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

#8 team scores 62 in forty.

#11 team scores 61 in forty.

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

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

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

In other games:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In other news:

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

Yes: Ohio State winning despite lack of size

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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(Just a little shout out to my co-workers and some of the fabulous teachers I’ve worked with this year.)

That groan of relief is every single team enjoying the approach of All Star Weekend (though the All Stars themselves will not be gettin’ a ton of rest.). LA is looking forward to the return of Parker, Minny is looking forward to…no more injuries. Tulsa is (not so much) looking forward to packing their bags for Texas. Unfortunately for my friends in Arkansas, I have to agree with Mechelle: Hard To Argue With Relocating Shock From Tulsa To Dallas.

The Liberty ended on a high note, finishing their west coast trip on a win streak. While a 12-5 record is lovely to look at, I’m not quite ready to drink the koolaid (and this headline makes my stomach turn). “Why so cynical, Helen?”

Well, yes, they’ve won five in a row for the first time since 2010, and they have a bench, and there’s excitement in the Garden, and winning means coverage – a rarity here in the Big Apple. But.. yes, they beat the “surprising” Mercury, but they barely beat the undermanned Storm and Sparks. That being said, this is a season where everyone is down a player (or two. or three) and so everything is up for grabs. I’m really looking forward to the Libs’ two games against Chicago (Away August 7, Home August 11th), ’cause yeah, Elena Delle Donne takes game to even higher level. USA takes notice, too! (though I’m having some issues with the headline (Maybe I’m just feelin’ cranky? See below). Gives me an opportunity to post this:

College: 

Idiots: Multiple IPFW women’s basketball players cited for alcohol possession.

At least they weren’t driving. This past season, Eastern Michigan’s incredible resiliency after the death of teammate Shannise Heady in a car crash earned national attention. What seems to have stayed local was the reason for the crash: Heady was speeding. And drunk. Drunk after celebrating a victory with her teammates.

Kentucky’s Epps was in a car.

I’m waiting for colleges to really take underage drinking seriously and driving-while-drunk doubly serious. Yah, yah, yah, everyone does it. So what?

So people get killed. A scholarship, whatever the form, is a privilege. You damage your university, your team, yourself or, worse, someone else….you make the call.

International/USA Basketball: The U-19 Quarters are on tap Friday via Youtube

Spain vs Belgium
Russia vs France
China vs Australia
USA vs Canada

BTW, congrats to Kia Nurse (and Canada) who beat Moriah Jefferson and Breanna Stewart (and the US) for PanAm Gold.

“She was unbelievable,” Stewart said of Nurse. “That’s what she does, she attacks. And whether it was the 3-point shots or driving for the basket, that’s what she does, and that’s what she does at UConn. She put Canada on her back tonight and led them to this win.

“From start to finish, she was scoring, and we didn’t have an answer for her.”

The Canadian women’s basketball program has made HUGE strides these past few years. And I imagine UConn’s early practices will be full of trash talking, eh?

Speaking of trash talk: Interesting… 

Even though North Carolina likely won’t respond to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations for another few weeks, one of the school’s former women’s basketball players fears she knows what’s coming.

 Meghan Austin expects the Tar Heels athletic department to sacrifice its tradition-rich women’s basketball program in hopes of avoiding serious punishment for its two biggest revenue producers, football and men’s basketball. 

Austin, a 2008 North Carolina graduate currently coaching at Montreat College, penned an editorial for the Raleigh News & Observer on Monday accusing the Tar Heels athletic department of already showing signs of making its women’s basketball program “the scapegoat.” Austin noted that men’s coach Roy Williams got a contract extension earlier this summer but women’s coach Sylvia Hatchell has thus far not received the same show of support.

Speaking of another program that’s got worries: Experts: UI women’s basketball allegations unusual in scope

Two leading sports diversity experts say racism can be found across women’s college basketball, but not to the extent alleged in a federal lawsuitfiled earlier this month by seven former Illini.

“It’s something I haven’t seen before,” Richard Lapchick told The News-Gazette. “It’s pretty stunning.”

And a little post kerfuffle fallout: South High’s Ericka Mattingly withdraws women’s basketball commitment from Wichita State

On the flip side, here’s some leadership by Khadija J Head: SAME-SEX MARRIAGE AND COLLEGE COACHING

MY EXPERIENCE

I remember when I was hired at Pittsburgh. Coach Berenato asked me if I was coming by myself or was my partner coming with me.

I was floored.

But because I hadn’t told Coach Berenato that I was gay. It was the first time a Coach cared about me as a person and my happiness. It was an amazing feeling…one I hope everyone gets a chance to experience.

You know what I always hated. Using the phrase…oh, that’s “my FRIEND”. Really what in the hell is that?

We have all used that verbiage to describe our partners in order to avoid awkward conversations. That’s borderline disrespectful and grounds for breaking up lol.
Yet, they stay by our sides and endure “the FRIEND” zone because you are a college coach. It’s unspoken law (career suicide) that you do not openly admit that you are in fact NOT just “FRIENDS”.

Well, the U.S. Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, says Love is Love.

So I say again, now this is interesting or should I say this will be interesting. How many college coaches’ bios will change in August now that same-sex marriage is legal throughout the United States.

Oooooo, this ought to be a fun weekend! AP Source: Sherri Coale to Enter Women’s Basketball Hall. Great crew joining her (Missouri State guard Jackie Stiles, Olympic gold medalist Natalie Williams, longtime official June Courteau, Texas girls high school coach Joe Lombard and the late AAU girls basketball official Bill Tipps. The 1996 U.S. women’s basketball Olympic team will receive the Hall’s trailblazer award.) but I would walk to Knoxville just for the opportunity to hear what Sherri writes.

Thank you (N.J.): Attridge retired having played a large role in girls athletics

Kevin Attridge, who this school year ended 43 yeas of coaching four different girls sports at Mater Dei Prep when he retired as outdoor track and field coach, remembers his early years of coaching when gender equity and Title IX first came into practice in the early 1970s.

“It was seeing the kids adapt to change. That was the cool part of coaching,” Attridge, 68, said.

Attridge said he decided to retire from outdoor track and field in December, the last of the four sports where he built his coaching legacy. A year earlier, he decided to stop coaching indoor track and field after reviving the program in 2000. He stopped coaching cross-country three years ago and also ended a 27-year run of success in girls basketball in 1999 with a 485-187 record.

WATN? Los Gatos, Saratoga: Former WNBA All-Star, two-time Olympic gold medalist Bolton visits Golden State Warriors camp

Speaking of where are they now, did you catch John Altavilla’s tweet: Geno also says participation in this year’s Maggie Dixon Classic looking doubtful because no opponent has been found.

*Cue sound of chickens clucking* Hey, coaches, this is the MAGGIE DIXON Classic. It honors an amazing woman had has become a huge event at Madison Square Garden, ushering in the return of college women’s basketball. Who’s going to show some spine and step up?

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No rest for the weary over at USA Basketball:

USA Basketball Women’s World University Games Team Roster Features Five USA Basketball Gold Medalists

The 12-member roster for the 2015 USA Basketball Women’s World University Games Team, which was announced following three days of trials that featured 51 athletes at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, features five USA Basketball gold medalists, including Jordin Canada(UCLA/Los Angeles, Calif.); Diamond DeShields (Tennessee/Norcross, Ga.); Rebecca Greenwell(Duke/Owensboro, Ky.); Erica McCall (Stanford/Bakersfield, Calif.); and Mercedes Russell(Tennessee/Springfield, Ore.).

Playing on their first USA Basketball team will be: Nina Davis (Baylor/Memphis, Tenn.); Chanise Jenkins(DePaul/Chicago, Ill.); Brionna Jones (Maryland/Havre de Grace, Md.); Aerial Powers (Michigan State/Detroit, Mich.); Courtney Range (California/Manteca, Calif.); Sydney Wiese (Oregon State/Phoenix, Ariz.); and Courtney Williams (South Florida/Folkston, Ga.).

Northwestern University head coach Joe McKeown will lead the 2015 USA Women’s World University Games Team, and he will be assisted by Holly Warlick from the University of Tennessee and Tanya Warren from the University of Northern Iowa.

Nneka Ogwumike Has Memories And Aspirations From The 2011 World University Games

During the competition, often alongside her sister, Chiney Ogwumike, Nneka observed many other sports, some of which she had never seen before, as a way to support the USA and her alma mater, Stanford University, which had several athletes competing in various events.

“I was lucky in that my sister and I met up with 10 other Stanford athletes. We saw a lot of our classmates. We actually watched them compete in their sporting events, which was really cool. I was really excited to watch our men’s volleyball team, because we had three Stanford athletes on that team. The games were super exciting.”

In addition to meeting up with classmates, Ogwumike made new friends in the village, which is something she advises the participants of the 2015 World University Games to do.

Roster Named For U.S. Pan American Games Women’s Basketball Team

Following three days of trials that featured 51 athletes at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the 12-member roster for the 2015 U.S. Pan American Women’s Basketball Team today was announced and features seven players who have won at least one gold medal with USA Basketball.

The retuning gold medalists include: Linnae Harper (Kentucky/Chicago, Ill.); Moriah Jefferson(Connecticut/Glenn Heights, Texas); Stephanie Mavunga (North Carolina/Brownsburg, Ind.); Tiffany Mitchell (South Carolina/Charlotte, N.C.); Kelsey Plum (Washington/Poway, Calif.); Taya Reimer (Notre Dame/Fishers, Ind.);and Breanna Stewart (Connecticut/North Syracuse, N.Y.).

Playing on their first USA Basketball team will be: Sophie Brunner (Arizona State/Freeport, Ill.);Alaina Coates (South Carolina/Irmo, S.C.);Caroline Coyer (Villanova/Oak Hill, Va.); Shatori Walker-Kimbrough(Maryland/Aliquippa, Pa.); and Courtney Williams (Texas A&M/Houston, Texas).

The University of Iowa’s Lisa Bluder will lead the 2015 U.S. Pan American Women’s Basketball Team, along with assistant coaches Michelle Clark-Heard of Western Kentucky University and Scott Rueck of Oregon State University.

Some nice “Catching up with…videos on their site.

In the crossover world of NCAA and USA sits Doug Bruno, who reflects on 29 years and looks to future

From Georgia: Retirement looks good on Andy Landers. Casual is his color.

Andy Landers, former Georgia women’s basketball coach and current caretaker of cows, announced his retirement in mid-March, leaving Georgia women’s basketball not only in search of a new leader but also a new identity.

“When you have been as good as they have been for so many years, you become synonymous with your school and it’s really hard to differentiate Georgia from Andy,” University of Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma said. “If you were talking about Georgia basketball, the conversation always started with Andy. He was unique. In the women’s basketball circles, there just weren’t many guys like him.”

Landers spent 36 seasons developing a program, players and personal relationships with everyone he encountered. He was the Lady Dogs.

Yikes. This is sounding ugly: Illinois women’s basketball assistant coach leaves program under storm of accusations

The Daily Illini obtained letters addressed to Chancellor Wise that were sent by the families of Jacqui Grant, Taylor Tuck and Taylor Gleason, which detailed verbal and emotional abuse on the part of Bollant and Divilbiss.
**
One of the claims made by the letters, which was echoed by Lydia Tuck and LaKeisha Coleman — Amarah Coleman’s mother — was that Bollant and Divilbiss enforced what was called the “Dog Pound.” The “Dog Pound” was the team’s group of nonstarters, and was required to go to extra practices.

“I told him the dog pound is where strays go,” Lydia Tuck said. “It would be different if Illinois’ mascot was Huskies or Wolves.”

Lydia Tuck’s other daughter, Morgan, was a starter for the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team, which won the 2015 National Championship. Lydia said Morgan’s time at UConn has been “night and day different” from what Taylor has experienced at Illinois.

The Hartford Courant has All The News You Need To Get Ready For WNBA Season

From Jayda: Jenny Boucek in ‘natural spot’ as Storm’s coach

Jenny Boucek loves redemption stories.

She can relax on the couch with a glass of wine and freely ride the emotions of a favorite flick such as “Dirty Dancing.” But before you characterize Boucek’s return to head coaching in the WNBA as redeeming, know this is not that. (WHB history note: Remember this and this from Mechelle back in ’09?)

 “It’s not about me at all,” she said of being named the Storm’s fourth coach in the franchise’s 15-year history. Boucek was an assistant in Seattle from 2003-05 and the past five seasons under previous coach Brian Agler.
“People are feeling it is right for me to be here right now, and I feel it’s right, so I’m here,” she said.

Mixed news for the W’s Shock: Glory Johnson absent from Shock training camp, but Riquna Williams back from injury

From the Republican American: Being best takes on new meaning for Taurasi

Shortly after her college career ended, she was selected first overall in the WNBA Draft by the Mercury. That first season she not only won Rookie of the Year honors but was also named to the All-WNBA first team, and then she finished up 2004 by winning an Olympic gold medal and an ESPY for being the best female athlete in the world.

Her career hasn’t slowed down since then. She’s won three WNBA championships (2007, 2009, 2014), two more Olympic gold medals (2008, 2012) and five EuroLeague titles (four with Spartak Moscow, 2007-10; one with EMMC Ekaterinburg, 2013).

“It may sound corny, but from the day I graduated I said, ‘I am going to totally give myself to this, and I want to make sure that at home and around the world everyone knows how good I am,'” Taurasi said. “There was no way I was going to be part-time. I am a full-time basketball player and have been the 10-11 years. I always believed that if you are not playing basketball, you are not getting better.”

Ddd you catch Diana on Grantland?

Cool: Schimmels, McCoughtry part of seminar panel

Former University of Louisville women’s basketball players Angel McCoughtry, Shoni Schimmel and Jude Schimmel will be among the speakers at next Thursday’s Inspiring Women ENERGY Seminar Series at the KFC Yum! Center. The event is hosted by the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream – McCoughtry and Shoni Schimmel’s team.

The luncheon, scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., is being held in advance of the May 23 WNBA preseason doubleheader at the arena. The topic for the luncheon will be “The Future of Women in Sports Leadership”

Not so cool, as the beat(down) goes on, this time from the Boston Globe: Isiah Thomas, WNBA a disturbing match

Now, the WNBA Board of Governors will decide whether Thomas is ownership material. Asked about the approval process, WNBA president Laurel Richie said the league would “collect background information” on Thomas, but she declined to discuss whether that would include a reexamination of the sexual harassment case. Richie emphasized that she had “great respect for the process and great respect for our Board” and anticipated thoughtful discussions.

That’s the restrained and responsible thing to say. But even with the process barely under way, the right and responsible thing to do is clear: Keep Thomas out of the ownership ranks. 

Arizona Central: Boivin: Just say no to Isiah Thomas, WNBA

No. No. No.

Approval would send a horrible message to young girls who look up to a league that has been groundbreaking in terms of giving female athletes opportunities.

Sexual harassment should be punished.

Not rewarded.

Fox Sports says Phil Jackson reportedly ‘not happy’ with Isiah Thomas’ hiring by Liberty (Though I have a funny feeling it’s more about PHIL’s future, not the message the hiring sends)

I wish some of these “non-ESPN folks” articles would mention the elephant in the room. Blocking Dolan’s idiotic wishes will likely cost the league the New York Liberty…

On the opposite side of the spectrum: Thank you: Retirement awaits for longtime girls sports advocate Marie Sugiyama

As a young woman, Marie Sugiyama would take any game.

Pickup softball? Sure. Field hockey? Yup. Even that weird thing they called girls basketball that wasn’t really basketball? That game with 12 players on the court and rules about who could and who could not cross the half-court line?

Sure, Sugiyama said yes to those offers, too, but that version of basketball had to rankle. Sugiyama, 79, never did like people telling her or other women where they can go, what they can do, what line they can cross.

Sugiyama, who next month will retire as the commissioner of the North Bay League after 42 years on the job, started her journey as a tomboy who liked to play whatever sport was out there. But she finished as a local hall of fame coach, athlete, administrator, teacher and champion for all young athletes, but especially female athletes.

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finish some stuff at work. But, before I go…

Here are a couple of write-ups on the US V China game. As per usual with the recent Auriemma teams, the US started slowly and China played fearlessly. Eventually, legs & stamina and better offensive flow won out.

USA Opens FIBA World Championship With 87-56 Win Over China

“It’s the kind of game that you would hope to have as the first game of the tournament, where you have to play really well against China defensively because they do a lot of good stuff on the offensive end,” said USA head coach Geno Auriemma (University of Connecticut). “And we didn’t make any shots in the first half at all. I think in one possession we had six shots at the basket, and five of them were inside a foot-and-a-half, two feet. So, when we went in at halftime we talked about it, and then stuff started going in. So, it was good that we started the game in the first half under a little bit of duress and we finished the game on a high, so that’s great going into tomorrow against another really good team in Serbia.”

From Mechelle – Team USA Is More Than Just OK  – They weren’t flawless, but the Americans still dominated China in opener

The day before the United States faced China in the teams’ opener at the FIBA World Championship for Women, the Americans did their best to explain why — regardless of whether they really thought so — they might face some difficulties.

They said the Chinese were going to play hard, they would execute well, they would be persistent, they had size on the perimeter and they were not going to act intimidated.

But the best quote the American side had about Saturday’s game came from Angel McCoughtry, thanks to her simple honesty: “I think we’ll be OK against China.”

From Lee at Full Court: Griner throws down historic first Women’s World Championship dunk while leading U.S. to 87-56 win over China

 She’s arrived.

Brittney Griner may have been late to the Team USA party, but on Saturday’s opening day of the 2014 FIBA World Basketball Championship for Women at Abdi Ipekci Arena in Istanbul, Turkey, she finally arrived on the world basketball scene in her first major international competition. It was quite a debut!

From Nick Z: Brittney Griner leads U.S. past early China test in Worlds opener

Favorite moment? The Dunk? The announcers “Ack SENT on the wrong syLAble of NO’s name? Augustus’ ridiculous move? No. Maya’s dance (?) move in REACTION to Augustus’ play. Too funny.

WILL be back for US v. Serbia on NBATV & ESPN streaming (why isn’t there a 3/4 mode for the video display???). Until then, here be some notes from the hard-working folks at USA Basketball:

Making an historic first appearance at the FIBA World Championship, Serbia in its opening game was up 22-10 over Angola after the first quarter, and continued to roll to a 102-42 victory on Sept. 27 in Istanbul.

All 12 players scored for Serbia, led by 16 from Jelena Milovanovic (8-13 FGs) and 15 points from Dajana Butulija (6-11 FGs, 2-4 3pt FGs). Serbia scored 29 points off of 27 Angolan turnovers, outscored Angola 43-12 off the bench and outrebounded Angola 40-25.

“We haven’t seen much of them,” said USA head coach Geno Auriemma. “We didn’t see them in the Czech Republic or London. But, I had seen them when we were scouting the European Championship. They’re really tough. They’re really aggressive. They put a lot of pres- sure on you with their defense. They play an aggressive kind of offense, where they’re attacking you all the time. It’s a country that has a tremendous culture of basketball.”

USA vs. Serbia: All-Time Record

USA Basketball women are 1-0 all-time against Serbia, having played the nation once at the 2009 World University Games preliminary round.

The USA’s team featured current U.S. members Tina Charles and Maya Moore.

After a first-quarter fight from Serbia, which was host- ing the 2009 WUGs in Belgrade, the USA buckled down on defense and held its opponent to just 36.7 shooting from the field overall to secure a 84-50 win and Group A’s No. 1 seed headed into the second round. Charles, who shot 8-of-10 from the field, led the USA with 17 points.

The USA went on to capture gold with a 7-0 mark, while host Serbia finished in 11th place with a 3-4 record.

Join the twit-versation at: https://twitter.com/usabasketball

There are other games going on, btw, so check out http://www.fiba.com/turkey2014 for news. Here’s something on the Canadians.

Now I MUST go to work and start packing!!!!

P.S. And yes, we know that ESPN has screwed up and not uploaded the archive of the US game (other games, yes.) I know annoyed UConn fans are doing everything they can to ensure that ESPN is on the problem, weekend or not!

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Bill Wall has died. From USA Basketball CEO/Executive Director Jim Tooley:

The entire USA Basketball family mourns the passing of Bill Wall.  Bill was a treasure to the basketball community worldwide, someone who gave much more then he ever received back. His passion for basketball, as a player, coach, official and as an administrator, was evident to anyone who met him, and his efforts helped grow the game to the popularity it enjoys today.  He became this organization’s first executive director in 1975, and in the 18 years he served in that position he helped transition ABAUSA (Amateur Basketball Association of the United States of America) into USA Basketball. Under Bill’s leadership, USA Basketball was recognized as one of the premiere national federations and Bill from the early years on was a true advocate for women’s basketball.  Bill Wall will be missed and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

Bill Wall did not lead a controversy-free life (in the land of basketball) but if not for his American Express Card, it’s likely the US women’s team, which surprised most by making it to the Montreal Olympics in 1976 – including the USA Basketball Olympic Committee – would have had to walk to Rochester for their practices or called their parents for care packages. From Sally Jenkins’ 2012 article in the Washington Post: Women’s Olympic success: a flood that began as a trickle (apologies for the long quote, Sally, but I hope you believe Bill deserved it):

This is how it happens: A dozen women, isolated outliers, are so committed to playing for their country that they will practically starve for the honor. The first American women’s basketball team in ’76, captained by Pat Head Summitt and featuring Ann Meyers Drysdale among others, had a budget of $500. They held training camp in an unairconditioned gym in Warrensburg, Mo., because it was the cheapest facility they could find, and they begged meals from the rotary club.

“We’d do anything for free food for the team,” Moore says.

Bill Wall, the executive director of USA basketball, stepped forward and put up his personal credit card to support their attempt to make it into the Montreal Games. When they won the qualifying tournament, they were such a surprise that nobody had made any accommodations for them.

They found an empty dormitory that was under construction at the University of Rochester, and bunked there for a few days amid the sound of hammering. Then they moved into a two-bedroom condo in Montreal someone had found them — 12 players and the coaching staff. Some of them slept on cots in the kitchen. “And no one complained,” Moore says.

Speaking of no complaining. With the injury to Indiana Pacer player Paul George during the men’s tryouts, the NBA folks are wondering if they dare risk their… players (I was going to use another word, but I won’t) in the quest for Olympic Gold. Out poured articles like “Should NBA stars play in FIBA World Cup, Olympics?” and Why is Rose still playing USA Basketball?” and “Dallas Mavericks owner Cuban criticises sending NBA stars to the Olympics” and “When ‘Patriotism’ and NBA Marketing Collide with Reality and Basket Stanchion” etc., etc.

Sure, John Smallwood counters with Mark Cuban has it all wrong and Harvey Araton counters with his piece, Cuban Loses Sight of the Role of International Play – In Paul George Remarks, Mark Cuban Discounts Benefits of International Basketball, but honestly, was anyone surprised at the response of the USA Basketball women? Nope!

Tamika Catchings has known Paul George since he was drafted by the Indiana Pacers in 2010.

She was sickened when she heard the news that he broke his right leg on a freak play during the U.S. men’s national team scrimmage Friday. Still, the Indiana Fever star has no hesitation about suiting up for the women’s national team again this fall.

“I don’t think it gives me a second thought,” said Catchings, a three-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion. “For me representing our country is the highest honor you can have. I know I speak on behalf of all the women, and I’m sure the men too, who are trying out, it’s an unfortunate injury that can happen anywhere.”

Catchings’ thoughts were echoed by U.S. women’s national team players across the country over the weekend.

Speaking of USA basketball – part of the 1976 team’s legacy is the success of the women’s programs: next up, the U-18-ers in Colorado Springs for the FIBA Championship: nm

“I think we are getting excited,” Staley said about the upcoming tournament. “We have beat each other up in the morning practice and then depending on who we scrimmaged, either we were getting beat up, or we had some pretty good competition in some of the other national teams. I think we want to play for a stake, for a gold medal. That’s why we are here, so we are getting a little bit antsy about playing the real competition.”

Now for some good news:

NY Times: Spurs Hire Becky Hammon as N.B.A.’s First Female Full-Time Coach and KSAT.com: Spurs tap Becky Hammon for assistant coach and Spurs Nation: Hammon overwhelmed, thrilled and humbled by historic opportunity and  USA Today: Spurs hire Becky Hammon as assistant coach and NESN: Becky Hammon Hiring Keeps Spurs Ahead Of Curve in NBA, Pro Sports World

From Kate Fagan: Becky Hammon was born to coach

If you know Becky Hammon, one thing has always been clear: she would become a coach after she finished playing.

We all figured it would be for the Colorado State women’s basketball program, her alma mater, the school she put on the map in the late 1990s with her sweet outside shot and clever ball handling. In fact, there were even rumblings around Fort Collins back in the day that the CSU athletic department had made some sort of handshake, wink-wink deal with the dynamic local star: The moment you retire, we’ll have an open spot in the athletic department — guaranteed.

The reason we all knew Hammon would become a coach is actually quite simple. She could see a play once and know all its options and offshoots, categorize them from most to least effective. And she could do this for every position on the court, instantly — as if the X’s and O’s had been coded into her DNA. Most of the time, the team’s head coach approached Hammon for her insight — rarely was it the other way around.

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The semi-final game will be broadcast on ESPN U and streamed.

The team got there by defeating USA U17 Women Defeat Canada, 86-45.

“I think the score was not indicative of how tough the game started,” said USA head coach Sue Phillips (Archbishop Mitty H.S./San Jose Cagers AAU, Calif.). “ I really thought that we stifled each other on the offensive side of the ball, and both teams struggled to score. That was familiarity, and that was well coached-basketball. Both teams were familiar with the scouting report. I think our depth and energy and intensity on the defensive side of the ball really helped spark us to create a lead.”

The winner will meet the winner of the earlier game between Spain and Czech Republic.

Great news: Tamika Catchings returns, hopes to help Fever down the stretch

With no Tamika Catchings and six newcomers, the Indiana Fever could have been thinking about 2015 midway through the 2014 season.

Instead, Catchings is returning from a back injury, and the Fever are poised to make a playoff push in a less-than-formidable Eastern Conference. The 2011 MVP and three-time Olympic gold medalist makes her season debut in Saturday’s 5 p.m. game against the San Antonio Stars at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

In other good news: From Jenni Carlson at The Oklahoman: How a season with ‘Coach C’ helped spark former Oklahoma star Courtney Paris’ breakout WNBA season

Last summer, Paris signed with Mersin, a team in the Turkish Basketball League. She had played in the league the two previous seasons and done well, averaging a double-double, so she was a known and sought-after commodity.

When she arrived in the city of nearly a million and met her new coach, though, she didn’t feel all that loved. Ceyhun Yildizoglu pushed and prodded, harassed and hounded. The man who also coaches Turkey’s national team wanted everything done the right way every time.

In more happy news: Jayco Opal Penny Taylor returning to her best in WNBA

It has been a horror run of injuries for the 2006 FIBA World Championship for Women MVP since she first suffered a tear of her anterior cruciate ligament prior to the 2012 London Olympic Games, but over the past three games we have seen Taylor return to her free-scoring best.

After having her minutes monitored through the first 11 games of the WNBA season, the Mercury’s Australian Head Coach Sandy Brondello took the shackles off the 33-year-old and has seen some impressive numbers since.

Happy, as in ka-ching, news: WNBA Cashing In With Pro-LGBT Campaign

Griffin is the author of Strong Women, Deep Closets: Lesbians and Homophobia in Sport.She says the WNBA’s campaign is a good start, but it should have come a lot sooner.“You have to look at the WNBA in the context of sexism in sport as well as homophobia in sport because all women’s sports leagues really have to struggle for their share of the media attention,” she said. “It’s been very challenging for them to take on anything that they perceive as potentially controversial, that might affect the bottom line.”

Griffin says the league is finally feeling comfortable enough to “cash in” on larger changes in society regarding marriage equality and civil rights. And cashing in is exactly what the league is doing.

Happy, as in taking action: From Chicago’s Daily Herald: WNBA’s Griner takes on bullying in a big way

Griner has written “In My Skin,” a book about her life that chronicles her struggles growing up gay, and she is in the process of creating an anti-bullying smartphone application. Griner says she was bullied and picked on relentlessly as a child for being different.

The app, which will be called BG: BU, is a resource for kids who are being bullied. It’s also helpful for their parents and teachers.

“I definitely got bullied as a kid and teased, and I didn’t really have an outlet or a resource that I could reach out to in order to get the proper help that I needed,” Griner said. “I don’t want any kid to go through the same problems and the same obstacles that I went through. I want to give kids and parents a safe zone to get help.”

Nice: ‘We Stand For Women’–The WNBA and My Daughter by Jason Greene:

Watching sports with my daughter is different than watching sports with my son. I admit that it shouldn’t be, but it is.

With my son, we get caught up in the excitement of the game, root for our favorites and cheer at the opposing team’s failures. With my daughter, though, somehow I get caught up in giving her a history lesson on women’s sports and trying to convince her that she needs to work harder in every area of her life.

Why? Because the inequalities between the genders are glaring when viewed through the sports lens.

This is what happens when I say nice things about a team? Losing record and now, says George Albano, there looms a Critical stretch ahead for Sun

The Sun have certainly been one of the surprise teams the first half of the season, winning eight of their first 14 games after posting a league-worst 10 victories a year ago.

At the same time, they’ve also been one of the harder teams to figure out. They started the season 1-5, which can be attributed to a virtually new roster getting acclimated with one another. Then the Sun won seven of their next eight games, a sign they were starting to find some team chemistry.

But after six straight wins, which gave them an 8-6 record and catapulted them into second place in the Eastern Conference, Connecticut has lost four straight.

In not-so-happy news, Texas Tech guard Amber Battle has been suspended for a month after admitting to having “initiated the first contact” with the now dismissed TT football player Nigel Bethel.

“Nothing I can say can truly repair the harm I have already caused. I did not represent the Double T like I am supposed to and I promise to hold myself to a higher standard from here on.”

Again, I point out that “Texas Tech Athletics does not tolerate violence against women.” Greatly appreciated. Even more appreciated would be: “Texas Tech Athletics does not tolerate violence against people.”

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say it.”

Might be the new WHB tagline. Ah, well – sorry Skylar and Anne.

And just to keep everyone honest — how friggin’ resilient are Chicago (hello, Jamierra Faulkner!) (over LA) and Indiana (over Atlanta IN Atlanta)? (and how disappointing is LA?)

Yea! Penny!

Ouch! Seimone!

Bell Fuller at Full Court sets up your weekend: WNBA Big Games, Big News: Fireworks on tap in two July 4 weekend matchups

Along with the Fourth of the July holiday will come some top-flight action in the WNBA this week. Here are two of the games to add to your “must-watch” list; unfortunately, neither game is scheduled to be televised outside the local markets, but both will be available via the WNBA’s Live Access.

In other news:

Women’s Basketball Committee seeks cost savings for championship

The Division I Women’s Basketball Committee is exploring ways to reduce championship expenses while continuing to protect the student-athlete experience.

Yup, it’s official: OSU women’s basketball: Khadidja Toure transfers to East Carolina and Duke women’s basketball point guard Jones to transfer

This will be a fun something to attend before flying out to Istanbul: Team USA To Face Canada At Webster Bank Arena Sept. 15

Speaking of USA Basketball, the U17’s have been kicking butt:

Games are being streamed through YouTube.

The WBCA has a new boss: Danielle Donehew Leaving AAC To Take Over WBCA and a new “status.”

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From the Las Vegas Review Journal: Five years later, Auriemma gets to coach touted recruit

On Friday, Delle Donne and Auriemma were on the court together, in Las Vegas of all places, as USA Basketball held its women’s national team minicamp at Cox Pavilion. Auriemma recently agreed to return as national team coach through the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, and Delle Donne, who had a sensational rookie season with the WNBA’s Chicago Sky and was selected as the league’s rookie of the year, hopes to land a spot on the Olympic team.

“It’s great to be here with him,” Delle Donne said after practice. “It was a tough decision to not play for him at UConn, but we’ve always gotten along, and I’m looking forward to learning from him. The way he breaks things down and teaches the game, it’s amazing. I want to be a sponge and soak everything up this weekend.”

From the CT Post: UConn foursome appreciates honor of competing with best of U.S.

For many years, UConn star sophomoreBreanna Stewart has had the goal of playing for the U.S. Olympic team. Winning multiple national championships during her four-year career with the Huskies is the primary goal at this point, but there is no denying her intense desire to team with the best players in the world and represent her country at the highest level.

Stewart will take another step closer to realizing her dream this weekend when she competes at the U.S. Women‘s National Team mini-camp today through Sunday at the Cox Pavilion practice gym on the campus of UNLV.

From USA Basketball: USA National Team Steps Onto the Court in Las Vegas

“When you look at all the new players here, it’s kind of nice to be able to stay consistent as far as what we’ve done the last four years,” said three-time OlympianTamika Catchings, who began her USA Basketball career in 1996. Now we’re moving into the next four years and not much is going to change. Some players come and go, but being able to build off of the success that we’ve already had is really good.”

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excited about the present AND future of the WNBA: Los Angeles v. Phoenix. Diana v. Candace. Great crowd. Lots of scoring. Great skills on display, tempered by a soupçon of crankiness.

Granted, it was late for the East Coasters, but it sure was worth staying up for:

And, while part of me agrees with Lobo’s assessment of Taurasi’s tendency to get cranky, I appreciate how unapologetic she is about it. Her post-game comments remind me of this fabulous Nike promo:

Of course, Diana will have to pay careful attention to scheduling her next T – ’cause she’ll miss the following game.

Oh, yah, and the WNBA all-stars were announced. Did you get the email?  (more…)

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Well, the team is set.

Clay at Full Court has more to say:Two surprising additions, one stunning omission, highlight USA U16 roster

As usual, there were surprises when the USA Basketball Women’s Developmental National Team Committee made its decision on a 12-person international roster – but this year, the U16 team that will represent the United States at the FIBA Americas in June, was more than surprising.

First, two of the 12 were not among the 33 players formally invited to try out, but rather were part of the 91 players who came to the Olympic Training Center via the open trials process. Any player could submit an application for these open trials, and though most of those who showed up were high-quality players, some clearly didn’t belong at this level. This time, though, Sabrina Ionescu of Walnut Creek, Calif., and Taylor Murray of Odenton, Md., both perimeter players, and both uninvited, were selected.

One of my favorite New Orleans Final Four moments was running into Mary (Coyle) Klinger and hearing her talk about how thrilled she was to have been named assistant for this team. Reminded me of how important USA Women’s basketball is to some folks.

The U-19ers are also set: Talented 12-Member 2013 USA Basketball Women’s U19 World Championship Team Announced

Headlined by three returning members of the gold-medal winning 2011 USA Basketball Women’s U19 World Championship Team, USA Basketball today following four days of trials announced the 12-member team that will represent the red, white and blue as it attempts to capture its fifth-straight gold medal at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship, hosted by Lithuania from July 18-28 in Klaipeda and Panevėžys. Held May 16-19 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, Colo., the USA U19 trials featured 33 athletes age 19-years-old and younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1994). The team was selected by the USA Basketball Junior National Team Committee, chaired by UT Chattanooga head coach Jim Foster.

Speaking of USA Basketball Committees: Kara Lawson – Player, Committee Member, Commentator

The very busy Kara Lawson is involved now in just about every level of women’s basketball as a Connecticut Sun guard, ESPN analyst and USA Basketball committee member.

Last week, she was in Colorado Springs, Colo., in her new capacity as a member of the selection group that picked the 12-member teams that will represent the nation this summer in the FIBA U19 world championship and World University Games.

Speaking of USA Basketball in general: 5 questions with USA Basketball’s Carol Callan

5. At this point four years ago leading up to the 2010 world championships and 2012 Olympics, you had a women’s national team coach (Geno Auriemma) in place. No coach has been named for 2014/2016 yet. Where are you in that process and do you have a timetable for it?

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Put your money where your wish is. (This came through while I was on vacation, so it’s lovely to see Nate and Co. pick it up)

SA women’s basketball gear update: $27 K pledged in first week

Erica Mauter has provided an update to her campaign to get USA Basketball to offer more USA women’s basketball gear in their online store.

Check it out and if you haven’t taken the survey and followed the Tumblr, do so.

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“I’m going to Rio.” (But Merc – and face it, W – fans are wondering: are ya goin’ to Phoenix?)

BTW, if Sue, Diana and Catch do get to Rio, Mr. Colangelo, any chance we might be able to purchase their USA Basketball jersey? #USABasketballmarketingembarrassmentfail

A little @BrendaVanLengen and @MechelleV doing their post-Olympic review, the WNBA & NCAA volleyball podcast stuff.

A little mish-mosh:

Business model for SS&E based on Spurs’ success

The Silver Stars of the WNBA and Rampage of the American Hockey League, both celebrating their 10-year anniversaries, have evolved into what officials say are profitable franchises, including marked upswings in attendance and the standings.

Cool! Lady Swish will be pleased: Welcome to L.A., Dawn.

Ouches: Seattle and Connecticut

Behind the scenes with Patricia Babcock McGraw as the Sky’s Fowles, Cash share some Olympic stories

“It drove me crazy not to be playing,” Fowles said. “There were a couple of times the trainer had to say, ‘You have to slow down. You’re trying to get back too fast.’

“I had to make a grown-woman move. The young me would have said, ‘Just play through the pain.’ But I’m at a point in my career now where I have to be smart, and knowing that I had to come back to the Sky, the coaches and trainers agreed that I needed to sit out for a bit and work back slow.”

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basketball: US v. Argentina

Yes, I can edit AND listen to play-by-play in Spanish.

Preps me for the Lib v. CT game tonight. Gonna be there — how about you?

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Ten things to take away from London

Having talent no doubt means a great deal. But that, in and of itself, won’t get anyone a spot on the U.S. team. USA Basketball doesn’t have the opportunity to get the team together as much as it would like. But it does have the luxury of being a stickler about commitment to whatever practices, exhibitions and games there are.

If you’re healthy and can be there, then you better be there. Otherwise, someone is going to take your place.

For all the differences in personalities, backgrounds and experiences among the players on these past five gold-winning U.S. squads, there has been a unifying thread: team first. And not just because it’s required. But because it’s considered an honor.

That’s a very tangible attitude that has been passed down as a sacred trust. It has been embraced by all who’ve made the U.S. national team, at least for the duration of their time playing on that team.

BTW, I’ll add an 11th take away: Mechelle should have been there to cover the games.

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U.S. Women Win Fifth Consecutive Basketball Gold. Will the WNBA Benefit?

Comparing the men’s and women’s games may also put the women at a disadvantage. “Men’s basketball is all dunks, and it’s flashier, and women’s basketball is more about finesse,” says Jenna Stigliano, 29, of Connecticut who came to watch the gold medal final in London. “The slower pace may turn people off.”

Or perhaps we’re just focusing on the wrong thing. While the sponsorships are slow to come in, the league is making an impact perhaps where it counts most – in school gyms. As of last year, seventeen former WNBA players are head coaches for college teams, and dozens more are employed as coaching assistants. That may be where the league can have its greatest influence in growing both the sport and inspiring girls to become hoopsters. And that may end up expanding the league itself, as the bolus of younger players pushes into the professional ranks and start to create a supply that seeds a demand.

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looking at the other scores, no team was particularly awe-inspiring yesterday.

Let’s just say “Oi, Canada!” (Or, perhaps we should be listening to Becky saying “Nyet to this losing stuff.”

China surprised the Czechs (and many others). Adds Clay: China, France surprise on an interesting first day in London

If day one is any indication, women’s basketball in the 2012 Olympics will be a great show.

About the only game that went as expected was Australia vs. overmatched Great Britain, but otherwise, from Croatia hanging with the U.S. for 30 minutes to Canada exposing Russia to China and France pulling upsets, it was a day for the unexpected – and a great appetizer for what looks like it will be a very entertaining two weeks of basketball.

On the US side, feel free to let the final score fool ya — especially if you took my advice and threw away the first three quarters. Perhaps neither the coaches OR the players should have attended the Opening Ceremonies? <g> Actually, it’s always rather graceless not to give the other team credit for your peckish performance. Says Lee: Croatia makes Team USA work in Olympic opener

From the USA Basketball quote page (no, I wouldn’t mind if this was a running theme):

Do you feel like USA Women’s Basketball is underappreciated for all these streaks and all these records?   Why do you think this team isn’t more popular?  Women’s soccer seems to get more attention.

Auriemma: I have my theories.  I think when you live in the United States and you’re a great women’s basketball player or you’re a great women’s basketball team, you happen to live in a country where the best basketball players in the world live on the men’s team and the best basketball team in the world lives.  You’re always going to be compared to that team or those players and you’re always going to come up short.  That’s just the nature of the game.  Women’s basketball is the most popular team sport in America.  And you’re right, the soccer gets a lot of attention:  once every four years.   During the regular season, during all the other times, women’s basketball gets just about all the attention from any women’s team sport in America.   But when it comes time for the Olympics, it’s like ‘yeah, they’re gonna win.’   That’s unfortunate.  It’s unfair to these players and those that came before them.   I don’t know that there is anything we can do that except just play but it is like UConn.   The only story that’s going to come out of these Olympics is if we lose and then that’ll be a big story.  Then, the U.S. women will be very, very popular all over the world.

Was amused by this turn of phrase in a Yahoo! story:

The decorated ensemble constituting the 2012 USA women’s basketball team have their sights set on extending that streak of Olympic glory to five in London, impressively unencumbered by the suffocating pressure (WHB: or actual media coverage) typically attached to such an ambitious endeavor.

SPOILER ALERT: BTW – congrats to Kimberly Rhode who, in a dazzling performance, became  the first U.S athlete in an individual sport to win five medals in five consecutive Olympics.

You know what would be a cool sidebar to the story? Teresa Edwards, who is currently serving as Chef de Mission. The four-time USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year Edwards first put on a USA Basketball uniform at the age of 17 at the 1981 U.S. Olympic Festival and was a fixture on USA Basketball teams for nearly two decades. She won: gold in 1984, 1988, 1996 and 2000, and bronze in 1992.

From the News-Tribune’s TJ Cotterill: Nothing big about Bird except game

At London’s Olympic Park, Sue Bird doesn’t look much like a world-class athlete.

Bird – standing at a generous 5-foot-9, 150 pounds – could easily be taken for a spectator as she strolls past Olympic gargantuans such as New Zealand shot put athlete Valerie Adams; 350-pound Holley Mangold, the U.S weightlifter; or even U.S. tennis player Serena Williams and her powerful thighs.

“Some of these Olympians are just specimens and you just feel disgusting compared to them,” Bird said. “I was walking around and thinking ‘Dang, I need to put a sweatshirt on.’ ”

Michelle (no, not Mechelle) at the KC Star asks: If you don’t know Team USA women by now, will you ever? (And then promptly misspells Catch’s first name. Ooops.)

“We were joking about it, how all the other athletes were flocking to those guys,” Catchings said. “Everywhere they went, a trail of people followed. It doesn’t make us mad. We accept it. It was just kind of funny. To be honest, I’m not sure I want to be that famous. I like to be able to live a somewhat normal life, go to the movies, to eat, and be recognized here and there.”

But, a little more recognition for the U.S. women’s basketball dominance sure would be nice, she conceded.

“In due time, credit will be given,” Catchings said.

In a similar vein, from Mike Bresnahan at? for? the Baltimore Sun: McCoughtry leads fourth-quarter surge for U.S.
A handful of journalists were on hand to watch the U.S. women’s basketball team win its Olympic opener against Croatia. (I was willing to be the sixth finger, but the USOC said no thanks, we have too many folks covering women’s basketball.) It was an obvious contrast to the crammed news conference the previous day for the U.S. men’s team, where reporters scurried toward Kobe Bryant and LeBron James before packing into a dense semi-circle seven or eight people deep.
“This is more physical than our games,” Bryant quipped as media members pushed and shoved one another. “I’ve seen at least two flagrant fouls.” 

Not only is the women’s team up against Croatia, the Czech Republic, etc. There’s overwhelming competition from that other U.S. team.

Maybe its me, but as I’ve been watching all of the preview shows leading up to the 2012 London Olympics, I haven’t noticed much attention given to the USA women’s basketball team.

It’s been gymnastics this, swimming that. Track and field this, men’s basketball that.

Where is Geno? Where are Maya Moore or Tamika Catchings? Where is the news about a four-time defending gold medalist?

The Courant is time sharing Mike Bresnhan with the LA Times: Geno Auriemma Glad His U.S. Women’s Team Considered The Favorites

It might be the best-kept secret in England.

The U.S. women’s basketball team has won 33 consecutive games in the Olympics, not to mention the last four gold medals, and nobody will talk about it.

Back to the US team: Ex-Tennessee Lady Vols team up with former rival Geno Auriemma to chase gold – Ex-Lady Vols join Auriemma to chase gold (I dunno – seems to me once a Vol, always a Vol. There ain’t no “ex” about it)

They’re playing for Geno Auriemma.

That might have been unthinkable for Tamika Catchings and Candace Parker before Auriemma became Team USA coach in 2009, but they’re used to it — even having some fun with it, now that the former Tennessee greats and the fiery Connecticut coach are poised to win gold together.

Are Summitt and Auriemma different? Very, Parker said.

“You’ve just got to go through it,” Catchings said of Auriemma’s outspoken style. “Trust me on that.”

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  • Fans of Rick Riordan’s “Kane Chronicles” will be pleased to see that the Washington Monument is alive and well….
  • Birding list for the trip: Rock Dove/Pigeon, House Sparrow, Starling, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Osprey, Fish Crow, Goldfinch, Cardinal, Mocking Bird, Gulls, tons of Chimney Swifts.
  • How do you know someone rides the DC Metro? They have $10 worth of Sacagewea coins in their bag
  • Contrary to what you may have seen on ESPN’s Sports Center last night (ESPN Olympic page), the women’s team didn’t spend the morning eating bon bons while the men’s team was there with the troops? They were busy hosting a “Hoops for Girls” Basketball Clinic at the Armory
  • Going out to American University (power in the Patriot League) I start at George Washington (used to be power in the Colonial). Interesting perspective. Equally interesting is the walk to AU from the subway (does every subway stop end in a Whole Foods?): On the way I pass St. Ann’s, read about the Washington Immaculata, take a peek at the National Presbyterian Church, consider the buildings razed to put the NBC studios up, say “konichiwa” to the guards at the Japanese Embassy, and wave to the Homeland Security folks. Ah, D.C.
  • Is there anything more amusing than sitting outside at a coffee place and listening to the conversations walking by?

Now back to basketball: Just want to send a shout out to Oscar Dixon. Old school W fans will recall his thoughtful coverage of the league with fondness. Anyone who’s crossed his path, as I did during the Orlando all-star game, will know him as a generous man with a great smile. Great to see his face again. Now all we need is Mike Terry and Stick and Lena and Kelly to reappear and all will be well in the world.

USA Basketball is doing its job getting the word out: USA Basketball Women’s National Team Kicks Off Training Camp

From John Altavillia at the Hartford Courant (who you’ll want to track through the Olympics. Imagine watching six kids you covered in college go to the Olympics. “Pretty amazing,” as he said): Geno Auriemma, Maya Moore Put On Clinic As Part Of Olympic Training Weekend

The biggest surprise at practice was seeing who WASN’T practicing: Asjha Jones, who rolled her ankle during the last Sun game. Geno had some very complimentary things to say about Jones and her role on the Olympic team, in particular pointing to her MVP work in Europe last season. Watching the tail end of practice, I couldn’t help but notice how tall and skinny our posts are (“we’re not a very good rebounding team at the moment,” Auriemma told the team during practice. Later, adding to reporters, “we should be a really good offensive rebounding team). There’s no “Venus to the Hoop” on the court (take the time to read the book before the Games start. It’ll give you a wonderful, new perspective.). There’s no doubt Parker (Auriemma: “She could be as dominant as Lauren Jackson”), Fowles and Charles are talented athletes. But none have been to the Olympics, and it’s been a while since they’ve been in an NCAA-esque “one and done” situation.

Ditto with Jones, but, Auriemma said, “Asjha’s been around a long time. She’s seen things and done things that those kids can learn from. She accepts what ever role you give her and she plays it perfectly. You say, ‘Asjha, we need a stopper, we need you to go defend a 6’6″ kid,’ she’ll say, ‘I  gotcha coach.’ Because she’s strong enough and smart enough. ‘Asjha, we need some points.’ Well, she’s got a million different ways of scoring the basketball. ‘Asjha, we need three minutes from you tonight.’ ‘I got ya coach.’ ‘Asjah, we need 23 minutes from you tonight.’ ‘I gotcha coach.’ She’s a pro. She’s knows her job, she knows her responsibilities, and she does it every day. She’s a great role model for these kids.” Auriemma’s counting on her to be the senior leader, the “elder statesman on the team” with this young group.

On the short time to “input” stuff, Auriemma said: “I’ve always felt, like in the NCAA tournament, when you get to this level all the teams that you’re playing are pretty good, so you can’t just say, ‘All right, we’re going to press the hell out of them, steal it and dunk it.’ Well, if you could do that against them, they wouldn’t be here. If you think you’re going to trick’em — well, you’re playing against pros. That’s not going to happen. The way you win in the NCAA tournament and the way you win here, is you really have to execute in the half-court set. You have to get the shot you want, when you want it, by who you want it. That takes time. And we don’t have time. So we have to figure out, can we get enough transition baskets and can we, in the half-court set, get enough things done in a short period of time that we’re comfortable that whatever we need during the course of the game we have access to. I think rebounding is going to be huge. As the tournament wears on, there’s a lot of missed shots. We should have a great offensive rebounding team. Should. That’s going to be a huge point of emphasis for us – offensive and defensive rebounding. With the athletic ability that we have and the depth that we have, the more possessions we create for ourselves, that plays to our advantage. If we just make it a one possession, we shoot we run back, we shoot, we run back —  now I think we give the other team a chance to stay with us.”

A little from Sue Bird on the “transition” from rookie to senior leader: “When I think back to my early days playing with USA Basketball, those older players, Dawn, Lisa, Sheryl, Tina, they were great people to learn from. It wasn’t neccesarily what they said, it was how they carried themselves. How they prepared. They knew what to expect. For the younger players, we were just kind of wide-eyed. They did a great job of leading by example. Of course, they would say things — especially Dawn, being a point guard. Now that I’m one of the older players, I do hope that I have some knowledge, some experience with the Olympics that I can pass on, because some of these younger players… I’m going on my third Olympics, and for them it’s their first and they could eventually get to their third. And I hope by that time, they’ll be just as knowledgeable and experienced as I feel now. I hope I can play a small role in helping them go through that evolution.”

More Sue on “the first time” v. “the third time:” “It’s a little different. There’s always the expectation of winning a gold medal. And it really has nothing to do with the expectations of the the media, or outside expectations. It’s the expectations we put on ourselves. This time, it’s just knowing what it takes to get through the Olympics. Eight games in 16 days. It can wear on you. Knowing that we have to improve each game. And come the quarters, semi’s and finals — it’s one game. We’re now all in the WNBA, where we play three or five game series. Here, there’s no chance to mess up. You have to be on your game. There’s definitely a certain preparation in that. You have to be ready. So, when you’ve done it, you’ve experienced that and you’ve been to that place mentally, you know how to get back.”

From Jim Fuller of the New Haven Register, Jones expects to be back at practice tomorrow.

Doug “the fabulous” Feinberg (yes, I’m still hoping he needs an Olympic Lackey) is writing about the tall folks: Post Players Give Auriemma Options in the Middle. (Anything that has an AP byline is his) He also has Women Chase Gold Again

“We have an opportunity to have one of the greatest Olympic teams all-time given the combination of players we have with the depth, experience and youth,” coach Geno Auriemma said. “I have tremendous respect for every team we’re playing over there and by no means will this be easy at all. I’m focused on trying to make this team maximize the unbelievable potential they have.”

Someone who WAS playing (whoopee) and didn’t seem to miss a shot: Diana. From John: Diana Taurasi Says She’s Ready To Go On Olympics Team(and John unpicks some of the consequences of her decision to get healthy).

Mr. York is also in the house, under USAToday’s banner: Diana Taurasi says she healthy, ready for Olympics

Gene Wang is workin’ it at the WaPo: U.S. women’s basketball team faces outsize expectations

Two years ago, after the U.S. women’s basketball team throttled host Czech Republic in the title game of the FIBA world championships in Karlovy Vary, 6,000 Czech fans, including President Vaclav Klaus, celebrated at KV Arena.

Despite the 89-69 result, Geno Auriemma, the U.S. national team coach, recalled the Czech team was so pleased to have been within striking distance at halftime that the final outcome was all but an afterthought. At least the Czechs hadn’t met with a fate similar to, say, South Korea, which fell to the United States by 62 points, or Spain, a 106-70 loser.

Such is the reverence with which the rest of the world views the Americans’ supremacy in the sport, and it’s no wonder with an Olympic roster that includes six gold medalists from the 2008 Games; the reigning WNBA most valuable player, Tamika Catchings; the reigning WNBA rookie of the year, Maya Moore; and enough NCAA titles to overload even the most spacious trophy cases.

From Tom Shcad at the Washington Times: Auriemma, U.S. women’s hoops team ready to live up to expectations in London

The United States has dominated the international basketball scene since 1936, when the men’s team won its first of seven consecutive Olympic gold medals. It’s home to the Dream Team, the Redeem Team and a current squad poised to continue those sterling traditions.

But as of late, it’s been the American women who truly deserve the title of dynasty. The numbers speak for themselves: eight World Championships, four straight Olympic golds and 33 consecutive wins in Olympic play dating back to Aug. 7, 1992.

“We might be the most dominant team of any team since the Russian Red Army,” Auriemma said, referring to the Soviet men’s hockey side that won 18 World Championships from 1963 to 1990. “Every time we play, everybody thinks we’re supposed to win — and we’re supposed to win by a lot. And that’s a lot for these players to carry around, I know that. But at the same time, that’s what you sign up for: when you play USA Basketball, it’s pressure.”

Make sure you also check in with Full Court for some of Kelly Kline’s great photos, not to mention a little (legal) video on “Da hip hype.” And yes, that is Diana guarding a very big man. Like many top women’s teams, a local baller was tapped to round up a group of players to offer the women some (big) bodies to go up against in practice. It’s a tough gig, ’cause you have to do what they (read: the coaches) want you to do, not what you want to do. The crew will be back for more tomorrow (read, today). Said the ring-leader, his face lighting up, “It’s fun!”

Get the lowdown from WNBA.com: U.S. National Team Practice Report – July 14, 2012

Now it was time to do all of this against some defense, as the coaching staff call upon a group of male players to scrimmage with the women’s team. The first five players to take the floor for the U.S. were Sue Bird at the point, Taurasi at the shooting guard, Tamika Catchings and Candace Parker at the forwards and Sylvia Fowles at center.

Both teams rotated in players throughout the scrimmage, with the exception of Asjha Jones for the U.S. women, who sat out of the practice to get an extra day of rest for a nagging injury. She expects to suit up and participate in full on Sunday.

The men put up a good fight, hurt the women’s team on the boards at times, but overall it was the women’s team that led from start to finish. Auriemma would occasionally stop play to provide instruction, but overall seemed pleased with the execution and effort of his players.

Mike Peden is workin’ the WNBA/Olympic beat over at the Examiner: Olympic speculation morphs to jubilation for USA women

Moore is already a well-versed explorer, representing the United States when they won the 2010 FIBA World Championship for Women, and relishes her upcoming trip to further demonstrate female fluency in athletics.

“To get a chance at 23 to represent my country at the Olympics is something I’m going to be smiling about for the rest of my life,” Moore said. “To have Seimone and Lindsay there makes me smile. To come back from injuries and different trials that Seimone did, it’s really fun and there’s going to be a comfort level with those two.”

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but Chicago DOES have Sylvia. The fact that the Sky couldn’t beat a Plenette-less and Vaughn-less Liberty makes me wanna take a hard look at their coaching. The fact that Chicago shot an embarassing 6-21 from the free throw line makes me wonder about their focus. Which makes me wanna look at their coaching.

And then, of course, they turn around and roar back in the fourth to take Indiana into overtime. And lose. (1,500 free throws? I guess the refs love Catch, huh? :-)

The SASS is enjoying its East Coast swing, and Mystics fans are enjoying (?) the Dive for BG (goin’ well, ain’t it?). A lot riding on today’s game against Tulsa.

Shocked, shocked! That Glory got a technical. Didn’t help Tulsa against the Sun, though.

Speaking of the Sun, watch out. Kara’s kickin’ butt (All hail, vegan athletes!) and, for all of those folks bemoaning the “boring season” because Minny is “so good”: look at the standings now that the Lynx have lost three in a row. I’m sure Minny’s (and the rest of the League’s) walking wounded will appreciate the Olympic break.

A game Debbie would have enjoyed: Monster games by Lyttle and Bonner – Dream win 100-93. (And no, I didn’t think Hayes would be a starter — did you?)

Not the news Storm fans (or USA Basketball) want to hear: “Sue Bird – hip flexor, Ann Wauters – strained calf, Tina Thompson – awkwardly bent ankle.” Needless to say, the Sparks took advantage, and Parker was three assists from that triple-double Lobo wants her to get. Boy, LA’s starters play a lot of minutes…

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Not.

Especially if you’re Parker and the LA Sparks, who started on such a high against the Sun, and then boom. They took it to overtime against the Silver Stars, but that was all they wrote.

And especially if you’re Chicago, who saw their star end up on crutches. The Fever took advantage and Indy righted the ship with a nice win over the Sky.

In other news, another Connecticut writer weighs in on the suit v. Auriemma: Hardwick’s story about Auriemma hard to believe.

It’s hard to figure out this mess. I, too, have a hard time believing the accusations. One, I can’t imagine USA Basketball (in the form of Carol Callan) standing for the kind of crap Auriemma is accused of. At USA Basketball, they  take decorum beyond seriously. It’s never about “just getting the best so the US can win.” It’s about getting people who understand that the red, white and blue (and the gold) is IT. You mess with that ethos, it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever don the colors again.

Also, while I am in no way “in” in the world of women’s basketball, I know enough to know it’s a small world and there are VERY few secrets. People may know about unethical and immoral behavior and not do anything about it (witness Rene Portland and Penn State), but there’s little that the coaches,  writers and (some) fans don’t know. Across the board it seems people are saying, “Say what?” I keep waiting for the skeletons to appear.

That being said, just because there appears to be no pattern doesn’t mean what is alleged didn’t happen.

Wisest course of action: avoid a rush to judgment and wait for this thing to either play out in court or at the discussion table..

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Christine doesn’t go for the innocent until proven thang (it IS a law thing happening, not a USA Basketball thang) and makes some odd links: USA Basketball shouldn’t play slowdown on Auriemma

From Connecticut’s The Day: Two credible people … and more questions than answers

The day produced a particular illustration of Hardwick that Auriemma’s supporters might not like.

Still, I must admit: I’ve heard Auriemma’s detractors call him every name in the dictionary. But I have never – never, never, never – heard anyone with a shred of credibility question his morality.

From Connecticut’s Courant: Accusations Will Stick With Geno, Regardless Of Truth

I have always counted on Auriemma’s mouth to get him in periodic trouble, but not by using it to force a kiss. I have known him for 18 years. We’ve clashed on occasion, a few times famously. I also found him to be uncommonly loyal. I have been in his company in many social settings, almost always with a handful of media, probably three times a year. So that’s at least 50 times. He enjoys the attention. Saw him drink wine. Saw him smoke cigars. Heard him tell stories for hours. Saw women occasionally approach him like he’s a rock star. Saw those women walk away alone.

I was with the late, rapscallion Randy Smith of the Manchester Journal Inquirer once at a hotel bar with Auriemma. Smith was teasing Geno about his good looks, about women adoring him and how he still kept his hands to himself. Auriemma said he’d never even been to a strip club. I heard him say he’s perfectly happy because he loves his wife so much.

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From Mechelle: Testing Team USA’s solid foundation – Player injuries, lawsuit against Auriemma could test Games’ overwhelming favorite

There will be a lot of immediate speculation by people about which side they believe. These situations can be precarious for journalists, frankly. There are times when we can prudently state opinions. But there are other times when we need to let the system take its course as we try to sort out what happened.

I can say in nearly two decades of working as a journalist with Auriemma, he has never been anything but professional. In fairness, I do not interact with him in any other capacity. No one has ever told me, on or off the record, about him mistreating them in any way.

By the same token, I have not ever spoken with Hardwick. Her allegations are very real, serious issues that women in the workforce still face in our society. Whether her case in particular actually has merit, though, must be adjudicated.

Rich Elliot of the Connecticut Post: Ex-players Culmo, Lobo rise to Geno’s defense

“Coaching and beyond, I’ve shared many cocktails with the guy and sitting around in bars all over the country just chatting,” Culmo said. “And it’s always just social, hanging out, talking to people, telling stories. And that’s what it is. I’ve never seen anything inappropriate.’

***

“Obviously, I don’t have any idea what did or didn’t happen,” said former UConn All-American Rebecca Lobo, who has known Auriemma for more than 20 years. “But I’ve only ever known him to be someone of utmost character. And I think the world of him. He’s always been of the highest character in every dealing that I’ve ever had with him or any dealing I’ve ever witnessed him having with somebody else.”

From John Altavilla at the Hartford Courant: Hardwick Dependable and Professional, But So Is Geno

Here’s the actual complaint (in pdf form): The Kelley Hardwick Suit Vs. Geno Auriemma, NBA, USA Basketball

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to keep you nice and focused ON the court: Suit Claims UConn Women’s Coach Retaliated After His Sexual Advance Was Rebuffed

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Brittney Griner won’t play for U.S.

USA Basketball says:

“It’s unfortunate that Brittney is unable to participate with USA Basketball this summer, however, we have an extremely deep and talented USA National Team program and remain confident that we will field a very competitive team that all Americans will be very proud of,” said USA Basketball Executive Director/CEO Jim Tooley. “This in no way precludes Brittney from future USA National Team events; she is a young and talented player with a bright future ahead of her in international basketball and we look forward to her continued involvement. We wish nothing but the best for Brittney and her family.”

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Miami’s Katie Meier To Lead 2012 USA Basketball U18 Women – LSU’s Nikki Caldwell, Gonzaga’s Kelly Graves Tabbed As Assistant Coaches

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Katrina McClain Elected To Naismith Hall of Fame

McClain is Lady Bulldog Basketball’s second Naismith inductee, following Teresa Edwards a year ago.

“One of the things that makes me proud is that both Katrina and Teresa went in (to the Naismith Hall) on the very first opportunity they had as finalists,” Landers said. “That means to me that there’s little question in anyone’s mind about their worthiness.”

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are announced.

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I saw no fight. I saw feistiness, mouthiness and a profound lack of good sense.

Moving on to the important stuff: the Vols played the Bears tough but, honestly, if Sims is doin’ her thing like she was Baylor looks to be unbeatable. Writes Mechelle:

Some games are decided by heart and hustle being a little greater on one side than the other. But other games aren’t really about that at all. They’re about a team just being so talented, so efficient, and so down-to-business that the squad seems almost machine-like.

That’s how No. 1 seed Baylor looked Monday in a 77-58 NCAA tournament regional final win over second-seeded Tennessee. It was as if Kim Mulkey’s Lady Bears were a group of basketball “terminators,” relentlessly pursuing a victory with nothing able to stop them.

Mechelle adds: Amid uncertainty, honor the success – In August, Pat Summitt said she intended to coach three more seasons

We don’t know if we just saw the last game on the sidelines for Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt. We are unsure of how to write or talk about this — it has been that way the past few months — but now the 2011-12 Lady Vols have finished this season with their legendary mentor.

This particular journey ended with a 77-58 loss to top-seeded Baylor on Monday in the NCAA tournament’s Elite Eight in Iowa’s capital city, a place that has had a girls’ high school state basketball tournament that dates back all the way to 1925. And that somehow seems appropriate, as this felt like a historical game for many reasons.

From Jere’ at the Times: Sticking to Business as Others Celebrate Her Career (Wowza, that orange suit deserves to hang next to Sonja’s white mink!)

From Eric Adelson at Yahoo: Pat Summitt remains the ultimate winner even though her Lady Vols were eliminated by Baylor

If you ever met Pat Summitt, even for a moment, you know.

If she ever spoke a single word to you, it’s understood.

If you met her steely glance at any point in her unparalleled career, you get it.

Although it is immensely sad that Summitt, 59, may not coach another basketball game, it is as crystal clear as her icy blue stare that she does not need to walk onto a basketball court to continue as a coach for the rest of her life and beyond.

Because once Pat Summitt coaches you, you stay coached.

Duke couldn’t use their off-court brains to support their basketball IQ, and going away from their successful offensive plan spelled their doom. The other doom-bringer was spelled N.n.e.k.a. And yes, says Michelle, Stanford really is that good

What else does a team have to do to show that it is really, really good?

Stanford would like to think that Monday night’s 81-69 win over second-seeded Duke in the Fresno Regional final would have banished any lingering doubts about the Cardinal.

But the questions about whether Stanford has what it takes are only just beginning.

Post-game, the Nerd City Kid seemed beyond thrilled to go up against her USA Basketball teammate. “Seems everyone else has played her.” Yup, they have, and now it’s Stanford’s turn. Scott at the San Francisco Chronicle writes: Ogwumikes, Griner make Stanford-Baylor must-see

Women’s basketball not your cup of grog?

That’s fine. This will not be a screed against the haters, or ignorers.

I’m no missionary. I merely offer a suggestion that you put aside your prejudices and preferences so you can enjoy a classic.

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How about reading up on the #1 seeds?

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

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

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

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

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Hartford’s Jennifer Rizzotti Named USA Basketball’s 2011 National Coach Of The Year

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