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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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As Auriemma approaches 900,

Sherri writes (lucky us):

In 2002, as witty fate would have it, Oklahoma played UConn for the national title. It couldn’t have been more surreal. The whole game is still like slow-drip molasses in my mind. We got them on an offensive counter, and I couldn’t help but smirk, then he got us on a flash and back cut as he grinned full-teethed while clapping and looking directly at me as I fumed. It was the most fun I’ve ever had in a loss — mainly because competing against him and his team made me and mine better than we ever could have been without the experience.

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Things we’ve noticed so far:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Richmond won their first game of the season.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Penguins win!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mechelle wonders if  North Carolina be even better?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Aetna And Travelers Go Back In Time To Play Women’s Basketball Game

Travelers had a successful team — the “Tower Five” — first, starting in 1921. The 1921-22 team went 20-2 and outscored its opponents, 469-180. According to Bermel, the people from Travelers encouraged Aetna to start a team in 1923. Adrian Brennan, who worked at Aetna, was the coach.

Over the next decade, the Aetna girls — the “Crimson Tide,” who were also known as the “hotsy-totsy girls from Hartford” in the New York press — won 111 of 133 games. They played in (and won) the first women’s basketball game at Madison Square Garden in 1928. Dr. James Naismith traveled from Springfield to watch them play.

Glad to see this. I uncovered some of the Aetna photos on their website back in the day when I put together the (now out of date) women’s basketball timeline, but they disappeared. Even reached out to Aetna – confusing the heck out of some folks – but to no avail.

In the Bayou, LSU women’s basketball striving to cultivate new leaders

Last year, seniors Jeanne Kenney, Shanece McKinney and Theresa Plaisance led the LSU women’s basketball team on both ends of the floor.

Coming into this season, the Lady Tigers are looking for ways to replace the production of these players by adapting to a style of play that fits the current roster and their leadership.

From the Big 12: 

Each of the last two seasons, Sherri Coale’s challenge was finding enough healthy players to practice. Two years ago, Coale had to borrow two players from the volleyball team.

This season, the Sooners have a full 15-player roster.

“I love the fact that my gym is crowded and I want it to stay crowded,” Coale said Thursday during the Big 12 Women’s Basketball Tour visit. “We have a lot of options. The question is who will be our starting five. I have no idea and that’s a fantastic problem to have.”

Nearby at Oklahoma State

Point Guard University has a new player ready to continue the tradition.

Andrea Riley, who was the Big 12’s career scoring leader before behind dethroned by Brittney Griner, started Oklahoma State’s run of outstanding guards in 2006.

Tiffany Bias then took over and helped the Cowgirls with an all-around game that last season produced 13.9 points, 6.2 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Her career ended with Oklahoma State’s loss to Notre Dame in the Sweet 16.

Next up? Sophomore Roshunda Johnson.

Speaking of the Big 12: Cindy Brunson provides an in-depth 2014-15 preview

Speaking of the other 12, from Sue: Pac-12 preview: Stanford University

The biggest mystery in the Pac-12 going into the season is what Stanford will look like this year. Conference coaches picked the Cardinal to win the conference again, but the fact is that no one will know for sure until they step on to the court.

For starters, Stanford is Ogwumike-less for the first time in six years, with the graduation of Chiney Ogwumike last spring. Not only did the sisters lead the team statistically, but they carried it and kept the Cardinal relevant for the past three seasons.

From Connecticut: UHart women’s basketball adds 6 year old team member

The University of Hartford’s Women’s basketball team has a new team member that will never see a minute of action, but the impact she will make is immeasurable. Six year old Zoe Brown, who suffers from a rare immune system disease Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome, is the newest Hawk, thanks to the program Team Impact that pairs youth with life threatening illnesses with college and pro sports teams.

Well, this is unpleasant: Army used alcohol-fueled party, cheerleaders to woo recruits

The Colorado Springs Gazette reported Saturday that U.S. Military Academy documents show that the Army football program wooed recruits with an alcohol-fueled bus party, small amounts of booster cash, and dates with cheerleaders and female athletes.

Per the Gazette, the academy “acknowledged the misconduct” and admitted 20 cadets had been disciplined with two officers and two Army coaches facing reprimands. The academy also self-reported a recruiting violation to the NCAA.

Speaking of unpleasant. From EDD: No One Should Have to Go Through the Bullying That I Did

No one should ever experience being bullied. It’s a cowardly action that unfortunately occurs all too often in our schools. According to the National Education Association, it is estimated that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. I was one of those students being bullied. I would hear constant comments and snickers from students about my height. “Hey, you are taller than my dad and all dads! You are taller than the rest. Why are you so tall? Why aren’t you normal?” Those comments bothered me, made me feel small — made me wonder why I was different than everyone else. Why I was the one being picked on.

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After upsetting the Cardinal, USC looked like they had nothing left as they faced Oregon State. But, Coop helped them “raise the roof” and earn a trip to the dance.

If there was a title to the story of the Southern California women’s basketball team over the past decade, it might be: “Promise Lost.”

The talent, the potential, the parade of All-Americans that should have made this one of the premier programs on the West Coast, seemed to dissolve into a smoldering heap every single year.

There was the cruel succession of ACL injuries that cut short the careers of Jackie Gemelos and Stefanie Gilbreath, who were among the most elite recruits in the country when they committed to USC. There were inexplicable late-season losses to lower-division conference teams that would leave the Trojans’ résumé lacking when it came in front of the NCAA committee. There were coaching changes and personality conflicts and, to be very honest, a whole lot of underachievement.

But USC changed the narrative on Sunday night at KeyArena.

Scott Rueck will await the Committee to see if he’s managed to shift the Pac12 paradigm. As the Oregonian asks: If Scott Rueck leads Oregon State women to NCAA Tournament, how big of an accomplishment is it?

Speaking of the Committee, Charlie tries to work through their headache predict AND explain the brackets.

Fordham took any mystery out of the Committee’s hands by upsetting Dayton to claim the A-10 crown. This accomplishment is six years removed from their 0-for season and gives New Zealander Rooney what she missed by a sliver last year: An NCAA berth.

We’ve been watching this unfold over the season: High Point v. Winthrop. In the end, Dequesha McClanahan leads Winthrop to first-ever Big South title

“What a game and what a tournament. I’m very proud of our players, this program and very thankful to our administration and all of our loyal fans and supporters that were here and suffered without a championship for over 30 years,” said Winthrop head coach Kevin Cook. “That’s what really makes it meaningful for them and our team.”

Yes, THAT Kevin Cook.

After an up and down season on and off the court, Nebraskan sophomore Rachel Theriot took control of the Huskers future and guided them to their first Big 10 conference title.

“It was a game where we couldn’t make a shot, but we found a way to win,” Husker coach Connie Yori said. “That says a lot about our mental toughness. We did a great job on the offensive glass. Every game doesn’t come down to playing pretty, but you find a way to win.”

No surprise, the Irish claimed their first AAC title – but were you a little surprised by how close the game was (at first)?

When is two points more than two points? When it’s a basket that sends a figurative bolt of electricity through a team and its fans. And that was exactly what Jewell Loyd’s alley-oop did in the second half of the ACC tournament title game.

The Fighting Irish are champions of their new league, and they will go into the NCAA tournament undefeated at 32-0. They execute offensively, are patient even when things aren’t clicking as well (which is rare, but happens), and are very dependable on defense.

But … they are also just really darn fun to watch.

Yes, a bit of a surprise, because of the upset of South Carolina, but Kentucky falling apart at the end? Not so surprising this season. Tennessee’s SEC title might give them a #1 seed, which would be (be honest) a surprise.

Tennessee adopted the motto of “Grind for Nine” at the beginning of this season, referencing the team’s blue-collar mentality as it pursues the program’s ninth national championship. The Lady Vols haven’t been to the Final Four since 2008, which is also the last year they won a national title. Back then, Pat Summitt coached the Lady Vols, before resigning in 2012 because of health reasons. Warlick, Summitt’s longtime assistant, became the team’s head coach.

The conference tournament title won Sunday was the first for Warlick as a head coach. As she accepted the trophy afterward, she said hello to her longtime mentor, who did not make the trip. “I want to say hi to Pat Summitt,” Warlick said to the crowd. “I know she is watching this broadcast.”

The crowd erupted in cheers.

Yes, most of us had Marist v. Iona penciled in to the MAAC finals. Quinnipiac decided to erase that prediction.

“(Quinnipiac) did a great job executing,” first-year Iona coach Billi Godsey said. “When it comes down to it, we didn’t do a terribly wonderful job of stopping them in the defensive end.”

BTW, there was news in the MAAC quarters as the Rider team scored its biggest win in years — maybe ever — with a 63-56 upset of Fairfield.

Interesting games coming up:

BYU women’s basketball: Cougars will meet “scary” Pacific in WCC semifinals Monday. Of course, the other WCC semi is classic rematch: Gonzaga v. St. Mary’s.

America East: Stony Brook continues to surge under coach Beth O’Boyle — and gets a second shot at Albany for their efforts. Can they pull off the upset – again?

Quakers v. Tigers: Penn (21-6, 11-2 Ivy) and Princeton (20-7, 11-2 Ivy) are both tied atop the Ivy standings and face each other in the season finale at Jadwin Gym on Tuesday (5:30 p.m.). The winner earns the outright Ivy League title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The loser has already clinched second place and therefore, an automatic berth in the WNIT.

Davidson will try and stop Chattanooga‘s quest for the Southern Conference title.

Same old, same old in the Patriot semis: Navy v Holy Cross, Army v. American, with a little extra oomph:

However, Gibbons readily admits the greatest motivation comes from preserving history as Holy Cross wants to prevent Navy from equaling its feat of capturing four consecutive Patriot League Tournament championships. The Crusaders set that standard from 1998 through 2001 under the direction of Gibbons.

“We certainly would like to stop them from tying our record,” Gibbons said. “We’re playing for a lot of alumni who were part of that great run.”

Yup, it’s UConn (with Stewart’s block earning a SportsCenter nod) agains the Cardinals. In the classic, “Careful what you wish for,” the New York Times notes that “Louisville Confronts Elephant in Its Room”

For all the strides the Louisville women have made in becoming a perennial basketball power, the climb to the top remains daunting. Connecticut, the Cardinals’ opponent in the final of the American Athletic Conference tournament Monday night, has won 14 straight against them.

Speaking of former Big East teams: It’s the Mountaineers hunting Bears in the Big 12 title game. Remember Sims’ 48 against West Virginia in January? And the rematch in March? (TV: Fox Sports 1?)

From the Boston Globe, some nice coverage of Barb Stevens at Bentley: Barbara Stevens has Bentley women’s basketball program point toward perfection

This is where it all happens, in Barbara Stevens’s warm and inviting office on the second floor of Bentley University’s Dana Center. A large bookshelf behind her neatly arranged desk in the far left corner of the room is adorned with trophies and nets cut down from Northeast-10 title games and framed photos of the teams she has coached in 28 seasons as the head coach of Bentley’s wildly successful women’s basketball program.

“I keep telling my players if they keep winning them, then I’ll keep putting them up,’’ Stevens jokingly remarked to an office visitor Thursday afternoon.

But this is where Bentley’s unrelenting pursuit of perfection is mapped out on a daily basis. It is where Stevens doggedly prepares through exhaustive film study and advanced scouting. And, as anyone will tell you, Stevens, 58, is nothing if not a evangelical minister of the coaching gospel, “Practice makes perfect.’’

Also from the Globe, there are a couple of back-and-forth stories: Bullying accusations continue against BU coach Kelly Greenberg.

I think we may have heard this coming a few years back: K-State women’s basketball coach Deb Patterson fired after 18 seasons

Happier news out of the Sunflower state: They stumbled, but didn’t fall: Wichita State’s women’s basketball wins second consecutive MVC title. The conference tourney looms.

Coale is guaranteed $1.01 million per season, but bonuses and fringe benefits will lift her annual compensation well beyond that figure. Lot of money for the coach of an 18-13 basketball team that enters the Big 12 Tournament this weekend in the league’s lower division.

But Coale isn’t paid just for basketball. She’s paid for her ambassador skills. She’s paid for her promotional and PR skills. Coale is a virtual spokesmodel for the university, be it talking to engineering alumni or youth groups or coaches all across the country or all of America itself, courtesy of Northwestern Mutual.

When Coale talks about the importance of sport in young girls’ lives, or the importance of education, or the importance of hard work to fulfill dreams, people listen. Some of those people are impressionable. Others are influential. Coale reaches them all. I’ve said it before; Coale’s next job won’t be coaching a basketball team, it will be vice president of the university.

A little W news:

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fans are going to need a lot of antacid, what with teams losing leads and making big comebacks.

First is was the Lib against the Mystics. (Why does Kara mock us fans with her potential?) Oh, and Bill ‘splains himself in a Letter From Laimbeer

With the All-Star break behind us and the second half of the season in front of us, I wanted to take this time to thank you for your support and patience through the first half of the 2013 season. Although our record may not be what we anticipated entering the year, I’m confident that we are headed in the right direction towards bringing a Championship to the New York Liberty. I wanted to share with you my thoughts on our progress directly.

Then it was the Sun against the Catch-lesFever. (Hope  her family is okay) (Hey, how did I miss this? Dramatic growth in male fans helps WNBA’s Fever score profit for first time) (Oh, and Mike does a little pot stirring for Tina: Will she stay, or will she go now?)

Seattle, not to be outdone, took it to Phoenix. (Will Taurasi with the WNBA Community Service Underwriter award, what with all the funds she’s donating via fines?) (And, anyone need a center? Reserve Nakia Sanford leaves Storm)

Wheeeeee!!!!

Meanwhile, Michelle offers up Five (other?) things to look forward to

Folks who didn’t have to worry too much about rallying — unless it was around the flag — were the USA Basketball women. Dave chats with their coaches: Celebrating USA Gold with coaches Sherri Coale and Katie Meier; Monique Currie and the Mystics, Camille Little and the Storm look to hold on

Over at A Daily Dose of Hoops, Brian Giorgis Discusses Marist Women’s Basketball And Team USA

Nate offers some links that ponder the Upcoming collective bargaining and the impact of Elena Delle Donne, Skylar Diggins, and Brittney Griner which led me to this: 

Sports fans have an exciting new avenue for enjoying the top news around the sports world thanks to the iPad app Beyond the Box. The app systematically ranks and analyzes the best sources related to each sports team and league in an effort to bring relevant and interesting content to the fans.

Beyond the Box founder and CEO Shailo Rao took some time to speak with FanSided about what in to making the app and what we can expect from the company in the future. You can check out what Shailo had to say below.

At the .com, Diggins is Looking Back, Looking Ahead. (I wonder if coach McGraw has tried All-Access again…)

Rachel explains the obvious: Why Elena Delle Donne is top rookie

Doug reconnects with Sheryl: Back on the court, Sheryl Swoopes is happy again

This new opportunity has provided a high from what Swoopes concedes was the lowest point in her life four years ago. She had just been cut by the Seattle Storm and was having financial problems, which came to light when she failed to pay rent on a West Texas storage unit. Swoopes lost years of memorabilia from her celebrated basketball career, including awards, jerseys, fan mail and her college diploma.

“I was just mad at everyone,” Swoopes said. “Mad at the WNBA, mad at life. I’d say a lot of it was my immaturity, my stubbornness — my mom says my hardheadedness. I wasn’t responsible in taking care of my things.

The WBCA decides to do some organized talking: WBCA board establishes working groups
to explore changes in women’s basketball:

Semrau assigned board members to three working groups, each co-chaired by two members of the association’s Executive Committee, to focus on a particular topic and develop recommendations for consideration by the entire board. Each group met briefly to begin their discussions and will continue them by teleconference in the coming weeks. The groups are:

  • Legislation and Governance — Penn State head coach Coquese Washington, the association’s vice president, and Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw co-chair this group, which will focus on how the WBCA might be better represented in a revised NCAA governance structure, how the WBCA can more effectively participate in the NCAA legislative process, and how the WBCA’s own governance structure might be improved in order to have a more efficient organization. Members include Claudette Charney, Hillsdale College; Diane Dickman, NCAA; Danielle O’Banion, Kent State; Martha Putallaz, faculty athletic representatives; Jennifer Rizzotti, Hartford; Christy Thomaskutty, Emory; and Rich Ensor, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
  • Playing Rules and Officiating — Kentucky head coach Matthew Mitchell, the association’s secretary, Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma, and West Coast Conference deputy commissioner Connie Hurlbut co-chair this group, which will focus on whether or not we have the right rules going forward and how the game is officiated. The goal is to improve the quality of the game so that it is more attractive to spectators. Members include Anucha Browne, NCAA; Nikki Caldwell, LSU; Brandan Harrell, Georgia Highlands College; Patricia Manning, Williams College; Joanne McCallie, Duke; Melissa McFerrin, Memphis; and Dawn Staley, South Carolina.
  • Professional and Grass Roots Development — Kansas State head coach Deb Patterson, the association’s treasurer, and Arizona State head coach Charli Turner Thorne, the immediate past president, co-chair this group, which will focus on educational programming that will provide WBCA members with opportunities to become better coaches as well as explore the feasibility of establishing a certification service for coaches of women’s basketball. Members include Amanda Butler, Florida; Tricia Cullop, Toledo; Lisa Mispley Fortier, Gonzaga; Kirsten Moore, Westmont College; Mary Beth Spirk, Moravian College; Carol Callan, USA Basketball; and Todd Starkey, Lenoir-Rhyne.

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Terrific back-and-forth game between Australia and the US, with both teams having the lead… and both teams losing the lead. Then, a CMU Chippewa came to the rescue, as Crystal Bradford got her own miss for a put-back and a one-point lead. Then, of course, the US had to defend to the end to earn the win.

“I tell you what, that 14 seconds felt like forever,” said USA head coach Sherri Coale (University of Oklahoma). “And then we did everything right, and I thought came up with the rebound, and they called a jump ball and we had to defend them for seven more. We had not been really good in defending their inbound plays. For a split second there, I thought about changing the way we were guarding on the inbound, but I felt like the most important thing for our kids at that point was to be sure, and so we stuck with what we had been doing and got them to take a tough shot and came up with the rebound somehow. We’ve been given a gift.”

Next up for the US: the gold medal game against a much taller Russians (in front of a home court): Monday, July 15, live on ESPNU (1:30 p.m. EDT).

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The US WOMEN are rollin’ at the WUG — though a 30-pt win wasn’t a breeze against Sweden.

“Our defense in the second half was much better than it was in the first,” said USA head coach Sherri Coale(University of Oklahoma). “We kept the ball in front and forced them into taking contested shots. We did a much better job on the defensive glass. They are a tremendous offensive rebounding team and go at it very hard. If you can block them out, then you have an advantage in transition on the other end. That was what we were able to do in the second half.”

Reminder: ESPNU will air the USA’s semifinal game at the following dates & times: July 13 @ 1 pm ET || July 13 @ 10 pm ET || July 14 @ 5 am ET || July 14 @ 11 am ET. If they make the Gold Medal game: ESPNU: July 15 @ 1:30 pm ET || July 15 @ 9 pm ET || July 16 @ 8 am ET

It wasn’t easy, but Whalen and Wright led Lynx past Indiana

It was easy, as Candace Parker’s 30 points helped the Sparks get first road win

Alaska’s greatest women’s basketball player finally steps off court at age 31

Ryan Larsen has been named head coach at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

High school basketball has its issues: Prep Charter girls’ basketball team to surrender titles

And its ambassadors: Beloved Trenton Central High School girls basketball coach continues free summer camp despite funding cuts

As the girls basketball coach at Trenton Central High School, Reginald K. Murray may hold the record for most wins in girls’ basketball in Mercer County and serve as a major speaker for national coaching conventions, but right then, the girls in his free summer camp needed to get their footwork down.

Inside a sweltering gym at the school last month, Murray pushed the young athletes, who ranged in age from high-schoolers down to fourth-graders, through agility drills before moving onto the next exercise.

The sessions known as Hell Week went on for five days before Murray picked teams for tournament play.

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the Czechs were the victims… followed by the Brazilians.

Sherri’s bloggin’:

Every afternoon I try to take a little jog around the village. It’s therapeutic. And there is always plenty to see. I find it funny that the outdoor courts that join flag alley in the median of campus are a magnet for athletes from all countries. There are nets and goals and hoops, but by and large people gather there to shoot baskets. Plain and simple. Sometimes boxers shadow fight themselves in the corners and occasionally people hit a volleyball back and forth, but mostly athletes gather just to hoop. It’s so funny. Most are ridiculously awful and yet seemingly unashamed–I suppose their prowess in their own respective venues more than tides them through.

Not gonna gloat, but did you see who won last night’s Minny/Dream game? Someone thought “Losing Augustus could be nightmare for Lynx against Dream,” but that wasn’t the case. During the first half, though, I did want to say to Rebecca — yah, the Lynx are shooting a zillion %, but they’re still only up 10 or so… but that became a moot point in the second half as Minnesota made another home-court statement, overwhelm Atlanta. Who stepped up? A Cavalier: Wright engages starting role as Lynx dismantle Dream. And yes, Minnesota Lynx looking a lot like WNBA’s best team

Do not despair, Atlanta, cause even though the Dream Fell to Minnesota, They Still Holds Best Record in WNBA

Ray’s an EDD fan too: Elena Delle Donne’s combination of attitude, intelligence and talent helping her succeed in rookie year

She stood in a corner outside the Chicago Sky locker room, a barrage of cameras, microhones and notepads in front of her.

The media closed in more than some defenses.

Through it all Elena Delle Donne was cooperative, insightful and generally cheerful. A 93-64 win on the road, cynics would say, helps the disposition. True, but in his case this is classic Delle Donne – this is who she is.

Revisiting the “expand the roster question” issue about “no one to practice against,” remember the Merc promo/gimmick? Mercury’s challenge working out

Michael Romero sprinted down the basketball court, hoping to at least slow down the opposition’s fast break.

But the other team had numbers and were pressing in transition. Romero turned to pick up the ball handler. Too late.

A devastating screen sent the 5-foot-11 Romero tumbling to the floor. Standing over him, seemingly unfazed, was 6-foot-2 Phoenix Mercury forward Candice Dupree.

“She just drilled me with this nasty screen,” Romero said. “It was like, man, these girls are rough, they can play.”

With that bone-rattling pick, Dupree opened the eyes of one male non-WNBA fan. The Mercury hope to do the same to thousands more, albeit in a less intimidating way.

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another Write Space and Time:

At the USOTC the air is rare. And it has nothing to do with the altitude. Just walking from the car to the gym every day is sobering because excellence assaults you at every turn. Pictures capture the extraordinary. Boldly printed quotes urge greatness. And each and every facility begs to be the whetstone for the elite athlete’s blade.

I think it’s really hard to settle here. The steady drum of discipline is deafening, making this a place where good enough never is. If you train here, exceptional is expected. Honestly, I half expect Michael Phelps to peek in and glare at us when we don’t get back on defense. The presence of the elite hovers over you as you work, and while that might seem heavy to some, I think the great ones love it. The air here stretches them at every turn.

There is much to be gained from lofty expectations.

From USA Basketball: Coach’s Daughter, Theresa Plaisance’s Newfound Confidence Pays Off

After Theresa Plaisance was informed she’d earned a spot on the 2013 USA Women’s World University Games Team last month, she returned for five weeks to a place that always provides her comfort.

“I got to go home and spend some good quality time with my family,” Plaisance said. “I miss them a lot. I got to go home for Father’s Day and spend time with my grandparents and dad and my whole family. It was really nice.”

From Carl Ademac at SNY: Mosqueda-Lewis at home on Team USA

“We’re not a big team so we have to use our speed and quickness and be a fast-breaking team,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “But we’re also a versatile team so we’re doing all the things that we need to do to get ready.

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(Well, yes, I AM back writing again, but again, this ain’t about me.)

From Sherri Coale: As Good as it Gets

The membrane was just too thin. The stories were everywhere, and they were great stories. I just couldn’t tell them. Not while they were happening anyway. I was afraid if I wrote, I’d prick what little protective covering we had left and we’d leak all around the room in a form too liquid to pick up. So I just trudged on trying not to think too much about any of it. “Right foot. Left foot. Breathe…” I just woke up every day and followed that drumbeat over the mountain and through the woods of this season.

And we wound up here in the land of as good as it gets.

In W news, this is encouraging: Penny Taylor’s Journey Back

In other W news, this is not surprising: Liz Cambage not returning to Shock

Which leads to this piece: Likely top WNBA draft picks discuss playing in Tulsa

Are ya wondering who’s going to be at Bristol Draft Day? 

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Not really a surprise: Kelly Harper out at North Carolina State.

From the Tulsa World’s Guerin Emig: OU’s Aaryn Ellenberg thrives and succeeds quietly

Aaryn Ellenberg could be the Marshall Henderson of women’s college basketball.

The Oklahoma guard has such a blustery game. It’s all movement, agility and a school record book of 3-pointers, distance-defying torpedoes that often win big games, like the four she buried UCLA with in last week’s NCAA Tournament second-round upset, a result that propelled the Sooners into Sunday’s Sweet Sixteen matchup against fabled Tennessee.

She has a glitzy nickname, “Vegas,” a moniker OU coach Sherri Coale pinned on her around the time she arrived in Norman from Sin City three years ago. Henderson, the Ole Miss star who shoots off his mouth as often as his rapid-fire long-range jumpers, doesn’t even have that going for him.

Elliott Almond at the Mercury News writes: Cal women’s basketball team perseveres through tragedies

Second-seeded Cal has passed some agonizing tests to reach the Sweet 16 where it expects another big challenge Saturday night against Louisiana State. The Golden Bears (30-3) escaped the second round Monday with an 82-78 overtime victory against South Florida after squandering a 10-point lead with a minute left. They also endured four close victories in Pac-12 play.

The perseverance, however, isn’t surprising on a team with three members carrying burdens no one should have to bear. Gennifer Brandon, Eliza Pierre and Tierra Rogers have leaned on each throughout their careers while dealing with the grief of family members suffering violent deaths.

“They don’t just survive, they thrive,” Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said Friday before the team’s practice at Spokane Arena.

WDEL’s Sean Greene: Delle Donne hopes for WNBA and Olympic future

First, though, writes Kate Fagan: Delle Donne, Delaware face pressure – Kentucky’s defense will test the Blue Hens in their first Sweet 16 appearance

The Delaware Blue Hens don’t appear to be in danger of freezing under the spotlight.

In the minutes before their practice Friday, the players were busy fashioning a headband made out of pre-wrap for assistant coach Jeanine Radice. They were laughing, taking pictures and soaking it all in.

After all, this is Delaware’s first trip to the Sweet 16, and coach Tina Martin has encouraged her players to have fun. Martin even began her news conference by saying, “After I wake up from the dream I’m in …” As in, she can’t believe her little mid-major program — Martin is in her 17th season at Delaware — is making such big waves. “I’m not worried about them being uptight,” Martin said of her players. “If anything, they’re enjoying it and taking in everything they can.”

Charlie gives us Five things to look for in the Sweet 16

5. Which No. 6 seed has the best chance of pulling another upset? An unprecedented four 6-seeds are still playing (along with a No. 12 in Kansas). Oklahoma and LSU have recent tournament pedigree even if that doesn’t include any current players to look to. Nebraska was here in 2010 and that’s it. Delaware is in completely uncharted waters. None of that experience or lack of it probably matters here. It really comes down to matchups.

Nebraska, despite the dynamic duo of point guard Moore and versatile forward Jordan Hooper, might have a difficult time dealing with Duke’s depth and length, not to mention the relative proximity of Durham to Norfolk. Kentucky is even deeper than Duke, and the Wildcats’ athleticism greatly exceeds Delaware’s. The Blue Hens could have some problems dealing with the relentless Kentucky pressure.

Mechelle writes, Landers back in the Sweet 16

Georgia coach Andy Landers stood just outside his team’s locker room at the SEC tournament earlier this month, grinning broadly.

“Listen to them in there,” he said of his players after their quarterfinal victory. “They’re in there high-fiving, chirping, laughing. I still enjoy that so much.”

Landers is the dean of the SEC women’s hoops coaches now that Tennessee’s Pat Summitt has moved into an emeritus role. And he’s one of the longest-tenured, most experienced college basketball mentors, men’s or women’s, in the country.

Michelle writes, Gottlieb carves own path of success

Lindsay Gottlieb jokes that she is the “black sheep in her family.” Except that nobody brags this much about the “black sheep.”

In her father’s courtroom in New York, the court reporters, officers, clerks, they all knew about Judge Stephen Gottlieb’s daughter, the successful basketball coach.

In the hallways of New York University where Chris Gottlieb is a law professor, people always stop to ask how the Bears are doing.

Graham has the Norfolk Sweet 16 breakdown

Fagan has the Bridgeport Sweet 16 breakdown

Mechelle has the Oklahoma City Regional breakdown

Michelle has the Spokane Regional breakdown

And here are espnW’s Sweet 16 picks

John Klein at the Tulsa World says: Draft choice could help Tulsa Shock’s resurgence this season

It could be argued the WNBA Draft has never had three players in the same season capable of changing the fortunes of a franchise.

And, no franchise in recent history of the WNBA has needed a change of fortune more than the Shock.

“We’ve been trying to dig ourselves out of that hole,” said Tulsa coach Gary Kloppenburg. “We’ve been inching our way up.

Didja hear? WNBA and ESPN Broaden Partnership Through 2022 *if the league has a new logo, why does the article use the old one?*

Shelly DuBois of CNN Money explains Why ESPN thinks the WNBA is worth watching

Speaking of the W, Parker Leads UMMC to EuroLeague Crown

Oh, and Curtis Coach Barbara Farris taking some time off to serve as WNBA assistant

A nine-year WNBA veteran, Farris plans to return to Curtis by mid-October to resume her teaching and coaching responsibilities. The exact date of her return, however, depends on whether the Liberty makes the playoffs.

Farris directed Curtis to a second consecutive Class 2A state championship this year in her third season as coach of the Lady Patriots.

A little DII news: Watterson grad in Division II final

Almost a year ago, Daiva Gerbec sat on the end of the bench and watched Ashland lose in the Division II championship game.

Her season had ended before it could begin when her left Achilles tendon snapped during a running drill in the first workout of the preseason. Not being able to contribute during that 88-82 overtime loss to Shaw was difficult.

Dowling women to play for NCAA Div. II title

The magical ride for the Dowling women’s basketball team continues.

In their first trip to the NCAA Division II Women’s Elite Eight, the Golden Lions will play for their first national title tomorrow night after they powered their way to a 76-54 semifinal victory over Augustana (Ga.) Wednesday at Greehey Arena.

In future news: CU Buffs’ Lappe already looking ahead

Inside the office of Colorado women’s basketball coach Linda Lappe hangs a dry-erase board.

Just a few days after the 2012-13 season concluded, the players on the 2013-14 roster were already written on that board. In the world of college basketball, there is little time to waste. One season ends and it’s on to the next.

“It’s a process to be consistent,” Lappe said. “It starts right after the season.”

From the Daily Wildcat: Whyte looks back on Arizona women’s basketball career with no regrets

Four years go by fast. For women’s basketball senior Davellyn Whyte, it hasn’t quite set in that her career as a Wildcat is over following the team’s 66-48 loss to Utah in the Pac-12 tournament.

Arizona’s second all-time leading scorer, with 2,059 career points has had a bumpy four years. Being one of the greatest women’s basketball players in school history certainly hasn’t been easy, but she said she reflects on her time in Tucson with no regrets.

The WNIT is at the Elite Eight stage (always interesting to look at the early rounds, since it’s really the only time we get to compare “major” v. “mid-major” conferences). Saturday you’ll see:

Florida at JMU, 4 p.m. ET

Utah at Saint Mary’s, 5 p.m. ET

Illinois at Kansas State, 5 p.m. ET

Drexel at Auburn, 7 p.m. ET

The WBI ended for the Quakers, but Even in loss, Penn women’s basketball shows growth

Mike McLaughlin didn’t know much about losing.

That was the first line of a Daily Pennsylvanian article written on March 24, 2010, after the Quakers finished the season with a program-worst 2-26 record. They set the program record for losses in a single season. They nearly became the first Penn team to lose every single Ivy game, only escaping in the final weekend after a victory at Dartmouth.

“There are times I thought, ‘Am I doing everything within my ability to make them better?’ McLaughlin said in 2010 interview. “They needed a strong leader in adversity.”

Today that feels like a distant memory

In the “this is what scholarships are about” vein: Four Coconut Creek girls basketball players headed to college

For the sixth consecutive year, the Coconut Creek girls basketball is sending a player to college. This year, actually, the Cougars will send four players to the next level. 

Guard Shamari Josey, who averaged 9.3 points per game this season, has signed with St. Augustine in North Carolina, while guard Joelle Patterson, who averaged 6.6 points and and 4.5 assists per game, has signed with Johnson and Wales. Forward Jasmine Watson is headed to Southestern Community College in Iowa. 

Coconut Creek’s other signee was team leader Andrekia Thompson, a first-team All-County selection who averaged 12.3 points per game and reached the 1,000-point career mark, signed with Thomas University, an NAIA program in Georgia. 

In the “what were they thinking!” vein: Missouri high school girls basketball team drinks urine in water cooler prank pulled by rivals

In the “thank you for all your time” vein: St. Peter’s girls basketball coach steps down

Bill Tomsich thought about stepping down last year as the head girls basketball coach at St. Peter’s.

After making another run to the Final Four and being named Division IV Co-Coach of the Year in the state, the stage was set for a grand exit.

“I’m glad I stayed an additional year. I wasn’t ready emotionally to step down,” he said Tuesday afternoon after announcing publicly that he was resigning after 18 years in the program, spending the last nine as head coach.

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(And yes, Debbie, we too hate exam schedule.) Coach Frese is on. Nice shout out to d’em Flyers!

Penn State’s sharpshooter Maggie Lucas blogs.

Charlie asks: Are the No. 1 seeds already set? and offers up his early Bracketology.

Graham has his weekly wrap up: Stallworth gives Wildcats a boost  and gives us BYU’s Steed as his Player of the Week.

BYU coach Jeff Judkins described Haley Steed (then Haley Hall) as one of the best high school players to come out of the state of Utah “for a long, long time,” an explosive guard who was quick with the ball and quick to the basket.

The numbers back up his memory; she remains among the top 10 all-time scorers in Utah prep history.

Rebecca has 5 Questions with Ms. Sims.

In October, Sherri Coale wrote

How good is it when the worst thing you can think of to say about your team is that sometimes they try too hard?

We’re in week two of our progression toward “real” practice. Week one was four days of intense defensive focus. This week is total commitment to offensive core concepts. Monday, we’ll let the horses run and see where we are.

And while I can’t really know exactly where that is, I do know it’s in a really good place.

Two months later, the the Oklahoma Daily is writing: Injuries threaten what kind of season the Sooners can have

Slam Online has: Women’s College Basketball Recap: Week 4 – Kentucky and Louisville face off in a nail-biter, and Odyssey Sims gets the better of Skylar Diggins.

Lots of interesting stuff over at Swish Appeal:

I had a great time at the Maggie Dixon Classic at the Garden (join us next time, wontcha?). Ray has Maggie Dixon Classic: Tempo-free numbers and notes.

Duke defense comes up big in win over St. John’s and Rutgers shoots down cold Louisiana Tech

Shifting into W mode: Who are the top prospects for the 2013 WNBA Draft? – Our look at prospects for the 2013 WNBA Draft and a group of top players to watch.

With an “oiy” to the typo: Bill Laimbeer set to take the reigns of the New York Liberty

New York Liberty head coach and general manager Bill Laimbeer is nothing if not outspoken and in an interview with Ryan Dunleavy at the Scarlett Scuttlebutt blog during this weekend’s Maggie Dixon Classic he was clear that he won’t necessarily be maintaining the status quo in NYC.

From James: Atlanta Dream head coach Fred Williams on the WNBA Draft, goals for 2013, and his nicknames and Which former WNBA players should have their numbers retired?

What’s up with Ticha? Enjoying life after Spalding

Clay at Full Court has: New WNBA rules and other meanderings and Remember: Recruiting (among other things) is different for girls

 

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hurricane. I can’t get “For those in peril on the sea” out of my head.

That being said, I am safe, on high ground and have electricity, so I’m making use of good fortune to do some catching up.

Congrats to Brockton, MA’s Jim Daley:

There is no room left on retired Whitman-Hanson Regional High girls basketball coach Jim Daley’s coaching resume. It’s filled with 510 wins, 15 league championships and 30 tournament appearances just to name the highlights of his 33-year tenure on the Panthers’ sideline.

However, Daley still has one more basketball bow to take because on Nov. 18 at Holy Cross, the longtime Whitman-Hanson icon will be inducted into the Massachusetts High School Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.

More congrats to Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer, named the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Girls Basketball Coach of the Year. She coached the Grand Haven girls basketball team to the Class A state championship last March.

A little high school Title IX news from Columbus, Indiana: Teams aim for equal billing: Schools have four years to comply with court ruling

The Jennings County girls basketball team has played Franklin County the past 11 years, with most of those games taking place on Saturday afternoons.

But if the Panthers are to continue playing the Wildcats after this season, they likely will have to find a “prime-time” spot, meaning a Friday or Saturday night or the night before Thanksgiving.

In WNBA news:

Wanna own a W team? Mebbe not: Sparks’ Former Owner Sues Law Firm

The former owner of the WNBA team Los Angeles Sparks accused its former attorney of legal malpractice, claiming in court that he helped the team’s current owners squeeze it out of the franchise.

Where’s Swin at? Star basketball player, McKeesport native returns to help children ‘Cash’ in

Two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA star Swin Cash returned to McKeesport to seek support and new partnerships for her Cash for Kids nonprofit as she strives to help the youth of her hometown.

Inviting community leaders, local organizations and city youth to the Palisades on Saturday, Cash focused on her off-the-court passion of working with children.

From Indianapolis: President Obama calls Catchings, Dunn, Krauskopf to congratulate Fever on WNBA title and  Indiana Fever owner Herb Simon savors ‘special moment’

Herb Simon has owned the 2012 WNBA champion Indiana Fever since the franchise’s inception in 2000. The Fever won their first title last Sunday, defeating the Minnesota Lynx 87-78 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to claim the best-of-five Finals 3-1.

In the aftermath of their breakthrough triumph, Simon, who has also owned the Indiana Pacers since 1983, answered questions about the meaning of the title to him and a variety of other topics.

Question: Was the Fever’s WNBA championship your most satisfying moment as an owner?

Simon: It ranks right up there. This was a very special moment for all of us. The team, the way they played. I tell you, I got very emotional that last game. It was one of the greatest things that I’ve experienced.

From Chicago, Patricia Babcock McGraw writes: WNBA crown completes Catchings’ glittering resume

We all just want to fit in, even world-class athletes.

Tamika Catchings was feeling a bit left out during a special ceremony at the WNBA All-Star Game in 2011. It was the league’s 15th season and the top 15 players of all-time were being honored.

In an WNBA/College crossover story: Big Ten women’s basketball: Penn State’s Alex Bentley learns as Fever intern

In a “Local Makes Good” story: WNBA title for Markham’s Sutton-Brown

During her professional basketball career, Tammy Sutton-Brown had the good fortune to play for championship teams overseas.

But for the 34-year-old Markham native and Markham District High School grad, the biggest championship came this past weekend as a member of the Indiana Fever who defeated the Minnesota Lynx 87-78 to claim the WNBA crown in four games.

Another one from the West Coast: January savors WNBA crown

Briann January isn’t at Disneyland – and she won’t be any time in the near future.

But who needs the happiest place on Earth when you’ve just made a lifelong dream come true?

Another from Pittsburgh: Just call her, ‘Champion’

Shavonte Zellous’ smile, energy, work ethic, enthusiasm and passion are as infectious as ever, but after Zellous helped the Indiana Fever win its first WNBA championship Sunday, it is clear her game is still as good as ever, too.

More importantly, her penchant for rising to the occasion is intact.

Sure, the Lynx are left to ponder what went wrong and how to fix it, but ne despair pas, Los Lynx fans: Blueprint For Success Still In Place

Our attention may be shifting to the NCAA, but the W folks are abroad: Temeka Johnson blogs: Russian team off to strong start

Hello all, I’m back. I know I told you that I would write about the new additions to our team once they got here, so guess what: THEY ARE HERE. We have Epiphany Prince who played at Rutgers University (WNBA, Chicago Sky), Erin Lawless, who played at Purdue and also on the Slovakian National team, and Shay Murphy who played at USC (WNBA, Chicago Sky). These are the new additions to our team along with myself, Michelle Snow, and a few new talented Russian players as well.

Mechelle writes a really important piece about two big off-season stories: Laimbeer returns, Stern to retire in ’14

On the same day NBA commissioner David Stern announced when he would be saying goodbye to his job, Bill Laimbeer said hello to the WNBA again.

In the grand scheme of things, the WNBA will be considered a small part of Stern’s legacy as one of the pre-eminent sports czars of our time. And Laimbeer always will be known more as one of Detroit’s “bad boys” — a hard-nosed, blue-collar player who relished the fact that opposing fans loved to hate him — than as a WNBA coach.

But to those who follow women’s basketball, the contributions Stern and Laimbeer have made to this sport are quite significant.

College news:

Using appropriately groan producing verbiage, Swish Appeal begins their survey of top Division I women’s basketball programs: Division One women’s college basketball:  #71-100

Speaking of top programs, it means nothing – and it’s not surprise —  but Brittney Griner, Baylor women’s basketball unanimous preseason favorites

Speaking of polls, the fabulous D3Hoops has their pre-season rankings up,  and all eyes are on Calvin.

The Stanford Daily says: W. BBall: VanDerveer and Cardinal reload as season approaches

There was some drama in Vol land, but now it’s over: Top women’s basketball prospect Jannah Tucker recommits to Tennessee

As for the drama at Ole Miss: Adrian Wiggins Fired From Ole Miss

“The allegations and findings that led the University to this decisive and swift action are now being further examined jointly by the University and the NCAA,” the university said.

In addition, student-athletes Kay Caples, a transfer from Trinity Valley Community College, and Brandy Broome, a transfer from Pensacola State College, are ineligible to compete at the University after failing to meet NCAA transfer eligibility standards.

There’s some “drama” (as in, something with a storyline) from Cali: Stanford Women’s Basketball’s Six Pack, Episode Four – Summer At Stanford : Greenfield, Payne and Samuelson give viewers an inside look at their summers on The Farm

Not to be outdone, over at the California Golden Blog, they have a Women’s Basketball Season Preview Part 1: Embracing Expectations

From the Hoosier State: IU Women’s Basketball Implements New Practice Routine

So what about those new points of emphasis? They mean MSU women’s basketball to make changes on defense

The “Secretary of Defense” may have to wage his battles a little differently this season. 

Mississippi State University first-year women’s basketball coach Vic Schaefer scanned a two-sheet printout of 10 points emphasis Division I officials will be asked to monitor this season. When asked for his opinion about how his new team was going to handle four areas that could make it more difficult for defenders, Schaefer said he has been down this road before and it will be up to him and his coaches to teach their players better.

“Every year, it seems they’re trying to enhance the offensive side of the game,” said Schaefer

Unfortunately, there’s some “Dabnabbit!” drama to report: Brene Moseley out with ACL tear in blow to Maryland women’s basketball team. Moseley offers up a blog entry: “Courage.”

Oklahoma had their own version of “Dabnabbit”: Williams out for season with ruptured Achilles’ tendon

So, did you catch any of the firestorm after UConn Coach Geno Auriemma Says Lower The Rim In Women’s College Game?

“The game hasn’t grown as much as it should in the last 10 years and much of the old guard doesn’t want to hear it,” Auriemma said Monday after taping “Beyond The Beat,” which airs Tuesday on CPTV Sports. “In 2002, we played the Final Four in front of 30,000 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

“Now, 10 years later [2011], we [the women’s Final Four] can’t sell out the Conseco Field House [in Indianapolis]? So how much has the game possibly improved, in terms of how badly people want to see it?”

Auriemma believes one of the ways to increase the game’s appeal is by increasing offensive efficiency.

We know it’s not going to happen because, as Kevin Hoffman (who should learn how to spell Auriemma’s name) of Winning Hoops writes: Lowering Rims In Women’s Hoops A Logistical Nightmare. But there was some interesting (and not interesting) discussion spurred by his comments.

From the Tulsa World: Big 12 women’s basketball notebook: To lower or not to lower

“I really do think his team must be so good that he didn’t have anything to rant about, so he just started talking about lowering the stinkin’ rim,” Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. ” … You can go to the rec center, and can you go to an elementary gym, a high school gym, you can go to an arena like American Airlines and the goals are 10‑foot tall, and you can shoot on them and get better.

“I don’t think we want to put ourselves in a situation where we have to find a women’s goal so we can get better as players.”

From the New York Times (that can’t be bothered to have a WNBA scoreboard): Idea to Lower Rim for Women’s Basketball Stirs Talk

Other coaches around the country applauded Auriemma’s forward-thinking outspokenness. Most believed an immediate switch would be impractical — considering the number of high school gyms and playgrounds that would need adjusting — but they agreed with his central tenet: more people should be considering ways to improve women’s basketball as an attraction for fans.

“The logistics — I don’t think it’s possible,” Gonzaga Coach Kelly Graves said. “But I like the train of thought, I really do.”

From David Whitely at AOLFanhouse: Geno Auriemma’s right: Lowering the rim would help women’s basketball soar higher

Geno Auriemma has coached UConn to seven NCAA women’s basketball titles. He recently guided the U.S. team to a gold medal in the London Olympics.

Now he’s a soldier in the war on women?

From the Connecticut locals: Jeff Jacobs of the Courant talks Raising Rates (Men) Ad Lowering Rims (Women)

Don’t lower the rim of expectations.

We’re not only talking about Geno Auriemma‘s ideas for improving women’s basketball. We’re talking about the academic disaster that was the UConn men’s basketball program in the first decade of the 21st century.

The headlines on UConn athletics have arrived in loud, fascinating national bursts the past few days. Some have painted Auriemma as a visionary for — among several suggestions — arguing that rims should be lowered. Others have painted Auriemma as impractical or even demeaning of women’s abilities.

Mike DiMauro from The Day shoots for another target: Fixing this problem is a layup

Geno Auriemma’s musings from earlier this week, to lower the rim in women’s basketball, has become a cause célèbre within the game. Lots of opinions across the country, again illustrating there is no bigger, better voice for the game anywhere. Never has been, never will be.

But a funny thing has happened on the way to examining whether a lower rim is practical or realistic. An unintended consequence of the debate has been the rise of a peripheral issue which has the game’s intelligentsia in almost lockstep agreement:

Ditch the smaller basketball.

Grumpy Gregg Doyel rants: Lowering rims to boost scoring in women’s hoops? Geno’s math is hideously flawed, basically wasting an entire column of digital ink because he hasn’t the ability to look beyond the surface of the issue that prompts an Auriemma to toss out “lower the rims.”

Kate Fagan, who has admitted she doesn’t watch the women’s game because it’s not like the men’s, chimes in at ESPNw:  Lowering the rims? Um, no, that’s not the answer, mostly because she thinks the game should embrace what it claims to be she doesn’t like, not like the men’s.

On the flip site, Johnette Howard (who needs to learn how to spell coach Summitt’s name) says: Listen to Geno Auriemma; it’s time for change

The irony of any suggestion that Auriemma might be a traitor in women’s basketball’s midst is that his UConn teams are perennially, consistently, and without fail the best example of all the very same traits that women’s game actually loves about itself: selfless passing, constant motion, fundamental soundness, unapologetic competitiveness and an insistence on excellence. It should come as no surprise that Auriemma is a great admirer of Red Holzman’s great Knicks squads, one of the all-time great exemplars of teamwork in sports. And at times, let’s face it, Auriemma has been as neurotic as any female coach about how coaching women rather than men is devalued, and seen as some lesser calling.

But here’s the thing I agree with him on. Women’s basketball has also been rolling out that old John Wooden quote about how much he preferred their game to the men’s for so long it feels older than Wooden was himself. And Auriemma may be the only person in the game with the stones — not just the stature — to look at a troubling aside like the last women’s Final Four in Indianapolis and essentially tell women’s basketball, “Hello? Are you not as concerned about this as I am? It’s time to get over ourselves. This is our wake-up call.

I can get behind that.

Don’t know about you, but I have a feeling of urgency about the future of women’s basketball – both at the college and the pro level. As in, is this it? (You think the non-coverage of the women’s national team was by happenstance?) Yup, Geno was stirring it up again, poking at folks and – admit it – getting women’s college basketball some attention. You don’t like it? Then look to the other coaches in the game and ask them to step up and step out of their comfort zone.

Coach Kim – I dare you to make a statement with your words, not just your clothes (though they’re damn fun). For instance, lead the fight against bullying in women’s basketball – which includes facing down homophobia (and a heavy dose of misogyny) within and without the sport.  Would love to see you face down people like BarefootSerpent who commented: Baylor’s adding a man to their team didn’t boost women’s basketball, so why would lowering the rim?

Coach Coale – I dare you to make a statement with your words (which are beautifully written), not just your shoes. For instance, lead the fight for coverage of the game – both in print, online, on television.

Coach Tara – You may be old school, but you’ve got a program who knows how to rock video world. Tap in to that creativity and dare them to be the “Best Practices” program for all women’s basketball teams – and don’t forget to connect with Mr. Luck in Indy!

Laurel Richie? You better bring it, girl — and I’m not just talking about sponsors (which we appreciate!). Slap some order on your off-the wall franchises and remind the players that it ain’t just about them and a 94′ court. They need to look at the actions of the early WNBAers and say, “I need to match that and more,” ’cause their paycheck is not guaranteed. Just look at what’s happening overseas….they’re not rolling in the dough any more that the W is.

WBCA – I dare you to make a statement and stop being so damn polite. Be an active leader, and don’t worry about whose knickers you put in a twist. Don’t settle for what the NCAA offers, dare to demand more. If you don’t reach for the main course, you’re sure as hell going to be eating table scraps.

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Yes, college!

From Sherri Coale’s The Write Space and Time:

Really nice, well -meaning people sometimes strike up conversations with me in the spring that begin with, “It must be so nice to have the summers off!” Throughout the years, I have answered in a variety of ways. I went through the Explanation Stage: “Well, actually, summers are quite busy. We have camps in June and then we travel all over the country recruiting in July…” Then I went through the Sarcastic Stage: “Yes it’s awesome. I love summers in the gym with 300 campers, weeks whose days all run together, and playing planes, trains, and automobiles in my spare time.” Then I went through the Angry Mumbling Stage: “Grrrrrrrrrrarghhhhh (door slam)!” And I’ve finally, in the wisdom of my middle age, landed upon the Smile and Lie stage: “It is!! I’m having the best time.” Which is actually an innovative way of choosing to feed the proverbial positive dog, while simultaneously choosing not to humiliate the uninformed.

Summer is not off, ever. It’s just a different kind of on.

Funny, that’s how teacher’s feel.

Now, about how those players GET to college: check out the Dishin’ & Swishing podcast on recruiting featuring Kenny Kallina, from the Girls Basketball Insider Recruiting Service, Charmin Smith, Associate Head Coach of the Cal Golden Bears and Kelly Graves, Head Coach at Gonzaga.

From Dan Fleser: Pat Summitt gets outpouring of support from UConn fans

Alysa Auriemma’s tribute to Pat Summitt and the favorable response her blog has received from Tennessee women’s basketball fans is another example of improving relations between the two programs and their respective fan bases since the storied series dissolved in 2007 over acrimony involving recruiting.

Summitt’s secretary, Katie Wynn, said that outside of the UT faithful, Connecticut’s fans have sent the most emails, cards and letters of support since Summitt announced last August that she had been diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type.

Also, throwing in a little college/W/HOF: Sue Wicks had long journey en route to Hall of Fame

Speaking of Rutgers and the hot mess that is the Big East conference: University of Memphis women’s basketball program seeks to raise game for Big East move

Speaking of hot messes, from Clay: Olympic frenzy may not help the WNBA come September

So here’s the plan: Team USA wins Olympic gold, sparking some serious interest in women’s basketball. Then, when the WNBA gets back at it Aug. 16, new fans flock to a thrilling final five weeks of play as teams battle it out for a spot in postseason.

The only ugly little fact lurking around the corner with a set of brass knuckles is that the playoff hunt is already pretty much over. Only New York has the slimmest chance of displacing one of the eight teams already in playoff position, and the other three also-rans – Washington, Phoenix and Tulsa – can safely focus on hexing the ping-pong balls so that Brittney Griner winds up playing for them.

Honestly, once the Olympics are done, I’ll be glad they’re done, simply because I feel like the entire first half of the season has been played as if it’s a dinner of Generation Texters. Everyone’s at the table, pretending they’re paying attention to the food and conversation but really, they’re all just peeking at their phones to see what’s happening in London.

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The Write Space and Time

On that seemingly innocuous Wednesday, we talked about all the things you talk about when a season ends. And then we talked about all the things you talk about when you prepare for another — one that you’d like to see end a whole lot differently. Then I introduced them to the elephant in the room: my ladder.

I told them the brief, abridged version of how it got here to Norman, Oklahoma, and then I told them how special it was going to be for our team.

We talked about the Kay Yow Foundation. We talked about Coach Yow and her courageous battle with this insidious disease, we talked about the power of our platform as a collegiate team of women, and we talked about the symbolism of a ladder in our gym all off season: the daily reminder it could be to us of where we want to go and what it takes to get there.

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Merlakia “The Shake” Jones.

Speaking of flashbacks, remember when Oklahoma tried to dump its women’s basketball team? Mechelle does: OU lesson still extremely important

...in 1990, Coale was a teacher/coach at Norman High School who couldn’t believe what she’d just heard from two other teachers: OU had announced it was canceling women’s basketball.

 Coale has recounted her memory of this OU bombshell many, many times before. But as a former English teacher, she’ll appreciate a reference to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s famous book of short stories, “Twice-Told Tales.” For many different reasons, some stories need to be told again and again.

And again.

I find this is especially true in regard to women’s sports. Some of you might think, “Surely, everybody’s heard about this, right?” After all, we in the national media revisited the infamous OU cancellation each time the Sooners went to the Women’s Final Four, in 2001, ’09 and ’10.

Nonetheless, everybody doesn’t know.

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take a Sherri Coale “The Write Space and Time” break: March is when everyone can find a team to root for and all 64 have a change.

Advertise bowl games all you want — folks in two camps get all wound up and posture and provoke — but the rest of the country knows they’re playing for third or fourth or 18th or 27th. There simply is no hope. It’s factual to a fault. But when the NCAA tournament dance cards are handed out, all 64 teams on the floor have a dream. And the campuses and the cities and the towns they represent carry that dream around on a pillow like a crown. The race may not be wide open, but every single squad has a sliver of hope. And I want to know, seriously, does it get any better than that? Rhetorical question, of course; but if it does, I gotta tell you, I want in on it.

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Here ya go:

Jan. 11, 2012 — Every once in a while, you lose your ticket. I’ll bet it’s happened to you. I know it has to me. You’re in the airport, you’re good and early, you’ve bought a snack and a magazine and you’re just sitting, waiting patiently for your boarding call … then they make it and you can’t find your ticket.

You check your pockets. Your bag. The pocket inside your bag. The magazine you’re reading. The seat beside you. The floor around you. And then you start to sweat. Your heart rate speeds, your face goes flush and your mind pops out and slaps you over and over in the face, like the spare ribs and the corn dog do in that antacid commercial.

“How could you lose your ticket!?” your brain screams at you.

“You are so stupid!” Slap! Slap!

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On Vandy’s kids: Sophomore guards lead Vanderbilt – Christina Foggie, Jasmine Lister help injury-depleted Commodores to 12-1 start

Vanderbilt’s only loss came Dec. 18 to NC State in Raleigh, N.C. While full credit goes to the Wolfpack for that 66-59 win, there were some extenuating circumstances for the Commodores. The day before in practice, they lost promising freshman guard Maggie Morrison to an ACL injury.

That combined with the lingering effects of a concussion that has sidelined junior guard Gabby Smith — she was hurt before the season began and played in just one game before symptoms returned — left Vanderbilt with just nine in uniform. If Foggie has to miss some time, an eight-is-enough strategy will have to do for the Commodores.

From her Chat:

bb1985 (ny) Although there are many positive reasons for the top-tier teams to play much lesser teams, such as helping seed WCBB interest in new locales, or to help out a former player/ assistant now coaching at lesser program, or a historical relationship/ intra-state situation — how much is too much “cupcakes” on a top-tier schedule? It seems that the average of 12-15 cupcakes a year is typical for all the top programs. Yes, there are Conference considerations on the schedules. But should the cupcakes be pared back by 33% or cut back by 50%? Too many 40-50-60 point wins do not seem to bolster WCBB…

Mechelle Voepel: I’m thinking about this question in particular knowing that Baylor is playing Mississippi Valley State on Friday, a game that should NEVER take place. I agree with your latter point in particular, that some of these scores are just gross and make women’s basketball look bad. Which is not to say there are not blowouts in men’s hoops; I’m not comparing the two. But scores in the 20s make me gag. As I mentioned in the last chat, I don’t know what good teams get out of playing opponents that they know, year in and year out, are total doormats.

I, too, understand the reasons for scheduling cupcakes — particularly the economic ones, and recognize that there are negative consequences, too. I think you  also have to take in to account the logistical challenges of scheduling. From Sherri Coale:

You can ask a coach and [they] would not like to be on the road three times in a row. And a coach would like to have at least two games televised on their home court on Saturdays, etc. etc. You come up with 15 criteria [and] at the end of those criteria you can’t build a schedule. It is physically and humanly impossible to satisfy all of those criteria and come up with a schedule.

But, I’ve heard over and over coaches saying, “some teams won’t play us.” This in not just top-10 teams (“they don’t want the loss) but mid-majors (“they don’t want to risk the loss”). Here’s my solution: If one program won’t play the other, let the public know why. Name names.

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How Cal, Miami Went In Opposite Directions After 2010 WNIT Finals ‘Learning Experience’

SBN Links: K-State “Owns” TAMU, The First Women’s College Basketball Team & Why Cal Fans Can Root For Stanford

Oklahoma Women Sweep Bedlam: Sherri Coale sends seniors Robinson, Roethlisberger & Willis out in style

OK, if Pat has “The Stare” and Geno has “The Hair Smooth,” can we say Sherri has the “Flat Hands Clap”?

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Coach Coale’s been writing again and I only NOW find out about it? Catch up time!

The Write Space and Time: Aug. 3

For 20 days in July, college coaches get to evaluate. It always reminds me of Easter and the dead sprint for the most eggs — with your fingers crossed that you’ll stumble upon the golden one with the cash inside. We all run out, and about, and around desperately searching for our savior, the perfect missing puzzle piece, while the clock ticks mercilessly as we scour.

The Write Space and Time: Sept. 1

In the span of a mere 24-hour period, I moved my son into his college dorm, dropped my daughter off for her first day of high school, and found out Whitney Hand couldn’t play basketball for five more months. It didn’t surpass Nov. 26, 2003, (a.k.a. Black Tuesday) on the list of disconcerting landmarks, but I can say without reservation that I’ve lived through better days.

The Write Space and Time: Oct. 11

Our football team is undefeated, my Japanese maple trees have a few crimson leaves, and basketball practice is underway. Seriously, does it get any better than this?

The Write Space and Time: Nov. 3

The dog days of pre-season are over, the adrenaline kick of early practices has passed, and we’re just a day away from our one and only chance to make a first impression. Ready or not, on Thursday we go.

We’re a long way from being good right now, but I have to admit that this bunch has me. I like them. I like their hunger. I like their wide eyes. I like their diligence in little things. And I enjoy teaching them because they want to learn.

The Write Space and Time: Jan. 25

Just a couple of weeks ago I sat glued to ESPN, like most college women’s basketball fans, waiting to see if history would happen. UConn was at Stanford and college basketball’s longest trail of wins was in potential jeopardy. Early in the game as the broadcasters attempted to define the phenomenal Maya Moore’s game: they proclaimed her “the best catch and shoot player in the world.” And they reminded us often. “She’s the best catch and shoot player in the world! ” “In the world! In the world! In the world!” And the truth is: she very well may be. But I couldn’t help but laugh, thinking about the verbal gyrations we in sports go through sometimes to talk about ball. Why must everything be quantified? Why must a player or a play or a move be smothered in hyperbolic gibberish? Why can’t we just talk about what it is that makes it worth talking about instead of drowning the play or the player’s art form in gush?

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Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale wins a UN NGO Positive Peace Award

Oklahoma head coach Sherri Coale was selected as a recipient of a United Nations NGO Positive Peace Award for the sports coach category. The award honors and recognizes individuals around the world for their positive contributions.

“This is really a program award,” said Coale in a statement. “I accept it on behalf of our current staff and players and all of our former coaches and players who continue to give back and lead through service in their respective communities. I so appreciate the recognition for our program but, as our players past and present can attest, the rewards come from the doing. It is truly an honor to have such a platform from which to serve.”

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We’ve read stories about how other coaches/programs have done it in the past. (Well, “past” if you consider the Sooner resurgence under Sherri “past.”)

For three years, the NCAA has awarded grants that have helped schools market and advertise.

Now, at Full Court Press, Mark Bradford writes: Who Says Women’s Hoops Can’t Draw a Crowd? The Irish Have Found the Right Formula

When Muffet McGraw first took over the Notre Dame Women’s basketball team in 1987, she could almost count the number of fans in the seats during a time out. At its best, the number could be counted during pregame warm-ups.

Today, however, it is a far different story.

Over the past month and change since the exhibition season commenced, I have attended 14 of the 17 basketball games—both men’s and women’s—played at Notre Dame’s Purcell Pavilion. As a general rule, for the men’s games, I drove unimpeded into the parking lot, parked in the nearest lot, and had an unobstructed walk into the arena. In contrast, for the women’s games, I had to endure a 15-minute (or longer!) traffic backup that extended for a good half a mile, parked in an outer lot (the closer ones long since full), and then had to wend my way through the crowds to get to my seat at the press table.

My, how things have changed.

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