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Welp – I guess the cream of the West showed the Challengers of the East, huh?

Fare-the-well:  Inside The W with Michelle Smith

Swin Cash was on a conference call for the WNBA on Monday morning, talking with reporters in conjunction with Tuesday night’s nationally televised game between the Sparks and Liberty, which is an anniversary rematch of the first-ever WNBA game back in 1997.

She was, as always, a passionate, eloquent advocate for the league, a veteran spokeswoman for her team, and as it turns out, a soon-to-be-retiree.

Cash announced Tuesday morning via a personal essay for The Players Tribune that she will be ending her decorated WNBA career at the end of the 2016 season.

Social Reaction: Swin Cash’s Retirement

Film Room: Running Down a Dream

Candace Parker Provides Perfect Spark

Crap: Chicago Sky loses guard Laney to season-ending knee injury –

WATN? WNBA star Nicole (Ohlde) Johnson: Never give up

NCAA

“In the recent months, there have been accusations and false attacks made of my character and coaching,” Swoopes said in a statement released by a public relations firm. “I stand proudly in my values, actions and intent of representing the best interests for students — as athletes, but more importantly as individuals.

High/Middle School

Thank you : Master at his Craft: Longtime Collinsville Middle School girls basketball coach retires

After 30 years and more than 600 victories as a girls basketball coach at Collinsville Middle School, formerly North Junior High, Greg Craft is calling it a career.

Craft, 55, retired in May as a science teacher and coach. More than anything, he will miss the relationships he’s built with players during the last three decades, and it’s that aspect of retirement that has Craft not ready to completely say good-bye.

WBHOF

June Courteau first heard an official’s whistle while growing up in Minnesota, specifically when she exceeded the three-dribble limit during a high school physical education class. Her reaction was swift and pointed.

“I told the teacher ‘that’s stupid,’ ” she said.

Courteau undoubtedly has been on the other side of such a comment. She has 45 years worth of experience in officiating. She worked for decades on the court in the heat of the moment. She now oversees such work as the NCAA coordinator of officials.

It’s hard to separate Natalie Williams the basketball star from her volleyball alter ego. This weekend’s festivities in Knoxville will constitute a supreme effort in that regard.
Since she was on a basketball scholarship at UCLA, Williams considered herself to be a volleyball walk-on. She was a four-time All-American walk-on (1989-1992) who helped lead the Bruins to volleyball national championships in 1990 and 1991. She was the first woman to receive All-American honors in both sports in the same school year (1992-93).

Sherri Coale, in her own words
Summitt’s stand re-launched OU women’s basketball, and ignited a Hall of Fame coaching career
Friends and Foes: Conradt, Sharp Reflect on Coale
Sherri Coale has been model of consistency at Oklahoma

The AAU girls basketball tournaments that span age groups and take place throughout the country serve to promote the sport. They also honor and preserve the legacy of Bill Tipps.Eddie Clinton is involved with the AAU program in West Tennessee and benefitted from Tipps’ assistance as the organization’s national chair. Clinton saw firsthand Tipps’ people skills and diligence in action. “It was a labor of love for Bill,” Clinton said. “Whatever it took to build girls basketball, he wanted to do. Girls basketball would not be what it is today without Bill Tipps.

“We’re girls and we just want to have fun,” said 90-year-old Mary Wersells, the first girls’ basketball coach at Simeon High School as she reflected on the history of the sport.

Nearly four decades ago, Title IX was enforced which prohibited discrimination against female athletes. This opened the doors for pioneers in Chicago like Wersells and 81-year-old Narcissa Roberts, who became the first girls’ basketball coach at Corliss High School in 1973.

INTERNATIONAL
Library Additions: 
Rise and Fire by Shawn Fury. Writes Shawn:
The book basically traces the jump shot’s influence on the game from the time of its introduction to today’s dominance of the 3-pointer. But along the way I take a lot of detours and one chapter focuses on the 1968 Iowa girls title game. It featured the shooting exploits of Jeanette Olson and Denise Long. I write about both players and that famous game and then of course about Denise being drafted by the Warriors. It was my editor’s favorite chapter in the book and several reviews have noted it, including the Washington Post’s.
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Thank you, Candice Wiggins. Appreciate your game, your spirit, your outspokenness… and the fact that you inspired coach VanDerveer to dip – oh so gently – into the snark.

Into the Sunset

I’ve always loved the sun.

I’m inspired by it. The way it nourishes. Soothes.

I have an insatiable need to be in it. The sun refuels me. I find guidance and answers in its warmth.

After a beautiful morning workout on the beach on March 2, I went back to mom’s house in the San Fernando Valley to journal. Writing is therapeutic for me, and has become a significant part of my life.

What I wrote initially shocked me. But at that exact moment, a ray of sunlight gracefully passed through my mom’s kitchen window and onto my face in a comforting, almost poetic way.

I took a deep breath, and felt overwhelming relief.

That wasn’t a coincidence, I thought. It was reassurance.

I knew what I’d written was final:

“I’m retiring from professional basketball.”

‘ice’s words reminded me to go searching for another basketball wordsmith, Sherri Coale. From the Desk of…

Coale often shows her appreciation by hand-writing notes.  She estimates she’ll write 50 per week. Often, she tasks herself this whenever there is free time. Bus trips or flights are important moments to find the space and clarity to craft these messages.

“I just think it’s one of the biggest little things you can do, and anybody can do it. I have lived just long enough to receive the rewards from having done it. It’s so easy. I spend about 20 minutes a day. I keep a running tally of whom I’m going to write. I’m getting new-wave if I kind of keep it on my phone now. I kind of keep it in a notebook in my purse but I’m trying to transition over to the phone. It’s funny if that’s always in the back of your mind, how many people you know just that you need to appreciate or a fan has been diagnosed with cancer and needs a boost, but these things come across and I write them down not to forget. I refill this caddy probably every two weeks. I go through a lot of notecards.”

Write Space & Time (WHY, oh Oklahoma SID folks, is it so hard to find these…. and their archived versions?) CHASING 20 YEARS, November 2015

Ah to be in the right place at the right time…blessed, I continue to be!  In 1996, I was coaching ball in a black and orange sweatbox at Norman High School. In the spring of that year, about two miles across town as the crow flies, the University of Oklahoma began its search for a head women’s basketball coach.

We were still tired jawed from smiling about our second state championship when a group of folks from the community showed up at the tacky precipice of my Lady Tiger Locker room to tell me they thought I ought to throw my hat in the ring at the University.

I laughed at them and asked them if they had been drinking or if they were just flat crazy.  I remember how they didn’t laugh back.  And I vividly recall starting to sweat. I was eight months pregnant with my second child, I loved my life and my work, and, God, I loved my girls. People think I’m joking when I say even considering the possibility was difficult, but it was.

WRITE SPACE & TIME: SERVICE FEEDS THE SOUL, January 2016

Just as courage isn’t an absence of fear, but rather a willingness in the face of it, service isn’t just giving what someone else needs, it’s giving what only you can. Gifts laced with pieces of the giver have the power to lift and buoy and rally. They dig a trench for underground connection—the kind that changes people.  And thus the gift never stops giving.

As the women’s basketball program at the University of Oklahoma, our team and staff have a broad platform from which to serve. 

This past week, our last week of holiday break before the spring semester began, we jumped on that platform every day to try to impact our community as deeply and as broadly as we could.

And, considering the news out of Belgium and Turkey and… something from Anne Frank:

It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. It’s utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more. In the meantime, I must hold on to my ideals. Perhaps the day will come when I’ll be able to realize them!

 

 

 

 

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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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(Hey, hey… hey! Watch those thoughts!)

Sites disappear, move or get taken over by Japanese script. AND….

A GREAT picture of Sherri Coale, “basketball player,” from the NAIA site, and this news: Elston King Announces Retirement – After over four decades of service to Southern University at New Orleans, King will end his coaching career

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina Elston King and his wife, Imogene, found themselves in the attic of their home; waters rising and in need of a rescue. Help did arrive, but they were only taking women, so King waded through the water with his wife on his back, getting her to safety. Eventually Elston King was lifted by helicopter off of the roof of his home and taken to Baton Rouge and reunited with his wife and with his other family; Southern University at New Orleans.

The recovery for both the Kings and SUNO started in those days and weeks while both were displaced in Baton Rouge. Elston and his wife in an apartment and SUNO temporarily housed by Southern University’s flagship campus on the bluff. By 2005, Elston King had dedicated more than three decades to his beloved Knights and he wasn’t about to let a storm wash all of that away. He thought about that time as his tenure at the University comes to a close. After 41 years as a student, coach and athletic director, Elston King is retiring.

“We stayed there [in Baton Rouge] for nine months but we knew we would come back”, recalls King. “Out of everything I’ve done at SUNO, I think rebuilding the program after Katrina, from nothing, into a winning program…a program that can be respected, that’s has to be right up there with anything I’ve done in my career.”

This, from the National Wheelchair Basketball Association: USA Completes Sweep of Wheelchair Basketball GOLD at the Parapan Am Games.

With a dominating performance in the Men’s Gold medal match, the USA team defeated the Canadian team to take the Gold medal at the 2015 Toronto Parapan Am Games. The final score tallied at USA 62 – CAN 39. The USA team was able to focus on their game plan from the beginning, and even the raucous cheering from the partisan crowd couldn’t distract the USA squad for achieving its golden goal.

With this win, both of the USA teams gained the top spot at the Parapan Games and have qualified for the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. Congratulations to both teams. GO USA!

Some background on the NYC high school story from the previous post courtesy of the National Women’s Law Center: The Battle for Gender Equity in Athletics in Elementary and Secondary Schools

This fact sheet discusses the importance of sports for girls, and the unlevel playing field they still face. Compared to male athletes, female athletes receive far fewer participation opportunities and inferior coaching, equipment, practice facilities and competitive opportunities.

Which dovetails nicely with the Title IX Blog’s post: LAS-ELC “Fair Play” Video

In the spirit of sharing helpful resources, this new video created by the gender equity team at Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center is aimed at students and helps them understand Title IX’s application to K-12 athletic programs. It also helps them understand their rights under California’s Fair Play in Community Sports Act, which applies to municipal athletic programs that are outside the scope of Title IX.

From D3Hoops: A three-part series: Day 1: Greatest of all time?

Let’s get something out of the way first.

Thomas More did not win the 2015 NCAA Division III women’s basketball national championship just because the Saints had Sydney Moss.  As several players and coaches, at Thomas More and elsewhere, were quick to point out all season, the Saints were a really good basketball team. They had depth in the front court, senior leadership in the backcourt and a fearless freshman dynamo at point guard. Thomas More was much more than Moss.

All that said, Sydney Moss may have completed the single greatest season of any women’s Division III basketball player ever. Heck, it may have been the single greatest season of any Division III basketball player, man or woman.

Day 2: First to reach the elite feat

On Monday we suggested that Sydney Moss may have just had the single greatest season by a Division III basketball player ever. She was the consensus Player of the Year, was named the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament and led her undefeated team to a national championship.

There have been only eight seasons in which a player has done three things or was named All-Tournament in years where the Most Outstanding Player award was not given out. Today we’ll see how those eight seasons compare statistically.

The combination of explosive scoring ability and team success is rarer than you’d think.  Schweers is the only other player besides Moss to win the scoring title and take her team to the national semifinals. In fact, since 2000 only four scoring champions played on a team that won even one NCAA tournament game in the same season — Moss twice, Schweers and Megan Silva of Randolph-Macon in 2006. Most scoring champions played on teams that didn’t reach the NCAA tournament in the same season and a fair number come from programs that have never been in the NCAA tournament.

Day 3: Dynamic duo drove Wash U juggernaut

If you want to argue that another player’s season was better than Moss’ because it came against tougher competition in the regular season, then maybe you gravitate toward one of the elite seasons posted by the dynamic duo that played at Washington U.

Wash U players account for three of the eight elite seasons with Alia Fischer making the list twice. In 2000 she was WBCA Player of the Year, the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA tournament and led the Bears to a national championship with a perfect 30-0 record. We didn’t name a Player of the Year in 2000, but we named her first team All-American. 

Her junior season in 1999 was nearly as good, with another WBCA Player of the Year award and another undefeated national championship season. The NCAA didn’t name a Tournament MOP in 1999 but Fischer was named to the All-Tournament team. We named Fischer second team All-American behind regular season scoring champion and Gallaudet all-time great Ronda Jo Miller.

Which allows me to add my addendum – UW-St. Louis’ coach, the fabulous Nancy Fahey, clearly doesn’t have enough to do:

Nancy Fahey’s 30th season as women’s basketball coach at Washington University in St. Louis will have a new wrinkle to it.

The Belleville native and former University of Wisconsin athlete will have a formal role in the NCAA Division III school’s leadership team.

Fahey has been promoted to assistant director of athletics for the Bears, athletic director Josh Whitman announced Friday. Whitman, completing his first year since coming from UW-La Crosse, said Fahey will continue to serve as basketball coach.

Fahey currently serves as a member of the Senior Leadership Team, which meets regularly to discuss all matters pertaining to the department’s operation. She is also actively involved in staff recruitment, development of policies and procedures, and strategic planning.

Here’s more on coach Fahey:

Next up: the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she earned four varsity letters, started as point guard two years, and was selected team captain her senior year. Majoring in physical education, Fahey’s goal was to teach, but not necessarily to coach — that is until she and other Wisconsin basketball players worked as summer camp counselors.

“During the camp, we led stations, such as dribbling, passing and shooting. The first time I coached a station, I got lost in it. I didn’t see anyone else in the gym but the kids in front of me,” Fahey says. “From that moment, I gravitated to coaching, and all my focus went into that. To this day, I feel that singular focus when I walk onto a basketball court.”

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a fool’s errand… BUT, I do want to take a moment to point out this:

Jacki Gemelos’ Chicago Sky WNBA box score: 16 minutes, 4-7, +24. Honestly, who would have ever thunk that?

Nike announces signings of the top four WNBA draft picks (photos)

More love and respect for Katie Douglas: Retiring Douglas set example for area girls basketball players

Katie Douglas was a 6-foot-1 girls high school basketball player running the point long before such God-given backcourt leverage was fashionable.

The 1997 Perry Meridian graduate helped usher out single-class hoops while at the same time forcing observers of the girls game to think differently.

“With Katie there was no good way to defend her,” said longtime Franklin Community High School girls basketball coach Walt Raines, whose Grizzly Cubs have long staged battles against the Falcons.

Storm star Sue Bird presented with Moyer Foundation award

A little follow up from NPR: What Anti-Domestic Violence Advocates Are Saying About The WNBA Suspensions

More not-so-happy-news for the Lib: Prince to miss beginning of WNBA season to play for Russia

Speaking of the Lib – where’s Taj? Post hires former WNBA All-Star as head coach

From Swish Appeal: Key questions each WNBA Western Conference team faces heading into the 2015 season and Key questions for each WNBA Eastern Conference team faces in the 2015 season

From the Daily Courier: Kobritz Column: What the WNBA needs to learn from the NFL: “While the NFL is trying to ban one of its marque players over a tempest in a teapot, the WNBA is about to embrace a sleaze ball. Go figure.”

From the Huffington Post: Should Those Who Spoke Out Against Donald Sterling do the Same With Isiah Thomas?

In NCAA news:

Oklahoma women’s basketball: Sherri Coale talks potential rule changes, playing four quarters

Seven families protest handling of Illinois women’s basketball probe: report

The letter the newspaper obtained said the families “most strongly object to the manner in which the ‘internal investigation’ of mistreatment and abuses by the coaching staff was handled and is currently being handled by your office. We find this protocol unacceptable as well as completely disrespectful to the student athletes and their families affected by the coaches and coaching staff involved in these patterns of abuse.”

The seven families are writing in behalf of former players Taylor Tuck, Sarah Livingston, Amarah Coleman, Taylor Gleason, Alexis Smith, Nia Oden and Jacqui Grant.

David Teel at the Daily Press: Removing graduate transfer rule would be height of hypocrisy for NCAA

“If you’re transferring to be in a graduate program, the NCAA wants you to be working in earnest toward that degree rather than just using up your last year of eligibility,” Kevin Lennon, the association’s vice president of Division I governance, told the Associated Press.

Really? The NCAA wants Utopia? Well, then let’s have Mark Emmert solve the budget deficit, immigration reform and Middle East conflicts.

Were the 14 freshmen who declared for next month’s NBA draft “working in earnest” toward an undergraduate degree? The 15 sophomores?

The NCAA has no business attempting to police or discern an athlete’s motives. No one should care if a graduate transfer cares about getting a master’s.

Something for the twit who hate-tweeted me about this Liberty/Thomas fiasco from the New York Times: Any Publicity Is Good? Isiah Thomas and WNBA to Find Out

The Liberty will kick off a new W.N.B.A. season with their annual media day Thursday. This year’s event will probably be the best-attended one in franchise history. The reason? Isiah Thomas, the team’s new president, will be on hand alongside the players to face reporters.

From the Daily News’ Linda Stasi: It’s not just Isiah Thomas! There’s plenty of jobs available for all the other pervy, misogynistic male celebs out there

It’s about damned time that we all stopped harassing sexual harasser Isiah Thomas for becoming president and part owner of the New York Liberty women’s basketball team, pending board approval.

So listen up, disgruntled female hoopsters! Let us not think of the sexist pig’s rise to the heights of your sport as the height of absurdity/insanity/disrespect. Let us instead think of it as the height of female liberation!

After all, we women have finally reached true equality. If the man who cost Madison Square Garden $11.5 million in a sexual harassment suit can still get the top gig in women’s sports, just think of the possibilities. No, not for you. For them.

Add this: Adam Silver Needs to Step in on the Isiah Thomas Hiring

And (fingers crossed) WNBA BOG Reportedly Could Reject Effort To Make Isiah Part-Owner Of Liberty

At the other end of the spectrum: Flat Rock basketball team honored for record breaking success

Success came in leaps and bounds for the Flat Rock Rams this year.

Both the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams won District championships, with the girls adding in a Regional championship.

The regional crown was the first in school history.

For their efforts the girls were honored at a recent City Council meeting.

“They had a great season this year,” Recreation Director Rodney Wade said. “They were Huron League champions, District champions and Regional champions.”

The girls that are seniors on this team are the first group to have went through the Flat Rock Recreation League program from first grade through High School.

Shawnee basketball’s Freeman to be inducted into OGBCA Hall of Fame

For a man who didn’t even play basketball in high school, let alone college, Steve Freeman has had a one-of-a-kind career coaching the sport.

The long-time coach, who has been an assistant with the girls basketball team at Shawnee High School, will be honored for a storied career when he is inducted into the Oklahoma Girls Basketball Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame on May 30.

“It’s a really nice honor, very exciting,” Freeman said. “It’s also very humbling, because so much about winning is being in the right place at the right time with the right kids. I’ve been fortunate that I have, a lot of the time, been in the right place at the right time. There are a bunch of very good coaches who have never were lucky enough to be in that right situation. I feel really privileged, really blessed.”

From Billy Watkins at the Clarion Ledger: Who was first? ‘Reportedly’ Sue Dabbs

“Football, basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, track and field, tennis. Oh … and I love volleyball,” she said. “I try not to miss anything. This is a dream come true for me. My mama told me I became an Ole Miss fan at the age of 6. I don’t remember it. But I can’t remember not being one, so it had to be early.”

Dabbs said she enjoyed the column about Beth, who lives in North Carolina and is an ordained Episcopal priest and a cancer survivor.

“Beth deserved having a story written about her,” Dabbs said. “She’s done a lot with her life and did a lot for females in the sports writing business.”

And that is true. She did.

From Virginia: What Cosby girls basketball team does for classmate with autism will warm your heart

From L.A.: Japanese American basketball leagues help girls progress at prep level

Standing just 5 feet 3, Lauren Saiki was sometimes the smallest player on the basketball court. But her signature thread-the-needle passes and heady ball-handling propelled the point guard and her teams from Alhambra Mark Keppel High to four consecutive playoff appearances, capped by last season’s run to the Division II state championship game, a first for the school.

Saiki, 18, has earned a basketball scholarship to West Virginia.

For all this, she can credit the fundamentals she learned while playing for more than a decade in a Japanese American basketball league.

“That helped build my foundation,” Saiki said. “. . . I really fell in love with basketball.”

What’s cool is this continues the long history of women’s Japanese-American basketball on the West Coast.

Before, during, and after World War II, Nisei youth clubs offered hundreds of city girls like Ide a place of camaraderie and belonging where they could play basketball and baseball, socialize with boys, develop leadership skills, participate in community service, and forge lifelong friendships. In an era when Japanese-Americans faced racial barriers to social acceptance, these clubs enabled urban teenagers to claim American identity and enjoy the pleasures of popular culture.

Which connects to this from Jayda: Ramu Tokashiki looking to catch on with Storm

A half-dozen journalists attended the second day of Storm training camp Monday. All were interested in one player: Ramu Tokashiki.

A 6-foot-3 forward, Tokashiki stands out in the basketball world in Japan. Nicknamed “Taku” (pronounced TOCK), Japanese slang for strong, she signed with the Storm to be challenged by WNBA players.

“I understand she has no competition, per se, within the Japanese basketball system,” said journalist Misa Seely of American Sports Access. “There’s nobody as tall as she is and nobody as quick as she is. Her size and strength and ability to score is what makes her a superstar.”
Tokashiki is expected to make Seattle’s regular-season roster. It would make her the third Japanese player to compete in the WNBA.

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Under an enormous amount of scrutiny – both by the Secret Service and by grumpy Committee bashers – the #8 Tigers and #9 Phoenix put together a nice game. Princeton dominated the boards and nailed their free throws to secure their first NCAA tourney win.

Courtney Banghart had seen it once too often. It was not much more than a year ago and one more time than she could stomach watching Annie Tarakchian, then a sophomore, catch the ball in good position near the basket, hold the ball over her head and look to pass without ever showing the slightest inclination to propel a strong frame to the basket.

“Annie is about the most gentle soul on this earth, and she’s really kind,” Banghart said. “Those two, gentle and kind, are not great inside the lines. Inside the lines for the first year and a half at Princeton she was gentle and kind.”

So when Tarakchian was passive one too many times in practice before a key road trip to Harvard and Dartmouth a season ago, Princeton already in a hole in the Ivy League race by then, Banghart whistled proceedings to a halt and delivered a simple rebuke. 

It wasn’t just the Tigers who were roaring.

If you recall, Susie McConnell-Serio’s team opened the season rather inauspiciously. That’s all forgotten as #10 Pitt Panthers produced a HUGE win for the program as they upset #7 Chattanooga, 51-40.

“Walking up to hal court at the end of the game I said to him, ‘This is bittersweet,’ because I have so much respect for him,” she said. “I think he is one of the best coaches in the game, and I’m so happy that he’s still coaching because he just has so much to offer to his players.

“So as happy as I am for our team and our program, it was hard to look at him as I was shaking his hand.”

It’s fly like an Eagle time, as #7 FGCU defeats #10 Oklahoma State, 75-67. They move into the second round for the first time in program history.

Smesko said the men’s team’s run two years ago has been “fantastic” bringing recognition for the school, located on the outskirts of Fort Myers, in southwest Florida.

“We’ve been right on the precipice for a long time,” Smesko said. “We know our next game is going to be against one of the very best teams in the country.”

#13 Liberty has been a hard-nosed program for a while – as #4 North Carolina quickly re-discovered – but the Tar Heels pulled out the win.

 Latifah Coleman and Allisha Gray weren’t going to let Sylvia Hatchell’s return to the NCAA Tournament end so soon.

Gray scored 17 points and Coleman had 15 to lead North Carolina past Liberty 71-65 on Saturday in the first round of the Greensboro Region.

The fourth-seeded Tar Heels (25-8) shot 49 percent, led by 14 and withstood the Flames’ late push to give their Hall of Fame coach a victory in her return to the NCAA Tournament after a year away to fight leukemia.

“This whole week, I have been so stressed out,” Hatchell said. “It’s a good stressed because I’m so excited about the tournament.”

Taking lessons from their football team, #15 Boise State was not intimidated by #2 Tennessee – even on their home court. In the end, the Vols escaped the Broncos.

The Lady Vols were clinging to a 63-58 lead after Boise State’s Camille Redmon made the front end of a one-and-one with 2:51 remaining. But Redmon missed her second free throw, and Tennessee’s Ariel Massengale sank a 3-pointer 13 seconds later to spark a game-clinching 8-0 run.

“I’m satisfied we got the W, but we could do much better,” Graves said. “Our one-on-one defense has got to be tight right now. This is crunch time.”

Coach Trakh can be proud of the effort of his #16 New Mexico State team against host, and #1 seed, Maryland. The Terps ruled the Aggies, 75-57.

Maryland center Brionna Jones could only giggle at the comparison.

“Like PT boats attacking a battleship,” New Mexico State coach Mark Trakh said in describing the destruction the 6-foot-3 Jones inflicted on his shorter, slighter players as top-seeded Maryland won its NCAA tournament opener Saturday.

All season, the Terps have won by continually switching guises. As if to prove that versatility, they beat New Mexico State with a bruising inside attack in the first half and a barrage of jumpers in the second.

#12 James Madison and #5 Ohio State gave us the Debbie Antonelli Special, with the Buckeyes emerging victorious, 90-80.

The Buckeyes — who started three freshmen and bring sophomore Shayla Cooper off the bench — shot 58 percent in the second half and scored on seven consecutive possessions down the stretch.

“Obviously, when you get to this time of the year (and) you have kids who have experienced it, that can be beneficial,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. “But I also think for kids who haven’t, then have that youthful energy and that passion to be a part of it. … That can take you a long way.”

#12 Quinnipiac and #5 Oklahoma gave us the second DAS, combining for 97 points in the first half and 99 in the second. Sooners scored more, so they win and move into the next round.

When the Sooners were 5-5 in non-conference play earlier this season, it was tough imagining them making the NCAA Tourament, much less imagining them winning a game in it. But after finishing in second place in the Big 12, Oklahoma came ready to play in the NCAA Tournament. Their 111 points against Quinnipiac showed that despite their lack of experience you should never count out a Sherri Coale coached basketball team.

Sun Belt champ Arkansas-Little Rock battled #6 Texas A&M wire-to-wire, then the #11 seed made good on the upset, 69-60, earning coach Joe Foley his 700th win.

“Tops right now,” he said. “Top game. It’s unbelievable, playing against a friend, playing in the NCAA tournament. It was fun. And to play as well as we did. We played great, and we deserved it.”

Taylor Gault scored a season-high 25 points, Kiera Clark added a career-best 22 and 11th-seed UALR beat sixth-seeded Texas A&M in an opening-round game Saturday.

“The thought I had was to shoot and drive and do whatever I knew I could do best for my team,” Gault said.

#3 Louisville tamed #14 BYU, but the game may be remembered for this action by the Cardinals’ Mariya Moore than the actual score.

Meanwhile, Louisville’s inside presence out-muscled the Cougars from the opening tip. The Cardinals outscored BYU 44-30 in the paint, and added 11 second-chance points on 33 rebounds to net the win.

Barely two minutes into the second half, Louisville’s Mariya Moore drew a technical foul — and the ire of both coaches — leveling BYU’s Morrison with a hard push off a screen.

BYU leading scorer Lexi Eaton responded to the physical play of the game with an elbow of her own two minutes later, a move that went uncalled by the officials — though she did receive a foul on a push on the same play.

#2 Florida State was in their comfort zone, and easily handled #15 Alabama State, 91-49.

“This experience is huge for our program,” Alabama State coach Freda Freeman-Jackson said. “It’s been a while since we have actually had an opportunity to compete in the NCAA Tournament. We only have one true senior that actually played (Saturday). We’re extremely young.”

Alabama State was composed early but wore out, committing 32 turnovers against a stifling Seminoles defense.

#14 Ohio spotted #3 Arizona State 16 points in the first half, but the MAC played the PAC even in the second. Nice re-focuser for the Sun Devils.

Junior guard Elisha Davis increased the lead on the next possession, getting a steal and making the layup. In a 54-second span, ASU had gone on a 7-0 run.

ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne said the spurt was a result of ASU’s defense.

“When our defense is turning people over and we’re getting easy buckets in transition, that’s when we’re at our best,” she said.

Ohio coach Bob Boldon gave credit to that aspect of ASU’s game.

“They took us out of everything we wanted to do,” he said. “That really contributed to us getting frustrated on the offensive side.”

Speaking of “re-focusers” #16 Cal State Northridge sure as heck provided that for Stanford as what seemed like a blowout-in-the-making turned into a dogfight. Cardinal escaped, 73-60.

How many hard lessons is this year’s Stanford women’s basketball team going to have to learn?

The Cardinal have already learned that beating Connecticut doesn’t mean you can’t lose to Chattanooga, that knocking off Oregon State doesn’t mean you can beat Oregon, that winning Pac-12 titles isn’t a default status, that changing your entire offense and turning it into a well-oiled machine isn’t going to happen overnight.

And that hosting an NCAA tournament game isn’t the same as winning it. At least not if you don’t play well.

Stanford figured that last one out just in time Saturday.

Courtney Williams did what she does, as host #6 USF dispatched #11 LSU:

South Florida made the most of its first home NCAA postseason game.

Courtney Williams had 17 points and 12 rebounds, Alisia Jenkins added 15 points and No. 6 seed South Florida beat 11th-seed LSU 73-64 in an NCAA tournament first-round game Saturday night.

The announced crowd of 5,560 erupted as the final seconds ticked off.

“I took a moment and went out there (on the court) and was like `wow,” USF coach Jose Fernandez said. “This is what we’ve wanted and worked for.”

The Old Big East fans were having serious flashbacks in Storrs as they watched #8 Rutgers and #9 Seton Hall go after it in OBE style. 

“What a great game,” Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said. “We played hard. I thought that Seton Hall did an outstanding job as well and just played extremely hard. We’re glad to have gotten that game under our belts.”

One year after staging a double-overtime thriller in the third round of the WNIT, Rutgers and Seton Hall turned in another memorable affair. For the second straight year in the postseason — and for the 34th time in 41 meetings all-time — the Scarlet Knights prevailed.

The #16 Terriers knew what they were getting into when they drew the #1 Huskies for their first-round match. But the game, did prompt a nice story in the NY Times about St. Francis guard Sarah Benedetti :For a St. Francis Player, UConn, Long an Inspiration, Turns Rival

When Sarah Benedetti moved to Canton, Conn., as a fifth grader in 2004, she almost immediately started rooting for the University of Connecticut’s basketball teams. That year, UConn became the first Division I university to win the national titles in men’s and women’s basketball.

Benedetti began attending Huskies games with her family and teammates. She idolized the UConn stars Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore. She was so obsessed with the sport that she arrived at Canton High School at 6 a.m. each day to shoot for an hour before classes started. Her father, Sergio, rebounded the ball for her.

Now a senior at St. Francis of Brooklyn, Benedetti competed Saturday night against her former favorite team.

Benedetti did well.

They were smiling from the moment they took the floor, especially when UConn’s starters were being introduced. This was their moment. And Benedetti, with a large cheering section on the day that her old high school lost its bid for a Class S state championship, did her best, making three three-pointers in a first half in which the team’s hole progressively grew deeper. She scored 13 points.

Said coach Thurston post-game:

“This was an incredible experience for our program. This team is the first time that St. Francis has sent a team to the NCAA Tournament on either the men’s or women’s side. Coach Auriemma is a gentlemen. He said nice things about our team and that means a lot to these girls. I told the girls if we played anyone else, we would have beat them, but it would take the defending National Champions to knock us out.”

On the Saturday games: Charlie:

1. ACC flies high: In two days, the ACC went from filling one eighth of the field to representing one quarter of it. While other teams are disappearing, everyone from the ACC remains present and accounted for. No one in the conference has lost, and the league is 8-0 after another four-win day Saturday. Pittsburgh, Florida State, North Carolina and Louisville all cruised into the second round. The Tar Heels had to withstand a late push by Liberty, but otherwise, the games were not only wins but also comfortable ones.

Even Pittsburgh, a No. 10 seed, thoroughly controlled Chattanooga from start to finish in handing the Lady Mocs their eighth straight tournament loss. For the second straight year, Chattanooga had a 25-game win streak snapped in the first round of the tournament. Panthers freshman Stasha Carey’s 16 points and 13 rebounds were just the second double-double in Pittsburgh NCAA tournament history.

Now hurry up and turn on the TV!

12:00 #4 Duke vs #5 Mississippi State, ESPN 2
12:00 #3 Iowa vs #11 Miami, ESPN 2

2:30 #2 Kentucky vs #7 Dayton, ESPN 2
2:30 #2 Baylor vs #10 Arkansas, ESPN 2

7:00 #3 Oregon State vs #11 Gonzaga, ESPN 2
7:00 #1 South Carolina vs #8 Syracuse, ESPN

9:00 #4 Cal vs #5 Texas, ESPN 2
9:00 #1 Notre Dame vs #9 DePaul, ESPN

Oh, and thanks, pilight, for keeping official track of this:

Note that this does not include the men’s play-in games. This is round of 64 vs round of 64. 

UPSET is any lower seed winning 

BIG UPSET happens when an upset involves teams more than four seeds apart 

CLOSE means a game was decided by single digits or in overtime 

BLOWOUT means a game was decided by 20 or more points 

80-90-100 is the number of teams scoring that many points

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says the Selection Committee.

Oklahoma continued it’s “ooo, we’re good, ooo, we’re not that good, ooo, we’re good!” season, stunning Baylor, 68-64.

After the final buzzer sounded on the Oklahoma women’s basketball team’s monumental 68-64 victory over No. 3 Baylor, coach Sherri Coale walked onto the Lloyd Noble Center court and let go of five years of frustration.

“That’s what I’m talking about!” Coale yelled near midcourt, pumping her fist repeatedly at the crowd.

Senior guard Sharane Campbell-Olds recorded team-highs with 15 points and nine rebounds, leading the Sooners to their first win over the Bears since the 2010 Big 12 Tournament.

The win not only broke the Bears’ 25 game winning streak, it opened the doors for three other teams vying for a #1 seed in the tourney: Tennessee, Maryland and Oregon State.

Still plenty of games to come, so write your brackets in pencil, y’all.

 

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