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Oh, yes, ‘ware the rabbits: #12 South Dakota State held on to upset #5 Miami, 74-71.

It is me, or is no one paying attention to the job Moren’s done at Indiana? Maybe the 9-seed taking down #8 Georgia, 62-58, for the program’s first Tourney win in 33 years will get folks to sit up and notice.

And a freshman shall lead them… to an upset win. #10 Missouri toppled #7 BYU behind Sophie Cunningham’s 20pts.

Pirates got Duked. #9 Duquesne earned their program’s first NCAA victory with authority. They take down #8 Seton Hall by 21.

Nice showing by #10 Penn as #7 Washington needed every minute and made shot by Walton, Plum and Atchley to secure the 12-pt win.

Jordin Canada had a tough shooting night, but so did the #14 Wahine. #3 UCLA survived and advanced with a 66-50 win.

No style points will be awarded, as #11 Colorado State gave #6 South Florida fits. The Bulls escape with a 48-45 win.

Movin’ on. #6 Oklahoma dispatches #11 Purdue with ease, if not elegance.

Despite having to suspend two players (dumb, dumb, dumb), #4 Texas A&M handled #13 Missouri State, 74-65, behind Anriel Howard’s NCAA Tournament record 27 rebounds.

For a moment it looked like the #12 Blue Raiders wanted to mess up the Prez’s bracket… but the #5 Florida State’s Romero got the band together and the Seminoles earned a 17pt win.

Getting run over by the Wildcats shouldn’t diminish the season #14 UNC-Asheville has had… but you know they wished for a better showing. #3 Kentucky by 54.

#2 Maryland earned every single bit of their 16-point win over #15 Iona.

Notre Dame was hitting on all cylinders and then eased off the gas a tad as they cruised to a 95-61 win over North Carolina A&T.

No rust for the rested. Yes, UConn had huge first quarter, scoring-wise, against Robert Morris, but did you notice Stewart’s 8 steals? Or Coach Sal Buscaglia’s heartfelt post game press conference?

#2 Texas couldn’t shake #15 Alabama State in the first half. Different story in the second as the Longhorns , 86-42.

Fun/not fun? #4 Tara Vanderveer over #13 Jennifer Azzi, 85-58.

From Graham: Quick Dish: Five observations from Day 2 of the NCAA tourney

With one round down and five to go, what else did we learn from Saturday’s 16 games?

1. Texas A&M and Florida State earn another chance to live up to expectations

Ranked among the top baker’s dozen of teams in the nation in the preseason, Texas A&M and Florida State took the court in November with no worse than Sweet 16 expectations.

They will meet Monday in the second round of the NCAA tournament, which means only one will get to the Sweet 16. For stretches Saturday, it wasn’t clear either would get even that opportunity.

FiveThirtyEight:  These Are The Only 4 Teams With Any Chance Of Beating The UConn Women

CNN: 5 reasons why UConn’s women’s hoops dominance is incredible

Upcoming games that have caught my eye:

NY (Syracuse) v. NY (Albany)
Old Big East (DePaul) v Old Big East (Louisville)
Tennessee v. Arizona

From Mechelle: How Lady Vols handle ASU defense could determine matchup

WNIT advancers:

TCU (Big 12) over Eastern Michigan (MAC), 85-81
Michigan (Big 10) over Bucknell (Patriot), 95-72
Hofstra (CAA) over Villanova (Big East), 82-74.
San Diego (WCC) over IUPUI (Summit), 59-48.
Northern Iowa (MVC) over Drake (MVC), 64-58.

In other news: Mystics Great Holdsclaw Discusses her “Unquiet Journey”

Washington Mystics fans know the legacy of Chamique Holdsclaw, the WNBA great who left her mark on D.C. The former #1 overall pick recently returned to the area to discuss her current work as a mental health advocate. 

A new documentary, “Mind/Game: The Unquiet Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw,” chronicles her rise to stardom and struggles with mental disorders, providing a platform to discuss the impact of mental health issues in sports. The film won Best Documentary Film honors at the 2016 DC Independent Film Festival. 

Hayley Milon caught up with Holdsclaw to discuss her journey.

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but first, the WNIT kicks us off with a fun story: Double Duty In Des Moines: Kansas Band Gets The Assist For Drake Women’s Basketball

A college basketball game without a band present … it’s just not the same, is it? Drake’s women’s team was facing that, though, for its WNIT opener Thursday night in Des Moines, Iowa. The school is on spring break, and the Drake band members aren’t on campus.

However, Drake got a capable substitute: The Kansas band was in Des Moines for the Jayhawks’ NCAA men’s tournament game Thursday afternoon.

As for the games:

The band helped! Drake (MVC) over Sacred Heart (NEC), 95-59.

Road-weary UT Rio Grande (WAC) got swept away by TCU (Big12), 97-73.

Arkansas State (Sun Belt) chomped on Southern (SWAC), 68-45.

It was a tight one, as short-handed Nebraska (Big10) fell to Northern Iowa (MVC), 64-62.

Ball State (MAC) went on the road and topped Iowa (Big Ten), 77-72.

Arkansas Little-Rock (Sun Belt) and St. Louis (A-10) went down to the wire, but… Billikens win! 70-69.

And I swoop! Tennessee-Martin (Ohio Valley) came back to defeat Memphis (American), 79-73. It’s the programs first post-season win since 1999.

Dayton (A-10) fell to Western Kentucky (C-USA), 89-72.

San Diego (WCC) escapes Northwestern (Big 10), 69-65. The Wildcats scored 8 in the first and 35 in the fourth. Coach must be banging his head against the wall.

No, really, remember when they stunk? IUPUI (Summit) over Central Michigan (MAC), a tough program, 63-55.

Bucknell (Patriot) over Akron (MAC), 74-70. The Bison are the first team from the Patriot League to ever win a game in the WNIT, while also posting the program’s first victory in a national postseason tournament.

“We have had a lot of great things happen this year, but to get a postseason win is pretty sweet,” said Bucknell head coach Aaron Roussell. “It’s a great accomplishment for our program and our league, and a huge feather in the cap for this gritty team. I am incredibly proud of them.”

Gonzaga (WCC) chewed up undermanned UC Riverside (Big West), 88-54.

Oregon (Pac12) over Long Beach State (Big West) by 8.

After all the waiting and working and wondering, Oregon coach Kelly Graves finally got the glimpse of his team’s future that he’d been looking for the past two weeks.

And he liked it so much that Graves told his rejuvenated Ducks to go play couch potatoes for a day like the rest of America as their reward.

 Welcome to March Madness, ladies. WNIT style.

Nice showing against a program that in no joke: Marshall (C-USA) falls to Ohio (MAC), 76-68.

Eastern Michigan (MAC) led wire to wire, and eked out an away win over Saint Mary’s (WCC), by one, 74-73.

Graduate transfer Chanise Baldwin’s ffensive rebound and put back with 1.8 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter lifted the Eastern Michigan University women’s basketball team to a 74-73 victory over Saint Mary’s College in the opening round of the WNIT Thursday, March 17. The Eagles led by as many as nine, but needed Baldwin’s late game heroics to propel the Green and White into the second round of the tournament. 

In a back-and-forth battle, it was Abilene Christian (Southland) who blinked first. UTEP (C-USA) won, 66-62.

Virginia Tech (ACC) over Elon (CAA), 68-59.

Villanova (Big East) ousted Liberty (Big South), 67-51.

Hofstra (CAA) over Harvard (Ivy), 76-50.

Even with the loss of top-scorer Mikayla Venson, Virginia (ACC) managed a two-point win over VCU (A10).

Georgia Tech (ACC) stung Mercer (Southern), 73-56.

Rutgers (Big East Big 10) last-second-shot-ed a win over Georgetown (Old Big East), 57-55.

An improving Wake Forest (ACC) held off Charlotte (C-USA), 72-69.

First round NCAA games I’m keeping my eye on:

Albany/Florida
JMU/DePaul
Chattanooga/Mississippi State
Green Bay/Tennessee
St. Bonaventure/Oklahoma State

Michelle Smith: Tara VanDerveer vs. Jennifer Azzi

Asked to remember the last time they talked on the phone before they found out they would be matched up in the NCAA tournament, both Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer and University of San Francisco coach Jennifer Azzi came up with the same answer.

“Probably just a few weeks ago,” Azzi said.

“Not that long ago,” VanDerveer confirmed. “We talked about some things she was dealing with.”

There will be no talking this week.

Katie Barnes: UConn freshman Samuelson finds her footing

Bonnie and Karlie Samuelson, both of whom played at Stanford, are as responsible as anyone for making Lou the player she is.

“When I was younger, I wanted to be just like them, so that’s where it all started,” Samuelson said. “But once I got older, all I wanted to do was to be better than them.”

When will DePaul Women get their due as NCAA contenders?

Every year, I hear the same thing. “There are no Illinois teams in the NCAA tournament.”

And for the past 14 years, all those who have said that have been wrong.

Why, oh, why, do Illinois residents overlook the DePaul Blue Demons (25-8), who’ve achieved a berth in the NCAA Women’s Tournament for 14 CONSECUTIVE YEARS… also, their 21st overall appearance since 1990?

Jonathan Lintner: Cards’ Hines-Allen hitting high gear in March

Recently named the ACC Player of the Year, Hines-Allen registered a pair of double-doubles to open the postseason and hit 19 of her 33 shots.

“I want to prove to people it’s not a fluke and just give my all every single day,” the sophomore forward said. “That’s how I got the award.”

BTW: Division II has reached the Elite Eight.

4 Florida Southern v. 1 Lubbock Christian (March 22, 1pm)
2 Anchorage-Alaska v. 7 Francis Marion (March 22, 7pm)
1 Virginia Union v. 1 Bentley (March 22, 3:3o)
2 Grand Valley State v. 7 Pittsburgh State (9:30)

The big shockers were seeing #1 Union, #1 Azusa Pacific and #1 Limestone go down in the first round. #1 Ashland feel in the second round. #1 Emporia State lost in the 3rd round.

Division III’s Final Four is scheduled for March 19th, Capitol University, Columbus Ohio.

Tufts (27-3) v. Wartburg (23-7), 5pm.
Wartburg’s Final Four run stranger than fiction

 Amsberry’s Nine will do for a working title. Wartburg College’s surprise run into the NCAA Division III women’s basketball Final Four has the makings of a green-lit sports movie.

The plot is a season salvaged off life support by a group of athletes that had moved on before reuniting to accomplish an ambitious goal.

The script has more than final credits left to be written.

Jumbos book trip to NCAA tournament semifinals for third year in a row

For the past two years, Tufts had gotten it done at home in the postseason. The Jumbos had qualified for the NCAA tournament by winning the NESCAC championship, earned home court advantage and fought their way through dominant first-round wins and overtime thrillers alike to reach the NCAA Div. III championship semifinals, the Final Four.

This year was different. Tufts fell by one point in a heartbreaking loss to Amherst in the NESCAC championship but still earned an at-large bid. 

Amherst (30-1) v. Thomas More (31-0), 7:30PM

Saints on a different kind of mission

You already know what’s the same about the defending champs, so let’s look at what’s different about Thomas More this season.

It all starts with a change in hashtag philosophy.

Sister act adds to Amherst’s legacy

If Amherst head women’s basketball coach G.P. Gromacki hadn’t been persistent when reaching out to junior twins Ali and Meredith Doswell during the recruiting process, no telling what he would be doing this weekend.

 

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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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A little history from Michelle: Oral history: Harvard stuns Stanford – A look back at the 1998 NCAA tournament, the only time a 16-seed toppled a No. 1

A week before the NCAA tournament opener, Stanford was positioned as one of the best teams in the country, after three straight trips to the Final Four. Seven days later, the Cardinal became the first and only No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16, with a 71-67 defeat against Harvard. As with all great sports upsets, there is an intriguing backstory only the people involved can tell. We consulted our colleagues at FiveThirtyEight for some statistical context. Then we spoke with nine prominent people involved in the game and asked them to set the scene in an oral history of that game — starting with a devastating moment at the end of Stanford’s Pac-10 finale against Oregon State.

Vanessa Nygaard, former Stanford forward and longtime WNBA, college and high school coach: “We were ahead comfortably, but then Oregon State started closing the gap, and I went back in.”

Beth Goode, former Stanford sports information director and current senior women’s administrator: “Vanessa’s injury happened right in front of me. It was one of those unmistakable things when she went down. You knew it wasn’t good.”

Tara VanDerveer, Stanford coach, one of five coaches in NCAA women’s history with 900-plus wins: “The doctor at Oregon State said it was not an ACL, and we would have it looked at when we got back on Sunday, which was selection day.”

From Kate, a little history that’s a tad more modern: The swagger Of UConn – A look at how the Huskies’ dominance came to be — but it’s not for everybody

During last year’s college basketball season, Rebecca Lobo watched in person a number of Connecticut’s practices.

And during one of these afternoons, the former UConn star and current ESPN analyst noticed something strikingly familiar: coach Geno Auriemma running ragged one of the team’s best players.

Lobo also instantly recognized the drill: one-on-one from the wing, the emphasis on defense. The players form a line at each wing. First player in line is the defender; next one has the ball. If the defender gets a stop, she rotates to the back of the opposite line; if she gives up a bucket, she immediately runs to the opposite wing to try again — against a fresh offensive player.

The thing about this drill: Each repetition is exhausting. So if you don’t get a stop within the first two attempts, the likelihood of ever getting one plummets. After successive reps against fresh teammates? Might as well wave the white flag.

Except, of course, a white flag doesn’t exist at UConn.

From Mechelle: Massengale steps up at Tennessee – Senior guard and fellow Chicagoan Nia Moore look to make big impact in tourney

Mechelle’s been busy! Wilson right at home with Gamecocks

The fact that A’ja Wilson didn’t have to look far to find her college destination didn’t mean that she didn’t look hard. She explored different options, and waited until last April to announce her decision.

And when the hometown kid said she was staying with the hometown school, the rest of the country could almost hear the cheers of happiness mixed with relief coming from Columbia, South Carolina.

Some things are meant to be. Like Wilson playing for the Gamecocks. She’s from Hopkins, South Carolina, just outside the state capital city, and went to Heathwood Hall in Columbia. As she prepares for her first NCAA tournament for South Carolina, the No. 1 seed in the Greensboro Regional, Wilson knows she’s right where she’s supposed to be.

How about some other youngsters? TOP FRESHMEN READY TO MAKE NCAA TOURNAMENT DEBUT

How about some previews?

Albany Regional breakdown – UConn

Three observations

1. What an interesting road it’s been for Seton Hall senior guard Daisha Simmons. She struggled first to obtain a release from Alabama, and then to get a waiver to play this season at Seton Hall. But it worked out, as the Pirates are back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1995. Simmons is averaging 16.9 points, plus has 131 assists and a team-high 80 steals.

Greensboro Regional breakdown – South Carolina

Three observations

1. It has been a big season for Ohio, which is the No. 14 seed and faces No. 3 Arizona State in the first round.

Oklahoma City Regional breakdown – Notre Dame

Three observations

1. It’s time for the annual Sherri Coale appreciation salute. She took over at Oklahoma for the 1996-97 season, which was also the first year of the Big 12. At that point, the Sooners had made just two NCAA tournament appearances, and the school had infamously shut down the program for roughly a week in 1990 before sanity prevailed.

Spokane Regional breakdown – Maryland

Three observations

1. Kudos to New Mexico State coach Mark Trakh, who has the Aggies in the NCAA field for the first time since 1988. Trakh, in his fourth season in Las Cruces, also has taken Pepperdine and Southern Cal to the Big Dance. His Aggies, the Western Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament champion, are the No. 16 seed and take on No. 1 Maryland in the opening round.

Michelle says: Savor all 63 games — not just final

We’ve arrived, a little earlier than in previous years, at the start of the NCAA tournament. And while many people might want to jump straight to the ending — one they think they can already write — we refuse to do that.

We are going to soak in the process of reducing a field of 64 teams down to one champion over the course of three weeks.

Because whether conventional wisdom suggests this in an exercise in inevitability, that Connecticut will be cutting down nets like last year, and the year before that, there are still 63 other teams determined to make sure they’re hoisting the championship trophy in Tampa.

Before the first games tip off (ESPN2/WatchESPN, noon ET Friday), let’s take a moment to appreciate the journey. We have plenty of time to focus on the end result, let’s not miss all the great stuff in the middle.

From Cheryl Coward: Cal refocused after the Pac-12 tourney, ready to help showcase women’s basketball in the Bay area as an NCAA early round host

Nearby: OSU women’s basketball: Beavers refocus after Pac-12 tourney loss

Scott Rueck doesn’t ever like, nor does he typically believe a team needs, to lose a game.

But Oregon State’s fifth-year women’s basketball coach was OK with his team’s loss to Colorado in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament two weekends ago for one simple reason — it wasn’t the NCAA tournament.

In order to win a tournament, Rueck says, a team has to be hungry enough and know exactly what it is playing for because every other team will bring its best performance.

It’s about doing everything you do as well as you possibly can, he says.

Also nearby: From Marcus Thompson II: Stanford needs Thompson’s ‘A’ game in NCAAs

They say it takes great guards to make noise in the NCAA tournament. That gives hope to Stanford, coming off as uninspiring a season as it has had in years.

Guard Amber Orrange, a battled tested senior who’s as smooth as they come, is a rock on which coach Tara VanDerveer can rely. If Lili Thompson can take her game to another level for the postseason, that gives the Cardinal an advantage to milk.

The recruiting standard has been set high by new coach Marlene Stollings and her staff at Minnesota.

The one-player class of senior forward Shae Kelley has flourished.

The first and only player Stollings signed since taking over the Gophers, Kelley has entered the NCAA Tournament with the fifth-best scoring average in the Big Ten at 17.5 points per game. She’s seventh in the conference with 9.4 rebounds per game. Her leadership was relied on even more after the loss of star guard Rachel Banham to a season-ending injury.

Pat Eaton-Rob from notices that “other” team from Connecticut:

Quinnipiac has quietly put together a 31-3 season, joining UConn and Notre Dame as the only teams in the tournament with more than 30 wins. They swept through an undefeated Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular season in just their second year in the league and then dethroned 9-time conference champion Marist, 72-61, in the conference title game.

The Bobcats are 104-29 since the 2011-12 season, with the second-highest winning percentage (.782) of all New England Division I schools during that span. They trail only UConn (.933).

Tim May at the Columbus Dispatch notices that “other” team from Ohio:

As Kiyanna Black recalled, coach Bob Boldon had a grand plan for Ohio University women’s basketball when he was named the 10th coach in school history two years ago.

“When he first got here, his first words were ‘MAC championships,’” said Black, a junior from Africentric. “And I’m just sitting there looking at him, ‘We’ve got to win a few games, first.’

“At first it felt so far away. But we just kept working and kept grinding, and believing in him and his staff. And we’re here.”

Speaking of coaches: Sue Semrau still building legacy at Florida State

And more coaches: Seton Hall’s Tony Bozzella set to enjoy father-daughter dance at NCAA Tournament

And more coaches: From Sue Favor: New Mexico State, coach Mark Trakh moving on up

New Mexico State has vaulted back on to the national basketball stage this spring, in a big way.

They won the Western Athletic Conference Championship earlier this month, for the first time in program history, after going 13-1 in league play and 22-7 overall. That put them into the NCAA Tournament, after a 27-year absence.

And MORE coaches: A first for American, and its coach

 To many Easterners, Iowa is a “flyover state.” Count Megan Gebbia among them.

“My initial reaction (after the NCAA women’s basketball selections were made Monday) was, ‘Wow, Iowa, I’ve never been there,’” said Gebbia, second-year coach at American University.

She’ll be here sometime today, when the Eagles arrive for preparations for their NCAA debut.

Hey! It’s time for the Mascot Bracket!

Don’t wanna read? Then take a listen to Dishin’ and Swishin’s NCAA Tourney Roundtable featuring Doug Feinberg, LaChina Robinson, Debbie Antonelli and Lin Dunn

Don’t wanna listen? How about dance?

In non-tourney news:

Ouch: Three players leave Vanderbilt women’s basketball team

Vanderbilt women’s basketball has announced its third departing player in the past week following the program’s first losing season in 16 years.

Freshman guard Paris Kea will transfer, per a Vanderbilt news release. Last week, the program lost freshman twin sisters Audrey-Ann and Khalèann Caron-Goudreau, who will also transfer.

Echo ouch: Brooks to leave Indiana University, third to depart program in last 3 days

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The Irish are smiling: Notre Dame popular pick at ACC women’s basketball media day

Notre Dame didn’t lose a conference game in its first season in the ACC, and if prognosticators at the conference women’s basketball media day are right, there aren’t going to be many losses this time, either.

For the first time in about six seasons, Duke won’t be picked by many to play in the Final Four in women’s basketball.

And while veteran coach Joanne P. McCallie says she would rather be the ACC’s “top dog,” coaching a team that’s not under such pressure should be a lot of fun.

Duke had its annual preseason media day on Wednesday next to Cameron Indoor Stadium, and the most striking thing about it was the dearth of familiar faces.

When it comes to her team this year, four things stand out to Sylvia Hatchell.“We have leadership, we’ve got experience, we’ve got depth, and great chemistry,” the Hall of Fame coach told reporters Wednesday morning at ACC Women’s Basketball Media Day in Greensboro.

Three Pac-12 women’s basketball teams earned first-place votes in the preseason coaches’ poll, but despite some major changes upcoming, the Stanford Cardinal was voted the favorite for the 15th year in a row.
They won’t have to face 6’9″ Golden Bear: Savanna Trapp Out Indefinitely

Cynthia Cooper-Dyke’s players seem to have an unparalled work ethic. During 2014-15 Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Media Day on Wednesday, what the USC Trojans head coach said of forward Alexyz Vaioletama’s summer made you believe it.

“I was mad at Alexyz,” Cooper said, half-joking. “She worked too hard over the summer.”

 Never let it be said that Cynthia Cooper-Dyke doesn’t know how to make an entrance into a room.

USC’s women’s basketball coach is by nature a noisemaker.

She entered the interview room at the Pac-12 headquarters Wednesday prepared to talk to the media about her Women of Troy and their preparations to start a new season and build on last season’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 2006.

But first, Cooper-Dyke had to take a selfie with senior forward Alexyz Vaioletama, trying to line up the media in the background for a group photo-bomb. At another point, she offered to sing a little something.

The other USC has huge expectations: South Carolina picked to repeat as Southeastern Conference women’s basketball champions

South Carolina coach Dawn Staley knows the work it took to reach the top of the Southeastern Conference. She understands it’ll be an even greater challenge for the defending SEC champs to stay there.

Gone are the days when everyone would pencil in Tennessee to dominate the SEC, win the league title and easily move on to the Final Four. While the Gamecocks were picked to repeat, Staley expects the defending champions to be challenged by a hungry, talented group of teams looking to finish on top.

Meh: Veteran Lady Vols shrug off No. 2 prediction

On a day promoting a big-picture view of women’s basketball, Isabelle Harrison set her sights on the finer details.

“We want to set goals for ourselves,” Tennessee’s senior center said. “We want to keep it small right now, little things that are going to add up in the end.”

Delle (Dunkin’) Donne might be gone, but that doesn’t mean the Blue Hens are down and out: Delaware Women’s Basketball Predicted to Finish Second in CAA.
They’ll have to get through the Dukes, though, if they want to get to the Dance, ’cause James Madison is Voted to Repeat as CAA Women’s Basketball Champions
Even without 6’9″ Craig, the Great Danes are still thought to be the top dog in the America East — but lookee at the #2 Seawolves!

In the Big West, CSUN is the Overwhelming Favorite For Women’s Hoops Crown

After sweeping last season’s regular season and Tournament titles, CSUN is the media favorite to take home the crown in the 2014-15 season. The Matadors gained 13 first place votes and 125 points overall for the first place nod. Hawai’i checked in behind the defending champions with 101 points and the remaining first place vote. Back-to-back Tournament finalist Cal Poly was third with 99 points, while UC Davis wrapped up the top half of the poll with 83 points for fourth place.

In the New Big East, DePaul is the top Demon.

So fun the first time, they’re looking to do it a second: North Dakota Picked First In Preseason Women’s Basketball Poll

North Dakota won its first Big Sky championship and earned its first berth in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament as a Division I school last season. The Green and White posted a 22-10 mark last season with a 15-5 record in the Big Sky. North Dakota earned the most points in both polls, pulling 115 points and seven first-place votes in the coaches’ poll while earning 147 points and eight-first place votes from the media. 

From the Green Wave: Tulane women’s basketball coach Lisa Stockton: ‘We want the NCAA Tournament

Tulane women’s basketball coach Lisa Stockton said expectations are high for a team that has won 20 games or more in five consecutive seasons.

And expectations should be high, especially considering Stockton returns 11 of 13 letter winners from a season ago and 97.9 percent of the team’s points and 98.7 percent of the team’s rebounds.

For the Terps, it looks like the top in the 10: Maryland women’s basketball favored to win Big Ten, which is a bit of A homecoming for Brenda Frese

 …the Terrapins’ debut season in the Big Ten is a homecoming of sorts for Frese, 44, who grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

“I know for me personally, being able to come back in the Big Ten, having grown up in Iowa and (knowing) the Big Ten Conference extremely well, having coached at Minnesota for a season, I can’t wait,” she said. “I can’t wait to be able to get back and play against the great competition.”

This is interesting, considering the hot water UNC is in (UNC report finds 18 years of academic fraud to keep athletes playing): Tying college coaches’ contracts to academic progress gets mixed reviews

A proposed policy that would require teams to reach academic benchmarks before their coaches and athletic directors can cash in on performance-based bonuses has drawn mixed reviews.

The University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents is expected to vote on the policy Friday during a meeting at Frostburg State. If passed, any new contracts signed by coaches and athletic directors at the system’s schools would include stipulations that require teams to meet a certain Academic Progress Rate for them to receive bonuses based on other incentive clauses in their contracts.

If you’ve followed the “your students do well or else you lose your job” policies in education, you’ll have read about the cheating scandals. So – does this push folks (should I put “Top 25 folks”?) to focus on academics or focus on finding a way around academics?

Is it too early to say “on the hot seat”? Badgers women’s basketball: Coach Bobbie Kelsey excited entering 4th season

Where others might see pressure, Bobbie Kelsey sees opportunity.

Kelsey, beginning her fourth season as the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball coach, is still in search of her first winning season and first postseason tournament bid.

And yah, it’s too early, but the rest of the b-ball world has already warmed his seat.. so Ex-ESPN analyst Dykes defends his hire at Arkansas

“I’ve never been a head coach, never pulled the trigger on the sidelines making the decisions with live ammo flying around us,” Dykes said. “But I’ve seen it, and I’ve been a teacher on the air. I’ve tried to teach the game of basketball. I think that’s why I rose up in the profession like I did as an analyst, because I think I was a pretty good communicator and teacher on my nightly broadcast.”

In Colorado, so far, so good:

Two weeks into preseason practice is far from a make-or-break point in any team’s season, but it does provide enough time for a coach to start getting a feel for her team. According to Colorado women’s basketball head coach Linda Lappe, what her team has showed thus far is encouraging.

What do you think?

“We get better every day and we’re progressing on a great path,” Lappe said after practice last Friday. “I’ve been really impressed by our freshmen and how they’ve been able to come in and learn the system, but also our veterans and how they’re leading.”

Oh, oh: Mosqueda-Lewis Working Hard To Prove Skeptics Wrong

…if the draft were held today it is likely the Seattle Storm, which owns the pick, would take her and team her with Sue Bird, the first overall pick of the 2002 draft. 

But there is work to be done. There are WNBA executives who doubt Mosqueda-Lewis has the speed and agility to get to the basket, to create her own shots and, more importantly, guard the swift perimeter players she will be assigned to at the next level.

“People tend to make a lot of general assumptions,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “I was probably the skinniest I’d ever been during my freshman year, but we didn’t win and I didn’t have my best season. 

Rebecca Lobo and Kevin Conners discuss the possibility of a 3-peat.

From Dishin & Swishin 10/23/14 Video & Podcast: Geno Auriemma on USA Basketball & coming back to UConn, Carol Callan on all things USA Basketball

NCAA regional tix are up for sale (PROMO CODE: NCAA ) Women’s Preliminary Round Tickets

What, too soon? What people are saying about some of the top 2015 WNBA Draft prospects

Shoni still doin’ the other thing she does so well:Local youth at Montana basketball clinic and  WNBA Shoni Schimmel visits Wagner School

It started in complete silence, and then slowly turned into a low rumble of anticipation and excitement. A highlight was being played on the big screen of the theater of Shoni Schimmel during one of her games as a professional Native American basketball player for the Atlanta Dream team.

Some say you should never meet your heroes because they never turn out to be who you think they are, but Schimmel has remained true to herself and to the people. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communications at Louisville, but she doesn’t just communicate with the people she meets, she connects.

From Swish Appeal: Eurobits: Meesseman, Montgomery off to Russia

WNBA players aren’t the only ones who go abroad: WNBA Coach of the Year Sandy Brondello to coach UMMC Yekaterinburg

OOOOO, History Alert! The Lancaster High School girls’ basketball team, 1919-1920

Ummm…we’ll do better next time: Sporting goods stores vow to get women in the game

When 12-year-old McKenna Peterson opened her new Dick’s Sporting Goods basketball catalog recently, the basketball player and superfan was frustrated to find a glaring misstep: The only girl in the catalog’s pages wasn’t playing basketball — she was sitting in the stands.

So McKenna began to type the company a fiery letter, not just praising her favorite female “dunking machines” but also tearing into the annoying imbalance the boy-heavy mailer seemed to represent. “It’s hard enough for girls to break through in this sport as it is,” she wrote, “without you guys excluding us from your catalog.”

McKenna’s letter didn’t just spark a public outcry and lead the corporate giant’s chief to apologize — it highlighted an unavoidable tension of the sporting goods industry: Girls and young women are one of its fastest-growing markets, and one of its most ignored.

Big shoes now empty: Girls basketball: Shabazz coach Vanessa Watson retires after 31 seasons

Vanessa Watson is truly going out on top.

After 720 career victories and six Tournament of Champions titles, including one in each of the last two seasons, Watson has retired from coaching girls basketball at Shabazz.

Watson finished her career with a 720-107 record, and she trailed only Pascack Valley’s Jeff Jasper 923 wins on the all-time list for New Jersey coaches. Watson led Shabazz to 10 state championships and six Tournament of Champions titles.

After 31 seasons on the bench at the Newark school, a combination of several things went into Watson’s decision to call 2013-14 her last season. 

It’s that amazing combination that can happen in sports: heart-breaking and heartwarming: Dying Mt. St. Joe’s player’s last game sells out

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It’s basketball time!

TN/MD:

From the WaPo’s Gene Wagn: Terps see a ‘pretty even matchup’ with top-seeded Lady Vols

From the Diamondback: Women’s basketball looks forward to playing powerhouse Tennessee in Sweet 16

From the Baltimore Sun: After ‘limping’ to Sweet 16 in 2013, Terps women now healthy enough to charge ahead

The AP has: Lady Vols’ Simmons eyes elusive Final Four berth

Dan Fleser adds: Lady Vols hit the NCAA road as experienced travelers

While the Daily Beacon writes: ‘Battle-tested’ Lady Vols look to advance against Maryland

LSU/LOU:

From the AP: Seventh-seeded LSU faces No. 3 seed Louisville

Louisville knows that LSU will be a different team than the one it routed in November.

Not only do the seventh-seeded Tigers (21-12) enter Sunday’s regional semifinal confident following their second-round upset of No. 2 seed West Virginia, they’re unfazed by losing Jeanne Kenney and Raigyne Moncrief to injury in each of their NCAA tournament victories.

Louisville coach Jeff Walz quickly notes how LSU has overcome that adversity, an important fact he hopes his third-seeded Cardinals (32-4) remember because the Lady Tigers are hungry to prove they can play through their obstacles.

Times-Picayune: LSU women’s basketball draws on its past NCAA Tournament experience against Louisville

From the Monroe Star: LSU women limp to Louisville as we hear that a Concussion ends Jeanne Kenney’s career at LSU

From the Courier-Journal: Louisville coach Walz: Early win over LSU means nothing

Oh, and no surprise, a Big crowd is expected

PSU/STAN

From Walt Moody at the Centre Daily Times: Lady Lions take on Stanford in NCAA regional semifinal

To look at the numbers, the task would seem tall for the Penn State women’s — like Mount Everest tall.

Beating Stanford on its home court in the NCAA Tournament rarely happens.

The Pittsburg-Post Gazette’s Mark Dent writes: Familiar situation yet again for Penn State women

 

The AP’s Jane McCauley notes: Stanford’s VanDerveer offers tips to Penn State

For each of the past two summers, Penn State coach Coquese Washington has visited Tara VanDerveer at the Stanford coach’s New York home to talk basketball and, specifically, gather tips on the triangle offense.

“It’s almost like going to graduate school of coaching in six hours,” Washington said with a smile.

Rick Eymer from Palo Alto Online writes: Stanford, Penn State prepare for their Sweet 16 meeting

No surprise, Chiney is Excited to Be Back at Stanford

From Eliot Allmond: Stanford freshman Thompson hits the court running

A year ago, guard Lili Thompson was filling out NCAA brackets and watching games on television like many women’s basketball fans.

Sunday, Stanford is counting on the freshman when the second-seeded Cardinal (31-3) faces No. 3 Penn State in the Sweet 16 at Maples Pavilion.

“It’s kind of surreal,” Thompson said Saturday.

Elliot also notes, it’s a Bittersweet 16 for Stanford women: Ogwumike era winding down

With Ogwumike expected to follow her sister as a No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft next month, Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said, “Don’t worry about Chiney. Worry about us.”

Chiney, a 6-foot-4-inch forward with a personality as big as her game, will leave atop Stanford’s Mt. Rushmore of women’s basketball as the Pac-12 Conference’s career-scoring and -rebounding leader. With 2,673 points and 1,532 rebounds, and counting, she passed former Stanford stars Candice Wiggins and Kayla Pedersen in those categories, respectively.

Marcus Thompson II writes: 

For a program that’s been to five of the last six Final Fours, there’s a sense of urgency present among the Stanford women.

Star forward Chiney Ogwumike is closing her stellar career. And unlike in past years, the Cardinal doesn’t have a clear candidate to carry the torch for the storied program. The string of elite players Stanford has enjoyed looks to be on the brink of disruption.

So might Stanford’s tradition of dominance.

UNC/USC

Yup, Gamecocks Take on North Carolina Tar Heels in Sweet 16

Since UNC handed South Carolina its first loss early in the season, both teams have improved. The Gamecocks have gelled offensively after making an increased commitment to taking advantage of the athleticism in the post provided by Aleighsa Welch, Alaina Coates, and Elem Ibiam. The Tar Heels, like many young teams, have begun showing flashes of greatness late in the season, although the ugly first half against Tennessee-Martin suggests they still have streaks of bad basketball in them.

Tara’s not just mentoring Co. Writes Ann Killion at the SF Gate: VanDerveer passed on coaching’s golden rules to Staley

The Stanford women’s basketball team is back in the familiar comfort of Maples Pavilion. But one thing about this postseason isn’t so comfortable: The Cardinal are not the top seed in their own regional.

That distinction belongs to South Carolina, which has the first No. 1 seed in the history of its program. If the top two seeds meet in the regional final Tuesday night, it will be a matchup of old friends. Of mentor and protege.

Grace Raynor at the Daily Tar Heel: UNC women’s basketball team will face South Carolina in California

It hurts, North Carolina forward Xylina McDaniel said.

To see the emotion on her face, to feel the hurt in the undertones of her voice when she speaks, to know that after months of leukemia treatments and weeks in the hospital, Sylvia Hatchell is so close — yet still so far away.

With each day that passes, with each game that is played with Hatchell still sidelined, the only thing the North Carolina women’s basketball team has known to do is play in her honor. To hope — and to keep winning.

Speaking of coach, from Mike Potter at the Charlotte Observer: UNC women’s coach Sylvia Hatchell gives Tar Heels Final Four motivation

Ryan Wood says USC is ready for Payback against UNC

Michelle Smith writes: Carolinas are ready to battle it out

The Gamecocks now find themselves in a position to alter their own world in an impactful way, coming into the Stanford Regional as a No. 1 seed with a chance to earn a trip to the NCAA Final Four for the first time in school history.

So the question is, can the Gamecocks tap into their mantra of change on the court as well and defeat fourth-seeded North Carolina Sunday to advance to their first regional final?

And, yes, the Buzzing Tar Heels rely on DeShields in Sweet 16 round and USC knows Stopping UNC rookie DeShields a tough task

“You can take away something but then I’m pretty well-rounded,” DeShields said. “I feel like once you take one thing, I’ll just go do something else. If you put a short guard on me, a quick guard, then I’ll just go post up. If you put a long wing on me, and I’ll go by them.

“You know, certain players are just going to do what they do. You can only hope to contain them – and I’m blessed to have people say that about me.”

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the “pick apart” and “prep part” starts.

After Michelle writes that the Seed, site of opener puzzle Stanford Cardinal receive No. 2 seed — and play first-round game in Ames, Iowa

When Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer entered the media room Monday night after the brackets were revealed, one of the assembled reporters wished her a happy St. Patrick’s Day.

“I am part Irish,” VanDerveer said dryly, “but I don’t feel lucky.”

Mechelle and Michelle say to Stanford, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

Melanie Jackson has the Women’s tourney power rankings

After editing Charlie Creme, Graham Hays, Michelle Smith and Mechelle Voepel this season (and covering the women’s NCAA tournament the past 15 years), it’s easy to pick up tidbits about the top teams around the country. So here’s one editor’s take on the women’s field of 64:

Newsday’s Marcus Henry is Breaking down the women’s NCAA Tournament and Jordan Rinard from the Miami Student explains Why I’ll be watching the women’s tourney

Mel offers Guru’s NCAA/WNIT Musings: Louisville Seed Not in the Cards

Well while the Guru didn’t get into the actual seeding forecasts, the countdown of where things were in terms of locks and bubbles pretty much played out.

But some of the Guru’s kitchen cabinet who have been in power centers in the past couldn’t help but wonder at some of the moves made by the committee.

Doug offers 6 players to watch in the NCAA women’s tournament and posits: Here’s what could happen in NCAA women’s tournament

As Colorado State women welcome fresh start in WNIT, Graham and Charlie debate: Are Conference Tournaments Good for the Women’s Game?

Ramona Shelburne offers up New glory days for Cooper-Dyke, USC

Charlie Springer at the Card Game explains: Louisville women’s basketball team latest to pay a price

Scott Wolf at the Los Angeles Daily News adds: USC women’s basketball eager for first NCAA Tourament game since 2006

Ruey Yen at the California Golden Blogs says A 7 seed for Cal Women’s Basketball means it’s off to Waco, TX to face Fordham and likely Baylor

Though West Virginia women are not happy with NCAA draw, the Mountaineers could have career season in 2013-14

From the AP’s Stephen Hawkins, Young Baylor still No. 2 NCAA seed, Big 12 champs

Everything seems pretty much the same for perennial national power Baylor, with another Big 12 title and a No. 2 seed in hand headed into the NCAA women’s tournament.

But this is a much different group than the Lady Bears had two years ago for an undefeated national championship and was an overwhelming favorite to repeat last season before an unexpected regional final loss to Louisville.

Patricia Babcock McGraw says the DePaul women ready to go against Oklahoma

While traveling to North Carolina last March to watch DePaul play in the NCAA Tournament, Megan Rogowski’s family from Prospect Heights rolled in some sightseeing and college visits.

“My parents and my little brother and sister visited Duke and North Carolina and North Carolina State,” said Rogowski, a star at Hersey and now the best 3-point shooter in the Big East Conference. “They had a lot of fun, and they’ll know what to expect for this year.”

Hopefully, the Rogowskis have more items on their “Tobacco Road must-see list” because Megan and DePaul are headed back this year.

In preparation: Offensive rebounds, turnovers primary focus for Lady Tigers – Lady Tigers have been working with scout team to fix mental errors

From Mark Carmin: Akron women’s basketball rides dynamic duo into Mackey Arena to face Purdue

Jodi Kest doesn’t remember giving Akron seniors Rachel Tecca and Hanna Luburgh the nickname “Bread and Butter.”

Tecca swears by it.

“That’s what coach Kest called us,” she said.

The 6-foot-1 forward, though, prefers “dynamic duo” when describing her and Luburgh’s exploits on the court for the Zips, who make their first NCAA tournament appearance Saturday against No. 17 Purdue at Mackey Arena.

“I’m Batman. She’s Robin. I’m Batman because I was here first and I’m taller,” Tecca said.

Ward Gossett notices that Former Chattanoogan Mike Bradbury has Wright State in new place

Wright State women’s basketball fans are celebrating, thanks in large part to former Chattanoogan Mike Bradbury.

Before Bradbury arrived, Wright State had enjoyed only one winning womeon’s season. Since he got to Dayton five years ago, the Raiders have had three 20-win seasons and this year added the school’s first Horizon League championship and its initial invitation to the NCAA women’s tournament.

“It’s been a good week. In my professional career this is probably the highlight,” said Bradbury, a late-1980s basketball player and sprinter at East Ridge High School before moving on to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Jennifer Gish from the Times Union: U Albany women plan March Madness surprise – In third straight trip to tournament, Danes aim to get first victory

“The third time’s a charm,” said the team’s leading scorer, sophomore Shereesha Richards. “So you never know. This might be the year we get an upset.”

Coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson said the team has seen the game film of last year’s NCAA Tournament loss a couple of times, and now knows the importance of boxing out, especially in free-throw situations, and making critical layups.

She says West Virginia is a “super-athletic” team. That’s very much like North Carolina, which beat UAlbany 59-54 in the first round last year after trailing the Great Danes for much of the game.

The UConn Women’s Staff Moves Quickly To Scout Prairie View because the UConn Women’s Path To National Title Begins With Prairie View

Chloe Pavlech blogs on selection Monday: The Terps are Ready to Dance.

Iowa State’s Jadda Buckley is Excited to be Playing at Home

Duke’s Rebecca Greenwell writes Anything’s Possible in Postseason.

Chiney warns A Hungry Team Can Be Dangerous

Shelly Stallsmith previews Penn State vs. Wichita State; Maryland vs. Army in NCAA women’s basketball openers

Gene Wang writes Maryland women’s basketball will host Army in NCAA tournament first round

“I never will take the NCAA tournament for granted,” Maryland Coach Brenda Frese said. “Like I told our team today, when you miss out on an opportunity to go, you’ll never take it for granted. We’ve had a few years, not too many, of those, so it’s truly an honor. These guys have put in a ton of hard work, and now we want to represent Maryland.”

Lisa Leslie is impressed by Saniya Chong’s spirit

Skylar explains What makes No. 2 Notre Dame so tough and Al Lesar writes Notre Dame’s Allen plays her own game

When she looks in the mirror, Lindsay Allen likes the face smiling back at her.

The Notre Dame women’s basketball team’s freshman point guard never tried to be the next Skylar Diggins.

Her only goal was to be the best possible Lindsay Allen.

“I have to make my own path; not worry about what (Diggins) did, what she accomplished,” said Allen. “Just play my game and play my role.”

It’s going to change (apparently) but Flag controversy blocks South Carolina home court advantage

The South Carolina women’s basketball team made history Monday night, earning its first ever number one seed in the NCAA basketball tournament.

The team will travel to Seattle over the weekend, where they’ll face Cal State Northridge in first round action.

A far cry from what some feel could have been.

Of the four number one seeds in this year’s NCAA Women’s basketball tournament, South Carolina will be the only top seed without a game in-state.

The Gamecocks were never in the running to host a regional game this season, in light of an NCAA boycott against South Carolina.

From Walt Moody at the Centre Daily: Third-seeded Lady Lions to face Wichita State in NCAA Tournament opener

You could call Penn State’s draw in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament a bit of a “shocker” in a couple of different ways Monday night.

Crowded around several flat screen televisions in the Founders Room at the Bryce Jordan, the Lady Lions saw they landed a No. 3 seed, a number that was somewhat of a surprise to most prognosticators and even to members of the team.

Well, yeah: Lady Vols eager to end their Final Four drought. Dan writes Lady Vols to be watchful for foul play in NCAA tournament

From Texas: Women’s Basketball Takes on Penn in the First Round

From Lady Moc Land

“This time of year, you’re going to play a good team, regardless of your seed, because all of the bad teams are at home,” UTC coach Jim Foster said. “I like the geography of where we’re going, and I think we’re going to have a good crowd in attendance.”

From Kentucky: Lady Tops enjoying title as NCAA looms

The Western Kentucky women’s basketball team returned to Bowling Green on Sunday evening with weary eyes, but with smiles that hadn’t faded since Saturday night.

Yup, the Beavers go dancing for first time since 1996

When Scott Rueck took over the Oregon State women’s basketball program in late June of 2010, he was met by a large contingency of fans and supporters in the Loge of Reser Stadium.

The Beavers were coming off an 11-20 season that saw them go 2-16 in the Pac-10 Conference.

Players had left and Rueck would have to somehow cobble together a roster after holding open tryouts.

He never could have imagined another similar crowd a mere 45 months later.

Oh, and Freshman point guard Sydney Wiese leads Beavers’ resurgence and OSU realizes Middle Tennessee has plenty of NCAA experience

From Green Bay: Patience, persistence pay off for UWGB’s Zastrow

Sam Zastrow could have quit or moved on from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay women’s basketball team.

She wasn’t getting many minutes and could have transferred to another school to get more. The former Algoma standout has been asked a lot over the years why she didn’t.

“I’ve always wanted to play here,” Zastrow said. “The fact that I wasn’t getting to play the first couple of years, I took that as a challenge. I’m like, ‘I’m not going to leave. I’m not going to let people bring me down.’

From the Salt Lake Tribune: BYU ‘happy to go dancing’ in NCAA tournament

Coach Jeff Judkins said the Cougars aren’t just happy to be in the tournament this year.

“As we talked about before [the bracket] came out, we are not here just to get to the tournament. We really want to play our best basketball and represent this university and this conference the best that we can.”

Over at SportsBlog: Tanisha Wright covers March Madness

What’s showing when? Coverage maps: Saturday & Sunday Who’s announcing when? 2014 NCAA women’s basketball tournament TV schedule on ESPN and ESPN2

You think you know who’s going to win? Play the Brackets.

In non-tourney NCAA news: TCU loses women’s basketball coach Jeff Mittie to Big 12 rival Kansas State and the Topeka Journal writes: Mittie finds perfect fit with K-State women’s basketball program – New Wildcat coach likes facilities, team potential

And yup, it’s not really a surprise, but LaTech is looking for a new coach.

In W news: Ruth Riley’s Passion for Sports Meets Her Passion for Helping Children

Need a little Becky Hammon Coaching Fix?

Speaking of coaching: Seattle Storm Names Shaquala Williams Assistant Coach

From Nate: Swish Appeal’s preliminary 2014 WNBA Draft Board and Evaluating 2014 mid-major WNBA draft prospects: How do we adjust for strength of competition?

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Yup.

Thanks to Nan for doing some of my work:

UConn women face early test in No. 3 Stanford, Post
Dolson, UConn frontcourt deliver strong message, Post
No. 1 UConn women’s game day: Monday vs. No. 3 Stanford, Post
UConn Women Ready For Visit From No. 3 Stanford, Courant
Preview Capsule: No.3 Stanford At No. 1 UConn, Courant
UConn hosts Stanford in a banner matchup, Register
Younger Ogwumike sister carving out her own legacy at Stanford, Register
Stanford comes to Gampel tonight looking for some revenge, Day
No. 1 Huskies top Rizzotti, Hartford, face No. 3 Stanford Monday night, Daily Campus
Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer on the doorstep of elite coaching club, San Francisco Chronicle

From ESPN:

Michelle writes, “Cardinal must be more than Chiney”

Mechelle’s piece I linked previously is her “preview” for the UNC/Tennessee game: Time for Tennessee to just play

From Melanie Jackson: Doubleheader to introduce new faces

If you are a women’s basketball fan, there are some names you’ve likely heard a lot, but you might not have seen the players yet. Monday, you’ll have the chance.

North Carolina hosts Tennessee (ESPN2 and WatchESPN, 9 p.m. ET; Stanford plays UConn at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and WatchESPN) in a game that will be an early showcase for some of the top freshmen this season.

The Tar Heels’ Diamond DeShields, Stephanie Mavunga, Allisha Gray and Jessica Washington comprised what was generally ranked the No. 1 recruiting class this year. North Carolina also has two redshirt freshmen, Hillary Fuller (foot) and Hillary Summers (knee), who sat out last season with injury issues.

From Harold Gutmann at the Herald Sun: UNC’s freshmen face early test vs. Lady Vols

From the AP’s Aaron Beard: No. 12 Tar Heels host No. 4 Lady Vols

North Carolina’s youngsters didn’t get much time to prepare for their first major challenge in college.

With No. 4 Tennessee arriving Monday, the No. 12 Tar Heels will have a tough test that comes early in their work to shape a team featuring the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class and reigning Atlantic Coast Conference rookie of the year Xylina McDaniel.

Freshman Diamond DeShields says Monday means, “America’s basically going to see us and what we have to offer.”

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so I guess that means #1 Stanford didn’t go down to #4 Georgia, 61-59.

Chiney did everything she was supposed-expected to, but the rest of her teammates couldn’t make shots. It also hurt that Greenfield went to the bench with a sprained finger, but honestly, the loss wasn’t a HUGE surprise:

Somehow the shock of seeing Stanford’s run of five straight trips to the Final Four come to a premature end, didn’t carry the same sting.

Along with the sense of disappointment came perspective for what the top-seeded Cardinal accomplished.

“I think the reason that I’m not going ballistic right now is like we’re 33-3,” Stanford star Chiney Ogwumike said. “That was a huge achievement for our program.”

Still, it’s surprising that for the first time since 2007, Stanford won’t be playing for a spot in the Final Four.

That’s because Andy’s team did what it needed to do to advance to the Elite 8 for the first time since 2004.

“The senior class … this is our fourth NCAA tournament, and we have been to three Sweet 16s,” guard Jasmine James said. “So to finally make the next step and go to the Elite Eight and now to be going into another game to try to compete to go to the Final Four is definitely back to where Georgia basketball needs to be – trying to compete for a national champion

Smith also offered up some quick analysis of the game.

From Full Court: Jasmine James guides Bulldogs to upset of No. 1 seed Stanford

With her team clinging to a two-point lead with just 23 seconds to play, Georgia senior point guard Jasmine James headed to the foul line for two crucial free throws. Well, almost.

James cast a look to her left, toward the first rows of the stands, mere feet beyond the sideline.

There sat her parents — Greg and Janine — who’d flown almost six hours and endured a lengthy layover to watch their daughter in the regional semifinal against No. 1-seeded Stanford.

They will face the Cal Bears, who find themselves in their first Elite 8 after defeating the upstart Tigers.

The sum of LSU coach Nikki Caldwell’s fears about the Golden Bears came true in the game’s final 20 minutes. And as quick as you could say “transition basket,” the Lady Tigers’ season was over.

“We really tried to establish an inside attack and put the ball inside quite a bit,” Caldwell said. “I thought (Cal guard Brittany) Boyd really took it upon herself to push the tempo, which really got their transition game going. And that gave them some easier looks.”

Writes Elliott Almond:

This time Cal made its free throws, and the Golden Bears are headed into uncharted territory.

Second-seeded Cal broke open a close game in the final six minutes Saturday night in a 73-63 victory over Louisiana State to reach its first Elite Eight in school history in front of a crowd of 6,146 at Spokane Arena.

That Bay Area showdown local women’s basketball fans wanted? Not happening.

The Bears (31-3) will face Georgia on Monday after the Lady Bulldogs upset top-seeded Stanford in the other regional semifinal.

“We’re kind of in awe of this whole thing,” coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “We were us in the second half. I’m excited more people are seeing what I already know.”

Michelle Smith adds:

As Georgia celebrated its 61-59 upset of top-seeded Stanford, the chant began from the corner with the Georgia pep band.

“S-E-C, S-E-C.” Pretty soon, the LSU band, seated in the opposite corner of the gym, joined in.

But Cal spoiled the sing-a-long.

The Bears, willing to play as aggressively and as physically as any team in the SEC, completed the power shift in the Pac-12 on Saturday by defeating LSU 73-63 in the Spokane Regional nightcap, punching their ticket to their first Elite Eight.

So while Stanford, the team that has always stood in line in front of Cal, takes an early flight home Sunday morning, the Bears play on. How’s that for a changing of the guard?

I’m not quite buying the implications of the phrase “changing of the guard,” but the Pac12 sure has gotten more interesting.

Michelle offered up some instant analysis of the Stanford-Georiga game and the Cal-LSU game.

BTW, if you can get behind the pay wall, you  can read Ann Killion’s lovely piece:  Why Lindsay Gottlieb has Cal women’s hoops in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen Elite Eight 

Elena Delle Donne was magnificent against the Wildcats, and Martin’s adjustments in the second half — daring to go man-to-man, urging her players to crash the boards — almost got her Hens an enormous upset. But Delaware could quite get out of the hole they dug. Writes the News Journal’s Kevin Tresolini:

Down 14 at halftime Saturday, Delaware drew considerable confidence from what had become its not-so-secret weapon in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament – the second-half comeback.

Delaware had rallied from seven down at halftime against West Virginia and eight behind after 20 minutes against North Carolina at the Carpenter Center to win in the first two rounds.

“We wanted to go down with a fight if we were going to go down,” Elena Delle Donne said. “Even at half, we didn’t think we were going down.”

The Hens played better defense in the second half, but writes Fagan:

The pace was, in fact, brutal. Delaware was expending so much energy just getting the ball up the floor and getting a shot off without a turnover that little was left for other crucial things like closing out on outside shooters and boxing out on defense. Because of this, each time the Blue Hens pulled within striking distance — like late in the second half when they cut Kentucky’s lead to two — the Wildcats would fly down court and force a foul or whip the ball around and get an open look. Then they would set up their full-court press and make things difficult for Delaware, often forcing a turnover. (The Blue Hens turned over the ball 19 times.)

The key was that, when the rest of the Hens began to rise to the occasion, so did Kentucky’s “no-names.”  Especially Kastine Evans who nailed a killer 3-pointer with 2:21 remaining to all but seal the game.

“Kastine has no fear,” said Mathies. “She hustles on every play. We ran a play and the play is designed for anyone that gets open. She got open off the stagger screen and she made it. That shows how confident she is in herself and we’re glad she took the three and made it.”

Added coach Mitchell

“We’re extremely excited to win. We beat a very good team in Delaware. I’m so proud of our team, of finding a way to advance to the next round.”

Kentucky will face a familiar foe, and they think they might finally have enough to get past UConn

They will face Connecticut because, while Dolson gamely & gimpily fought to play 26 minutes and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scared the you-know-what outta UConn fans by going down with what looked to be an ankle injury (no, that wasn’t responsible for her going 1-6 from 3, her shot was off and rushed. “I guess it would have been worse if they were all air balls, said an honest KML), it was the freshmen (Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck combined for 35 points and one turnover) who stepped up to guide the Huskies to a 76-50 win over Maryland:
Jefferson, Stewart and Tuck did not consider themselves to be freshmen. They considered themselves as impact players. Their intentions were to come in and play a definitive role on a team with national championship aspirations.For months their plan did not completely come together. No matter how relentless UConn assistant coach Shea Ralph was with Jefferson or no matter how relentless associate head coach Chris Dailey and assistant coach Marisa Moseley were with Stewart and Tuck, there were questions whether they were getting through, whether the players were making any progress.

As it turns out, it was all a part of the process.

While the frosh finally “showed up”, UConn’s defense has been a consistent. Said coach Frese:

“I said the other day Connecticut can make really good teams look really bad, and that was on full display today. Obviously we really struggled against their defense. They made it very difficult. They were quicker to loose balls. I thought they were aggressive with their rebounding, but just disappointed overall in how we played.”

It’s likely the Huskies will have to lean heavily on their youngsters if they want to defeat Kentucky. That might be okay. Writes Mike DiMauro: Watch ‘Stewie’ and you see Elena

It was either fitting, or ironic, that two games ended with two standing ovations for two such similar players. Elena Delle Donne and Breanna Stewart. Except that maybe – probably, even – nobody in women’s basketball has them occupying the same airspace.

Delle Donne’s college career ended Saturday at Webster Bank Arena in the Sweet 16, succumbing to Kentucky and Kastine Evans’ killer three late in the game. When it ended, a UConn crowd gave Delle Donne a standing ovation, prompting a tweet from Elena after the game saluting UConn’s “classy fans.”

Stewart’s college career, meanwhile, accelerated into the passing lane a few hours later, helping the Huskies reach the Elite Eight for the eighth straight season. “Stewie,” as her teammates call her, was magnificent: 17 points, eight rebounds, a 3-pointer and four blocks.

From Mechelle: Win or lose, it really has all worked out

Let’s face it: Not many kids have the chance to play for UConn, which has won seven NCAA titles. Fewer still get that opportunity, then decide to walk away from it. Which Walker did, after appearing in 17 games for the Huskies in the 2010-11 season before transferring to Kentucky, and Delle Donne did after leaving Storrs before ever playing for them. 

But it has all worked out for Delle Donne, for Walker, for UConn and for women’s college hoops.

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Baylor: Kidnap Odyssey Sims

UConn: Take Olivia’s advice and “Get Physical”

Stanford: Smother Chiney.

Cal learned from their home court lost to Stanford, went in to Maples and broke a couple of impressive Cardinal streaks as they stifled Stanford and got coach Gottlieb a sweet win. (Doesn’t she look like she’s just out of college?)

Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb has tapped Tara VanDerveer’s basketball brain on more than one occasion.

One question she has asked the Hall of Famer, for example, is how VanDerveer has always been so good at making opposing teams uncomfortable, taking away the things they do best?

And then on Sunday, Gottlieb’s Bears used that advice against the No. 5 Cardinal.

BTW, that puts UCLA in the top spot in the PAC12.

Florida made Tennessee reeeeeeally uncomfortable, but the Vols used OT free throws to escape with a win.

I’m not going to think about the South Carolina – Georgia game and you can’t make me.

A little reality for Auburn, as they were rolled by TAMU.

Oklahoma State kept Texas 0-fer in the Big 12.

Dayton showed Butler the door, 82-39.

Kansas was no match for Baylor, as Griner went for 33.

Hmmmm… Quinnipiac is 3-0 in the NEC.

That’s BU at 4-0 in the Am. East.

FGCU sure loves their three’s!

In the battle of the H‘s, Hampton squeaked by Howard to stay undefeated in the MEAC.

D’em Jackwabbits are undefeated in the Summit.

D’em Hatters are undefeated in the A-Sun.

D’em Sugar Bears are undefeated in the Southland.

D’em Hilltoppers are now at 6-1 in the Sun Belt.

That “squeak” was Cal Poly escaping Pacific in triple OT, 96-95. That game photo says it all.

Yes, Beth is no longer there, but it’s still VCU, and it’s still a nice win for the Billikens: Saint Louis won its A-10 opener for the first time since defeating Fordham in the 2007-08 season

Louisville had to work far too hard to beat Providence. Next up for them: UConn, who soared over the Eagles.

How important is Ellenberg to Oklahoma? Wicked important.

Speaking of wicked important, Graham catches up with Toledo’s Naama Shafir

Amidst more humble, if quintessentially Midwestern, surroundings, Toledo beat Bowling Green 48-38 in a game far more entertaining than the final score suggested. A redshirt senior from Israel who wasn’t about to lose what might be her last appearance in that big game led the Rockets with 23 points.

Ranked No. 27 in the first official RPI release and receiving votes in one of the major polls when the week began (in addition, pardon the plug, to sitting eighth in espnW’s mid-major poll), Toledo came into Sunday’s game on the heels of a loss at home against Central Michigan that will likely cost them dearly in those measures of national recognition. A potential 0-2 conference record after a 12-1 start to the season hung heavy over their heads, all the more considering Bowling Green was 60-5 at home in MAC play over the past eight-plus seasons prior to Sunday.

Shafir was supposed to be playing professionally by now, but an ACL injury last season delayed her departure. It also saved the Rockets on Sunday. In a game that was exactly as physical, without being dirty, as could be expected in an Ohio derby, Shafir hit long jumpers and short pull-ups, finished drives and sought contact to get to the free throw line.

The Terps’ Thomas is espnW’s player of week and Michelle and Mechelle do the video thing.

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See you February 18th.

Sincerely, UConn

Connecticut walked in to Maples and stomped all over the Cardinal. After an opening few minutes that tempted us with the possibility of an interesting game between the #1 and #2 in the country, UConn’s defense (In particular, Stef Dolson on Chiney– take note, Adams & Courtney) simply shut Stanford down.

The beauty of the Stanford women’s offense is rhythm and preparation. When it works it looks as in sync as the San Antonio Spurs and the Radio City Rockettes. On those days, the Cardinal could be sponsored by Arthur Murray Dance Studios.

When it doesn’t work, when Tara VanDerveer’s team does not connect, does not adjust much on the fly, the result can be as ugly as it is repetitive. And on this Saturday, when UConn executed its defensive game plan as well as Geno Auriemma could ever remember and when Stefanie Dolson demonstrated that to arrive in Storrs means to leave as a smarter, fitter, more determined athlete, the results can be epic.

Writes Michelle:

 As showdowns go, Saturday’s Connecticut-Stanford game at Maples Pavilion was a failure. As a fact-finding mission, it was illuminating.

Geno Auriemma now knows that for as much offensive talent as he has assembled, that for as many nights as his team dances around triple digits, he can lean on defense to win some big games. And he can lean on Stefanie Dolson as hard as he ever has.

He also surely understands, after a shocking 61-35 shellacking of No. 1 Stanford — ending the Cardinal’s 82-game home winning streak and handing Tara VanDerveer the worst home loss of her 26-year tenure on The Farm — that his team is a legitimate challenger, perhaps even the favorite over Baylor, to win the national championship in April.

It wasn’t a particularly elegant offensive display by the Huskies, but it was beautifully balanced, with the home state kid, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis returning to make a statement, in spite of partaking of an IV.

“At halftime we talked about getting her the ball,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “She’s been sick since she left Connecticut, she was in the hospital, she was getting IVs, I don’t know if it was the flu or whatever she (had), but I thought in the second half she really responded.

“That just goes to show you how much she changed in one year, how many more things she can do now than she could last year.”

Other ranked teams were also involved in routs: Baylor over  SE Louisiana, Maryland over Hartford, Notre Dame over Hartford, South Carolina over Western Carolina (how much more attention should we be paying to S.C.?). Oklahoma over Cal-Northridge, and Colorado over New Mexico.

BTW, I see you, Toledo.

In other news, Illinois’ defeat of previously unbeaten Georgia gets them some attention: Matt Bollant out to turn around Illini

…when Illinois offered Bollant the coaching job in Champaign after last season, he felt he couldn’t turn it down. At the moment, Green Bay is a better basketball program than Illinois. It wins more games, plays better basketball and draws more fans. But like many coaches who move from successful mid-majors to middling majors — Indiana’s Curt Miller, Texas’ Karen Aston also among the most recent class — Bollant made his move based on a calculation about the future. No matter how close to perfection Green Bay comes on the court, it is rarely, if ever, going to beat majors off the court.

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The Cardinal and Huskies were preparing for their big showdown. (At least THIS big Card game is on tv! — tho barely – ESPNU.) Michelle writes: 

Two years ago at Maples Pavilion, on a chilly California night just before the turn of the New Year, the building vibrated.

 The Connecticut Huskies came west with a NCAA-record 90-game winning streak and the nation’s best player. 

By the time Stanford ended that streak, leading start to finish in a 71-59 victory, delirious fans roared, former Stanford players were rushing the court, Connecticut players looked a little stunned and a smiling Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer sensibly reminded everyone that it was only December.

Fast forward to 2012 and it’s still only December. But that doesn’t mean Maples won’t vibrate again.

From the Cardinal website: It’s No. 1 vs. No. 2 As Stanford And Connecticut Face Off Saturday: Saturday’s meeting will be the 51st all-time meeting between the nation’s top two teams 

From the Husky website: No. 2 UConn Faces Top-Ranked Stanford on Saturday on ESPNU – Top two teams in the nation tip off at 4 p.m. on December 29 on ESPNU

The No. 2 Connecticut women’s basketball team is set to take on top-ranked Stanford on Saturday at 4 p.m. at a sold out Maples Pavilion in Stanford, Calif.  The top-two showdown will be televised on ESPNU with Dave O’Brien, Doris Burke and Rebecca Lobo on the call. The nation’s best will each put their undefeated records on the line as the Cardinal (11-0) and the Huskies (10-0) both have been perfect coming into Saturday’s game.

In case you were busy before the holidays, and missed this from Graham: Defense helps keep Cardinal No. 1

The week began with Baylor’s case for becoming the fourth school to win back-to-back national championships, and Brittney Griner, Odyssey Sims and the Lady Bears putting on a show in dismantling Tennessee.

It closed with Stanford showing why the road to No. 1 currently runs through the Bay Area.

Cardinal fans and Husky fans are discussing and analyzing and anticipating.

Speaking of anticipating: From Lady Swish, “Let’s the games begin (again)!

OK, folks, break’s over. Hope everyone had a happy holiday and got recharged for the second half of the season. Now let’s get back to work. Here’s a look at each team’s post-Christmas opener:

As the “new” season starts, the Register Guard has a Team-by-team 2013 Pac-12 women’s basketball preview and asks, “Is the league closing in on Stanford?”

The holiday break has opened some space for writers to go beyond “fifteen minutes after it ends” game stories.

From John Cannon at the Frederick News-Post Staff: India Dotson’s Smart head start – India Dotson was supposed to be one of the county’s top girls basketball players this season. Instead, she is already at Monmouth University, taking classes and playing hoops

Freshman India Dotson is the youngest player on the Monmouth University women’s basketball team.

Strange as it sounds, that fact helps explain why her college coach considers her to be so mature.

At 10-fer, Colorado is about to move in to Conference play, and the Buffs know Pac-12 play will be tough

From the New Haven Register’s Chris Hunn: Milford’s Casey Dulin excelling for Marist women’s basketball

For Milford’s Casey Dulin, there’s no place like home.

“She always seems to play well in Connecticut,” said Marist coach Brian Giorgis of his 5-foot-10 combo guard. “She seems to always have great games here. She always gets a lot of fans. It motivates her, it fires her up and she plays well.”

Folks at Duquesne are psyched: Women’s Basketball Receives Votes in Both PollsDukes get votes in AP and Coaches Polls

From the Jackson Free Press’ Torsheta Bowens: Mississippi Women’s Basketball Relies on Key Metro Area Graduates

From Cody Westerlund at the Ames Tribune:

In a season that’s already seen a worrisome injury to a top player (Chelsea Poppens), the emergence of a potential star (Hallie Christofferson) and the transfer of a rotation regular (Emiah Bingley) for Iowa State, Moody has rarely been in the headlines. Her performances have rarely been lost on her coach, though, with good reason: Moody is vitally important because she’s unique on this team.

The NBA has theirs. Now the Cal basketball chimes in. (h/t to Nate) The SF Gate also has this on Cal’s Talia Caldwell

As someone big on goals and plans, Cal basketball player Talia Caldwell knows exactly what she will be doing on a certain spring morning next year:

“I’ll be done May 23rd at 9 a.m.,” she said. “I’ll dance across the stage and get my degree and say ‘sayonara.’ “

It won’t be just any old undergraduate degree, either. After becoming the first Cal women’s basketball player ever admitted to the prestigious Haas School of Business, Caldwell will receive a B.A. in business administration. (Maybe the Lib could hire her?)

Speaking of Nate, more fun from Swish Appeal: Meme/GIF of the Year Candidates for 2012

It’s getting close to the end of the calendar year, since we are all heading to Christmas next Tuesday. Over the course of this year’s open threads and the like, there have been some comments with memes and GIF’s after a play or something to symbolize a theme of the season. So, here are some of the notable ones we saw throughout the year, and more specifically during the WNBA season.

The .com chimes in with their “Tomorrow’s Stars: Christmas Edition:”

The hype surrounding the 2013 WNBA Draft class – which includes three game-changing prospects in Baylor’s Brittney Griner, Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne and Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins, all currently playing for their respective colleges – is at an all-time high as all three have the potential to immediately make a substantial impact on a franchise. Each week, WNBA.com will update you with what each of these players is doing for their respective schools as it’s never to early for WNBA fans to start following some of the future stars of this league.From espnW:

2012: The Year of the Woman, by espnW (feat. Alicia Keys “Girl on Fire”) (Who was the comedienne who said, “What, we only get a year?”)

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1996: VanDerveer leads U.S. women to ’96 gold

At Stanford, Tara VanDerveer and Jennifer Azzi helped transform women’s basketball from a virtual club program into a headliner and a must-have ticket at Maples Pavilion. Of course, two national championships and a pipeline of outstanding talent perpetuated the success and the popularity of the game at Stanford.

But on a national or international scale, women’s basketball had not quite caught up to what was happening in the college game, at least in pockets like Stanford. The U.S. women’s team had produced a series of disappointing results heading into 1996 – bronze medals in the 1991 Pan Am Games, ‘92 Olympics and ’94 world championships.

With the 1996 Olympics to be held in Atlanta, a concerted effort was made to raise the profile of the women’s team, which paled in the public’s imagination to the resounding success of the 1992 men’s Olympic team – the “Dream Team.”

No, really, I mean it — read Tara’s Shooting from the Outside and Sara’s Venus to the Hoop. The games don’t start for a few days. You have time, and it’ll give you a truly rich understanding of what’s going on in London.

1997: Nothing like the Reign – The Seattle Reign 1997 (Look! It’s Tari, Tari, Tari! She must be psyched about her cousin, Tayyiba Haneef-Park)

Flash forward, from FIBA’s Paul Nilsen: Thinking of Sanchez when The Games begin

When the eagerly anticipated Olympics finally swing into action later this week, my thoughts won’t only be with those ready to step out in London but also those who missed out – and none more so than Argentinian legend Carolina Sanchez.
 
Four years ago, when Argentina failed to punch their ticket for Beijing, it was a painful experience in more ways than one for the veteran. A broken nose caused a premature exit from the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament and rubbed an unnecessary dose of salt into a deep emotional wound.
 
And, perhaps even more agonising and disappointing than what she endured in 2008, was the way in which she recently bowed out of international basketball altogether last month.

More from Paul and FIBA: Serbian straight talking from Jokovic

Even accounting for the cynics who will hint at political motivations whenever representatives of any Federation speak, Jokovic is direct, very much matter-of-fact and that’s a hugely appealing quality.
 
“I suppose that we have started repairing the long-term consequences of inaction and the neglect of women’s basketball,” she admitted.
 
“We have improved the financial situation, set up the system, laid the foundations to build something that we will all be proud of.
 
“But, it takes maybe two Olympic cycles of serious work to get closer to our former successes.

A great tweet from Paul: Paul Nilsen@EuroLeagueWomen

I’ve no time for the bigotry, prejudice and intolerance shown towards our women players. You know who you are. Shame on you. You’re blocked!

Paulo Kennedy: Will the Opals be first class?

Julio Chitunda: What next for Mali?

From Doug: US coaches not marching in Olympic ceremony

Don’t expect to see Geno Auriemma or Mike Krzyzewski marching with the U.S. delegation Friday night at the opening ceremony.

They aren’t allowed because Olympic organizers decided to cut down the number of people marching to shorten the ceremony.

“It really was something special to do, but to be honest the Olympics are about the athletes,” Auriemma said. “No one really remembers who the coaches were. No one remembers who coached Jesse Owens.

“I’m OK with it. The focus is, as it should be, on the athletes. They are the ones who got here and deserve the attention and praise.”

Important tweets from Doug:

With Ichiro’s trade to the Yankees; Sue Bird is now the longest tenured athlete in Seattle sports.

Turkish women’s basketball team got a strong sendoff to its first Olympics. Music blaring and 70 members of hotel staff waving Turkish flags

Just the stats, m’am: Cumulative stats from USA Basketball.

Also from USA Basketball: USA Women’s National Team Ready To Roll Into London

Geno Auriemma (head coach, USA and University of Connecticut)
Is this team shaping up to look as you expected? Yeah, I think so. We just talked a little bit about how we can’t be great at everything because we just don’t have the time to be great at everything. If we did have a couple months together, we could be great at everything because the collection of players that we have is phenominal. But the things that I thought we’d be good at, we are very good at. The flexibility that we have, the versatility that we have with this team is exactly what I thought it would be. The leadership is exactly what I thought it would be. People buying into their roles is exactly what I thought it would be. So yeah, the only downside is I wish I had three months with these guys, even three straight weeks, because it would be a lot of fun to watch.

Oi! Some Aussie video with LJ.

From Swish Appeal: 2012 London Olympics Preview: Turkey

From Lee/Full Court: London 2012: Russia — As usual, an enigma

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from Richard at Sports Illustrated: No team under more pressure to win gold in 2012 than U.S. women

Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer, who coached the U.S. to victory in 1996 at the Atlanta Games, said there was not a day she coached the national team where she did not feel the gold-or-bust pressure.”Everyone thinks we’re going to win the gold medal,” VanDerveer said. “When we met the president during that year, or met Supreme Court justices, they’re like, ‘Bring back the gold.’ I felt it [the pressure] every minute. There’s no doubt that we can beat any country four out of seven, but this is not that kind of tournament. It’s like the NCAA tournament.”

From Hoopfeed: USA Basketball’s Carol Callan on the Olympics, Jeanette Pohlen remembers Draft Day 2011<

Flashback: In '05 there was some muttering within the college ranks about who was being selected as USA Basketball coaches and how that might give them a recruiting advantage. From Coaching USA Basketball: A Road Paved With Gold? – April 2005

“We heard those stories way back,” said Wall, recalling in particular the reaction to the rapid elevation of one young person to a coaching position. “We moved Pat Head up very quickly because of the fact she was an outstanding player and, we all know now, had the making of a helluva fine coach.”

This is not to say these issues are not legitimate and worthy of discussion. But it is useful to put them in context of the very explicit mission of USA Basketball: To win gold medals.

To those within USAB, agendas that distract from that goal, especially the idea a coach coaching the younger teams might attempt to recruit those players, seem incomprehensible. Anne Donovan, who has been involved in USA Basketball since 1983, first as a player and most recently an assistant coach for the Gold medal winning team in Athens, seemed almost stunned at the possibility. “I understand and recognize why they’d be concerned but – and forgive me, but I’ve been so entrenched in USA Basketball for more than half my life – that organization is not run with that intent. You’ve got all these all-stars who want to play, all who have been starters, and now you’re the coach that doesn’t think they’re a starter? You’re going to make five friends – your five starters. And you better win a medal, because that also affects their career. USA Basketball program has been so much about gold and silver medals, that anything less than that is almost unacceptable.”

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Kate Fagan and Luke Cyphers: Women continue to shatter stereotypes as athletes. So how come they can’t catch a break as coaches?

Since 2000, NCAA programs have added 1,774 women’s head coaching jobs. Men have filled 1,220 of the openings.

Women have entered the rest of the workforce at all levels and now make up 57 percent of college students. Sports are bigger than ever for them too, with an average of 8.73 women’s teams per school.

And yet female coaches continue to be sidelined. Stanford women’s basketball coach Tara VanDerveer is only half-joking when she says, “We’ll have a female president — and one woman coaching women’s college basketball.”

It’s not as if women are finding new opportunity in the men’s game: Only about 3 percent of men’s teams are coached by women, the same percentage as before Title IX’s passage. Coaching is a man’s world.

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From Michelle: Dawn Staley ready for mentor – Stanford’s VanDerveer taught South Carolina coach on Team USA

Coaches are sometimes reluctant to be completely honest with star players. That, however, was never an issue between Tara VanDerveer and Dawn Staley.

“I was hard on Dawn,” VanDerveer, the Stanford coach, said Friday. “I’ve always said, sometimes a lot of the great players get the worst coaches, because no one wants to tell them anything. But I was always very direct with Dawn and I think she appreciated it.”

Yes, if appreciation can be gleaned out of the intense desire to prove somebody wrong. Intense desire. How better to sum up Staley?

Mechelle: Goodrich leads way for Jayhawks

Way too many athletes have torn an ACL more than once. Sometimes it’s in the same knee; sometimes it hits both. The second time around is worse than the first for a lot of them, because they know exactly how difficult rehab is going to be and the dread factor sets in right away.

But it was the opposite for Kansas point guard Angel Goodrich. Her first was worst. When she did it the second time, she already knew she could get through it.

And look how far past all that she has come. Now a redshirt junior, Goodrich has found her voice as a leader for a KU team that has made the most out of the NCAA selection committee’s decision to give the Jayhawks a berth into the tournament.

And Michelle: Da’Shena Stevens leads St. John’s

Da’Shena Stevens went into surgery last Aug. 10, a simple little meniscus cleanup that was supposed to keep her out a month or so, back in time for the start of practice.

But when she came out of surgery, the news was a little different. The procedure was more extensive and Stevens, St. John’s senior leader and tone-setter, would be out for four months.

Stevens and Red Storm coach Kim Barnes Arico both cried that day.

“The only thing to do was cry,” Stevens said. “I was sorry and depressed and then the only thing to do was wait until December.”

“It just turned everything different going into the season,” Barnes Arico said.

And Mechelle: WSC Radio Show: March 23, 2012: Brenda and Mechelle preview the Sweet 16

From the Bellingham Herald: Kansas’ Goodrich having a breakthrough in first NCAA women’s tournament

From the AP’s Janie McCauley: VanDerveer and Staley have long history
From the AP’s Jeffrey Collins: Fans suddenly flock to successful South Carolina
From the Centre Daily: PSU rising to standard

Although the tournament selection committee relies heavily on numbers like RPI and strength of schedule, year after year those numbers prove to fall short in actually measuring quality of play leading up to the tournament.

While there is not really any statistical Holy Grail to predict how March Madness will unfold, in looking at potential upsets prior to the 2012 NCAA women’s basketball tournament we took a look at potential upsets bracket by bracket by looking at performance rather than outcomes. Of course, saying there’s potential for an upset is different than saying it will happen are two different things – not many upsets actually occurred although a number of those games ended up close and one could certainly argue that home court advantage foiled a few of those potential upsets.

Anyway, those initial previews were based upon a set of Four Factors stats that I alluded to but didn’t post initially. The following is just a brief look back at those numbers before making some Sweet 16 predictions.

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How about reading up on the #1 seeds?

Baylor: Won’t Back Down: Teams, Dreams, and Family

Notre Dame: Nice Girls Finish First: The Remarkable Story of Notre Dame’s Rise to the Top of Women’s College Basketball

Stanford:S hooting from the Outside: How a Coach and Her Team Transformed Women’s Basketball

UConn: The Same River Twice: A Season with Geno Auriemma and the Connecticut Huskies

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The USBWA has an interesting list.

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her 700th game, does anyone notice?

VanDerveer quietly chalks up milestone

Tara VanDerveer barely had time to soak up her 700th career victory at Stanford before the longtime Cardinal coach was asked whether she’d be sticking around to make a run at 800.”That’s only three years if you can get 30 a year,” VanDerveer said.

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I mean, really 42 and 17?

Nneka outscored about nine teams who played last night. And there were a handful of others that just barely beat her. Yikes!

Writes Michelle Smith: Player of year? Ogwumike could be good fit

If Baylor’s Brittney Griner is the household name, Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins is the queen of Twitter and Connecticut’s Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis is the hot, new, young thing, where does Nneka Ogwumike fit in?

She might be the best player in the country.

Yes, there was a game (Stanford won, by the way), but there was another plot line: From Ann Killion at Sports Illustrated: Stanford pays tribute to Summitt on this uncharted farewell tour

When Summitt strode out on the floor a few minutes before tipoff she was greeted by the sold-out Maples Pavilion crowd with a prolonged loving standing ovation. It was a far cry from the wary, boo-tinged “Evil Empire”-type introductions she used to receive. Stanford fans waved red “We Back Pat” towels. A taped message of support from VanDerveer — who had to take five emotional tries to get it right — aired on the scoreboard. The Stanford coaches came to the Volunteers bench for an affectionate greeting and photo opportunity.

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on Tuesday, and The Pink Room is on it: Season 1, Episode 4: Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer’s message to Pat Summitt

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Working through injury and growing pains

Tara VanDerveer stands at the scorer’s table in the moments before Wednesday night’s nonconference game against UC Davis and surveys the state of her Cardinal team five games and one month into the season.

What does she see? The team warming up looks smaller than it did a few weeks earlier, because of a dwindling number of experienced players.

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You’ve got to believe that mid-way through the first half of the UConn/Stanford game that thought was running through Tara Vanderveer’s head — and just about anyone else watching — as #23 in white exploded on to the national stage and led the Huskies to a win. Wrote Jeff Jacobs:

I just had to look over behind press row. Had to make sure Maya Moore was there. Had to make sure Maya really was doing her job, shadowing Rebecca Lobo with ESPN on this night.

Had to make sure there were two of them. Had to make sure this wasn’t the greatest tricks of all the tricks Geno Auriemma has pulled off at Storrs. Had to make sure Geno hadn’t cloned Maya or something like that. Had to make sure there really were a Maya Moore and a Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis.

Graham echoes Jacobs’ thoughts: UConn’s No. 23 rises to occasion again – Freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis channels a little Maya Moore-like magic

If legends can still spread by word of mouth in an age of Twitter, nearly 14,000 acolytes headed into the Hartford night with a new one to tell.

In the first game Maya Moore played against Stanford as a freshman, she came off Geno Auriemma’s bench and scored 19 points on 8-of-17 shooting to lead Connecticut to a victory early in the 2007-08 season. In the first game Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis played against Stanford as a freshman, she matched Moore point for point, with the person who used to wear No. 23 in attendance.

The difference is Mosqueda-Lewis did it in the first half. She finished with 25 points in Connecticut’s 68-58 win.

It wasn’t a pretty game offensively, but it was a great measuring sticks for both these teams. Seniors Nneka proved she could play with fouls and Tiffany proved she could stink it up on the offensive end and yet still snag 13 rebounds. Both teams had youngsters make some noise. Both teams will learn, both coaches will coach’em up. Gotta believe both teams have a good shot at Denver.

Jere’ of the Times was there: UConn Shows Resolve, if Not Star Power

It was like a November heavyweight fight,” Stanford Coach Tara VanDerveer said. “I thought it was extremely physical. Those are games you usually see in March.”

The Cardinal halted UConn’s 90-game winning streak in December. Should these two teams meet again in the N.C.A.A. tournament, it could be that Stanford (3-1) will prevail with its depth and eight players who are 6-2 or taller, including the pogo-sticking Ogwumike sisters, Nnemkadi and Chiney.

Our friends (in sort of a virtual, we’ve never met or talked, and yet clearly I believe I’d have a really good time sharing a beverage or three with them while talking basketball and life kind of friend way.) C&R chime in: Stanford UConn Gone All Wrong

What a frustrating game. Frustrating for Stanford, frustration with officials and frustration for C and R who couldn’t WATCH the game. Frustration for C’s spell checker that hates those fragmented and run on sentences. Let’s recap our experience and the game, if you are not too bummed out already.
  • First, C sets DVD to record ESPNU. Then drives to work.
  • R calls and says we don’t get ESPNU on our crappy cable plan.
  • C says she wouldn’t be able to set the DVR to record if we don’t get the channel, because a day without C and R arguing is a day without sunshine, which it was this morning.

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… I have two cats that I need to go and adopt, SO: Tonight, ESPNU – Stanford v. UConn, 7:30PM EST.

Graham writes the Ball back in Caroline Doty’s hands – Junior guard’s return crucial for UConn in its first season without Maya Moore

It’s going to take some time for this team to learn how to win, at least at the level it expects and in the kind of settings in which it’s used to doing so. Looking to someone who plays with such contempt for losing is a good place to start.

and Geno Auriemma and Connecticut a perfect fit.

Tough news for the Cardinal:  Stanford freshman Green out for hoops season with injury 

And look who’s moved to ESPN: Beth Mowins and Debbie Antonelli preview Stanford-UConn and discuss what to expect from this season with Kara Lawson.

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From Kevin Haskin in Topeka, the story of 92-year-old Ruth Fairbank

Fairbank excelled in just about any sport she tried. Well enough that in basketball she was named an All-American in 1935 for a women’s traveling team, two years before graduating from High.

One night the squad, which was sponsored by Topeka businessman Phil Sewell, played in the Topeka High gym. Nominal admission was charged as the club took on a team from Arkansas.

“The next morning, my gym teacher asked, ‘Do your parents approve of you doing what you’re doing, playing basketball? You know the men just come out so they can see women wearing shorts,’’’ Fairbank recalled.

“I think she tried to kick me out of school.”

From Steve Mann in Winston-Salem, the story of the fabulous Hanes Hosiery teams: Women for all seasons: Friends won reams of awards on 1950s Hanes Hosiery sports teams

Futch and Jordan, the first two Hanes players from outside the Winston-Salem area, were known as “Big E” and “Little E.” Even now, the message on Jordan’s answering machine says, “This is the home of Little E. Please leave a message.”

Together, they helped lead Hanes Hosiery to three straight AAU national championships in the middle of a then-record 102-game winning streak. Jordan was named an All-American five times, Futch three.

The two also helped lead the Pan American women’s basketball team to a gold medal in 1955, the first year women were allowed to compete.

Also from Mann: Yow coached championship teams with practice, practice, practice (yes, of THOSE Yows)

The story goes like this:

In 1944, Coach Virgil Yow of High Point College (now High Point University) was facing a manpower shortage on campus because of World War II.

He recruited Nancy Isenhour from the women’s team to become the first woman to play on a men’s college basketball team, according to a story in The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., in 1952.

Making a link, Scott Ostler writes: Tara VanDerveer helped elevate women’s basketball

Dunbar VanDerveer had no basketball experience (he played hockey at Dartmouth), but he believed Stanford’s high entrance requirements would doom his daughter to failure as a coach. He told Tara she was crazy to leave her head coaching job at Ohio State. Told her she’d be unemployed in three months, and don’t bother coming home.

Sometimes father knows best.

“I had a mini breakdown in the grocery store, realizing how hard it was going to be,” VanDerveer said by phone from her vacation home late last week. “When I left Ohio State, we’d had a game in ’85 that 22,000 people came to. When I came to Stanford, I could count on my fingers and toes how many people would be at a game. I said, ‘I’m in a nightmare. Just let me wake up and be back in Columbus.’ “

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Friday Open Thread: Naismith Hall Of Fame and Three WNBA Games

The three WNBA games tonight (click here for schedule and information) won’t be on NBA TV tonight for a pretty good reason.

Stanford Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer and current Tulsa Shock coach Teresa Edwards will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame with festivities beginning at 6 p.m. EST on  NBA TV (and the actual ceremony apparently starting at 8 p.m. EST). Updates on the ceremony will be posted at SB Nation’s Hall of Fame storystream.

C&R shared a great list of Tara-isms, which should probably be used during the WNBA games tonight to honor her greatness. For more thoughts on VanDerveer, my summary of that 800th win. For my naive thoughts on Charles Barkley saying Teresa Edwards is the best ever and why history is good, click here.

Got your own thoughts? Excellent! Please leave them in the comments.

Enjoy the night.

More on the HOF inductees from Michelle Smith at espnW: Inductee VanDerveer feels right at home:

“I have been given great opportunities to study the game.”

And study she did. VanDerveer, who led the U.S. team to an Olympic gold medal in 1996 and has won two NCAA titles, is known as one of the most detail-oriented, meticulous coaches, which has helped keep her at the top of her game, having led the Cardinal to four straight Final Four appearances.

VanDerveer joked that she reached her 10,000 hours of practice long, long ago. “I love practice,” VanDerveer said. “I don’t know if my players love it as much.”

Michele also has: No end in sight for Edwards

The day before her enshrinement into the Naismith Hall of Fame, Teresa Edwards sat with a reporter who produced photos of her first Olympic Games back in 1984.

“I didn’t know that I was supposed to be nervous,” Edwards said, shaking her head and laughing as she remembered the 16-year-old self she was looking at in those pictures. “I didn’t know any better.”

Five Olympic Games and a Hall of Fame career later, Edwards knows now.

“I never knew I would be here,” Edwards said, a humble beginning to her acceptance speech for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News writes: Chris Mullin, Tara VanDerveer bring grace, dignity to Hall of Fame ceremony and Tara VanDerveer fits right in at Hall of Fame ‘dress rehearsal’

Over at MassLive, Dick Baker says: With family roots in the Forest Park section of Springfield, Tara VanDerveer has her own home now at the Basketball Hall of Fame

At SB Nation, Scott Schroeder writes: Teresa Edwards Inducted Into Basketball Hall Of Fame On Strength Of Four Olympic Gold Medals

Eric Bailey at the Tulsa World chips in: Tulsa Shock coach Teresa Edwards to join Hall of Fame tonight

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Listen in:

In the women’s college game, there are so very few coaches with the programs, the resume, and the success of Coach Tara VanDerveer.   One of only five women’s coaches to win 800 games, she has won two national championships, a ridiculous amount of conference championships, NCAA tournament appearances galore, produced many All-Americans, Naismith winners, Wade Trophy winners, WNBA first round draft choices, and USA basketball participants.

As I can’t make it to Springfield this weekend, I thought it would be a good idea to pay tribute on Dishin & Swishin to the woman that deserved this honor several years ago.  With the help of Aaron Juarez, Stanford SID extraordinaire, we put together one of the infamous Dishin & Swishin roundtables.  When Aaron and I put out the information on what we were doing, the response was amazing, as former players lined up to pay homage to a coach/mentor/friend that means so much to them all.

Participants are:

Jennifer Azzi
Angela Taylor
Kate Paye
Vanessa Nygaard
Candice Wiggins
Jayne Appel
Jeanette Pohlen
Melanie Murphy

http://www.hoopfeed.com/ content/2011/08/11/dishin- swishin-august-11-2011- podcast-3-part-2-a-tribute-to- tara-vanderveer/

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From Mechelle: VanDerveer, Edwards head to HOF: Road together wasn’t always smooth, but Naismith inductees took game to new levels

Edwards had a lot on her mind in late 1995, because she knew the next year would be one of the most important of her career. Team USA would be trying to regain Olympic gold, and the pro women’s basketball league she was invested in — the ABL — would be launching. Meanwhile, VanDerveer also was consumed with what she was expected to accomplish in 1996 while away from a very successful Stanford team.

“We weren’t the best of buddies; it was a long year,” Edwards said of she and VanDerveer. “Looking back, I think it was partly because in Tara, I met someone that shared the same intensity for the game that I did … but with that came tension.

“I have respect for her, and I learned a lot about her. I learned I wasn’t the only one who loved the game so much. We were part of something brilliant. We helped change the dynamics of turning the corner professionally for women’s basketball in this country.”

 

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before you go out and enjoy the day.

Seattle: Jayda is Catching up with Storm All-Star Sue Bird

A benefit to the WNBA starting training camp later is most players have trickled into their respective cities earlier to begin one-on-one workouts and get settled. (In the past, camp started in April with season-openers hovering around mid-May). For Storm PG Sue Bird, that means moving to a new home in Queen Anne and reuniting with teammate Lauren Jackson, who Bird hasn’t seen since winter.

It’s the first time in five years that Bird hasn’t returned a champion from some nether-region, however. There was the 2010 FIBA World Championships title in October, but Bird’s Russian team, Spartak, placed second in EuroLeague and the country’s postseason.

Cali: From C&R: VanDerveer honored at BAWSI’s Sportsapolooza

Stanford Women’s Basketball Coach Tara VanDerveer was honored at the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative’s first annual Sportsapolooza. Also honored was BAWSI co-founder and soccer legend Brandi Chastain. Sportsapolooza was a fundraiser for BAWSI held at Santa Clara’s Leavey Center May 4th of this year.

Cali: Remember the student crankiness that was happening over at UCLA over shuffling up to the cheap seats: Students vote to reject new seating arrangement at Pauley Pavilion

Ohio: Mom and coach knows meaning of family

Family isn’t always defined by genealogical trees — names scratched out on paper, its branches stretching back generations into history.

Sometimes, family is defined with X’s and O’s — plays drawn up on a clipboard during a critical time-out. Sometimes, family has less to do with the name on the back of the jersey and more to do with the name on the front of it.

If anyone knows exactly what “family” is, it would be Suzy Venet Pietz.

Minny: A Mother’s Day to celebrate: Minnesota Lynx’s Taj McWilliams-Franklin has kept her family and career intact

Taj McWilliams-Franklin had 50 offers to play Division I basketball as a high school senior in Augusta, Ga.

Then she learned she was pregnant.

There were college and high school coaches who told her that raising the baby would be a mistake and would derail her basketball career. They said she should give up the child for adoption. She ignored them. She decided to raise the child on her own, and the scholarship offers all but dried up.

Connecticut: For Lobo, It’s All In A Mother’s Day

Siobhan Rushin was watching her older cousins play basketball on Easter.

“I bet my mom would be good at this game,” she told them. “She played basketball in college.”

Her mother, Rebecca Lobo, laughs when she tells that story. Her four children, ages 6 months to 6 years, delight her. They exasperate her. She, who never yelled before having kids, yells at least twice a day now (“Will you stop doing that. I already told you 10 times to stop!”). Or she wonders if her head is going to explode because her two oldest are quarreling. Again.

From the Title IX blog: One week later

Many, many responses to last week’s NYT piece by Katie Thomas on the fudging of Title IX numbers by colleges and universities.

A related piece, with a h/t to Swish Appeal (and a concern that Forbes would allow the sentence “As I’ve eluded to, things are a little easier in the SEC and Big Ten where football and men’s basketball make enough profit to cover all the other sports.”) Does Football Fund Other Sports At College Level?

BusinessofCollegeSports.com last week we looked at the Top 25 recipients of student activity fees. As I researched, I was looking for a correlation between those who rely on student fees and football profit. Then someone asked me how sports outside of football and men’s basketball impact a school’s athletic department budget. So, I did a little digging.

First, let me say that it is generally true that football, and sometimes men’s basketball, subsidizes a (sometimes large) portion of the expenses for other teams. It doesn’t matter if we’re looking at a team from Conference USA or the SEC. Accordingly, I pulled numbers for several of the top student fee recipients, both in terms of dollars and percentage, an SEC school, a Big Ten school and Cal-Berkeley because of their recent fundraising efforts to save five sports.

In the charts that follow, you will see a breakdown of the revenue and expenses for football, men’s and women’s basketball and the catchall for the rest of the varsity sports, “Other Sports”.


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Tara in the Naismith Hall of Fame. VanDerveer’s Disappointment Tempered by Selection to Hall or is it Hall of Fame small consolation to VanDerveer.

It seems right (though some may find it ironic) that Teresa Edwards will join Tara as a Hall member.

Don’t ask why, just read Shooting from the Outside and/or Venus to the Hoop.

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