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what might be…

Top 25 celebrates 20th anniversary as writers poll

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

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

AP Division I Poll

USA Today Coaches Division I Poll

…and what might have been.

From Tennessee: Lady Vols’ DeShields discusses transfer from UNC

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

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

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

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

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

From Iowa: Iowa State guard Nikki Moody suspended indefinitely

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That should suit her four-year players just fine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sue has been previewing the Pac 12:

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

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

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

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

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

A little WNBA stuff…

Out of Minnesota: Taylor Does Little Things Needed To Win

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

Until she was. 

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

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

Pierson used career crisis as springboard to success

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WNBA rallies around Lauren Hill

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

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

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

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

The game will be streamed:

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

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

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

Lauren Hill’s college basketball debut is here.

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

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

Lauren Hill fundraiser invites schools to donate basketball jerseys for auction

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

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

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

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They dumped some ice on me…..

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It’s basketball time!

TN/MD:

From the WaPo’s Gene Wagn: Terps see a ‘pretty even matchup’ with top-seeded Lady Vols

From the Diamondback: Women’s basketball looks forward to playing powerhouse Tennessee in Sweet 16

From the Baltimore Sun: After ‘limping’ to Sweet 16 in 2013, Terps women now healthy enough to charge ahead

The AP has: Lady Vols’ Simmons eyes elusive Final Four berth

Dan Fleser adds: Lady Vols hit the NCAA road as experienced travelers

While the Daily Beacon writes: ‘Battle-tested’ Lady Vols look to advance against Maryland

LSU/LOU:

From the AP: Seventh-seeded LSU faces No. 3 seed Louisville

Louisville knows that LSU will be a different team than the one it routed in November.

Not only do the seventh-seeded Tigers (21-12) enter Sunday’s regional semifinal confident following their second-round upset of No. 2 seed West Virginia, they’re unfazed by losing Jeanne Kenney and Raigyne Moncrief to injury in each of their NCAA tournament victories.

Louisville coach Jeff Walz quickly notes how LSU has overcome that adversity, an important fact he hopes his third-seeded Cardinals (32-4) remember because the Lady Tigers are hungry to prove they can play through their obstacles.

Times-Picayune: LSU women’s basketball draws on its past NCAA Tournament experience against Louisville

From the Monroe Star: LSU women limp to Louisville as we hear that a Concussion ends Jeanne Kenney’s career at LSU

From the Courier-Journal: Louisville coach Walz: Early win over LSU means nothing

Oh, and no surprise, a Big crowd is expected

PSU/STAN

From Walt Moody at the Centre Daily Times: Lady Lions take on Stanford in NCAA regional semifinal

To look at the numbers, the task would seem tall for the Penn State women’s — like Mount Everest tall.

Beating Stanford on its home court in the NCAA Tournament rarely happens.

The Pittsburg-Post Gazette’s Mark Dent writes: Familiar situation yet again for Penn State women

 

The AP’s Jane McCauley notes: Stanford’s VanDerveer offers tips to Penn State

For each of the past two summers, Penn State coach Coquese Washington has visited Tara VanDerveer at the Stanford coach’s New York home to talk basketball and, specifically, gather tips on the triangle offense.

“It’s almost like going to graduate school of coaching in six hours,” Washington said with a smile.

Rick Eymer from Palo Alto Online writes: Stanford, Penn State prepare for their Sweet 16 meeting

No surprise, Chiney is Excited to Be Back at Stanford

From Eliot Allmond: Stanford freshman Thompson hits the court running

A year ago, guard Lili Thompson was filling out NCAA brackets and watching games on television like many women’s basketball fans.

Sunday, Stanford is counting on the freshman when the second-seeded Cardinal (31-3) faces No. 3 Penn State in the Sweet 16 at Maples Pavilion.

“It’s kind of surreal,” Thompson said Saturday.

Elliot also notes, it’s a Bittersweet 16 for Stanford women: Ogwumike era winding down

With Ogwumike expected to follow her sister as a No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft next month, Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said, “Don’t worry about Chiney. Worry about us.”

Chiney, a 6-foot-4-inch forward with a personality as big as her game, will leave atop Stanford’s Mt. Rushmore of women’s basketball as the Pac-12 Conference’s career-scoring and -rebounding leader. With 2,673 points and 1,532 rebounds, and counting, she passed former Stanford stars Candice Wiggins and Kayla Pedersen in those categories, respectively.

Marcus Thompson II writes: 

For a program that’s been to five of the last six Final Fours, there’s a sense of urgency present among the Stanford women.

Star forward Chiney Ogwumike is closing her stellar career. And unlike in past years, the Cardinal doesn’t have a clear candidate to carry the torch for the storied program. The string of elite players Stanford has enjoyed looks to be on the brink of disruption.

So might Stanford’s tradition of dominance.

UNC/USC

Yup, Gamecocks Take on North Carolina Tar Heels in Sweet 16

Since UNC handed South Carolina its first loss early in the season, both teams have improved. The Gamecocks have gelled offensively after making an increased commitment to taking advantage of the athleticism in the post provided by Aleighsa Welch, Alaina Coates, and Elem Ibiam. The Tar Heels, like many young teams, have begun showing flashes of greatness late in the season, although the ugly first half against Tennessee-Martin suggests they still have streaks of bad basketball in them.

Tara’s not just mentoring Co. Writes Ann Killion at the SF Gate: VanDerveer passed on coaching’s golden rules to Staley

The Stanford women’s basketball team is back in the familiar comfort of Maples Pavilion. But one thing about this postseason isn’t so comfortable: The Cardinal are not the top seed in their own regional.

That distinction belongs to South Carolina, which has the first No. 1 seed in the history of its program. If the top two seeds meet in the regional final Tuesday night, it will be a matchup of old friends. Of mentor and protege.

Grace Raynor at the Daily Tar Heel: UNC women’s basketball team will face South Carolina in California

It hurts, North Carolina forward Xylina McDaniel said.

To see the emotion on her face, to feel the hurt in the undertones of her voice when she speaks, to know that after months of leukemia treatments and weeks in the hospital, Sylvia Hatchell is so close — yet still so far away.

With each day that passes, with each game that is played with Hatchell still sidelined, the only thing the North Carolina women’s basketball team has known to do is play in her honor. To hope — and to keep winning.

Speaking of coach, from Mike Potter at the Charlotte Observer: UNC women’s coach Sylvia Hatchell gives Tar Heels Final Four motivation

Ryan Wood says USC is ready for Payback against UNC

Michelle Smith writes: Carolinas are ready to battle it out

The Gamecocks now find themselves in a position to alter their own world in an impactful way, coming into the Stanford Regional as a No. 1 seed with a chance to earn a trip to the NCAA Final Four for the first time in school history.

So the question is, can the Gamecocks tap into their mantra of change on the court as well and defeat fourth-seeded North Carolina Sunday to advance to their first regional final?

And, yes, the Buzzing Tar Heels rely on DeShields in Sweet 16 round and USC knows Stopping UNC rookie DeShields a tough task

“You can take away something but then I’m pretty well-rounded,” DeShields said. “I feel like once you take one thing, I’ll just go do something else. If you put a short guard on me, a quick guard, then I’ll just go post up. If you put a long wing on me, and I’ll go by them.

“You know, certain players are just going to do what they do. You can only hope to contain them – and I’m blessed to have people say that about me.”

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Geaux Tigers. Courtesy of their comeback/upset win over #2 West Virginia, #7 LSU will face off against the Cardinals, ’cause #3 Louisville rolled over #6 Iowa. The Tigers will be without Raigyne Moncrief and Jeanne Kenney is day-to-day with a concussion.

#5 Texas gave #4 Maryland all they could handle, but the Terps escaped with a win. Newt up, it’s #1 Tennessee.

Unlike the ESPN/AP headline, #4 North Carolina didn’t “run away” with the win over #5 Michigan State. They DID managed to keep the Spartans at bay, so the Tar Heels will battle #1 South Carolina.

Speaking of North Carolina – An equally inaccurate ESPN/AP headline: South Carolina did not “overwhelm” Oregon State. The Gamecocks chipped out a 9-pt. lead at the half and held serve throughout the second.

Maggie and #3 Penn State got their groove on in the first half against #11 Florida, and then kept dancing in the second. Lions v. #2 Stanford, at Maples.

After a tight first half, #3 TAMU pulled away from #11 James Madison to earn a date with DePaul.

She’s baaaaaaaack – with only the third triple-double in UConn history, Kaleena Mosqueda Lewis and the #1 Huskies rolled over St. Joseph’s. Next on their dance card: #12 BYU.

Rounding out the 16, it will be #2 Baylor against #3 Kentucky and #1 Notre Dame against  #5 Oklahoma State.

Charlie offers up Five observations from Tuesday’s games

• 5. Burkholder goes out with a bang: James Madison’s season might be over after Tuesday’s 85-69 loss to Texas A&M, but it won’t be forgotten for a long time in Harrisonburg. The greatest memory of a school record-tying 29 wins and first NCAA tournament win since 1991 might be the play of senior Kirby Buckholder, especially her free-throw shooting.

The CAA Player of the Year kept getting to the line and kept connecting against both Gonzaga and A&M. After going 17-of-18 in the first round, Burkholder made all nine of her free throws on Tuesday. She was the 10th most accurate shooter from the charity stripe all season at 88.7 percent, which was nothing compared to her 96.2 percent performance in the NCAA tournament. The 6-foot guard averaged 24 points and 14 rebounds in JMU’s two games.

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made the Notre Dame v. Oregon State game mighty interesting. It was a four-point game with 2:21 left, and then the #2 Irish pulled away for the victory.

Despite the best game of sophomore Ruth Hamblin’s career (12 points, eight rebounds and nine blocks) and 18 points from Weisner, the Beavers’ quest for their first win over a ranked team since 2003 continues.

OSU has been close before: The Beavers took Cal down to the wire last season — the Bears would go on to play in the Final Four — and earlier this year led Penn State for long stretches before falling 61-56.

“I don’t know that I’m a believer in morale victories, but I’m a believer in progress and steps forward and learning lessons,” Rueck said. “I don’t know how you measure it, but we grew up a lot today.”

Less rusty and rust-free:

#25 Oklahoma over Samford by 25.

#23 Cal over Lafayette by 17.

#18 Nebraska over Oral Roberts by 36.

#15 Penn State over Hartford by 14.

#14 Iowa State over William & Mary by 20.

#12 Colorado over Southern Utah by 16.

#11 Oklahoma State over TX-Pan American by 42.

#8 Maryland over Charleston by 52.

#7 Louisville over SMU by 20.

#6 Kentucky over Grambling State by 63.

#5 Tennessee over Lipscomb by 68.

#1 Connecticut over Cincinnati by 33.

In other games, Indiana took down Xavier to stay undefeated.

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In this case, it’s women’s basketball players and blood clots:

Antonita Slaughter from Louisville.

Kyvin Goodin-Rogers from Kentucky.

Rebekah Dahlman from Vandy.

Other injury news: Washington freshman Chantel Osahor out indefinitely with stress fracture

Returning from injury news: Marist visits rivals with Casey Dulin set to debut

The last time Casey Dulin played in a game she scored 13 points to lead the Marist College women’s basketball team in its NCAA tournament opener in March.

Today, 266 days since that loss to Michigan State, the senior guard returns to action, making her 2013-14 debut against host Boston University after breaking her right foot in late October

Speaking of Marist: Marist hurdled obstacles to find success again

In transfer news: She moved in high school, and it looks like she’s moving in college: Breanna Hayden to leave Baylor.

Friday the 13th brought no bad luck for East Carolina, which made mincemeat of Alcorn State and kept their record unblemished.

San Diego resisted the WHB curse and moved to 10-0 with their win over Long Beach State.

In the battle of the W’s (Williams and Wetmore v. Wurtz and Whyte) it was Washington over Wisconsin.

Army played Ohio State tough, but the Buckeyes squeezed out a win.

The Ohio State women’s basketball team got a do-over with the clock ticking toward zero last night at Value City Arena and left smiling this time.

The Buckeyes, who lost to Gonzaga on a buzzer-beater on Sunday, rallied from a six-point deficit in the final 2:23 to reel in Army 59-56 in front of a crowd of 4,183.

Wow — tough to got through two overtimes and lose by 13. Welcome to UCF’s fate against the Owls of Florida Atlantic.

Mechelle adds her voice to the good wishes sent to the Frese family: Frese’s son wraps up chemotherapy- Tyler Thomas, 5, will get his blood checked regularly for the next year and a half

...the image you immediately see in your head when the Maryland women’s basketball coach is mentioned is her standing on the sideline, nodding, clapping and sending out good vibes to her players.

Likewise, with every public mention of her son, Tyler Thomas, and his battle with leukemia, Frese has been similarly upbeat. One can imagine that in private, she and husband Mark Thomas have shed tears and had their low points of fear and worry. There is no worse emotional pain than that felt by a parent or guardian of a sick/injured child.

But Frese has always talked about Tyler winning against the disease and about how he received terrific medical care at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg Children’s Center. You can surmise that 5-year-old Tyler both inherited and was inspired by his mom’s buoyant attitude.

Speaking of Mechelle’s voice, check her out as she (and Coach McCallie) talk Duke v. UConn with David at Dishin’ & Swishin’: Is #2 Duke ready for #1 UConn?

More on the upcoming game from John Altavilla: Coach McCallie On A Number Of UConn-Duke Topics

On the current condition of senior guard Chelsea Gray, who is back after a dislocated knee cap ended her junior season on Nov. 17, 2012:
“It’s been extraordinary; I have never been a part of that kind of story [recovering from knee dislocation]. She’s worked hard, preserved, put herself into position to be in tip-top shape. … We’re not there yet. It’s December, but we are at a good stage with her. I’m proud of her. It’s a hard injury.”

And: Jay Bilas Offers A Fresh Insight Into Duke-UConn and Gray And Jones A Potent Duke Guard Combination

Over at Mel’s blog, Mike Siroky toots the SEC horn: Kentucky Plays Another Masterpiece Game

The Southeastern Conference women’s college basketball teams retain their mastery of the rest of the world.

Those AP-ranked teams are now 47-3 (and there is another undefeated league team and two with one loss each, which makes the top nine 73-5).

Déjà vu all over again: For the second straight week, the biggest win was by the team we have dubbed the best in the league, the national Game Of The Season (so far).

From Lady Swish: JMU preps for St. John’s tourney

For JMU, the next five days are filled with opportunity and possibilities.

The Dukes (6-2) will play three games over this span, with two of them coming against resume-enhancing opponents. If successful, JMU can brand itself as not just a team good enough to make the NCAA Tournament, but one capable of making some noise once they get there. And trust us, perception is important when it comes to the NCAA selection committee.

Some players making an impact:

From Carl Adamec: UConn’s Chong reports for freshman duties

“Sometimes it’s hard being the only freshman. A lot of times I’m doing things on my own,” Chong said. “I’m the only freshman and I know they have their eyes on me. I have to give them my 100 percent every time and let them know I’m working hard.

“My roommate (Jade Strawberry) is a volleyball player so I didn’t always see her during her season. She’s out practicing or I’m out practicing so I have to do a lot of things on my own. I’ll go to class by myself. I’ll interact with other people on my own. But when things get tough I just ask the older girls on the team and they’ll help me.”

From Vicki L. Friedman and Paul White Shae Kelley doing it all for ODU

Through eight games, Shae Kelley leads Old Dominion in points, rebounds, steals, blocks, field goals made and attempted, free throws made and attempted, minutes played, yards after the catch, goals-against average….

OK, we made a couple of those up. But only a couple.

From Aggie Sports: Gilbert making an impact on and off court in her hometown

Gilbert does her student teaching in the area and enjoys when she is recognized for her on-the-court work, but she also takes great pride when fans recognize what she hopes to do in the classroom.

“It defines me as not only a basketball player, I’m also someone who desired to teach and help out younger kids and be a big part of the community,” she said.

From Mike Esse at Penn State Athletics:

Two words: patience and dedication. Put those two together and you get Lady Lion senior Talia East.

The 6-foot-3 forward from Philadelphia wasn’t seeing the playing time she wanted in her first two years due to injuries and veterans in front of her. In 2012-13, East began to show flashes of the player she could be and now in her final year in Happy Valley, she is a dominating force inside for the Lady Lions.

From Ken Sickenger at the Albuquerque Journal: Lobo women’s hoops: Alexa Chavez goes from walk-on to key performer

“Honestly, I told her what I tell all our walk-ons,” Sanchez said. “‘You probably won’t play much, you probably won’t travel, and your main job will be to work hard at practice and help the team get better.’”

Chavez was undeterred by the high-work, low-reward prospects.

“Alexa came in and just never stopped working and never stopped improving,” Sanchez said. “Now she’s in a position to help us win basketball games and she’s skilled enough to do it.”

So, where are you traveling to in 2015?

In W news: Use Of Instant Replay Headlines WNBA Rule Changes

In Arizona, the New Phoenix Mercury GM is Phoenix Suns exec

From the Daily Nebraskan: Former Husker basketball player Kelsey Griffin finds happiness playing abroad

Kelsey Griffin left Nebraska as a 2010 First-Team All-American, a three-time First-Team All-Big 12 selection, the 2010 Big 12 Player of the Year and the No. 3 player on Nebraska’s career scoring list with 2,033 points.

Yet somehow, when she entered the WNBA after being drafted as the No. 3 overall pick by the Minnesota Lynx and subsequently traded to the Connecticut Sun, she felt as if she was on her own.

Jim Massie writes about what we already know, but it’s always fun to read his work: Katie Smith returning to WNBA — as a coach

Next spring will find Katie Smith feeling a familiar itch that time finally has persuaded her to scratch in some other way.

Smith, the most-decorated player in Ohio State women’s basketball history, ended her long playing career at the end of the 2013 WNBA season. The 39-year-old returned to her home in Upper Arlington to finish her graduate work for a degree in dietetics and to serve as a grad assistant mentor to the current OSU women’s team.

Several basketball players on espnW’s “Impact 10

NO. 2 BRITTNEY GRINER

NO. 6 ELENA DELLE DONNE

NO. 7 MAYA MOORE

NO. 9 CANDACE PARKER

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Wisconsin hung with Gonzaga through the first, and then the Bulldogs ran away with the win.

Speakin’ of dogs, the Danes are still undefeated.

Wow – BU has not had a fun first year in the Patriot League.

Why don’t people listen when I say “‘Ware the Wabbits”? In the first half, the Lions got kicked but good by South Dakota State. Penn State then got their rabbit’s foot working and it looked like they were going to recover from a 20pt. deficit to escape with a win. But no, the Jackrabbits pull a huge win upset out of their hat.

Yes, I see you, undefeated Indiana — but Iowa looms on January 2nd.

Eastern Michigan goes up against Big Blue — and earns its first loss of the season, 89-75.

Graham puts the spotlight on some deserving teams and coaches: WCC offers some of nation’s best basketball

What college soccer fans have known for years looks increasingly a fact of life in basketball. Teams that treat the West Coast Conference as a little guy put themselves at risk of a big surprise. 

Gonzaga’s win at Wisconsin on Tuesday night finished a Midwestern sweep that began with a win at Ohio State and cemented the Bulldogs as the team atop the rankings. But this isn’t just about the WCC’s flagship program, the one with three Sweet 16 appearances and a regional final since coach Kelly Graves arrived. Four teams from the conference appear in this week’s rankings, teams with a combined 33-2 overall record and 9-1 record against major conferences this season. 

What used to be the six power conferences, including the old Big East, were the only leagues a season ago that ranked ahead of the WCC in RPI. Two seasons ago, the WCC ranked eighth among all conferences. That is in contrast to the previous decade, when the league finished better than 12th on just two occasions. Credit the arrival of a proven program like BYU with some of the improvement, but it’s also about growth from programs like Saint Mary’s and San Diego, which advanced to the semifinals of the WNIT two seasons ago, finished second in the league for the second season in a row last season and now finds a home in the mid-major rankings for the first time.

Let’s get this hype started: Duke v. UConn, December 17th.

John Altavilla – Duke-UConn: It’s More Than A Game and Another 1 vs. 2 Just A Week Away For UConn

Mechelle & Michelle: Top Teams Face Off

Ouch: Kentucky’s Stallworth sidelined after knee surgery

Good news: Maryland’s Frese celebrates son’s success in beating leukemia

So, just how happy are the Sun? 

Asked how he was doing after his Liberty ended up fourth in the WNBA draft lottery Tuesday, New York coach/general manager Bill Laimbeer joked, “Oh, I’m just destroyed and heartbroken.”

He was totally kidding, of course. Last year, with the “3 to See” lottery, coming in fourth left Mystics’ president/managing partner Sheila Johnson visibly stricken and disappointed.

But this year, while No. 1 is coveted as always — Connecticut has the top selection, followed by Tulsa, San Antonio, and New York — the talent available for the top four picks is not perceived to have a precipitous fall-off between selections.

Speaking of the W: Michael Cooper interview, Part II: The Atlanta Dream’s offseason, the 2014 WNBA Draft, and Pat Riley’s influence

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So, you’ve got to believe other teams are thinking “now’s the time” when it comes to beating UConn this year. Down two players, they also got their bigs in foul trouble — and yet the Terps couldn’t take advantage.

Let’s see how well Penn State fares.

George Washington surprised #10 Cal.

My fault: Iona beats Pacific.

Let’s see how this plays out across the rest of the season: St. Bonaventure defeated Green Bay, 68-62.

Nice early season win for St. Joseph’s over Wichita State.

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polls:

NCAA Division III: Cool to see Montclair State up in the top five.

NCAA Division II: Bentley and Barb Stevens = consistency.

NCAA Division I (Coaches): Not a lot of surprises, except maybe with that one vote….

As we wait:

From LSU: United States Marines help train team

From Wisconsin: New-look UWGB in same old No. 1 spot

It is the sixth straight season the Phoenix has been picked preseason favorite.

“I guess I didn’t expect that,” UWGB coach Kevin Borseth said. “We lost five seniors off the squad and four starters. … I don’t know.

From North Dakota: NDSU Women’s Basketball Preview

From Oklahoma: Guards Morgan Hook, Maddie Manning injured at intrasquad scrimmage

From Pennsylvania: Penn State women’s basketball: New faces shine in Lady Lions’ exhibition romp

From North Carolina: Duke women’s basketball opens season with Blue/White Scrimmage

From Full Court:

The sport is not going away any time soon, though at the same time it’s clear there are some fundamental issues that need to be thoughtfully considered. The powers that be in women’s basketball have taken the first step by recognizing that there are some problems, and commissioning the Ackerman Report. And last week the NCAA women’s basketball committee also approved taking some steps to solve them, though their compromises on the recommendations of the White Papers Summit are a bit of a mixed bag. Having top seeds host the first two rounds of the tournament, for example, is a virtual no-brainer that can only help improve attendance in the early rounds, while at the same time rewarding the best, rather than the richest, programs.

Get out your calendar and mark these downs: Women’s College Basketball On ESPN

Speaking of calendars: Women’s basketball committee suggests changes for tourney, moving Final Four to Friday-Sunday

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draftees have a better chance to surprise this year.

Mechelle says the WNBA draft hinges on the No. 4 pick

Last September when the WNBA draft lottery was held, Washington president/managing partner Sheila Johnson couldn’t hide the look of frozen horror when the Mystics got the No. 4 pick. Fourth was the “tough-luck” spot in a draft where there were perceived to be three prizes.

Washington’s woes were not Mike Thibault’s worry that day. He was still coach of Connecticut and focused on the playoffs. But almost seven months later, the No. 4 pick doesn’t look as bleak as it did last fall, and now it’s Thibault’s choice to make.

Remember when Swish Appeal set up their 13 to Watch? Now Nate offers up A preliminary draft board for the 2013 WNBA Draft

Last year, I posted an essay about the evaluation of draft prospects in terms of minimizing risk, drawing from principles outlined in the widely-read book Moneyball. Since then, I’ve set out to see if there are tangible ways to weigh a prospect’s value by their level of risk relative to past prospects based upon a set of red flags and similarity ratings. The following is a partial draft board based what I’ve been able to put together.

From the Des Moines Register: Iowa State’s Prins, Poppens bullish on WNBA teams’ interest

From the Daily Princetonian: Rasheed looks to go pro after Princeton

From the Bleacher Report: WNBA Draft Order 2013: Teams in Best Position to Acquire Elite Talent

Here’s the espnW’s first-round mock draft

Full Court offers up their WNBA 2013 draft preview: One, two, three, and then…

Some interesting dribs and drabs on the college season:

From Zach Neiner at Penn State: Breaking the stigma of women’s basketball

In December 2011, I sat in the Ernie Davis dining hall at Syracuse University with a friend watching, for a moment, Syracuse battle West Virginia in an empty Carrier Dome.

We made jokes about the game, itself, and attendance. Before this school year, I carried the same stigma as most do toward women’s basketball.

“Women’s basketball?” we thought. “What’s that? It’s certainly no men’s basketball.”

A lot has changed since that day.

For more than six months, I have covered women’s basketball, quickly learning to admire the beauty, the athleticism and the competition of the game. And how can one not?

From Fort Myers: FGCU ready to move on after disappointing end to season

Sharing the same facilities every day at a small school, the Florida Gulf Coast Universitymen’s and women’s basketball teams also share a close bond.

So it’s not that the women weren’t happy when the men, whom they consider brothers, made a historic run in the NCAA tournament last month. It’s just that seeing the program achieve unprecedented success was bittersweet after the women’s own promising season ended in disappointment.

From the AP’s Gary Graves: Louisville expects to grow from title-game loss

Add Lee Michaelson: For Louisville, season may be over but the magic lives on

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…’cause Temple stunned Charlotte, 48-47. The Owls (14-17), are in the semi’s of the A10 and will face Fordham (and Marah Strickland.). Let’s say that again: Fordham is in the semis. It’s time for a review of McManus’ piece on Fordham coach Gaitley

 It’s been a long time since Fordham had a women’s basketball team to be proud of. Anne O’Connell remembers. She was on the school’s last team that really stood out, reaching the postseason all four years when she played as Anne Gregory. She was grabbing her 2,000th career rebound in her final game when she fouled out on an over-the-back call. She made the AIAW record books with 1,999, and waited for the wins to return to Rose Hill gymnasium again.

It was a long wait.

“They’ve honored my team enough,” said O’Connell, who graduated in 1980. “And I love what they’ve done for our team over the years, but they need a new team to honor.”

On the other side of their bracket, Dayton will face off against St. Joe’s who, equal records aside, easily dispatched Duquesne.

In the Big South, the finals feature Liberty, of course, against upstart Longwood.

Longwood women’s basketball coach Bill Reinson quipped that because his team hasn’t won many games the last few years, his players have grown comfortable playing from behind.

And sure enough, when Radford rallied to take a lead late in the teams’ Big South tournament semifinals clash Saturday,the Lancers kept their composure and reclaimed control of the game down the stretch for a 54-51 win inside The HTC Center.

The top four seeds are through to the semi’s in the Southern: Chattanooga v. Appalachian State and Davidson v. Elon.

Ping-ity-ping ping: Tennessee Tech is feeling like they might be on the outside, especially since Tennessee Martin did it againthis time in OT.

It was going to end.

Trailing by a point with 10 seconds left in the OVC championship game, the UT Martin women’s basketball team was fouling desperately. Control of the game had slipped and was fading fast.

Only it didn’t end. Tennessee Tech made its first free throw but missed the second, and the one thing opponents cannot give these Skyhawks is an extra opportunity.

The Sky Hawks gets the OVC’s automatic bid with their 87-80 win, and Tech will have to wait the Committee’s decision.

More pinging: Top-seed Florida Gulf Coast raced to an impressive lead over Stetson behind a career game by Joyce Iamstrong ( pts). But, defense, timely & gusty offense, and closing the game on an 11-2 run added up to the Hatters stunning the Eagles. Great job by coach Lynn Bria, who led her team to a program record 24 wins this season.

Stetson fully embraced the underdog role in ruining FGCU’s bid at a repeat NCAA tournament appearance. The Hatters knew everyone picked them to lose their sixth straight to FGCU, but that only fueled them more.

“I remember telling (teammate Victoria McGowan) after the second time we lost to them (this season) that maybe it’s a sign,” Stetson senior Shanasa Sanders said. “We were saving our best for last. The third time’s the charm. We stuck together today and got the win.”

That’s the fourth straight trip to the dance for Princeton. Will another New Jersey team come knocking on Banghart’s door?

Dynasty.

There’s just no other way to put it.

Turning it on in the second half, the Princeton University women’s basketball team won its fourth consecutive Ivy League championship tonight, turning back Brown
80-51.

The title was its 11th and fifth in the past eight seasons.

And more pinging: Purdue, via Mingo, shut down Hooper and the #21 Huskers. The Boilermakers are in the Big 10 finals and face Michigan State, who stifled, and then stunned, #8 Penn State, 54-46. Writes Graham: Both teams have a will and a way

Letters of welcome from schoolchildren line the hallway outside the locker rooms at the Sears Centre Arena, each Big Ten team in town for the conference tournament allotted a dozen or so such missives.

One letter to Purdue offered these words of encouragement.

“I really hope you win,” the handwritten message began. “Even if you don’t win, at least you know you tried. You’ll probably win if you try.”

Score one for the optimism of innocents.

Check out how this impacts the Bracketology.

Western Kentucky comes back from a 12pt deficit and has moved in to the semis of the Sun Belt. They are joined by FIU, AR-Little Rock and MTSU.

Gonzaga rolled over BYU, and now will face San Diego in the WCC finals. Their victory over St. Mary’s gave Toreros coach Cindy Fisher her 200th win.

Lucky Iona — the prize for taking down Sienna: they move into the MAAC finals and face Marist. The last time these two teams met, the Red Foxes won by 23.

In the SEC, writes Mechelle:  Texas A&M knocks off top seed – Aggies’ defense and rebounding spoil Spani’s career day, ends Lady Vols’ run

Tennessee had the No. 1 seed, acquired with gutsy play throughout its injury-plagued SEC season. They Lady Vols had the crowd support, with their contingent of orange-clad fans dwarfing the maroon group for Texas A&M. And they had Taber Spani having a career game, as she was trying to help Tennessee continue on the path to a fourth consecutive SEC tournament title.

What Tennessee didn’t have enough of, though, were two things that have long been a staple of the Orange Crush: defense and rebounding. The deficit in those areas cost the Lady Vols a chance at another title.

Nice photos from Kelly at Full Court. She also adds “SEC’s fresh faces raise the bar on defense (part 2)” which, somewhat prescient, has Graves (29 minutes, 4pts) and Walker (40 minutes, 18pts) at the top.

The first half of the Georigia-Kentucky game was beyond ugly. It got no better for the Bulldogs, but improved a tad for the Wildcats, so they’re in the SEC finals.

For the first time since 2003, the champion of the SEC women’s basketball tournament will come from someplace other than the state of Tennessee. And it took Gary Blair’s second win over Tennessee in his long career as a head coach to ensure it.

The fourth-seeded Aggies started Saturday’s semifinals with a 66-62 victory over No. 1 seed Tennessee. Then second-seeded Kentucky beat No. 3 seed Georgia 60-38. That sets up a championship matchup Sunday (ESPN2/WatchESPN, 6 p.m. ET) between a program that hasn’t won this title since 1982 — Kentucky beat Tennessee that year in the final — and one that has never been SEC tourney champ.

In the ACC, Thomas couldn’t save the Terps from losing a 14pt lead. And, writes Fagan, UNC’s Latifah Coleman answers the call

When North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell sent backup guard Latifah Coleman to the scorer’s table with 6 minutes, 16 seconds left in Saturday’s game against Maryland, she did so with one bit of advice: “Be a leader.”

The 5-foot-9 sophomore entered the ACC tournament semifinal with a season average of 3.4 points per game. She had played only a couple of minutes in Friday’s quarterfinal win over Boston College. And in the first half on Saturday, Coleman had gone 0 for 1 from the floor with two turnovers in just seven minutes. So it’s not unreasonable to think that when Hatchell told Coleman to “be a leader” and sent the young guard into the biggest game of her life, the coach was hoping only for a few minutes of mistake-free ball — and maybe some really good defense.

Duke got by Florida State, so it will be a dark blue/light blue tussle for the Championship.

So much for Pac-12 prognosticators. #14 UCLA raced to a early lead, and #8 Cal never had a chance to get back in the game: Bruins over Bears. Writes Michelle:

No one has been a bigger cheerleader for the power of the Pac-12 Conference this season than UCLA coach Cori Close.

She has preached the gospel wherever she has gone, talked up her conference mates in front of plenty of microphones and cajoled people to see the world the way that she does.

But sometimes words aren’t quite enough. So on Saturday night in KeyArena, the Bruins took action.

Stanford’s win over Colorado was no cakewalk, neither.

“It had the intensity of a (NCAA) tournament game,” Chiney Ogwumike said after her 25-point, 19-rebound performance. But she sank just 9-of-24 field goal attempts.

Seems they’re enjoying playing in Seattle:

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott is in the Emerald City this week, observing the new setting for his postseason women’s basketball tournament. He likes what he sees.

“This is certainly a big step forward,” Scott said.

After a dismal few years in Los Angeles, where tournament attendance lagged from its previous home in San Jose, Calif., things are picking up.

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(or the heavy favorite).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally: Ohio got its first MAC win.

Ouch: Pittsburgh is still winless in the Big East.

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

Some team news:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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before the second half of last night’s game, you might have heard this.

That was the sound of Indy girl Kelly Faris revving up to take over the game.

Consider what Rebecca Lobo wrote in her preview piece, Duke ready for big stage:

Chelsea Gray

I haven’t seen a better passer in the open floor than Duke’s Chelsea Gray. The junior point guard has superb vision and strength to make passes that others cannot. She already has more than 100 assists on the season, and many have come from no-look and highlight-reel passes. She has tallied two triple-doubles already this season and a 15-assist game (versus Clemson). If you haven’t seen her play, it’s worth tuning in to this game just to check out Gray.

Now consider what Graham wrote after witnessing Ms. Gray’s encounter with Ms. Faris: Faris delivers ‘one for the ages’: Huskies win with decisive second half, hand Duke its first loss of season

Faris finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals. Duke point guard Chelsea Gray — who spent a good portion of the night the subject of closer attention from Faris than President Obama received from his Secret Service detail during the day’s inauguration events in Washington, D.C. — finished with two points on six shots, four turnovers and a look of incalculable frustration.

Indeed, the numbers didn’t tell the whole story. They never do with Faris.

The interesting game we saw unfold in the first half turned into a Faris clinic on defense, offense and intensity. The end result? A two-point game turned into a 30-point blowout.

Mel was there to witness (ONE “s” Mel, ONE “s”): Faris solidifies star status as No. 3 Huskies rout No. 4 Blue Devils

“There have been a lot of great players and legends play in this building wearing the Connecticut uniform,” continued Auriemma, whose seven NCAA titles is just one short of Tennessee coach emeritus Pat Summitt’s collection. “But I don’t know if anyone has ever represented themselves, their family, and the University of Connecticut the way Kelly did tonight.

“I know there’s a lot of players out there that are really good … there’s a lot of All-Americans but man oh man, that was one for the ages right there.”

From Clay, we get: Duke takes another dive against UConn

In an epic second-half collapse, previously unbeaten No. 4 Duke unraveled like a cheap shirt, leaving nothing behind but shattered egos and yet another hammering at the hands of the unforgiving Huskies.

Of course, UConn is No. 3 for a reason – well, actually many reasons, but one of them is depth. In this game, for example, the Husky bench outscored the Duke bench 23-9; and two of the Blue Devil starters combined for four points.

Rob chimes in from DWHoops with a Nutshell and Analysis.

Areas For Improvement: Above all else, communication. A season’s worth of being slow to close on shooters, blocking out smaller teams and relying on talent instead of teamwork came back to haunt Duke in this game. They were thoroughly outplayed and outcoached, as UConn made a number of adjustments going into the second half while Duke basically kept doing the same thing. Coach McCallie was never able to find a way to stop the bleeding during the run and get her team’s attention.

In Michigan, the Wolverines were game, but the Lions were gamer. Penn State wins, 59-49.

“It was a quality team and they just wore us out,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “I guess that’s why they’re probably No. 8 and we’re probably No. 23 at this point because they had four more minutes than we did.”

Nice to see I didn’t manage to jinx Texas Southern — they easily handled Mississippi Valley State 58-47.

Stetson (school-record 11th consecutive victory) and FGCU were equally immune to the WHB jinx. (You can watch the Hatters/Eagles showdown at 7:05 Saturday, televised by Comcast Sports Southeast)  Ditto with Quinnipiac, which stifled St. Francis (PA) in the first half and then secured a 85-69 victory.

Obviously, by not mentioning them, I assured the Wichita State a 70-51 victory over Drake. The Shockers are now 5-0 in the MVC.

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and disgust as they read the Freeh reports on Penn State and the Sandusky incident. There’s plenty of outrage and horror to be found on the front page of newspapers, in the sports pages and from talking heads on cable sports shows. And justifiably so, especially when perusing the paucity of moral and ethical standards displayed within the University. Consider the opening paragraph from the New York Times’ piece:

Behind the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal at Penn State lay a series of failures all the way up the university’s chain of command — shortcomings that were the result of an insular and complacent culture in which football was revered, rules were not applied and the balance of power was dangerously out of whack.

In an investigation lasting more than seven months, Louis J. Freeh, a former director of the F.B.I., found a legendary football coach bending his supposed bosses to his will, a university staff that was mostly unaware of its legal duties to report violence and sexual abuse, and a university president who hid problems from the board of trustees and was guided by a fear of bad publicity.

The trustees, who hired Mr. Freeh to explore the university’s failings, fare little better in Mr. Freeh’s formal report on his investigation: they are portrayed as passive overseers, so in thrall to the president and the coach that they failed to demand even the barest displays of accountability.

But there are some, me included, who, when the news first broke, shook there heads in a sad, unsurprised way. First, on a smaller scale, this is the University that hosted and coddled and protected Rene Portland, a known, active homophobe. Those close to the program understood that Joe Paterno’s support was one of the reasons Portland could spew her vitriol and humiliate and scar young women. So, are we surprised the Paterno’s Penn State would put football above the lives of young children? No.

On a larger scale, the calls for change and reform touch my pessimistic, nay, cynical side. Why? Hear any echoes from the past in this section from Seattle Times’ Coaches Who Prey series, the section “Misconduct often goes unpunished by districts“?

When a friend told coach Stu Gorski in 1995 that Mount Adams School District had hired “a phenomenal wrestling coach,” Gorski froze.

“Tell me you didn’t hire Randy Deming,” he pleaded.

The district had.

Gorski, a football and golf coach in Whatcom County, knew Deming for years as a rival coach at nearby Blaine High School. Gorski also knew of Deming’s reputation as a groper of girls who had even been charged with child molestation.

When Gorski learned Deming would also be teaching girls, he warned: “You’re putting him back into the fire.”

But the Mount Adams district, in Yakima County, seemed less interested in court records and more in Deming’s wrestling record. As one of the most successful coaches in the state, he had a résumé that seemed to shield him from two decades of sexual-misconduct complaints.

Gorski had tried to warn people about Deming, the 1990 Class A Washington state coach of the year. “I even wrote a letter to the Mount Adams School Board,” said Gorski, “but never got a reply.”

More echoes: From an editorial in 2004 at the Seattle Times:

A Yakima middle school-teacher and soccer coach accused of sexually harassing students made a severance deal with his school district this year to suppress information about his disreputable history.

As a recent Seattle Times series uncovered, what looks like a decent deal for the accused teacher and the East Valley School District is a bum deal for kids.

Such deals are not uncommon. Fortunately, they’ll soon be history thanks to a tough new package of state laws.

Flash forward to this week’s NY Times: Paterno Won Sweeter Deal Even as Scandal Played Out

In January 2011, Joe Paterno learned prosecutors were investigating his longtime assistant coach Jerry Sandusky for sexually assaulting young boys. Soon, Mr. Paterno had testified before a grand jury, and the rough outlines of what would become a giant scandal had been published in a local newspaper.

That same month, Mr. Paterno, the football coach at Penn State, began negotiating with his superiors to amend his contract, with the timing something of a surprise because the contract was not set to expire until the end of 2012, according to university documents and people with knowledge of the discussions. By August, Mr. Paterno and the university’s president, both of whom were by then embroiled in the Sandusky investigation, had reached an agreement.

Mr. Paterno was to be paid $3 million at the end of the 2011 season if he agreed it would be his last. Interest-free loans totaling $350,000 that the university had made to Mr. Paterno over the years would be forgiven as part of the retirement package. He would also have the use of the university’s private plane and a luxury box at Beaver Stadium for him and his family to use over the next 25 years.

In their editorial yesterday, the Times says:

Penn State’s leaders bear most of the blame for giving the university’s imprimatur to the body-and-soul-damaging abuse that Mr. Sandusky committed. But the report shows that the entire university system — the police, the trustees, the athletic department — failed at just about every level. As the assaults were taking place in 2001, for example, Penn State was out of compliance with the federal Clery Act of 1990, which requires the college to compile and report crime statistics related to specific offenses, including sexual offenses. The university’s Clery Act policy was still in draft form in 2011 and had never been implemented.

The Freeh report lays out more than 100 recommendations for what the university needs to do to prevent anything like this from happening again — essentially requiring the university to rebuild its leadership system from the ground up. There should also be substantial penalties imposed under the Clery Act and state law. Laws without consequence are not laws at all.

Laws are only as strong as those who are supposed to abide by or enforce them. Or, as is so often the case, those who are brave enough to speak up when laws are being violated. It took an enormous amount of courage for the young men abused by Sandusky not only to speak up, but to testify. It took an enormous amount of courage for Jen Harris to speak up. They are, for many reasons, the exception, not the rule simply because power is, well, powerful. Standing up to emotional and physical bullies needs internal courage and external allies.

In the Penn State case, the bully is college football. How optimistic are you that college presidents, alumni groups, athletic directors, fans and newspapers are going to stand up to big time college football longtime?

Yah, that’s what I thought.

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some speed reading:

From the DC Basket Cases: The Raleigh Natty Regional

Whether you’ll be catching all the action in person at the RBC Center PNC Arena on Sunday, or at home (or at a sports bar) glued to your TV . . . if you aren’t excited about tomorrow’s games in Raleigh, the BCs respectfully suggest that you check your pulse.

Nate’s got some 2012 NCAA Women’s Sweet 16 Predictions: Kingston Bracket

Rebecca’s Breaking down Raleigh’s Sweet 16

Fagans says the Terps relaxed, ready for Aggiesand the AP says the Aggies have to keep Terps off the boards in NCAAs

If they do, Viv says Gary is threatening to dance again.

Graham has a couple: Taelor Karr finds home in Spokane – K-State transfer rediscovered love for basketball at Gonzaga and PSU’s Maggie Lucas diversifies game

Curt takes note: Notre Dame women’s basketball: Irish on way to free throw shooting mark and warns the Irish better beware of the Bonnies

St. Bonaventure knows they’re about to Take On a Women’s Basketball Titan and the Buffalo News’ Amy Moran thinks Irish talent can trump Bona defense

Al Lesar says Time, players have softened McGraw’s approach

The fans offer encouraging sendoff to Gonzaga women‎ but they are losing home-court advantage in regional‎.

Meanwhile, UK Hoops tries to put Gonzaga in the forefront, avoid side stories‎ as they feed off those other Cats.

In Kingston, Jim Fuller says the Huskies, Penn State are ready to run as the Lady Lions hope to continue charmed season against No. 1 seed Connecticut.  Bentley says “I don’t think they’ve played against a real, true scoring team.” and Faris says, “I think any player would take that as a challenge,’’

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“Big Red.”

Meanwhile, when McNeese State, UConn, St. John’s and others are Preparing to face a Shot Swatter, they use other props.

From the Times: St. John’s No Longer Has to Dream of California

Da’Shena Stevens, a Connecticut snowbird, gazed lovingly at a long row of palm trees in front of the Save Mart Center here. Shenneika Smith, a daughter of Brooklyn, adored the sunny skies over her head and the lack of earthquakes going on under her feet.

As for Kim Barnes Arico, their coach at St. John’s, she put down the game film, made for the nearest In-N-Out burger joint and wolfed down a cheeseburger and fries.

“And a strawberry milkshake,” Barnes Arico said with a smile.

Excuse the St. John’s players for acting as if they haven’t been here before. Because they haven’t.

From Rich Elliot at the Connecticut News: Auriemma Happy With Penn State Deal, Fond Of Washington

I thought when she got the job, I thought it was a great, great hire by Penn State,’’ Auriemma said. “And they’ve done a phenomenal job since she’s been there. And I’ve been on a bunch of committees with her, including the board of directors of the WBCA, and she’s one of the most impressive young people that I’ve come across in a long, long time. She’s kind of got a whole lot of things in place. Notre Dame, an assistant there. Law school grad. Trying to run a family. It’s just a lot. And doing it at a place like Penn State where you’re in the Big 10 and it’s not just any school. I’ve got to tell you … I’m really, really impressed with the job that she’s done. There may not be five other coaches in her age group that are better than she is.’’

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From Michelle: Dawn Staley ready for mentor – Stanford’s VanDerveer taught South Carolina coach on Team USA

Coaches are sometimes reluctant to be completely honest with star players. That, however, was never an issue between Tara VanDerveer and Dawn Staley.

“I was hard on Dawn,” VanDerveer, the Stanford coach, said Friday. “I’ve always said, sometimes a lot of the great players get the worst coaches, because no one wants to tell them anything. But I was always very direct with Dawn and I think she appreciated it.”

Yes, if appreciation can be gleaned out of the intense desire to prove somebody wrong. Intense desire. How better to sum up Staley?

Mechelle: Goodrich leads way for Jayhawks

Way too many athletes have torn an ACL more than once. Sometimes it’s in the same knee; sometimes it hits both. The second time around is worse than the first for a lot of them, because they know exactly how difficult rehab is going to be and the dread factor sets in right away.

But it was the opposite for Kansas point guard Angel Goodrich. Her first was worst. When she did it the second time, she already knew she could get through it.

And look how far past all that she has come. Now a redshirt junior, Goodrich has found her voice as a leader for a KU team that has made the most out of the NCAA selection committee’s decision to give the Jayhawks a berth into the tournament.

And Michelle: Da’Shena Stevens leads St. John’s

Da’Shena Stevens went into surgery last Aug. 10, a simple little meniscus cleanup that was supposed to keep her out a month or so, back in time for the start of practice.

But when she came out of surgery, the news was a little different. The procedure was more extensive and Stevens, St. John’s senior leader and tone-setter, would be out for four months.

Stevens and Red Storm coach Kim Barnes Arico both cried that day.

“The only thing to do was cry,” Stevens said. “I was sorry and depressed and then the only thing to do was wait until December.”

“It just turned everything different going into the season,” Barnes Arico said.

And Mechelle: WSC Radio Show: March 23, 2012: Brenda and Mechelle preview the Sweet 16

From the Bellingham Herald: Kansas’ Goodrich having a breakthrough in first NCAA women’s tournament

From the AP’s Janie McCauley: VanDerveer and Staley have long history
From the AP’s Jeffrey Collins: Fans suddenly flock to successful South Carolina
From the Centre Daily: PSU rising to standard

Although the tournament selection committee relies heavily on numbers like RPI and strength of schedule, year after year those numbers prove to fall short in actually measuring quality of play leading up to the tournament.

While there is not really any statistical Holy Grail to predict how March Madness will unfold, in looking at potential upsets prior to the 2012 NCAA women’s basketball tournament we took a look at potential upsets bracket by bracket by looking at performance rather than outcomes. Of course, saying there’s potential for an upset is different than saying it will happen are two different things – not many upsets actually occurred although a number of those games ended up close and one could certainly argue that home court advantage foiled a few of those potential upsets.

Anyway, those initial previews were based upon a set of Four Factors stats that I alluded to but didn’t post initially. The following is just a brief look back at those numbers before making some Sweet 16 predictions.

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Mechelle previews the Des Moines Sweet 16 games:

Florida coach Amanda Butler had a bemused look on her face Tuesday night when someone asked if she was pleased that her Gators seemed to have had Baylor flustered at least a little bit in the first half of their NCAA second-round meeting.

“Really?” Butler said with a wry smile. “OK. If you say so.

Graham Hays previews the Kingston Sweet 16 matchups:

The smallest state in the country could play host to some of the biggest scores of the tournament’s second week.

Top-seeded Connecticut, No. 2 seed Kentucky, No 4 Penn State and No. 11 Gonzaga make for a geographically disparate quartet in Kingston, R.I., but the four teams there still dreaming of Denver share a propensity for scoring points. All rank in the top 20 nationally in points per game. The other three regions feature just six such teams among them.

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and gives the Buckeye’s the blues.

By earning a share of their first Big 10 title since 2004, I don’t know that Coquese Washington has quite exorcised the ghost of Rene-past — and she may never win over a certain core group of PSU fans — but for those of us who’ve followed Co’s journey, it is a wonderful moment. Writes Mechelle:

It might be trite to say Penn State needed this, but it’s still true. The school, buried under so much harsh publicity in the last three months, needed it. The program, which hadn’t won a Big Ten championship since 2004, needed it. The players, who this season lost two of their first three league games (both at home), needed it. And coach Coquese Washington, who took over at Penn State in 2007 hoping to give the program a completely fresh outlook and atmosphere, needed it.

You also can say that Washington and the players didn’t just need it, they deserved it and earned it.

“It” is the Big Ten regular-season title, which No. 17 Penn State has at least a share of now after an 84-66 victory over No. 11 Ohio State on Monday.

Kentucky righted the ship after three losses, keeping Vandy at arms length through out the game, and secured the 70-61 win.

The Ragin Cajuns of Louisiana got a win…. but dang, it wasn’t in the Sun Belt, so their still 0-fer in the conference.

Both Hampton and Florida A&M won, keeping the MEAC very, very interesting.

Hmmm… what’s going on with High Point? They started so strong, and now are 9-5 in the Big South.

Say what? The Blackbirds (9-7) of Long Island were all over the Pioneers of Sacred Heart (13-3), 74-68.

Happy Beth and Debbie moment: Double OT and the Red Flash pull out the win over Central Connecticut, 86-83.

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at about half time, most of the numbered world was rather askew. Injuries and unfocused play seemed the norm, and tight games or deficits were everywhere.

But, come the second half, balance was restored and all moved forward as expected for Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland, Miami and Penn State. (Gotta wonder, though, how bad Glory’s injury is — no fun for TN as they prepare for Notre Dame)

Not many issues for Gonzaga, Stanford, UConn, Ohio State, Delaware, Purdue  and Green Bay.

Vandy didn’t get the memo, though. They started slowly against Arkansas and never recovered, as the Razorbacks got their first win against the Commodores since 2006.

UNC took out its frustrations on (who else) Va Tech and Hatchell got her 600th as a Tar Heel.

Hmmmm, South Carolina isn’t building on their past record — they lost to Auburn, 53-49.

BU is now 6-0 in the America East. (Hello, Graham? Mechelle? Michelle? Some attention please?) Plenty of games still to play, but keep your eye on the Feb 18th home game against Albany.

Oooooo, that was close: In a match up between the top teams in the MAC, it was Bowling Green that escaped still unscathed. They were 61-58 winners over Miami (OH).

Bwahahahaaa, take that! In the “former WNBA-players-now-coaches” rematch, Cynthia Cooper’s UNC-Willmington got their revenge as they eked out a 57-56 win over Beth Cunningham’s VCU.

Bang! There’s now a dent in the Pride’s CAA record: James Madison took them down, 81-63.

Remember when Michigan State was ranked? They’re really shaky this year — Minnesota defeated them 71-65. Rumor has it the Gophers have a nice young point guard.

The Shockers are now 6-0 in the MVC. I guess this means I’m going to have to research the history of their nickname, huh?

Don’t mess with NAIA D-II, #5 Concordia (NEB). They defeated Nebraska Omaha, 68-60.

It’s early, but with their win over Utah State, Fresno State in now 2-0 in the WAC.

USC moved to 5-1 in the Pac-12, taking down the Ducks, 92-73.

Don’t know that Spoon is having much fun this season: the Techsters lost to Hawaii. No disrespect intended, but Hawaii!

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Debbie and Beth are joined by Miami’s Shenise Johnson and Riquna Williams. Plus, they discuss the highest paid coaches in Division I.

Graham writes: Huskers make big debut in Big Ten

Nebraska makes itself at home in Big Ten. Coaches love to caution after early wins that conference play is a long road, but the Big Ten’s newest team isn’t likely to need the reminder.

Nebraska’s first three nonconference road trips of the season took it to Flagstaff, Ariz., Tallahassee, Fla., and Atlanta, all of which are roughly the same distance from Lincoln as State College, Pa., where the Cornhuskers opened their first season of Big Ten competition Friday night with a 71-63 win against No. 17 Penn State.

Welcome to the Big Ten. Don’t forget to pack an extra magazine or two for those flights.

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#1 Stomp, stomp, #2 stomp (just ignore the first half), #8 stomp, #16 stomp, #18 stomp, #24 squeak, … whoa!

What does #22 Georgetown’s stomping of #7 Miami tell us about either team? It’s personal?

“We worked hard on and off the court because we had the exams,” Rodgers said. “We had to be focused this week. . . . I felt like they can’t beat us at home because they already beat us at their place [last season]. That was the big thing for me personally.”

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one of the authors of the Coaches Who Prey series from the Seattle Times:

It feels like I’m hearing the same stories all over again, just in a different state. It’s sad this continues to happen in our society.

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That was the point differential in wins by #2 UConn, #12  Georgia, and #18 Penn State (yikes, remember when Va Tech was slightly relevant?). Wrote Graham of the Huskies win: Defending champ can’t handle UConn ‘D’

We might be in the midst of the season of giving, but Connecticut is more interested in taking at the moment.

Taking out the teams that shared the stage with the Huskies in the Final Four. Taking the ball from opponents and taking better care of it than Swiss banks do with money. Taking control of their own identity.

Do they have weaknesses? Sure, maybe more than in recent seasons. But to do anything about it, you’ve got to catch them. Then you’ve got to stay with them.

In other games:

Yes that was Duquesne squeaking by the RedHawks of Miami.

Sure, they lost to Bowling Green, but the Penguins have won FOUR game already!

Bucknell 49, Fordham 39. And no, that wasn’t the score at the half.

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Did you read this?

It’s worth your time.

From Diana Nyad: Penn State Shocker. Really?

The nationwide blogs, television news magazines, morning reports, and sports columns carry the Penn State and ensuing revelations as their headlines. Top story of the day for many days, already worthy of notation in our era of short attention span. Many call the Penn State an outrageous anomaly of sociopathology. One columnist ends his incensed diatribe with the words “We are in a place we’ve never been.”

Really? Has nobody out there, except the literally millions of victims of this very same crime, been taking seriously the latest statistics: “One in four girls, one in six boys, in this country do not reach their 18th birthday without being sexually molested by someone they know”.

***

I’m here to tell you from first-hand experience, my case occurring in the 1960’s, that this is not BY ANY MEANS a place we’ve never known. We’re in crisis and we’ve been in crisis for a long, long time in this country. Sexual abuse, particularly, by those adults we have held on high on pedestals, preying on the young ones most in need of attention, most vulnerable and thus least likely to tell the sordid tales, is rampant. Not frequent, but uncontrolled, unchecked, widespread, rampant.

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From Marie’s blog

some news of interest:

A discussion with sports journalists about recent events that have become national news at Penn State will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29, in Schwab Auditorium as the latest installment of an ongoing series conducted by the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism.

“A Conversation About Covering Controversy” — featuring Mark Viera of The New York Times, Christine Brennan of USA Today and others — will address the efforts, role and work of journalists when covering controversy in general, and the situation at Penn State in particular.

Malcolm Moran, the Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society and director of the Curley Center, will moderate the session.

The session is free and open to the public but tickets are required. Tickets will be distributed Monday, Nov. 28, to Penn State students and, if any remain, Tuesday, Nov. 29, to Penn State faculty/staff and the general public.

Tickets will be available as follows at four locations on or near the University Park campus:

— 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Eisenhower Auditorium;

— 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Penn State Downtown Theatre on Allen Street in State College;

— 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan Center; and

— 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the HUB-Robeson Center.

In addition, the event will be streamed live at http://comm.psu.edu/sports online.

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PSU again deficient in leadership – In its dealings with Rene Portland, administration also failed to be proactive, vigilant

I don’t want to pile on Penn State, knowing the majority of people there and the alums are totally aghast at the current disaster. Nor do I want to equate what happened with the women’s basketball program under Portland to what apparently happened with the football program. As reprehensible as many found the things that Portland did and said in regard to lesbian (or perceived lesbian) student-athletes, what Sandusky is alleged to have done is in its own isolated dungeon of horrific crime.

But the situations are linked in this way: The leadership at Penn State was lacking, and many of the same key people — such as Curley and Spanier — were involved.

***

To me, the almost casual way Penn State handled its defense and support of Portland throughout her career signaled that the school didn’t take any allegations against her very seriously. What I wrote in October 2006 reflected the frustration many outside observers had about the school’s attitude regarding complaints about Portland: It took a quarter-century of people not speaking out, or looking the other way, or rationalizing that led to Portland having complete belief in her dictatorial power.

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If you have not seen Training Rules yet, do. It’s a thoughtful, heartbreaking and important movie about the embarrassment that was Rene Portland’s tenure at Penn State.

You can now get it streaming at Netflix.

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Washington Named 2011 BCA Female Coach of the Year

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Point guard Dara Taylor is transferring to PSU. (@Conor__Walsh Conor Walsh: Terp point guard Dara Taylor to transfer to Penn State, a team spokesperson confirmed today)

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