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with a little somethin’ somethin’ first.

From the Player’s Tribune: Lisa Leslie

I thought I retired from basketball in 1996.

Once I played on the Olympic team that year and we won gold, I was done. No overseas hoops. Nothing. I signed a contract with Wilhelmina Models, came up to New York and tried to start modeling — doing some shows, going on auditions … mostly getting rejected for being too tall. But as for basketball? Those days were pretty much over.

I had mostly given up on the game because my dream of playing couldn’t go any further. Past the Olympics, there just wasn’t any real opportunity — in my mind — for me to play for a long time in the U.S. At the same time, there were talks of starting the American Basketball League for women to play professionally, but I opted out because it didn’t have the support of the NBA. And I didn’t want to play in Europe, which was really the only other option.

I needed to put basketball behind me. I felt like I had to make a decision and I couldn’t wait around any longer. I couldn’t keep feeling like I was standing on the sidelines, waiting for my name to be called, only to hear the buzzer go off before I got a chance to play. I moved on.

But then I got a call the following January …

Audio: Brittney Griner and Stefanie Dolson join the Trifecta: What Can The WNBA Do?

Excelle: WNBA CONFIDENTIAL: We are living in the Maya Moore Era

In the days leading up to the 20th WNBA season, there’s been a great deal of talk about Breanna Stewart as the new face of the league. Much of the 2015 narrative centered around Elena Delle Donne and her historic season, and don’t expect her to recede in the public eye as she builds on it while playing for a gold medal in Rio this summer. Brittney Griner, too, always draws attention (and found herself in a recent ESPN SportsCenter ad), while Skyler Diggins is returning from a knee injury with a massive social media following and a new level of play she reachedlast year that she believes is a permanent new state.

All of these stars deserve attention. But any sober, clear-eyed analysis of where the WNBA stands at this moment, an evaluation of the current state of the league, only provides one conclusion.

This is the Maya Moore Era.

Sports Illustrated WNBA’s Maya Moore talks season, Rio Olympics and Jordan Brand

The LA Times notices the Sparks: Sparks begin WNBA season with high hopes, and with Candace Parker back on full-time duty

In 2015, the Los Angeles Sparks made the playoffs for the fourth year in a row and for the eighth time in the last decade. But that’s not a realistic portrayal of how things really unfolded: They posted a 14-20 record (their fourth worst ever), and lost to the Minnesota Lynx in three games after sneaking into the postseason.

The Sparks begin their 2016 season Sunday against the Seattle Storm, and they’re counting on finding some consistency — a trait that eluded them for large portions of last season — to drive them back to winning ways.

The full-fledged return of Candace Parker should help.

Atlanta 11: Angel McCoughtry and the WNBA are ready for respect

Newsday: How the WNBA ‘changed everything’ for girls in first 20 years

The boys Sue Bird grew up with in Syosset all had their basketball dreams. They could pretend they were Michael Jordan or John Starks or Patrick Ewing. They could fantasize about one day wearing a Knicks uniform and being cheered by a packed house at Madison Square Garden.

“I didn’t have that,” said Bird, who is beginning her 14th WNBA season, all with the Seattle Storm. “There was no professional basketball for me in the United States when I was in grade school and middle school. I could look to the Olympics and college basketball, but that was only on TV for the Final Four. 

“The WNBA changed everything,” said Bird who starred at UConn. 

Kits Sun: Valavanis is the eye of the Storm

Team building and leadership started at home for Alisha Valavanis.

As one of six children, including two sets of identical twins, Valavanis developed skills that have carried through her athletic career and professional life.

She has used them on the basketball court to make shots, in the boardroom to make trades and in the community to make fans.

“From very early on, my family was our own little tribe and that helped shape how I value people and how I value connections,” Valavanis, 39, said. “It really shaped my personal journey and is at the center of who I am.”

Twin Cities: Minnesota Lynx’s Cheryl Reeve: WNBA has come a long way in 20 years

Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve entered the WNBA in 2001 as an assistant coach with the Charlotte Sting.

At that point the league was five years old, and at the end of each season for her first three or four years on the job, Reeve said a question presented itself.

“You had this moment where you didn’t know, were we still going to be here?” Reeve said, referring to the league’s fragile existence in its infant stages. “During that time you had teams that were losing millions of dollars.”

Reeve said the WNBA is now far past that point. It’s through the survival stage as the league celebrated the opening of its 20th season Saturday night when the Lynx hosted Phoenix at Target Center.

SlamOnline: Watch Them Work – The WNBA has never had more depth than now. What a great time to tune in.

 

The league’s list of high-profile players has never been short. Somewhere between Lisa Leslie catching her first poster and Maya Moore hitting that game-winner in last year’s finals, however, something changed. The national narrative shifted back to women’s basketball not being worth a man’s time. But there hasn’t been a better time than now to tune in.

“We have a lot of different types of women and players,” Mystics center Stefanie Dolson says. “We still have those superstars, like Diana, like Candace, they’re still in the game. Then you have a new generation of players coming in. Brittney Griner, Skylar, Elena. And then my class. In my class, we have some great personalities. We’re very skilled too.”

Damn skippy, Stef.

David Berri at VICE: HOW THE WNBA COMPARES TO OTHER SPORTS LEAGUES AT AGE 20

As the WNBA celebrates the tip off its 20th season this weekend, it’s easy for naysayers to paint a picture of a league that’s stagnant at best, and a NBA charity case at worst. After all, WBNA average per-game attendance last season was only 7,138—the lowest mark in league history, and well below the average per-game NBA draw of 17,849. Women’s professional basketball, this line of thinking goes, has had two decades to build a fan base and establish itself in America’s sporting consciousness. So why can’t it come close to the NBA?

Here’s the answer: that’s the wrong question. Or, more accurately, it’s the wrong comparison, and a misleading one

Yesterday’s games

No Diggins? No problem, the ageless Plenette Pierson is here! If you read the numbers, you’d think Indy won – but their defense was lacking and slow. Dallas shot 36 free throws. Sims shot for carp, but earned her living at the charity stripe. Nice production from Theresa Plaisance, too.

“We were more aggressive,” Pierson said of the last two quarters. “We started making shots, we got fouls called on them. That’s what helped us get the win.”

“I thought we took some early rushed shots,” Coach Fred Williams added. “But luckily tonight they went down for us and it’s not going to go that way ever game. I felt we have to get better at that end, be selective of taking quick shots, kind of work the ball around a little bit.”

No Delle Donne? No problem, the rest of the team (Pokey played 11) made Curt Miller’s W coaching debut miserable. Connecticut shot 33.8%. Yikes. At least Rachel Banham brought a little sunshine.

Well, this is a good sign.

The Chicago Sky got off on the right foot to start then season, and had to do so without its biggest star.

WNBA reigning most valuable player Elena Delle Donne was out with an illness (stomach virus) for the season opener on Saturday night, and yet the Chicago Sky managed to manhandle the visiting Connecticut Sun at Allstate Arena, 93-70.

Jayne’s last second shot carried the Stars into overtime, but the Dream made sure they secured the win in the extra minutes. McBride looks to have picked up where she left off last year, but there’s not much of a bench presence. For Atlanta, Layshia gave them some nice minutes, and Elizabeth Williams played 36… but I wonder about her 2-6 shooting.

“We fought,” Hughes said. “They were very coachable late, gave us a chance to win the game. We didn’t get it done in overtime. We’re a work in progress, but their spirit was good.”

When Tina and Sugar shoot 50%, Bill is happy – and the Liberty win. No surprise Shoni didn’t get in. Slightly surprised Adut didn’t. Auspicious opening game for Tayler Hill and Bria Hartleynot so much for Stef and Emma.

As the final horn sounded on the Washington Mystics’ 87-76 season-opening loss Saturday night, New York Liberty Coach Bill Laimbeer shook hands with his counterpart, Mike Thibault, and offered a few appropriate words of encouragement.

“Get healthy,” Laimbeer said.

Ah, being healthy is an amazing feeling. Stomping your press-anointed competition for the ’17 title is even better. Lynx rolled as the Merc’s defense let them shoot 54%. I do love the twitter conversation the two social media teams have, though. :-)

“It’s a good starting point for us in a really bad way,” Taurasi said. “We know what we have to get better at. The season isn’t made on 40 minutes, but the way we bounce back is going to say a lot about this team going forward.”

Hey – if you just scanned this page, do the game a favor – click on the links and read the full articles. Show the sports editors that people appreciate their coverage…

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Welcome: Former Mercury exec Parry joins WNBA as COO

.com: Face of the Franchise: How Number One Picks Have Defined WNBA History

Fox: Storm analyst Elise Woodward breaks down WNBA Draft on “Q It Up Sports”

.com: Déjà Vu In Seattle: 14 Years Later, Storm Poised for Another Rapid Rebuild

Countdown to WNBA Draft 2016: Rachel Banham

St. John’s: Grant and Handford Gear Up for WNBA Draft

BulletsForever: 2016 WNBA Draft Preview Part 1: The Mystics’ current needs heading to Draft Day

Sue at SlamOnline: WNBA Draft Index, Vol. 3

UConn’s Big Three Seniors Looking Ahead To WNBA Draft

Howard Megdal: WNBA Mock Draft 10.0: Pencils down

The posturing is over. The scouting, the evaluating, the pre-draft meetings and workouts—all the information is in front of the 12 teams who will gather Thursday night at Mohegan Sun Arena and pick the next 36 potential players in the WNBA.

Notice potential—there’s no guarantee that draft picks can make their teams, with a source at one WNBA team expressing skepticism that even a first-round pick could make that team’s roster.

However, this deep draft offers an array of players with virtually every skill imaginable. So much comes down to fit, to small gradations of difference. And the moment it’s all over, the fun starts—figuring out how and the way 36 new players integrate with their new teams.

College

Syracuse.com: Being Breanna’s parents: Skittles, Santa, shoes and the basketball journey of a lifetime

The two-day respite between the NCAA Regional and Final Four offers a fleeting moment to breathe. There is, however, no rest. Heather and Brian Stewart squeeze in a couple of days of work at Upstate University Hospital jobs, then returned to their home in North Syracuse for a blur of errands. That is, until basketball breaks out.

On a spectacular early evening when temperatures climb into the 70s, Conor Stewart is working on a two-handed reverse jam on the basketball goal in his family driveway. The goal is lowered several feet to allow Conor access above the rim. The opportunity is too alluring for Brian, who finishes a job sweeping the garage and is soon dunking way with his 14-year-old son. Heather asks if anyone needs her alley-oop feeds from the front porch. The family moment is filled with joy and routine, all worked into the window of March Madness.

The next day, the Stewarts are off to Indianapolis for the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship.

Siroky’s Musings: A Return to the Women’s Final Four After a Long Absence

For the first time in a long while I took a trip by myself.

When the women’s NCAA basketball tournament started 35 seasons ago, I was one of 37 accredited media. 

Two of my best friends were also there as broadcasters, I had a photographer and knew three other national writers. That’s seven of the 37. It was a small group then.

I thought of many of them, the departed and the living, coaches, players and media I had shared a time with. 

There are not a lot of us left. In fact, there are but two media.

You may remember that the Seawolves had some “issues” a while back. Now? A shift in culture: Coach McCarthy transforms women’s basketball program

At 38-3, the UAA women’s basketball team just completed their best season in school history, and were arguably the greatest team Seawolf Athletics has ever assembled. From placing as the runner-up in the national championship game, to shattering 32 school records, to breaking five NCAA Division II records (including the 38 wins), the Seawolves had what one might call a dream season.

However, the team was living more of a nightmare just four years ago, when the program was slammed with several sanctions by the NCAA.

Hartford Courant: With Big 3 Gone, What Are The UConn Women Left With Next Season?

“With these three leaving, the rest of the players coming back are in for a rude awakening. But you can’t disregard what the impact [this season] has on the players coming back. And it will last for a while. But then obviously it will [fade] and they’ll have to earn it like these other guys.

“But we don’t have anybody in the program right now that’s a Stewie or a Tuck or Moriah coming back. So it’s going to be really, really one of the more difficult adjustments that we’ve had in the time that I’ve been here. But it’s OK. I’m kind of looking forward to it. I really am. There’s a lot of new stories to be written by our group.”

Here’s a look at what the Huskies might look like next season:

Courant: Program Foundation Geno And CD Laid At UConn In 1985 Is Holding Up Just Fine

Kerith Burke, SNY: A behind the scenes look at UConn’s fourth straight NCAA championship

Forbes: 3 Ways to Convert Losses Into Wins From A ‘Defeated’ Basketball Coach

Buff Zone: CU women’s basketball: Buffs buy in to Payne’s positive message

Whenever Kennedy Leonard encounters one of her new basketball coaches — and that’s been happening a lot lately — she’s asked how her family is doing, or how she’s doing in school.

“You can tell she really cares about us — all of them do,” said Leonard, who recently completed her freshman season with the Colorado women’s basketball team. “It’s a different kind of feel, a positive feel.”

NC State: Moore looks to take team to next level

Chris Crowder: Wolverines’ WNIT streak ends next year

After four seasons at the helm, Michigan women’s basketball coach Kim Barnes Arico has made the NCAA Tournament only once — her first season when she took over the head coaching job in the 2012-13 season. However, over the past three seasons, the Wolverines have failed to make the Big Dance, instead settling for the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.

Now in Barnes Arico’s fifth season, she’ll finally have a team consisting solely of players she has recruited. And in the 2016-17 season, Barnes Arico will have the right pieces to lead Michigan back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013.

Hello: Justice named head women’s coach at Prairie View A&M

Bye: UWGB junior Latesha Buck granted release

Well, carp: Players’ Departures Bring Swoopes’ Demeanor Into Question

Betting Runner’s SportsChat asked me a few questions and I typed the answers.

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…’cause it’s never too early to look towards 2017 (yes, I’ve already made hotel reservations – hasn’t everyone?), Marc Tracy at the Times: Mighty UConn Faces a Future of Rising Powers

Take a peek at the 10 all-Americans selected this season by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. UConn’s Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck each made the cut.

But Stewart and Jefferson are seniors, and Tuck, a redshirt junior, announced Wednesday that she will join them in the W.N.B.A. draft (where they may well comprise the top three picks).

By contrast, all-Americans likely to return include Baylor’s Nina Davis, a onetime Big 12 player of the year; the big scorers Kelsey Plum, of Washington, and Kelsey Mitchell, of Ohio State; and South Carolina’s A’ja Wilson, who is just a sophomore.

Folks are already discussing next year’s top 10.

Yes, they made the WNIT finals, but FGCU women’s basketball roster facing big makeover

Four years after replacing a massively sized, massively successful senior class with an even larger group of newcomers, the FGCU women’s basketball team now is repeating the process.

The unknown is great.

Maryland Basketball: Kaila Charles gives hope for Lady Terps’ future

Maryland should have high hopes for the future of the women’s basketball program. 

Next year, the Lady Terps will welcome in the No. 1 recruiting class in the country. It’s a class that features three McDonald’s All-Americans and one of the players that has the potential to make a great impact to an already talented Maryland team.

Yes, UConn’s losing three seniors, but don’t count’em out yet. Jim Fuller at the New Haven Register writes: Stewart worked to leave UConn women’s program prepared for future

Knowing the pressure that awaits the returning players with herself and fellow All-Americans Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck graduation, Stewart has offered some guidance. Whether it was taking Katie Lou Samuelson out for dinner when Stewart thought Samuelson hit the proverbial wall or cracking jokes to Napheesa Collier during the stretching portion of the warmups before the national championship game, Stewart took the responsibility of bringing along the younger Huskies to heart.

Graham offers up: Sophomore Kia Nurse holds the cards for UConn

Four national championships in four seasons. It is one of those feats that can be matched but never bested, Connecticut seniors Moriah Jefferson, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck as secure in that legacy as a golfer who wins four majors in a calendar year.

Unless …

With two championships in her first two seasons, Kia Nurse is halfway to matching that haul. Granted, halfway is a long way from the whole way, but when it comes to tiebreakers, Nurse earned an unbeatable one almost a year ago on a basketball court in Toronto.

Also: Returning UConn players say they’re ready to take baton

Freshman Katie Lou Samuelson said the team has heard the critics say that without the three seniors, the gap will close between UConn — which beat teams by nearly 40 points a game — and programs such as Baylor, Notre Dame and South Carolina.

She said they’ll use that as motivation.

“We kind of want to prove to everyone that we can still do it, and I think all us are going to be ready when that time comes,” she said.

Howard Megdal: How Geno Auriemma still gets excited for next year

…it is through that lens, accomplishment as a subset of personal journey, that leaves Auriemma excited for what comes next. He said that until he and associate head coach Chris Dailey come to the decision that they can’t “get the kids to where they need to go”, he wants to keep coaching. He doesn’t usually get to think much about his championships because there’s always so much to do. He revealed that conversations about next year had already begun—Gabby Williams was in his office discussing how she needed to get better to compensate for the lost greats. Next year, Auriemma said, is never far from their minds. He doesn’t make it sound like such a bad thing.

“These three leaving, the rest of the players coming back are in for a rude awakening,” Auriemma said. “But you can’t disregard what all this, the impact that it has on the players coming back. And it will last for a while. But then obviously it will—they’ll have to earn it like these other guys.

From John Walters, Newsweek: FOUR SPORTSWRITERS HAVE DECADES OF EXPERIENCE WITH UCONN COACH GENO AURIEMMA

To cover UConn on a daily basis affords these writers unfettered access to the John Wooden of women’s basketball without having to combat, for most of the season, the incursions of big-time media outlets (even if ESPN headquarters in Bristol is just 45 miles west). “It doesn’t matter if you’re from The New York Times or from the JI [Adamec’s paper], Geno treats everyone the same,” says Adamec. “The first time I showed up to a practice, he approached me and said, ‘You made it all the way from Vernon [another tiny eastern Connecticut hamlet]?’ As if to congratulate me for finding them.”

The banter, over the years, has led to a rapport that has laid the foundation for a trust and candor between both parties that is rare if not unique in sports. For years Geno would host a Final Four party on the eve of the national championship game—even in the years UConn was playing—to which media were also invited. “At the 2000 Final Four party in Philadelphia, I brought my wife, whom Geno had never met,” says Jacobs. “He gave her a hug and said, ‘Your husband’s an asshole.’ She replied, ‘I know.’”

Hello again, Lindsay Kramer at Syracuse.com: Quentin Hillsman plans on staying in charge of Syracuse women’s basketball

The breakout star of the 2016 NCAA women’s basketball tournament wasn’t a player.

It was Syracuse University coach Quentin Hillsman.

Hillsman has been highly regarded in coaching circles during his decade of running the Orange, as evidenced by the steady stream of compliments from opposing coaches in SU’s streak to the national title game Tuesday night in Indianapolis.

An encouraging word: Bonvicini to Barnes: Go for it.

Winner. That’s the first word that comes to mind for Joan Bonvicini when speaking of her former star Adia Barnes.

“Adia’s the kind of person that you never want to say you can’t do something.” 

Not so encouraging words out of Nebraska: Yori resigns following athletic department investigation | Women’s Basketball

Hmph. I know there are some head coach openings, but….Lady Vols, associate coach Kyra Elzy agree to part ways

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that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…”

Gene Wang at the Washington Post: Connecticut routs Syracuse, wins historic fourth straight NCAA title

From the moment she arrived to play basketball for Connecticut four years ago, Breanna Stewart aimed to set herself apart from anyone in the history of the sport. At the top of her list of goals was playing for the first women’s team to win four national championships in as many years. 

Following a masterful performance in Tuesday night’s 82-51 victory over Syracuse in the NCAA tournament final, Stewart not only made good on her unprecedented aspirations but elevated the top-seeded Huskies into exclusive company. 

Syracuse.com: Connecticut smothers Syracuse to win 4th straight NCAA women’s basketball title

Syracuse women’s basketball coach Quentin Hillsman: We’ll get the next Breanna Stewart

Hillsman may have lost an NCAA championship game to Connecticut on Tuesday, but he clearly retained all his confidence.

And that’s probably warranted.

His success in recruiting great players was on full display in the Orange’s run to the title game.

While he missed on Stewart coming out of Cicero-North Syracuse four years ago, heading into this offseason the spotlight of the program’s first-ever Final Four should give Hillsman an even easier time getting an audience with the handful of difference-makers coming out of high school basketball every year.

Bud Poliquin: Syracuse women’s basketball may have been outplayed and outclassed, but it wasn’t out-fought

Before this one had even begun, Quentin Hillsman was working it, and working it hard.

“Some of our players have played against them and I’ve coached against them numerous times,” he’d announced … and the “them” in the equation were the Connecticut Huskies. “I’ve been on every possible end of the spectrum of a UConn game — a regular-season game, a Big East Tournament game, on Senior Night at their place. I’ve been in every possible situation against them.”

Well, not exactly. At least not going into Tuesday evening. Because it wasn’t until then that Hillsman and his Syracuse women’s basketball team walked into Bankers Life Fieldhouse and entered a whole ‘nother realm

More Lindsay: Proud Syracuse women’s basketball bows to Connecticut, envisions path to its own title

“I thought in spurts we played pretty good,” Hillsman said. “We just had some troubles (in execution). But the troubles come from UConn.. They’re just a great basketball team. I’m not shocked by how good they are. I’m not shocked about the things they did in the game. We competed. We definitely didn’t play scared. It was a very tough basketball game and I thought our kids left it all on the floor.”

Jim Fuller, New Haven Register: UConn women win fourth straight national championship, 11th overall

“There are three key ingredients that go into this kind of success,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said as he pointed to Tuck, Stewart and Jefferson. “When you have players like these three and the kind of individuals that they are, the kind of character that they have, the way they conduct themselves every day, I have never been around a better group of great players that love the game, appreciate the game, love their teammates. They have done something that obviously never has been done better so it means they are really good.”

Graham: UConn’s trio of seniors goes out with class

It was the day before her class would attempt to make history by winning a fourth consecutive national championship, and Connecticut senior Moriah Jefferson was trying to explain why perceptions of her and her classmates are drawn from incomplete information.

Morgan Tuck may look calm and composed on the court, a model of subtle efficiency juxtaposed against Jefferson’s perpetual motion or Breanna Stewart’s long-limbed canter. But that, Jefferson noted, obscures an inner wild child loud enough behind closed doors to carry through the walls.

Jefferson acknowledged, too, that despite the speed with which she plays, she is known as “Grandma” to her teammates for reasons that have more to do with demeanor than age. The hummingbird activity slows to a Texas amble when the sneakers come off.

Howard Megdal at Vice: THE UCONN WOMEN TAKE THEIR HISTORIC, INEVITABLE CROWN

After answering questions at the postgame podium, Sykes took a long, slow walk down the corridors of Bankers Life Arena, eventually ending up in the visitors’ locker room. Weary from a full season of drives and spills, she asked, “You mind if I sit down?” No one did, and she wearily settled into a chair in front of her locker, one leg extended. Her team had been routed, but she had started to find perspective on it before the game even ended, while standing on the sideline. The realization came as the confetti began to fall and both pep bands began to play.

“I was just taking in those last few seconds on the clock to realize what we’ve accomplished this year,” Sykes said. “You see the clock winding down, and you realize that you lost the game, but at the same time you think in a positive mindset, too—that gives you ammunition to get back to that spot. And we’re going to forever remember this feeling. And next season we want to get back here so we can change that feeling and know how it feels to win a national championship.” Sykes, it should be said, was the exception. It’s really hard to take the long view as a player who is used to winning, and has just lost by so much, so quickly.

WaPo’s Des Bieier: Breanna Stewart’s U-Conn. career was about as close to perfect as it gets

Let’s take a moment to appreciate a uniquely successful college basketball career, one that ended in a remarkably appropriate way. With her Connecticut Huskies winning the NCAA title Tuesday, Breanna Stewart completed a near-perfect run, and her final act came against an unlikely opponent that just happened to be her hometown team.

Mechelle: With fourth title in hand, Stewart delivers

“When you feel the most satisfied, when you’ve done all that you can do,” Stewart said, “when you’re working this hard and performing at that level, there’s nothing else that can be asked of you. No matter, win or lose or anything, you’re putting it all out there. That’s what you want.”

Maybe the most remarkable part of this is that Stewart has made it look … well, almost mundane. Stewart, her teammates and UConn Nation were excited Tuesday, but for many sports fans, the conclusion of another perfect season — UConn’s sixth — was practically ho-hum.

Okay, so what was with that sword? USA Today’s Laken Litman explains Why the UConn seniors knighted each other after winning national championship

USA Today’s Luke Kerr-Dineen: Let’s appreciate UConn women’s basketball for what it is: A dynasty

The role parity plays in the NFL is hardly a taboo subject when people discuss the league’s popularity, and it’s not as if the New York Yankees escaped criticism when they were winning everything and paying its players handsomely for the pleasure.

The difference here is that not only did people linger on the negative side of that question, many never made it to the eventual conclusion that almost always follows: That dynasties should be celebrated because they offer casual fans an avenue into the sport that didn’t exist before.

Not a golf fan? That’s fine, but I bet you know who Tiger Woods is. You may not follow horse racing but I’d be shocked if you didn’t know what American Pharoah accomplished last year. You don’t have to be a UFC follower to know who Ronda Rousey is, or a boxing fan to understand that Mayweather-Pacquiao was a very big deal.

NCAA.com echo: UConn women’s basketball: How to appreciate the true dynasty of the Huskies

They are the Celtics in pony tails, and the Yankees in pink. They are the Canadiens without a penalty box, the Steelers without shoulder pads. They are UCLA, with two X chromosomes.

Their coach is John Wooden in a coed world. Except now, he has one more national championship.

And now that Breanna Stewart has crunched her last opponent and cut down her last net, what to think about the Connecticut Dynasty?

And more: UConn’s legacy cemented in history with 11th national championship

Swish Appeal: UConn’s Big 3: 4 years, 4 National Championships

Hartford Courant’s Jeff Jacobs: Senior Sweep — Savor The Huskies’ Big Moment

Basketball is Marcus Paige hitting an impossible shot with 4.6 seconds left and Kris Jenkins answering with a buzzer-beater for the ages.

Yet basketball, too, is John Wooden’s UCLA men of a half-century ago and Auriemma’s UConn women of Tuesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

There is a memorable scene in the movie “Hoosiers” where Coach Dale has the boys measure the distance from under the backboard to the free-throw line and then again from the floor to the rim. Fifteen feet. Ten feet. “The exact same measurements as our gym back in Hickory,” Dale said.

The message, of course, was no matter how big the moment or how colossal the challenge, the game is constant. The game is the same for everyone. For David. For Goliath. For Paige. For Jenkins. For Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton. For Diana TaurasiMaya Moore and Breanna Stewart.

Sue: Connecticut’s dominance leaves no doubt in 11th title win

Auriemma, who was emotional in a press conference before semifinals, said the three players left a legacy not only for the school, but for players who follow them.

“They’ve left an imprint on this game that’s going to last a really long time,” he said. “And I think it’s a blueprint for kids coming after them that if you want to know how to do it, they showed everybody how to do it. And they did it the right way. And they did it together and they did it with people that they love. And I’m really, really proud of them.”

Richard Deitsch at SI: Perfection: UConn’s Stewart leaves legacy as unparalleled winner

There were no Kris Jenkins or Marcus Paige moments tonight, no Ryan Arcidiacono hearing “Arch! Arch! Arch!” and flipping the ball back to his trail shooter for the shining moments of all shining moments. No, this was a clinical Connecticut victory, a cold-blooded dissection of Syracuse, which had a remarkable run to the final before getting eaten by a basketball Godzilla.

UConn is the champion of women’s basketball again in an 82–51 rout, but this one came with plenty of notables: The win vaulted the UConn senior class of Moriah Jefferson, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck to 151 career wins (and just five losses), the most victories for any class in the history of women’s basketball. The trio also ran the table in the NCAA tournament with 24 consecutive wins, a record that can only be matched but never topped. Oh, yes, there was also this: UConn coach Geno Auriemma won his 11th career national title, eclipsing legendary UCLA men’s coach John Wooden by one.

If you want to have an argument about women’s basketball…Taurasi, not Stewart, largely considered best UConn player ever

 You have to like a question with three choices and no wrong answers. But which one is the most right?

NCAA.com: UConn women’s basketball: Breanna Stewart makes case she’s the greatest ever with fourth title

If you saw the UConn bench go wild when that last shot went in, you may want to (see) read Lindsay Schnell’s piece: UCONN RESERVES BRIANA PULIDO & TIERNEY LAWLOR ON WHAT IT’S LIKE TO WALK ON WITH A DYNASTY

Briana “Polly” Pulido was about five minutes into her first walk-on workout with Connecticut assistant women’s basketball coach Shea Ralph in the fall of 2013 when she had a thought she couldn’t shake 

What the hell did I get myself into? 

It’s a question she still battles, she says, though not as much anymore. As one of two walk-ons for the Huskies, who go for an unprecedented four-peat tonight in the women’s national title game, Pulido knew what she had gotten herself into, and why. It’s cliché, but true, she says, that she wanted to be part of something special.

Harvey, NY Times “On Basketball”: A Team Sets a High Bar, and Then Surpasses It Yet Again

Did you catch the audio of Mechelle on WNYC: What UConn’s Success Means for Women’s Basketball

How about NPR’s Frank Deford: It’s Time To Celebrate The UConn Women’s Basketball Team

Mechelle: Auriemma passes Wooden with 11th title

Why has Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma won so many national championships? There are multiple intersecting specific reasons that have helped in the construction of the Huskies’ women’s basketball dynasty that claimed its 11th NCAA title, all under Auriemma, on Tuesday. But there is also one overriding factor.

Which is this: Some people are exceptionally great at what they do.

Why is Mark Zuckerberg a gazillionaire? Why has Meryl Streep earned 19 Academy Award nominations? Why do the Beatles remain the best-selling musical artists of all time, even 46 years after they broke up?

The big “why” for the extreme end of greatness is always an extreme talent. Then there are other variables: opportunity, geography, timeliness, an ability to seize the moment.

From the Indy Star: and UConn’s dominance continues to be worthy of our celebration and KRAVITZ: Step aside, John Wooden and UCLA; make room for UConn and Auriemma

“The first thing I thought about (Monday) night, when you told me you would ask me that question if we won, was last night, there were something like 20-some of my former players, and we were all in one room and I just remember taking a step back and looking at all of them and thinking, ‘This is just an unbelievable scene’,” Auriemma said. “And they’re all here today. And what those 11 titles mean to me is how many great players I’ve had a chance to coach and how many great people have come through the program. 
 
“It doesn’t matter whose name I’m above, whose name I’m under or next to, as long as I have those names and those players in my memory, I’m good.”

More audio on Dan Patrick: Geno Auriemma says he hates John Wooden comparison

ESPN’s Front Row offers BTS of ESPN at NCAA Women’s National Championship

American Athletic Conference offers: UConn Women’s Basketball Captures Perfect 38-0 Season

In their own words: NCAA post-game:

Other Indy stuff:

This past weekend, senior Mercedes Riggs headed to Indianapolis, Ind., for the NCAA Final Four.  Riggs was a part of the “So You Wanna Be A Coach” program put on by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA).  A product of Lindon, Utah, Riggs stopped by to talk about her experience and what lies ahead in her career.

Yeah! NCAA to mull playing 3 women’s finals in same city again

“It really was a special moment for women’s basketball,” Auriemma said. “I hope it was a moment that everyone took in and appreciated and wants to do again. I talked to some of the coaches and players on those teams and they said they never experienced anything like this. And you know what? They deserve to. Those kids play just as hard, put in as much time and effort as our kids.”

The NCAA added a nice touch, having the players from Division II champion Lubbock Christian and Division III winner Thomas More hold the flag during the Division I title game. A moment they won’t forget anytime soon.

Something you might have missed: ‘Loudest ovation’ at NCAA game for Lauren Hill.

NICE! From the Seattle Times: A LOOK BACK – Huskies’ 2016 Final Four run

It was a season of firsts for the Washington women’s basketball team — a season in which UW finished just fifth in the Pac-12. But once the Huskies found their footing in the postseason, coach Mike Neighbors’ squad went on an improbable NCAA tournament run that culminated in a Final Four appearance. Here’s a look back at the Dawgs’ 2015-16 season and their journey to the Final Four.

Well deserved: Jacksonville Women’s hoops team to be recognized before Friday baseball game

Hofstra had a nice WNIT run: W.B. Mason Coaches Report With Krista Kilburn-Steveskey

WNBA news:

With Morgan Tuck declaring for the draft, follow excelle’s WNBA draft board here. Did I mention that Powers is doing the same? Aerial Powers on WNBA: ‘It’s the right opportunity’

On that draft list: Banham Reflects On Career, Looks Ahead To WNBA Draft

Didja read: WNBA President, Lisa M. Borders, Says NBA And WNBA Are Joined At The Hip and the Q&A: New WNBA commissioner Lisa Borders ’79 on her goals for the league

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’cause it’s the most wonderful time of the yeeeeeeear… Take a deep breath, y’all, shut the door and pull up a chair ’cause you’ve got a lot of reading to do!

First things first: WNIT!!
Saturday, April 2  |  3 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. CT
CBS Sports Network – Thad Anderson (play-by-play) and Chiney Ogwumike (analyst)

The finals are set and it pits two programs who’ve got something to prove (to the selection committee): South Dakota v. Florida Gulf Coast University.

The Coyotes earned a birth by throughly handling Oregon, 88-54.

DakotaDome’s long goodbye as a basketball facility will now officially be talked about for a very long time. The old gal just doesn’t want to give up on roundball just yet. USD will now play the winner of Michigan vs. Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday accompanied by a crowd expected to be bigger than Wednesday’s.

“Even when we were just warming up at 60 minutes (before the game), the people were filling in,” said Kelly Stewart, who was one of six Coyotes who hit double-figures. “Then every time we came out of the locker room there was more people. And finally, when we were about to do the starting lineups, I looked up and I got a huge smile on my face. Everyone was smiling.”

The Eagles took on Michigan in from of a record crowd, and came away with the 71-61 win.

“It was a great defensive effort against a great offensive team,” said head coach Karl Smesko. “Now we’re excited to get to play for the WNIT Championship. The crowd was exceptional tonight. It was a huge advantage for us to have it here with that type of atmosphere. I’m sure it’s the type of game that these players will remember for a long time.”

FYI: WNIT NOTES

-Minnesota’s Rachel Banham scored 48 points on March 16 to lead the Gophers to an 87-80 win over Milwaukee in Round 1. That set a Postseason WNIT record for most points in a game, surpassing Tamika Whitmore of Memphis (45 against Arkansas State, 1999). 

-Sharnae Lamar of Northern Iowa dished out 15 assists to set a single-game WNIT record in the team’s 64-58 victory over Drake, 64-58. 

-The 2016 title game between South Dakota and Florida Gulf Coast is the second time since 1998 that two mid-major programs have played for the Postseason crown. In 2004, Creighton beat UNLV for the title.

-Before 2016, there have been 13 mid-major teams to reach the Postseason WNIT championship game. The six mid-major champions are Creighton (2004), Missouri State (2005), Wyoming (2007), South Florida (2009), Toledo (2011) and Drexel (2013).

About that stuff happening in Indianapolis: FREE Women’s Final Four Activities

General:

Indianapolis set to be center of women’s basketball world

All of the women’s basketball world will descend on Indianapolis this weekend in a celebration of the sport.

For the first time in NCAA history the Division I, II and III women’s titles will be decided on the same court.

“We can’t wait for the 2016 championship games in Indianapolis,” NCAA vice president for women’s basketball Anucha Browne said.

Celebrating 35 Years of NCAA Women’s Basketball

Beth Mowins to replace Dave O’Brien as announcer in Final Four, first-time all-female crew for ESPN at event

Women’s basketball | Final Four: Three first-timers crash party with UConn

Meet the Women’s Final Four

Audio: ‘Around the Rim’: Final Four preview

Audio: Kara Lawson with SI’s Richard Deitsch

Audio: Sue Bird talks about the low pay for women’s professional basketball in the United States on this edition of our Keeping Score with Rick Horrow audio podcast

Audio: HBO and The Ringer’s Bill Simmons is joined by Diana Taurasi to discuss her WNBA return from Russia, UConn’s dominance (6:00), the stupidity of lowering the rims (13:00), GSW’s selflessness (16:30), playing pickup with Westbrook and Draymond (21:00), and the struggling Lakers and D’Angelo Russell (30:00).

Audio: Special Dishin & Swishin Podcast: “Ambassador” Tamika Catchings welcomes the WBB world to Indy

Audio: Dishin & Swishin 3/31/16 Podcast: Doug Bruno is back to break down the 2016 Final Four

Women’s NCAA tournament: Four keys to the Final Four

Women’s Final Four: Can Anyone Stop UConn?

At Women’s Final Four, male-coached teams not a bad thing

These Are The Last Three Teams That Have A Chance To Beat UConn

SNYDER: UConn overshadows parity among other women’s basketball teams

VanDerveer: UConn’s rule isn’t bad for the sport — but next year it could be

Jeff Jacobs: In Women’s Final Four, It’s The Men Who Beat The Odds

Jeff Jacobs: Think UConn’s Geno Auriemma Is A Rock? You Should Meet His Wife

Pac-12 Feature: From ground floor to Final Four

My turn: JUST CATCH UP

Washington:

How UW’s and OSU’s Final Four run is a breakthrough for Pac-12 women’s basketball

Pac-12 Feature: From ground floor to Final Four

7 things to know about Washington Huskies (Syracuse women’s basketball Final Four foe)

Meet the Final Four-bound UW Huskies women’s basketball team

Washington’s jump shooter doesn’t jump

HUSKIES WOMEN: Masters of the Unexpected

Four knee surgeries later, UW’s Walton unfazed by doubts

Mike Neighbors: From Blockbuster To The Final Four

Oregon State

Five questions for Beavers-Huskies

Washington and Oregon State new faces in Final Four

New to following Oregon State women’s basketball? Here’s a crash course on the Beavers

Oregon State Beavers women’s basketball blending intensity, playfulness during Final Four run

Final Four newcomer Oregon State scrappy on defense

Watch: Gary Andersen and Pat Casey on Oregon State

OSU dreams big, embraces Final Four berth

Watch: Oregon State women’s basketball Final Four appearance called ‘incredibly miraculous’

Can Oregon State Shock The World?

Rueck’s Beavers have big fans in OSU’s 1963 Final Four team

OSU has unfinished business in Final Four

Aki Hill and the bliss of the Final Four

Open tryouts to the Final Four: Oregon State’s dramatic rise

Syracuse:

Syracuse’s Hillsman, Read preparing carefully for Washington

Syracuse women’s basketball guard Alexis Peterson brims with confidence

Keep shooting: Syracuse women’s basketball senior Brianna Butler does what she’s told

Turning point for Syracuse women’s basketball this season began with a loss

Kayla Alexander: Syracuse Orange Nation on Cloud Nine

Syracuse women’s basketball center Briana Day: Bigger foes aren’t going to push me around

Go Orange! Syracuse men’s, women’s basketball teams head to Final Four

Connecticut:

Is UConn’s sustained dominance bad for women’s basketball?

UConn may be the greatest college basketball dynasty ever

Geno Auriemma: Having to defend success ‘makes no sense’

Geno: Ignore UConn Women If You Want, ‘But Don’t Demean Those Who Appreciate It’ –

Why the dominance of the U-Conn. women’s team should be embraced

UConn’s opponents need to step up their game

Jeff Otterbein: UConn Women Simply The Best, Just Watch And Learn To Live With It

Here are a few additional assignments for sports columnist

Fans appreciate greatness, even when the games aren’t close

Fans don’t agree with columnist who says Huskies are killing the game

UConn Women’s Basketball Team Confronts Consequences Of Being ‘Too Good’

UConn too good? Quit the whining, beat ’em!

Respect the Women!

Be Great. Don’t Apologize.

UConn women don’t find winning boring

UConn women should be respected

UConn can join a pair of 4-peat pioneers in women’s basketball

Connecticut poised to make history again

UConn making something hard look easy

Huskies closer to place no team has ever been

Freshmen provide Huskies with needed backup help

UConn freshmen stepping up in NCAA Tournament

Samuelson’s family is UConn women’s basketball’s family, too

Women’s basketball: Connecticut’s Breanna Stewart leads a star-studded Final Four

Other basketball news:

Rachel for threeeeee: Banham edges Smith in 3-point championship

Brava: Jennifer Azzi comes out as gay, announces marriage to her USF assistant coach

“I, too, lived a long time not being 100 percent honest,” Azzi said. “Kind of the don’t-ask-don’t-tell kinda of thing. And it’s so stupid. I don’t know why we do that, but we do that. I’m a college coach. Is it going to hurt me with recruiting? What are people going to think? And you are constantly worrying about those things.

Supporters laud Jennifer Azzi for her bravery – but you can read the fear…

New women’s basketball coach Kenny Brooks raves about recruiting potential at Virginia Tech

Jonathan Tsipis’ plan to grow Badgers women’s basketball attendance starts with being visible –

New UW women’s basketball coach wants to keep state’s best players

Tsipis tasked with turning tide for women’s hoops

Wisconsin Women’s Basketball: Tsipis’ energy stands out during initial meeting with team

Bradbury named UNM women basketball head coach

KSU Women’s Basketball Coach Agnus Berenato

Kim Rosamond named Tennessee Tech women’s basketball head coach

Finally poached: UCF announces Katie Abrahamson-Henderson as head coach of women’s basketball

Former UConn players apply Auriemma lessons as coaches

Bye: Jatarie White to transfer from USC women’s basketball program

Bye: Two leave Duke women’s basketball team

WNBA:

Updownup-down… honestly, I think the NBA should raise their rim. It’s ridiculous how easy it is for the giants who play the game to score…

Army brass supports Minato in WNBA bid

Jennifer Gish: The next goal for UAlbany’s Shereesha Richards — the WNBA

Lindsay Whalen Joins Timberwolves’ Broadcast Booth

Deep Diving WNBA Data — Griner’s Paint Defense

WNBA Award Accuracy by Win Shares

Girls Sports Month: Candace Parker on what drives her, dunking and being a mom

WNBA Reveals New Apparel Items Celebrating Landmark 20th Season

The Legend of Lauren Jackson

Cool: Boomers And Fire GMs Head To WNBA Again

Following on from a successful visit last year to work alongside management at the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA, the off-court leaders at the Deakin Melbourne Boomers and JCU Townsville Fire will again embrace a fact-finding mission in Los Angeles and Phoenix this June, this time taking in eight sporting events in 10 nights.

WNBA star Chamique Holdsclaw “hitting game-winning shots” on and off the court

In case you missed it: Blake Griffin’s ‘Broad City’ appearance included a discussion about the WNBA

OT, but not really: Nike responds to U.S. national team jersey controversy

The sportswear behemoth that has outfitted the national team program for decades has been hit especially hard on two issues.

First, with the women’s jerseys, the low-cut neckline has been called unnecessarily sexualizing by some fans, and simply inconvenient anatomically for others whose body shapes aren’t the same as the widely used industry standard.

Second, with the men’s jerseys, you can’t buy one emblazoned with the three stars that represent the World Cups won by the women’s team. There are plenty of men who support Jill Ellis’ reigning champions just as much as they support Jurgen Klinsmann’s collection of question marks.

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(Becomes Monday! Monday! Monday! – and I’m home again Finnegan…)

But it was Saturday that saw some surprises.

Just as I say something nice about #17 Oklahoma State, they get upset by TCU, 79-65.

Just as I say something nice about Central Michigan, they meet challenger Toledo and lose, 81-79.

Penguins forget how to score and get upset by Cleveland State, 53-43.

Hampton got upset by Coppin State , which hurts their MEAC regular season championship prospects.

Crusin’ Mercer got crushed by Chattanooga, 67-43.

Southern squeaks by SWAC title challenger Alabama State, 57-55.

Costal Carolina (5-11, Big South) snuffed the Flames, 58-61. First time since February 19, 1996.

In the battle of South Dakota, it was a wild fourth quarter by both teams. Coyotes take down the Jackrabbits, 80-71, and have their eye on the regular season prize.

In the battle of Montana, the Griz upset the Bobcats, 70-66.

Who misses Ms. Jones? George Washington. They fall to VCU, 79-68.

(Now ranked) Colorado State needed a big fourth quarter to overcome Wyoming, and stay perfect in the Mountain West, 62-57.

Always keepin’ it interesting in the WCC: Pacific surprises Gonzaga in OT, 84-83. And BYU women’s basketball wins its first WCC regular-season championship

Tennessee-Martin makes a statement about who rules the OVC, stifling SIU-Edwardsville, 86-50.

Charlotte built a nice lead and held on to upset the Hilltoppers, 81-72.

They went back and forth by quarters, but it was UC Riverside that ended up with the win over UC Davis. The Highlanders are now 12-0 in the Big West.

If UC Riverside’s women’s basketball Highlanders pull this off, it’s going to be quite the narrative. Not sure if you could sell it as a movie script, although it certainly seemed to work in “Hoosiers.”

UCR remains undefeated in the Big West, running its record to 11-0 in conference and 18-7 overall following an 83-58 thumping of Long Beach State Thursday evening at the Rec Center.

The Highlanders did so with seven available players.

While I was working my way home, Sunday happened. All the ranked teams pretty much held serve, except

…for that pesky Florida. Nice win for Joni Taylor and Georgia, but what is up with the Gators?

..and #24 Tennessee. The Vols have a habit of snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory. This time, LSU was the beneficiary. The loss meant Tennessee dropped out of the polls for the first time in forever. Mechelle says Tennessee must focus on present, and future

The juxtaposition of so much going right for the Huskies and the difficulties facing the Lady Vols is an unpleasant thing for Tennessee fans. There is no other way to put it. There was a time not so long ago when UConn and Tennessee were both ahead of the rest of women’s basketball.

Since Tennessee ended the series after the 2007 season, the two programs haven’t met. Tennessee won its eighth title in 2008, but hasn’t been back to the Women’s Final Four since. UConn hasn’t missed a Final Four since 2007.

Alas, what Tennessee has to do now, though, is focus on trying to play as well as possible for the two games left in the regular season, the SEC tournament, and the NCAA tournament, which they still are projected to make.

Rachel B proves it wasn’t a fluke, going for 52  (and Kobe liked it) but, unfortunately, in a losing cause. Likely we won’t see her in the NCAA tournament… unless the Gophers can pull off the huge Big 10 Conference Championship upset.

It’s a tough year to be a Tar Heel fan…

Speaking of which, it’s been a tough year to be a Blue Devil fan…

Ouch. Butler upsets St. John’s, 62-58.

Double ouch. That was a disappointing Pac-12 season for Cal.

Squeak! Abilene Christian escaped Southeastern Louisiana (4-21, 3-11), 72-70.

In other news:

Out of Austin, THIS WNBA LEGEND MAY BE THE KEY TO THE TEXAS WOMEN’S HOOP DREAMS

Salt Lake: Utah women’s basketball: Dani Rodriguez always willing to assist

A story leaps to mind for Cynthia Rodriguez of her daughter, Dani, finding $30 on the ground at a market near their Downey, Calif., home.

To a third-grader, that’s a fortune, so she kept the cash close. But the next day at the same market, a woman was begging for money.

Dani, in her youthful wisdom, gave her fortune away.

“I asked her why she gave the money to that woman, and she said, ‘I found it it, and I didn’t need it,’ ” Cynthia recalled of their conversation afterward. ” ‘She needed it more than I did.’ “

As a senior point guard, Danielle Rodriguez’s capacity to give to others is tallied up: She’s dished out 429 assists in her career, the fifth-most in school history. But many of her good works off the court are being brought to light as she’s one of 10 women’s basketball players named to the AllState WBCA Good Works Team, which highlights the community service of student-athletes.

Columbus: Ohio State seniors face final home game

The instant that Cait Craft cut to the basket on Thursday night in Value City Arena, Ameryst Alston delivered a bounce pass in traffic so seamlessly that the two Ohio State senior guards appeared connected by some second sense.

The assist and the layup became a sentence within a paragraph of a story four seasons in the writing, and explained why each would describe her feelings as “bittersweet” heading into the pair’s final home game with the Buckeyes today against Illinois.

“It went by so fast,” Alston said. “I tell the young ones, enjoy the moment because it goes by so fast.”

Norman: OU women’s basketball: Sherri Coale talks about the consistency problem

Tallahassee: Brothers’ deaths helped shape Florida State’s Adut Bulgak

Adut Bulgak has the name of her late brothers — Deng Atem and Bul Atem — on each shoe.

The 6-foot-4 center for No. 10 Florida State is one of the top seniors in women’s college basketball, averaging 13.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. She will graduate in May with a degree in sociology, likely be selected in the WNBA Draft and try out for a spot on the Canadian Olympic team.

For some, that much going on could be overwhelming, but not for the 23-year-old.

“I built a tougher mentality because I had some terrible things happen to me just like other people have,” she said.

Were you wondering What To Expect When USA Basketball Trains This Week In Storrs? How about Sights and Sounds from Day 1 of #USABWNT Training Camp

Or the 20th season of the W: Refreshed, stronger Diana Taurasi still at the peak of her profession

The shorthand way of describing why Diana Taurasi did not play the 2015 WNBA season for Phoenix was that she took off the summer to rest.

Except that’s not exactly what happened.

“I did three months of heavy working out in the summer, Monday through Friday, just weekends off,” Taurasi said Sunday at the first day of USA Basketball’s national team training camp. “I didn’t necessarily take any basketball time off. But I got to work on things I needed to work on, strength-wise, stability-wise.”

In other words, last summer wasn’t about just taking a breather and texting snarky comments to motivate Mercury teammate Brittney Griner (although she did both).

Good news: Being an athlete helps Chameka Scott, Tiffany Jackson-Jones in their battles with cancer

 

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Score! Scoring 60 points still seems surreal to Gophers guard Rachel Banham (Speaking of surreal: Kobe Bryant congratulates UMN’s Rachel Banham for her 60-point game). Yah, it took double OT, but wowza. The Star Tribune says: Appreciate the Gophers’ Rachel Banham while you still can

Said Stollings:

“I think one of the big things is we only have three home games left, and we have one of the most special players to ever wear a Minnesota uniform in Rachel Banham. I think people shouldn’t miss an opportunity to see her in one of these final three home games. She’s a rarity. Players like her don’t come around that often.”

Yes, I mentioned Charlotte Smith’s Elon, and they won, so that means they escaped the WHB jinx…. but what’s with 66 total points in a double-OT game? Oh. I see – a Top 10 on Sports Center

A strong final quarter helped Notre Dame escape Louisville, 66-61.

Three freshmen and a pair of sophomores had the floor Sunday when, near the end of the first half, 13,847 at the KFC Yum! Center rose to their collective feet.

Louisville’s women’s basketball team upped its lead to nine points on No. 3 Notre Dame, the surest sign yet during a lengthy winning streak the Cardinals are a budding national power.

Talented yet inexperienced, however, youth showed itself down the stretch of a 66-61 Irish win.

Well, the MVC is going to be tight. Drake knocks off Missouri State to squeak into the top spot. Don’t look now, but Loyola (CHI) is still a contender.

A feeble final quarter doomed Tennessee against TAMU. It allowed the Aggies to get to overtime and grab a win, 76-71. More importantly: Jordan Jones released from hospital, X-Rays and CT scan results normal

The Crimson tied it up against the Tigers and sent their game to OT… but couldn’t topple Princeton, 92-83.

DUCK(s) upset the Huskies courtesy of a 35-point fourth quarter (seems to be going around).

Ouch (if you’re USC): A three-point play with 1.9 seconds left gave #8 Arizona State a win over USC, 69-68.

St. John’s won the Tri-State Battle over Seton Hall, 72-64.

George Washington is still missing Jonquel Jones (5th game)… but they’re back to their winning ways.

Defense was optional in the Maryland v. Ohio State, which made it wicked fun. The Buckeyes scored more, so they’re now atop the Big Ten.

Ohio State fans looking for March basketball, you have a team.

It’s a confident, up-tempo team on the attack with a dynamic one-two scoring punch and multiple options on the inside and perimeter who can score when defenses focus on stars Kelsey Mitchell and Ameryst Alston. 

It’s a swarming defensive pressure team that can slap on a press and maintain it, forcing opponents to play their game at their speed (smaller and faster) even when that opponent is a top-10 mainstay and one of the best rebounding teams in the country.

It’s the best team in the Big Ten, no doubt.

Double boink: St. Francis (PA) makes sure Bryant loses two in a row, 85-72.

Make that TWO IN A ROW: Norfolk State over Maryland Eastern Shore, 74-63.

Wow: Howard (4-18, 2-7) stuns MEAC leading Hampton in OT, 83-77.

Interesting: Manhattan beat Marist (who was missing sixth-year senior Tori Jarosz), 64-59.

Surprise! 

Bobbie Kelsey created something of an Internet firestorm a couple weeks ago when she went on a little rant about her University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team’s need to get its collective butts in the gym to work on its shooting.

While that postgame monologue after a loss at Nebraska attracted widespread attention, it was a variation on a theme that has been consistent throughout Kelsey’s five years at UW.

And Monday night, it appeared to finally pay some dividends as the Badgers snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 64-57 Big Ten Conference victory over Purdue before a crowd of 3,149 at the Kohl Center.

So, yeah, there was this game in Columbia….

UConn coach Gene [Hello, autocorrect?] Auriemma smiled at his three senior starters, savoring the latest virtuoso performance on the big stage by Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jefferson — and fretting about their departure next season.

“I carry five cellphones now with all the coaches who want to schedule us next year when these guys leave,” Auriemma said Monday night.

Count South Carolina coach Dawn Staley among them after Stewart, Tuck and Jefferson combined for 53 points in No. 1 UConn’s 66-54 blowout of the second-ranked Gamecocks.
Garnet and Black Attack: Gamecocks fall 66-54
Hartford Courant: UConn Women 66, South Carolina 54: Happy Geno Means Happy Huskies; Other Things Learned
New Haven Regiser: Big 3 lead No. 1 UConn past No. 2 South Carolina
New Britain Herald: UConn women’s basketball quiets South Carolina for easy win
Hartford Courant: Jeff Jacobs: Huskies’ Road Show Is A Beauty To Behold
Hartford Courant: UConn Women’s Notebook: Geno Has Great Admiration For Dawn Staley
UConn Daily Campus: Women’s Basketball: Huskies shine under bright South Carolina lights

Those who call it “boring” get schooled: Breanna Stewart’s shot at history

Yea! IU GLBT Alumni Association to host annual Pride Day in support of IU women’s basketball

Congrats! Hope women’s basketball gives coach Brian Morehouse 500th career win

Congrats! Tom Shirley wins 700th career game as women’s basketball defeats Dominican (N.Y.) 59-54

In W news:

Keep up with who’s going where and when…you can count down the W draft or get update on free agency at Today’s Fastbreak.

Congrats! Former Lee’s Summit star Danielle Adams chosen to NJCAA women’s basketball hall of fame

Say it ain’t so! Aussie star Taylor set for WNBA swansong

WATN? Simone Edwards: Simone4children Foundation Needs Base

“In Hermitage, I got a building put up there for the homework programme. It was running and everyone was working. It’s a place where we had our homework programme, fed families, gave back-to-school supplies, tried to create scholarships and focused on self-esteem building. But what we do is mostly focus on education, but now it (building) is damaged,” said Edwards.

“Last year, I went down there, and some of the bad men broke the lock off the door, stole furniture, the stove and damaged the windows. The homework programme is continuing in the church, but the last I heard is that the new pastor wanted it off the property,” she told The Gleaner.

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