20 Oklahoma, 76-69. How glad are the Foxes to have Casey Dulin back: 7 rebs, 7 assts, 17 points.

“Oh, my God! We’re so excited!” senior shooting guard Leanne Ockenden said after scoring 17 points to help the Red Foxes earn their first-ever triumph in Poughkeepsie against a top-25 team.

Rutgers over #16 Georgia, 61-58. Guess that’s what you get when you order up cupcakes for your OOC schedule.

Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer was hoping her team would be ready for a top-25 challenge.

The Scarlet Knights answered with a thrilling 61-58 victory over No. 16 Georgia.

Kahleah Copper and Betnijah Laney each scored 18 points to help Rutgers hand Georgia its first loss of the season.

“We needed to have our confidence as this is a young group,” Stringer said. “This is a major game to find out how well we’re going to play at that level.”

#6 Stanford over #3 Tennessee, 76-70. TN was no match for Chiney.

Ogwumike was Tennessee’s biggest problem — she finished with 15 field goals and 11 offensive rebounds. The Lady Vols knew they had to stop her, but they couldn’t do it.

“She is the heart and soul of that team,” Warlick said. “She was just a force inside that we had trouble with all night. Rebounding is effort and positioning and knowing where the ball is coming off, and that’s what Chiney does. She’s just at the right place at the right time.”

But Ogwumike was hardly the only issue.

(Clearly, it was a good day to wear red.)

Some other teams almost became part of the error-fest:

#23 Syracuse over St. Joe’s – by 2. That’s four 20pt games in a row for the Orange’s Sykes.

#7 Louisville over #11 Colorado – by 7. And they needed every one of Shoni’s 30pts.

#13 Oklahoma State over Georgia Tech – by 8. Donohoe shines again.

#25 Gonzaga over Washington State by 8.

Holding the party line:

#14 UNC over High Point, 103-71, as coach Hatchell watched.

#19 Nebraska over South Dakota, 87-53.

#22 Iowa over Drake, 73-51.

#24 Florida State over Long Beach, 72-57.

In other games:

Great win for the Hampton program: they take down Kansas State 86-75 (2OT)

Kids, don’t do this to your coach: Penn spotted Drexel 19. Then came back to win the game by two.

USC did a little better, spotting Hawai’i 10, winning by 11.

Who dat? The Illinois Chicago Flames, dat’s who! They’re #1 in the Horizon, and just took down Wisconsin, 58-56, thanks to a Rachel Story game-winning three-pointer with twenty seconds remaining. It’s the sixth win over Wisconsin in program history and the first in 34 seasons.

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From the Tulsa World: State’s major college women’s basketball teams derserve (sic) a salute

…this has been a remarkable year for women’s basketball, one deserving of kudos. All four of the major college women’s teams in Oklahoma are headed to the Big Dance – the NCAA National Championship Tournament.

The University of Oklahoma Sooners are the sixth seed in their regional and will open tourney play with Central Michigan at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

The Oklahoma State University Cowgirls, a seventh seed, face DePaul at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

Oral Roberts University’s Golden Eagles are seeded 15 in their regional and play Tennessee at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane carry a 16th seed into their game with top seed Stanford at 4:20 p.m. Sunday.

Zack Ward says Maryland’s Chloe Pavlech is savoring the moment

Nate identifies 2013 WNBA Draft prospects in the NCAA Tournament’s Bridgeport regional (I’ll be there! Thanks, mom!)

For the WNBA fans who haven’t followed the NCAA women’s college basketball season very closely, we’ll do a bracket-by-bracket look at a few WNBA prospects in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Today we’ll begin with the Bridgeport region; while you’ve probably heard something about the highly touted Elena Delle Donne, there are a few others worth keeping an eye on as well.

FYI, my dean (he played point for Brown back in the day) LOVES Delle Donne’s game.

One of the realities of high school coaches: A LOT of work, very little pay.

Tom Tvrdy has resigned as the Seward girls basketball coach after guiding the Bluejays to the second longest winning streak in state history and a string of four straight Class B state championships.

Seward athletic director Steve Borer confirmed Wednesday morning that Tvrdy stepped down Tuesday afternoon, citing a desire to spend more time with his family as the main reason. Tvrdy, the Lincoln Journal Star Girls High School Coach of the Year in 2011, will continue teaching social studies at Seward.

Speaking of realities: we fans of NCAA women’s basketball lag waaaaay behind the gentlemen’s fans when it comes to filling out our brackets. Step it up, folks! Go here for the ESPN challenge and show that you care!

Get your calendars out: WNBA Tips Off 17th Season With 14 Preseason Games

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(or the heavy favorite).

Just ask Louisville, which got a taste of why USF gave Notre Dame fits: down the Cardinals, 73-62.

Just ask Oklahoma State, which got stunned by previously Big 12 winless TCU, 64-63.

Just ask Purdue, which saw Indiana made excellent use of a time out with 12 seconds to go and get the winning basket as time expired. Hoosiers 62, Boilermakers 61.

Just ask Army, which may have been reveling in their win over Navy a bit. They got upended by Colgate’s (2-9, Patriot) strong second half, 60- 56. Navy returns to first place in the conference.

Just ask Fresno State, who couldn’t control the Wolf Pack (2-9, MW) in the second half, nor find the basket, and as a consequence lost 60-54.

Teams that didn’t have any issues: Penn State (12-1, Big 10),  Toledo Rockets (11-1, MAC), Hampton (12-0 MEAC), Charlotte (10-1, A10), Davidson (14-2 Southern, though it took overtime and they face the Mocs on the 25th), Quinnipiac (14-0 NEC and getting some press), St. Joe’s (10-1, A10), Central Michigan (10-2 MAC) and San Diego State, 11-1, MWC).

It’s not been the “season to build on” Magarity may have hoped for, but that didn’t prevent New Hampshire from knocking off Hartford.

Behind Smith’s 24/9, St. John’s is still making a run at the NCAA tournament.

Finally: Ohio got its first MAC win.

Ouch: Pittsburgh is still winless in the Big East.

Surprise win for Texas — they handle Kansas in a game Debbie would have liked, 93-83.

Some team news:

Their recent weekend of success may have something to do with this: Second-year spark ignites Penn women’s basketball – Resurgent Quakers have received significant efforts from a quintet of sophomore stars

Health news: CU Buffs’ Lexy Kresl remains day-to-day

It’s been a while since we’ve spoken about the impact of walk-ons: Ex-Memorial star Draper eager to aid Fresno State

From Bill Rabinowitz at the Columbus Dispatch: Coach, player develop bond at school for deaf

Coaching a college basketball team that loses 15 straight games can be discouraging.

The same applies for a senior whose playing time evaporates as a result.

That’s why Saturday’s season finale for the Gallaudet University women’s basketball team was so special for central Ohio natives Amy Bachtel and Stephanie Stevens.

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No, I’m not talking about Baylor’s 17pt win over Oklahoma (or BG setting the all-time block record), or Notre Dame’s 45pt win over Providence (or Diggins’ 2000th point, joining Morgan, Gaither and Riley), or UConn’s 36 pt win over Cincinnati, or Oklahoma State’s 13pt win over Kansas, or Iowa State’s four point win over… well, actually, that was fun, in that they came back from 9 down in the first to beat West Virginia.

No, I’m talking about Stetson walking in to Naples and getting stomped by FGCU, 74-55. Yah, there’s bad blood between the programs, but don’t stir the pot if you can’t bring the needed ingredients, I say.

“It’s obviously a very big win for us,” said FGCU coach Karl Smesko, acknowledging Stetson as a top rival despite FGCU’s sizable advantage in the series. “Stetson’s not going to lose very many games in conference, so you’ve got to win your games at home against them.”

The Hatters will get a chance to even the score on February 23rd.

American squeezed by Army. They’re  joined by Navy atop the Patriot League, making the conference name seem quite appropriate.

It was all Enemkpali, as Texas got its first Big 12 win.

Ball State moved to 5-1 in the MAC, but at 6-0, Central Michigan may be the class of the league. We’ll see how they handle Bowling Green on the 3rd. Their rematch against Toledo (which they won, AT Toledo) is on the 24th. The Rockets had to do everything they could to escape MAC-winless NIU, 44-42.

In the Southern, Davidson powered past Elon in the second half, to move to 8-1 in conference play — .5 behind the Mocs, who defeated Appalachian State, 59-55. That rematch, the Wildcats lost at home the first game, will happen on Feb. 25th AT Chattanooga.

Green Bay dismissed Valpo, moving to 5-0 in the Horizon.

Quinnipiac held Fairleigh Dickinson to 13 in the second half, on their way to a 66-39 win. The Bobcats are now 7-0 in the NEC, and have their best start in program history.

After opening the season with three losses, and suffering their first conference loss, Seattle U recovered against Texas State and moved to 8-1 in the WAC. Utah State (7-2 in the Conference) is up next.

Nebraska-Omaha gave the Wabbits a wun for the munny, but South Dakota State held on for the 10pt win and the 7-1 Summit record.

St. Joe’s keeps up with Dayton, Duquesne and Fordham, and now  sits at 4-0 in the A-10.

‘Ware the Bengals: Idaho State took down conference top dog Montana State, 63-55. That made Montana, relieved 61-53 winners over winless Weber State, quite happy.

Albany is proving they’re the American East’s Big Dog.

Nice, nice win for San Francisco and coach Azzi: 65-56 over BYU, avenging their 80-58 loss in the WAC opener.

Coop’s Texas Southern keeps winning. This time, it was Alabama A&M on the losing end.

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Cynthia Cooper’s Texas Southern takes on Mississippi Valley State: Though Texas Southern’s overall record isn’t impressive (no one in the SWAC’s out-of-conference record is anything to write home about), they are 5-1 in the conference, right behind Southern (the team who gave them their only loss. There’ll be a rematch end of February.)  What IS interesting is that last season, the Tigers went 2-16 in the SWAC. Her first signee’s committed in December and, no surprise, she’s drawn from the Community College ranks. That can be a quick fix — it’d be a better fix to establish a legacy of four-year recruits.

Stetson will try and stay perfect in the A-Sun as they take on Northern Kentucky. Their equally perfect Conference rivals, FGCU, ought not to have much trouble against Lipscomb. (Which might be the WHB kiss of death.)

Quinnipiac may be tested as they put their 5-0 NEC record up against St. Francis (PA). Oh, and the Q gets some attention from Full Court in their Mid-major musings midway through the season.

Preseason prognostication is always fun — but not necessarily all that accurate. So here’s a look at the difference between then (the received wisdom before the first shot was taken) and now (when actual games have been played).

Not surprisingly, some serious rethinking has had to take place, but it’s also true that a lot of the preseason predictions have proven to be pretty accurate. Well, at least so far.

The Blue and White (but not the one with a little Maize tossed in) “Big Monday” is getting it’s share of attention from ESPN. On the Duke/UConn game (7pm EST), we get this from Rebecca:

Duke has one of the best point guard/center combinations in the game. The Blue Devils lead the country in 3-point field goal percentage. At 16-0, they’re the only undefeated team remaining in college basketball.

But to many women’s basketball fans, Duke is the great unknown this season.

No pressure from Charlie, but he thinks a Win over UConn would propel Duke

While the rest of the preseason Final Four favorites have all had the opportunity to play at least two games against the rest of the group, Duke — not so coincidentally, the only remaining unbeaten team in Division I — has yet to play one.

That changes Monday night, when the Blue Devils visit Storrs. And if Duke wants inclusion in the list of truly elite teams this season, the Blue Devils must win this one.

If they do, they may solidify their Bracketology number one seed.

David Glenn chats With Joanne P. McCallie and Debbie and Beth have a podcast preview of the game — and their guest is UConn’s Kelly Faris, which forces D&B to spit out the word “defense.” Maybe some Sarsaparilla will get the bad taste out of their mouth. :-)

Over at the New York Times, Harvey is back! He talks with Geno Auriemma about Rivals, Old and New

The other “Big Monday” matchup will give folks a chance to see Michigan test its return to the polls. When they go up against Penn State (6:30EST), the top spot in the Conference is at stake.

“We’re excited and really honored that we’re finally recognized on the national level, especially the seniors because we know where this program has come from,” said Michigan guard Jenny Ryan on the school’s website this week. “Just to be able to say we’ve made it this far and that other coaches and media people around the country are recognizing the progress we’ve made is really and honor and exciting. At the same time we know the ranking is just a number and it doesn’t mean anything until the end of the year.”

Yesterday, TA&M gave Georgia a fine “Howdee Do There” at home, as Georgia couldn’t play defense and the Aggies could. End result: a win for TAMU. Wonder if it’ll be reflected in the polls.

Donohoe > than Christofferson as Oklahoma State pummeled Iowa State.

Unranked Iowa, on the other hand, had no trouble with Purdue, 62-46, giving coach Bluder her 600th career win.

The thing about knowing you have to stop Chiney to stop Stanford is, well, actually being able to stop her. USC kept it interesting, but Ogwumike (29/16) kept Stanford safe.

Ditto with Delle Donne, who shot 14-20 to notch 38 in the Blue Hen’s win over Towson.

Maryland’s win over Georgia Tech may be bittersweet. They’ve endured yet another injury. Next up for the Terps, the surprising Tar Heels.

Ooo, a game Debbie would have enjoyed: It took overtime, but Wake Forest beat BC, 92-87.

Dayton rules the A-10, but there are three other teams at 3-0 in the Conference: Duquesne, St. Joseph’s and Fordham. The Rams host the Flyers on Feb. 10th.

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Baylor: Kidnap Odyssey Sims

UConn: Take Olivia’s advice and “Get Physical”

Stanford: Smother Chiney.

Cal learned from their home court lost to Stanford, went in to Maples and broke a couple of impressive Cardinal streaks as they stifled Stanford and got coach Gottlieb a sweet win. (Doesn’t she look like she’s just out of college?)

Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb has tapped Tara VanDerveer’s basketball brain on more than one occasion.

One question she has asked the Hall of Famer, for example, is how VanDerveer has always been so good at making opposing teams uncomfortable, taking away the things they do best?

And then on Sunday, Gottlieb’s Bears used that advice against the No. 5 Cardinal.

BTW, that puts UCLA in the top spot in the PAC12.

Florida made Tennessee reeeeeeally uncomfortable, but the Vols used OT free throws to escape with a win.

I’m not going to think about the South Carolina – Georgia game and you can’t make me.

A little reality for Auburn, as they were rolled by TAMU.

Oklahoma State kept Texas 0-fer in the Big 12.

Dayton showed Butler the door, 82-39.

Kansas was no match for Baylor, as Griner went for 33.

Hmmmm… Quinnipiac is 3-0 in the NEC.

That’s BU at 4-0 in the Am. East.

FGCU sure loves their three’s!

In the battle of the H‘s, Hampton squeaked by Howard to stay undefeated in the MEAC.

D’em Jackwabbits are undefeated in the Summit.

D’em Hatters are undefeated in the A-Sun.

D’em Sugar Bears are undefeated in the Southland.

D’em Hilltoppers are now at 6-1 in the Sun Belt.

That “squeak” was Cal Poly escaping Pacific in triple OT, 96-95. That game photo says it all.

Yes, Beth is no longer there, but it’s still VCU, and it’s still a nice win for the Billikens: Saint Louis won its A-10 opener for the first time since defeating Fordham in the 2007-08 season

Louisville had to work far too hard to beat Providence. Next up for them: UConn, who soared over the Eagles.

How important is Ellenberg to Oklahoma? Wicked important.

Speaking of wicked important, Graham catches up with Toledo’s Naama Shafir

Amidst more humble, if quintessentially Midwestern, surroundings, Toledo beat Bowling Green 48-38 in a game far more entertaining than the final score suggested. A redshirt senior from Israel who wasn’t about to lose what might be her last appearance in that big game led the Rockets with 23 points.

Ranked No. 27 in the first official RPI release and receiving votes in one of the major polls when the week began (in addition, pardon the plug, to sitting eighth in espnW’s mid-major poll), Toledo came into Sunday’s game on the heels of a loss at home against Central Michigan that will likely cost them dearly in those measures of national recognition. A potential 0-2 conference record after a 12-1 start to the season hung heavy over their heads, all the more considering Bowling Green was 60-5 at home in MAC play over the past eight-plus seasons prior to Sunday.

Shafir was supposed to be playing professionally by now, but an ACL injury last season delayed her departure. It also saved the Rockets on Sunday. In a game that was exactly as physical, without being dirty, as could be expected in an Ohio derby, Shafir hit long jumpers and short pull-ups, finished drives and sought contact to get to the free throw line.

The Terps’ Thomas is espnW’s player of week and Michelle and Mechelle do the video thing.

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Or as “put” as any coach stays these days…

Cindy Fisher Receives Multi-Year Contract Extension

On the “not staying put” of coaches (What is it with these “Sources.” Does this mean wbball has hit the big time rumor mill?)

Source: KSU hires Perry as coach

Source: Kansas assistant Tory Verdi expected to be named EMU women’s coach

From Nate: The Significance of Michigan Hiring Kim Barnes Arico To Awaken A “Sleeping Giant”

Bibbs announced taking the position as head coach at Grambling State University

Source: ORU women’s basketball coach Jerry Finkbeiner to accept Utah State job (WHB readers will recall Oral Roberts was makin’ some noise this year.)

On the “staying put?” of players:

Girls basketball: Oral Roberts news affects Shawnee’s Taylor Cooper

On the “not staying put” of players

Former Great Oak star Sherbert leaving Cal

FGCU notes: Strong shooter Rechis transfers from team

Women’s hoops player leaving ODU for Hampton

Jenni Bryan among three players leaving OSU

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WNIT: OSU women end tragic season with championship

Oklahoma State won the WNIT Championship Saturday afternoon with a 75-68 victory over James Madison. But the moments that really matter happened after the Cowgirls clinched the win.

A season that will forever be linked to the tragedy of the November plane crash that killed coach Kurt Budke, assistant Miranda Serna and program supporters Olin and Paula Branstetter culminated nearly five months later with celebration.

With hugs. With tears of joy. With smiles.

“It was like that fairy-tale ending for us,” Young said.

Also from Gina: Morning After Blog: Breaking down Oklahoma State’s WNIT run

Yesterday’s WNIT championship win for the Oklahoma State women’s basketball team was about so much more than basketball, and I wrote it as such in my story in Sunday’s Oklahoman.

But understandably lost in the shuffle of such an emotional win–and journey–was just how well the Cowgirls played during the WNIT. So let’s look purely at basketball for a bit and break down this postseason run for the Cowgirls.

From John Klein at the Tulsa World: Cowgirls’ emotional season has a happy ending

Littell said he couldn’t keep thinking about his friends and family throughout Saturday’s game.

“It’s been a long, tough year,” said Littell.

Budke’s wife Shelley continued to sit in her regular seats up behind OSU’s bench the entire season.

She got to help cut down the nets after the WNIT Championship Game.

“That was really special,” said Littell. “She’s a special lady.

“She’s been a rock for us all season.”

From the AP: Oklahoma State ends tragic season with WNIT title

From Chase Glorfeld at the Idaho State Journal: Oklahoma State women get Hollywood ending

Stories of “tragedy to triumph” are maniacally over-used in Hollywood and mainstream media and frankly have lessened the impact and importance of tragic occasions that occur in our own lives.

 But on Saturday, something that transcends while at the same time defines that cliché took place in Stillwater, Okla.
I really don’t know if such a terrible story when it started in November could have had much better of an ending than what happened in Stillwater on Saturday afternoon. The wife of late head coach Kurt Budke, Shelley, provided the final snip of the WNIT nets and the Cowgirls reigned victorious.

From Mechelle: From tragedy to triumph – Oklahoma State beats James Madison for the WNIT championship

At Big 12 media day last October, Kurt Budke sounded like he almost couldn’t wait to be at the same event a year in the future. He was excited about the young talent on his Oklahoma State team and felt sure that the players’ growth potential was very, very strong.

That’s the image I will always keep in my mind of Budke: smiling and looking ahead.

Saturday, on the same Gallagher-Iba court where Budke and his assistant, Miranda Serna, were eulogized last November after their deaths in a plane crash, those left behind had as happy an ending to the season as they could have hoped for after their devastating loss.

It couldn’t have been an easy game for either team to play, so I don’t want James Madison’s effort in the WNIT, and during the season as a whole, get lost in the shuffle. Said coach Kenny Brooks post-game:

I thought it was a hard-fought game. I thought both teams played hard. I thought (OSU) played better than we did for longer stretches, therefore, when you come to a venue like this and a situation a like this, you can’t have lulls. We had some lulls, and I thought that was the big difference, but give them credit. (Toni) Young is probably the best center we’ve played against all year. She was tremendous inside and athletic, and (Tiffany) Bias was probably the best point guard we’ve played against all year. Those two I thought were the biggest factors, and we just couldn’t contain them when we needed to. That group, they’ve done a very special thing for this program at Oklahoma State and we tip our hat to them. We just didn’t have our best game.”

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Scores.

Next!

First we have a “Big 6 v mid-major” story: Syracuse at JMU at 7 p.m. ET

Then we’ve got a “feel good story” v a “nobody’s noticed story“: San Diego at Oklahoma State at 8 p.m. ET

In a related story, congrats to NJCAA Champs Trinity Valley College, who won a battle between two undefeated teams.

How is it related? From the Hutchinson (KS) News: Court ceremony hits home for Trinity

The emotions were high for the Trinity Valley, Texas, women Saturday evening, especially for sophomore Keuna Flax and co-coach Kenya Landers.

Minutes before Trinity Valley embarked on its 69-55 win against Hutchinson Community College in the NJCAA national championship game at the Bicentennial Center, the basketball court was dedicated for Kurt Budke, a former Trinity Valley and Oklahoma State coach who was killed in a November plane crash.

More from the Salina Journal: Winning Tribute: Trinity Valley comes through on night Kurt Budke Court in named

Trinity Valley co-head coach Kenya Landers descended from the ladder and handed the scissors to Shelley Budke.

Budke climbed the ladder, snipped the last strand of net that had hung from the basketball goal at the west end of the Bicentennial Center, climbed down, placed the net around Landers and embraced her in a lengthy and emotional hug as they stood on the newly renamed Kurt Budke Court, dedicated to the memory of Shelley’s late husband.

Mission accomplished for Landers and her Trinity Valley women’s basketball team.

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but it’s okay ’cause I haven’t checked the scores.

How’d we do?

Next round:

Saturday, March 24
Syracuse at Toledo, 2 p.m. ET
Sunday, March 25
Colorado at Oklahoma State, 1:30 p.m. ET
Virginia at JMU, 2 p.m. ET
San Diego at Washington, 3 p.m. ET

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From the Tulsa World: OSU women’s coaches take on extra work in wake of tragedy

The Oklahoma State women’s basketball team has rebounded from tragedy to win 18 games and reach the Sweet Sixteen of the WNIT.

The Cowgirls, who host Missouri Valley Conference champion Missouri State at 7 p.m. Thursday, were shepherded to this point by Jim Littell, who was promoted from assistant coach to head coach after former head coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna died in a Nov. 17 plane crash.

But the unsung heroes of OSU’s forge-ahead season have been members of Littell’s staff.

From CBS-Philly: Temple, Villanova Ready For WNIT Battles

Just two Division I teams in the city are still playing basketball.  Both the Temple and Villanova women’s squads are into the Sweet 16 of the WNIT with both look to advance tonight.

Temple will be home at McGonigle Hall to host Syracuse out of the Big East while Villanova is on the road tonight to run with Colorado out of the Pac 12.

From the Daily Toreador: Tech hopes to extend WNIT run, hosts San Diego

We’re just excited to be able to continue to play,” she said. “We’ve got a chance to go to an Elite Eight. There’s another Elite Eight about to happen and when you look across this tournament, there are very worthy NCAA Tournament teams, so, again, it’s just trying to turn it into the most positive experience we can. That’s what life’s about.”

From the Richmond Times: U.Va., VCU set for WNIT third-round games

University of Virginia women’s basketball coach Joanne Boyle doesn’t believe in the status quo. After 34 games and nearly five months, Boyle is still tweaking her club’s on-court personality.

U.Va., which will play host to Appalachian State tonight at 7 in the third round of the WNIT, has thrived throughout the season on an inside-oriented zone defense. But in Monday’s second-round victory over the University of Richmond, a dangerous perimeter-shooting team, Boyle’s Cavaliers played an uncharacteristic amount of man-to-man.

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Even, maybe, quietly, some of the Iowa State fans who’d made the trek to Stillwater?

Down by 4 at the end of the first, the Cowgirls rode freshman Liz Donohoe’s 27pts and 7 rebounds, and team defense, to snare the 71-63 win.

POP! That was Fresno State’s fer-0 disappearing: the Bulldogs (23-5, 11-1 WAC) go down to San Jose State (11-16, 6-6). It’s been nine years since that has happened.

And the jinx continues: CS Northridge (10-5, Big West) ran into Cal Poly (11-3) and it was the Mustangs who came out on top. Big.

Senior night, and Buffalo (9-20, 4-11, MAC) surprised Ohio (13-16, 6-9), 61-56.

NOT the kind of triple-double you want to notch: Iasia Hemingway had 20 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 turnovers in the Syracuse/Georgetown game.

You get a sense that both Louisville and DePaul are in the punch-drunk stage of the season, they’ve had so many injuries that they’re battling through. Meeting at the YUM Center inspired senior Becky “Big Shot” Burke, and she helped lead Cardinals to a 75-62 win.

Missouri is on a roll: They get their second Big 12 win (12-15, 2-14) over Kansas State (bound for the tourney), 61-56.

Bowling Green (13-2, MAC) kept their balance against Miami (OH) (10-5), 64-55.

Novosel exploded for 32pts, and Notre Dame needed every single one of them against the feisty Bulls of South Florida.

Big East win #1 for Seton Hall.

Texas Tech implodes in the first half and TAMU enjoys every second of it.

I just like typing this: CHSO Buccaneers over the CCAR Chanticleers, 70-55.

New Hampshire went to OT to get their 9th Am. East win, 59-52.

More OT: Dayton over Duquesne, 74-69.

More OT: FIU over South Alabama, 58-55.

More OT: SIUE over Moorehead State, 72-70.

Ummm, did Texas read Mechelle’s piece? They exploded in the second half, taking down Oklahoma 87-62.

Tennessee-Martin easily dispatched Jacksonville, and the Skyhawks are now 15-1 in the OVC.

Nice win for an improving program, Sacramento State, as they defeat the Portland Vikings, 84-82.

Princeton was the favorite in the Ivy, and they’ve met the challenge every since game. With their win, their First in the Nation (into the Tourney). If the brackets hold, it’s NJ v. NJ with the Tigers set to meet the Scarlet Knights.

Whoa, Wright State. They go off for 100 points, and earn their 12 win in the Horizon.

Beth Mowins would be proud: Lafayette scared the youknowwhat out of American, but the Eagles escaped with a 58-54 win.

Post celebration let down? San Diego State (11-2) got surprised by Colorado (9-4, MWC), 68-65.

More surprises: SE Louisiana (6-8, Southland) takes down the Central Arkansas Bears (12-2), 58-53.

Hampton (13-1, MEAC) survives the Rattlers (12-2), 46-43, and Howard (14-2) kept pace by smooshing Delaware State, 67-52. The victory gives the Lady Bison the most wins in a season since 1997-98 when they went 23-7.

In the battle of the Montanas, it was the Griz over the Bobcats.

In the battle of the Oregons, it was the Beavers over the Ducks, 68-53.

Gonzaga claimed the WCC regular season crown by taking down challenger BYU with enthusiasm, and in front of a sold out crowd,  77-60.

I didn’t jinx’em, but I seemed to have inspired the Portland Pilots to put up a fight: San Diego wins, 51-46. With the win, the Toreros tie a program record with 21 overall wins, and set a program record with 12 WCC wins.

Okay, I’m keeping an eye on perennial doormat, St. Francis (NY) (3-14 NEC) because they just defeated Farleigh Dickinson (8-9), 62-47.

Win #700 for Tara featured the Ogwumike’s teaming up for 31 and 19rebs. Orrange had 12 on 5-8 shooting.

The Southern championship is going to be fun: Chattanooga (15-4) took down Davidson (16-3), 55-48.

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a glass half full or glass half empty kinda person?

I guess tonight it depends on which side of the glass you ended up on.

Texas got its most significant win of the season (so far) by going in to College Station (perhaps for the last time?) and upsetting #10 TA&M, 76-71.

It was touch-and-go there for a while at the YUM! Center, but #15 Louisville survived South Florida, 63-57.

#10 Texas Tech earned their first loss of the season at the Hand(s) of Oklahoma, 71-68.

The phrase “a tale of two halves” is  clichéd for a reason: it’s often true. Oklahoma State was within two of #1 Baylor at the end of the first half. And the end of the second half, they were within 25.

St. John’s squished the Orange.

Erfh: It’s going to be a long road back for Maine. They lose to the Terriers, 75-34.

The Bonnies dealt Temple their first A-10 loss, 74-65.

Don’t look now, but the Great Danes are 4-0 in the American East.

Still pretty glum in the land of the Musketeers: the lose to the Dukes, 68-49, and fall to 3-12.

Were Beth and Debbie at this game? Akron over Buffalo, 91-82.

A little wake up and smell the coffee at Missouri? With their 72-46 loss to K-State, they drop to 0-3 in the Big 12.

It took two overtimes, but Kansas got the win over Iowa State.

Ouch, the Monarchs let one get away: they had a nice lead over VCU, but lost in OT, 76-72.

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Penn was a respectable team under Kelly Greenberg (who’s moved over to BU and is doing good things this season), but the Quakers fell off the map after she left. They’re making their mark again under former Holy Family coach Mike McLaughlin. Latest accomplishment? OT win over Drexel.

Richmond is making some noise: they’re now at 10-2, as a second half surge earned them a 69-56 win over Hartford.

The Wolverines are now 11-2, the program’s best start.

The Bonnies are now 11-1.

The Green Wave is 9-2.

In a battle of M-Tigers, Missouri’s win over Memphis brings the team up to 9-1.

With their win over the Red Foxes, the Pride sits at 9-2. Next up, the Tigers (Princeton, that is).

Oklahoma State is 7-0 — I’m glad they’ve played their first six at home. From Mechelle’s chat:

Sometimes the demands of the season are a good way for people to deal with their grief. I remember Baylor’s Morghan Medlock, whose mother was murdered during the season a few years ago, said people kept asking her how she could play despite going through that. And she said that playing was what *got* her through it; the thing she dreaded was when the season was over. Jim Littell has been named head coach at Oklahoma State now – the interim is off his title – and he’s been very much a stabilizing factor for the Cowgirls. I think that for some of them, though, they may find that there is still a grieving period to go through – when they won’t have the season to occupy their minds.

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George Schroeder at Sports Illustrated: Oklahoma State community far too familiar with unfathomable tragedy

Budke, 50, was extremely popular. In his seventh season in Stillwater, he had elevated the program, taking the Cowgirls to three NCAA tournament appearances, including a Sweet 16. Serna, 36, had been on his staff for seven years. Hargis described Budke and Serna as “incredible mentors.”

“He loved this place,” said associate head coach Jim Littell, who will assume duties as interim coach. It’s a common sentiment in a tight-knit community, where ties run deep — and where wounds are still healing from the 2001 crash.

“The tragedy at Oklahoma State, which has known its share of tragedy in the past, leaves you with a helpless feeling,” Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said. “My heart goes out to the families of Kurt and Miranda and everyone associated with the basketball program and university. The women’s college basketball community just lost two family members and all of us are feeling the effects. There won’t be a day that goes by this season that we won’t think about them in one form or another.”

He really cared about his players,” she said. “God was first, family was second and basketball was third. He had his priorities in line. I will always be grateful to him for the opportunities that he gave me. There are a lot of girls that feel the same way. He just gave us an opportunity to have an amazing experience and to learn so much not only about basketball, but about life.”

Byford said Serna was one of the most kindhearted women that she’d ever met in her life.

“She would do anything for any of us players,” Byford said. “She would bend over backward for you. She just loved life. She brought so much energy every day to practice.

Waters said Martin, who was recruited by Serna and developed a close relationship with both coaches, was reeling from the news.”The hardest thing is the closeness, because Coach Serna genuinely cared about Brittney and her family,” Waters said. “Miranda was like a sister to her, and she always stayed in touch with her parents, her grandma, everyone. And obviously Coach Budke was another reason she wanted to go to Oklahoma State. It goes way beyond basketball for the family.”

Flags will be lowered to half-staff Monday in Oklahoma in honor of the two Oklahoma State women’s basketball coaches, Kurt Budke and Miranda Serna, and the former state senator and his wife killed Thursday in a plane crash.Meanwhile, Oklahoma grieves. The state “is a close-knit community,” said Alex Weintz, communications director with Gov. Mary Fallin’s office. “It’s a difficult time I’m sure for the team and the school and the entire state. … When something like this happens, everyone is affected.”

If you’re a women’s basketball fan, you know how much Budke has meant to revitalizing the Cowgirls’ program. If you don’t follow the sport, this terrible news probably caught your eye because of the eerie connection to the January 2001 accident that caused so much grief and is memorialized at Gallagher-Iba Arena in a haunting tribute to the Oklahoma State 10.

You might not know much, if anything, about Budke, but he’s a guy you would have liked a lot. You could shoot the bull with him about all sports because he followed everything. You could jokingly fib about your last round of golf, or brag about your kids. You would know you were talking to someone who appreciated everything he had because he had worked so hard for it.

“Not many people in Division I have been at places where they were the coach, the counselor, the bus driver and swept the floors,” he would say. “All those experiences I look back on, and am thankful I went through them.”

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Kurt Budke, Miranda Serna die in crash

Oklahoma State women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna have died in a plane crash along with two others, 10 months after the school commemorated the 10th anniversary of a crash that killed 10 men associated with the men’s program.

The plane went down Thursday night in Perry County, Ark., also killing the pilot — 82-year-old former Oklahoma state Sen. Olin Branstetter — and his wife, Paula. There were no survivors.

Reactions:

Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt: “The University of Tennessee Lady Vol basketball family is shocked and deeply saddened at the tragic loss of Oklahoma State head coach Kurt Budke, assistant Miranda Serna and the other victims of the plane crash.I’ve known Kurt for many years and enjoyed watching his success all along the way. He was a great guy and a wonderful family man. He had such a great passion for teaching and coaching the game of women’s basketball. Obviously, Miranda was a highly-respected assistant coach and had a promising career ahead of her. It is just so terribly sad that we had to lose them. Tennessee will be keeping Oklahoma State, the family and friends of Kurt and Miranda in our thoughts and prayers. Our hearts go out to them.”

WBCA CEO Beth Bass: “The entire women’s basketball coaching community is stunned and deeply saddened by the news from Stillwater this morning. Kurt Budke and Miranda Serna were our colleagues and friends. I’ve known Kurt since he was at Trinity Valley Community College. I just can’t believe it.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Oklahoma State University; the Oklahoma State athletic program; the Cowgirls coaches, players and staff; and the family and friends of Kurt, Miranda and the other individuals who died in this tragic accident.”

UConn coach Geno Auriemma: “This just hits you right between the eyes. I had gotten to know him in junior college. He had done a great great job in junior college. The whole time at Louisiana Tech and Oklahoma State I don’t think there isn’t any coach in the country that doesn’t know Kurt. … When I heard it my first reaction was how are the players? How are they going to handle that? It’s the equivalent of losing a parent when you talk about the amount of time you are with them. I had a former player lose both parents in a private plane accident. Its undescribeable. Who cares about the basketball but its about the relationship and Kurt and Miranda’s families. Conference realignment and stuff happening on college campuses but all of a sudden it numbs you.”

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Ooops.

This is becoming an unpleasant trend.

Oklahoma State’s Toni Young  suspended four game for “violation of team policies.”

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For those lobbying for Texas A&M getting a fair shot at a #1 spot, last night’s 71-67 loss to Kansas State was demoralizing.

Speaking of demoralizing, I bet Oklahoma enjoyed beating in-state rival Oklahoma State by 15. (And congrats to Coach Coale, who was named the Lemons/Hanson Award winner)

Jones-less Baylor stomped all over Missouri to clinch their second Big 12 conference title.

Oh, yah, the CAA tourney ought to be fun: UNC Wilmington lost to James Madison by 2, 79-77 and Old Dominion got beaten by Drexel, 65-51.

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C&R watched the Huskies/Blue Devils game and wondered: How Did Duke Get to Be Number 3?

Mel was there, and writes: UConn Buries Duke With Opening Salvo

If one covers sports, no matter which types, and deals with coaches long enough, sooner rather than later they will tell you two things they don’t like to do is put an outcome of a closely fought contest in the hands of officials or place parts of their NCAA destiny in the hands of a committee.

No. 2 Connecticut inherently took care of both matters Monday night, blasting No. 3 Duke 87-51 in a nonconference matchup in the Huskies’ Gampel Pavilion before a near sellout crowd of 10,031 fans.

On the West Coast, Jayda notes: Washington guard Kristi Kingma wins Pac-10 weekly award

As good as Washington SG Kristi Kingma is, it’s hard to believe Monday’s announcement that she’s Pac-10 Player of the Week is a first in her career. But it is, the junior getting the nod after scoring a game-high 29 points in UW’s 64-52 win against cross-state rival Washington State on Sunday.

Sue at They’re Playing Basketball has news of the Riley trade to Tulsa.

Speaking of Cowgirls, at Swish Appeal, freelantz writes Bedlam – Oklahoma’s experience trumps youthful Cowgirls 82-77 and Q explains UConn’s Blowout Of Duke: Why McCallie’s Boxing Metaphor Is Perfect

I know very little about boxing.

And to some extent, I realize it’s odd – and someone once even told me stupid – for a writer to explain one sport with another sport.

But in searching for explanations for what happened in UConn’s 87-51 blowout of Duke last night, the boxing metaphor of how to roll with a punch and respond to it seems to work as well as any explanation I’ve seen anywhere.

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