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

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

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

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

Folks are already discussing next year’s top 10.

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

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

The unknown is great.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unless …

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

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

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

She said they’ll use that as motivation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was Syracuse University coach Quentin Hillsman.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Just ask Jeff Walz.

He offered Tuesday to email or call the boss of anyone who wanted to come to the game but couldn’t because of work. He’s already had 100 or so fans take him up on that, including someone in the mayor’s office.

”Whoever sends me a note on Twitter or on Facebook – if they give me their boss’ email – I’m writing them a note asking if they can make the ballgame,” Walz said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Check out Aneela’s “Top 25 Players To Watch in NCAA Tournament

Washington: ‘Sharp’ Huskies Head To NCAA Tournament

The Huskies are sharp, because they share a common goal and have rallied around each other. They are in sync. They are focused.

“The difference between last year and this year, last year we were happy to be there,” junior Kelsey Plum said. “It was a cool accomplishment after having not been in the NCAA tournament for a long time.

“We were just so excited about the whole thing, we lost focus in the game. This year, we’re not just happy to be here. We’re trying to do something with it.

Connecticut: Stewart, Tuck and Jefferson looking to make history

UConn coach Geno Auriemma jokes that when the trio now known as ”The Big Three” first arrived on campus, he wasn’t sure they should play as freshmen either.

Stewart, he said, had unbelievable talent, but was often lackadaisical, because things were too easy for her. Jefferson, he said, had no grasp of running an offense. Her idea of playing point guard, he said, was to run at full speed until she ran into something.

Tuck was the best of the three in practice, but that didn’t always translate to games.

Little by little, he said, they began to gel.

Connecticut: Former Huskies break down UConn’s winning ways

Utah: Jeff Judkins keeps Cougars steadily successful

As BYU’s women’s basketball players, assistant coaches and supporters reacted excitedly when the Cougars received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament last Monday, head coach Jeff Judkins stared stoically at the large screen, realizing the task that lies ahead.

It was almost LaVell Edwards-like, which is fitting, because Judkins is having the kind of success that the legendary football coach had in Provo in the 1980s and ’90s, albeit in a sport mostly out of the national spotlight.

“He doesn’t get the credit he deserves,” BYU guard Makenzi Pulsipher said. “He’s such a good, nice person, but he’s also a really, really good coach.”

California: Jordin Canada leads UCLA back to the Big Dance

During a recent practice at UCLA, one of the Bruins players commented out loud about point guard Jordin Canada, “She’s our all-conference player, let’s just get it to her.”

And Canada cringed.

“Her shoulders went in, and she looked uncomfortable,” UCLA coach Cori Close said. “She didn’t like it. But at the same time, when the lights brighten, she’s at her best.”

California: USF coach Azzi welcomes chance to return to Stanford for NCAAs

Jennifer Azzi’s expression — an ear-to-ear grin — didn’t change when she saw that her USF team was matched against her alma mater Stanford, during Monday’s NCAA selection show.

Azzi knows how these things work — Azzi against her mentor Tara VanDerveer is the kind of story line selection committees love. She knows how often basketball can bring one full circle — such as when the Tennessee kid won a national championship with Stanford back home in Knoxville in 1990. 

“These things happen,” she said.

Florida: NCAA women’s bracket has distinct Florida flavor

It has been a season of firsts for women’s college basketball teams Florida, and the roll will continue in the NCAA Tournament.

When the field of 64 was announced on Monday, it marked the first time that five teams from the Sunshine State were selected.

Georgia: Georgia back in tournament under 1st-year coach

New York: Syracuse women’s basketball team a victim of bad timing

What’s the old cliche, if they didn’t have bad luck, they’d have no luck at all?

The Syracuse University women’s basketball team is living proof of that. The Orange have had their best regular season in program history. Syracuse went to the ACC championship game and received a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament, again, its best ever.

The high seed means the Orange are rewarded with one — possibly two — home games for the first two rounds of the tournament. And when does the NCAA Tournament committee (with help from ESPN) have Syracuse playing.

Friday at 2:30 p.m. Right after the Syracuse men’s game. A weekday afternoon when the majority of local people are working or in school.

New York: With Two Bids, Iona Savors ‘Incredible Accomplishment’

For Cluess and Godsey, that made last Monday twice as sweet. They understand better than most the challenges midmajor programs face in facilities, recruiting and financing when competing against major conferences for players as well as victories.

“It’s so hard for one team to make it, let alone two, especially in a conference our size,” Cluess said.

Missouri: The three steps the women’s basketball team is taking in preparation for the big dance.

This time last season, the Missouri women’s basketball team was sitting around coach Robin Pingeton’s house, eyes glued to the television during Selection Monday. They were on the outside looking in. 

While watching other teams celebrate their success, the overall mindset of the team was, “That’s going to be us next year,” according to senior Morgan Stock.

New Jersey: PU Women’s Hoops Sees Silver Lining in Penn Defeat, Becoming 1st Ivy Team to Earn At-Large Bid to NCAAs

North Carolina: Coaches of Asheville men, women share special bond

Seconds after the UNC Asheville women beat Liberty on Sunday at Kimmel Arena to earn a berth in the NCAA tournament, some of the first people on the floor to celebrate with the women were members of the Bulldogs’ men’s team.

It was a scene that didn’t surprise those close to the program.

There is a closeness between the teams and it begins with the coaches.

Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick and Nick McDevitt can’t help but run into each other several times a day because their offices are separated by a conference room, which they share along with a printer.

They wouldn’t want it any other way. McDevitt is a fan of Kirkpatrick and her staff and Kirkpatrick feels the same way about the men’s coaches.

Tennessee/Michigan: Belmont, Michigan State coaches are friends, now NCAA foes

“Suzy and I got to be good friends back then,” said Newbauer, who was an assistant at Georgia at the time. “My sister almost went to Michigan State and instead went to Indiana, so I’ve known Suzy since my first year in women’s basketball. I’ve just been really good friends with her since then. We were texting each other about, ‘Wouldn’t that be great if we wound up in the same place?’ But I didn’t think we would be playing them.”

Wanna listen while you work? LaChina Robinson and Chiney Ogwumike break down the Sioux Falls Region of the women’s NCAA Tournament with special guest L.A. Sparks F Candace Parker. 2) They then break down the Bridgeport Region of the women’s NCAA Tournament with special guest Indiana Fever G Briann January.

As a self-identified Conference Generalist, I take great pleasure in tracking programs raising their profiles. Marshall was one such story: A Different `Long Season’ for Daniel’s Herd

Marshall makes its first trip to the Women’s NIT with a visit to longtime rival Ohio on Thursday night, and riding on the bus with the Herd as it heads up the road this evening is an attitude that has carried Coach Matt Daniel’s team all season.

It’s not where you start; it’s where you finish.

When Marshall opened the 2015-16 season back on Nov. 13 with an out-of-breath, 104-101 triumph at Morehead State, eight of the 12 healthy players on Daniel’s roster were in their first game in a Herd uniform. Six were freshmen … and Marshall had been picked to finish 10th in the 14-team Conference USA race by Daniel’s sideline peers.

Four months later, the Herd (21-11) has more wins than all but one team (24-5 in 1986-87) in the Herd women’s hoops history dating to 1969-70. Marshall has only its third postseason bid in its major college era, which dates to 1981-82. And while finishing tied for sixth in the C-USA standings, the Herd won a school-best 11 C-USA games (regular season and tournament) in its 11 years in the league.

So were the Jacksonville Dolphins: Mentee vs. Mentor

It happens at the start of every athletic competition. Typically after the national anthem and player introductions, and often overlooked as one of the unwritten rules of the game. It’s the coaches’ handshake, a brief meeting a midcourt that will have a deeper meaning for Yolett McPhee-McCuin Friday.

When the head coach of the Jacksonville University women’s basketball team shakes the hand of Dawn Staley, she will see more than the opposition, she’ll also see a mentor and a friend.

“Dawn Staley is someone that I mirror my program after,” said McCuin. “Not every step but definitely the how and the why. How to build a program and why we do what we do?

And: Though not a surprise, first NCAA bid reason for Duquesne women’s basketball team to celebrate

“I don’t think any of us were expecting this in the beginning of the season, so the fact that we’re even here is so exciting,” senior Emilie Gronas said. “From the preseason, we could feel this was a different team with a lot of new faces. A lot of people didn’t expect us to do as great as we did.” 

But after playing in other postseason tournaments in each of the last seven seasons, Duquesne didn’t have any preseason intentions of receiving another WNIT bid.

The Dukes broke record after record this year, setting program highs for wins (27) and conference wins (13) while earning a share of the Atlantic-10 regular-season title. Now, all of those accolades come second to achieving an ultimate goal.

Damn: A Website Went Offline And Took Most Of Women’s College Basketball Analytics With It

If you’re filling out your bracket for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and want some statistical background to the broader forecasts, you have a slew of options. Start at Sports-Reference.com: powerful search tools; team rankings for anything from pace to point differentials adjusted for strength of schedule; and player pages with stats such as usage percentage, win shares and Box Plus/Minus. Ken Pomeroy’s site offers more detailed and adjusted team rankings and a wide array of individual player metrics. For $100 a year, Shot Analytics delivers detailed spatial analysis of shot selection, including weighted shot charts.

If you’re looking for similar information to help you fill out an NCAA women’s basketball tournament bracket, you’re out of luck.

Thank you: Tonya Mirts ends 21-year tenure as Hickman girls basketball head coach

Mirts, who played college basketball for Missouri, appreciated the challenge of not being able to recruit players for high school basketball, instead developing the young women in her district.

“You get what you get and you try to make a masterpiece out of it year in and year out,” she said.

Thank you: Wanda Watkins steps down as Campbell women’s basketball coach after 35 seasons

In addition to her coaching achievements, Watkins holds a special place in Campbell athletics history. She was the school’s first female athletic scholarship recipient after graduating from nearby South Johnston High School in 1975. She was a member of that school’s 1974 North Carolina state championship team.

She served as team captain of the Lady Camels basketball team as a senior and captained the softball team for three years. Despite suffering an injury in her final season, Watkins was named MVP of the 1978-79 team and selected as Campbell’s Outstanding Female Athlete.

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Notre Dame v. Louisville, 2pm ESPN2. Lobo: U of L women ‘absolutely’ could top Irish

“It’s kind of been fun watching them reach what people kind of expected from them on the outside early in the year,” Lobo said of U of L. “They’re just coming together. Young team – Coach Walz, I think it takes some time to learn his system, especially on the defensive end. But they’ve turned into a team that’s really fun to watch.

TAMU v. Tennessee, 4pm ESPN.

Yesterday:

Nice program win for Temple as they upset ranked conference-mate #19 USF with a 24-10 fourth quarter surge.

A put-back from senior Erica Covile with one second on the clock gave the Temple women’s basketball team a 68-66 upset victory over #19/17 USF on Saturday afternoon at the Liacouras Center. The win was the program’s first over a nationally-ranked opponent since February 25, 2009 when the Owls topped #13 Xavier, 74-65. The Owls move into sole posession of second place in The American with a 9-2 conference mark, 15-7 overall. The Bulls dip to 16-6, 9-3 in conference play.

Green Bay has turned back all comers, but the teams chasing them keep on wackin’ each other on the head: Detroit takes down the Penguins, 69-68, on a(nother) last second shot.

The Patriot looks more and more like it’s going to be a great showdown between Bucknell and Army.

Looking at the America East and seeing the Feb. 14th game between Albany (congrats to Shereesha Richards, the all-time leading scorer in school history) and Maine as a fun day to be a basketball fan.

Gotta love me some inter-conference rivalry. Down 16, Robert Morris made sure that Bryant didn’t sail through the NEC unscathed.

I warned ya! The Hatters take down Jacksonville, 66-61.

Ooooo! Debbie, did you catch this great match up? Montana State outlasted Sacramento State, 116-99. That’s the most points the Bobcats have scored. Speaking of the Bobcats, wonder how the team will be impacted by the firing of the AD.

Doink! BYU says, “Back, you Gaels, BACK!” and sends Saint Mary’s to a 65-44 loss,65-44 loss, securing sole possession of the top spot in the WCC.

“I’m really proud of the girls,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “I think this was one of the best games we played all year, and the win is a huge victory for our program. We started the game strong and made a great effort defensively, especially in the first quarter. Our defense really set the tone for the rest of the game. We had incredible play from our guards. Kenzi, Lexi and Kylie all played wonderfully, and really let their shots come to them.”

San Diego lurks at 11-2 in the conference.

Colorado State is now at 10-0 in the Mountain West… and Fresno State is at 9-1.

Honestly, kids, if you’re going to go three overtimes, you really should have accumulated more than 66 points for the win. (Morgan State over Savannah State).

Bowling Green had a great third quarter...but Central Michigan punched back with a better fourth. Chips win at the buzzer, 76-75, and move to 9-2 in the MAC.

C-USA’s going to be fun: the two top teams went at it, and UTEP emerged victorious, outscoring the Hilltoppers by 10 in the final quarter.

So, the Big South is no longer a walk in the park: UNC-Asheville is now 11-2 in conference, Gardner-Webb is finding its sea legs and, of course, there’s Liberty.

It was iffish in the beginning, but Abilene Christian gathered themselves for a final push to earn a win against Southeastern Louisiana.

Yup, I see you, Central Arkansas, now 9-1 in the Southland.

And that’s Arkansas State undefeated in Sunbelt Conference play. The Red Wolves are 12-0 in Sun Belt play for the first time in school history and extended its school-record home winning streak to 22.

Mine! Tennessee-Martin is not going to give the OVC to SIU-Edwardsville (yet?). Skyhawks win, 85-79, with a fourth quarter comeback.

FINALLY! And what a way to do it: Norfolk State earned its first win of the season… in DOUBLE overtime. (Air Force – your turn.)

For a team that has faced more than its share of adversity all year, what was a little more on Saturday?

The Spartan women’s basketball team lost a seven-point lead with three minutes left in regulation and had five players, including a trio of starters, foul out. But none of it was enough to prevent NSU from earning its first victory of the year, a 110-108 marathon win in double overtime over Howard at Burr Gymnasium.

 

Monday

#5 Maryland v. Ohio State, 9pm ESPN2

About that “other game” on Monday, NutsandBolts’ Jeffrey Newholm:

Yes, South Carolina has arrived as a national power in women’s basketball. Monday evening the #1 ranked Huskies, winners of 59 games in a row, will come to Colonial Life Arena in Columbia in the Gamecock’s first ever sold out game at the 18,000 seat venue. It’s the biggest home game in the history of USC, also undefeated and the #2 team in the country. The Super Bowl may be Sunday but die-hard women’s basketball fans may be looking forward to this game even more. As I usually do for big game previews, I’ll look at this game from every angle, then pick a winner.

From Sue/Jim Clark: No. 1 Connecticut vs. No. 2 South Carolina: Geno Auriemma says he just wants a good game

Auriemma was effusive in his praise of the Gamecocks and their ascendance to the top of women’s basketball. His focus, however, was on All-American senior Tiffany Mitchell.

“Any time you start a program going in the right direction, you can point to why,” Auriemma said. “I think everybody pointed to the A’ja Wilson signing at South Carolina as being a significant milestone, but they wouldn’t be in a position to sign somebody like A’ja Wilson if Tiffany Mitchell hadn’t already been there and done what she’s done and how she’s done it.”

And more:

Auriemma Sees Post Play Edge For South Carolina, Courant

UConn’s next great rival? Maybe South Carolina, if the Gamecocks can topple No. 1, Charleston Post and Courier

Mitchell in, Dozier out for Gamecocks’ clash with top-ranked UConn, Post and Courier

Gamecocks trying to emulate top dogs, The State

Injured South Carolina’s Mitchell Expects to Play vs. UConn, AP article from WLTX

Michaux: South Carolina says it’s ready for UConn, The Augusta Chronicle

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#2 team scores 7 in ten minutes. 57 in forty.
#10 team scores 8 in ten minutes. 51 in forty.

#8 team scores 62 in forty.

#11 team scores 61 in forty.

#12 team scores 4 in ten minutes. 36 in forty.
#20 team scores 8 in ten minutes. 56 in forty.

Thank you Notre Dame, DePaul, UConn, South Florida, West Virginia… and, as always, Sacramento State (25 threes, anyone?).

Honestly! I thought the rule changes were supposed to HELP the scoring. Instead, I’m having Nike commercial flashbacks. “Momma can’t help your jump shot.”

In other games:

Army keeps pace with Bucknell. *Graham? Michelle? Someone take notice of the Bison!

Bryant (6-0) claims the top spot in the NEC.

UTEP (6-0) still perfect in C-USA. So’s Western Kentucky (7-0), which got the program’s first triple-double from Kendall Noble. Speaking of poachable coaches (Michelle Clark-Heard), have you been following Sue’s interviews with coaches?

And repeat: In the MAC, it was the Ohio Bobcats (7-0) over Northern Illinois. Ball State is now 6-1 in conference play.

It was tough, but Green Bay’s in-conference record stayed unblemished, courtesy of a  63-58 win over Wright State.

“They have the best payers — that always helps. The year we beat them, we had the best players. I think this year, it’s really, really close. Time will tell,” [WSU coach Mike] Bradbury said.

Arkansas State moves to 8-0 in the Sun Belt (a program best).

“It is a really good road win and this just caps off a really good stretch of four games in eight days,” A-State head coach Brian Boyer said. “I just told the players that they played really well during this stretch and they have just saved the best performance for last.”

Abilene Christian is now 7-0 in the Southland as junior guard Alexis Mason is tearin’ it up.

New Mexico State continues to roll in the WAC, taking down Bakersfield in front of a record-breaking 5,034 fans.

After an ugly third quarter, Washington roared back to take down Washington State, 69-63.

Perfect no more: The Teddy Bears lose to East Tennessee State.

WHB jinx anyone? UT Rio Grand Valley falls to Seattle, 74-71 and UC Santa Barbara falls to UC Riverside, 92-81.

Called the fun: Nebraska over Michigan, 93 – 81.

Michigan women’s basketball had no answer for Jessica Shepard on Sunday as Nebraska’s standout freshman beat up on the Wolverines. 

The 6-foot-4 Shepard scored 35 points and grabbed 20 rebounds to lead the Cornhuskers past Michigan, 93-81, at Crisler Center.

Asked the questions and the teams responded: Indiana over Northwestern, 91-84.

Ahead of Sunday’s game, Teri Moren said a Big Ten road win would help further change the culture of Indiana women’s basketball.

The Hoosiers came away with their moment, a 91-84 win at No. 20 Northwestern. Ahead by five at the half, but falling behind by seven going into the fourth, IU (12-8, 4-4 Big Ten) outscored the Wildcats 33-19 in the fourth quarter.

In the battle of the A10 bigs, it was Duquesne snapped St. Bonaventure‘s 16-game winning streak, 74-62.

Here’s hoping tonight’s game have us singing, “Score, score, score! How do you like it? How do you like it?

Welcome to the neighborhood, Coach Neighbors: Washington enters Top 25 for 1st time since ’03

In other news:

Cool: Missouri’s average home attendance surges into top half of SEC.

Yes: Ohio State winning despite lack of size

“Our chemistry is pretty great,” senior guard Ameryst Alston said. “Like I’ve said before, that’s how it should be. We’ve got a lot of different players that can score. So it makes us hard to guard.”

The Buckeyes (14-4, 6-1) have used their versatility to forge a first-place tie with Maryland in the Big Ten standings. They lead the conference and are third in the nation in scoring at 87 points per game. They do this efficiently despite having only one starter taller than the 5-foot-9 Alston.

The lack of size often shows up in rebounding statistics, but Ohio State has won 10 of its past 11 games against mostly bigger teams.

Charlie’s got his latest bracket and is Trying to make sense of topsy-turvy SEC

Thank goodness for South Carolina. Otherwise there would be no figuring out the SEC.

The Gamecocks moved to 7-0 with Sunday’s slugfest of a road victory over Mississippi State. After that, the conference is a cluster of teams virtually indistinguishable by record and performance. After the Gamecocks, each of the SEC’s other 13 teams has at least two conference wins. No one has more than four. Everyone has at least two losses but no more than five. Georgia is tied for last place, yet is a mere 2½ games out of second place, and the Lady Dogs are included in this week’s projected NCAA tournament field.

Cleanse your palate with a little USA Basketball news: Familiar faces dot U.S. women’s basketball finalists

The pursuit of a sixth consecutive gold medal for the United States women’s basketball team will be in familiar hands come August at the Rio Olympics. On Monday, the list of the 25 finalists for the 12-member squad was released by USA Basketball.

There were no surprises; the group has both longtime veterans of international play and the top college senior in the country, UConn’s Breanna Stewart. Ten players in the finalist pool have previously won Olympic gold, including three-time Olympic champions Diana TaurasiTamika Catchings (1st women to receive National Civil Rights Museum Sports Legacy Award) and Sue Bird (Role Model of the Year)

New York Values: Madison Square Garden Company partnership with Resorts World Casino includes deal to make casino sponsor of Liberty Pride Month

One cost of bigotry? Survey: Religious objections law cost millions

Indiana may have lost as much as $60 million in hotel profits, tax revenue and other economic benefits when a dozen groups decided against hosting conventions in Indianapolis last year due at least in part to the controversy surrounding the state’s religious objections law.

A document prepared by the tourism group Visit Indy shows that the 12 out-of-state groups were surveyed and all said that the state’s controversial law played a role in their decision to hold their events elsewhere. The document was obtained by The Associated Press ahead of its formal release Thursday.

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Honestly, why do you bother? You get a UConn game on your channel, thousands of Husky fans realize you exist and desperately look for you… and then you bring out Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) – someone who 1) Doesn’t do his homework (ummm, have you checked out how many upsets happened in the last week?) 2) Doesn’t know his facts (ummm, have you checked out UConn’s SOS?) 3) and DISRESPECTS the women’s game… *smh, surprised that Swin didn’t smack HIS head*

Doug, honey, if you’re worried about a sport that is diluted, where folks don’t play competitive games and is parity-free, let me quote a wise observer from Miami who suggests you check out college football: “Alabama and their ilk go 13-1 outscoring their opponents 2.3 to 1. They just beat the #3 ranked team 38-0. At least women’s basketball is a little competitive!”

Not quite yet: #6 Baylor rumbled in to Longhorn territory, grabbed an early lead an never let go, sending #4 Texas to its first loss of the season.

The Texas women’s basketball team lost on Sunday.

On the court. In the press conference. Inside their minds. Everywhere it counts.

Except in the Erwin Center stands, where 8,996 fans — the largest crowd of the season — convened to watch the fourth-ranked Longhorns’ breakthrough moment this season.

But that moment didn’t come.

ACK! #15 TAMU had overtime against #2 South Carolina in its sight, courtesy of a spectacular pass/lay in and then… brain freeze: foul the inbounder and Sessions seals a one-point win for the Gamecocks. Staley speaks.

Too muchToo much firepower: #5 Ohio State gave Purdue its first in-conference loss, 90-70.

“We started the game with a much better sense of urgency,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. “We talked about it. We were going to need it. Purdue is a really good team. If we didn’t show up today, it wasn’t going to go our way.”

Not this game: #8 Maryland poured it on in the first half against Northwestern and never looked back.

Not pretty, but we’ll take it: #9 Kentucky over Auburn, 54-47.

Perhaps Kentucky fans should start sending Sonya Murray some residential listings in the Lexington area.

With her mom in Memorial Coliseum on Sunday, Taylor Murray had career highs in points and steals and helped lead the No. 9 Cats to a 54-47 victory over Auburn.

“She has next-level speed that is unlike most people on the floor,” UK Coach Matthew Mitchell said of the freshman guard. “That’s a great weapon for us.

12 straight: #10 Arizona State used strong first and third quarters to show Utah the door, 80-60. Nice piece on Utes coach Lynne Roberts.

As much as Lynne Roberts loved sports as a youngster, Don Roberts never expected his only daughter to make a living in athletics.

“She was always a very strong person, had a lot of personality and a lot of drive,” he said. “But she was always going into science. There was never an idea of being a coach. It was never talked about.”

A lot of local women’s basketball fans are grateful that somewhere in her college basketball career, her passion to compete and her ability to teach persuaded the history major to pursue a career in a much misunderstood and often maligned profession.

Those most grateful for her choice are likely the Utah players who are exceeding the expectations of almost everyone — except their first-year coach.

0-29 no more: Beavers over Trees. #12 Oregon State got the win over #11 Stanford on the merits of a comeback. Feels like OSU is learning from its games… and if Sydney Wiese can return….

#16 Florida State kept the Panthers defeated in the ACC, 66-55.

So, yah, this Pac12 is a thing: #17 UCLA escapes Washington State, 75-73.

See above, as #25 USC didn’t escape Kelsey Plum and her 32 points. Washington wins, 69-60.

There wasn’t anything anyone could do to stop this second-half comeback.

After an abysmal first half, which preceded a “crazy” halftime outburst from typically mellow coach Mike Neighbors, the Washington women’s basketball team rallied to beat No. 25 USC, 69-60, Sunday afternoon to complete a weekend sweep of the ranked L.A. schools at home.

 The Huskies (14-4) have won three in a row and sit in third place in the Pac-12 at 5-2. This week, they could also find themselves ranked in The Associated Press poll for the first time since 2003. 

It was close early, but then the #19 Bulls pulled away from the Pirates, 75-54.

Is the SEC allergic to scoring? #20 Florida had to rally with 20 in the 4th to defeat LSU, 53-45.

Make that 200: Katie Meier and #21 Miami get the win over UNC, 76-61, to reach the win milestone. Rats: Xylina McDaniel, a four-year starter for North Carolina, will miss the rest of the season because of an ACL.

Bounce back: #22 Duke made sure they didn’t lose two games in a row, and BC stays winless in the ACC, 71-51.

“I think that the team is beginning to understand what it takes to prepare and to really get themselves in a good space in which to play. The team was very fun to coach today because there was activity everywhere,” McCallie said. “You love it if you have to turn down instead of turn up. If anything today, I was turning down things and that makes for a really good team performance.”

Moore, Moore, Moore: Mariya, that is. It took all of Moore’s 31 points to help #23 #23 Louisville escape the Wolf Pack, 92-90.

“It’s a win. Now, am I pleased? No,” said Cardinals coach Jeff Walz. “We got extremely lucky. In my opinion, we got out-played. NC State deserved to win that game, but unfortunately for them and fortunately for us, we had a few bounces at the end that went our way.”

Hog Heaven: That’s three wins over Top 25 teams in 10 days for Arkansas.

Albany and Stony Brook still share the America East top spot (1/21, y’all). Speaking of Albany: Shereesha Richards’ next stop likely to be WNBA

The Bonnies.

“You see what our players have been doing on the floor, but what most didn’t see is all the time they put in during the spring, summer and fall,” Crowley said of his team. “Now they’re being rewarded for it. There’s a long way to go and we try to stay focused on what’s next. If you don’t do that in this league, things can go away quickly.”

GW over the Dukes: 

George Washington 6-foot-4 forward Jonquel Jones led all players with 23 points, 18 rebounds and 7 blocks, giving the Dukes fits down low.

“In my 19 years of Division I, she’s got to be one of the 10 or 12 best players,” Burt said.

Farleigh Dickinson (2-3) went on a tear in the second half, giving Robert Morris (4-1) their first NEC defeat.

“It certainly was a disappointing effort on our part,” Robert Morris coach Sal Buscaglia said. “All the credit has to go to Fairleigh Dickinson. They played harder over the 40 minutes, and when we tied the game in the second half, they responded and we didn’t.

In a Big South show down, it was Gardner-Webb squeaking out a 2-point win over UNC Asheville, 58-56. Of note: the Bulldogs were missing two starters (center K.J. Weaver and point guard Ja’Da Brayboy)

Chattanooga is feeling right at home in the Southern.

It was, no surprise, a tough one, but Ohio managed to squeak out a 2-pt OT win over Central Michigan, 86-84, thanks to Kiyanna Black’s career high 39.

Troy is looking strong in the Sun Belt. Congrats to senior guard Ashley Beverly Kelley, whose current career total (1,621) is the most by a player in Troy’s 23-year Division I history. I might mention that coach Chanda Rigby seems poachable…. The program won just two games in 2011-12, the season prior to Rigby’s arrival, and has most recently won 20 games in 2014-15.

No jinx, please, but that is three wins in the Big West for Santa Barbara.

Congrats! EKU to honor women’s basketball great Lisa Goodin and first NCAA tournament team. Goodin is in the Indiana Basketball HOF. At EKU

Goodin, who played for Eastern from 1980 to 1984, is the all-time leading scorer in EKU women’s basketball history with 1,920 career points. The guard from Austin, Indiana is second in program history in field goals made, free throws made and free throw percentage (87.4 percent).  She is fifth in assists (374) and 10th in steals (182).

A sharpshooter with consistent accuracy, she led the NCAA in free throw percentage as both a freshman (.897) and junior (.910).

Stop this: Fight involving players and fans halts girls basketball game in Indiana

It’s been a while since it felt like a coach’s job was in the balance before a game. Elzy tries to calm fans:

“The fans were disappointed that we lost (to Arkansas),” Elzy said. “We were disappointed as well. We have a responsibility to uphold the legacy and play the Lady Vol way, which we did not against Arkansas. I know for the fans, right now, it seems like it’s over. It’s not over. It’s a long year.”

Elzy urged Tennessee fans not to panic despite the disappointing loss to the Razorbacks.

OT: Listening to John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey spin discs on Radio Deluxe is musical heaven.

 

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Debbie Antonelli (and everyone else who loves women’s basketball)? In the battle of the West Coast Bears, #18 UCLA and #21 Cal wore out the basketball’s through two overtimes. Eventually it was the Goldens over the Bruins, 108-104.

Arnecia Hawkins gave her #22 Arizona State teammates something nice: a win over #10 Florida State, 68-56.

The senior guard, coming off the bench, scored a career-high 23 points on 7-of-7 shooting, including three 3-pointers. That’s 21 more than against the Seminoles in late March, when she only played 12 minutes compared to 31 this time.

“Extra everything,” Hawkins said of the reason for what is becoming a breakout season. “Extra workouts, extra shooting that we all do every day. It feels good just be relaxed and be able to help the team.”

Swoopes, there it is! Loyola (CHI) stunned #17 DePaul, 88-75.

“Once you give a team the belief that they can win, a well-coached team will absolutely take advantage of that,” head Coach Doug Bruno said. “They might be the best 2-7 team in the country. Their record doesn’t show what kind of team they are. They’ve played a great schedule, just like we’ve played a great schedule.”

The #4 Texas Bears had their hands full with James Madison, but a strong second half propelled them to a 77-63 win (Davis with 15 assists). Baylor’s first trip out of their home state has proved to be no walk in the park: in an earlier game, Miami kept it close.

St. Joe’s kept it close with the Irish through two, and then Notre Dame said, “That’s quite enough of that, thankyouverymuch, it’s coach’s homecoming!” cruising to a 91-55 win.

#8 Mississippi State moved to 11-1, but not without a heck of a battle from SMU. 19 turnovers doomed the Mustangs, and the Bulldogs prevailed, 72-70.

Fellow American Conference member Tulane had better luck against the Billikens, winning 66-58.

Speaking of the American, #20 South Florida made Oklahoma State’s first loss of the season painful, 68-48.

In the Battle of the Blues, it looks like #8 Kentucky may have gotten better by subtraction. The Wildcats got a comfortable lead in the first quarter and held it through to the end, beating #13 Duke 71-61.

WHB jinx strikes again: UNC Asheville loses to Clemson and it was ugly.

Ditto with William & Mary – though they have an excuse: they were playing VCU (10-2).

Nojinxnojinxnojinx: Is anyone noticing Abilene Christian this season? They’re 8-2 and defeated the Vandals, 71-59.

Colorado State looks strong again in the Mountain West. Do they really only play New Mexico State and Wyoming once in the regular season?

Maine v. Purdue? Just avert your eyes.

Penguins lose!

Virginia Tech squeaked out a win over Radford to move to 11-1.

With their win over NC State, Florida is also 11-1.

K State is now 10-1.

Santa Clara is at 10-1 and the WCC fun begins: they meet the Gaels tomorrow. St. Mary’s just took down San Francisco (9-3), 78-68 and, if you recall, upset Cal. Wonder if the two teams will tell “How we played the Pac-12” stories.

Yes, Missouri is 11-0, “atop” the SEC with it’s best start ever, and has entered the Top 25 for the first time since Justin was bringing SexyBack… but here comes Tennessee…and undefeated South Carolina and its zillions fans is lurking.

#5 Texas got the best of their SEC/Big 12 Challenge, defeating Arkansas 61-50. It’s been pretty cool to watch the Longhorns start to rebuild legacy

#18 Texas A&M got conference revenge by beating #17 Oklahoma, 74-68.

Georgia State has not (traditionally) been good and Stetson has… so props to the Panthers for upsetting the Hatters in the Hatters Classic,  80-72.

“I am proud of this team’s fight,” coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener said. “They made plays when they had to, they got some key stops when they had to and that is what winning teams do. This is probably one of our better wins recently as Stetson is really tough here at their place and a perennial 20-win program.”

Yes USC-West is still undefeated, but (as warned) they got a scare from the Great Danes.

Oregon State rolled over Cal Poly, but that is small comfort to the Beavers: All-Pac-12 point guard Sydney Wiese is out with a (potentially season-ending) wrist injury.

About OSU v. Tennessee. Again, a wicked ugly game – but this time Tennessee prevailed. So yes, the Volunteers held a 4-hour players-only meeting. Cool. But what’s next? There’s the rub. For the Beavers, they believe Tennessee game could define season

No Stewie? No biggie.

Speaking of the Huskies, they next face Maryland at the Garden. Hard to gauge Frese’s Terpsthey’ve not played a ranked team yet, and the only team of “import” they encountered was d’em famous Wabbits. She says they’re ready, though.

Congrats! Outsports Female Hero of the Year: Layshia Clarendon

And yet the Education of the Bigots still continues: 5 Lesbian Basketball Players Who Could School Pepperdine

Ryan Heisenberg, coach of the Pepperdine University women’s basketball team, [allegedly] believes that lesbians on his team “would cause the team to lose games,” according to a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.

NB: This post is from the 22nd and got stuck in the “draft box.” Someone’s head is going to roll!!!

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’cause it’s fun, since we know how much Mechelle hates making predicitions.  In anticipation of the Kentucky/South Carolina and UNC/Maryland game, Mechelle Voepel said this:

jbb1985 (ny): Which of the two games tonight between ranked, Conference rivals are you the most interested in: MD vs. UNC or UK vs. S. Carolina?

Mechelle Voepel: Interested in both, but if I have to pick I’ll say Maryland vs North Carolina because it’s a rematch and may indicate how the Tar Heels will go through this tough four-game stretch vs. Terps, Miami, Florida State and Duke. Sylvia Hatchell is 3 wins from 900 in her career, and it could come as early as Jan. 31, I believe. But it could also be delayed awhile, as these are tough games. The interesting thing with Kentucky-South Carolina, of course, is which team sets the pace in that game, since they are so opposite.

MV got it right. Cats’ streak stopped by South Carolina, 55-50

Every shot, every cut, every pass.

Every minute of the game, South Carolina wanted to make Kentucky as uncomfortable as possible.

The No. 18 Gamecocks succeeded and upended the fifth-ranked Cats 55-50 Thursday night, ending UK’s 17-game win streak.

“They played much harder than we did,” Cats Coach Matthew Mitchell explained. “They played much more physical. Their desire was much stronger to win tonight. When that happens, then we get beat.”

Check out what else MV has to say, when she teams up with Michelle as they talk Mechelle & Michelle: Coast to Coast

On their podcast, Beth Mowins and Debbie Antonelli talk to a pair of head coaches, Baylor’s Kim Mulkey and UNC’s Sylvia Hatchell.

Out west, Oregon breaks into Pac-12 women’s basketball win column at the expense of the Washington State Cougars. 

The Buffaloes got so much deserved attention, and then got close to a huge win, but couldn’t put Cal away. Stanford handled the Utes.

Some good news for Ohio State, Stokes’ knee injury is healing quickly.

Nebraska welcomed Michigan State to the polls by beating them.

The Shockers continued their winning ways in the MVC, and now sit at 6-0 in the conference. The Blue Jays are keeping pace, now at 5-1.

In the Horizon League, Algoma’s Zastrow emerges for UWGB

Speaking of emerging stars, Graham offers up this: Rodriguez emerges as FSU star: Senior guard from Canary Islands has tripled her scoring average from a year ago

It might seem at first glance as if one of the season’s biggest surprises came out of nowhere to emerge as one of the best players in the ACC. But for someone who crossed an ocean just to get to Florida State four years ago, a senior season to remember turns out to be one more leg of a long journey.

Rodriguez comes from a place people dream of visiting for a few days’ respite from the real world. Where she grew up, others hope they might someday soak up the sun in retirement. So frankly, it’s a little surprising to sit across from her in a hotel lobby on a wet winter night near Boston and find that there is nowhere she would rather be than where she is, with three years worth of waiting and working behind her to prove her point.

Clearly, Graham has no jinx-ability, as Chelsea Davis helped No. 22 Florida State rally past Georgia Tech.

It’s around the corner: UConn v. Notre Dame. Jim Fuller writes: Huskies need their bench to be the best. Curt Rallo writes: Irish need to keep foot on the gas

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Staley, Gamecocks on rise despite transfers

Few, including the hyper-competitive Staley, could’ve seen this rise coming when the year began.

SEC newcomer of the year Kelsey Bone had transferred to Texas A&M last March. Leading scorer Valerie Nainima, fifth in the SEC last season, was lost to summertime knee surgery. Then just seven games into the season, highly regarded freshman foward Kayla Brewer, left the program to join Texas.

It was enough to make Staley, the three-time Olympic gold medalist, yell as loud as she could. And she did at the end of one memorably bad practice session following a 66-48 loss at Kentucky last month.

“I blew my top,” Staley said. “But after that particular practice, I told myself that I’m going to change the way I approach them because they take in information a little differently.”

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South Carolina women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley announced today that senior guard Valerie Nainima (Suva, Fiji) has undergone successful surgery to repair an ACL injury in her right knee.

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