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

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

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

The Texas women’s basketball team lost on Sunday.

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

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

But that moment didn’t come.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bonnies.

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

GW over the Dukes: 

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

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

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

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

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

Chattanooga is feeling right at home in the Southern.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Things we’ve noticed so far:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Richmond won their first game of the season.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Penguins win!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mechelle wonders if  North Carolina be even better?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Yes, I’ll admit it — I woke up, had a cup of coffee, and “Basketball Jones!” popped into my head.

Nate has 2014 his NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Sweet 16 predictions: DePaul, North Carolina, Texas A&M are teams to watch

While I previewed the Sweet 16 by looking at a few of the top WNBA prospects still playing, I threw out a few questions to other bloggers around SB Nation who cover women’s basketball. Today we begin with a set of questions I asked the writers who have been covering the tournament for Swish Appeal.

From Mechelle: Storylines abound in Sweet 16 – Regional semifinals tip off on ESPN at noon ET Saturday in the Notre Dame region

Graham is Previewing a very Sweet 16

Welcome to the tournament within the tournament, the roped-off section of the postseason club that is the Sweet 16.

Getting to the tournament in the first place is a big deal. Just as it’s not easy to get to base camp on Mount Everest, it’s not easy to get to the starting line of the NCAA tournament. And once there, it only gets more difficult with each step.

Reaching the second week, when the basketball summit really starts to come clearly into view, is a big deal.

Look at the math.

Wondering who the experts pick? Click here.

Lincoln Bracket: Mechelle’s got the Lincoln Regional breakdown

Yup. Hosting is a crap shoot – just ask Nebraska (or Chattanooga). They’re not playing, but that doesn’t mean they’re not going to bring it. Connie Yori went all Jody Conradt on us.

In 1985, when the Longhorns were hosting the Final Four, they were huge favorites. But, they were upset (even though that doesn’t happen in women’s basketball) on the way to the Championship. Down, but not out, Jody put all her efforts into getting folks out to the games — and notched the first F4 sell out.

Now it’s the Huskers’ turn: For good of NU, Yori hopes UConn draws big crowds and Why Connie Yori Wants NU Fans to Pack PBA

“Because UConn doesn’t play in the Midwest very often, so it’s an opportunity of a lifetime to see perhaps the best women’s program of all time,” Yori said before adding: “This UConn team also might be one of the best, if not the best, college women’s team of all-time. They’re phenomenal. Nebraska fans wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity like this when they can see one of the greatest teams of all time playing in their own backyard. You don’t have to go to the Final Four in Nashville. All you have to do is buy a ticket and head straight down to the Haymarket.”

So… About those games:

Huskies v. Cougars

Game day: No. 1 seed UConn women vs. No. 12 BYU,
BYU women at a glance
BYU looks to N.C. State men’s championship team for motivation vs. UConn
Cougars, 6-7 Jennifer Hamson Defy Odds Advancing To Meet Huskies
Cinderella story inspires Bailey, BYU

There are players who have to search the nation and scour the Internet to find the inspiration needed to lead their teams to improbable March Madness upsets.

Brigham Young junior forward Morgan Bailey did not have any such issues.

As luck would have it, her uncle is Thurl Bailey, one of the stars of a North Carolina State team which recorded perhaps the most improbable national championship run in college basketball history. While Thurl Bailey was not part of the Brigham Young traveling party to Lincoln for Saturday’s regional semifinals, he did reach out to his beloved niece.

Will BYU, Hamson block Huskies’ path?
Mike DiMauro: BYU’s approach against UConn women … on any given night
BYU women’s basketball team enjoying sudden attention in Sweet 16
Cougars embracing, relishing underdog role vs. top seed UConn

NCAA would change sked for BYU and BYU will attend Sunday press conferences, but not play or practice

Stewie is coming of age

She came bounding out of practice Friday, down the tunnel and through the curtain at Pinnacle Bank Arena. This is Stewie. Happy. Giddy. Dare we even suggest innocent?

This is Stewie. The same kid who exited the court for the final time this season at Gampel Pavilion earlier this week alongside Stefanie Dolson, saluting the crowd with the royal wave, the Queen of England in Nikes, the slight hand twist accompanied by the 50,000-watt smile.

This is Stewie.

Could this be the same kid her coach was yelling at earlier this season for being stubborn? Stubborn. Stewie? C’mon. This is Ms. Sunny Disposition. Stubborn?

Steven M. Sipple: Auriemma proves a master at his calling, Lincoln Journal Star

Oh, he retains plenty of fire. But he doesn’t allow a subpar game, or a subpar half, to send him off the rails like he might have done when he took over a foundering UConn program in 1985.

“You tend to view things more big-picture as opposed to reacting to what’s going on in front of you right now,” he said. “I think that helps the players, too, if you’re kind of like, ‘We’ll be all right. …'”

He also noted the importance of celebrating great plays and great games, but moving forward quickly.

Never too high, never too low.

He paused for a few seconds.

“That’s just the long way of saying I’m too old to give a damn about what’s going on, and I have no control over it,” he said with a chuckle.

Slideshow: Pursuit of Perfection, ESPN

Aggies v Blue Demons:

Texas A&M women prepare for DePaul sharpshooters

Texas A&M’s Gary Blair sounded more like a carnival barker than coach as he discussed his team’s matchup with DePaul on Saturday in the NCAA women’s regional semifinals.

“Our game against DePaul will be one of the most entertaining games you’ve ever seen,” Blair said, adding that it would be like a “ping-pong match.”

Aggies back in ‘flow,’ strive for Elite Eight

Texas A&M women’s basketball team feeling elite going into Sweet 16 matchup against DePaul

Texas A&M women’s basketball team learning from watching other teams

DePaul women’s basketball playing their ‘best ball of the season’ going into Sweet Sixteen

Going into their first Sweet Sixteen appearance since 2011, DePaul women’s basketball continues to feed off of the momentum from their upset win against Duke while preparing to play Texas A&M.

“The win (over Duke) was huge for our program…definitely a momentum-builder,” sophomore Chanise Jenkins said. “It gives us tons of confidence going into the next game.”

Senior Jasmine Penny said the win meant a lot to her. With no plans to play after graduation, Penny has no idea when she will play her final game as a Blue Demon.

“It seems like we’re always the underdog and it was so amazing to see us come out and fight the way we did,” Penny said.

DePaul women ride fast-paced offense into Sweet 16 – Doug Bruno’s run-and-gun style carries risk but has high reward

Bruno’s Blue Demons not just a run-and-gun team

With Rogowski’s shooting, DePaul aiming high

‘(Texas A&M) is a business trip’ said Coach Doug Bruno of DePaul women’s basketball

DePaul and Texas A&M Tangle on Saturday in the Sweet 16

CESSNA: With UConn at this regional, second place not so bad

It’s un-American to strive to be second best, but when the 64-team bracket for the NCAA women’s basketball tournament was unveiled, it was a given Connecticut would advance to the Final Flour from the Lincoln Regional.
The only thing left to settle was who would be second. It’s not a defeatist outlook — it’s reality.

Notre Dame Regional breakdown

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw can’t stand the idea of having regionals at home sites. It doesn’t make for a truly fair tournament, she says. She’s right.

But the way the Irish have played this season, the fact that Notre Dame is hosting a regional is hardly the reason they are favored to go to the Women’s Final Four again. Rather, it’s that this Irish team — despite the loss of Skylar Diggins — is an undefeated powerhouse no matter where it is playing.

Admittedly, so is that other former Big East giant on the other side of the bracket. While UConn travels to Lincoln, Neb., for what appears a not-very-challenging regional, Notre Dame is home, where the Irish have lost just two games over the past three seasons.

Irish v. Cowgirls:

Irish’s McGraw: Notre Dame has unfair advantage or  is it that Notre Dame enjoys “comfort zone” of home court advantage in NCAA tournament. Either way, Berry Tramel is grumpy about it.

Players know their roles for unbeaten Notre Dame women’s basketball team

Irish won’t settle; want to improve

Notre Dame excited to play Oklahoma State at home

Martin leads Cowgirls into Sweet 16

Oklahoma State’s Brittney Martin and her teammates are in the NCAA Sweet 16 but will have to face No. 1 seed Notre Dame on the Irish’s home court. Pretty tough assignment for the No. 5 seed, right?

Sure. But, hey, Martin is a pretty tough kid. She was only about a month into her first college basketball season when she got a tooth knocked out.

She dove for a loose ball against Stephen F. Austin in early December 2012. One of the SFA players lost her balance and fell on Martin, whose face went into the floor.

“The initial hit was not painful; it kind of felt like if you bend a piece of licorice, maybe,” Martin said. “Then I felt my mouth, and my teeth were in my hand. So …”

Martin then smiled and pointed to her mouth.

Expect Tiffany Bias back in Cowgirls’ lineup vs. Notre Dame – OSU arrived in Stillwater about 3:30 a.m. Tuesday. By 8, Bias was in the training room getting treatment on an injured ankle.

Cowgirls have something to lose against Notre Dame

Bears v. Wildcats:

Five things to know about Baylor vs. Kentucky

Kentucky, Baylor set for rematch of 4-OT thriller

The last time Baylor and Kentucky met, they played one of the most exciting games in the history of women’s basketball.

Neither coach expects another four-overtime thriller today in the Sweet 16. Still, both are looking forward to another entertaining matchup with a berth in the regional finals on the line.

Kentucky, Baylor women on edge for rematch of December’s ‘instant classic’

Kentucky’s Goss’ quest for perfection paying off

Kentucky not sure it can slow Baylor scoring machine Sims

Homer’s The Odyssey was an epic adventure filled with twists and turns.

So is any attempt to guard Baylor’s Odyssey.

In the epic adventure that was Kentucky’s four-overtime victory over the Bears in December, the Cats threw four different defenders at Odyssey Sims.

Kentucky could have used about six more. In the losing effort, Baylor’s senior guard scored 47 points.

Another sweet season for Sims and Baylor women

Odyssey Sims and Baylor are having another sweet season.

The Lady Bears have made it to the third round of the NCAA women’s tournament for the sixth year in a row. But there are still surely plenty of people surprised to see them back in the Sweet 16 this year.

Baylor women’s basketball team tops list of No. 1s

Looking ahead?

Graham has the Louisville Regional breakdown

Michelle Smith has the Stanford Regional breakdown South Carolina is the top seed, but will Stanford rediscover its Maples magic?

She adds: Ruef used to juggling multiple roles – Stanford senior has started 33 of 34 games and worked as an engineering intern

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St. John’s v. Texas A&M.

UConn v. Cal.

As I have for the past zillion years, I’m going to put in an order for tickets (or at least start harassing my fabulous connection at the Garden) mid-August. We have, in the past, gotten FABULOUS seats, thankyouverymuch.

If you are interesting in being part of the horde, all you need to do is drop me an email at: womenshoopsblog @ gmail.com

Include:
Your full name
Mailing Address
Number of tickets you’d like.

I’ll then start a tally and, when tix are finally available, I’ll send out one final “You sure? You want more? email.

Then I’ll purchase the whole kit-and-kaboodle, pick’em up at the Garden and mail’em out to you. When they arrive, send me a check.

The other option is we meet at the Garden and you had over cold, hard cash.

Let’s see if we can break 60 this year!

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some speed reading:

From the DC Basket Cases: The Raleigh Natty Regional

Whether you’ll be catching all the action in person at the RBC Center PNC Arena on Sunday, or at home (or at a sports bar) glued to your TV . . . if you aren’t excited about tomorrow’s games in Raleigh, the BCs respectfully suggest that you check your pulse.

Nate’s got some 2012 NCAA Women’s Sweet 16 Predictions: Kingston Bracket

Rebecca’s Breaking down Raleigh’s Sweet 16

Fagans says the Terps relaxed, ready for Aggiesand the AP says the Aggies have to keep Terps off the boards in NCAAs

If they do, Viv says Gary is threatening to dance again.

Graham has a couple: Taelor Karr finds home in Spokane – K-State transfer rediscovered love for basketball at Gonzaga and PSU’s Maggie Lucas diversifies game

Curt takes note: Notre Dame women’s basketball: Irish on way to free throw shooting mark and warns the Irish better beware of the Bonnies

St. Bonaventure knows they’re about to Take On a Women’s Basketball Titan and the Buffalo News’ Amy Moran thinks Irish talent can trump Bona defense

Al Lesar says Time, players have softened McGraw’s approach

The fans offer encouraging sendoff to Gonzaga women‎ but they are losing home-court advantage in regional‎.

Meanwhile, UK Hoops tries to put Gonzaga in the forefront, avoid side stories‎ as they feed off those other Cats.

In Kingston, Jim Fuller says the Huskies, Penn State are ready to run as the Lady Lions hope to continue charmed season against No. 1 seed Connecticut.  Bentley says “I don’t think they’ve played against a real, true scoring team.” and Faris says, “I think any player would take that as a challenge,’’

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pretty much showed’em who’s boss. No, I’m not a betting woman, but I would be wicked surprised if there weren’t a lot of Green and Gold in Denver this April.

In College Station, they’re talking about what almost was:

No. 1 Baylor women beat No. 17 A&M 69-62 and  Brittney Griner and Odyssey Sims scored 25 points each and top-ranked Baylor used a late run to hold off No. 17 Texas A&M for a 69-62 win on Monday night.

In Storrs they’ve got the blues:

No. 3 Notre Dame gets in the final punch in win over No. 4 UConn and Huskies Swept Away By The Irish, 72-59 and It Really Was THAT Bad, UConn Fans and Geno Auriemma Takes His Team To Task

Things look golden from Curt Rallo: Notre Dame women’s basketball: Irish defense hushes Huskies

From the ESPN Folks

Graham: Irish have all the answers vs. UConn: Notre Dame plays like a team with no weak links, wins its first outright Big East title

Rebecca: Five Questions with Skylar Diggins

Mechelle: Auriemma frustrated, Novosel elated

Mechelle: Irish celebrate outright Big East title: Irish now shift their sights on winning Big East and NCAA tournaments

Now, they Notre Dame and rest of the crew will get ready for the Big East Tourney. FYI, by virtue of their victory over Georgetown, St. John’s will be the second seed.

Of course, some serious battling yet to be done. Check out the brackets for other conference tournaments. Get out and cheer on a basketball team or three, why dontcha?

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A little on Kelsey Bone

The Aggies (13-5) are experiencing the weight of the “crown” a bit, and Kelsey Bone, who was on the sidelines as a transfer last season, especially can feel it. The 6-foot-4 center knows the big part she has in filling the scoring void left by Final Four Most Outstanding Player Danielle Adams.

Bone is averaging 11.9 points and 7.0 rebounds in her first season for the Aggies, but those numbers are 6.8 and 5.5 in four of Texas A&M’s last five games. The exception was her 18-point, seven-rebound performance in a victory at Kansas on Saturday.

A little on Elizabeth Williams

Elizabeth Williams is the centerpiece of the youngest Duke team in more than a decade. But she spent a fair amount of time in her first semester of college thinking about growing old.

She took a sociology class about adulthood and aging, and it confirmed a mindset she pretty much already had.

“One of the interesting statistics in a paper I did was that people who had a positive outlook on life would live an average of 7.6 years longer than people who didn’t,” Williams said. “People who thought that growing old was a negative thing, their lifespan was shorter. I took that and thought it applies to me at a young age, too: ‘Think of all these opportunities you’re given, and really embrace them.'”

And a reminder as to why she’s such a valuable member of the women’s basketball community: Institutional Memory. From her chat yesterday:

jbb1985 (ny) You may be too young, but Kerry Bascom was UConn’s first star player and is still its 4th highest scorer all-time. Yet she played in 1988-1991 period. Might you have seen her play? If so, what type player was she and which contemporary player would remind you of her?

Mechelle Voepel Nah, I don’t qualify as “young” anymore. Haven’t for a while. :) I started covering women’s basketball when I at Missouri in 1984. So, yes, I do remember Kerry Bascom, even though I obviously didn’t see nearly as many of her games as I have with UConn players over the last 17 years. Kerry was a scoring machine, and the player she kind of reminds me of was Texas AM’s Danielle Adams, now with San Antonio Silver Stars. I am a little leery of talking about this in a way that would offend anyone, but obviously Danielle has a large physical presence, and yet has skills I think surprise people who see her and expect she would not have them. Kerry was not physically as large as Danielle, but she was stout and strong, while still with good body control. I recall there was a picture of her in past UConn media guides – not sure if it’s still in there – where one defender is falling over trying to guard her, while another has her hand basically on top of Kerry’s head trying to stop her… and Kerry is still going right to the basket. She could shoot the 3 and penetrate; she had just a ferocious will to score. That’s my memory of her. Really quite a player.

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(I do believe they rhyme) Aggies Coach Has Another Story to Tell

At South Oak Cliff High School in Dallas, Blair won three Texas state championships, coaching Debra and Kim Rodman when their brother Dennis “used to play Ping-Pong with me because he was only 5-11 and couldn’t play a lick” of basketball.

Three decades later, Dennis Rodman has just been voted into the Hall of Fame and Blair, 65 and gray, has won an N.C.A.A. championship at Texas A&M, guiding its women’s team to a gripping 76-70 victory over Notre Dame on Tuesday. Funny how lives crisscross likes strands of a net.

 

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Beth and Debbie at Shootaround.

Doug Bruno next week previewing the Maggie Dixon Classic.

Want to contact them? ESPNShootaround @ gmail.com. They’re asking for your input: Who are the best players ever out of New York City?

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Boilers make statement with A&M upset

Monday morning headline: Statements or suggestions?

Statement wins. They’re not just for college football anymore! Thankfully, since the only subjective judgment used in basketball’s postseason is between No. 64 and No. 65, not No. 2 and No. 3, style points from Sunday’s games are nothing more than conversation fodder. But four games between ranked teams make for a lot of fodder.

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Blue, that is, and welcome to the AP Poll.

Speaking of teams flying under the radar, how about them National (and Junkanoo) Champions? They’ll be in the spotlight right quick as they prepare to face #13 Purdue and then #2 UConn.

Nate is Looking Back At Weekend Tournaments & A Few Upsets

And yes, I’ve noticed that one of the Mittens is 7-0.

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The bloom is kinda off the rose of the #6 A&M and #9 Cardinals match-up this afternoon: Louisville will be missing Monique Reid, Tia Gibbs and Shoni Schimmel, who is serving the second game of her suspension  because of playing in a non-sanctioned 3on-3 tournament this summer.

Later, #3 Tennessee will face #7 Miami. The Miami Herald writes:

“This is a huge event for women’s basketball, a very big deal,” said UM coach Katie Meier, the co-National Coach of the Year last season. “And with Tennessee as the opponent, it’s an even bigger deal. We are in the ACC, have been in NCAA tournament, have played in big games. But to start the season with this celebration of these two programs on national television is really special.”

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from Mechelle: Baylor leads the way as 2011-12 opens – But as last season proved, the run to Denver could hold many surprises

But is there, truly, a prohibitive favorite this season? Probably not … and that’s great. What both Texas A&M and Notre Dame provided last season was a needed dose of the unexpected after Tennessee and Connecticut each had won back-to-back NCAA titles. It wasn’t that the Aggies and Irish making the final was utterly shocking, but it was definitely a surprise that resulted in an entertaining and exciting — and different — championship game.

This season will end in Denver, the first time the Women’s Final Four has been held in the Mountain Time Zone. Could the Mile High City see a new champion, like we had in Indy last year? Don’t count on it; the top six teams in the preseason coaches’ poll — Baylor, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Connecticut, Stanford and Texas A&M — all have won titles. But …

She also has: Texas A&M takes aim at defending title – Aggies return some key components, hope to get boost from transfer Kelsey Bone

There was this rather odd scenario at Big 12 media day in Kansas City last month. Texas A&M, the team that did the conference proud by winning the 2011 NCAA title, was being told in no uncertain terms to not let the door hit it on the way out. The person saying this was Baylor’s Kim Mulkey, the coach of the other Big 12 women’s basketball team to win a national championship since the league formed in 1996.

And we get Graham back: Hampton and hoops have long history – From playing for father to playing against an older brother, hoops always part of life

It’s easy to see what makes Keisha Hampton one of the most gifted basketball players in the nation. Like an approaching avalanche, it’s the part about stopping the DePaul senior that gets tricky.

Just listen to someone who played against the Blue Demons’ star for the past three seasons and spent the summer playing alongside her with Team USA in the World University Games.

“She’s an unbelievable scorer,” Notre Dame senior Natalie Novosel said. “She can score in a variety of ways, a very versatile player. She’s very hard to guard. If you put somebody small on her, she’ll post them up and shoot over them. If you try and put a post, a forward, on her, she’ll just drive right by you.”

ESPN offers their Cliff notes for the top 25 teams.

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This could get amusing: Loftin responds to Mulkey’s comments

Baylor women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey took a shot at departing Texas A&M at Big 12 Media Days, saying “My feeling is this: If a man wants to divorce me and says our relationship has no value to him, and then he asks me if he can sleep with me, the answer is ‘No!’ ”

A&M president R. Bowen Loftin responded to the Austin American Statesman’s Kirk Bohls.

He said “I have never desired to sleep with her, sir.”

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(Hello, Meatloaf fans!)

ESPN’s 24 hour basketball marathon on November 15th features Tennessee vs. Miami in the State Farm Women’s Tip-Off Classic (that ought to be a fun game) and Louisville at defending national champion Texas A&M.

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Congrats to Texas A&M, nominated for an ESPY.

Ditto to Maya Moore, only the Second To Repeat As Borderick Cup Winner

Nothing to cheer about: Two ECU basketball players arrested, charged with fraud

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Abilene Wylie guard commits to A&M women’s basketball team

Chalk up another one for the Aggies over the Longhorns.

Abilene Wylie’s Peyton Little pledged to the Texas A&M women’s basketball program less than a month after the state’s fifth-best player backed off a commitment she’d made last summer to Texas.

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all handily gathered by Kim at Women’s Basketball Online on her Daily News Page. Take a peek.

Lady Swish has some musing on the Final Four.

*And while we’re on TV coverage, every coach in America is in the stands. Wouldn’t you have loved to have seen some of them? Mulkey? Summitt? Debbie Ryan, even? Rather than having sideline reporters who add very little, how about having the sideline reporters roam the stands for famous faces?

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Texas A&M, Notre Dame crash NCAA women’s final

“Everything is happening for a reason,” Texas A&M Coach Gary Blair said. “It’s because we don’t quit. While you all were writing, I guarantee you a lot of you already had your stories three-quarters of the way done, and now you’re having to change it.”

From Indiana U’s Student News Bureau: Notre Dame drawing on experience from last title team

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw doesn’t want to call it destiny, but it is hard not to think that something special is happening for Notre Dame women’s basketball.

“We certainly didn’t have anything handed to us,” McGraw said. “So I would say not as much fate as hard work.”

Over at Swish Appeal, James Bowman has Notre Dame vs. Texas A&M : The Simulated Version

It’s NCAA championship game time again, and I’m returning to a post I wrote in July of 2010, where I attempted to model the NCAA championship game played between Connecticut and Stanford that same year.  The title of that post was “Connecticut vs. Stanford – Again and Again and Again….” and you couldn’t blame anyone for thinking that this title could be recycled for the 2011 championship.

No such luck.  Not only was Stanford upset by gritty Texas A&M, but the fourth time proved to be the charm for Notre Dame as they bounced Connecticut out of a threepeat.  If the Fighting Irish win it will be their second championship.  If Texas A&M wins it will not only be their first championship but will also serve as the disproof of the Prodigy Theory of Coaching in NCAA women’s basketball.

From Mechelle: Pieces falling into place for McGraw

“She’s been a puzzle-solver her whole life,” Matt said. “She does jigsaw puzzles, and those number puzzles. And I’ve always thought the success that her teams have had are because she never looks and says, ‘Who’s the best player out there?’ She says, ‘Who fits in the puzzle?’

“If we get together with her family, they will bring boxes and boxes of puzzles. And she has what I don’t — the incredible patience, the focus to get the damn thing together. She wants to fit more pieces in than anybody else.”

The pieces on this squad took a little while to integrate, as Notre Dame lost three of its first eight games. In the Big East season, the Irish fell those three times to UConn and also lost to DePaul. Yet the whole time, McGraw was solving the puzzle.

From Graham: Colson, Carter look to contain Diggins

There are times when it seems no two humans on the planet communicate quite so close to telepathically as Texas A&M’s Sydney Colson and Sydney Carter. Certainly no two people who share a backcourt.

Carter and Colson don’t need words to orchestrate the kind of defensive effort that has frustrated a long list of the best guards in college basketball and helped land Texas A&M in its first national championship game. That is not, however, to suggest the duo is completely immune to the power of verbal communication.

Also from Graham: Mallory, Novosel put fight in Irish

There’s also some Charlie:Rapid Reaction: Texas A&M-Stanford and some group analysis: Defense leads Aggies to title game

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Articles to read to fill the time until tip off:

From Curt Rallo at the South Bend Tribune: Notre Dame women’s basketball: Irish not afraid to cut loose

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said that she has allowed their team to develop its own identity, and that its looseness is an asset.

“I really have adjusted well to them,” McGraw said. “I just try to stay out of their way. I really try to stay away from them as much as possible game day, pregame. They’re loose, they’re singing, they’re dancing, and I want them to have their own personality. I don’t want to try to impose my will on them. So I’ve really let them pretty much dictate how things are going to be. And if it gets loud, that’s great, because that’s when they’re most comfortable.

Cheryl Coward at Hoop Feed has a little Video: Texas A&M’s Sydney Colson talks about facing the Ogwumike sisters

Happy Birthday, NCAA tournament: Women’s basketball Final Four turns 30 – Women’s basketball had large obstacles on the way to its current stature

I don’t want to say they’re lucky,” said Debbie Oing, who will be watching on ESPN, “but they are.”

Oing played in the 1973 Final Four, conducted by the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW), and became Indiana University’s first women’s basketball All-American two years later. She played for a graduate assistant coach. She bought her own gym shoes. She paid her own way. Her Hoosiers backcourt mate, Tara VanDerveer, now coach of Stanford, did the same.

IU, like most schools, provided no women’s scholarships.

Stacy Clardie at the Journal Gazette asks: Great, or the greatest? Moore in conversation as best women’s player ever

Yet when Moore was asked what she makes of this conversation and where she ranks among the game’s greats, she responded in typical modest Moore fashion.

“I don’t get to hear it a whole lot,” she said with a glance over at coach Geno Auriemma, which drew laughter from reporters. “So I really don’t have an opinion about it.”

From Aggie Sports: Texas A&M women’s basketball notebook

Texas A&M head women’s basketball coach Gary Blair, feeding off the underdog role, went Hoosiers on the Aggies at the end of practice Saturday at Conseco Fieldhouse.

From Vickie Fulkerson at The Day: Huskies’ point guard guarding against freshman moments

For a good part of the season, UConn coach Geno Auriemma busied himself haranguing his 18-year-old freshman point guard, Bria Hartley. He reminded Hartley on more than one occasion that she was about to become the program’s first point guard since Jen Rizzotti (1993) to commit more turnovers than she had assists.

Now comes the Final Four.

Jere’ at the NY Times has: UConn’s Kelly Faris Has Been There Before

When Faris arrived at UConn last season as a freshman, Auriemma told her, “My goal is to see whether or not kids from Plainfield, Ind., have teeth because I’ve never seen yours and I’ve known you for three years.”

She is as stoic on the court as he is animated, playing with a solemn determination, betraying no more emotion than a Politburo member at a May Day parade.

If this were a team of gymnasts instead of basketball players, Faris would be the spotter, quietly and dutifully making sure that all landings were soft and controlled. She guards the opponent’s best player, leads UConn in minutes played, and ranks second to Maya Moore with 6.7 rebounds per game, 137 assists and 68 steals.

The ESPN crew has:

MV: Contrasting strengths face off in Indy – Stanford’s versatile, experienced offense vs. Texas A&M’s ferocious, physical defense

Top senior point guards clash in semis – ‘Less is more’ for Stanford’s Jeanette Pohlen; A&M’s Sydney Colson ‘keeps it simple’ and

A tutorial of Texas A&M traditions

Maybe you’ve never seen the joyous zealotry that goes with Texas A&M athletics. Or maybe you have but weren’t sure exactly what it was you were seeing.

I really didn’t know until the Big 12 began 15 years ago, although I’d been a sports fan all my life. But once the Texas schools merged with those of the conference I had grown up with, the Big Eight, we Midwesterners had to catch up on a lot of Lone Star State traditions.

And no school has more of those than Texas A&M, home of the “12th Man” in football, the Corps of Cadets, yell leaders and the phrase “Gig ’em!” — among other things.

GH: Faris may split time on Diggins, Novosel – Huskies’ defensive specialist likely given task of slowing Irish star guards

Posts Peters, Dolson could deliver big – Notre Dame senior back after multiple knee injuries; UConn frosh coming into her own

Notre Dame forward Devereaux Peters is excited to be on familiar footing as Sunday’s national semifinal against Connecticut approaches. But before anyone starts making space on the bulletin board, it’s neither the fourth meeting with a rival nor Conseco Fieldhouse’s Indiana ZIP code that has the Big East Defensive Player of the Year smiling.

Forget the surroundings. After suffering a torn ACL in her left knee twice in the span of 10 months in 2008 and trekking the long road back to full health, Peters is just happy to once again be familiar with the player inhabiting her own jersey.

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(oops.)

Chat Review! From Mechelle:

Bob (College Station): Mechelle, how about that atmosphere for the A&M-Baylor game in Dallas…they say regional finals are always some of the most tense games because it’s win and you’re into the Final Four…You agree?

Mechelle Voepel: I was trying to think if I’ve ever been at a regional final that was quite like that one in Dallas – where you had a big crowd with a lot of fans from *both* schools from the same state and the regional itself was in the very heart of that state. And considering how fun and passionate the rivalries are between all the Texas schools. And how many of the Baylor and TAMU players are from Texas. AND … that Gary Blair is from Dallas. There was so much about that regional final that was hard to duplicate anywhere else. I feel lucky that I was there. And it was pretty emotional, actually watching the Baylor and TAMU players in the post-game handshake, because they respect each other. Particularly the way the TAMU players all hugged Baylor senior Melissa Jones … that was a pretty moving scene. And yes, regional finals can be among the most pressure-packed and emotional games you’ll ever witness.

Also at ESPN (Which is doing a *sarcasm on* GREAT job of burying their writers’ work *sarcasm off*):

Did you catch Sport Science and Maya?

There’s other video (it’s great to have Nikki on the team, no?):

Mechelle writes: Final Four isn’t what most predicted – But there will be a key rematch, a team chasing a three-peat and a first-timer

Graham writes: Final Four features different makeups

Charlie asks: Is Stanford favorite in wide-open Indy?(And I say, “Umm, yaaaaah!”) – Guard play between Cardinal’s Pohlen and Texas A&M Sydneys tandem is key matchup

He also says, UConn favored, but little margin for error

The crew tries to pick who’s gonna win now that the teams are set. There’s also these picks: Cardinal (not UConn) a unanimous pick.

W0ndering who DID get the picks right? Andrew Feldman has the Final Four brackets by the numbers

With two No. 1 seeds and a pair of 2-seeds in the women’s Final Four, 3,751 brackets (0.01 percent) in the Women’s Tournament Challenge had the correct four teams.

Upsets by No. 2 seeds Notre Dame (beating top-seeded Tennessee in the Dayton Regional final) and Texas A&M (knocking off Baylor and Brittney Griner in the Dallas Regional final) might have accounted for most brackets — 119,976 — getting just two of the Final Four teams.

Michelle Smith is working hard over at espnW: Five storylines to watch in Final Four

Jere’ at the New York Times writes of Notre Dame/UConn: For Winning Team, the Fourth Time Will Be the Charm

Notre Dame will have the Texas A&M upset to draw upon. It also carries momentum from its first victory against Tennessee in the Dayton Regional final, which came after 20 consecutive defeats to the Lady Vols. And the Irish will not be awed by UConn after losing twice this season by fewer than 10 points.

“We will definitely reference Texas A&M, the fourth time’s a charm,” Notre Dame Coach Muffet McGraw said on a conference call. “I think it’s going to be a mental hurdle to get over. It’s difficult, I hope, to beat a team four times.”

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— as in the four teams are ready for the Final Four. Which explains why my reaction to the games last night is a tad musical.

Killing the Blues is just what UConn did.

First Georgetown, and then Duke. The Blue Devils kept it close in the first, but then Maya did her Roadrunner impression (beep! beep!), and the Huskies were off to the races. Duke’s offense suffered from bad decisions and Connecticut’s found its groove: 24 assists on 32 baskets. The end result? A deju vu-esque 35pt win. Write Rob at DWHoops:

Duke kept it interesting for a half, but they once again were blown out by the UConn Huskies. The Blue Devils didn’t accomplish any of the pregame goals I outlined in our DWHoops game preview, and they paid for it with the worst NCAA Tournament loss in Duke history. Rebounds? UConn led, 40-27. Tempo? UConn ran the ball down Duke’s throat, with a 12-4 edge in fast break points. Shot-making? Duke shot an excruciating 25% from the floor. The Devils hustled and scrapped to stay within 3-6 points for most of the first half, thanks to some timely shooting by Shay Selby and the usual hustle by Jasmine Thomas. Duke was within 3 points with under four minutes to go, and one could see UConn start to wear down a bit. Maya Moore and Tiffany Hayes both picked up 2 first-half fouls that were silly. The Devils not only were unable to capitalize, they inexplicably didn’t hold the ball for the final possession of the half. They missed 2 late cracks at the basket and gave Moore enough time to hit a shot at the buzzer, giving UConn the double-digit halftime lead they wanted so badly. Then the Huskies shot an absurd 72% in the second half against a Duke defense that had completely broken down.

Graham on Maya:

As the story goes, at some point during the team’s stay in Philadelphia, sophomore Kelly Faris’ mom gave her daughter a paddleball, partly in jest for a team that finds a way to compete at anything and everything, if also as a way to kill the tedious hours of hotel time that come during the postseason. Faris, Stefanie Dolson and Lauren Engeln promptly spent a good portion of an evening passing the paddleball, and the corresponding record for consecutive hits, back and forth. Welcome to Connecticut basketball.

But when the new toy made its way into wider circulation on the bus soon thereafter, Moore wanted to know why she hadn’t been included in the initial record chase.

“We said that we didn’t want to invite her the first night because she probably would have been up until 5 in the morning trying to break it,” Faris said. “But she told us it wouldn’t have taken her that long.”

For Texas A&M, it Feels Like the First Time, as their third time against Baylor proved the charm. The Aggies took an early lead, survived foul trouble, got a lot of help from Sydney 1 and Sydney 2, and now are going to the Final Four for the first time in program history. Writes Joanne Gerstner at the New York Times:

In most ways, it’s hard to make 6-foot-8 Baylor sophomore star Brittney Griner disappear. But Texas A&M found the magic wand Tuesday, reducing Griner’s normally game-changing play at center into a non-factor.

Mechelle on coach Blair and the Aggies:

It all began in this city for Texas A&M coach Gary Blair, literally. He was born and raised in Dallas, graduating from high school in 1963, the year JFK was assassinated here.

He served time in the Marines, then went to Texas Tech and played baseball. In 1973, he started coaching the South Oak Cliff High girls’ team in Dallas. It was a job not many would have wanted, but Blair saw something in the sport that captured his imagination as a certified sports junkie. He recognized what was beautiful about a sport with such growth potential.

Michelle Smith has Five storylines to watch in Final Four

Tim Newcomb at Time magazine says the Final Four is A Lesson in Staying Power

Ann Killon at Sports Illustrated Breaks Down the Final Four.

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Duke v. UConn

From Rob Clough at DWHoops.com: A Preview

The Match-Up: My earlier preview of UConn covered their players and the match-ups pretty succinctly. The potential advantages Duke possesses– depth, size, rebounding — were all neutralized by UConn in that game with enormous ease. UConn sagged off Duke and dared them to shoot jump shots, which they did reluctantly. When Duke started missing those jacked-up threes, UConn ran their break to perfection and blew out to an early lead. UConn was very careful to limit Duke to one shot while running them out of the building. The keys to this game are obvious. Duke has to win the rebounding battle. They not only have to limit UConn to one shot, they have to get multiple cracks at the basket, because they simply don’t shoot the ball as well as the Huskies. Second, Duke has to control the tempo. It’s not just that UConn’s running game is incredibly precise with great spacing, it’s that they gain energy while they do it.

From Vikie Fulkerson at The Day: Facing great expectations, UConn will try to reach its 12th Final Four

“Probably 1990, before we went to our first Final Four (in 1991),” he said, asked when the Huskies were last without the pressures of reaching the pinnacle of success. “I think once you get to the Final Four and you get to experience all of that it becomes an even bigger goal than what it was before you got there.

“Everyone envisions what it’s like to be there. Any season that doesn’t end in that feels like a disappointment.”

Texas A&M v. Baylor

From the AP’s Krisite Rieken: Adams must step up for Aggies to get past Baylor

Texas A&M’s Danielle Adams wishes things were different.

But when talking about her performances in the Aggies’ three losses to Baylor this season, there’s really only one way to put it.

“I’ve been playing bad against them the first three times,” she said. “I’ve been taking bad shots and just rushing my shots and just allowing them to play good defense on me.”

Also from Kristie: “Green and Yellow” not just for Packers

Baylor loves Lil’ Wayne’s tune “Green and Yellow,” a remix he made for the Green Bay Packers during their run to the Super Bowl.

But they have a request.

They want the rap star to pen a version for them as they try to make their second straight Final Four.
“Come on Lil’ Wayne, you need to go ahead and put a little Baylor in there for us,” said star Brittney Griner, who has the tune on her playlist.

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From David Horn at  the Dallas Morning News: Baylor’s Griner has skill set not seen in women’s basketball

That Brittney Griner changes the dynamics of the game every time she plants her size 17 shoes on a court is beyond debate.

She’s 6-8 with a 7-foot, 4-inch wingspan. But she’s no lumbering giant. She’s blessed not only with exceptional size but with the athletic ability to run, jump.

A little video and, from Berry Tramel at the Oklahoman: Sooners’ Danielle Robinson doesn’t let sickle cell trait slow her down

Good thing the blood disorder was discovered. Now the Sooner staff can monitor Robinson during “extreme situations,” Coale said.

What other kind of situation is there for Dani California?

The senior point guard plays basketball like her hair’s on fire.

From Jim Massie at the Columbus Dispatch: Tennessee full of confidence, quick players

Glory Johnson smiled when she said it.

With the cool, even tone of a Western gunslinger, Johnson offered this certainty about the Ohio State women’s basketball team and its chance to win a shootout in an NCAA Tournament regional semifinal with Tennessee today in the University of Dayton Arena.

“I know for sure they can’t run with us,” said Johnson, a junior forward for the Lady Vols. “We have quick posts and quick guards. And I think if we can push it, we can use that to our advantage.”

From David Cladwell at the New York Times: On UConn’s Bench, a Little Size in Reserve

Moore, guard Kelly Faris and the reserve guard Lorin Dixon share an on-campus apartment with Buck. Buck’s roommates know how difficult her college career has been, and how badly she wants to contribute. They say they are thrilled that she is healthy enough to play again.

“I was really proud of her, the way she stayed so positive through it,” Moore said, referring to Buck’s injury. “She’s not a starter, but she has maturity, as far as putting the team first. She’s still growing, and I really don’t know if her role is set in stone yet. When she goes up and plays with reckless abandon, it boosts us when she can show that aspect of her game.”

Check out Cheryl’s great per-game list of articles on the Sweet Sixteen games at Hoop Feed.

Curt Rallo at the South Bend Trib has: Smallbone a leader for Tennessee

“I think seniors help with focus and keeping the team ready to play,” said Smallbone. “Angie and I, the two seniors, we’ve been to the Final Four, so we’ve seen what it takes. It’s our responsibility to try and carry that over by having good solid practices and preparation. Being as prepared as possible is very key, especially with scouting and knowing the different teams. You have to lead by example, be vocal and hold people accountable.”

At Swish Appeal: Ohio State, Tennessee Prepare For Survival Of The Fittest In Sweet 16

After covering the last home game for Michigan State, I was able to see a team that I didn’t recognize: “THE” Ohio State Buckeyes.

Now mind you, these were the same players and same uniforms but not the same team. As in year’s past, Ohio State had developed a reputation as a team that doesn’t always play up to their potential. But that game in Lansing showed a tenacity and fire that seemed to be absent for most of the season.

Elliot Almond at the San Jose Mercury: Super sophomore subs steady Stanford women’s basketball

They stand 6-foot-3, wear their blond hair in ponytails and cite versatility as the hallmark of their games.

The similarities don’t end there for Stanford sophomores Joslyn Tinkle and Mikaela Ruef, whose bench roles have dramatically increased on the eve of the Sweet 16 matchup Saturday night against fifth-seeded North Carolina.

Coach Tara VanDerveer said they could determine how far the second-ranked Cardinal (31-2) goes as it tries to reach its fourth consecutive Final Four this weekend in Spokane.

Scott Venci at the Green Bay Press Gazette: UWGB players stands tall among nation’s elite

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay women’s basketball team has turned a roster of players unwanted by big schools into one of the top teams in the nation.

UWGB arrived here on Friday in preparation for its Sweet 16 game against Baylor on Sunday with a cast of characters who have proven it’s not always physical attributes that makes a player successful.

Sometimes it goes much deeper than that.

I honestly would love to know who runs Sports Illustrated.com. When you go to their Women’s Tourney page (as bookmarked by SI) you get this AP article by Kristie Rieken on the Aggies: A&M focused on matchup with Lady Bulldogs

BUT, if you search on the site with Richard Deitsch, you get these articles including Region-by-region breakdown of women’s Sweet 16

Avert your eyes, Charles Barkley. The Big East has produced five of the Sweet Sixteen teams in the women’s tournament, including top overall seed Connecticut, which stormed through its first two games as expected. (The Big 12 is next with three teams, including Baylor and Texas A&M.) Among the Sweet Sixteen games of note: Feisty Wisconsin-Green Bay (32-1), which has won a nation’s-best 25 straight, meets Baylor and Brittney Griner in Dallas. Top-seeded Tennessee has a tricky game against a sizzling Ohio State in Dayton, and the winner of Gonzaga-Louisville in Spokane will be stunningly one game away from the Final Four. Here’s a quick reset of the tournament.

Because I got a heads-up from a reader, you also might find this article by L. Jon Wertheim: Towering Power – Led by Brittney Griner, a 6’8″ center who plays above the rim with incomparable skills, Baylor is poised to win its second national championship in six year.

Want a vivid illustration of the success of Title IX? Take a tour of the women’s basketball facilities at Baylor University. The Lady Bears play in front of exhilarated home crowds as large as 10,569 (the record), routinely outdrawing their counterparts on the Baylor men’s team. At halftime the players repair to an NBA-quality locker room, flush with a kitchen area, a whirlpool and a theater-style screening room. The players’ dressing stalls are outfitted with individual flat screens and DVD players.

On off days the team runs through its sets at its own gym in the practice facility. The irrepressible coach, Kim Mulkey, has an office with a private bathroom and a balcony overlooking the practice courts. “Ask me what my budget is, I can’t give you a dollar figure,” says Mulkey, whose salary tops $1 million annually. “But I can tell you this: I’ve never been turned down for anything I’ve asked for. We don’t want for anything.”

In basketball’s version of the chicken-and-egg conundrum, it’s debatable whether the luxe trappings lure elite players who win games or whether the elite players who win games generate the luxe trappings. Regardless, this we do know: Waco, Texas—home to the Dr Pepper Museum, Rudy’s gas-station barbecue and more trucks than cars—is a new hotbed for women’s hoops.

Why do you think these articles aren’t ‘neath the Women’s Tourney tab? Are the webmasters just dingbats, or is SI running a subtle campaign of obfuscation of their women’s bball coverage so they don’t have to do it any more…..

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Point guards lead the way in Sweet 16

We may be living in the year of the quarterback, but March will always be the month of the point guard.

When the Sweet 16 gets under way on Saturday afternoon, some of the biggest stars on the court will be the smallest players on the court. From eight standout seniors looking to play at least one more game to four freshmen who appear ready to battle for bragging rights for years to come, the weekend’s most intriguing subplots may come from duels between players who do considerably more than merely bring the ball up the floor.

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to the previous night’s drama. But yesterday did feature a significant upset as well as a couple other tasty surprises. Says our pal Doug Feinberg of AP: Two rounds done; women’s tourney full of intrigue:

The Stomps:

#1 UConn wasn’t working to earn style points, just survival points. Their defense stymied the #9 Boilermakers and Connecticut notched the win, 64-40. Writes Mechelle:

…next up is fifth-seeded Georgetown in the Philadelphia Regional semifinals. And there’s a possibility that the Huskies could also face a Big East team in the regional final (No. 3 DePaul) and the national semifinals (Dayton No. 2 Notre Dame).

UConn has not lost to a Big East foe since Feb. 5, 2007, when the Huskies fell 73-71 at Rutgers. The Huskies’ record in league play since 2005-06 is 93-3.

#7 Rutgers didn’t have the horses to keep up with Texas A&M’s Danielle Adams, and the Aggies moved on rather effortlessly, 70-48.

#9 West Virginia didn’t have the horses, or the ladders, to keep up with Baylor’s Brittney Griner and the Bears won 82-68. Writes Mechelle:

Players who are disappointed in an aspect of their performance frequently say that it will fuel them to improve. Frankly, it doesn’t always happen. But in the case of Brittney Griner and free-throw shooting, it has.

The Trip Ups:

# 6 Oklahoma raced out to a lead, then resisted the urge to fold in the face of a Hurricane comeback, surviving to knock off #3 Miami 88-83.

#3 Florida had the lead at the half, but #6 Georgia clawed their way to escape with the 61-50 upset.

Graham gets to keep on following them ’cause #5 Green Bay won their 25th straight. They also earned their first trip to the Sweet 16 by taking down #4 Michigan State, 65-56. Writes Graham:

The slippers fit for Green Bay, but they aren’t made of glass. And there is no midnight curfew on this party.

As Green Bay prepared last week to leave for Wichita, Kan., and the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, senior Kayla Tetschlag and junior Hannah Quilling distributed some unconventional wardrobe accessories to teammates who otherwise spend a lot of time clothed in the not-quite-emerald hue that makes their city famous. For the trip to Kansas, players donned ruby slippers like those worn in “The Wizard of Oz” by Dorothy, perhaps that state’s most famous fictional resident. Only it turns out there is a slightly different takeaway to this telling of the classic adventure.

Home is nice, but it will be there in another week or two. For this team, there’s no place like the Sweet 16.

The Stomp Trip Ups:

#5 Georgetown was all over #4 Maryland from all over. The Terps didn’t hear Kara’s advice (Umm, maybe guard #14?) and Sugar Rodgers’ 34pts powered the Hoyas to a 79-57 rout. A little ESPN Quick Dish:

When Georgetown’s Sugar Rodgers, already 5-of-6 from the 3-point line at the time, saw the shot clock about to expire late in the first half of Tuesday’s game against Maryland and tossed up a one-handed push shot that arced high in the air and banked in off the glass, she just shrugged her shoulders, put her hands out wide and retreated to the defensive end. Sometimes it’s just your night.

And the Hoyas couldn’t have picked a better one on which to live up to their coach’s inner shooter.

It was worse than the final score suggests. #2 Xavier had the lead and then went ice-cold as #7 Louisville got red hot (As did Schimmel) and took down the Musketeers, 85-75. Says Graham:

As good as Xavier was throughout the careers of Amber Harris and Ta’Shia Phillips (not to mention oft-overlooked point guard Special Jennings), it had a way of courting disaster in the postseason.

And considering what Louisville freshman Shoni Schimmel can do with even a sliver of daylight, you can’t open the door of opportunity when she’s wearing the other uniform.

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Graham’s got the Bracket’s five burning questions

Mechelle talks about the Conference Redux: League foes could meet for fourth time – Baylor-Texas A&M, Stanford-UCLA have already played three times this season (Add Notre Dame and UConn to that list, MV)

They’re chatting about the bracket selection process with Doc McNeil, eh?

Wanna vote on it? Go here.

Michelle Smith at espnW writes:

The conclusion isn’t so foregone, now is it?

Connecticut hasn’t won every game this season. The Huskies aren’t invincible or unbeaten, and the 2011 NCAA women’s basketball tournament doesn’t look like an exercise in inevitability.

Let’s not get crazy, however. It might not be wise to immediately write Connecticut’s name in pen at the end of your bracket, but this isn’t exactly shaping up to be a wide-open tournament.

The top seeds are formidable and experienced. They are No. 1 for very good reasons. Connecticut, Stanford, Baylor and Tennessee have a combined record of 123-7 this season.

She also has a piece for Inside Women’s Basketball: The Cardinal Rule

More details on the Fearsome Foursome’s Final Four picks. (Though only three talk)

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For those lobbying for Texas A&M getting a fair shot at a #1 spot, last night’s 71-67 loss to Kansas State was demoralizing.

Speaking of demoralizing, I bet Oklahoma enjoyed beating in-state rival Oklahoma State by 15. (And congrats to Coach Coale, who was named the Lemons/Hanson Award winner)

Jones-less Baylor stomped all over Missouri to clinch their second Big 12 conference title.

Oh, yah, the CAA tourney ought to be fun: UNC Wilmington lost to James Madison by 2, 79-77 and Old Dominion got beaten by Drexel, 65-51.

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didn’t pass Carolyn’s “one eye test.” They got themselves blown out by Texas A&M as Danielle Adams went off for 30 and 13. Writes Brent Zwemerman at the San Antonio Express-News:

Following yet another Danielle Adams basket — this time from beyond the 3-point line in the second half — Adams turned to play defense, and allowed herself a few skips of delight near midcourt en route to another Texas A&M prance past a Big 12 opponent.

The rest of the ranked teams held form as it was Marquette over Providence, Notre Dame over West Virginia and UConn (ugly) over Seton Hall.

A note about the Seton Hall team. Last year they scored 24 points against UConn. Total. This year they put up 59. What a difference a coach makes? From Anne Donovan:

“I think most of the girls came and watched the New York Liberty [who she coached last season], so their hunger has really helped me. Who I have been able to coach, what my background has been with the Olympics and the WNBA, they are hungry to get whatever they can from me. That has helped me from the credibility standpoint. I have coached a long time so there have been a lot of different situations and different rosters and trying to bring out the best in the rosters that I have had and that has helped me throughout my career.”

Phew! That was the sound of Bowling Green (11-3 in the MAC) escaping with a 2pt win over Akron as Lauren Prochaska hit a 3-pointer from the left corner with 0.2 seconds to go in the game.

Tennessee Tech is now 14-3 in the Ohio Valley conference.

I’m not sure Elaine Elliott would have enjoyed coaching this season: The Utes fell to TCU, 71-60, and are now 6-8 in the Mountain West.

I can understand why the Huskers might be cranky this season, but 76-34 over Missouri? Ouch.

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we take a peek at yesterday’s games. Writes Psued:

With four games to go in the regular season, Tennessee has a three
game lead for first place in the SEC. Georgia is in second place, and
Kentucky and Vanderbilt round out the remaining four. Georgia plays
all three of these teams in the closing stretch, so the seeding for
the SEC tournament is still a guess.

Now, for the games:

Alabama upends Florida in new, historic arena.

Auburn finds its footing and hangs on for a road win over Arkansas.

South Carolina rallies for a win on the road against Mississippi State.

Georgia beats Ole Miss on the road.

There’s also some former SEC player news: Catchings, UT work together to help students and Former Lady Vol Tamika Catchings’ foundation aims to help Knox County students

Oh, great. More stupid sh*t, this time between Bethune-Cookman and Maryland-Eastern Shore. What is up with the MEAC?

LadySwish called it: VaTech’s first ACC win.

Appalachia State (15-2/Southern) squeaked by the Lady Mocs. That’s their 11th straight and first win at Chattanooga since 1998.

The Fighting Owls (Come at me Bro) stunned Florida Gulf Coast, 63-52.

Ouch, Centenary is still 0-for. Maybe if they played St. Francis, NY?

Speaking of upsets, it was the Roos over the Eagles as UMKC took down Oral Roberts for the first time since 2006, 81-77.

Joe Logan’s Loyola (MD) team is now 12-2 in the MAAC.

#24 Marist continued its roll through the MAAC, defeating Canisius by 12.

The Valentine’s Day Massacre at Storrs is a little too painful to review — what with the pink and the idiotic Maya-cam (Making a mockery of OU-UConn women’s game). But, it’s hard not to agree with Graham:

We live in a world where it increasingly, quite literally, pays to be cynical. And Moore isn’t the divine incarnate on a basketball court. But she is the best player in the country. More importantly, she’s the kind of player who can make a Monday memorable, if for no other reason than she plays every game and every possession as if it should be.

Probably the most interesting coming out of the Oklahoma/UConn game was Mike Thibualt’s discussion of Moore’s future in the W:

“You also don’t have a third of your schedule or more where you know you can just show up and win. We don’t have a game on our schedule that we can just show up and win. Not one.”

Instead, there are nightly individual wars.

“Maya makes an East Coast road trip, she starts in Atlanta,” Thibault said. “She gets McCoughtry the first night. She gets Nicole Powell the next night. She gets Katie Smith or Alana Beard the third. She gets Tamika Catchings the next. … Out West. let’s go to DeLisha Milton guarding her. Then Swin Cash, if they haven’t knocked her head off by then. You go to Phoenix and Penny Taylor. She’ll be looking at the schedule going, ‘Who do we get where I don’t have to die?’

“She’s going to have a target on her back from every player that guards her in the league. It’s the nature of the new young gun. That’s the reality of pro basketball.”

It was a more interesting game in Waco (btw, what happened to the focus on coaches staying in their box?), where it looked like Texas A&M had the right blueprint to defeat Baylor, and then Griner said, “Not in my house.” Wrote Mechelle:

there’s a deep sense of familiarity that makes this matchup seem like it inevitably will be close. And the Aggies — unlike the other teams in the Big 12 and most of those across the nation — can reasonably believe they really are good enough to not only hang with Baylor, but actually win.

However, that belief — and a career night from Texas A&M’s Tyra White — wasn’t enough Monday at the Ferrell Center to stop the No. 1 team. Baylor’s fans got a little scare, but the players themselves never seemed panicked. It surely helps them to know that once the Brittney Griner wrecking ball has broken through a wall, there’s no stopping it from knocking down the building.

Q weighs in with: What Texas A&M Proved Against Baylor: Who should join the Big Three as Final Four favorites? and Baylor’s 67-58 win over Texas A&M: Why the highlights don’t do this game justice

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