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

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

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

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

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

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

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the Cal folks were very happy with their team’s upset of Arizona State.

Okay, Arkansas is playing SIU Edwardsville (11-19, 1-12 away) why?

The Wolf Pack took down the Vandals. Sigh.

Ouch. The Salukis finish the year 2-28, 0-18 in the MVC.

Don’t make my horn-tooting look foolish, Houston, with your squeak-bys.

Who the heck from the Pac-10 deserves to be in the NCAAs?

I don’t think I’ve typed their name: McNeese State. How is that possible? They’re 15-1 in the Soutland and took down TX-San Antonio to advance to the conference finals.

Oh, and Mechelle’s been coverin’ the heck outta the Big 12 tourney amd Graham’s been mighty busy with “mid-majors,” especially the Phoenix.

ESPN.com’s Graham Hays is tracking every move of the Green Bay Phoenix on Thursday and Friday as they navigate through the Horizon League tournament in search of an automatic NCAA tournament bid. Through constant blog entries and photos, Hays will chronicle what takes place in between practice sessions and games, and who the personalities are behind the players we merely see on the court. Check back throughout the next two days for more updates.

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considering the mess (on SO many levels) he inherited, I’m naming Scott Rueck Pac-10 Coach of the Year.

Women’s basketball blows 20-point lead, falls to Oregon State – Despite leading 36-16 at the half, Ducks are now 3-11 in conference play

Oregon State women’s basketball head coach Scott Rueck doesn’t like to convey excess emotion at the end of games.

But following the Beavers’ upset victory over Oregon in the Civil War on Saturday, how couldn’t he?

Earlysia Marchbanks clutched the ball in her hands. The buzzer sounded, the red lights flashed, and the Oregon State Beavers, now 9-16 overall (2-12 Pacific-10 Conference) rushed to center court in a show of joy. They had emerged from a 20-point halftime deficit to win, 61-59, and energize 3,130 fans, the majority of them Beaver believers.

In a game between two teams struggling against different forms of adversity, a last-second shot by Ohio State’s Brittany Johnson secured the Buckyeye’s 2-pt win over Purdue.

“She took her time, she got her feet set and she hit the shot,” said Lavender, who felt the shot was good as soon as it left Johnson’s hands. “I just saw the way she shot it. She stepped into it like she normally does. I had the utmost confidence in her.”

Johnson, however, seemingly had come from nowhere over the final 20 minutes to help the Buckeyes (17-9, 8-6 Big Ten) rise from what looked like a tough loss.

One Ogwumike was enough (say C&R) as #3 Stanford took care of business against #9 UCLA, 67-53. Writes Graham:

Like a lot of big events that take place in the shadow of Hollywood, Sunday’s game between No. 3 Stanford and No. 9 UCLA arrived with ample talk as to what one of the famous invitees would wear. And while they weren’t the work of Versace or Vera Wang, the warm-up pants, shirt and protective boot sported by Cardinal All-American Nnemkadi Ogwumike threatened to overshadow the show that followed.

But there’s a reason Stanford has more staying power than the latest movie or music icon, a reason the Cardinal have won 19 of 24 Pac-10 regular-season championships. And a reason they appear headed for championship No. 20 after beating the second-place Bruins 67-53 in Pauley Pavilion.

It was a back-and-forth game, but it was #13 Florida State who got the win over #17 Maryland. Is the ACC title going to the Seminoles?

The America East might come down to a tiebreaker or a dogfight: With their win over Hartford, the UMBC Retrievers are now 12-3 in conference while the BU Terriers’ victory over Stony Brook puts them at 11-3.

The dogfight continues in the CAA. No style points were given to UNC-Wilmington’s win over Northeastern, but they’re now 12-3. So’s ODU, who got a 2-pt win over Hofstra. James Madison escaped the Blue Hens (writes Mel – On Delaware’s day to Think Pink for breast cancer awareness, coach Tina Martin was internally seeing red over her Blue Hens’ inability to think at all at the finish.), and now is 14-1 in-conference.

The Blue Raider is dead, long live the Trojans? That might be the chant, as AR-Little Rock moved to 12-1 in the Sun Belt after defeating Middle Tennessee State 69-61.

Michigan State clinched a share of the Big 10 title, their first since 2005.

Houston claimed the C-USA regular season title with their 77-61 win over UTEP. (Todd Buchanan is the only first-year head coach in the country whose team is currently undefeated in conference play.)

Speaking of firsts, that was Kentucky’s first win at Vandy in 25 years.

Reaping the benefits of their red-shirt senior-laden team, #11 DePaul rolled over an inconsistent #18 Georgetown. (Nice to hear Kayte Christensen doing a fine job with the color commentary.)

#7 Duke (by 50) and #6 Xavier (by 26) got comfortable wins.

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if GW coach Mike Bozeman ‘s seat isn’t red hot, someone needs to slap their AD Jack Kvancz upside the head: Temple Owls hand GW program-worst loss

That being said, the last regular season game between Temple and Xavier (both currently undefeated in the A-10) looks to be very interesting. I bet the Owls are glad it’s in Philly.

Oh, and a hearty “THANK YOU” to whoever manages the Temple website and clearly breaks down their current record. I hate counting Ws and Ls.

Yup, Miami is toasty: At No. 13, ‘Canes have highest ranking in 19 years

Coach Tricia Binford’s Montana State Bobcats have won 13 straight games at home and are still in contention for the league championship.

From Jim Massie: Late-season push critical for Buckeyes

Zach Silka writes, The self-described “win ugly” team at the University of Toledo has transformed into the “make its opponent look ugly” team.

From Rob Moseley from the Register-Guard, Lost in transition: 2010-11 season has been tough for Westhead’s women’s team

By now, two years into its new era, the Oregon women’s basketball team under offensive-oriented coach Paul Westhead was supposed to be playing a razzle-dazzle style that would achieve the dual purpose of entrenching the Ducks in the top half of the Pac-10 while entrenching thousands of butts in the seats of a grand new arena.

That was the best-case scenario, anyway. Three quarters of the way through the 2010-11 season, the UO women, while 14th nationally in scoring with 78.8 points per game, are enduring a tough stretch. And some fans are starting to wonder about the efficacy of hiring the legendary coach — on top of those fans who have long questioned a process they believe stunk just a bit of cronyism in the first place.

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Mechelle blogs: UCLA simply no match for Stanford

Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer is in this somewhat odd position a lot: talking up teams that her squad has every intention of going out and beating handily.

The Cardinal have consistently been at the top of the totem in the Pac-10 for so long that excitement bubbles anytime there’s even a hint that they might be challenged. VanDerveer likes the idea that eyes are focused on the Pac-10 … but she still wants the result to be same old, same old.

And more: Kansas can’t keep up with Baylor – Game snowballs out of control for Jayhawks, who struggle against Baylor defense

Yet another winter storm walloped these parts Wednesday, but Baylor’s Destiny Williams loved it. It reminded her of being home in Michigan. She hasn’t seen snow since moving to Waco, Texas, last year when she transferred from Illinois.

After the game, she would have been perfectly happy to go outside Allen Fieldhouse and play in the white stuff. And the Kansas Jayhawks probably would just as soon have engaged Baylor in a snowball fight. They might have had better luck than they did on the basketball court. At the very least, it couldn’t have been any worse.

And even more: Texas Tech on the right track in ’11 – Lady Raiders hope to make first NCAA tournament appearance since 2005

The past few years, it has been wise for Texas Tech coach Kristy Curry to keep in mind the motto of nothing ever being as good or bad as it seems. Except, of course, sometimes things really were that bad.

Just a little gallows humor here. When so much of your life is about winning basketball games in a place where people really do care a lot about that, it can be hard to know just what “perspective” is, let alone successfully keep it.

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

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

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Well, you’ve got to believe that this was Georgia Tech’s biggest win in the Joseph era: nipping #8 (and no longer undefeated) UNC 71-70. The Tar Heels has a 7-point lead with 1:40 left. Oops. That’s three straight at home for the Yellow Jackets, and just third victory in the last 17 meetings vs. UNC.

#10 Kentucky didn’t have much time to recover from their loss at Duke — and Arkansas may have given some “pushover no more” notice — as the Razorbacks knocked off the Wildcats.

Duke was in a Terp-fight with Maryland, but (as they seem to do in close games) clamped down and pulled away in the end for the 71-64 victory.

Michigan St. took care of business against Wisconsin, while the WHB Jinx did its work on Michigan v. Purdue. Virginia Tech was no match for Florida State, and Green Bay dispatched a stubborn Youngstown State.

I think it would be an act of kindness not to discuss the masacree that was the Tennessee/Alabama game, or the 30pt-answer Stanford gave to Tom’s question in the Mechelle chat.

tom: Pac 10 questions. What do you think of Niya Butts and the Arizona program? They seem to be winning solidly. As things stand, could they be the fifth Pac 10 team (behind Stanford, UCLA, USC and ASU) to get in? Cal is a bit of a question mark at this point, correct?

Mechelle Voepel: The Wildcats lost to Texas A&M in November but kept the game pretty close, which was a good sign. Another sign will be how they fare against Stanford tonight – not whether they win, which is unlikely, but how well they play. As for Cal, the vast majority of teams are still NCAA tournament “question marks” now, so they have plenty of time to make their case for a tournament bid. Will need to show more determination and fight than they did against Stanford over the weekend, which I’m sure Coach Boyle has been talking to the Bears about this week.

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Get smarter about the Big 12 with the Oklahoman’s guide:

5 Players to Watch

→Danielle Adams, Texas A&M: Adams is a unique talent. Is she a guard? A wing player? A post? Or all of the above? Thick and sturdy at 6-foot-1, she can score from anywhere on the floor.

Meanwhile, one of the Mitten State teams gets some attention from Mick McCabe at the Free Press: Defense produces Michigan women’s basketball’s best Big Ten start since 1999-2000

Borseth is realistic after his team’s 2-0 start in the Big Ten and consecutive victories over three ranked opponents for the first time in program history entering tonight’s game at Purdue.

“This is a tough league,” he said. “When you look too far ahead you’re going to get bit, so we’re just kind of going day to day at this point. We’re just trying to keep our heads above water, fight for everything we have.”

Up in the northwest, Jayda is looking Around the Pac-10: Avoiding the bottom

Well, someone is going to get a conference win this weekend as the Oregon and Washington schools clash in the second week of Pac-10 play. Up first is Oregon State (7-6, 0-2 Pac-10) for Washington (5-6, 0-2). The surprising Beavers lost to the athletic Arizona schools by a combined five points last week.

Speaking of last year’s “daily disaster” story Beavers, from Brooks Hatch at the Gazette-Times: Oregon State is defensive by nature and by design

The philosophy is relatively straightforward.

“Limit possessions, force tough shots … the same things every defense tries to do, make your opponents do something they are not used to or comfortable with,” and rebound like crazy, Rueck said Tuesday in detailing the nuts and bolts of a defense that’s allowing just 52.9 points per game and holding opponents to a .360 percentage on all shots and .296 on 3-pointers.

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Conference play is about to start (or, in some cases, has started). As the season continues, make sure you take a gander at the D-I Standings.

American East – The Danes are on top, but ouch, how much does Vt. miss May, Courtney and their ex-coach Dawley?

A-10: Suzie and her Dukes are on top, and their win over Ohio State (ignoring their recent tumbles) is more impressive than Xavier’s record.

ACC: Sure Duke and UNC are undefeated. But Miami is 14-1 and beat Georgetown. The Tarheels? Well…

A-Sun: Looks to be Florida Gulf Coast in a rout.

Big 12: Lots of wins…is Baylor the class of the lot?

Big East: So really, can West Virginia, Notre Dame and St. John’s challenge UConn? Sure.

Big Sky: Only Idaho State has a winning record. Can Portland State top’em?

Big South: Gardner-Webb has been fodder for some “big names,” but they stil sit atop the standings. NC-Ashville is lurking one win behind’em.

Big 10: Michigan St. has won 11 straight. And Penn State (at 12-3) is right behind’em. We’ll see if the Buckeyes can recover their footing.

Big West: It’s a UC-athon with Irvine and Santa Barbara 1,2.

Colonial: Drexel and Hofstra are at 8-3, as is Cynthia Cooper’s NC-Wilmington team.

Conf-USA: Ought to be a great battle between McFerrin’s Memphis Tigers and Stockton’s Tulane Green Wave.

Independents: That would be Cal State Bakersfield above .500.

Great West: The Jackrabbits still rule, but they’re only 8-7.

Horizon: No surprise, Green Bay is number one. Nice to see Wright State at #2.

Ivy: Yale’s upsets aside, the Princeton Tigers rule. How long will Banghart stay?

MAAC: Red Foxes deja rule.

Mid-American: Bowling Green (East), Eastern Michigan (West) – with Central Michigan on their heels.

MEAC: Hampton and their band are #1.

Missouri Valley: That would be Missouri State atop the standings, thought Illinois State is 2-0 in conference play.

Mountain West: Not really surprising to see Wyoming up top.

Northeast: Things are all bunched up between Monmouth, Fairleigh Dickinson and Sacred Heart.

Ohio Valley: Not withstanding their… record-setting, Tennessee Tech is 3-0 in the conference.

PAC-10: It’s early, but UCLA is ranked #1 and Stanford #5.

Patriot League: American may be recovering from the loss of coach McFerrin.

SEC: Arkansas was at 12-0, but just lost to Florida. Next up will be Kentucky, and we’ll see how legit their record is.

Southern: UNC Greensboro is 6-5 and Samford 9-3. But UNC is 3-0 in Conference.

Southland: That would be Southeastern Louisiana (East) and Lamar (West).

SWAC: No team has a winning out-of-conference record.

Summitt: A similar situation to Southern: Oral Roberts is 7-7 and Southern Utah is 9-5, but O.R. is 4-0.

Sunbelt:In the East, that would be the High Toppers at 1-0 (and 4-8). Middle Tennessee is 9-4. The West features Denver in the top slot.

West Coast: Gonzaga rules.

WAC: Nevada enters conference play at 11-2.

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Cal Q and A, Part I: A Look At Stanford After Beating UConn

Happy New Year to you (And it is indeed a happy one, as we are still basking in the glow of Stanford beating UConn).

The folks over at California Golden Blogs sent us some Stanford Women’s basketball questions in honor of Stanford traveling to Cal to start PAC-10 play. Here are their questions and our long and rambling answers. At the end are our questions back to them, which we will post in Part II.

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The Silent Majority Poll

A few weeks ago, we debuted our ranking of the top teams outside the BSC Conferences (ACC, Big Ten, SEC, Pac-10, Big East, Big 12). Now that the season’s started, we’re back for Round Two.

I also like their post-prediction, “Ummm, we can explain” lines.

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From Kris at Houston Roundball Review

What are your thoughts on the Pac-10 overall?
Kara: Stanford’s clearly been the class of the Pac-10 for a lot of years now. I think this is an exciting year to watch them as they have experience. I think they’ve improved their athleticism with the addition of (freshman forward Chiney) Ogwumike. I just think that they’re in a great position with (Jeannette) Pohlen in the backcourt being a senior. (Kayla) Pedersen in the frontcourt being a senior. They’ve had great chances to win the championship the last few years; but, this might be their best chance.

UCLA is an up-and-coming program. We’re going to see them be a mainstay in the NCAA Tournament the next few years.

As far as the rest of the Pac-10, honestly, this is a conference that, I think, needs to do a better job of scheduling in out of conference and winning games when they do play teams out of conference just because the resumes as a whole, when you look outside of Stanford and UCLA, are not strong in that area.

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From Milton Kent: ‘Super Six’ Conferences Announce Women’s Basketball Series

The six Bowl Championship Series conferences, which happen to be the dominant leagues in women’s basketball, announced Wednesday a two year challenge series of games pitting 12 teams against each other.

The “Super Six” series begins this year and continues next year with two teams each from the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Southeastern Conference and the Pac-10 competing during next month. One team from each league will host a game while the other league team will travel, with the matchups to be determined on the basis of perceived competitive balance.

Depending on the quality of the teams, could be a great way to develop twixt-conference rivalries.

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(Oh, stop laughing)

Is Mechelle ESPNW?

From the espn twitter feed (which could be set up more poorly, but you’d have to think about it to figure out how): @ESPN_WomenHoop Like Mechelle Voepel’s women’s basketball coverage? She’s covering all college sports for us now: http://tinyurl.com/22kd7wt

The link takes us to: Perils of Pac-10 play hits Stanford

UCLA volleyball player Lainey Gera didn’t have much of her voice left by Sunday evening. She’d had plenty to shout about over the weekend.

Although, Friday wasn’t so great. Bay area native Gera’s favorite baseball team, the San Francisco Giants, lost in extra innings to the Braves in the National League Division Series. This after Gera’s Bruins had lost their volleyball match earlier in the evening to visiting Cal, 3-1 at Pauley Pavilion.

That defeat had been UCLA’s second in a row and third in its past four matches. There was a good reason for that, though: It’s called the perils of playing volleyball in the Pac-10.

I can’t really figure where this article is “located” within the ESPN.com system… it’s not women’s basketball… is it ESPNU? Then where is the link on the U front page? I’m SO conFUUUEEESED.

Which, since I AM a fan of Mechelle’s coverage, is bad, since it’ll make finding her non-wbball articles tough.

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