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from Graham: Youngstown State returns to winning ways

In his short time as a head coach, Bob Boldon has already done something few of his peers would dare attempt.

And we’re not talking about keeping a straight face while selling the virtues of calling oneself a Cotton Blossom or Penguin.

With the regular season still winding to its conclusion, Youngstown State has safely clinched a winning season, its first since 1999-2000. That is an impressive enough achievement for a coach in his third season at the school and who was himself only three years out of college when the Penguins last had more wins than losses. But that alone is hardly unique. Plenty of coaches turn around programs that didn’t win many games.

Not so many turn around programs that didn’t win any games.

The Penguins were not fazed by the press: they won last night, 73 -69 over Cleveland State.

So did Fordham, btw, Graham… hint, hint.

So did Hawai’i, btw, Graham…hint, hint.

In the rematch of the big dogs, Albany came out on top again – and by the same margin: Danes 79, Terriers 70.

The MVC is shaping up to be quite the battle between the Blue Jays and the Shockers.

Interesting that Dayton got such a tussle from the Bonnies (could be Dayton’s youth). Might be an interesting end of the regular season. Did miss this, though: Local quartet part of No. 17 Flyers’ success

There was a time, not so long ago, when local recruits wouldn’t just quietly dismiss Dayton women’s basketball coach Jim Jabir — they’d all but tell him to get lost.

“When I first got here, kids literally wouldn’t talk to me, or would say quietly, ‘I’ve watched you play and I wouldn’t want to go there,” Jabir says.

But as the old sports saying goes, winning cures all. Nowadays Jabir, who’s brought a middling UD program into the national spotlight after three consecutive NCAA Tournament berths, rarely gets the bill collector treatment from the Dayton area’s best high school players.

Speaking of conference races: Mike Siroky’s SEC Report: Championship Race Still Undecided

Jayda says Kristi Kingma, UW women’s basketball team on cusp of NCAA berth

Kristi Kingma’s big blue eyes widened even more.

She sat in the media room at Alaska Airlines Arena before the regular season, looking far ahead to the last four games of her women’s basketball college career. On the schedule sat perennial foes Stanford and California at home and tough Pac-12 newcomers Utah and Colorado on the road.

Kingma circled the games. Benchmarks, she thought.

Now on the eve of the crucial stretch, Kingma is no longer daunted.

Meanwhile, Looking to gain separation in Ivy League, Princeton to host Cornell and Columbia

Lady Swish is Breaking down NCAA/WNIT prospects

For some teams, it’s may only be the wildest of dreams of a magical March run. Still, as February winds down every one of Virginia’s 13 Division I teams still has something to play for.

From the Poughkeepsie Journal we learn that Marist is keeping their focus forward

It’s not just the fact his Red Foxes have gone unbeaten in league play that pleases Brian Giorgis, but it’s how they’ve done it.

On the way to its 14-0 record in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the Marist College women’s basketball team has steadily progressed, the head coach said, routinely playing better against league opponents the second time around.

Also at the PJ, Mike Benischek reminds folks that Women’s basketball talent runs deeper than just Marist

It’s been almost 10 years since Marist College put the mid-Hudson Valley on the women’s basketball world’s map.

But, when is the last time you checked out the geography of the map?

The Red Foxes aren’t the only ones running around the neighborhood. There are Hawks flying overhead, and Blue Knights patrolling the streets. There are Brewers … brewing, I guess. They’re perfect for a college town.

And while I’m not here to say McCann Arena isn’t home to the biggest show in town, I will simply ask, do you know what other shows are playing?

Congrats to SMU coach Rhonda Rompola on her 400th career win

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From New Hampshire: Londonderry girls basketball coach Fagula earns 600th win

“It doesn’t feel like 31 years, it really doesn’t,” sais Fagula. “But around Christmas time when I’m getting cards from people I coached in the 70’s and 80’s who already have kids in high school or beyond, that’s when I start to realize I’ve been around for a long time.”

Mechelle chats and gives the Rams some love:

Blake Whitney (Washington, D.C.): Fordham was 0-29 in 2008. This year, under Stephanie Gaitley, the Rams are 18-7 and 8-2 in a pretty competitive (at least at the top) Atlantic 10. Fordham has been at the very, very, very bottom of the A10 in both men’s and women’s hoops ever since joining the league. How impressive is this turnaround?

Mechelle Voepel  (2:43 PM): It’s fantastic, because it’s very hard to recruit after a program has hit that kind of rock-bottom. You’ve got to get kids who believe in a quick but real rebuilding process. Gaitley has been able to do that.

Debbie and Beth pod where they recap the Baylor-UConn game. Plus, they’re joined by Duke’s Haley Peters.

Michelle writes: ASU regroups after coach’s absence – One of Pac-12’s most consistent programs is 4-11 in conference play 

Taking a season away from the game didn’t diminish Charli Turner Thorne’s competitive drive. It was meant to reinvigorate it, to recharge the fire that Turner Thorne was afraid was starting to flicker after 20-something years of the coaching grind.

So when she checks the Pac-12 standings and sees her program — which has finished no worse than fifth place in the past decade — sitting at 4-11 and tied for 10th place, it hurts.

A recent seven-game losing streak, the program’s longest since 1996-97, burns, as any baptism by fire would.

Graham talks Flyers and Hens in his mid-major poll, where five of the top ten teams are undefeated in conference play. Creighton is in the tenth spot with their 10-3 record in the MVC.

David’s Dishin & Swishin and Looking at the “Student” part of “Student-Athlete” with UConn’s Heather Buck & Duke’s Haley Peters

Tully is keeping busy: Bevilaqua takes workouts old-school at Gym41

In Cali, Chiney fesses up: It’s hard to say: I’m becoming a California girl

In Ohio, the Buckeyes know where they stand

The marathon metaphor, so popular from the beginning to the middle of most sports seasons, has reached the point for the Ohio State and Minnesota women’s basketball teams where the kick to the finish is all that matters.

In Colorado, Terry Frei notices, CU Buffs shining this season in women’s basketball too

The upswing in men’s college basketball fortunes within the state has captured the attention of Coloradans, and generated party atmospheres among the students in the stands in Boulder and Fort Collins.

Another hoops renaissance in the state has been lesser noticed.

In Michigan, an Unremarkable vibe part of extraordinary feat for MSU’s women’s basketball program

Asking a coach for contemplation during the throes of a season rarely produces any perspective analysis.

But what MSU women’s basketball has become is worthy of pause.

Before 2003-04, the Spartans had produced only four 20-win seasons since the program’s inception in the early 1970s.

A big game — on a warm weekend, against a rival or ranked foe — might draw 1,000 fans, if MSU was lucky.

Now, 5,000 fans and 20 wins is the baseline. Even for a cold night and trying season such as this, one that began with three season-ending injuries and two nine-game suspensions.

In St. Louis, OU coach receives Most Courageous Award

Oakland University women’s basketball coach Beckie Francis was named the winner of the Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award, presented by the United States Basketball Writers Association on Thursday. A victim of childhood sexual abuse, Francis has achieved a successful coaching career and now serves as an advocate for sexual abuse victims in addition to coaching.

In New Jersey, Megan Bowen’s impact on Princeton women’s basketball will be felt for years to come

After the 6-foot-3 Bowen committed to Princeton early in her senior year at Northampton, she kept track of the Tigers and watched some of their games in person. Bowen saw promise, though the Tigers’€™ 14-14 record and losses to Lehigh and Lafayette (after squandering a 16-point lead) may have indicated otherwise.

“€œThey had had a couple of tough seasons and the team that was there my senior year in high school had some really tough losses,”€ Bowen said. “€œI knew a little bit about the background of the other three (incoming freshmen) and I had seen Niveen’€™s (Rasheed) accomplishments, but I couldn’™t have pictured this. Coach (Courtney) Banghart has done a great job building the program and each year we’ve been getting better.”

In Arizona, WNBA president Laurel Richie talks Mercury, No. 1 pick

In Iowa, they do it old school: Posting Up with Granny Basketball

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From Doug Feinberg at the AP: Fordham women turning heads in Atlantic 10

It was only a few years ago when Fordham was the laughing stock of women’s basketball, setting a record for futility.

Now second-year coach Stephanie Gaitley has the Rams near the top of the Atlantic 10.

“I thought about that the other day and I don’t want us to enjoy it too early,” Gaitley said after a 68-57 loss to No. 18 Dayton on Sunday night. “There’s so much left to do. The second we let it seep in is the second we’ll lose the next challenge.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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