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…’cause it’s never too early to look towards 2017 (yes, I’ve already made hotel reservations – hasn’t everyone?), Marc Tracy at the Times: Mighty UConn Faces a Future of Rising Powers

Take a peek at the 10 all-Americans selected this season by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. UConn’s Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck each made the cut.

But Stewart and Jefferson are seniors, and Tuck, a redshirt junior, announced Wednesday that she will join them in the W.N.B.A. draft (where they may well comprise the top three picks).

By contrast, all-Americans likely to return include Baylor’s Nina Davis, a onetime Big 12 player of the year; the big scorers Kelsey Plum, of Washington, and Kelsey Mitchell, of Ohio State; and South Carolina’s A’ja Wilson, who is just a sophomore.

Folks are already discussing next year’s top 10.

Yes, they made the WNIT finals, but FGCU women’s basketball roster facing big makeover

Four years after replacing a massively sized, massively successful senior class with an even larger group of newcomers, the FGCU women’s basketball team now is repeating the process.

The unknown is great.

Maryland Basketball: Kaila Charles gives hope for Lady Terps’ future

Maryland should have high hopes for the future of the women’s basketball program. 

Next year, the Lady Terps will welcome in the No. 1 recruiting class in the country. It’s a class that features three McDonald’s All-Americans and one of the players that has the potential to make a great impact to an already talented Maryland team.

Yes, UConn’s losing three seniors, but don’t count’em out yet. Jim Fuller at the New Haven Register writes: Stewart worked to leave UConn women’s program prepared for future

Knowing the pressure that awaits the returning players with herself and fellow All-Americans Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck graduation, Stewart has offered some guidance. Whether it was taking Katie Lou Samuelson out for dinner when Stewart thought Samuelson hit the proverbial wall or cracking jokes to Napheesa Collier during the stretching portion of the warmups before the national championship game, Stewart took the responsibility of bringing along the younger Huskies to heart.

Graham offers up: Sophomore Kia Nurse holds the cards for UConn

Four national championships in four seasons. It is one of those feats that can be matched but never bested, Connecticut seniors Moriah Jefferson, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck as secure in that legacy as a golfer who wins four majors in a calendar year.

Unless …

With two championships in her first two seasons, Kia Nurse is halfway to matching that haul. Granted, halfway is a long way from the whole way, but when it comes to tiebreakers, Nurse earned an unbeatable one almost a year ago on a basketball court in Toronto.

Also: Returning UConn players say they’re ready to take baton

Freshman Katie Lou Samuelson said the team has heard the critics say that without the three seniors, the gap will close between UConn — which beat teams by nearly 40 points a game — and programs such as Baylor, Notre Dame and South Carolina.

She said they’ll use that as motivation.

“We kind of want to prove to everyone that we can still do it, and I think all us are going to be ready when that time comes,” she said.

Howard Megdal: How Geno Auriemma still gets excited for next year

…it is through that lens, accomplishment as a subset of personal journey, that leaves Auriemma excited for what comes next. He said that until he and associate head coach Chris Dailey come to the decision that they can’t “get the kids to where they need to go”, he wants to keep coaching. He doesn’t usually get to think much about his championships because there’s always so much to do. He revealed that conversations about next year had already begun—Gabby Williams was in his office discussing how she needed to get better to compensate for the lost greats. Next year, Auriemma said, is never far from their minds. He doesn’t make it sound like such a bad thing.

“These three leaving, the rest of the players coming back are in for a rude awakening,” Auriemma said. “But you can’t disregard what all this, the impact that it has on the players coming back. And it will last for a while. But then obviously it will—they’ll have to earn it like these other guys.

From John Walters, Newsweek: FOUR SPORTSWRITERS HAVE DECADES OF EXPERIENCE WITH UCONN COACH GENO AURIEMMA

To cover UConn on a daily basis affords these writers unfettered access to the John Wooden of women’s basketball without having to combat, for most of the season, the incursions of big-time media outlets (even if ESPN headquarters in Bristol is just 45 miles west). “It doesn’t matter if you’re from The New York Times or from the JI [Adamec’s paper], Geno treats everyone the same,” says Adamec. “The first time I showed up to a practice, he approached me and said, ‘You made it all the way from Vernon [another tiny eastern Connecticut hamlet]?’ As if to congratulate me for finding them.”

The banter, over the years, has led to a rapport that has laid the foundation for a trust and candor between both parties that is rare if not unique in sports. For years Geno would host a Final Four party on the eve of the national championship game—even in the years UConn was playing—to which media were also invited. “At the 2000 Final Four party in Philadelphia, I brought my wife, whom Geno had never met,” says Jacobs. “He gave her a hug and said, ‘Your husband’s an asshole.’ She replied, ‘I know.’”

Hello again, Lindsay Kramer at Syracuse.com: Quentin Hillsman plans on staying in charge of Syracuse women’s basketball

The breakout star of the 2016 NCAA women’s basketball tournament wasn’t a player.

It was Syracuse University coach Quentin Hillsman.

Hillsman has been highly regarded in coaching circles during his decade of running the Orange, as evidenced by the steady stream of compliments from opposing coaches in SU’s streak to the national title game Tuesday night in Indianapolis.

An encouraging word: Bonvicini to Barnes: Go for it.

Winner. That’s the first word that comes to mind for Joan Bonvicini when speaking of her former star Adia Barnes.

“Adia’s the kind of person that you never want to say you can’t do something.” 

Not so encouraging words out of Nebraska: Yori resigns following athletic department investigation | Women’s Basketball

Hmph. I know there are some head coach openings, but….Lady Vols, associate coach Kyra Elzy agree to part ways

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what was under their shell… fight, moxie, skill and a little swagger. Yes, they lost to UConn by 10, but the game was closer than the 83-73 score.

“Obviously nobody wants to lose — I mean we’re one of the most competitive teams out there — but I’m really proud of the fact that I felt like we responded punch for punch,” Frese said. “When you look at UConn in the games they’ve played in, usually that knockout punch comes, and you don’t recover. So I loved the confidence and the swagger that we played with. There was no fear.”

Made for a great Maggie Dixon Classic game, and I’m sure looking forward to what they do in the Big 10.

Thanks again, Brenda, for saying “yes.” Thanks, UConn, for making this a tradition. Thank you, Dixon family, for showing up, walking onto the court and sharing your love and loss in honor of your daughter.

Yup, that was Oregon State, down a starting point guard and loving to rebound, pushing the Irish to the edge. But Lindsay Allen’s free throws sealed the 1-point win.

Well, that was a surprise: Hampton got its second win of the season, upsetting an improving Wake Forest club.

It’s tough being an LSU Tiger these days.

That’s 13 straight for Missouri – and the fans are beginning to notice.

Should we be keeping an eye on Marquette? They gave DePaul a run for their money.

Should we be seeing an eye on Vanderbilt? They easily handled New Mexico State.

*no jinx, no jinx, no jinx* William & Mary just beat Old Dominion, 75-64. They get a nice gift from LadySwish.

Washington State was defeated by Ms. Plum with the basketball in Friel Court.

Oregon is still undefeated and, by the way, Alleyne’s 80th career double-double moved her into fifth all-time in NCAA women’s basketball history, behind Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris (128), Tennessee Tech’s Cheryl Taylor (90), Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike (85) and Robert Morris’ Artemis Spanou (85).

Upcoming games that have my attention:

#20 South Florida hosting #8 Mississippi State.

In its first neutral site game of the season, No. 20/17 USF will face No. 8 Mississippi State in the Southeastern/American Athletic Conference Challenge. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. in the Jacksonville Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla.

The Bulls return to action after a 10-day holiday break. USF is in the midst of a four-game win streak, and are 7-0 in Tampa this season. Mississippi State and USF face-off for just the second time in program history; their first meeting ended in dramatic fashion, on a buzzer beater by Courtney Williams. The Bulls defeated the Bulldogs in the quarterfinals of the 2014 Postseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT).

(10-4) Florida Gulf Coast hosting (10-2) Auburn.

The Florida Gulf Coast University women’s basketball team has had a hectic holiday nonconference schedule. The run is almost at end, but not before the Eagles face another quality opponent.

FGCU has built a rigorous nonconference schedule this season in hopes of earning a higher seed should the Eagles make the NCAA tournament. The next team up is Auburn, a 10-2 team from the powerful Southeastern Conference, at home on Wednesday.

OSU hosting #4 Baylor.

The Baylor women’s basketball team soaked up the sun during its nonconference games away from Waco, with visits to Florida and the Bahamas during the fall semester holidays.

Wednesday’s road trip to Stillwater, Oklahoma, to face Oklahoma State won’t be quiet as warm — temperatures will hover in the low 30s at the 6 p.m. tipoff — but it’s the most crucial road matchup the Lady Bears have played this season.

West Virginia (11-2) hosting #5 Texas (11-0).

“I think you always have to be pleased when you have a team that can go an extended amount of time without a loss,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said after Sunday’s win against Sam Houston State. “We were able to go through some really tough games, through some on the road and withstand the different environments and be able to win.”

Texas faced three Top 25 opponents: Tennessee, Mississippi State and Stanford. The Longhorns also beat Arkansas in the Big 12-SEC Challenge in Oklahoma City.

West Virginia finished its regular season non-conference schedule 11-2. The Mountaineer’s two losses came against Gonzaga and the University of Southern California, both games played in Spokane, Washington.

Green Bay hosting Dayton.

#22 UCLA (8-3) hosting USC (12-0).

Other stuff:

From Graham: Australian Nicole Seekamp right at home in South Dakota

An unseasonably warm Dec. 25 in Vermillion, South Dakota, just means forecasted precipitation might fall as freezing rain rather than snow, at least until overnight temperatures turn it to ice.

But good luck finding anyone who will savor a gift this holiday season more than University of South Dakota guard Nicole Seekamp will as she finds herself shivering her way around the Upper Midwest one final time rather than with family amid the warmth in Australia.

Given a season of eligibility she didn’t expect, Seekamp won’t be home for Christmas. And that’s fine.

OU gets Rich.

Salt Lake Snap: Panguitch’s 64-game winning streak is ended by Cedar City

‘FIFA 16’ Proves The WNBA Needs In The Game

‘And when you look in on it, it doesn’t look noticeably different than the men’s.’

That’s a direct quote from one of the commentators during the Women’s semi-final of the international cup in FIFA 16.

Cool: Rose, Haywood and Catchings to be honored as part of Grizzlies’ MLK Day events

Congrats: Times Sportsperson of the Year: Robert Morris’ Sal Buscaglia spent a career championing women’s athletics

Sal Buscaglia keeps an old newspaper article tucked away in his desk. It’s from his time in Buffalo, and it commends him for spending just as much time promoting women’s basketball as coaching women’s basketball.

Congrats: Star Tribune Sportsperson of the Year: Maya Moore is the leader of her pack

Nice: Nanticoke Area’s 1990 state championship girls basketball team bonded by lasting memories

A lot has changed in 25 years.

Casey Comoroski moved to Missouri.

Ellen Bartuska beat breast cancer.

Tia Hornlein had twin daughters and Lori Scally’s busy raising three kids.

Their perfect run together at Nanticoke Area 25 years ago?

That will always remain the same.

From Dave: Women Roar: The Story of the Year at the Intersection of Sports and Politics

This past year saw no shortage of people who tried to leverage the sports world to boldly speak out on issues beyond the field of play. The football players at Missouri going on strike against racism; the remarkable activists in Boston—led in many neighborhoods by people of color and women—who kept out the rapacious Olympics; the continuing fight in advance of the 2016 Rio Olympics that’s taking on both the International Olympic Committee and the Brazilian government; South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier speaking out against the Confederate flag before and after the Dylann Roof murders at Mother Emanuel Church; the courageous statements—amid an ugly atmosphere—of Baltimore Oriole Adam Jones, manager Buck Showalter, and front-office chief John Angelos after the police killing of Freddie Gray and the property destruction outside of Camden Yards; tennis living legend Serena Williams returning to Indian Wells 14 years after being showered with racist invective by “fans”—a return she combined with raising funds for the Equal Justice Initiative; NBA Ref Bill Kennedy coming out of the closet as a responseto Rajon Rondo’s homophobia; Atlanta Hawk Thabo Sefolosha’s pursuit of justice after getting his leg broken by the NYPD; the odyssey of Olympic gold medalist Caitlyn Jenner; or even Steph Curry putting the name of slain Muslim student Deah Barakat on his shoes before the All-Star Game. I could name even more. We are clearly in a sports moment when social crisis and inflamed bigotry, conjoined with social media, has created a space for athletes to take their beliefs straight to the public. It’s courageous, and it matters, puncturing the privilege that surrounds the lives of so many fans, like LeBron catching a Bay Area aristocrat in mid-heckle.

That being said, I will not remember the past 12 months primarily for the aforementioned athletic actions. For me, 2015 will be recalled as the Year of Women in sports: a time when female athletes muscled for center stage and masses of people—men and women—put aside their prejudices to join the party.

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I must believe the following are ESPN errors:

Marist over #20 Oklahoma, 76-69. How glad are the Foxes to have Casey Dulin back: 7 rebs, 7 assts, 17 points.

“Oh, my God! We’re so excited!” senior shooting guard Leanne Ockenden said after scoring 17 points to help the Red Foxes earn their first-ever triumph in Poughkeepsie against a top-25 team.

Rutgers over #16 Georgia, 61-58. Guess that’s what you get when you order up cupcakes for your OOC schedule.

Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer was hoping her team would be ready for a top-25 challenge.

The Scarlet Knights answered with a thrilling 61-58 victory over No. 16 Georgia.

Kahleah Copper and Betnijah Laney each scored 18 points to help Rutgers hand Georgia its first loss of the season.

“We needed to have our confidence as this is a young group,” Stringer said. “This is a major game to find out how well we’re going to play at that level.”

#6 Stanford over #3 Tennessee, 76-70. TN was no match for Chiney.

Ogwumike was Tennessee’s biggest problem — she finished with 15 field goals and 11 offensive rebounds. The Lady Vols knew they had to stop her, but they couldn’t do it.

“She is the heart and soul of that team,” Warlick said. “She was just a force inside that we had trouble with all night. Rebounding is effort and positioning and knowing where the ball is coming off, and that’s what Chiney does. She’s just at the right place at the right time.”

But Ogwumike was hardly the only issue.

(Clearly, it was a good day to wear red.)

Some other teams almost became part of the error-fest:

#23 Syracuse over St. Joe’s – by 2. That’s four 20pt games in a row for the Orange’s Sykes.

#7 Louisville over #11 Colorado – by 7. And they needed every one of Shoni’s 30pts.

#13 Oklahoma State over Georgia Tech – by 8. Donohoe shines again.

#25 Gonzaga over Washington State by 8.

Holding the party line:

#14 UNC over High Point, 103-71, as coach Hatchell watched.

#19 Nebraska over South Dakota, 87-53.

#22 Iowa over Drake, 73-51.

#24 Florida State over Long Beach, 72-57.

In other games:

Great win for the Hampton program: they take down Kansas State 86-75 (2OT)

Kids, don’t do this to your coach: Penn spotted Drexel 19. Then came back to win the game by two.

USC did a little better, spotting Hawai’i 10, winning by 11.

Who dat? The Illinois Chicago Flames, dat’s who! They’re #1 in the Horizon, and just took down Wisconsin, 58-56, thanks to a Rachel Story game-winning three-pointer with twenty seconds remaining. It’s the sixth win over Wisconsin in program history and the first in 34 seasons.

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It was close, and then it wasn’t:

#7 Cal over Utah.

#8 Penn State over Ohio State.

#5 Kentucky over LSU.

#22 Florida State over Virginia Tech.

Texas Tech over TCU.

NC State over Georgia Tech.

UTEP over Houston.

Butler over VCU.

Delaware over Drexel.

Creighton over Bradley.

Washington over Oregon.

It was close, and stayed close:

#19 UCLA over Arizona State

#13 Louisville over St. John’s.

#11 North Carolina over Miami.

#18 South Carolina over Arkansas.

#15 Purdue over #25 Michigan State.

Seton Hall over Rutgers.

Wichita State over Evansville.

It was never close:

#4 Duke over Boston College

#15 Georgia over Florida.

#17 Dayton over Massachusetts.

#16 TAMU over Missouri

#10 Maryland over Clemson.

Duquesne over Fordham.

MTSU over Western Kentucky.

Fresno State over Colorado State.

It wasn’t close, and then it got close.

Virginia over Wake Forest.

It was so close, it became a loss.

Iowa over #23 Michigan.

Washington State over Oregon State.

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Because I couldn’t resist sharing this headline: Shorthanded Mules kick off season tonight

In other not so fun news, “Dabnabbit!” Maryland’s Laurin Mincy to miss rest of season

Balance that off with some good news: Xavier’s (HUGE) loss was Washington’s gain: Husky women cruise past Portland for best start in a decade

ESPN Magazine has: Laying down her road – Baylor center Brittney Griner’s game is going to get even better (No idea why they decided to bold the questions — makes them seem more important than the responses.)

BERGERON: There’s also the insinuation that with dunking, with blocks, with playing at a faster speed, that people want the women’s game to look more like the men’s. Is that a fair expectation? Should the WNBA want to look more like the NBA?

GRINER: I’m just glad that we still have a league we can go to. We’re different. You can’t say that we have to play like men because that’s the “right” way to play. I don’t see anything wrong with the way we’re doing it. We’re doing a great job.

Mechelle offers up:  First-year coach, first-time mom – Jennie Baranczyk gave birth to her first son not long after taking over Drake

Drake coach Jennie Baranczyk thought her almost-7-month-old son, Eli, was about to drift off for a morning nap before she went to work. The little guy looked as if he were fading …

 Baranczyk recalled hearing a men’s basketball colleague once say his team reminded him of his infant daughter.

“At the time, I thought, ‘Huh?'” said Baranczyk (pronounced bah-rahn-check), who took over at Drake this spring just before Eli’s birth. “Now, I totally get it. We do something so small, and you just celebrate it like crazy. We take little steps, and you wobble a bit and fall over. But you look at a picture of us from a month or two ago, and we really are different.”

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“Yes, I did, Ethel, but alas, I read it too late. I was not in attendance at the Lib game against the Mystics as it was my bowling night. Knocking down pins caused me to miss out on commiserating with a visiting Mystics fan.”

“I don’t see the need to commiserate. The Lib won, Fred.”

“Yes, Ethel, but don’t lose sight of the big picture…”

“Huh?”

“The book. The Libs playbook!”

“Oooooh. I get it. The Mystics HAVE stolen a page out of the Dive playbook.”

“Because, as that dear Washington fan said, ‘ I will be rooting for the Liberty, because the only way the Mystics have a chance to get a new coach is if they lose!”

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Or, in my case, while you were putting out fires at work, editing a chapter, reading thesi…thesettes? many thesises? and tromping through upstate New York with a surprising lack of internet access…

WhadImiss?

Well, if you’re a Lib or Seattle fan, not much. Ouch.

If you’re a Shock fan, you missed by a hair.

If your last name is Toliver, you missed being excoriated for your voluminous turnovers because you didn’t miss the shot.

If you’re Minnesota, you’re barely missing a beat, even when you have a hiccup.

If you’re a Washington fan, you’re missing the good old days of Julie Plank.

If you’re Phoenix, dang, you’re missing players whose name last name starts with T.

If you’re a Dream fan, you’re not missing much sleep, ’cause Angel is rockin’ and the Price is right.

If you’re a Sky fan, you’re thinkin’ “We’re not missing the playoffs this year!”

If you’re an Indy fan, you’re thinking, “Gee, when we’re not missing our star player, we’re pretty good!”

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WNIT results.

Third Round Schedule
Tuesday, March 20
Washington at Oregon State, 10 p.m. ET
Thursday, March 22
Appalachian State at Virginia, 7 p.m. ET
Syracuse at Temple, 7 p.m. ET
VCU at Toledo, 7 p.m. ET
San Diego at Texas Tech, 8 p.m. ET
Missouri State at Oklahoma State, 8 p.m. ET
Villanova at Colorado, 9 p.m. ET
Friday, March 23
South Florida at JMU, 7 p.m. ET

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’tis the season for transfers?

Freshman Lauren Avant is leaving the Vols.

Sophomore Kari Daugherty is leaving Dayton.

In a similar vein, from Jayda Washington recruits will honor Letters of Intent

Also, from Jayda’s tweets: RT @DougPaceyTNT Heard from her coach Bellarmine Prep’s Hartwell will ask 4 LOI release at #Xavier after @CoachMcGuff took UW job #ncaaw

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More on Flanagan’s retirement.

Seems LSU’s Nikki is ready to take on the Vols and the LSU Reveille is expecting an overhaul. Check out Maria’s extensive piece on Caldwell.

New Washington coach McGuff gets some coverage. Jayda offers:Getting to know new Washington coach Kevin McGuff

Don’t ignore the fact that Green Bay’s Bollant is still pondering.

Expect more pressure on coaches to win (hope this doesn’t mean it’ll be okay to lie and cheat): Salaries dramatically rise for top women’s basketball coaches

During the 2006-07 school year, Tennessee and Connecticut made money on women’s basketball, according to reports the schools file annually with the NCAA. In 2009-10, Tennessee lost about $715,000 on the sport and Connecticut lost about $725,000. Oklahoma lost about $1.1 million on the sport in 2006-07 and more than $1.6 million in 2009-10.

Head coaching compensation is not the only expense that has increased for these schools, and all three generated more revenue from women’s basketball in 2009-10 than they did in 2006-07.

Beth Bass, chief executive officer of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, says there are financial pressures throughout higher education. “Everybody’s looking at everything,” she says. “We have to figure out how to be smarter with our business models.”

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Kevin McGuff named Washington coach

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UCLA fans are surprised and “sick.”

Said one, “We were just at a meet and greet to talk about the renovations (to the arena) and she came in to say how important it was to recruiting….”

It’s probably small comfort that the Bruins tried to keep Nikki:Caldwell Heads To LSU Despite ‘A Very Attractive Multi-Year Offer’ From UCLA

Wonder if the PAC 10 will feel happier if McGuff goes to Washington.

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Clark College Ex-Coach Awarded $545,000 in Retaliation Case

Another coach has won damages in a Title IX retaliation case. Trev Kiser, formerly the women’s basketball coach at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington, was awarded a $545,000 verdict (plus attorneys fees) in a case that claimed he was wrongfully terminated in retaliation for complaining about inequitable treatment of the women’s basketball team.

Also, Petition for data collection in high schools

As we have noted previously, there is a bill currently in the US House of Representatives that calls for the collection of data about gender equity in athletics in high schools–similar to that collected by the Department of Education. If you would like to urge Congress to pass the High School Athletics Accountability Act, you can go here and sign the petition. Your email address is required but will not be displayed. You can also choose not to have your name displayed.

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Staying the course with the Shock

We can’t say absolutely for sure what the Tulsa Shock’s first season could have been like if key components had stayed on board for the move to Oklahoma. If Katie Smith were here instead of Washington. If Deanna Nolan and Cheryl Ford also were playing here, instead of sitting out the WNBA season.

If they’d all been on the Shock roster, would Plenette Pierson have found coach Nolan Richardson’s system more palatable, and not been so miserable that she was traded to New York? Would Shavonte Zellous somehow not have been dealt for a 2011 draft pick?

If all of those players were competing for Tulsa, I do feel pretty confident saying the Shock likely would not have any four-point quarters, as they did Saturday in the second period against the Mystics in a 69-54 loss.

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