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Missed this one from March 5th: Not the Knicks – Success Runs Deeper Than All the 3-Pointers

 About an hour before the start of an afternoon practice last week, Kaneisha Atwater shot dozens of 3-pointers as a wall-mounted computer called the Noah Instant calculated the trajectory of each attempt.

The Noah, as the machine is known around Alico Arena, has become a rudimentary part of life for the women’s basketball team at Florida Gulf Coast University. The Eagles love to shoot 3-pointers — few teams in the country make more — and they spend hours trying to perfect the craft.

And this on the Tigers: Like Kentucky Men, Princeton Women Close In on Perfection

Courtney Banghart, the women’s basketball coach at Princeton, believes one pivotal defeat has put the Tigers on the cusp of a historic regular season.

That loss, 80-64 at home to Penn, came in the regular-season finale last year and denied Princeton a fifth consecutive Ivy League title. Afterward, Banghart acknowledged, “The moment was a little big for my youngsters.”

Still, she thinks the Tigers grew immensely from that setback, which became a rallying point.

Apparently CBSports will be broadcasting the 5pm game. I’ll be taking Amtrak down to Philly for my first trip to the Palestra.

On the opposite side of the coin – really bad decisions have really bad consequences: SWAC suspends 15 over fight

Texas Southern imposed its own penalty on the women’s basketball team, withdrawing from the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament that begins Wednesday.

That move Monday night came hours before the conference handed out suspensions for 15 players involved in the bench-clearing fight between the Lady Tigers and Southern on Saturday night. It’s believed to be one of the biggest number of suspensions in NCAA women’s basketball history.

Job openings at

Kansas: Bonnie Henrickson fired after 11 seasons

Utah: Utah fires women’s basketball coach after two injury-riddled losing seasons

Austin Peay: Austin Peay State University Lady Govs Basketball Coach Carrie Daniels contract not renewed

Cool! N.D. CLASS B GIRLS BASKETBALL: Mother coaches daughter, Minot Ryan to state championship

Kindred came out firing on Saturday night.

Still, it couldn’t be sustained against the well-oiled machine that is the Minot Ryan girls basketball team.

The Lions made their move late in the first half, eventually securing their third consecutive Class B state championship with a 68-52 victory at the Minot State Dome.

Ryan (26-1) joins Bottineau as the only programs to win three straight.

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basketball world is still working hard for their Dancin’ Shoes.

Considering the start of their respective seasons, I would have thought Green Bay would be the one sitting home and Bowling Green would be packing for the tournament. Instead, Ball State stunned the #25 Phoenix with a stomping’ – 73-55. They’ll go up against Akron (another “surprise” winner, this time over Central Michigan, who’d lost POY-DPOY Bradford to a knee injury) for the MAC championship.

Horizon: Green Bay took care of UIC , and so they’ll host the Wright State Raiders, who clubbed the Penguins, 98-70, to decide who gets their ticket punched.

Hampton is rollin’ in the MEAC but they won’t be challenged by North Carolina A&T, because they fell to Coppin State, 57-55.

C-USA comes to Southern Miss v. MTSU. Getting there was harder than one might think for the #1  in conference, who faced upstart Florida International. But the Blue Raiders prevailed, 64-57. Southern Miss rode the hot hand of senior point guard Jamierra Faulkner (C-USA’s all-time leader in assists) to take down U-TEP, 84-70.

In the SWAC, Texas Southern (20-11, 15-3) needed OT (of course) to escape Jackson State (15-15, 12-6), 79-77. They won’t have to go up against their regular season challenger, Southern (20-8, 16-2), ’cause they were wiped out by upstart Prairie View A&M (13-17, 11-7), 72-43.

It took TRIPLE overtime, but Colorado State continued its fabulous Mountain West season by defeating Wyoming, 95-92. They’ll face traditional MW powerhouse Fresno State in the finals.

WAC: Still a chance for a Vandal (or two) in the Tourney for the second year in a row. Idaho, who’s 15-1 in the conference, came back from 6 down at the half over New Mexico State. In the final, they’ll face Seattle U., which has had a balanced season (16-15) which usually doesn’t mean Dancin’ would be an option. BUT, they defeated CSU Bakersfield, 84-79.

Big West: Cal Poly v. CS Northridge.

Sometimes the team that is supposed to win can still be the underdog. Sometimes Goliath is the better story.

It won’t qualify as a surprise if Cal State Northridge earns a place in the NCAA tournament bracket. The Matadors won the regular-season championship in the Big West, their first, and are the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament that concludes this weekend in Anaheim. They enter Friday’s semifinal against the lowest remaining seed (ESPN3, 3 p.m. ET) with Big West Player of the Year Ashlee Guay on their side, as well as the conference’s top defender, Camille Mahlknecht, and two more all-conference selections, Janae Sharpe and Cinnamon Lister.

They aren’t overwhelming favorites, not after edging a crowded field by a game in the regular season, but they are first in line to earn the one and only NCAA bid the league will get.

Patriot: Holy Cross v. Army.

Say what you want about history repeating itself but Saturday’s Patriot League championship matchup between Army and Holy Cross is about 2014 and not about the epic 2006 matchup that made late coach Maggie Dixon famous.

Dave Magarity was Army’s associate head coach that season. Magarity and the current Army team watched video of the 2006 title game this week in an idea that was part motivation, part history lesson. Members of that championship team have sent messages of support to the current players, and some will be on hand for the 6 p.m. contest.

Big Sky: Could there be a team from North Dakota in the Tournament? UND will go for their first shot at a D-I spot (UND appeared in 19 NCAA Division II national tournaments.). In their way: Montana, who came back from 13 down to defeat Southern Utah, 73-69. Last match-up tween these two teams, went Montana’s way, 52-49.

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but it ain’t me: SDSU INTERIM WOMEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH LEAVES FOR USC

Jualeah Woods, the interim women’s basketball head coach at San Diego State following the unexplained retirement of Beth Burns, was hired as an assistant on Cynthia Cooper-Dyke’s staff at USC. Technically it is a downgrade for Woods, who spent eight years at SDSU and held the title of associate head coach under Burns.

Speaking of Cooper: Texas Southern names new head women’s basketball coach

Ella Vincent writes:  Brittney Griner Is Revolutionizing Women’s Basketball – Will Brittney Griner’s coming out break down the “feminine” wall of women’s sports?

Basketball star Brittney Griner is one to watch for many reasons. She came out and revealed she was gay before she had her first professional game aft for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. She is one of the rare athletes to come out as an active player. It was a moment that showed how far America has progressed-but also how far it still has to go. Google her and “Brittney Griner man” shows up as often as her dunks when she played for Baylor University. More disturbing than the comments about her being a man are the attempts to make Griner feel ashamed for preferring pants over dresses. However, with Griner set to debut on the national stage this summer, can butch female athletes be free to express themselves?

Angela Hattery offers: Homosexuality and Professional Sports: A lesson from Brittney Griner to the NFL

On April 15 th , 2013 Brittney Griner, arguably the best player in women’s college basketball, was selected as the number one pick in the WNBA draft; she was drafted by the Phoenix Mercury and will play alongside the legendary point guard Diana Taurasi.   Three days later SportsWorld buzzed with the news that Brittney Griner had “come out” as gay.   

Critics pondered how Baylor, as a conservative Baptist institution, would deal with Griner’s announcement given that the Baylor student handbook reads in part:

The University affirms the biblical understanding of sexuality as a gift from God. Christian churches across the ages and around the world have affirmed purity in singleness and fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman as the biblical norm.

  Her coach, Kim Mulkey, while acknowledging that Griner was taunted and harassed during her career “professed ignorance” of her players’ relationships.

The official Baylor comment is that they will not “call out” Griner given that she has brought so much positive attention to the university.

Anyone else callin’ “bull” on Mulkey and  Baylor’s “ignorance”?

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You take over a program which went 5-26 overall and 2-16 in the  *name withheld to protect the idiots* conference in the previous year. Two years ago, it also managed to win five total games.

Going to be a looooong rebuilding process, right?

Hmmm…maybe not. Look what happens:

You win a school record 15 games in a row.

You win a school-record 19 games this season, finishing the regular season at 19-10,16-2 (*name withheld to protect the idiots* Conference).

You guide the team to their first-ever *name withheld to protect the idiots* Conference regular season title.

You manage this with no players on the First “All *name withheld to protect the idiots* Conference” Teams. You do have one on the Second team, and one on the Third team.

No, you didn’t recruit her, but you coach up the *name withheld to protect the idiots* Conference Freshman of the Year.

So, who’s not your COY? Cynthia Cooper.

The SWAC is WACK.

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Pretty good, if you’re a SUNY-New Palz fan

The crowd’s chant began with a minute to play and reached a crescendo at 5:43 p.m. Saturday in the Hawk Center when the SUNY New Paltz women’s basketball team started celebrating.

The chant was “SUNYAC champions.”

New Paltz won its first-ever State University of New York Athletic Conference championship, defeating Geneseo 64-53.

With the title comes an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III tournament. The brackets will be announced 2:30 p.m. Monday on NCAA.com.

Ditto if you’re a fan of Hope: Women’s basketball loses to Hope in final seconds of MIAA tourney finals

Hope women’s basketball team came out on top of a closely fought game Saturday afternoon, winning the MIAA tournament championship game 62-59, and gaining an automatic bid to the NCAA D-III tournament.

Super ditto if you’re a Red Hawks fan: At 25-0, Montclair State women’s basketball a surprise juggernaut

For a few rare and ultimately fleeting seconds, the Montclair State University women’s basketball team is actually losing, but the school’s most famous hoops alumna is anything but worried.

“The game is young,” Carol Blazejowski says from her movie theater-style box seat, situated in the top row of the modest bleachers at MSU’s Panzer Athletic Center. It’s a sentence said casually, confidently, the way you might describe the arrival of a train running a minute or two behind schedule.

Pretty good if you are a Tigers fan: Princeton University women’s basketball conquers 33rd straight Ivy League foe, a Buffs fan: Arielle Roberson leads CU Buffs to victory – Colorado struggles on offense, but wins sixth in row, or a fan of Marist, FGCU, Charlotte (Hey, Graham! Hint! Hint!, Green Bay, Albany, Dayton, Toledo, Gonzaga, BU, Texas Southern (First SWAC title in school history. Hey, Graham! Hint! Hint!), Chattanooga, Pacific (Program record for wins), San Diego State, Baylor, UConn, Notre Dame (Triple Double Diggins) and Stanford (CO sets school rebounding record: 24).

Duke fans know their chances for a Final Four were dealt a significant blow when Gray went down. The Blue Devils didn’t miss a beat, though, taking down Florida State and Maryland in comfortable fashion.

St. John’s still on a roll.

Staying in New York: Fordham got a great win over St. Joe’s. Had to take the Hawks to OT to earn their 10th A-10 win and their first 20-win season in 19 years.

A little agita on the sidelines for Tennessee coaches (win), Kentucky coaches (loss), Quinnipiac (win – NEC Champeens), Syracuse (loss – to that feisty USF team), Cal (win) and Southern (loss- giving Alcorn State their 2nd SWAC win), Delaware (win, by the hair on their chinny-chin-chin) and TAMU (lossVandy’s Clark for 30.).

More Bracketology means a road game for Notre Dame?

Let’s get right to addressing the glaring issue in this week’s projected bracket: Notre Dame, a No. 1 seed, potentially would have to play LSU in the second round in Baton Rouge, La.

The pairing obviously is not an ideal situation. However, it’s also not unprecedented. And while the committee (and I) will try to avoid such a scenario, sometimes it just can’t be helped.

The problem started with the addition of St. John’s to the field. That brought the total number of host schools in the tournament to 15. In other words, all but one sub-regional (Columbus, Ohio) will include a host school. That’s great for potential tournament attendance. It’s also a bracketing nightmare.

Nice find from FOB Sue: Miss Basketball’s son carves out his own stellar career

For a while, the chants rang out from the home student section earlier this winter at Concord’s McCuen Gym every time Memorial’s Markese McGuire touched the basketball.

“Your mom’s better! … Your mom’s better!”

There’s any number of ways the chants could’ve been taken.

If the history-appreciating fans meant that McGuire’s mom is better than their own moms — actually an about-face on what all loyal sons once claimed on the playground — well, yeah, that’s a fairly safe bet.

After all, Kim (Barrier) McGuire is still the only Indiana Mr. or Miss Basketball that Elkhart County has ever produced.

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didn’t get T’d up earlier in the game for her on-the-court wanderings? (I thought that had been a point of emphasis.) When she finally did earn a double T, WaPo thinks the damage was significant: Maryland women’s basketball falls to Duke, 71-56, after Coach Brenda Frese is ejected.

Mechelle seems to echo their headline:

Then Monday, Gray took command against Maryland, not just offensively but as the spark plug of a defensive effort that made things really hard for the Terps. Alyssa Thomas and Tianna Hawkins were a combined 7-of-30 from the field, totaling 20 points. The Terps had 24 turnovers.

Yet despite Maryland’s struggles, the Terps were down just 57-50 with 4 minutes, 3 seconds left. It was still a winnable game for Maryland, which was pretty remarkable all things considered.

But then Thomas missed a shot, Gray got a layup, and Frese lost her cool. Actually she seemed on the verge of that all night. Two technicals during a TV timeout sent Frese to the locker room and Gray to the foul line.

It wasn’t a particularly elegant game — unless you were Chelsea Gray — as the Blue Devil press harassed the Terps into a ton of TOs and some poor decision-making on offense.

“Just a great, physical game – an excellent game to help prepare us for the NCAA tournament and the way those games go,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said.

“So that was important to us – to be physical and play against a physical team.”

The Notre Dame-Louisville was a little more elegant — if you were a member of the Fightin’ Irish. Says Al Lesar: Notre Dame women’s basketball: Message: Get out of ND’s way

Every defensive stop. Every drive and bucket. Every spot-up 3-pointer.

With every Notre Dame possession, the gap between women’s college basketball’s elite and the rest of the pretenders got wider.

The “haves” (Baylor, Notre Dame and Connecticut) really have it. The “have-nots” don’t have a clue.

Louisville came into Purcell Pavilion Monday night ranked No. 10 in the country. The Cardinals left as another overwhelmed victim of the second-ranked Irish after Notre Dame administered a 93-64 spanking.

CARDINAL COUPLE columnist Sandy Walker provides today’s report on the game in South Bend last night.

In other games of interest, yes, Texas Southern kept on winning, but was a squeaker against (5-20) Grambling State, 59-58. Southern couldn’t keep up, getting SWAC’d by Mississippi Valley State, 61-57.

In the Southern, Chattanooga put some distance between themselves and Davidson as they earned a win over UNC Greensboro and the Wildcats got surprised by the College of Charleston, 74-71.

Hampton continued to roll in the MEAC.

Yes, Florida Gulf has the right to say the A-Sun is “Mine, ALL MINE,” but Stetson is determined to make keep it interesting.

An important Big 10 win for Nebraska, on the road against Iowa.  Perhaps it’s because the Unofficial mascot, Basketball Head, brings support to NU women’s basketball. (Is it just me, or do the I’s in Iowa/Iowa St. stand for inconsistent?)

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Not an easy year for Semeka Randall’s Ohio team: they’re 0-10 in the MAC.

On the flip side, it’s the Great Danes of Albany at 11-0 in the Am. East. BU is trying to keep pace (10-1). Of course, it’s more about pride than the conference tournament, since they won’t be invited. Why? They’re moving to the Patriot League next year.

Speaking of the Patriot League: The Leopards made it a game, but Navy prevailed in OT, 60-42. Coaching at any Service Academy ain’t easy, but coach Pemper has done a nice job since arriving in -08.

FGCU (12-0 A-Sun) is still soaring. This time, their victim was USC Upstate, 72-49. Interesting commentary by David Moulton: Time for the A-Sun to set in FGCU athletics history

Six years ago, the Atlantic Sun conference was FGCU‘s savior. They were there when no one wanted the university.

FGCU has done well by the A-Sun and vice versa.

For example, just this year FGCU had the best volleyball, men’s soccer and women’s soccer teams in the conference with both soccer squads winning titles and earning NCAA berths. Both basketball teams are in first place with the women having not lost an A-Sun game in two years. The softball team is the defending conference champion and both the softball and baseball teams are pre-season favorites this year. Throw on top of that a Top 50 swimming/diving program and Florida Gulf Coast University is arguably the best athletic program in the A-Sun.

Which would be great if the Atlantic Sun conference wasn’t dying.

The Fightin’ Camels of Campbell (8-5) are trying to keep the Big South close by taking down conference top dog Winthrop (9-3), 84-69.

Cynthia’s Texas Southern is still winning. They now stand at 10-1 in the SWAC. Clearly, the runaway COY in the conference. They’ll face Southern, their best competition, on the 28th. The Jaguars (10-2) got surprised by Arkansas Little Rock (4-8), 59-50.

It was all Chambers for K-State (34,12,4), but she couldn’t overcome Iowa State’ Poppens and Christofferson.

That’s why sometimes a dunk is not just two points: it gets your teammates up and motivated: Baylor wipes the floor with Texas, 75-48. (Speaking of Baylor: Baylor women’s basketball transfer Destiny Brown enrolls at University of Delaware.)

Fresno State had a chance to claim the top spot in the Mountain West, but San Diego State  said, “No thank you, that spot is still ours.

Davidson (11-1) kept pace with Chattanooga (13-1) in the Southern by taking down Appalachian State, 56-49. The Mocs dismissed Elon, 63-40.

Again, it’s a long journey to recovery, but IUPUI is now 7-3 in the Summit. Of course, they have to face the Jackrabbits next, who may be looking for revenge. SDSU thumped Oakland, 83-48.

And again, I’m just sayin’: St. Francis (NY) wins again.

I’m sorry “I saw you,” Sam Houston: the Bearkats go down to their Southland conference challengers, 52-48.

It took OT, and 26pts from Smith, but St. John’s is still clinging to the NCAA tourney bubble — which is nice, since they’re a host.

Northern Colorado is on a roll, with back-to-back wins over the Montanas. They’re now a half game out of the top spot in the Big Sky.

Green Bay continues to be the class of the Horizon, dispatching Milwaukee, 64-49.

Couple of huge upsets: Bradley, (10-12, 4-7 in the MV) shocked Wichita State (16-7, 10-1). In fact, it wasn’t even close: the Braves by 20. #2 and #3 in the conference met, and the Redbirds of Illinois State took it to Creighton in the second half, capturing the 66-60 win.

Middle Tennessee (18-6, 13-2 Sun Belt) may have overlooked Troy (5-18, 2-12). IN Murfreesboro, the Trojans took the Blue Raiders to OT, and didn’t fade. MTSU goes down, 74-70.

It took 3OTs, but Arkansas finally got the win over Alabama, 91-80.

In the battle of the Tu’s, Tulsa used a strong second half to send the Green Wave to a loss.

The two top dogs met in the MAC (West & East), and Toledo topped Ball State, 68-64, but only after blowing a 20pt lead. The Cardinals will have a change for revenge on last day of conference play, March 6 @ Toledo.

Whyte did everything she could to keep Arizona in the game (26, 7, 8) but she couldn’t stop Cal from getting their 9th win in a row.

Charlotte gave St. Joe’s their first conference loss, and now there are four one-loss teams lurking behind Dayton. Actually, three, ’cause Dayton beat Fordham. But, unlike previous years, it wasn’t a cakewalk.

After the Lions roared away from Michigan State, the Big 10 is a bunch of teams looking up at Penn State – Purdue, Nebraska, Michigan and Illinois.

Fittingly, Delle Donne breaks Dawn Evans’ CAA scoring record against JMU. I’m sure she’s happier that Delaware got the win, 71-64. Oh, and the Hens’ pre-game trick shot was pretty cool, too.

In a battle of two teams who may have coaches feeling the heat, NC State raced away from Clemson, 79-45.

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which turned out to be a whole lotta Skylar.

From Curt: Irish, Diggins hold off late Tennessee surge and  Irish, Diggins rain on Vols’ parade

“I think this was a great win in a hostile environment in front of a great crowd that made for a great game,” said Irish coach Muffet McGraw. “It was an electric atmosphere. They came out with a lot of emotion and got up early. I thought we maintained our composure.”

From Mechelle: Notre Dame notches first win in Knoxville

After viewing the film “The Impossible” (family struggles to survive/reunite after the 2004 tsunami) and a major tearjerker “Downton Abbey” episode (no spoilers for you stragglers who are still in the dark), I figured I did enough blubbering over the weekend.

So I was really hoping for a great, old-fashioned, fun, competitive, down-to-the-wire basketball game on Monday night. Well … we almost got that.

From Daniel Benjamin at the Examiner: No. 2 Notre Dame staves off late challenge from No. 9 Tennessee

From Cory Bernard at The Observer: Rocky Topped – Diggins scores a career-high 33 points as the No. 2 Irish down Lady Vols in Knoxville

At GoVolsXtra, Dan writes: Skylar Diggins scores 33 to lead Notre Dame past Lady Vols – Notre Dame executes as expected

Hard to miss Skylar Diggins Monday night, but Tennessee somehow lost her anyway.

The All-American cut down the lane unimpeded early in the second half, as if she was jogging through a park. She received a pass and scored a layup.

John Adams writes:  Lady Vols could have used a boost from past

The Lady Vols raised a banner in honor of former coach

Pat Summitt in pregame ceremonies as some of their greatest players looked on at courtside. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t script the game.

All-Americans Michelle Marciniak,Chamique Holdsclaw,Tamika Catchings and Candace Parker joined the rest of the crowd in a pregame standing ovation for Summitt, who led the program to eight national championships. But their contributions were limited to cheering.

“I wanted to put them in,” UT coach Holly Warlick said with a smile.

Speaking of folks who wear orange, Mechelle writes about Oklahoma State’s Toni Young.

Basketball most definitely was not Oklahoma State senior Toni Young’s first love. From the time she was a little girl, she was captivated by art and wanted to draw all the time. Hoops wasn’t even in the picture.

Basketball wasn’t her second love, either. That was volleyball, the first sport that she really embraced.

Basketball was something that other people thought Young should pursue, as was track and field. Young initially wasn’t too keen on either one — to say the least — when she finally took them up in high school.

“I didn’t start basketball until my sophomore year,” Young said. “And then I got forced into track when I was a sophomore, too. My coaches and my brother made me do it; I hated it then. But it was something I was good at, so it became a hobby.”

Young grins now as she recounts this, because it sounds preposterous. She was an All-American in the high jump at the NCAA outdoor track meet last summer (placing fifth) and then competed in the U.S. Olympic trials. That’s some hobby.

I haven’t jinxed Texas Southern yet: they took down Alabama State, 74-40.

Belmont is making some noise in the OVC. Their win over Morehead State puts them at 8-2 in the conference.

Okay, yes, they beat up on the Blackbirds, but I just need to say this: St. Francis (NY): 4-4 in the NEC.

I doubt they’re a threat to Quinnipiac, who move to 8-0 in the NEC. They don’t play St. Francis (PA) until Feb. 16th.

Yup, Hampton has set themselves up as the class of the MEAC, taking down rival Hampton handily: 67-45.

Sienna stayed even with the Red Foxes in the second half — but not in the first. Marist is now 8-0 in the MAAC.

They took the pedal off the medal in the second half, but that didn’t prevent Green Bay from securing the win over Wright State — and an 6-0 record in the Horizon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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before the second half of last night’s game, you might have heard this.

That was the sound of Indy girl Kelly Faris revving up to take over the game.

Consider what Rebecca Lobo wrote in her preview piece, Duke ready for big stage:

Chelsea Gray

I haven’t seen a better passer in the open floor than Duke’s Chelsea Gray. The junior point guard has superb vision and strength to make passes that others cannot. She already has more than 100 assists on the season, and many have come from no-look and highlight-reel passes. She has tallied two triple-doubles already this season and a 15-assist game (versus Clemson). If you haven’t seen her play, it’s worth tuning in to this game just to check out Gray.

Now consider what Graham wrote after witnessing Ms. Gray’s encounter with Ms. Faris: Faris delivers ‘one for the ages’: Huskies win with decisive second half, hand Duke its first loss of season

Faris finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals. Duke point guard Chelsea Gray — who spent a good portion of the night the subject of closer attention from Faris than President Obama received from his Secret Service detail during the day’s inauguration events in Washington, D.C. — finished with two points on six shots, four turnovers and a look of incalculable frustration.

Indeed, the numbers didn’t tell the whole story. They never do with Faris.

The interesting game we saw unfold in the first half turned into a Faris clinic on defense, offense and intensity. The end result? A two-point game turned into a 30-point blowout.

Mel was there to witness (ONE “s” Mel, ONE “s”): Faris solidifies star status as No. 3 Huskies rout No. 4 Blue Devils

“There have been a lot of great players and legends play in this building wearing the Connecticut uniform,” continued Auriemma, whose seven NCAA titles is just one short of Tennessee coach emeritus Pat Summitt’s collection. “But I don’t know if anyone has ever represented themselves, their family, and the University of Connecticut the way Kelly did tonight.

“I know there’s a lot of players out there that are really good … there’s a lot of All-Americans but man oh man, that was one for the ages right there.”

From Clay, we get: Duke takes another dive against UConn

In an epic second-half collapse, previously unbeaten No. 4 Duke unraveled like a cheap shirt, leaving nothing behind but shattered egos and yet another hammering at the hands of the unforgiving Huskies.

Of course, UConn is No. 3 for a reason – well, actually many reasons, but one of them is depth. In this game, for example, the Husky bench outscored the Duke bench 23-9; and two of the Blue Devil starters combined for four points.

Rob chimes in from DWHoops with a Nutshell and Analysis.

Areas For Improvement: Above all else, communication. A season’s worth of being slow to close on shooters, blocking out smaller teams and relying on talent instead of teamwork came back to haunt Duke in this game. They were thoroughly outplayed and outcoached, as UConn made a number of adjustments going into the second half while Duke basically kept doing the same thing. Coach McCallie was never able to find a way to stop the bleeding during the run and get her team’s attention.

In Michigan, the Wolverines were game, but the Lions were gamer. Penn State wins, 59-49.

“It was a quality team and they just wore us out,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “I guess that’s why they’re probably No. 8 and we’re probably No. 23 at this point because they had four more minutes than we did.”

Nice to see I didn’t manage to jinx Texas Southern — they easily handled Mississippi Valley State 58-47.

Stetson (school-record 11th consecutive victory) and FGCU were equally immune to the WHB jinx. (You can watch the Hatters/Eagles showdown at 7:05 Saturday, televised by Comcast Sports Southeast)  Ditto with Quinnipiac, which stifled St. Francis (PA) in the first half and then secured a 85-69 victory.

Obviously, by not mentioning them, I assured the Wichita State a 70-51 victory over Drake. The Shockers are now 5-0 in the MVC.

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Staff should have been more careful: Dual roles tough, but Mulkey needed to avoid any conceivable impermissible contact

Women’s basketball, just like any other sport, has its constantly churning rumor mill. And in regard to Baylor’s recruitment of center Brittney Griner, the fact that coach Kim Mulkey’s daughter, Makenzie Robertson, and Griner were on the same DFW Elite Basketball club team, along with other current Baylor players, was grist for the mill during that process.

Thus, the news broken by ESPN.com’s Jason King on Monday that national champion Baylor is facing possible NCAA sanctions — on top of already self-imposed penalties — for violations that include improper contact with Griner and her father during recruiting didn’t completely shock those who follow women’s hoops.

That said, the rumor mill is so active, it seems like out of every 25 or so rumors you hear, one might actually result in NCAA penalties as a consequence. Does that ratio sound bleak? I guess it does, but it’s partly because there really isn’t merit to all the rumors … and partly because the NCAA simply doesn’t have the investigative force to dig into every one of them.

Who knows how the dust will settle, but Richard Deitsch believes the Baylor Lady Bears lead preseason women’s basketball top 10

In more other coaching news: there were rumors of Cynthia Cooper moving to the west coast — she did didn’t get that far. Following on the news that Coach Wells-Broughton was leaving Texas Southern, comes word that Cooper-Dyke has resigned as UNCW women’s basketball coach, and now she’ll be the new women’s coach at Texas Southern. It’s a move that Dan Spears of the “Cheap Seat” wonders about:

It’ll be a return to familiar territory for Cooper-Dyke, who played professionally for the WNBA Houston Comets and got her first collegiate head coaching job at Prairie View A&M, just outside the city.

The biggest question at this point isn’t, “Why” … but “Why Texas Southern?” … The Southwestern Athletic Conference is a clear step below the CAA as far as level of play, facilities, etc.

In other coaching news, the Hustle Belt is Digging Deep Into Eastern Michigan’s NCAA Violations

As many of you well know, AnnMarie Gilbert — formerly the head women’s basketball coach at Eastern Michigan — resigned recently amid mention that an investigation of the NCAA violations that had been committed last season was still ongoing. Suss himself expressed surprise at this move, given a) the incredible success Gilbert has had as coach (.595 win pct.) and b) the seemingly tame nature of the violations — that the team had regularly gone over the NCAA rule of no more than four hours per day and 20 hours per week of basketball related activities (practice, film, games).

I was initially going to reference a recent espnW article titled “The Glass Wall” about how Title IX has been a boon for women’s athletics everywhere but in the coaching ranks, and how reading that article made me wonder if Gilbert might ever coach again now that she has temporarily stepped away.

I still have that same wonder, and I still strongly urge you to read the article, but my focus is no longer the same — I’m now wondering if Gilbert deserves to coach again.

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