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From Jere’: Pat Summitt, Tennessee Basketball Coach Who Emboldened Women’s Sports, Dies at 64

Over nearly four decades, Ms. Summitt helped transform women’s college basketball from a sport ignored by the National Collegiate Athletic Association into one that drew national television audiences and paid its most successful coaches more than $1 million a year.

“In modern history, there are two figures that belong on the Mount Rushmore of women’s sports — Billie Jean King and Pat Summitt,” Mary Jo Kane, a sports sociologist at the University of Minnesota, said in 2011. “No one else is close to third.”

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Family of ex-Tennessee women’s coach Pat Summitt ‘preparing for the worst’

Former University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt is “struggling” and those close to her are “preparing for the worst,” a source involved in the situation confirmed Sunday morning.

“I don’t think anybody knows whether she will last a day, a month, or a year,” the source said.

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to see if it was the same knee she injured and rehabbed before the 1976 Olympics… which got me to this fabulous photo from SI: 1976_Oly(2)

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Wicked early flight meant getting up wicked-er early, so I’m looking forward to a nap soon.

It’s chilly-greening-spring here in Tennessee – 40 or so when we landed, but the Final Four greeter promised us 64 by noon. When you’re in the sun, yes….when you’re not? Brrrrrr!

Easy car pick up, then headed to East Nashville for some breakfast at Marche Artisan Foods. Great service, yummy food…

With time to kill before the hotel opened up, drove into, through and around downtown Nashville. Small and bustling at the center. Different, more concentrated vibe than when I was in Knoxville for the WBHOF induction ceremony a while back. Strong mix of old and new architecture.

Continued our wandering exploration and end up driving past Vanderbilt (yes, as we researched, started by THAT Vanderbilt – hence the “Commodores” nickname.) Did you know the campus was also an arboretum? Did a quick drive through – really, really lovely. Also stopped by Centennial Park to visit the Parthenon and did some walking. Yup, it’s big. Nearby lake is being dredged/cleaned, so that wasn’t so scenic.

It’s early for birds – but there is a list: RobinsBlue Jays, a lone Turkey Vulture, cackling Grackles, some beautiful Bank Swallows, noisy Northern Mockingbird, a gregarious Carolina Wren, and an early Hermit Thrush.

Next on the agenda, the aforementioned nap, then a return to East Nashville to partake of the fare at the Eastland Cafe. Then, we’re off to the Grand Ole Opry!

Phew!

Hoping tomorrow features a visit with a WBHOF inductee, coffee, brunch, barbecue and two fabulous games.

Until them, some more reading (and listening): First, make sure you check out the Tennessean’s coverage:

Fans show love early in Women’s Final Four

Kara Lawson: No favorite between Pat, Geno

Rebecca Lobo: UConn is beatable

Legendary lady Pat Summitt: Pride of Cheatham County

WOOT! WOOT! WBB HISTORY!! Nashville Business College: Champions before their time – LONG BEFORE TENNESSEE AND UCONN, THESE FARM GIRLS DOMINATED WOMEN’S BASKETBALL AND THEIR RECORD IS UNMATCHED TODAY.

Final Four teams have fun at Ryman

UConn’s Dolson, Hartley old hands at Final Four, Post
More Than Anything, Geno Demands Sweat From UConn Women, Courant
More Awards For Stefanie Dolson, Courant
Capsule: No. 1 Seed UConn Women Vs. No. 2 Seed Stanford, Courant
Pictures: Behind The Scenes With UConn Women In Nashville, Courant
It’s a Great Time to be a Husky, Stefanie Dolson

Stanford’s supporting cast stepping up to help Ogwumike, Register
ESPN analyst touts Ogwumike’s pro potential, SFGate
Lawson Says Stanford Has Best Shot At UConn, Hartford Courant

U-Md. abuzz as women’s basketball team heads to Final Four, Washington Post
Nashville already full of Maryland fans, ABC
Majoring in Chemistry, Chloe Pavlech

Before UConn, ND should fear Terps, Observer
Notre Dame Women: Save Your Pity, Blue & Gold
Irish must prove doubters wrong, Kate Fagan
Geno (And USA Basketball) Love Kayla McBride, Hartford Courant

Dishin & Swishin 04/03/14 Podcast: Breaking down the Final Four with coaches Doug Bruno, Lindsay Gottlieb & Coquese Washington, HoopFeed

Duke coach’s analysis of women’s Final Four, Bradenton Herald

In Women’s Final Four, Jousting Before the First Jump Ball, yea! It’s Harvey at the New York Times

Beating UConn rarely leads to title – Most teams that beat UConn in NCAA tourney don’t win NCAA championship, Mechelle Voepel

Rematches story of women’s Final Four, AP Teresa M. Walker

Five minutes with ESPN analyst Kara Lawson, Nashville Business Journal

NCAA hosting women’s hoops summit at Final Four, AP Doug

 

As coach Mitchell cuts to assistant coaches, Sea of Blue is Taking a Moment To Celebrate The Season That Was

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A while back, Joanne Lannin, author of “A History of Basketball for Girls and Women,” dropped me a note to give me a heads up.

1) She’s working on an updated version of the book

2) She’s also  working on a book about the pioneering spirit of women in basketball and would love to talk to folks who played the game before Title IX was enacted in 1972.

3) She’s started a blog: Finding a Way to Play. Check it out for pieces on Delle DonneShoni

Junior Shoni Schimmel lit up the NCAA women’s tournament last spring with her fearless, exhuberant play for the University of Louisville (that’s her trash-talking Britney Griner at left).By way of her ascent to the national stage, Schimmel has shone a light on the experience of females like her: Native American basketball players who are making a name for themselves beyond the reservation.

Goodrich

Angel, who was drafted 29th out of the University of Kansas, was not the first Native American to make it to the WNBA, but she is the first to crack a starting lineup. Ryneldi Becenti, a member of the Navajo tribe in Arizona, played one game for the Phoenix Sun in 1997 and Tahnee Robinson, a member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe in Wyoming, played exhibition games during the 2011 preseason for the Connecticut Sun before being cut.

To Native Americans — be they from the foothills of Oregon, the deserts of Arizona or the plains of Oklahoma — Goodrich’s rise to the elite women’s professional level, has been a break in the clouds after many years of playing in the shadows. The experience of Indian girls in some ways mirrored that of white girls, whose opportunities to play competitive basketball were hit or miss until the latter decades of the 20th century.

the fabulous Hazel Walker, and Coach Summitt.

Wait, you suddenly feel the urge to read up on your women’s basketball history? Check out the books on this list.

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C Viv finally gets her 900th win courtesy of the USF Bulls. (Really, coach, you didn’t realize it?) Writes Mechelle

Sometimes it will surprise her young charges when Rutgers women’s basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer casually drops a pop-culture reference into conversation. Beyonce this or Ne-Yo that. It’s actually not calculated on her part, but rather stuff she has picked up.

“I think that in order to continue to relate well to young people, you need to be current,” Stringer said. “And developing those relationships — that’s not draining to me. While the job itself can be stressful, I’m always rejuvenated by working with young people.”

After Rutgers snapped a four-game losing streak Tuesday, Stringer picked up her 900th victory as the Scarlett Knights beat South Florida. It was a historical win for the Rutgers program and for Stringer, putting her in the 900-win group of women’s coaches, joining Pat Summitt, Jody Conradt and Sylvia Hatchell.

Speaking of legends: With the most recent Pat Summitt book hitting the stands, Mechelle says, UConn-Tennessee rivalry missed

In the end, barriers between Auriemma and Summitt went up, and the programs’ scintillating on-court rivalry was the casualty.

Deep down, though, you sensed they always knew they had pushed each other to greater heights. You wondered what it might take to bring just enough of a thaw for them to really talk again.

However … the sport went on without the UConn-Tennessee game, with the women’s hoops calendar finding other big clashes to take its place. UConn-Stanford, UConn-Notre Dame and UConn-Baylor, for example, have all gotten larger spotlights. And that has helped the growth of game, too.

Do we miss UConn-Tennessee? We miss what it was at its best: two coaching legends matching wits, some of the best players in NCAA women’s history facing off, and backed up by legitimately large fan bases who bring the best (and worst) of college sports fanaticism.

A side note on the excerpt from the book that was published in Sports Illustrated. It revisits the reason Summitt ended the series: recruiting.

“I didn’t itemize my complaints publicly then, and I’m not going to now,” she wrote. “I went through the appropriate channels and that’s how it will stay. I made my concerns known to UConn through our athletic director, Joan Cronan, and the Southeastern Conference. UConn responded that they saw nothing wrong with what they were doing. I made my concerns known again. Same response.

Anyone who follows women’s basketball recruiting knows the published facts behind this: A complaint was filed with the NCAA by the SEC (on behalf of Tennessee) and UConn was found to have committed “secondary” violations. Clearly, Summitt’s issues are not with the secondary violation, since

as defined in Bylaw 19.02.2.1, a secondary violations one that provides only a limited recruiting or competitive
advantage and is isolated or inadvertent in nature. If the Committee on Infractions determines that repeated secondary
violations have occurred and that the institution is not taking appropriate action to prevent such violations, a penalty
appropriate for a major violation may be imposed.

Tennessee, for instance just recently self-reported secondary violations.

So, what I don’t understand is why coach Summitt won’t itemize her complaints. If she had UConn dead to rights on violations, we can only hope the NCAA would kick their butt (witness the UConn men’s program.). But they didn’t. If there are behavior issues, call ’em out. Break the culture of silence. Without doing that all we have is more of the same “you know what you did” v. “why don’t you say what I did.”

Blick.

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From Mechelle, Charlie and Graham and Michelle: How does Gray’s injury affect Duke? (which includes some pondering “Outside of the nation’s top-four ranked teams, who has the best chance to get to the Final Four?”)

M&M&M are Picking Award Winners

Charlie has some bracketology: Boy, are Notre Dame and UConn going to be sick of each other.

From Curt: All about ‘next game’ for Diggins

Skylar Diggins pulled up a stool and sat down after Sunday’s 87-49 rout of Marquette, white towel wrapped around her neck.

Diggins had just become the first Notre Dame women’s basketball player to have 2,000 points, 500 assists and 500 rebounds in her career.

“I had no idea,” Diggins said when asked about the achievement. “I guess it looks good, when I leave here, when I’m old and gray. It’s just all about the next game. I’m trying to do what I have to do for our team to win.”

From the Husker Blog: ‘The Rex Burkhead of Women’s Basketball’

Before we begin, please understand today’s N-Sider is a history lesson, a geography challenge and a supreme compliment all rolled into one. This blog ties two well respected Husker walk-ons – offensive lineman Brodrick Nickens and basketball guard Mike Peltz with Jordan Hooper, one of the hottest Division I women’s basketball players in the country.

Sheryl Swoopes talks career, life after the WNBA, LGBT thoughts

From Dave D’Alessandro at the Star-Ledger: Former Bad Boy Bill Laimbeer does plenty of good for WNBA

We were sitting upstairs in a coffee shop two blocks east of the Garden, where nobody gave any notice to the man who might be the most influential coach and GM in the history of this 16-year-old women’s league. His first lap around the WNBA was in Detroit, where he took over a last-place team in 2002 and turned the Shock into a champion in eight months. Two more titles followed, before he left the league in 2009.

Now he’s back with the Liberty, who will start their final season in Newark in May because of renovations at MSG. If you follow the league at all, you know it needs him badly. First, this market needs a big personality to stimulate interest in a league whose attendance has cratered. Second, the Liberty have been consistently mediocre since Richie Adubato left nearly a decade ago, and need Laimbeer’s extraordinary eye for talent.

As a follow-up, Nate asks, “Who are the top mid-major prospects in the 2013 WNBA Draft? “

Obviously the top mid-major prospect in the 2013 WNBA draft is Delaware Blue Hens forward Elena Delle Donne.

But what about the rest of the players among the ranks of the mid-majors? Who else might have a shot at contributing to a WNBA team?

As usual, there are quite a few mid-major players putting up gaudy numbers as distributors, rebounders and scorers that might draw the attention of WNBA GM’s. Yet as discussed last week, mid-major programs haven’t yielded very many WNBA contributors over the past few years – it’s not impossible, but the threshold for being considered a productive WNBA prospect has proven to be extremely high. Almost to the point of having an unblemished college record for most mid-major prospects.

It’s about friggin’ time: From ESPN: Nine for IX: About Women. By Women. For Us All.

AIRING JULY 2-AUG. 27 ON ESPN

Pat Summitt’s life as it has never been told before. Venus Williams lobbying for pay equality. Female athletes balancing the double standard of being the best on the field and the sexiest off of it. These are just a few stories from ESPN Films and espnW’s documentary series, Nine for IX.

MORE ON NINE FOR IX

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Julie Caputo helped Cyprus win the Region 6 title last season.

Julie Caputo took her first dribble at age 7. Soon after, she was scrimmaging with the boys on the church-ball hardwoods. By high school, she found herself under the tutelage of a former WNBA player and a legendary local coach.

But for the Cyprus point guard, the road to becoming the leader of a team in contention for the Class 4A state title started with a few tears.

At Swish Appeal: Catch talks about winning the WNBA title, Pat Summitt, and Lin Dunn

How did it make you feel to have Coach Summitt present when you won the WNBA Championship?

(Long pause) “I mean…gosh, I don’t even know how to explain the feeling. She came to the Atlanta series, and I remember seeing her there, it was the first round of the playoffs and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ (Because) we lost the other two games (to Atlanta) in the regular season and Pat was there for both of them. I was like, “Ok, Mickie this is bad (luck), we can’t have her here.’ And Mickie was like, ‘No, no, no, we’ll just put her in a different spot, she won’t be where she normally is’ (laughing). It was kind of funny; we won that game and ended up winning the series. And she came back for the Finals, just having her there — I mean, Pat and I have just gone through a lot; and I’ve had a lot of ups and downs over my 11 years being with the Fever. Being able to call her, I’ve called her countless times crying about different situations — she’s always just known what to say. To have her there, she was like, ‘I’m so proud of you’ and I was just (emotional). She’s like my second mom. Going to college and being away [from home] — yeah to have her there, it was just a memorable moment.”

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which turned out to be a whole lotta Skylar.

From Curt: Irish, Diggins hold off late Tennessee surge and  Irish, Diggins rain on Vols’ parade

“I think this was a great win in a hostile environment in front of a great crowd that made for a great game,” said Irish coach Muffet McGraw. “It was an electric atmosphere. They came out with a lot of emotion and got up early. I thought we maintained our composure.”

From Mechelle: Notre Dame notches first win in Knoxville

After viewing the film “The Impossible” (family struggles to survive/reunite after the 2004 tsunami) and a major tearjerker “Downton Abbey” episode (no spoilers for you stragglers who are still in the dark), I figured I did enough blubbering over the weekend.

So I was really hoping for a great, old-fashioned, fun, competitive, down-to-the-wire basketball game on Monday night. Well … we almost got that.

From Daniel Benjamin at the Examiner: No. 2 Notre Dame staves off late challenge from No. 9 Tennessee

From Cory Bernard at The Observer: Rocky Topped – Diggins scores a career-high 33 points as the No. 2 Irish down Lady Vols in Knoxville

At GoVolsXtra, Dan writes: Skylar Diggins scores 33 to lead Notre Dame past Lady Vols – Notre Dame executes as expected

Hard to miss Skylar Diggins Monday night, but Tennessee somehow lost her anyway.

The All-American cut down the lane unimpeded early in the second half, as if she was jogging through a park. She received a pass and scored a layup.

John Adams writes:  Lady Vols could have used a boost from past

The Lady Vols raised a banner in honor of former coach

Pat Summitt in pregame ceremonies as some of their greatest players looked on at courtside. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t script the game.

All-Americans Michelle Marciniak,Chamique Holdsclaw,Tamika Catchings and Candace Parker joined the rest of the crowd in a pregame standing ovation for Summitt, who led the program to eight national championships. But their contributions were limited to cheering.

“I wanted to put them in,” UT coach Holly Warlick said with a smile.

Speaking of folks who wear orange, Mechelle writes about Oklahoma State’s Toni Young.

Basketball most definitely was not Oklahoma State senior Toni Young’s first love. From the time she was a little girl, she was captivated by art and wanted to draw all the time. Hoops wasn’t even in the picture.

Basketball wasn’t her second love, either. That was volleyball, the first sport that she really embraced.

Basketball was something that other people thought Young should pursue, as was track and field. Young initially wasn’t too keen on either one — to say the least — when she finally took them up in high school.

“I didn’t start basketball until my sophomore year,” Young said. “And then I got forced into track when I was a sophomore, too. My coaches and my brother made me do it; I hated it then. But it was something I was good at, so it became a hobby.”

Young grins now as she recounts this, because it sounds preposterous. She was an All-American in the high jump at the NCAA outdoor track meet last summer (placing fifth) and then competed in the U.S. Olympic trials. That’s some hobby.

I haven’t jinxed Texas Southern yet: they took down Alabama State, 74-40.

Belmont is making some noise in the OVC. Their win over Morehead State puts them at 8-2 in the conference.

Okay, yes, they beat up on the Blackbirds, but I just need to say this: St. Francis (NY): 4-4 in the NEC.

I doubt they’re a threat to Quinnipiac, who move to 8-0 in the NEC. They don’t play St. Francis (PA) until Feb. 16th.

Yup, Hampton has set themselves up as the class of the MEAC, taking down rival Hampton handily: 67-45.

Sienna stayed even with the Red Foxes in the second half — but not in the first. Marist is now 8-0 in the MAAC.

They took the pedal off the medal in the second half, but that didn’t prevent Green Bay from securing the win over Wright State — and an 6-0 record in the Horizon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speaking of Angel, from Mechelle’s chat:

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

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

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

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

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It’s Graham’s fault. Bowling Green hands Dayton their first loss of the season (so much for ESPN analyst predictions, huh, Carolyn and Kara?)

#20 Texas turned it over a ton, and got upset by the feisty Chippewas of Central Michigan. Nice win for coach Guevara. Up next: tough Toledo.

Charlie’s got his latest Bracketology up and asks: Which mid-majors are bubbling over?

…here is a look at five teams for whom the door is still open to the at-large room and a few more that were close to getting inside before that same door slammed in their face. The margin for error is always small, but these are the teams to watch the rest of the season, the ones that really help shape the bubble come March.

Graham chips in with his Weekly Wrap Up: With Diggins on bench, Irish deliver

Diggins is a singular personality when she’s on the court. She’s also the point guard, so it doesn’t just feel like things run through her — they do run through her. Yet when she was out, it felt like the center of gravity for the Fighting Irish eventually settled in the post. Whether she took the shot, or even touched the ball, Achonwa was the player your eyes went to on offense. She finished the game with 15 points and 17 rebounds, even if she joked that she padded the latter number by having to follow too many of her own misses.

Lady Swish explains Why Skylar Diggins can’t set Notre Dame records

From Mel’s blog: Siroky’s SEC Report: Trends Not Changing in the SEC — Even With New Coaches and Two Additional Teams

As the new era dawns in Southeastern Conference women’s basketball, what we know so far this season is the top tier of teams are nationally competitive and the returning regular-season champ leads them all.

Scrambling the lineup for 2012-13 is the absence of the retired Tennessee icon, Pat Summitt, and the addition of two more teams.

At Full Court, Rob offers up The ACC recipe for success, team by team

Heading into conference play and a new year, every team in the ACC needs to make a few resolutions if they hope to achieve success. Some teams don’t have much work to do in terms of making a dramatic resolution, while others need to make drastic changes. In order of my current predictions, here’s what each team needs to do in order to become the best it can be.

Also at Full Court, a voice from the past, Jim Clark, writes: The big three in the Big East — plus some stars

Though the big news in the Big East is about the apparent collapse/contraction of the league, there’s still a lot to talk about when it comes to women’s basketball — so those who want more info on the conference changes can go here. In this article, though, we’ll focus on the three teams and the top players that will make this Big East season, with this Big East alignment, worth watching.

Nate takes Notes: Cal women off to best start in program history with win over George Washington

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I just loved this headline: Girls basketball: Bunnies shut down Falcons with defense

Yah, that guy scored a lot of points, but what would he have done against THIS defense? Miami girls basketball team earns 82-0 shutout days before Thanksgiving

From the Denver Post’s Irv Moss: Colorado Classics: Alice Barron, girls basketball pioneer

Don’t be deceived by the nickname. Alice “Cookie” Barron knew her way around on the basketball floor.

As a member of the Wayland Baptist Flying Queens, she played an instrumental role in a national record. A 5-foot-6 guard, Barron played at Wayland Baptist College (now University) from 1954-57, when the Flying Queens went 104-0 and won three national championships. She was named an All-American once.

Maybe more important for high school girls in Colorado, Barron fought for girls sports to be treated equally. As an administrator in the Jefferson County School system, she used the same tenacity that she showed on the basketball court in convincing doubters that sports programs should be available to girls.

From Mark Znider at the Columbus Dispatch: For 32 years, girls basketball has been huge part of life of Ready coach Joe Lang

Julie Lang will walk into the kitchen to make a telephone call and see fresh evidence that her husband, Joe, has been there. The unique fingerprints of a basketball coach in deep thought also can be found in the bedroom, living room, basement and garage.

“I have to laugh because we have a notepad next to the telephone and there will be these X’s and O’s scribbled on it,” Julie said. “I’ll open a magazine and there are more X’s and O’s. The bookmarks in books will have X’s and O’s. There will be paper on the dresser with X’s and O’s. There are these diagrams all over the place.”

His colleague at the paper, Jim Massie, reminds us of the difference between a “game report” and a “report about the game”: Ohio State women’s basketball: Hill leads second-half charge

A women’s basketball game with 44 combined turnovers has the look of a Thanksgiving day kitchen after dinner. Dirty dishes, plates, silverware and whatever is left of the turkey seem spread from here to there.

At least Ohio State, author of 19 turnovers, could say thanks for a 70-54 victory over Saint Francis (Pa.) last night in Value City Arena and look to clean things up later.

Jim also adds: Ohio State women’s basketball: Defense anchors Alston’s game

For most young, growing basketball players, defense occupies the broccoli section of the Thanksgiving dinner plate.

Yummy.

This’ll make you grin: Iowa pep band provides clever chants during win over Robert Morris

All is not Bonnie in the land of the ‘ventures: Fairfield Women’s Basketball Knocks Off St. Bonaventure 52-49

Has their get up an Geaux got up and went? LSU women’s basketball team loses a nail-biter to Georgetown, 71-69

Yup, there’s a whole lotta shaking up goin’ on: Latest conference realignment news caught Geno by surprise

From the Washington Post’s Gene Wang: Maryland women’s basketball embraces Big Ten move

While the 10th-ranked Maryland women’s basketball team has strong ties to the ACC as one of two member schools to win a national championship, the announcement on Monday that the Terrapins would be joining the Big Ten in 2014 means a homecoming of sorts for Coach Brenda Frese.

Frese was named national coach of the year at Minnesota in 2001-02, when she directed one of the more dramatic turnarounds in the history of the sport. In Frese’s first season, the Gophers went 22-8 to set what was then a program record record for wins, rose to No. 14 in the rankings (at the time was the highest in school history) and finished 11-5 in the Big Ten, one season after winning all of one conference game.

Speaking of the Terps, the DC BasketCases (Happy Thanksgiving, kids!) are in a better mood.

As the BCs expected they would, the Terps this afternoon bounced back from their upset on Saturday at St. Joe’s, thoroughly drubbing the American University Eagles at Comcast Center, 94-54, thereby giving Terps fans a very happy start to their Thanksgiving holiday.

The Utes are 4-0.

Coach Landers has 800 wins.

Cool! Mechelle says, “Welcome to Tennessee Total Access”

There have been tears shed around the Tennessee women’s basketball program over the past year and a half that have come from sadness and even fear as the great Pat Summitt faced an insidious illness.

But through it all, the program that has been so much a standard-bearer for women’s college athletics has vowed to keep things as upbeat and positive as possible. So when Holly Warlick — Summitt’s longtime assistant who was elevated to head coach this spring — found herself getting watery-eyed in October, she smiled, too. Because in this case, these actually were welcome tears of happiness.

“When that buzzer went off,” Warlick said, “I cried.”

She was referring to the end of Game 4 of the WNBA Finals on Oct. 21. Tamika Catchings, the former Tennessee star who is still so closely associated with her alma mater, had just won her first WNBA title with the Indiana Fever.

Yup, the Vols are back on track: ‘Jail time’ is still playing off for Cierra Burdick, Lady Vols  (and yes, I could have wished for a better choice of words, considering recent news)

Speaking of “back on track,” Mel has: Delle Donne’s Return Almost Like Old Times

Haven’t you always wondered if there Are there women’s basketball programs that outdraw men’s basketball?

From Jayda: Gonzaga, Seattle U set for holiday tournaments; WNBA moves and other hoop notes

Gonzaga (4-0) is in the midst of playing five games in seven days. Before you empathize, consider the Zags continue that stretch Tuesday in Puerto Vallarta.

Puerto Vallarta? Pshaw! I’m eating Turkey (or something resembling it) in St. Thomas, catching my second ever Paradise Jam. Might have a UConn point guard sighting: Bria Hartley Anxious For Thursday’s Return

Dishin & Swishin’s 11/21/12 Podcast is A Special Thanksgiving chat with Kara Lawson

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“Is Baylor good for women’s basketball?”

Well, not if you were Kentucky. Take away Griner’s 27, and the Wildcats still lose. Their numbers aren’t pretty: 27% shooting, 61% FT, 22 TOs and, for a team that threatens 40 minutes of you-know-what on defense, they better learn to move their feet or those 29 fouls will become a season through line. Mechelle’s report on the carnage:

You know those dreams in which you keep doing something potentially harmful to yourself, but you just can’t stop?

For instance: You’re driving even though you can’t see the road. You’re walking into a dark corridor even though you suspect some sort of monster lurks there. You’re climbing out on a ledge even though you’re terrified of falling.

The whole time, part of your brain is thinking, “Wake up! Stop! I don’t want to do this!”

Eventually, you do wake up … or the dream shifts away to something else less dire. But if you were the Kentucky women’s basketball team on Tuesday, you were living out this scenario while wide awake.

Kentucky — which has been to the Elite Eight twice in the last three years, is ranked No. 6 and picked to win the mighty SEC this season — couldn’t do much of anything with defending national champion Baylor.

Guess we’ll have a better sense of the Bears’ road to the (Name the Women’s College Basketball Championship Trophy After My Hero, Pat Summitt) Trophy after Baylor and Stanford meet up in Honolulu.

Don’t look now, but d’em Penguins are 2-0. And so are the Zips. (I just like typing, “Zips.”) Sugar Bears (another favorite typing task) are 2-0, giving former Delta State coach Sandra Rushing a nice jump start at her new gig. Better start for coach Barefoot at ODU, too.

Maine is 0-3. Sigh.

That “squeak!” sound was BYU escaping Big Green, 58-57.

That other “squeak!” was #22 Oklahoma State escaping Missouri State, 74-71.

Well, this is interesting: Hartford, which stumbled badly last season, toppled Marist, 64-53.

Yes: Season-Long Women’s College Basketball Content across ESPN Platforms but, tweets Mel: Someone tell espn to get with the program on their scorecenter ipad aps. Says no games scheduled on women’s option for scores. Cranky I have to wait until Dec 7th for “The dynamic duo of Debbie Antonelli and Mowins to team up again for their weekly podcast.”

Lady Swish pulls out their Silent Majority Report:Dedicated to the belief that the term “mid-major” is an insult to the majority of Division I teams.

One of the more interesting, albeit hardly surprisingly, trends of the young season is watching how much more compelling games pitting teams from BCS conferences against their non-BCS counterparts tend to play out when staged somewhere other than the BCS school’s gym.

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except when they remind you that a D-I before your name doesn’t mean much. For instance:

Pepperdine played its lone exhibition contest of the 2012-13 season and dropped a 67-60 decision to 2012 NAIA National Quarterfinalist Westmont. (Westmont was actually the #1 seed, and got upset by some Chaps who were Ladies)

Kent State lost to Gannon University — ranked 15th in the DII preseason polls.

Having fun yet, new head coach Misti Cussen? Not so much, as Oral Roberts got hammered by DII Harding University. In their first exhibition game, the Lady Bisons got “shocked” by Wichita State.

Maggie Lucas from Penn State is blogging at ESPNw. So does Nerd City kid Chiney.

Candice Wiggins is writing at SlamOnline: Nike: The Goddess of Victory (It’s more than just a costume)

Mel has some Guru College Musings: Delaware and Delle Donne Still Making Their Own Histories

Delle Donne, however, is the first from a non-BCS conference to make the AP team since Amanda Wilson did likewise in 1998-99.

The AP preseason squad began in 1995-96, which is why you won’t see Nancy Lieberman, Lisa Leslie, Cheryl Miller, Ann Meyers-Drysdale, Lynette Woodard or Carol Blazejowski’s names on historical lists.

Technically, one could say Delle Donne is the first from a Mid-Major per se because back in 1998-99 no one was using BCS terminology, which is derived from the Bowl Championship Series in football.

The six power conferences usually monopolizing the BCS are Pac-12, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Atlantic Coast and Southeastern Conferences.

No one was using Mid-Major terminology, either.

From ESPN the Magazine: ‘Same heart, same pride, same fight’ – New Lady Vols head coach Holly Warlick leads pivotal transition

HOLLY WARLICK stands behind a large mahogany desk, her gray-blue eyes scanning the office in front of her. Autographed photos and lifetime achievement awards dot the walls around her; every imaginable kind of orange Tennessee memorabilia, from Lady Vols Russian nesting dolls to a Pat Summitt bobblehead, fill the massive bookcase at her back. “What am I supposed to do with all this?” Warlick asks to no one in particular. “It’s too big; it’s too empty. It’s just — it’s Pat’s.”

After 27 years as an assistant coach for the Lady Vols, Warlick always envisioned herself as the heir apparent to the legendary Summitt. Only it wasn’t supposed to happen this way. “I’d often joke I would be pushing her out of here to games in her wheelchair,” recalls the 54-year-old, her voice perma-hoarse from years of coaching. “Pat and I discussed it in this very room, and I was really, genuinely happy with that.” Instead, Summitt’s diagnosis of early-onset dementia in 2011 and subsequent retirement at the end of last season destroyed any dreams of a celebratory passing of the torch. Now, premature or not, the future of Tennessee women’s basketball rests squarely on Warlick’s shoulders.

Something to keep you focused during the NCAA season: From Nate: 2013 WNBA Draft: How do we identify prospects with the best chances for success in a ‘deep’ draft?

With James Bowman continuing his look at the top women’s college basketball programs this week, I’m going to start officially looking ahead to the 2013 WNBA Draft for the remainder of the week. We’ll begin today with a look at what NCAA Division I statistics suggest a player has the talent to make it as a pro, as we began to discuss previously.

Oh, and the NCAA approves tougher sanctions. Please excuse the side comments….

The NCAA is demanding everyone in *men’s high visibility* college sports play by the same book.

Those who deviate from it *if you can catch’em* and flout the rules *so that they can get the recruits that will keep their job and make the alumni happy* will soon be paying a steeper price. *of course, depending on how steep, the risk might still be worth it*

On Tuesday, the NCAA’s board of directors passed a package of sweeping changes that will hold coaches more accountable for rule-breaking offenses and threaten rogue programs *huh? Rogue suggests there are programs that currently flout the rules! I’m shocked? Are they scared?* with longer postseason bans and fines that could cost millions of dollars. *So, who hasn’t learned their lesson recently?*

Coaches *who are pissed off that they’ve seen “illegal” behavior but haven’t had the guts to actually make an official complaint* say it’s about time.

*I hear folks singing “Catch me if you can.”*

But critics worry this may be just another round of tough talk and little action.

“It sounds nice in theory but until I see a big-time coach like (John) Calipari or somebody get suspended for a year, I will not believe this will do anything,” said David Ridpath, an Ohio University professor and past president of the NCAA watchdog The Drake Group. “I think there a lot of loopholes in there when you start reading it.”

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’tweren’t easy last year, and it looks like it ain’t going to be easier this year. Amidst conflicting stories (Pat Summitt Says Tennessee Forced Her Out As Women’s Basketball Coach and Summitt says she wasn’t forced out at Tennessee), Holly tries to move forward (Lady Vols first official basketball practice up-tempo) and still honor the past: Pat Summitt at Lady Vols’ 1st practice.

Wonder if we’ll get a little Bobbitt-redux: Lady Vols juco transfer Jasmine Phillips out to prove she’s No. 1

Speaking of honoring the past: Statues unveiled of Pat Summitt, her UT Martin coach Nadine Gearin and former women’s AD Bettye Giles

’tis the season to be bronzed: Texas unveils statue to honor Hall of Fame women’s basketball coach Jody Conradt

Speaking of distractions: Auriemma seeks to dismiss security guard’s lawsuit

In Kentucky, Merlene is a bit cranky: Cal’s women’s clinic entertained fans, but didn’t help my hoops acumen

Then, the women watched a fashion show featuring the players in clothes bearing the UK logo. (I wonder: Do men who attend similar clinics get makeovers?)

On the West Coast, Cori Close and the Bruins try and build on last season: Women’s basketball holds first practice, stresses defense and discipline on the court

Interesting that this was “a first” for Oregon State: Women’s Basketball Hosts Successful Inaugural Tip-Off Dinner

Odd news at the high school level: Alston says he was fired over Chicken flap

Bishop Loughlin girls basketball coach Kasim Alston used the memory of Tayshana (Chicken) Murphy as the catalyst for the Lions’ run to a state Federation Class ‘A’ championship last March. Now, it seems that Alston’s request to have a one-day basketball event named in Murphy’s honor at the school was the cause for his dismissal on Sept.24.

better news: Basketball star Zabielski named to Ridgewood High School Hall of Fame

In the 1990’s, some of the best girls basketball in Bergen County was played, and Ridgewood High School was one of the premier programs of that era. Linda Zabielski was the player that set the bar and led the Ridgewood team that began what was a magical run for the Lady Maroons.

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Speaking of Tennessee

From Debbie’s Blog: My Favorite Pat Summitt off the court experiences:

With the announcement that Pat Summitt is stepping aside at Tennessee, media attention has been focused on her legacy as an icon in the game and in women’s sports.  Coach Summitt had a profound effect on many that have a role in the game. I’ve been broadcasting women’s basketball games on TV for 24 years and had the pleasure of covering Pat Summitt most of those years. I would like to share some stories about Pat that are examples about her lighter side.  It is fun to be an associate of Pat’s.  I have many behind the scenes stories but these are a few of the highlights for me:

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From Mechelle:

Debby Jennings, women’s hoops SID for 35 years at Tennessee, retires. Many longtime employees gone since Dave Hart took over as AD.

It’s reasonable to say that fans should keep an eye on the impact that merging athletic departments has on women’s athletics at Tennessee.

If Dave Hart and Tennessee athletics think people are not noticing what’s been transpiring there, they are wrong.

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it’s just work and a seriously annoying spring cold did their best to fell me. As if!

Did you catch this: Sports Illustrated’s Title IX Anniversary Issue Released; 12 Women’s Basketball Players On SI.com’s Top 40 List

Congrats and enjoy: Carroll’s Don Racine resigns as City League’s winningest girls hoops coach

Imagining that Don Racine would be the Bishop Carroll girls basketball coach for, well, ever never seemed too far-fetched.

Wednesday, though, Carroll announced Racine’s resignation after 33 seasons.

“I’ve enjoyed it. For me, it’s the best place for me to be coaching,” Racine said. “…All good things eventually come to an end. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Good, bad, indifferent. The kids are great, the administration, the families. I loved it all.”

Obviously lots of coaching shifts and, as a result, coaching openings happening.

Saint Louis hires former Badgers coach Lisa Stone. Some may wonder about this hire, but then they’re probably ignoring her pre-Wisconsin success. This might work out for both the Billikens and Stone.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff introduces Mississippi Valley State’s Kilbert as women’s basketball coach

UNCW tabs Adell Harris as women’s hoops coach

FAU hires Nebraska assistant as new women’s basketball coach

You stay put: New contract makes Kentucky’s Mitchell SEC’s highest-paid women’s basketball coach

An addition to the Jayhawks: Katie O’Connor Returns To Kansas Women’s Basketball Staff

An addition to the Vols: Warlick Names Law to Coaching Staff

Speaking of Tennessee: Warlick era under way in Knoxville – Coach influenced and motivated by dad’s love of sports

Tennessee coach Holly Warlick jokes that in her family, if you didn’t want to talk or participate in sports … you might have been tempted to try to find a new family. Her father, Bill, coached youth-league teams in basketball and baseball, and always encouraged her to play.

“Sports were just a part of our family; that’s what we discussed and what we did,” said Warlick, who officially took over as Tennessee’s coach in April after legendary coach Pat Summitt moved into an emeritus position. “If you didn’t enjoy sports, the conversation would have been … extremely limited. We were always on the go — practicing, walking to the ball field, walking back.”

An addition from Cal to Gonzaga: Lindsay Sherbert Added To Women’s Basketball Squad

Speaking of players: UNC is making some noise: Recruiting Coup – No. 3 Diamond DeShields is gem of North Carolina’s quartet of top 2013 recruits

A little conference championship hosting news: Albany selected to host America East men’s, women’s basketball championships. ‘ware the Danes!

Whoop-dee-do it’s almost basketball time again!

pilight does a little years later quarterbacking: Best Draft Picks Ever in the WNBA

Saturday Links: WNBA Preseason Begins Today With Three Games a

Check out The Michelle and Mechelle Show: WNBA Preview Advertisement

Eastern Michigan’s James is Enjoying Challenge Of Making Lynx Roster

Speaking of W hopefuls: Courtney Hurt & The Difficulty Of Making The WNBA As An ‘Undersized’ Power Forward

More from Minny: Whalen & Co. on Lynx ready to defend WNBA title

Czech out more on Whalen: One chapter in Whalen’s basketball career perhaps ending, another beginning

From Jayda, picked up by the Chicago Times: Storm’s Tina Thompson balances basketball, life as mom (I wonder if we’ll ever see the headline “LeBron James balances basketball, life as a dad?)

Out of Tulsa: Shock players see new energy at practice

Sun’s Jones chasing title, Olympic gold this year

Anticipating that trip to London, the Sun ponder impact of long Olympic break. Might I make a suggestion to the league (that they won’t listen to)? Make a big. friggin’. deal. about the Olympics. Having viewing parties. Get team members to attend. Hunt down former Olympians (and their coaches) to host. Raise money for target charities — how about the Special Olympics teams? Or the women’s paraolympic basketball team? Don’t let the W buzz die.

More Olympic stuff: USA Today’s looking at 100 Olympic hopefuls in 100 days: Diana Taurasi

The Senior National Team isn’t the only thing keeping USA Basketball busy: Top 2013 prospects set for USA trials – Mercedes Russell, Kaela Davis, Diamond DeShields to try out for U17 national team

and Four Gold Medalists Highlight 2012 USA Basketball Women’s U18 National Team Trials Roster

Sun’s Tina Charles shines her light in Africa

During the last week, contruction finished on a three-room school in the village of Ganale that will accomodate up to 150 elementary schoolchildren during the day and adult litaracy classes at night. Charles paid the entire $32,000 cost for the 2,860-square foot school.

Unfortunately, there’s a “Dabnabbit” to report: Shyra Ely tears ACL, will miss WNBA season

WATN: Vanessa Nygaard: Windward School Makes Coaching Changes

More WATN: Terrell Owens, Other Stars, To Attend Brittany Jackson Dinner Party In Ooltewah To Benefit Pat Summitt Foundation

By the way, Grandpa’s got game, too: Senior basketball is serious business – Basketball at the Bykota Senior Center in Towson is definitely old-school — including some players in their 80s

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A memory of Summitt’s No. 8

Note: Today, April 18, coach Pat Summitt moved into a new role at Tennessee – as head coach emeritus. She finishes with 1,098 victories, 18 trips to the NCAA Final Four, and eight NCAA titles. Here is a story I wrote for ESPN.com in 2008 after Summitt’s last championship game.

TAMPA, Fla. _ Remember the old “Schoolhouse Rock” tune?

“Figure eight as double four,
Figure four as half of eight,
If you skate, you would be great
If you could make a figure eight.”

Tennessee’s Pat Summitt has made a figure eight now as a basketball coach, but she’s never “skated” a day in her life. That got reinforced from her earliest consciousness, by parents she called “the hardest-working people I’ve ever known.”

The apple, as they say, didn’t fall far from the tree. Summitt – whose program now has eight NCAA titles after its 64-48 victory over Stanford on Tuesday _ is a long way from the farm girl who wondered if she’d ever measure up to her father’s unyielding standards.

Six of one for Team USA

I will say that at some point, folks really do need to trust that the committee/USA Basketball wants to do everything possible to win gold in London, and that that’s the bottom line for them. Not catering to Auriemma’s alumni party, as the critics will call it. Furthermore, Auriemma himself wants to do everything possible to win gold. He doesn’t want the United State’s Olympic winning streak – which dates back to the 1992 bronze-medal game in Barcelona – to end on his watch.

And while you could dub Team USA “Team UConn” for the Olympics, you could also name it the No. 1 Collection: seven of the players have been the top pick in the WNBA draft: Bird (’02), Taurasi (’04),  Seimone Augustus (’06), Parker (’08), Angel McCoughtry (’09), Charles (’10) and Moore (’11).

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Lots of coaching exits and entrances — so many the WBCA hasn’t been able to keep up.

Seems to me the Big 10 is pushing itself to be…. well, “big” and the Big East is wondering “wha’ happen?” Any chance Hartford’s Jen Rizzotti would consider a move down to Queens? Other questions are: who wants to move where and, more importantly, what kind of institutional support *cough* Providence *cough Georgetown * cough* is there?

Speaking of coach Kim: Leaving St. John’s ‘100 times harder’ than new Michigan women’s basketball coach Kim Barnes Arico imagined

The Statesman does a Q&A with new Horns coach Karen Aston

Do you understand the pressure of winning here?

I get the thing about expectations. I really do. But that’s not the reason I coach. I coach for the same reason Jody (Conradt) coached: I want to help the players get better. If for some reason I don’t do the job I’m expected to do — and I don’t think that will happen — it’s still my job to help young people grow.

It’ll be intriguing to follow Aston. Some Texas fans are concerned about the small pool of coaches contacted, not to mention that tapping back in to the Jody-pool feels like going backwards, not forward. And you might not be too impressed with Aston’s lack of “big time cred.” Of course, no one thought much of Kim (Adelphi?!?) when she stepped in at St. John’s, and looked what happened.

Swish Appeal does a little catching up: Barnes Arico & Other Coaching News

Some random stuff:

From the LA Times’ Ben Bolch: Violet Palmer is just another NBA official and that’s a good thing

In 1997, Palmer and Dee Kantner became the first female referees to work in a major U.S. professional sport. Palmer is still here and has been assigned to the playoffs six straight years.

She has become every bit as much a fixture in the playoffs as Kobe Bryant, Marv Albert’s signature “Yesss!” call and a first-round flameout by the Portland Trail Blazers.

From the AP’s Teresa Walker: Warlick’s UT challenge: meeting Summitt’s standard

Holly Warlick has her work cut out for her as Tennessee’s new women’s basketball coach.

She is replacing Pat Summitt, which has been compared to following Dean Smith at North Carolina, John Wooden at UCLA or Bear Bryant at Alabama.

Warlick, however, says she’s simply taking over a program she’s very familiar with for her close friend.

And just like Summitt, Warlick welcomes a challenge.

From Jason Whitlock at Fox Sports: Pat Summitt’s wild ride

From Sally Jenkins at WaPo: Pat Summitt is still much more able than disabled

Let me make something clear: Pat Summitt’s dignity is unassailable. And thus far, so is her basic good health and fundamental acuity. It’s fair to say that the stigma of the diagnosis has been harder on Summitt than the actual effects of the disease. Ask her if she feels sick, and she says sharply, “No.” What’s more difficult is being treated as if she is sick, as if she can no longer have a valuable purpose, as if it’s necessary to talk around her instead of to her, as if she doesn’t know her own mind.

“Everybody wants to know how I’m doing,” she says, “but they forget to ask me.”

From Mechelle: Summitt always larger than life

Now that a very, very different conclusion to Summitt’s coaching career has come, we can’t quite believe it. We don’t want to. Because among the many things that Summitt gave women’s basketball, one of the most cherished — at least by me — was unassailable legitimacy. The person who never big-timed anybody was undeniably big-time even in the most macho corners of the sports world.

When Summitt walked into a room of reporters, everyone sat up a little straighter. I loved watching that. Even the curmudgeons who thought they were above covering this sport had respect for her. She had a presence that everyone felt, almost like her own personal force field that protected her integrity and status at all times. The biggest critics in my business didn’t dismiss Summitt, nor did they even seem to want to. She was so much bigger than any of their prejudices.

From Erin Bolen at the Springfield News Leader: Summitt’s influence felt by local coaches

When Shelly Jones went to visit Kickapoo High School girls’ basketball coach Stephanie Phillips a few months before Phillips lost her battle with colon cancer, Phillips couldn’t wait to tell her what had happened that day.

“She said, ‘You won’t believe who I talked to today,’” said Jones, a former Drury University assistant who was recently named girls’ basketball coach at Marshfield. “I said, ‘Who?’ And she said ‘Pat Summitt.’”

From Dan Felser at the Knoxville News: Lady Vols thankful for easy transition

From Dave Fairbank at the Daily Press (VA): Women’s basketball recruiting a complicated, evolving issue

Geno Auriemma remembers when he could call recruits all the time or watch a prospect in person four or five days a week. Believe it or not, he misses those days.

Even with seven national championships, 800 wins and the visibility that accompanies his position as one of the giant figures in women’s basketball, the University of Connecticut and U.S. Olympic team coach thinks that shoe leather and extra miles and conversations over the phone and face-to-face remain the best avenues to properly evaluate and recruit players.

Auriemma is troubled by the shrinking evaluation and recruiting calendar in women’s basketball, even though he and other Bigfoot programs are the primary beneficiaries.

***

But Auriemma said that many wounds caused by the current system are self-inflicted.

“Every time a new rule is enacted, it’s because coaches voted on it and that’s the rule they want,” he said. “Coaches may complain that they want more days in July. But the reality is that when the surveys go out, the majority of the coaches vote for not adding any days in July because they don’t want to be out recruiting.

Some random thoughts on the above:

Recruiting, in light of the recent issues at Baylor, is a hot topic for many reasons. I’ve heard some argue that the NCAA should have no limits on contact between colleges, players & parents (and, of course, their AAU coaches, since high school coaches are marginalized more and more –it’s an ongoing tension). They argue that any player or parent or AAU/HS can say, “back off, enough.” I’m thinking that it’s a rare high school kid who would have the chutzpah to say “Mr. Auriemma? Ms. Mulkey? Ms. VanDeerver? Would you please stop contacting me and saying you want me to play for your school?”

Additionally, you’ve got to wonder how these rules and regulations impact every player BELOW the Top 50 DI.  Landing a Top 50 recruit is what’s newsworthy – and those ranking organizations are often linked to AAU programs that have an investment in saying, “my kid got recruited by *fillintheblank* university so your kid should play for my club if they want a fighting chance.” That’s not bad or good — that’s just a marketing reality. So those organizations have a vested interest in the Top 50 or 100 recruits. So who’s keeping up with the under-50s? With the DII and DIII student-athletes?

After the news of Baylor’s violations broke, Brad Wolverton at the Chronicle of Higher Ed asked: How Clean Is Women’s Hoops? Listen to the Players, referring to a 2010 NCAA survey that said “More than a third of the Division I players surveyed said they had been contacted too often during the recruiting process, and just 39 percent of players—the lowest percentage across all sports—said they “strongly agreed” that they could trust their coach.” *Dabnabbit! Another reason I may have to upgrade my ‘puter, the NCAA survey is in .doc-bloody-x so I can’t go back and review it.*

Since I can’t review the document, I can only wonder:

1) Did 2/3 of the players “feel” they were contacted too often, or were they actually “in violation” contacted to often. Either way, the follow up question is, “Did you say something to the coach and/or report them? If so, what was the reaction/response.” If not, why not? (Or, how about, do you and your parents and coaches know what the contact rules are?)

2) Trust. 39% “strongly agreed they could trust their coach.” What is the rest of the breakdown and what were the areas of “trust?”  For instance, “I trust that my coach will treat me fairly when it comes to playing time” is different than, “I trust that the coaches will abide by the NCAA regulations.”

This goes beyond the question of players actually knowing what the recruiting/practice rules are. It’s about power. The power to speak up, the power enjoy by being wanted, the power of promises and potential, the power of name recognition. And that leads to the power of the top 25. Because, face it, when people bemoan the “state of college sports,” they’re rarely talking about women’s basketball, and they’re surely not talking about fencing, or wrestling or cross country. They’re talking about men’s basketball and men’s football.

I know it’s all the rage but I’m not sure I’m interested in getting into a discussion about whether student-athletes (read: male, football/basketball) should or shouldn’t be forced to stay in college for their four years of eligibility (even though colleges work on a year-to-year scholarship system). If some brilliant scientist-sophomore-on-scholarship got offered a job by, say, Dow Chemicals, would you force them to complete their four years? Many of the players in the Top 25 (men’s football/basketball, itty bit of women’s basketball) are using college as their internship-interview for their professional life in sports (witness the Kentucky men’s team).  The college is a farm system the pros don’t have to fund. I guess it could be argued that how much “responsibility” a school should feel for the success or failure of an elite athlete (read: in football, men’s basketball) in their given profession should be measure the same way they measure the success of, say, their lawyers or doctors or teachers: did they get a job? were they prepared for the job? did they have the skills necessary to perform and excel in their job?

As for paying student athletes, whoa is that a slippery, swampy mess. Let’s not talk about the legal ramifications (Hello, congress!), or the not-Division I Top 25 BCS football/men’s basketball ramifications (remember Pennington’s series back in 2008: Expectations Lose to Reality of Sports Scholarships), or the “let’s really take a look at the cost effectiveness of college athletics across the board” discussion. I certainly haven’t heard anyone discuss the poverty level living status of non-athletic scholarship students, or the fact that partial scholarships in the “non-revenue” sports are still par for the course.

The NCAA keeps reminding us that “There are over 300,000 NCAA student-athletes, and most of them will go pro in something other than sports.” The reason those student-athletes are going pro in something other than sports is because it’s a limited profession that gets a disproportionate amount of attention of the public’s attention (and yes, I’m guilty — I’ve spent hundreds of hours writing and blogging about women’s basketball — a fraction of that on my own profession: education). But, as the situation at Kean shows (NCAA drops hammer on Kean University women’s basketball, warns athletic department of more penalties to come), lack of ethics crosses Divisions.

So what’s the answer? Hell if I know — but this is what happens to my brain on a rainy Sunday morning when the spring migration is slow…. honestly, this is a discussion best suited for a sports bar accompanied by wings and beer, but…

The un-realist in me wonders “should athletic ability be a reason for a scholarship?” Should we simply “track” elite high school athletes and separate them from general high school sports? Should BCS football and the Big Six basketball just admit what they are and become professional?

What I do know is that the term “college sports” is simply not specific enough. Right now, to the majority of the public and journalists, it means “men’s football and basketball of the top 25.” So, perhaps, all I can really ask is that writers to be more specific when they outline their concerns and complaints. And that, when the NCAA (as in, the athletic directors and coaches) looks to “fix” college sports, they dare to pay more attention to the majority of the 300,000.

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Courtesy of Lady Swish:

Summitt and Larry have been professional peers for decades, but Larry said they really became friends after the 1997 Final Four.

“The respect factor changed after that Final Four,” she said.

Larry’s Lady Monarchs fell to the Lady Vols in the NCAA title game that year; during the regular season ODU beat Tennessee — the first and only win for the Lady Monarchs over the Lady Vols under Larry.

Larry said she and Summitt would regularly dine after the teams played in the annual series. Still Larry made no secret over the years that orange wasn’t exactly a favorite color of hers. Nonetheless, that didn’t stop Larry from wearing orange and only orange to a ceremony in Knoxville honoring Summitt after she reached 1,000 coaching victories.

“I left all the tags on,” Larry said.

Beth and Debbie podcast on coach Summitt.

Doc Rivers: Pat Summitt Is ‘Responsible For Women’s Basketball’ (VIDEO)

Chamique Holdsclaw pays tribute to Tennessee coach Pat Summitt

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The nation’s highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom is “presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors,” according to White House.

“Pat’s gift has always been her ability to push those around her to new heights, and over the last 38 years, her unique approach has resulted in both unparalleled success on the court and unrivaled loyalty from those who know her and those whose lives she has touched,” Obama said. “Pat’s coaching career may be over, but I’m confident that her work is far from finished. I look forward to awarding her this honor.”

More:

USA Today: Pat Summitt officially passes the whistle to Holly Warlick

Elliot Almond, Boston Herald: Coach Pat Summitt’s legacy is everlasting

The story reminded me of my first interaction with Summitt at the 2008 Final Four in Tampa, Fla. After a news conference with national media, Longman and I corralled Summitt for a few extra minutes.

Summitt didn’t mind. Always the raconteur, she regaled us with stories as homespun as honey. While Summitt knew Longman well, she and I had never been introduced.

Yet when I asked her about playing Stanford for the national championship, she turned to me and said, “Well, Elliott, it’s going to be a tough one.”

So sharp-minded, Summitt had remembered my name from a question I posed during the news conference. As I recount that story, the impact of her disease hits hard.

Lynn Zinser, New York Times: Pat Summitt’s Signature: Success and Dignity

It was at once a moment expected and inevitable and yet one with no way to prepare. As Tennessee’s women’s basketball season marched on, it became clear Pat Summitt could not sustain her role as head coach much longer as she battled early onset Alzheimer’s and it became one long goodbye party, but one no one could acknowledge. And when the goodbye was finally uttered on Wednesday, with Summitt abdicating the throne she occupied for 38 years, the reality washed over everyone who is in some degree in her debt. And that would be everyone in the sport.

Jason Witten: Pat Summitt a legend

Coach Bechler blogs: Why Pat Summitt is the Best

1.  She Humbly Understands Her Importance–In meeting a new woman in the movie Anchorman, Ron Burgundy, proudly proclaims “I am what you call a big deal around here.  People know me!”  I have seen Coach Summitt on multiple occasions working intensely trying to run a camp or evaluate a prospect at an event when somebody approaches her for an autograph or picture.  Not only does she grant the request, she does it with a pep in her step, a smile, and a genuinely positive attitude.  She didn’t become the first millionaire women’s coach just because she won.  She was also worth that money because she is a brand.  She is a larger than life figure that provides hope and an example to thousands of people per year (plus she is not afraid to don a cheerleader outfit on occasion).

Dan Wolken, Fox: Summitt goes out the right way

“I feel really good about my decision,” Summitt told the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “I think it’s going to be a win-win situation for everybody.”

Including us.

Because for as much as we will miss Summitt’s presence in a sport she revolutionized, watching her decline would have been worse. Seeing her lose her independence, her competitiveness, her competence on the sidelines would have been worse. Questioning whether her disease was to blame if Tennessee lost a basketball game would have been worse.

Tennessean: Pat Summitt gives seat to Holly Warlick – Transitional year set stage for new roles and Pat Summitt, a true class act, did what was best for UT

GoVolsXtra: Mark Wiedmer: ‘Emeritus’ intent — respect, protect and Court Adjourned: Pat Summitt steps down after illustrious career and John Adams: Coaching trumped other opportunities for Pat Summitt

Pat Summitt Retirement Press Conference Transcript

AP: Summitt: It Was ‘Privilege’ To Coach At Tennessee

David Hyde Pierce: I see hope in Pat Summitt

Pierce’s father and his grandfather suffered from the disease. Pierce said no one knew anything about it when his father was diagnosed.

“We didn’t talk about it,” Pierce said. “There was a stigma. In many parts of this country there still is. When somebody like Pat steps forward, as she does in coaching the basketball, this is the opponent, we’re going to face them head on. That’s what families need to do. That’s what the country needs to do. I find that very encouraging.”

WaPo: Pat Summitt: A fan pays touching tribute to a legend

I’m nobody significant. I have almost no Twitter followers. I don’t blog. I’m just a guy raised by good parents who believed in and appreciated the good that people do. My Dad died when I was a kid and my Mom was never a basketball fan, but at some point in my life I learned about Pat Summit. I followed her on ESPN. I read the articles about her and her teams, and I’ve developed a long appreciation for what she has accomplished. I never hung her poster on my wall as a kid, but I was a fan. I am a fan. I have been blown away by the way she has built remarkable teams and helped produce even more remarkable women.

I’m going to be a father in 3 months. We’re having a girl. And like many parents, I’ve allowed myself to dream about my little girl one day becoming a great scholar, or athlete or contributor to society. But as I watch Coach Summit leave (and I completely understand why), I can’t help but think that all I really want is for my daughter to one day learn from a woman like her. A woman who won against odds, lost gracefully and made being great and being modest at the same time seem not only possible but reasonable.

I know Coach Summit will go on. This is not a eulogy. This is a thank you note. And a promise that even the young girls who grow up miles away from her legacy will always know her name, and more importantly, her story.

Good luck, Coach

A fan.

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Pat Summitt’s career remembered by C. Vivian Stringer and Anne Donovan

“For such a long time, Pat Summitt has been the gatekeeper for women’s basketball,” said Rutgers coach C.Vivian Stringer, a longtime friend of Summit’s. Her contributions to the game go far beyond the 1,098 victories and eight National Championships. It’s about impact she has had on every Lady Vol that has come through that program to the countless others across the globe whose lives she has touched – those are things that make Pat special. She represents a pillar of strength and a source of inspiration for all of us.

“This news saddens me because I have personally shared so many conversations with her as it relates to everything from basketball to family life. I feel like a piece of me has left the game and there is no bigger loss to women’s basketball. Although the world will miss seeing her on the sidelines, I know Pat will continue to be a rock for the Tennessee program in her new role.”

**

“Pat Summitt has been the most significant coach in the women’s game to date,” Donovan said today. “In addition to her unparalleled success in coaching, Pat’s legacy is now about her courage, strength and class in one of life’s biggest challenges. Our game is losing a legendary teacher, mentor and role model. Even though she may not be on the bench, Pat’s impact will continue to be felt in the thousands of women and men whose lives she has touched, mine included. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to play for and work under the best, Pat Summitt.”

From Gene Wojciechowski at ESPN: Tennessee’s Summitt changed game

You can make the argument — without apology or hesitation — that Pat Summitt is the greatest college basketball coach of our time. At the very least, she’s in the starting five.

And it’s not because she won more games than any other Division I coach from A (Geno Auriemma) to K (Mike Krzyzewski) to W (John Wooden). Or that she has the same number of national championships as Krzyzewski and Adolph Rupp combined. Or that in the 31 years there’s been an NCAA women’s basketball tournament, her team has been in it every year — and won eight times.

Greatness isn’t measured simply by victories. It is measured by the depth and width of a coach’s impact on the sport itself, on the players, on the university they represent. Find me another basketball coach who transformed and legitimized her sport more than Summitt. Find me another basketball coach whose legacy exceeds hers. I can wait.

Graham: Summitt is face of Title IX generation

Everything and nothing changed Wednesday in Knoxville, Tenn.

News that Pat Summitt is stepping aside as head coach at the University of Tennessee to accept the role of head coach emeritus, leaving control of the women’s basketball program to longtime assistant Holly Warlick, comes as little surprise precisely because it is the inverse of the shocking news that came almost a year ago, when Summitt informed the world she had been diagnosed with early-onset dementia. Nobody saw the former coming. Sadly, everybody saw this coming.

Dick Vitale: Pat Summitt leaves incredible legacy

I was sorry to hear that Pat Summitt was retiring as Tennessee women’s basketball head coach.

My friends, she was the best of the best in college basketball, men’s or women’s. In fact, she was one of the greatest coaches of any sport.

Check out the games on ESPN classic: ESPN’s Coverage Plans Surrounding Summitt

And for some needed smiles, check out the hair and clothes “through the ages.”

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Muffet:

“While I’m certainly sad to hear that Pat is stepping down as the head coach at the University of Tennessee, I think today is really a time to celebrate Pat’s amazing accomplishments and everything she has done to help bring the sport of women’s basketball to where it is today. The word ‘legend’ can sometimes be overused in sports, but in Pat’s case, that’s exactly what she is. Pat has set the bar so high for all of us, not only with the success her teams have enjoyed on the court, but the way she has carried herself off the court, with such class, dignity and grace. It’s a standard of excellence that likely will never be matched in our game, and I feel fortunate and honored to have had the opportunity to coach against her, and to learn from her during my career. All of us at Notre Dame wish for her good health and happiness in her new role as head coach emeritus at Tennessee. We know that the Lady Vol program will remain strong and vibrant with Holly Warlick as head coach, and we wish her much success.”

WBCA CEO Beth Bass:

“When you think of women’s basketball, you think of Pat Summitt. She is the first female coach whose name literally has become synonymous with her sport.

“Of course, we all know her record — the thousand victories, the eight national championships, and so on — but we’ll never be able to adequately put into words the contributions Pat has made to women’s basketball and, specifically, to the women’s basketball coaching profession. She is a mentor, role model and inspiration to so many. All coaches of girls’ and women’s basketball have her to thank in large part for the success our game now enjoys.

“Pat is a founding member of the WBCA. She was present in the meeting held during the Olympic Festival in Syracuse, N.Y., in 1981, to discuss the formation of a women’s basketball coaches association. She has been a member and tremendous supporter of the WBCA ever since. We will forever be indebted to her for what she has done through the years for this association.”

Jim Tooley, USA Basketball CEO/Executive Director:

Basketball in general, not just women’s basketball, owes so much to Pat Summitt. She is obviously one of basketball’s all-time greats. She has played a significant part on three different U.S. Olympic Teams, as a player, assistant coach and head coach, and she has taught so many young players about life through basketball. Coach Summitt’s legacy is seen every summer when USA Basketball fields teams for international basketball competitions. From the junior to the senior level, some of her current or former players are almost always listed on USA Basketball rosters. We will miss seeing her pacing the sidelines and wish her nothing but the best as she undertakes her new challenge as head coach emeritus.

Sherri:

Pat is one of those rare individuals whose influence crosses all boundary lines. Literally thousands of coaches in a vast array of sports abide by her tenets, passing them on as gospel to their players. Her name is synonymous with the sport of women’s basketball, and yet I believe it is her leadership style–her way of achieving, if you will, that will be her most dominant legacy.

On a personal level, I feel unbelievably blessed to have had the opportunity to compete against her. I, and an entire generation of women’s basketball coaches, will always be indebted to her for the culture of excellence she helped to create in our sport. It is on the foundation of relevance that her success helped carve that we and others like us have built our programs.

Geno:

Pat’s vision for the game of women’s basketball and her relentless drive pushed the game to a new level and made it possible for the rest of us to accomplish what we did,” Auriemma said in a statement. “In her new role, I’m sure she will continue to make significant impacts on the University of Tennessee and on the game of women’s basketball as a whole. 

“I am thrilled for Holly (Warlick) as this opportunity is well deserved and Pat will be a huge asset to her moving forward.” 

Mechelle: Changes are right decisions – Holly Warlick taking over for Pat Summitt is emotional but wise move

Tennessee can and does sell its eight NCAA titles and 18 NCAA Final Four appearances, its large and passionate fan base, its track record for producing Olympians and pro players. Ultimately, though, most recruiting deals are closed by the head coach, and now the recruits know exactly who that will be: Warlick.

She will have to personally and philosophically adjust to that. She is no longer the first lieutenant; she is the captain. She has to think that way. Her touching deference to Summitt this season was 100 percent genuine, but now she is the boss.

That is a change, even for someone who has prepped for the role as long as Warlick has. She can’t replicate Summitt’s personality or larger-than-life aura. Nobody can. There will never be another Pat Summitt.

But Warlick has her own life story of goals, of hardships — her father died when she was in high school, and she had to grow up quickly — and of dreams. Like Summitt, Warlick is a native of Tennessee, and her roots are sunk just as deeply into the state.

Dan Fleser: Pat Summitt steps down – Holly Warlick named Lady Vols head coach

Mike Sherman, Oklahoman: Rooting for Pat Summitt

The truth is sports editors do have a rooting interest.

Many of us root for the story, and early last month several of us in The Oklahoman sports department we were rooting for Pat Summitt to make one last trip to Oklahoma City.

It was the days leading up to the release of the women’s NCAA Tournament bracket, and some of us around the office were hoping Tennessee would be assigned to the Norman Regional. We wanted one more chance to write about Summitt’s impact on her sport, all of sports and American culture. I’m trying to think of a more important woman in the history of American sports, and I can’t.

Zac Ellis, Sports Illustrated: Summitt made basketball matter at football-crazed Tennessee

Liz Clarke, WaPo: Pat Summitt to step down: legendary Tennessee women’s basketball coach won 1,098 games, 8 NCAA titles

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Warlick named head coach

and Pat Summitt to become coach emeritus

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from Richard at Sports Illustrated: No team under more pressure to win gold in 2012 than U.S. women

Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer, who coached the U.S. to victory in 1996 at the Atlanta Games, said there was not a day she coached the national team where she did not feel the gold-or-bust pressure.”Everyone thinks we’re going to win the gold medal,” VanDerveer said. “When we met the president during that year, or met Supreme Court justices, they’re like, ‘Bring back the gold.’ I felt it [the pressure] every minute. There’s no doubt that we can beat any country four out of seven, but this is not that kind of tournament. It’s like the NCAA tournament.”

From Hoopfeed: USA Basketball’s Carol Callan on the Olympics, Jeanette Pohlen remembers Draft Day 2011<

Flashback: In '05 there was some muttering within the college ranks about who was being selected as USA Basketball coaches and how that might give them a recruiting advantage. From Coaching USA Basketball: A Road Paved With Gold? – April 2005

“We heard those stories way back,” said Wall, recalling in particular the reaction to the rapid elevation of one young person to a coaching position. “We moved Pat Head up very quickly because of the fact she was an outstanding player and, we all know now, had the making of a helluva fine coach.”

This is not to say these issues are not legitimate and worthy of discussion. But it is useful to put them in context of the very explicit mission of USA Basketball: To win gold medals.

To those within USAB, agendas that distract from that goal, especially the idea a coach coaching the younger teams might attempt to recruit those players, seem incomprehensible. Anne Donovan, who has been involved in USA Basketball since 1983, first as a player and most recently an assistant coach for the Gold medal winning team in Athens, seemed almost stunned at the possibility. “I understand and recognize why they’d be concerned but – and forgive me, but I’ve been so entrenched in USA Basketball for more than half my life – that organization is not run with that intent. You’ve got all these all-stars who want to play, all who have been starters, and now you’re the coach that doesn’t think they’re a starter? You’re going to make five friends – your five starters. And you better win a medal, because that also affects their career. USA Basketball program has been so much about gold and silver medals, that anything less than that is almost unacceptable.”

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Honestly, wowza.

There was a moment, as regulation time ended in the Notre Dame-UConn game, when the fans in the Pepsi Arena rose to their feet in appreciation of what they were seeing on the court. It was body against body, will against will, emotion against emotion. Everything we hope for when the best of the best go at each other. In the end, it came down to a block, a kick out and a three and Notre Dame earned a place in the finals.

Stanford and Baylor would have been hard pressed to match the drama of the first game, but it was weird to feel so little intensity from both teams. That being said, Stanford had a game plan that almost worked, making a Griner sandwich and daring the Baylor guards to score. Good results in the first half, not so much in the second as the unheralded #10 *all looking at their programs* Condrey drove Baylor to the title match.

Kim, over at Women’s Basketball Online has captured a lot of the coverage on her Daily News page.

Baylor: Baylor’s Griner changed game, maybe the sport
Baylor: Stanford slows Griner and Sims, but role player puts Baylor women on brink of history
Baylor: Lady Bears prove they’re not just ‘Brittney Griner Show’
Baylor: Griner, Baylor a win away from perfect
Baylor: Supporting cast lifts Brittney Griner, Baylor to title game
Baylor: Baylor rights itself in second half vs. Stanford
Baylor: Baylor knocks out Stanford to advance to NCAA final
Baylor: Baylor’s Brittney Griner a slam dunk as one of college game’s elite
Baylor,Notre Dame: VanDerveer: Don’t crown Baylor yet
Baylor,Notre Dame: Notre Dame-Baylor preview
Baylor,Notre Dame: NCAA women’s title game will be a rematch for Baylor, Notre Dame
UConn
: Irish Get The Last Word, Defeat UConn, 85-73
UConn: UConn Looks Beyond Loss To The Future
UConn: Huskies fall to Notre Dame in national semifinals
UConn,Notre Dame: Another Battle Fuels The Flames Of A Fierce Rivalry
Notre Dame: Diggins 1-on-1: “This is the reason why I came to Notre Dame”
Notre Dame: ND overcomes UConn to earn a chance at title game redemption
Notre Dame: Notre Dame Wins a Taut Game and Returns to the Final
Notre Dame: Notre Dame beats UConn in OT, again reaches title game
Notre Dame: McGraw, team bond is special
Notre Dame: Irish too stubborn to lose
Notre Dame: Irish show faith in Mom
Notre Dame: Some Mile High magic

Swish Appeals’ been busy as has HoopFeed with interviews and transcripts.

Lots of stuff over at ESPN as the site has really stepped up the coverage — that is, it’s not just Graham and Mechelle and Charlie doing everything.

I will say this about the Final Four: it’s not just about the games. In fact, in many ways, it has little to do with the four teams who are here. Yes, they are the “magnet,” but the Final Four is about celebrating women’s basketball as a whole. Denver is where you’re going to find incredibly knowledgeable fans of the game who can quote you chapter and verse about tournaments gone sitting side by side with newbies who will ask, “What does a one-and-one mean?” You’ll sit to the right of someone who played high school ball in the 1970s and in front of someone who played college ball at Dayton in the 1960s, both who all but demand that their husbands and wives and children come out to support the game.

You might strike up a conversation with an official and discover they’re a single parent who took a risk to join the profession. You might chat with the “known” coaches like Nell and Joanne and CViv and Pat, or you might encounter a coach at a small DII college who says coaching women’s basketball saved his life. You could share an elevator with announcer Brenda Van Lengen, watch an exhausted Rebecca Lobo willing herself upright in the lobby, or see Doris Burke go haring after someone in pursuit of game tape and a review of a particular call.

It’s all that.

And then, sometimes, it’s even more.

At half time of the Baylor-Stanford games, the USA Olympic coaches from 1976 to the present were honored. What a privilege it was to see women’s basketball history walk out onto the court, to see what unites those men and women into a unique, elite “members only club,” and to be able to hoot and holler to say “thank you” to each one of them. Especially to coach Summitt. Write Mechelle:

The last coach announced, of course, was the 1984 gold-medal winner Summitt, who brought the arena to a lengthy standing ovation. Summitt’s battle with early-onset dementia has been the most poignant storyline of this entire women’s basketball season.

“I’m just so glad that the women got involved in the Olympics,” Summitt said in a statement provided by USA Basketball. “It meant the world to me to know there was a place to play after we played basketball in college. We could travel. We could compete. I just made some of the best friends — ever.

“I really appreciated walking in here and seeing this. It was touching for all of us. No doubt about it.”

So, folks, submit your vacation days early, ’cause next year it’s New Orleans. Be there.

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80 degrees and clear, bright skies.

Took a walk to get my bearings. Saw a big blue bear, some interesting architecture, someone I’d struck up a conversation with during the Atlanta Final Four, and a strip club across from the courthouse. Hmmm…..

Some reading to keep you occupied before today’s games: From Mike DiMauro at The Day: Embrace heard round the world

Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walked into this one. This was Saturday afternoon at the Pepsi Center, site of a moment nobody saw coming that suddenly necessitated someone hit the cosmic pause button. So we could stop and appreciate, stop and think.

It was on a nondescript piece of real estate just off the court that Pat Summitt and Geno Auriemma shared a long, meaningful embrace. Fans watching practice day in the arena applauded. Cameras clicked. Folks scrambled for their phones to capture it.

It was a moment that provided us all … a moment. Two of the game’s Gatsbys, perpetual adversaries, making the past a duller ache with a touch of humanity.

By the way, yes, name the Final Four trophy in honor of Coach Summitt.

Nate’s got his 2012 NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four Preview: Baylor Vs. Stanford and his 2012 NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four Preview: Connecticut Vs. Notre Dame

Swish Appeal was also busy looking at Generation Next: WBCA All-Star Game Showcases A Few Future NCAA Stars Who Might Have An Immediate Impact

All-Star Games usually make a mockery out of legitimate basketball turning the game more into a sideshow pick-up game, but the last-second execution at the end of the first half showed the true abilities of the players in the WBCA All-Star Game.

By the way, yes, if I had won the multi-million lottery thingy, I would have become the official sponsor of the senior game — and the DII and DIII Players of the Year would be invited.

From Dan Fleser: Shelley Sexton Collier helps motivate Lady Vols

From Curt Rallo: Harbor’s Williams big for Bears

From Brent Shirley at the Star Telegram: Just making Final Four not enough for Baylor women

From Jon Henderson at the Denver Post: Stanford women’s basketball team wearing target on its back – After years as underdog, Stanford finds itself with target on its back

From Lindsay H. Jones at the Denver Post: UConn’s aura dims a bit without Maya Moore

Chris Elsberry at the CT Post has: UConn lives by its overwhelming defense

Lobo does some Notre Dame-UConn break down in On the Floor.

espnW is Sizing up Perfection: Baylor vs. perfect teams of the past

From the NYTimes’ Quad Blog: Familiar Rivals in Final Four and 40-0 in Sight, Baylor Turns Focus to Stanford and  Hayden and Madden Will Be in the Spotlight for Baylor

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I saw no fight. I saw feistiness, mouthiness and a profound lack of good sense.

Moving on to the important stuff: the Vols played the Bears tough but, honestly, if Sims is doin’ her thing like she was Baylor looks to be unbeatable. Writes Mechelle:

Some games are decided by heart and hustle being a little greater on one side than the other. But other games aren’t really about that at all. They’re about a team just being so talented, so efficient, and so down-to-business that the squad seems almost machine-like.

That’s how No. 1 seed Baylor looked Monday in a 77-58 NCAA tournament regional final win over second-seeded Tennessee. It was as if Kim Mulkey’s Lady Bears were a group of basketball “terminators,” relentlessly pursuing a victory with nothing able to stop them.

Mechelle adds: Amid uncertainty, honor the success – In August, Pat Summitt said she intended to coach three more seasons

We don’t know if we just saw the last game on the sidelines for Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt. We are unsure of how to write or talk about this — it has been that way the past few months — but now the 2011-12 Lady Vols have finished this season with their legendary mentor.

This particular journey ended with a 77-58 loss to top-seeded Baylor on Monday in the NCAA tournament’s Elite Eight in Iowa’s capital city, a place that has had a girls’ high school state basketball tournament that dates back all the way to 1925. And that somehow seems appropriate, as this felt like a historical game for many reasons.

From Jere’ at the Times: Sticking to Business as Others Celebrate Her Career (Wowza, that orange suit deserves to hang next to Sonja’s white mink!)

From Eric Adelson at Yahoo: Pat Summitt remains the ultimate winner even though her Lady Vols were eliminated by Baylor

If you ever met Pat Summitt, even for a moment, you know.

If she ever spoke a single word to you, it’s understood.

If you met her steely glance at any point in her unparalleled career, you get it.

Although it is immensely sad that Summitt, 59, may not coach another basketball game, it is as crystal clear as her icy blue stare that she does not need to walk onto a basketball court to continue as a coach for the rest of her life and beyond.

Because once Pat Summitt coaches you, you stay coached.

Duke couldn’t use their off-court brains to support their basketball IQ, and going away from their successful offensive plan spelled their doom. The other doom-bringer was spelled N.n.e.k.a. And yes, says Michelle, Stanford really is that good

What else does a team have to do to show that it is really, really good?

Stanford would like to think that Monday night’s 81-69 win over second-seeded Duke in the Fresno Regional final would have banished any lingering doubts about the Cardinal.

But the questions about whether Stanford has what it takes are only just beginning.

Post-game, the Nerd City Kid seemed beyond thrilled to go up against her USA Basketball teammate. “Seems everyone else has played her.” Yup, they have, and now it’s Stanford’s turn. Scott at the San Francisco Chronicle writes: Ogwumikes, Griner make Stanford-Baylor must-see

Women’s basketball not your cup of grog?

That’s fine. This will not be a screed against the haters, or ignorers.

I’m no missionary. I merely offer a suggestion that you put aside your prejudices and preferences so you can enjoy a classic.

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Summitt Retains Her Essence but Lets Go of the Reins

Inevitably, there have been awkward moments. Yet the Lady Vols (27-8) have reached an accustomed position, playing in a regional final here Monday against top-seeded Baylor (37-0), seeking a chance to play for a ninth national championship in what could be Summitt’s final season as the coach.

“No team has had to deal with something like this,” Alicia Manning, a senior guard, said. “I think at first, it was a little shaky. Everyone was trying to find their role without overstepping people’s boundaries. With anything, it takes time. They’ve developed a lot of chemistry. Things are rolling really well right now.”

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