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A little history from Michelle: Oral history: Harvard stuns Stanford – A look back at the 1998 NCAA tournament, the only time a 16-seed toppled a No. 1

A week before the NCAA tournament opener, Stanford was positioned as one of the best teams in the country, after three straight trips to the Final Four. Seven days later, the Cardinal became the first and only No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16, with a 71-67 defeat against Harvard. As with all great sports upsets, there is an intriguing backstory only the people involved can tell. We consulted our colleagues at FiveThirtyEight for some statistical context. Then we spoke with nine prominent people involved in the game and asked them to set the scene in an oral history of that game — starting with a devastating moment at the end of Stanford’s Pac-10 finale against Oregon State.

Vanessa Nygaard, former Stanford forward and longtime WNBA, college and high school coach: “We were ahead comfortably, but then Oregon State started closing the gap, and I went back in.”

Beth Goode, former Stanford sports information director and current senior women’s administrator: “Vanessa’s injury happened right in front of me. It was one of those unmistakable things when she went down. You knew it wasn’t good.”

Tara VanDerveer, Stanford coach, one of five coaches in NCAA women’s history with 900-plus wins: “The doctor at Oregon State said it was not an ACL, and we would have it looked at when we got back on Sunday, which was selection day.”

From Kate, a little history that’s a tad more modern: The swagger Of UConn – A look at how the Huskies’ dominance came to be — but it’s not for everybody

During last year’s college basketball season, Rebecca Lobo watched in person a number of Connecticut’s practices.

And during one of these afternoons, the former UConn star and current ESPN analyst noticed something strikingly familiar: coach Geno Auriemma running ragged one of the team’s best players.

Lobo also instantly recognized the drill: one-on-one from the wing, the emphasis on defense. The players form a line at each wing. First player in line is the defender; next one has the ball. If the defender gets a stop, she rotates to the back of the opposite line; if she gives up a bucket, she immediately runs to the opposite wing to try again — against a fresh offensive player.

The thing about this drill: Each repetition is exhausting. So if you don’t get a stop within the first two attempts, the likelihood of ever getting one plummets. After successive reps against fresh teammates? Might as well wave the white flag.

Except, of course, a white flag doesn’t exist at UConn.

From Mechelle: Massengale steps up at Tennessee – Senior guard and fellow Chicagoan Nia Moore look to make big impact in tourney

Mechelle’s been busy! Wilson right at home with Gamecocks

The fact that A’ja Wilson didn’t have to look far to find her college destination didn’t mean that she didn’t look hard. She explored different options, and waited until last April to announce her decision.

And when the hometown kid said she was staying with the hometown school, the rest of the country could almost hear the cheers of happiness mixed with relief coming from Columbia, South Carolina.

Some things are meant to be. Like Wilson playing for the Gamecocks. She’s from Hopkins, South Carolina, just outside the state capital city, and went to Heathwood Hall in Columbia. As she prepares for her first NCAA tournament for South Carolina, the No. 1 seed in the Greensboro Regional, Wilson knows she’s right where she’s supposed to be.

How about some other youngsters? TOP FRESHMEN READY TO MAKE NCAA TOURNAMENT DEBUT

How about some previews?

Albany Regional breakdown – UConn

Three observations

1. What an interesting road it’s been for Seton Hall senior guard Daisha Simmons. She struggled first to obtain a release from Alabama, and then to get a waiver to play this season at Seton Hall. But it worked out, as the Pirates are back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1995. Simmons is averaging 16.9 points, plus has 131 assists and a team-high 80 steals.

Greensboro Regional breakdown – South Carolina

Three observations

1. It has been a big season for Ohio, which is the No. 14 seed and faces No. 3 Arizona State in the first round.

Oklahoma City Regional breakdown – Notre Dame

Three observations

1. It’s time for the annual Sherri Coale appreciation salute. She took over at Oklahoma for the 1996-97 season, which was also the first year of the Big 12. At that point, the Sooners had made just two NCAA tournament appearances, and the school had infamously shut down the program for roughly a week in 1990 before sanity prevailed.

Spokane Regional breakdown – Maryland

Three observations

1. Kudos to New Mexico State coach Mark Trakh, who has the Aggies in the NCAA field for the first time since 1988. Trakh, in his fourth season in Las Cruces, also has taken Pepperdine and Southern Cal to the Big Dance. His Aggies, the Western Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament champion, are the No. 16 seed and take on No. 1 Maryland in the opening round.

Michelle says: Savor all 63 games — not just final

We’ve arrived, a little earlier than in previous years, at the start of the NCAA tournament. And while many people might want to jump straight to the ending — one they think they can already write — we refuse to do that.

We are going to soak in the process of reducing a field of 64 teams down to one champion over the course of three weeks.

Because whether conventional wisdom suggests this in an exercise in inevitability, that Connecticut will be cutting down nets like last year, and the year before that, there are still 63 other teams determined to make sure they’re hoisting the championship trophy in Tampa.

Before the first games tip off (ESPN2/WatchESPN, noon ET Friday), let’s take a moment to appreciate the journey. We have plenty of time to focus on the end result, let’s not miss all the great stuff in the middle.

From Cheryl Coward: Cal refocused after the Pac-12 tourney, ready to help showcase women’s basketball in the Bay area as an NCAA early round host

Nearby: OSU women’s basketball: Beavers refocus after Pac-12 tourney loss

Scott Rueck doesn’t ever like, nor does he typically believe a team needs, to lose a game.

But Oregon State’s fifth-year women’s basketball coach was OK with his team’s loss to Colorado in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament two weekends ago for one simple reason — it wasn’t the NCAA tournament.

In order to win a tournament, Rueck says, a team has to be hungry enough and know exactly what it is playing for because every other team will bring its best performance.

It’s about doing everything you do as well as you possibly can, he says.

Also nearby: From Marcus Thompson II: Stanford needs Thompson’s ‘A’ game in NCAAs

They say it takes great guards to make noise in the NCAA tournament. That gives hope to Stanford, coming off as uninspiring a season as it has had in years.

Guard Amber Orrange, a battled tested senior who’s as smooth as they come, is a rock on which coach Tara VanDerveer can rely. If Lili Thompson can take her game to another level for the postseason, that gives the Cardinal an advantage to milk.

The recruiting standard has been set high by new coach Marlene Stollings and her staff at Minnesota.

The one-player class of senior forward Shae Kelley has flourished.

The first and only player Stollings signed since taking over the Gophers, Kelley has entered the NCAA Tournament with the fifth-best scoring average in the Big Ten at 17.5 points per game. She’s seventh in the conference with 9.4 rebounds per game. Her leadership was relied on even more after the loss of star guard Rachel Banham to a season-ending injury.

Pat Eaton-Rob from notices that “other” team from Connecticut:

Quinnipiac has quietly put together a 31-3 season, joining UConn and Notre Dame as the only teams in the tournament with more than 30 wins. They swept through an undefeated Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular season in just their second year in the league and then dethroned 9-time conference champion Marist, 72-61, in the conference title game.

The Bobcats are 104-29 since the 2011-12 season, with the second-highest winning percentage (.782) of all New England Division I schools during that span. They trail only UConn (.933).

Tim May at the Columbus Dispatch notices that “other” team from Ohio:

As Kiyanna Black recalled, coach Bob Boldon had a grand plan for Ohio University women’s basketball when he was named the 10th coach in school history two years ago.

“When he first got here, his first words were ‘MAC championships,’” said Black, a junior from Africentric. “And I’m just sitting there looking at him, ‘We’ve got to win a few games, first.’

“At first it felt so far away. But we just kept working and kept grinding, and believing in him and his staff. And we’re here.”

Speaking of coaches: Sue Semrau still building legacy at Florida State

And more coaches: Seton Hall’s Tony Bozzella set to enjoy father-daughter dance at NCAA Tournament

And more coaches: From Sue Favor: New Mexico State, coach Mark Trakh moving on up

New Mexico State has vaulted back on to the national basketball stage this spring, in a big way.

They won the Western Athletic Conference Championship earlier this month, for the first time in program history, after going 13-1 in league play and 22-7 overall. That put them into the NCAA Tournament, after a 27-year absence.

And MORE coaches: A first for American, and its coach

 To many Easterners, Iowa is a “flyover state.” Count Megan Gebbia among them.

“My initial reaction (after the NCAA women’s basketball selections were made Monday) was, ‘Wow, Iowa, I’ve never been there,’” said Gebbia, second-year coach at American University.

She’ll be here sometime today, when the Eagles arrive for preparations for their NCAA debut.

Hey! It’s time for the Mascot Bracket!

Don’t wanna read? Then take a listen to Dishin’ and Swishin’s NCAA Tourney Roundtable featuring Doug Feinberg, LaChina Robinson, Debbie Antonelli and Lin Dunn

Don’t wanna listen? How about dance?

In non-tourney news:

Ouch: Three players leave Vanderbilt women’s basketball team

Vanderbilt women’s basketball has announced its third departing player in the past week following the program’s first losing season in 16 years.

Freshman guard Paris Kea will transfer, per a Vanderbilt news release. Last week, the program lost freshman twin sisters Audrey-Ann and Khalèann Caron-Goudreau, who will also transfer.

Echo ouch: Brooks to leave Indiana University, third to depart program in last 3 days

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(inspired by this past season, and a brief twitter exchange with @ladyswish) Some names to jot down when you’re pondering your next women’s basketball coach – be it for next year, or in three years. And, as I read some of these bios, it simply reinforces the connection between point guards and coaching.

Katie Abrahamson-Henderson – Albany. She’s only been there for 5 years, and accomplished a ton! Four straight league titles, anyone?

Jody Adams – Wichita State. Coach Adams, now  in her 7th year, has transformed the program. When when she took over in 2008, the Shockers had recorded 11 wins in the previous seaon.  WSU just won their third MVC conference title in a row and, with a team so young, it’s hard not to imagine there’s not more success in their future.

Jennifer Azzi – San Francisco. The revival of the Dons has been well chronicled at the WHB. Don’t know if Azzi would be interested in attempting to “rebuild” another program. I’m sure her current gig has been exhausting. But, a program that’s settle and needs a spark? Maybe.

Cedric Baker  – Savannah State. It’s been a long 12 seasons, but they won their first MEAC title this year.

Courtney Banghart – Princeton. She’s young. She’s smart. She just went undefeated and has earned her program a ton of attention. Who knows if she wants to leave the Ivy, but wow, what potential.

Laura Beeman – Hawai’i – The Wahine was a hot mess. Now, after three year’s of Beeman, not so much.

Bob Boldon – Ohio. First the Penguins. Then the Bobcats. Bob is a builder.

Anthony Bozzella – Seton Hall. Wherever he goes – LIU, Iona, Seton Hall – he turns programs around.

Kenny Brooks – James Madison University. In his 13th year, all he does is coach teams that win. They just earned their fourth CAA title in six years.

Michelle Clark-Heard – Western Kentucky. The ‘toppers just won the C-USA conference title and this year marked the first time WKU has been ranked in 17 years.  Shouldn’t be a surprise, considering that, in her first year Clark-Heard helped WKU to a 13-win improvement over the 2011-12 season output. It was the largest in Sun Belt Conference history, as WKU turned a 9-21 mark into a 22-11 record.

Brittney Ezell  – East Tennessee State University. In only her second year at the program, ETSU was picked for a bottom finish in a conference preseason poll. Instead, the Lady Bucs finished second to UT-Chattanooga and scared the you-know-what out of Mocs in the So-Con tourney.

Tricia Fabrini – Quinnipiac. Since the Bobcats moved up into the Division I ranks, they’ve shown they belonged – be it in the NEC or the MAAC. It’s been a 20 year journey, but maybe she could be tempted by another position?

Donna Finnie – Houston Baptist – It’s way early in her career with HBU, but consider what the Scotland native has already accomplished:

As Donna Finnie begins her second year as head coach in 2014-15, the HBU women’s basketball program looks to soar to new heights after a record-breaking inaugural season in the Southland Conference. In Finnie’s first year at the helm of the program, the team made huge strides both on and off the court. The Huskies won 12 games, the most since HBU began the transition to NCAA Division I in 2007. The Huskies also boasted the highest RPI in program history (251); a significant improvement from the 2012-13 campaign. Offensively the team exploded to produce one of the most efficient scoring attacks in the nation.

On this year, from WHB: The Huskies (15-17) were the 8th seed in the Southland and yet made it to the finals.

Cindy Fisher – San Diego. In her 10 year tenure, Fisher has moved the Toreros into the “often win” column.

Megan Gebbia – American. In only her second year, Gebbia took her team to their first Patriot League Championship.

Kellie Jolly Harper – Missouri State. Seems to me Harper was the sacrificial “next coach” at North Carolina State. She handled a no-win situation with grace, but couldn’t move the program forward. She’s having better fortunes at Missouri State, where she’s revivng the profile of a program that sailed to the stratosphere behind Jackie Stiles.

Yvonne Sanchez – New Mexico. She’s rebuilt a program that fell rather precipitously after coach Flanagan retired. Her first few years were not particularly encouraging, but this year has been different – even after she had to dismiss the team’s captain and center. The Mountain West predicted UNM to finish ninth in the conference, after finishing in ninth place a year ago, but they made it to the conference finals. She has not gotten a contract extension (yet). Folks I spoke to while I was in Albuquerque said the admin wanted more butts in the seats.

Karl Smesko – Florida Gulf Coast. Since joining Division I, all the Eagles have done is terrorize the A-Sun.

Brooke and Scott Stoehr – Northwestern State. Hired in 2012 to revive the Demons’ program that had won just six games the year before, the Stoehrs have done just that. The Demons just won the conference tournament title and earned their fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in the school’s history.

Jonathan Tsipis – George Washington. – In 2012, Tsipis took over a program that had won 25 wins over three seasons. WHB’s has been tracking the return of the Colonials to the top-25 all season long.

Kevin McMillan – Tennessee Martin – Six years ago, McMillan inheirited a team that went 2-27. Now, the Skyhawks have repeatedly ruled the roost in the OVC.

Amy Williams – South Dakota. Not easy to win in the Summitt, with in-state rival ‘wabbits lurking, but she has.

Ryun Williams – Colorado State. Left South Dakota and, in three years, has turned around a Colorado State program that had a decade of poor results. The #1 seed in the Mountain West was upset in the conference tourney, but I expect they’ll be back.

I’m sure there are plenty of other folks out there, ready to move up, including assistants that I know nothing about…. So, who else would you put on this list? womenshoopsblog @ gmail.com.

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WHB readers have been aware of the slow rebirth of the San Francisco women’s basketball program under Jennifer Azzi. This year, the tempo of the upwards trend has picked up to include an amazing 4-OT game against Gonzaga… and now a huge 65-57 upset of San Diego that puts the Dons in the finals of the WCC.

After a first half she classified as “awful,” USF women’s basketball coach Jennifer Azzi wondered what message to impart to her players about a 42-29 halftime deficit to San Diego in the West Coast Conference Tournament semifinals.

As is often the case with Azzi, she opted for a positive approach. She told her team to let go of the first half, but pick it up defensively going forward. After allowing the Toreros to shoot 63 percent in the first half, thanks to lots of clean looks, the sixth-seeded Dons held second-seeded USD to 17 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes on the way to a thrilling 65-57 win at the Orleans Arena.

To make the NCAA tourney, they’ll have to defeat BYU (4pm EST – ESPNU), which upset Gonzaga, 61-55.

At halftime of Monday’s West Coast Conference semifinal, prospects for the BYU women’s basketball team looked bleak.

The fifth-seeded Cougars trailed top-seeded Gonzaga by 10, knew they had been swept by the taller, stronger Zags in the regular-season, and realized WCC Player of the Year Morgan Bailey was clearly ailing with a bad back and a balky knee.

Some how, some way, coach Jeff Judkins was able to rally his troops by challenging them to reverse the game’s momentum on the defensive end. 

The MEAC offered an upset of its own, as Howard (4-26) took down South Carolina State (16-12) in the first round of the conference tourney, 70-57.

The Mountain West offered up the Debbie Antonelli special of the night, as San Jose State beat Utah State, 99-85.

You may remember that Lehigh started off the season nice and strong, but then faded a bit. They’re back – and their upset of Army (76-57) puts them in the Patriot finals against American.

 #5 Baylor and #1 UConn held serve to win their conferences (though I wouldn’t want to face USF during March Madness).

Quinnipiac finally dethroned Marist, winning the MAAC championship, 72-61.

For Quinnipiac women’s basketball head coach Tricia Fabbri, losing in the program’s only NCAA Tournament appearance two season’s ago served as motivation.

And after coming up just short last year in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship’s final game – when the Bobcats lost to Marist – Fabbri’s motivation only got higher.

New Big East finals: DePaul v. Seton Hall. Oughta be good.

Ditto with the goodness in the Summit finals as South Dakota battles South Dakota State, 2pmEST, ESPNU.

More goodness in PA as Penn battles Princeton at the Palestra – 5pmEST, CBSports.

No brainer: Taurasi named to CIF All-Century Winter team

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Things we’ve noticed so far:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Richmond won their first game of the season.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Penguins win!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mechelle wonders if  North Carolina be even better?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Patriot: Army did what it had to against American, and, Inspired by Maggie’s spirit, Knights refused to lose

Sometimes things just happen the way they are supposed to in sports. There is not always an easy explanation for why, or how, but rather some other phenomenon — happenstance, fate, whatever.

So it was early in the week that Holy Cross women’s basketball coach Bill Gibbons texted his Army counterpart Dave Magarity. The words floated off Gibbons’ phone, like a butterfly. “Maggie will be smiling if we both get to West Point,” it said.

Holy Cross then did what it had to do to join Army, keeping their program record of  conference tourneys by stopping (and stomping) Navy. Pretty impressive of the Crusaders and coach Gibson, considering the upheaval that launched their season.

Summit: Nothing like an in-state rivalry to stir things up. The Jackrabbits got stunned by South Dakota ( first tournament loss after 15 consecutive victories.). The Coyotes then built on their success by defeating Denver (who’d ended IUPUI’s season of resurgence — in OT, of course.), earning their first NCAA bid.

America East: Albany’s Great Danes made quick work of the Sea Wolves – getting revenge for that blemish on their conference record, and earning a trip to the Dance.

MAAC: The first half, Quinnipiac had the Red Foxes on the ropes. Second half, Marist recovered to win their 9th straight conference tourney championship:

“The thing is that they persevered,” Marist coach Brian Giorgis said. “We broke the game down into where we wanted to be. We didn’t panic. We took it at them and made big shots down the stretch, made great decisions down the stretch.”

WCC: Saint Mary’s fought in the semis, but there was no doubt as Gonzaga roared over BYU to another WCC title – their sixth in seven years.

During that 20-minute shooting slump, the Cougars were unable to get the ball inside to Hamson, the WCC Player of the Year.

“We couldn’t get the ball to her because of (Gonzaga’s) pressure,” Judkins said. “Jen had a great tournament. I wish we could have gotten her the ball more. I think we would have been a lot better off. … We kind of got on our heels and we didn’t attack like we should have.”

It’s streaky!! Sims got a little banged up, and the Mountaineers got a little stubborn, but Baylor managed to snag their fourth consecutive Big 12 title.

Next! Chattanooga wiped out Davidson to earn the Southern crown. Said coach Foster: “We’re a good team,” Foster said. “It’s about time we start showing folks just how good.”

Huge win for the Penn State Quakers. They handily defeated the Princeton Tigers to earn a seat in the NCAA tournament. The Ivy League is the only conference in the country that doesn’t have a postseason tournament to decide its champion.

“I’m not a fan of an Ivy tournament. The reason is we need to send our best teams,” Princeton coach Courtney Banghart said. “Imagine if Penn had lost to Dartmouth and we had lost to Brown and we’re not sending our best team. I feel confident Penn has earned it. They beat us on our home floor later in the season.”

Oh, and UConn won the inaugural American Conference title.

So, what about those pesky seedings?

From John Altavilla: Favorites Falling Adds Some Mystery To Seeding

However, ESPN‘s bracketologist, Charlie Creme, has been sticking by his guns, continuing to place UConn as the No. 1 to Louisville’s No. 2 in Kentucky.

For that to happen, however, the committee would essentially need to rank the Cardinals last among the No. 2 seeds, setting up a 1-8 scenario with UConn.

“How do I answer that question [about seeding] without being reprimanded,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. “I’d lose my shirt, my per diem, everything.”

From Kevin Duffy: Fair or not, UConn may have to play regional at Louisville

The UConn women gashed their seventh top 10 opponent Monday night at The Sun, and in a week they very well could be named the No. 1 seed in the Louisville regional. As in, at the Yum! Center. As in, the reward for the group that just completed perhaps the best regular season ever could be a straight-up away game versus second-seeded Louisville in a hostile environment in the Elite Eight.

Tell me how that’s fair.

From Charlie: Louisville isn’t for UConn after all – Lincoln Regional makes much more sense for top-seeded Huskies

Connecticut has been an obvious No. 1 seed for some time. So the biggest question concerning the Huskies has been at which regional they will play their games.

Louisville or Lincoln? In the same region with rival Louisville, or farther away in Nebraska? Louisville has been my answer all season.

Until now.

What has prompted me to change my mind?

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you were a ranked team named North Carolina, Nebraska, Tennessee, Stanford, Oklahoma State, Louisville, Maryland, Notre DameKentucky, Georgia, Baylor, Oklahoma (Ellenberg seems to be ok) and Cal.

A little more excitement was had by Penn State, LSU and Purdue.

St. John’s is NOT enjoying being the host of the Chartwells Holiday Classic.

Yah, I see you’re 8-1, West Virginia. Let’s chat after you meet Oklahoma State and Baylor.

Baby steps — San Francisco earned its fourth win.

It took two overtimes, but Michelle Plouffe (and the Utes) took down BYU, 82-74, earning Plouffe espnW Player of the Week honors.

Cats might get nine lives, but giving Michelle Plouffe 10 extra minutes doomed the BYU Cougars on Saturday.

In leading Utah to in-state wins against Utah Valley and BYU this past week, the latter with one of the season’s most impressive individual finishing kicks, Plouffe earned espnW national player of the week honors and provided the young Utes with some much-needed momentum.

Yup, they take this in-state competition seriously: two overtimes later, it was Memphis over Tennessee Tech , 78-76.

Wyoming is putting together a nice season so far (“Fallon Lewis is too small, and Kaylie Rader is too young. And somehow, it doesn’t matter.“). Tough to get games against ranked opponents, though.

Yes, they’re 9-1, but the tough part of Arizona State’s schedule doesn’t hit until late January. Then it’s Cal, Stanford, Utah and Colorado.

Probably my fault: Grand Canyon (“Who?” you ask? “The only for-profit institution with a Division I athletic program,” I answer. ) deals East Carolina their first loss of the season.

DEFINITELY my fault: Quinnipiac takes down Albany. Big.

Resisting the WHB curse, UTEP moves to 9-0.

The kind of game Debbie Antonelli lives for: Sacramento State 99, UC Irvine 94.

And another one: Eastern Michigan 104, Detroit 96.

It’s a signature win only in the sense that the Bearcats have been waiting for something to hang their hat on: Cincinnati over Ohio State.

In the battle of the Missouri Valley v. the Horizon League, it was the Shockers over the Phoenix, 63-58.

Happy 1000th point for Pittsburgh’s Kiesel.

Graham Whites abWout the Wabbits.

Megan Waytashek watched more basketball during her first two years at South Dakota State than she ever had before or likely ever wants to again. As injuries separated her from the court for the first time in her life, all she could do was sit and watch. Game after game after game.

As Wednesday night crept toward Thursday morning, watching a game was all she wanted to do. Over and over again.

No matter that the final exam period began the next day for Waytashek, a mechanical engineering major, and others at the school in Brookings, S.D., an hour north of Sioux Falls and four hours west of Minneapolis. Those headaches could wait a few hours more. She just wanted to keep watching scenes from South Dakota State’s 83-79 victory against No. 12 Penn State from earlier that night, the one in which she had 18 points and eight rebounds in 31 minutes. The one in which she was in the middle of the celebration at the final buzzer.

About that Blue and White v. White and Blue game tomorrow:

No. 1 UConn, expected to be at full strength, set for No. 2 Duke and Huskies get boost as Mosqueda-Lewis, Tuck ready to return and KML, Tuck expect to play at Duke and KML And Tuck Are Likely Available For Duke Game and UConn women back at full strength.

A UConn fan site preview and DWHoops preview.

From Jim Fuller: Senior guards go way back in UConn/Duke rivalry

It’s not uncommon to see parents vigorously cheering on the UConn women’s basketball team. It’s rare to look up in the stands and not see at least one of Kiah Stokes parents as well as family members of current Huskies Bria Hartley and Breanna Stewart, among others taking in the action.

However, in UConn’s trip to Pacific back during 2010-11 season, Hartley had a couple of familiar faces who made the trip to see her play. Yes, they were family members just not her own. It was the parents of Duke point guard Chelsea Gray who came out to show support to one of their daughter’s best friends.

Ooooooo! Rival For UConn Women? Duke Hasn’t Put Up Much Of A Fight

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for for the season to continue:

Clay says: Not much controversy in the brackets — Let’s play the games

Baylor, A&M, Prairie View headed to women’s Big Dance, KHOU, Houston

Graduating women’s basketball players reflect on their time at Cal, Daily Cal
Feet on the Ground: Layshia Clarendon’s unselfish attitude, Daily Cal

Cal Poly women’s basketball team to play Penn State in NCAA tourney opener, San Luis Obispo

CU Buffs women’s basketball team earns No. 5 seed in NCAA Tournament, Denver Post
Matt Sparkman writes: Buffaloes Earn A Five Seed, Face Kansas Saturday

Injured wrist won’t stop Carra’s final hurrah for sixth-seeded Delaware, Times-Tribune

Alexis Jones will lead Duke women’s basketball to New Orleans,and
Elizabeth Williams is the centerpiece of Duke women’s basketball, Duke Chronicle
Duke women’s basketball NCAA tournament preview, The Blue Zone

Fresno State to face Cal in NCAA Women’s Tournament, Fresno Bee

Vandal women draw UConn in opener, Idaho Statesman

Resiliency of MSU women rewarded with No. 5 seed in NCAA tourney, Detroit Free Press

Michigan women’s basketball full of cheers after learning of their No. 8 seeding, Detroit Free Press

Lady Griz no strangers to NCAA experience, Missoulian

Huskers receive tough tournament draw, Omaha.com
Nebraska, Creighton nab NCAA Tourney bids, Omaha.com

Notre Dame women’s basketball: No favors from NCAA, Sopth Bend Tribune

Penn State women’s basketball: Lady Lions seeded third, bound for Baton Rouge, Centre Daily

Princeton women get date with Florida State, Baylor awaits winner, NJ.com

Purdue women’s basketball team draws No. 4 seed, faces Liberty in Louisville, Purdue Exponent

Quinnipiac Women To Open With Maryland, Courant
Long wait is over for Quinnipiac, New Haven Register
Quinnipiac Bobcats eager to step onto the big stage against Maryland, New Haven Register

Syracuse women’s basketball seeks history, first NCAA Tournament win against Creighton, Syracuse.com

No. 2 seed Lady Vols open with Oral Roberts; Baylor is No. 1 seed, GoVolsXtra
Chattanooga’s season-opening upset of Lady Vols turned out good for both teams, GoVolsXtra

Aggie women to face Wichita State in NCAA opener, Aggie Sports

UConn women, in Bridgeport Regional, opens vs. Idaho, Post
UConn’s opponent: About Idaho, Post
UConn Women To Open Against Idaho, Courant
A Look At UConn’s Competition, Courant
Huskies to play host to Idaho in NCAA tournament, Register
Breaking down Idaho, UConn’s first round opponent, Register
Idaho has tough draw: UConn, Idaho Spokesman Review
The Idaho women’s basketball team takes a 16th seed in NCAA Tourney, KREM
UConn looms again for Kentucky, Courier Journal
Huskies look for redemption in NCAA tournament, Sports Illustrated

Wichita State women to meet Texas A&M in NCAA Tournament, Kansas.com

ESPN, MV: Bracket has familiar feeling

ESPN, GH: Irish face tough road to Final Four – Notre Dame could face host Iowa, South Carolina and Duke to get to New Orleans

ESPN, CC: Geography a big theme of the bracket

ESPN, KF: Not an easy start for CU, Delaware

ESPN, MS: Stanford, Cal: Elite company – Pac-12 and Bay Area rivals gain top two seeds in Spokane Regional

ESPN, Who Dey Pick: Breaking down the bracket

ESPN, Who You Pick: NCAAW: 2013 tournament

ESPN, Chat wrap: Selection Monday

Kelly Whiteside asks: Can anybody stop Baylor women’s basketball?

2013 Women’s Final Four could have familiar teams playing in New Orleans, New Orleans Time Picyune

Swish Appeal’s staff predicts Final Four & upsets

Queenie has some details: Maryland, ACC at-largeUConn, Big East at-largeNorth Carolina, ACC at-largeKentucky, SEC at-large

Nate wonders: Should conference rivals be placed in same region?

He also says: 2013 NCAA brackets: Surprises & first impressions

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From Jeff Jacobs at CT Now/Hartford Courant: Quinnipiac: Becoming A Giant: AD Jack McDonald’s Vision Is Turning Into Reality

“I’m the luckiest AD on the planet. Our programs, the medical school, the law school, Now, people use the words ‘up and coming.’ It is one of the hottest schools, athletically, academically, career-wise in the region. And today, today is a great step.”

St. Patrick’s Day would be a great Sunday for McDonald. After the “Irish Eyes are Miling” run in Cheshire, he would watch the fans storm Lender Court in celebration. Three hours later, the fans went crazy as the Bobcats pulled the goalie in the closing moments, tied the final game of ECAC quarterfinal series against Cornell at 2 and won it 3-2 with 5:52 left in double overtime on a goal by Kevin Bui.

Also out of Connecticut: Carl Adamec says, “Planting NCAA seeds takes some guesswork

You don’t need a degree from ESPNU to be a bracketologist.

Some knowledge is required, yes, but it’s the love of the game that qualifies you. So please join us. It’s time to stand up and be counted. Your guess is as good as anyone’s, including ESPN’s.

The 64 women’s basketball teams that will take part in the NCAA tournament will be announced Monday at 7 p.m. There are a lot of things we know and a lot of things we don’t. But trying to figure it out is where all the fun comes in.

Charlie discusses Things to look for Monday night – ESPN’s NCAA Selection Special is at 7 ET; coverage continues on ESPNU at 8 ET

Even as the final bracket projection was put together this weekend, some of the questions that popped up throughout the season still lingered. How the selection committee answers them will go a long way toward determining what the NCAA tournament bracket looks like when it’s unveiled on Selection Monday (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET, with continued coverage on ESPNU at 8 p.m. ET).

Here are the questions I’m most anxious to see answered Monday night.

The Rebkellian beknighted takes a shot at the Dancers using RPI

Full Court has a question (that might upset Bridgeport, CT folks): Will principles or profit guide NCAA bracketing?

it would be a surprise to nearly everyone involved in women’s basketball if the top four seeds are not Baylor, Notre Dame, Connecticut and Stanford in pretty much that order, as they have been the consensus top four for most, if not all, of the season.

That doesn’t mean, however, that there won’t be a very big question mark surrounding the bracketing of the four heavyweights. Because while most assume that UConn will be holding court in the Bridgeport, Conn., Regional, just as they have played at or near their home floor in the early and regional rounds for the past several years, it will take a major piece of legerdemain for the Selection Committee to get them there this year.

Also at Full Court, Paul White: Mid-Majors hold to script, for the most part

Players on NCAA Tournament bubble teams can breathe a bit easier after this week’s conclusion of the mid-major postseason tournaments.

Losses by St. Joseph’s (Atlantic 10), Green Bay (Horizon) and Delaware (Colonial Athletic) – as well as perhaps even Quinnipiac (Northeast) – in conference tournament finals would have provided NCAA Tournament bids to teams that would not have gotten in otherwise. All favorites prevailed, though, so bubble team supporters don’t have to chew on those fingernails quite so viciously in advance of Monday’s Selection Show.

Speaking of Mid-Majors, Lady Swish gives Hampton their due: Four–ward progress – Hampton does it again

David Six keeps insisting that when the 2012-13 Hampton Lady Pirates first assembled last fall, they weren’t very good.

Sure didn’t take ’em long to catch on. Or catch fire. Or leave the rest of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in their wake once again.

In a never-in-doubt MEAC title game, the Lady Pirates smoked Howard 59-38 Saturday at the Norfolk Scope to complete a perfect conference schedule – 16-0 regular season; 3-0 tournament – claim their fourth straight conference crown and book yet another ticket to the NCAA Tournament. 

“I’m not going to say where we should be seeded, but I don’t think we’re a 15 or 16 seed,” said Six, who along with many others felt Hampton was underseeded at 16 last season. “I haven’t seen all the other teams play, but we’ve got some quality wins. I certainly don’t think we’re a 15, 16. I think 13 is fair.

Matt Sussman at Hustle Belt says,“Watch out for Central Michigan”:

CMU always had potential. They had a litany of good nonconference wins, perhaps the best collection in all of the MAC. They just had one too many conference losses which forced them into the quarterfinals instead of the semis. Then they got to work; a 33-point victory over Bowling Green, a second win against Toledo and now this masterpiece over the Zips.

Richard Kent at Swish Appeal has Five teams to watch in the 2013 NCAA Tournament

As we ponder and wonder what’s going to happen tonight and consider the future of the tournament, a little flashback:

2007: The NCAA Selection Committee: Opening the Vault and Looking Inside

Every year the (now) “Tuesday Night Quarterbacking” that follows Division I’s “Selection Monday” becomes a passionate exercise in “what ifs” and “how comes.” Depending on a coach’s relationship to those fortunate 64 teams, discussions can be fraught with emotion or wrapped in an almost scientific detachment. Most years one can guarantee the focus of people’s dissatisfaction will either be on the teams selected or on the make up of the brackets.

But last year, in a sort of basketball “perfect storm,” the ire was aimed at both. What followed was a firestorm (and some mocking) in the press and barbed comments from coaches about who got in, who got left out, why so many tops seeds were put in one region, why a top seed should play on a lower seed’s de facto home court, and on and on.

“It got a lot of attention,” reflected Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson, in perhaps the understatement of the season.

2009: NCAA TOURNAMENT HOSTING: Hidden Hurdles and Helpful Hints

As college basketball moves into its season of review and reflection, doubtless there will be many discussions about the 2009  Division Itournament and the logistics of seeding, the needs of hosting, the restrictions of television and the current economic reality.

But as the women’s game seeks to strike the balance between a competitively balanced tournament and a well-attended one, we would be remiss to not examine the successes and challenges faced by the host institutions themselves. What lessons were learned and how might they be applied to games and tournaments across the Divisions?

Full Court’s John McGraw and Trevor Goodson are in Frankfort, Kentucky where Defense gets it done in NAIA Elite 8

Most of the time when teams fail to put points on the board in basketball, the outcome is considered ugly.  This was not the case as the top eight teams in the NAIA squared off for a chance to go the prestigious “Fab Four”, the NAIA version of the Final Four.  No team managed more than 63 points which happened when Cumberland (TN) barely edged Lubbock Christian (TX) 63-61.   Earlier in the day Westminster (UT) and Westmont (CA) combined for 75 (39-36) points in what was the lowest scoring game in NAIA tournament history.  These were great games though, games that any basketball junkie would have enjoyed because the defense on display was a close to perfect as possible. 

In other W news, Jayda talk with Sue Bird about her knee surgery

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all that’s left is to prepare for the second guessing of the committee. Until then, argue with Charlie.

Amongst those who are in, but awaiting word on where they are going:

Four, count’em FOUR overtimes. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.  In the end, Prairie View A&M had the legs and the points to secure the victory over Mississippi Valley State. That’s the third SWAC title in a row for coach Wilson’s Panthers.

“To be honest with you, I didn’t even know how many overtimes we played,” Prairie View A&M coach Toyelle Wilson said. “I credit our girls; relentless. They said they could go five more (overtimes).”

Hampton did what it’s been doing all season. Rollin’ over opponents. That’s four straight conference tournament championships for the Pirates.

Cal Poly did what it’s never done: Punch their ticket to the Big Dance. And they did it in style, upsetting top-seed Pacific, 63-49.

Cal Poly overcame the loss of star forward Kayla Griffin on Saturday to upset top-seeded Pacific, 63-49, in the Big West Conference women’s basketball tournament final at Honda Center.

The win earned the second-seeded Mustangs their first trip to the NCAA tournament.

Griffin tore knee ligaments early in the second half, but Cal Poly was able to maintain the 11-point lead it built in the first half. Griffin had four points in her 24 minutes.

“We wouldn’t be in this position without Kayla, there’s no question,” Cal Poly Coach Faith Mimnaugh said. “I hated that she couldn’t be on the court at the end of the game.”

That’s the way to make an impression: Change coaches, join the Southland, win the Conference Championship. Sam Houston couldn’t make up the five point first half difference, and so Oral Roberts has a ticket to ride. Obviously, the Bearkats are disappointed, but consider this: the program hasn’t  had a winning season since 1996 before going 17-14 last year.

Central Michigan proved that finishing strong in the regular season can pay dividends in the conference tournament. They carried their momentum through the tournament and earned their first trip to the Dance since 1984. (Lordy, I was a year out of college and “When Doves Cry” was the #1 song). You’ll recall the heartbreak last year.

“I wanted to put 1.5 seconds on T-shirts,” coach Sue Guevara said. “This was the goal. To get to this tournament and win because it was such a heartbreaking loss last year.”

I’ve got to believe that for Guevara, it was both heartbreaking and galling, considered the post-tourney revelations.

Speaking of 1984, 1985 was the last time Idaho went to the tourney. (I know you’re wondering: Wham, “Careless Whisper.”) They’re going back by virtue of their win over Seattle U.

“Survive and advance has certainly been our motto in this tournament and we did it all the way till the end, and it’s a great feeling,” Idaho coach Jon Newlee said. “I’m so happy for my players and I’m so happy for my staff. I feel that I have the greatest staff in America and our players have just worked their tails off to get to this moment and it’s fantastic, it’s a great feeling.”

Montana grabbed a lead over Northern Colorado, and the Bears couldn’t recover. Grizz go Danzin. From Bill Speltz:

After 35 years of coaching the same team, you figure a guy is bound to develop some hard bark on his personality.

Not Montana women’s basketball skipper Robin Selvig. His heart was so filled with happiness Saturday he couldn’t help shedding a few tears after the Lady Griz beat Northern Colorado 56-43 for the Big Sky Conference tournament championship.

His emotional postgame news conference prompted the senior sitting to his left, UM standout forward Katie Baker, to get a little misty herself. Then the Lady Griz beat writer in the front row, who thinks the world of Selvig and doesn’t care who knows it, started getting a little teary-eyed.

Navy left no doubt about who rules the Patriot League: 72-53 winners over Holy Cross, the senior-free Midshipmen have won three consecutive conference championships. How long will Pemper stay in Annapolis?

I’ve been told I need to look at the end of this game to check out a game-changing technical. That aside, sounds like it was a rockin’ environment in upstate New York as Hartford refused to roll over for the Great Danes. A back-and-forth game, it was tied at 52, and then Albany reeled off 9-straight points to secure the win and an NCAA berth.

UCF’s magical run in the C-USA conference tournament ended at the hands of Tulsa, who was making a nice run of their own. 

Tulsa coach Matilda Mossman sounded as stunned as anyone when she let the realization dawn that a season that began 0-5 was going to culminate with the school’s second berth in the NCAA tournament.

“I’m just so excited, a chill went through my body when I said we’re going to the tournament,” said the second-year coach after Tulsa defeated Central Florida 75-66 in the championship game of the Conference USA tournament Saturday. “We’ve been talking about it, but now it’s real.”

Writes Joel Klein at the Tulsa World:

Tulsa’s Taleya Mayberry, one of the best players in school history, took over the tournament and is taking the Golden Hurricane to the NCAA Tournament.

“She was great for us and she had to be for us to win,” said Mossman.

Mayberry, fantastic for four days, was at her best in a 75-66 victory over UCF in the Conference USA Women’s Basketball Tournament final on Saturday night at the BOK Center.

Mayberry scored 25 points in the final and averaged 25 in the four games.

The Sooners tweet: OU Women’s Hoops ‏@Congrats to our friends @TUWBasketball on their C-USA title! For 1st time, all 4 D1 teams in Oklahoma playing in NCAA Tourney.

San Diego State was on a roll, but clearly Wiggins didn’t leave the Fresno State cupboard bare.

The Aztecs had their 17-game winning streak snapped as they fell behind by 22 points and couldn’t come all the way back in a 76-70 loss to Fresno State in the championship game of the Mountain West Conference tournament on Saturday.

“We picked a bad time to have a bad time,” San Diego State coach Beth Burns said. “I think Fresno State had an awful lot to do with that.

The result: Dawgs go Dawncin’.

Doug Feinberg didn’t get his wish granted by Quinnipiac (another game coming down to the final shot). Instead, the Bobcats blew away St. Francis (PA) to get their first invite to the NCAA Tournament.

‘‘We are kind of waking people up a little bit,’’ said forward Brittany McQuain, a junior from Independence, Mo., who acknowledges she had never heard of Quinnipiac before an assistant coach came to recruit her. ‘‘It’s good to be a part of this, and great that people are starting to recognize who we are.’’

The Blue Hens are doing their own version Chicken Dance, as Delaware escaped a stubborn Drexel, 59-56. Great for fans and the team that they’re hosting the first two rounds. Says Graham:

Elena Delle Donne scored the final points in her final Colonial Athletic Association game.

But the coach who ended up face down on the court doing water angels Sunday afternoon had a point of her own about Delaware.

Delaware is more than a one-woman team, as coach Tina Martin preached all weekend. It is more than the greatest player the program will ever have. And the one woman who proved it Sunday was Trumae Lucas, whose drive to the basket and two subsequent free throws in the final minute gave the Blue Hens their final lead in a 59-56 win against Drexel that nearly went the other way.

There really was no doubt, even with a stunningly ugly opening to the second half, Green Bay managed to rout Loyola (IL), 54-38 and earn their fifth consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament.

Kevin Borseth’s goal when he returned to coach UWGB this season was to not screw up the success he helped build before he left for Michigan and continued when Matt Bollant roamed the sideline here for five years.

He didn’t.

Their regular season game went to overtime. Their rematch in the A-10 finals came down to the last possession: Fordham with the ball, a chance to shoot for the win, but an offensive foul ended the game. St. Joseph’s goes to their first NCAA tournament in 12 years.

One the game: Four thousand plus came to the game — primarily Fordham fans. Had a lovely pre-game chat with the mom of their point guard and, as always, enjoyed WFUV’s play-by-play folks. College kids who are serious about the product, their professionalism… and the future of their team. “Coach is very excited by her incoming class.”

It was wonderful having some women’s hoops happening in NYC during conference tournament time. Very much enjoyed my Barclay experience. Staff was helpful, friendly and on point. Lighting focused ON the court, not the arena (like The Rock does in NJ). Seems to me, if the gentlemen continue to use the Garden for the NIT, there’s no reason Brooklyn shouldn’t look to host the women’s Final Four.

About that waiting game:

From the Naples News: ‘Deserving’ FGCU hoping against hope for NCAA at-large bid

It’s a strange feeling for Karl Smesko, being unable to control his team’s destiny.

Smesko has orchestrated the Florida Gulf Coast University women’s basketball team’s rapid rise in Division I the past six seasons. He’s turned the Eagles into a dominant lower-major program, yet he’s done all he can do for his team this season.

From Louisiana, Lady Tigers eye NCAA berth

Around the LSU women’s basketball program, it’s become known as the Tim Tebow speech.

Her team reeling after back-to-back losses in early February dropped the Lady Tigers to 13-10 and out of any reasonable hope of making the NCAA tournament, Jeanne Kenney gathered the Lady Tigers around her in the locker room after their heartbreaking 64-62 loss to Tennessee and told them they couldn’t let seniors Bianca Lutley and Adrienne Webb go out on such a low note.

From the Washington Post: Maryland, Navy women’s basketball await NCAA tournament seedings

Meanwhile, the Army women are turning their focus to the WNIT

From Jerry Brewer: Seattle U women fall short of NCAA bid, but hope to refuel for WNIT

Sylvia Shephard walked to the Seattle University bench and bent over as her tears began. Her coach, Joan Bonvicini, patted her on the back, whispered that she was proud of her and tried to minimize the pain.

There was no relief, however.

In college basketball, nothing hurts like March.

She knows she’s going, but Purdue’s Mingo knows how to pay it forward

School? Yikes, we still have school? Marist begins preparation for NCAA tournament

After a week of midterms, Emma O’Connor and Kristina Danella walked through the doors at McCann Arena Friday morning ready to get back to work.

“We were like, ‘We feel like we haven’t been here forever,’ ” said Danella, a fifth-year senior forward on the Marist College women’s basketball team.

From Brian Howard at the Daily Camera: CU Buffs’ Chucky Jeffery closing out storied career

Chucky Jeffery looks at the waiter.

“Can I have the …”

“Teriyaki chicken, no vegetables,” the waiter said, smiling as he finishes the sentence.

“Yes, absolutely!” Jeffery replied with a laugh.

She’s clearly been here before.

While Jeffery’s dinner choice may lack originality, very little else about Colorado’s senior point guard is that predictable.

This is, after all, a girl who grew up preferring to participate in football and karate to basketball and dance classes. She’s a student who admits, “I’m not big on school,” yet has the desire to pursue a graduate degree. And, she’s a player who was once a challenge to coach, but looks forward to coaching in the future.

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I dunno, you tell me: The team she left last year is now 3-22 (2-12 in conference).

The team she joined last year is now 18-9 overall (15-1 in conference).

Bet Debbie wishes she’d been at this game: St. Francis (PA) 100, Fairleigh Dickinson 89. Threeeeeee-alert!

Okay, that was not impressive, St. Francis (NY). You should. not. lose. to. Wagner. (Especially when you’re up 18.) We now expect more from you — get used to it. Oh, and congrats for making the NEC tournament for the first time since 2008.

I’m not sayin’ nothin’ ’cause I don’t wanna jinx ’em, but anyone else noticed that Delaware State has been doing a lot less losing recently? They sure gave Hampton a game.

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ those (Quinnipiac) Bobcats keep on rollin’! Quinnipiac’s 25 overall wins and 16 conference wins match the most in program history.

Speakin’ of rollin’: It was sorta close, and then, suddenly, it wasn’t even close: the Baylor Bears win their 25th in a row.

“We tried to stick to our game plan, but Brittney got a couple catches,” Campbell said. “I think that’s the difference. “She caught the ball and shot it. You can’t do much when the ball is in her hands.”

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Sylvia hits it and CViv nears it (though DePaul said, “not on our watch.“). From Mechelle: Stringer on verge of 900th win – Rutgers’ women’s coach will become fourth to reach accomplishment

Rutgers got victory No. 899 for Stringer on Saturday against Cincinnati, moving the team to 14-8 overall and 5-4 in the Big East. It has been a frustrating season at times for the Scarlet Knights, who are trying to avoid missing the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2002.

Stringer, in her 42nd year as a head coach, has been through countless highs and lows during successful runs at Cheyney State, Iowa and Rutgers. It’s a career marked by professional triumphs and personal tragedies, plus a few controversies — some of which, such as the 2007 Don Imus mess, were completely out of Stringer’s control.

Others, though, she has contributed to herself. Such as when her frustration boiled over Friday as she was questioned by Newark Star-Ledger columnist Dave D’Alessandro about her team’s difficulties, which follow three consecutive early-round exits from the NCAA tournament.

From Doug Feinberg: 900-win club will welcome a few new members soon

Sylvia Hatchell just got there. It’s only a matter of time before her friend C. Vivian Stringer joins her. But there won’t be many more coaches entering the 900-win club. Women’s basketball is getting more competitive, and the pressure of the job is growing, too.

There was a time when women’s basketball was an afterthought to athletic departments. Head coaches were hired right out of college and success on the court wasn’t necessarily as important as Title IX compliance. Now that’s not the case, and more money is at stake.

(Apologies for the crowded layout, but I seem to be in formatting hell at the moment)
Just sayin’: St. Francis (NY) wins again.
BTW, how did I miss that St. Francis (PA)’s coach had moved to Providence?  ‘Splains stuff.
Nice to see Fordham get a bounce back win.
St. John’s continues to fight to make their case for being inside the tourney bracket bubble.
Ooofta: American goes down hard to unheralded Lehigh. Looks like Navy is sailing away with the Patriot League, though Army is nipping on their heels.
A snow postponement only put off the inevitable: Quinnipiac moves to 11-0 in the NEC.
Speaking of inevitable: Princeton learns from Ivy blowouts
A sweet battle in the A-10 was settled in OT: St. Josephs 69, Duquesne 68. But folks better pay attention to Charlotte who, under second year coach Cara Consuerga, have recovered nicely from Aston departing for North Texas/Texas. They’re now 8-1 in the conference.
They had to come back from a 13-pt deficit, but Western Kentucky is still moving forward. They sit at 10-4 in the Sunbelt.
We’ve seen the pink, so we know what time it is: Play 4Kay: Feb. 17-18

Play 4Kay, formerly known as the WBCA Pink Zone and February Frenzy, will showcase an event-high 24 teams across ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3 and WatchESPN, including eight regionalized games in high definition within two telecast windows Sunday and a Big Monday doubleheader. In all, 12 ranked teams and 18 State Farm Wade Trophy hopefuls, including Baylor’s Brittney Griner and Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins, will take part in Play 4Kay games. Some of the featured contests include No. 4 Stanford at No. 15 UCLA, No. 9 Kentucky at No. 11 Texas A&M and top-ranked Baylor at No. 3 Connecticut.

Throughout the games, ESPN also will encourage fans to contribute to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund at Play4Kay.org.

We don’t want to get all “Steel Magnolias” on you here, but you can probably imagine this. Your best friend has recently found out she has cancer. You’re both reeling. But you’re also the fiercely optimistic “let’s figure out what to do next” kind of people.

Oklahoma women’s basketball assistant coach Jan Ross was diagnosed with breast cancer this past April. After an initial meeting with a surgeon, her boss, best pal and former college teammate — Sooners coach Sherri Coale — came by her house.

“Our conversation for about two-and-a-half hours would shift between going through these pamphlets with diagrams of what’s going on in your body and trying to understand all the medical lingo,” Coale said, “while there was some Tom Hanks movie on in the background.

“And a couple of times, we’d look up and say, ‘That was a great line,’ and she rewound it, and we’d watch a scene and laugh until we were crying. Then go back to this medical jargon. For us, it was just our friendship as usual … with this curveball thrown in.”

Amused that the dateline says “Notre Dame, Indiana”: Former Women’s Basketball Players Reunite At Pink Zone Game

As the clock ticked down on an eventual 64-42 victory for the University of Notre Dame women’s basketball team over Cincinnati, a very special group of onlookers got to soak in the growth of the program that they, themselves, had helped get its roots. All told, 27 former club players, coaches and members of the first women’s basketball varsity basketball team of 1977 made the return trek to campus to take in the festivities.

For a group that pioneered the game at the University, it was quite a sight to behold being back at the Joyce Center, but one that they knew could be expected once the growth of the sport was fully realized.

“You have to start somewhere,” said former Irish women’s club player Judy King. “When I was in grade school we were told that playing basketball wasn’t lady like. When I started playing in high school we played 6-man basketball. I was the first player at my high school to “rove” a complete game. No one had ever considered that possibility. It took Notre Dame a while to figure out what committing to co-education involved. I figured once they committed to scholarships and top notch coaching the program would excel. The fan base the team enjoys now is topping on the cake!”

About that Big Monday game — here’s a preview: Baylor vs. UConn. And another.

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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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that looked at mid-season COY candidates in the Big 6, I used my “waiting for the dryer to finish up” time to put together a list for some of the other conference candidates. Feedback welcome:

Ivy: Courtney Banghart/Princeton — I am surprised no ones has snatched her up.

American East: Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, Albany/Kelly Greenberg, Boston University.ln the three years KAH has been there, the Danes have established something, outpacing Hartford. Ditto with BU — lordy, has Greenberg REALLY been their nine years? It’s a dogfight.

A-10: Dayton’s Jim Jabir gets all the attention, and rightly so, but at Fordham, Stephanie Gaitley has more victories this season than the Rams have complied in a decade of games (or so it seems). I was skeered for her when she left Monmouth, but she seems to thrive when challenged.

Horizon: Youngstown State/Bob Boldon. The Penguins have been the laughingstock of the league for years, and not just because of their tuxedos. Have you ever tried to play basketball in a tuxedo? They’re still no Green Bay, but they’re much improved under this second year coach.

MAC: Central Michigan/Sue Guevara seems to have found her home at Central Michigan, and she’s done a great job (especially now that the shady dealings at EMU have been exposed).

NEC: Quinnipiac/Longtime coach Tricia Fabbri has the Bobcats on their longest winning streak in program history.

Mountain West: Fresno State/Raegan Pebely: The Bulldogs lost their coach lost their coach (and we know how THAT turned out), replaced late, and are still nipping at last year’s surprise, San Diego State. Shouldn’t actually be a surprise, Pebely has earned COY honors before.

Southern: Wes Moore and Chattanooga have reestablished the “natural” order, but under Charlotte Smith (yes, THAT Charlotte Smith) Elon has surprised the heck outta folks.

SWAC: Cynthia Cooper returned to the SWAC and has made an immediate impact on Texas Southern. Last year they won a total of 2 conference games. This year, they’re second in the Conference (with the only overall winning record — which ain’t sayin’ much, but it is a winning record.)

Sun Belt: Western Kentucky/Michelle Clark-Heard. Mel’s already mentioned this coach as a Maggie Dixon Rookie Coach of the Year. (Though, considering the record of honorees post-award, you might wanna miss being tapped.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donohoe > than Christofferson as Oklahoma State pummeled Iowa State.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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From Mechelle’s blog: The cheerleading thing

As you’re probably aware, a federal judge ruled last week that Quinnipiac University in Connecticut could not count competitive cheerleading as a varsity sport, and thus had to reinstate volleyball at least for another year. After that, the school might still eliminate volleyball if it finds a satisfactory way, according to the judge, to comply with Title IX.

I was asked on an ESPN.com chat last week what I thought of the ruling, and said I was still sorting my way through it. And here’s why. It’s not because I disagree with the judge’s decision. I think it was absolutely the right one.

If you want additional information, check out what Nancy Hogshead-Makar said on CNN:

HOGSHEAD-MAKAR: The NCAA does not recognize competitive cheer as even an emerging sport. It’s not even on that list yet.

There are a number of steps. In order to have any varsity sport the heart of sports, the OCR, the Office of Civil Rights has said that the heart of sports is competition. And so, you have to have people to compete against.

VELSHI: Right.

HOGSHEAD-MAKAR: So, if you haven’t yet developed the sport enough, then there is no competition. There is no real place for them to be able to grow.

VELSHI: You were pointing out a few different things that went on. One of them was the that manipulating of the roster. What’s the bigger deal here? Is it that cheer is not a competitive sport or is this other stuff that Quinnipiac was doing?

HOGSHEAD-MAKAR: Well, as I was just saying there are very few schools that actually have competitive cheer on their books as sort of offsetting if you will from boys experiences.

But certainly this roster management is a very common practice. Something that I see a lot of where they tell the women’s coach they say you have to keep this very large number of women on their team and tell the men you have to keep the men undersized.

What that does is keeps the school from having to start a new sport for girls. That is sex discrimination when you treat those two very differently. If a team is very, very large, you can imagine they don’t have as much coaching time. There aren’t as much one-on-one time.

Many times they will have as Quinnipiac did, they had a very large, I think it was 30 women who were on the track and field team, but only I believe it was 16 of them actually traveled to different competitions. So you can have these numbers, but they don’t get to do very much. They don’t have opportunity to actually be able to participate.

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From the Title IX blog — another myth v. fact post: Cuts to Men’s Teams and the Shark Attack Phenomenon.

Myth: Coach of Qunnipiac’s former men’s track team: “Ever since the mid 90’s, however, far more men’s programs have been eliminated in the name of Title IX than have been created for women.”

Fact: Title IX Blog: “Both sides of this claim, that Title IX promotes cuts to men, rather than gains for women, are belied by the most recent government study of college athletic participation trends, which was published in 2007 and relies on data through the 2004-2005 school year.”

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