Women's Hoops Blog: March 2003

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better


Monday, March 31, 2003

Our site has been down since last night. BlogSpot's template server is down. Bizarrely, for about 5 minutes last night, our site was coming up, but with a different background -- it was coming up with the template from a site called Paulanet, which is apparently a Spanish-language site devoted to gynecology, rollerhockey, and Palestine.

Surreal. A glitch in the matrix, i guess....
Tennessee won easily with their dominance inside. Gwen Jackson, who has been up and down through the year, now seems unstoppable. Even for a good shooting team like 'Nova, it just isn't possible to overcome a 38-17 rebounding deficit.

Duke survived again. It wasn't pretty. The Devils' offense (aside from Beard, who scored half of their points) was spotty, but their defense was tough. Grant, after getting schooled by Beard early, made a great effort in the second half. Pierson played so hard, but the missed free throws at the end were a killer. Perkins was... um... where was Perkins?

Kudos to the New Mexico fans for showing up and cheering (so loud!) even though the Lobos weren't part of the game. Wish I could say the same for Stanford fans.

Duke-Tennessee will be crazy.
Following up on my earlier post about the Mendiolas.... a bunch of folks on the SoCal Women's Hoops forum have a lot to say on the subject.

Here: "Anyone who watched these repulsive creeps while the girls played in high school can't be surprised by this. It's a fitting end. Remember, they tried to beat up Diana Taurasi's father in Santa Barbara. When D took a cheap shot elbow to the throat from Gianconda, they began chanting "Goodbye" while she lied motionless on the floor."

Here: "[A]ren't these guys the same ones who practically kicked the crap out of an opposing fan at the Santa Barbara Tournament a few years ago?"

Here: "These guys have been no good since they came to El Toro highschool from Fountan Valley high.They have been thugs and have been a black eye on Lake Forest since they moved there."

Here: "No one has ever stepped up to challenge the behavior of this family of thugs. From HS to college ... their behavior has been praised as that of a supportive family. Their tactics of intimidating the girl's opponentsand over the top behavior was not only allowed but praised."
Didn't mean to neglect Saturday's D2 championship: SDSU beat NKU 65-50 to win the title. Melissa Pater, after being snubbed for the All-American team, scored 22 in the finals. It was the Jackrabbits' first national title. The championship was a good game, but the moment that no one will forget was Cizek's last-second, deflected, banked 3 in the semis.

NKU Coach Winstel had tears of pride for her team despite the loss. Her senior class ended with an admirable 109-22 record.
One very sad story off the court today -- three brothers of Washington players Giuliana and Gioconda Mendiola have been indicted in a drug-related murder. Giovanni Mendiola has been accused of killing Brendan Butler, whose body was found in a campground on November 13.

The Mendiola brothers were apparently arrested in Southern California. Officials have begun proceedings to extradite them to Idaho. A defense lawyer said that the defendants plan to fight extradition.

Update: an additional note from the LA Times article on the arrests: "The Mendiola brothers are part of a large family well-known in Orange County high school circles for their raucous support of their sisters' teams. At one point, El Toro High School created a fans code of conduct to rein in the family."
Getting set for today's games:

Duke struggled against Georgia's 2-3 zone, but might have an easier time against Texas Tech, which likes to play mostly man. Beard is the superstar, but Tillis and Bass will be key for the Devils. Casey Jackson hopes to keep providing a spark for the Raiders off the bench. The big question of the game might be: how will the Pit fans react? Given their hatred of the Raiders, they might be pulling for Duke.

Coach Harry has just felt "like a passenger" riding his team's success, watching them play "far above their physical ability." He hopes for another miracle tonight. Dan Fleser has more on the relationship between Harry and Pat (aka "Queen Mary"); so does Travis Haney.
Happy Cesar Chavez day.

In yesterday's games:

UConn looked very good against BC. The Huskies played aggressive defense shutting down Gottstein and the Eagles. Both Turner and Moore (who was sick) had strong games inside. It was the last game for a bunch of BC seniors, including Gottstein, Stepherson, and Mackie.

UConn yesterday looked almost like UConn last year. They shot 59% and had 17 assists on 27 FG. Some of the other weekend winners had similarly good offensive performances: LSU (48%, 18 on 28), Texas Tech (58%, 22 on 30), Tennessee (49%, 20 on 25); while others had to grind it out more: Purdue (42%, 10 on 24), Texas (45%, 12 on 24), 'Nova (35%, 10 on 17), Duke (41%, 17 on 26).

After Coach Curry blew up at her team, Purdue ran away with the game. Valek was awesome again. The Irish just couldn't hit from outside, and so Notre Dame's run came to an end. The game marked the end of Alicia Ratay's college career; Coach McGraw says she's one of the greatest Irish players of all time.

LSU's 16-0 run led to an exciting comeback with over La Tech. It was Cheryl Ford's last college game, and her emotions showed at the end. Still, La Tech believes that it proved it deserved better than a #5 seed. Tech Coach Budke did a great job in his first year. LSU was happy to get a prime-time TV slot; if it keeps winning, it will get plenty more exposure.

Jamie Carey's comeback was a success, as Texas figured out how to beat Minnesota. The Gophers had the rebounding edge, but missed free throws, missed lay-ups, and poor transition D hurt. Texas's athletic guards played tough one-on-one perimeter defense to contain Whalen and Von Wald. It will be tough for the Gophers to replace Corrin, but with most of the team back next year, they should be in good shape.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

The second game of the night in Palo Alto was also a fun one, but it was sad for us to see our Gophers go down. The Gophers came out strong at the start, but Texas came on strong mid-way through the first half to open up a 34-28 lead at the half. Minnesota guard Shannon Shonrock couldn't keep up with Carey on D, allowing Carey to get lots of open jumpers.

After the break, Minnesota came out strong again closing the gap and tying it up in the first few mintues of the half. But Texas kept the pressure on and the Gophers could not keep up with the much faster Texas team. Texas must have scored 10+ points on wide open break away layups. Bowers released down court after almost every Minnesota miss and the Gophers didn't pick up on it. Open Texas break away layups combined with missed free throws allowed Texas to open up a 10 point lead with 2 mintues left and that was it. It was a fun game -- I am sad for my Gophers, but they will be back strong next year.

Tuesday night we will be heading back down to see LSU and Texas play for a final four berth. It should be a great game. Both teams are fast and talented. LSU is definitely the more athletic and physically talented team team, but Texas is much better at team play and executing calmly down the stretch. It is going to be a good one!
Just got back from Palo Alto where we saw two great games...

LSU had a great comeback against La Tech. Temeka Johnson was struggling with her outside shots in the first half, so in the second half she did the smart thing: took it to the hole. Tech (namely Erica Smith) did a good job containing Augustus at first, but eventually Seimone broke free with some great slashing moves, leading to some 10-foot jumpers.

Ford and Frierson were dominant inside for Tech, leading to a rebounding edge of 38-23. But toward the end of the game, the Tech guards just couldn't get it in to Ford and Frierson in the post. Ford got frustrated with her teammates and herself, especially after she missed some key free throws.

Facing a big deficit, LSU could have folded. They showed a lot of heart by playing their way back into the game, and their intensity only increased in the final, critical minutes. Great win.
UConn is in the Elite 8. The Huskies took care of BC today beating the Eagles 70-49. Taurasi led the team, scoring 26 points and pulling down 12 boards. The Huskies had one of their closest games of the year with BC earlier this season when they gave up 75 points to the Eagles. After game today Geno talked about the difference between that game and today's win. He said the Huskies were very focused on playing better defense against the eagles today and not letting BC get the ball inside. Auriemma said BC didn't play nearly as well today as they did in the regular season game either. He also said it may though just come down to the fact that "we have Diana and they don't".

I thought UConn looked pretty darn good today. I am not sure if they are national champion material, but that remains to be seen. I agree with Stacey Dales-Shuman (who seemd to all the sudden like UConn) that Ann Strother needs to get something going on out there. She seems tenative on offense and doesn't seem to have much confindence in her shot. If UConn is going to get to the final four or the championship game, they are going to need more of a contribution from her.

We are heading down to Stanford for the games this afternoon -- can't wait to see some live action!!
Yesterday's games:

Duke did just enough to win. Beard was soft, but others stepped up.

Texas Tech was able to ignore all the off-court distractions and get revenge for last year's loss at the Pit.

The storybook season will last at least one more game for 'Nova. Bjorkland scored 29 for the Buffs; her teammates had only 22 combined, and they couldn't stop 'Nova's slow, methodical, grinding offensive drive in the second half.

Gwen Jackson was huge for Tennessee, and the Vols' kept Mazzante from getting open looks -- she ended with only 12. John Adams says the Vols are playing their best ball since 1998. The Lions just couldn't compete with Tennessee's hustle and rebounding.
Today's games:

UConn beat BC earlier this year, but this is a new day. The last two games have boosted BC's confidence, and it is convinced that it can play with anyone. For her part, Kim Mackie is just happy to be there after all the setbacks she has faced.

Notre Dame's defense has brought it this far. They will need to keep it up today, and they will need to focus in particular on Beth Jones and Mary Jo Noon.

The Gophers have changed their style from an up-tempo, oppotunistic game to a patient, deliberate game. Will their half-court sets work against Texas, who has re-emerged as a major power? Stacy Stephens will certainly make Minnesota's life difficult underneath.

La Tech and LSU haven't played a regular season game in a decade, but the selection committee has once again put them on a collision course. Usually, in the tourney, LSU has been the underdog -- this time it's the favorite.
Oh man... what a day.

Duke survived. It was a tough game, and they didn't look great. Bass had a good stretch at a key time. Tillis was awesome in the second half. Beard had an off night ("It happens," she said), but she hit the key shot at the end. And so they survived.

Duke fans are getting worried: "Very weak decisionmaking on offense, and poor or nonexistent post defense. I know that eventually the luck will run out." Tech will be another difficult game, but maybe it's better that the Devils don't have to face up against the Lobo fans.

Speaking of Lobo fans, they weren't enough tonight. Tech won pretty easily. This game was on ESPN2, so I didn't get to see it -- sad, because it's the one I wanted to see most of all. Sounds like the crowd was pretty intense, and now there even more bad blood between fans... Will the Lobo fans show up for Duke-Tech? Will Stanford fans show up tomorrow? We will see.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Tennessee and Villanova are on to the great 8! Tennessee beat Penn State 86-58. Tennessee played some tough D holding Mazzante to only 3 points in the first half. Villanova pulled off a 53-51 win over Colorado. Villanova was down by as much as 11 points in the second half, but the Wildcats stayed calm and pulled it off. ``We realized through experience if you panic, you have no chance of winning,'' Juhline said.

Tennessee and Villanove will face each other in the next round. This is a much anticipated match-up as Perretta and Summitt are good friends and Perretta helped Summitt with a new offense this summer.

Although I am not a Maria Conlon fan, I do like Jere Longman's article on her in the Times today. She is a tough, hard working kid, and I think it is awesome that Geno recruited her, but I still think her lack of foot speed is a hinderance for the team on D and on offense. That said, I am always rooting for the kid who wasn't really born an athlete, but worked her butt off to become one.
Sweet 16 time. Are they ready for the Pit? Not just the fans, but the elevation? The trainers say drink lots of water, and no booze! Texas Tech's Cisti Greenwalt has been talking trash about the Lobos. Perhaps to avoid further controversy, Coach Sharp has now banned Greenwalt from talking to Albuquerque reporters.

Lobo Lindsey Arndt is ready for the challenge of guarding Plenette Pierson. Last year, the Raiders lost in the Pit, and Pierson got suspended after the game for arguing with Coach Sharp -- it was a low point of her career. Pierson now wants redemption.

In Knoxville, 'Nova is ready for the Buffs. Coach Harry once thought that maybe God meant him to be a mediocre coach, but this year, especially the last few weeks, have certainly changed that.

Both Tennessee and Penn State will focus on defense. Penn State will make a special point of stopping the Vols' fast break. If the Vols can deny the ball to Mazzante, it might really be Mission Impossible for the Lions. Coach DeMoss has been juggling two jobs: she's trying to get the Vols to a championship, and simultaneously trying to get to work on building Kentucky.

Friday, March 28, 2003

Over at ESPN, Jason Whitlock recommends that the women's tourney move to April. "When sports fans think of March," he says, they "don't think of the women." If by "sports fans," he means "men's sports fans," then I suppose this is (trivially) true. Jason obviously doesn't pay much attention to the women's game, but there are in fact quite a few of us who have great memories of the women's Madness in March.

Nancy Lieberman has a breakdown of all the coming match-ups. Iciss Tillis has a chat that was supposed to start at 4 eastern; the chat wrap should be up soon...
Some player profiles today: USA Today profiles Kara Lawson -- sounds like her dad is a little out there. Kara also had a new diary entry on ESPN yesterday, see here. The Courant talks about Ann Strother and other Husky freshmen.

Elsewhere: Purdue's Shereka Wright, Texas Tech's Cisti Greenwalt, UConn's Ashley Battle, Minnesota's Shannon Schonrock, Minnesota's Kadidja Andersson, La Tech's Cheryl Ford (with info about her relationship with her famous dad), Notre Dame's Megan Duffy, and Tennessee's Shanna Zolman.

Also, from the NY Times, an article comparing graduation rates between men's and women's Sweet Sixteen teams. Guess what? The women do better.
D2 semis last night: the dream is over for Cal U of PA, as NKU upset the Vulcans. Despite shooting only 27 percent, the Norse were able to outlast Cal U in the defensive battle. Some people are still trying to figure out exactly how NKU ended up on top. It didn't help that Vulcan star Becky Siembak had an off night.

In the other semi, SDSU beat Bentley in OT. Bentley was up most of the game, but the Jackrabbits closed the gap, and then Stacie Cizek hit a crazy, banked-in 3 to tie the game at the buzzer. SDSU pulled away in the extra frame. Shannon Schlagel had another great game. Bentley was stunned by the game's finish.

SDSU and NKU will play for the title tomorrow. The game is on ESPN2 at 6 eastern.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

D2 update (thanks again to Meredy for some links): Cal U of PA dominated the boards and spread their scoring -- 4 players in double figures -- to move past North Florida and into the semis. North Florida's Cinderella run thus came to an end. And good news for the Vulcans: Sara McKinney seems to be back in top form.

Washburn couldn't overcome Norther Kentucky's tough zone d, and lost 65-53. Bridget Flanagan scored 20 for NKU.

Last week Bakersfield upset #1 Seattle Pacific, but yesterday it couldn't get by SDSU. Shannon Schlagel led the Jackrabbits with 26 points. Bakersfield couldn't find the miraculous comeback it needed to extend its season. Tons of Jackrabbit fans were on hand from South Dakota.

Bentley (team of Yankees), which beat Central Arkansas for its 30th straight win, will meet SDSU in the Final Four.

The great fans in St. Joseph have led the owner of the USBL Express to consider getting the team going again.
Rutgers fans are extremely bitter about the way the season ended, the reffing, and the tournament site selection process. Coach Stringer is upset too -- she says that if the state of New Jersey doesn't do more to support the school and the athletic program, she might leave. But for now, she is turning up the heat on her players, asking them to do more to get ready for next year.

This article talks about Swin Cash trying to balance TV duties and playing for the NWBL. I think Swin, Sue, and Stacey have done a good job -- sure, they all have some biases, but I don't mind that too much. Sometimes the "we're all winners" style is cloying. I do wish that Stacey would shout a little less...
Some others are getting ready for next round:

Texas Tech hopes the experience of 1993 will give it guidance. La Tech is trying to figure out how to slow down LSU. This article anticipates the match-up between two legendary coaches: Summitt and Portland. The Vols are preparing for the hot-shooting Nittany Lions.

Colorado hopes to keep riding the Bjorkland wave. Given how they've overachieved this year, the Buffs feel no presssure. Notre Dame is running on adrenaline.

With the Cardinal out, folks at Stanford are worried about empty seats at the West regions. We'll be there...
Today, we've got some folks rehashing last round's games:

Arkansas is generally happy about the season, but frustrated that it couldn't get past the second round. It is also worried that Coach Blair won't be around next year. K State will try to use it's devastating loss as motivation for next year. Mechelle Voepel says the team should learn from its mistakesagainst Notre Dame. This article on how the TCU game showed that UConn won't win the whole thing. Geno, for one, remains frustrated with his team.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Here is a report from the McDonald's All-American game. It contains good news for the Big Ten: Katie Gearlds and Erin Lawless (both heading to Purdue) and Liz Podominick (Minnesota) had great games. Ivory Latta (UNC) did less well, shooting 4-for-14. Britney Jordan was a no show.

For the rosters, see here; for the stats from today's game, see here.
The D2 quarterfinals got underway this afternoon in Missouri. Cal U of PA won the first game, advancing to the Final Four (Meredy is psyched!). The players over the past few weeks have spent some time interacting with local kids, building fan support. pretty cool... Washburn, playing close to home, should have plenty of fans.

In the pre-tourney banquet, Vulcan star Becky Siembak won Player of the Year. WU's Crystal Walker was named first team All-American. Despite Seattle Pacific's loss last round, SPU coach Presnell won Coach of the Year.

We will pass on results and reports on today's games once they're in.
In case you missed it -- the Times' coverage of the UConn game and Taurasi.

Was interesting last night how they ran an isolation play for Taurasi several times -- including at least two in a row -- when they really needed points. Coaches will have to figure out something to do about that. Sara and I were both noting again last night the problem with UConn's other guards. Conlon had an ok game. As usual, she hit a couple nice spot-up threes at key times. But her ball handling, her defense, her passing were all weak. Battle had a very good game -- she crashed the boards, she's a great defender, she's the toughest player on the team... but her shooting, at times, is a huge liability. When she's outside, her defenders don't even need to bother guarding her.
Last night's action in the West bracket...

Stacy Stephens's 16 points and 14 rebounds (her 14th double-double of the season) and Heather Schrieber's 20 points helped lead the Lady Longhorns to a 67-50 victory over Arkansas last night. Arkansas hit 5 3-pointers at the beginning of the game to pull ahead to an early 15-14 lead, but the Razorbacks couldn't keep it up and Texas started pulling away at the end of the first. Texas cam out strong after the break and that was it. Arkansas never got within eight in the second half.

LA Tech won their 29th consecutive game last night as the Lady Techsters defeated Ohio State 74-61 to advance to the round of 16.
Last night in the East region...

Notre Dame stunned Kansas State beating the Wildcats 59-53. The Irish used a fierce match-up zone defense to slow the Wildcat offense holding K State to 1 point in the first 11 minutes of the second half. The upset snapped K State's 22-game home winning streak in front of 11,000+ hometown fans. Kansas State coach Deb Patterson said, "I thought for whatever reason that mentally we really froze. We were our own worst enemies a lot of possessions in the second half. I haven't seen this team play like this all year. It snuck up and got us.'' Kansas State had been getting lots of hype before the tourney as the possible UConn buster in the East bracket (Stacey Dales-Shuman was pushing this hard) -- not anymore.

Also in the East, UConn defeated TCU 81-66. The final score makes it look like UConn rolled through this game, but that is far from the truth. TCU came out like gangbusters at the beginning of the game while UConn looked like they were alseep out there. TCU's shooting went flat the last few minutes of the first and UConn crept closer and closer. At the half TCU held a 35-33 lead over the defending national champs. In the first half, TCU's 6-foot-4 sophomore Sandora Irvin dominated inside. She would finish the game with 19 points and pulling down 9 boards. The second half was all UConn or should I say ALL TAURASI. The Huskies came out of the break and went on an 18-2 run led by Taurasi. Taurasi scored 21 points in the 2nd to finish with a career high 35 points on 12 for 17 from the field. The Lady Frogs kept at it in the 2nd, but just couldn't close the gap. They are a team to watch though. TCU is big, fast and well coached. I would keep an eye out next year.
Some Duke fans are complaining about the Naismith -- they think Alana's numbers show she should have won. Taurasi herself has mixed feelings. She told Amanda Alnutt, "awards are nice, but when you don't think you're playing as well as you should and you get awards, they don't feel as good." Maybe she feels a little better after last night...
Last week we mentioned the disaster of Michigan's program. Yesterday, the problem came to a head: Coach Guevara resigned.
In the Midwest, Alana Beard's sprained ankle didn't cause her or the Devils much problem as Duke moved on. There was one point early in the second half where Coach G took Alana out for a rest. Utah took advantage and closed the gap to 4. Beard went back in, the game changed instantly, and seemingly within seconds, the lead was double-digits again. She is amazing. Her "whatever" attitude worked last night.

Iciss Tillis (who may be winning the competition for title of My Favorite Player in the World) had another double-double. Still, even with good performances from the two stars, the first rounds haven't been easy for Duke.... and it won't get easier in the Pit. "Losing stinks," said Utah coach Elliott. True, but the Utes had a great season that they can build on for next year.

Texas Tech survived a nail-biter. Coach Sharp had criticized her guards' play before the game, but they stepped up last night. The Raiders couldn't really stop Gaucho Lindsay Taylor, but Plenette Pierson simply refused to lose. Pierson scored 5 points in the final 27 seconds to secure the win.
In the Mideast, Mazzante had another great game at home. She scored 27 and pushed Penn State past South Carolina. Jocelyn Penn had a quiet night for the Gamecocks, who just didn't play well. It was a frustrating end to Penn's career at SC. Also frustrated, the mascots also got into it last night.

Continuing its dream season, 'Nova moved into the Sweet 16 by beating GW. With the Colonials' big players lurking inside, 'Nova stuck to its strength: outside shooting. GW just couldn't slow down all the three-pointers.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

More great hoops tonight. Notre Dame pulled off another upset, while Texas Tech barely survived a charge by UCSB.

Lacking ESPN2, we mostly got the Duke and UConn games, both of which were fun. Utah and TCU both played like young, energetic, and well-coached teams with nothing to lose. Beard and Taurasi both showed why they are the best -- whenever their teams needed a play, they made it. Taurasi's performance was especially noteworthy considering how poorly the rest of the Huskies played most of the night. Great stuff -- we'll post all the coverage in the morning.
Lots of Husky fans think it's a joke that they're playing a team called the Lady Horned Frogs. But TCU is ready for the challenge. And my friend Syd emailed and said that Horned Frogs are all over north Texas, and they're pretty cool... but locals call them horny toads, not "horned frogs."
I am back. Between house guests and Ted's knee injury I have been running around like a crazy person the last few days and haven't gotten a chance to post.

Last night was an awesome night of hoops. Ted already posted the Midwest and Mideast action. Here is what happened in the East and West regions last night.

In the East, BC beat Vandy in an overtime thriller. With the score tied and 74, BC Senior Becky Gottstein had two free throws to win the game -- she missed them both and the game went into OT. Three minutes into the OT Gottstein fouled out and went to the bench with her head in her hands. She finished with 24 points and 8 boards. Without Gottstein on the floor the situtation did not look good for BC. But, thanks to Amber Jacob's scooping, arching layup with 3 seconds left in OT the Eagles were able to pull off the win. Vandy's All-American Senior, Chantelle Anderson, broke the school's all-time scoring record last night, but after the game she said, ''It's been a goal; I accomplished it,but it doesn't really matter right now.''

Also in the east, Purdue handily beat VA tech 80-62. Purdue took control of the game early. Erika Valek scored 16 points in the 1st half shoot 7 for 10 from the field to get the Boilermakers off to a commanding start. Valek finished with 24 points.

The West region also had some awesome games. The sixth seeded Minnesota Gophers ended third seed Stanford's 26-game home winning streak last night to advance to the sweet sixteen. Corrin Von Wald led the Gophers with 19 points including 6 free throws in the last minute. Lindsay Whalen added 13 points and 6 assists. After the game Coach Pam Borton said, "I'm speechless right now. It's a great win for our program. The key thing was we really believed in our defense and we really shut them down." 6-foot-2 Janel McCarville played a key role in that defensive effort. McCarville clogged up the lane forcing Stanford shoot from the perimeter. McCarville finished with 11 rebounds, 7 points, 3 steals and 1 block. Gwen Knapp from the SF Chronicle says that it really isn't that surprising to Stanford make an early exit from the tourney. Knapp writes, "Over the years, the Stanford women's basketball team has been upset several times in the Tournament, unable to advance as far as its talent should take it." I think Knapp has a good point, but I still think it was a pretty big deal for Minnesota to go into Stanford's homecourt and pull of a win like this.

And finally, LSU beat UWGB last night 80-69. LSU will return to the sweet sixteen for the first time since 2000, and the team sounds ready to make a run for it and show up some of its critics. Before yesterdays's game Ke-Ke Tardy said, "We don't get disrespected per se, but there are people who don't think we're that good. I heard (ESPN commentator) Sue Bird say we're the No. 1 seed that is going to get knocked out first. We're a team, and we have an ego just like everyone else. We have a chip on our shoulders, and when people doubt us and put us down, it grows." Tardy also told the Shreveport Times that LSU has learned from each of its 3 losses this year. LSU seems ready to roll and is talking tough, and if SEC tourney MVP Temeka Johnson can recover from the concussion she suffered in last night's game things could get interesting for the Lady Tigers.
Jeff Jacobs reports on the sad and troubling story of Tara Brady, who yesterday filed a lawsuit against Sacred Heart for violation of Title IX. Brady played hoops at the Catholic school located in Fairfield, Connecticut. She had a baby, and she says the school essentially forbade her from returning to the team. Title IX prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy. SH has not yet commented on the suit.
Many expected Taurasi to break scoring records this year, but rather than taking tons of shots, she focused on building up her teammates. Despite lower point output than some other players, D's efforts were rewarded with the Naismith Award.

There are many folks around the country, in places like Tennessee and North Carolina, who aren't happy about this and think Beard or Thomas should have won. We will have to wait a few weeks to see who gets the last laugh...
In the Midwest, Georgia used its homecourt to beat Rutgers. Georgia lost Sherill Baker to a separated shoulder, but they adjusted their game and won. "Don't mess with a wounded Dog," said Christi Thomas, "because we're going to come after you." Rutgers was very unhappy with the referees. Four Scarlet Knights fouled out, and the Dogs went to the line 38 times while Rutgers made only 13 trips. Most controversially, the refs called a late-game technical when Coach Stringer didn't immediately send in a sub following Horton's fifth foul. Stringer didn't realize it was the fifth foul, and the ref didn't tell her.

At the Pit, New Mexico upset Mississippi State. The Bulldogs allowed their usual defensive intensity to lapse, while the Lobos had seemingly unlimited energy from their wild crowd. The Lobos fans really were amazing -- even on TV, it was deafening.
Wow. what a night...

In the Mideast, Tennessee advanced pretty easily. Virginia kept it fairly close for much of the game, but the Vols kicked it into high gear and pulled away at the end. The Vols are enjoying all the home court advantage -- "it's almost too easy," says John Adams. The Cavs were rattled by Tennessee's tough defense, and they ended up shooting only 27 percent and committing 23 turnovers. Still, the Cavs are proud of their effort. "It was definitely a growing season," said Anna Crosswhite. They'll have something to build on for next year.

UNC tried everything, but they just couldn't stop Tera Bjorkland. She finished with 34 points, 8 boards, and 4 blocks as the unranked Buffs upset the Heels. UNC Coach Hatchell said they lost the game at the foul line. Colorado went to the line 39 times compared to UNC's 16. The Heels were also not happy about having to play at Colorado... but now the Buffs will learn the feeling, as they head to Knoxville for the Sweet 16.

Monday, March 24, 2003

The Gophers beat Stanford in Palo Alto! We live in SF but we're from Minnesota, so our loyalties are divided.... sort of. Go Gophers!

Taurasi won the Naismith. Congratulations, D -- you are awesome. More on all of this in the morning...
Lightning strikes twice -- Amber Jacobs wins another game in the final seconds. Unsung hero: Kim Mackie -- she doesn't get a ton of minutes, but came off the bench in overtime after Gottstein (who choked at the end of regulation and missed 2 free throws) fouled out... Mackie helped contain Anderson, and she set the screen that freed Jacobs for the game-winning drive. Awesome finish...

BC helped save the Big East from getting swept this afternoon. Rutgers and Va Tech both fell. Purdue looked great over Va Tech -- Erica Valek was unstoppable.
Finally, the Midwest... Duke looked a little shaky against Georgia State, but it won anyway. The Devils woke up in the second half, and Coach G hopes they will keep that energy for the rest of the season. Utah's Kim Smith scored 35 to set up a date with the Devils.

Cappie Pondexter had another great game in Rutgers's win over W Kentucky. Charlotte couldn't contain Christi Thomas, who scored 31 points inside and led Georgia to victory. Rutgers hopes its speed will overcome Georgia's size advantage. That game starts in just a couple hours on ESPN.

Miami lost to New Mexico, but it thinks that its strong performance proves that it deserved to be in the tourney, despite what some (like me) have said. Now Mississippi State will have to deal with the Lobos fans, who LaToya Thomas says are the loudest in the country.

Texas Tech didn't play well but survived its game against SMS. The Raiders will meet UCSB, which beat Xavier.
In the Mideast: UVA avoided its third straight first-round exit by beating Illinois. After crushing Alabama State, Tennessee is ready for UVA. The Vols and the Cavs have played 8 times in the tournament, and Tennessee has won all but one of those games.

Austin Peay nearly upset UNC, but Nikita Bell helped the 'Heels avoid the loss with some clutch shots at the end. UNC will have to play Boulder at Boulder. Some say that's a raw deal. For the first time all season, 6'5" CU center Tera Bjorkland will have to match up against someone taller than she: 6'6" UNC center Candace Sutton.

Kelly Mezzante had a huge game -- she single-handedly outscored Holy Cross in the first half, and Penn State ended up with an easy win. South Carolina star Cristina Ciocan sat out much of the game with foul trouble, but she made her minutes count: she led a second half run that gave the Gamecocks a win over Chattanooga.

GW beat Oklahoma at Oklahoma, showing that the home-court-buying site system doesn't necessarily ruin the tournament. 'Nova played terribly at the beginning but rallied for a win over St. Francis. St Francis scored 21 points in the first 9 minutes and only 15 in the last 31.
One note on the first-round results: some in the Pac 10 were complaining that, with only 3 teams in, it didn't get enough respect from the selection committee. Arizona and Washington both performed poorly and were knocked out in the first round. Maybe the committee was right about the Pac 10 after all...
Just got back from the ER -- may have torn my MCL playing hoops yesterday in the park. I guess I should stick to watching the game on tv...

In the East: UConn won easily. Taurasi had 21 points and seven assists, even though she barely played half the game (resting her ankle and back, no doubt). D said it was a statement game to themselves, to show how they'd respond to the loss. After the game, Geno apologized to Amanda Alnutt for the incident after the 'Nova game. "I'm still going to be a schmuck sometimes, but don't change on account of me," said Geno. Like him or hate him, you must give him props for the classy public apology. In a boring and ugly game, TCU beat MSU; on TV, it looked like only a few hundred fans stayed around for that game. The Horned Frogs (is that really their mascot?) will play UConn in front of a bigger crowd tomorrow.

On Saturday, BC's Amber Jacobs made a last second jumper to beat ODU by a point. Vandy had a lackluster game but beat Liberty anyway. Vandy has a history of poor performance against the Big East; it hopes to do better against BC.

Alicia Ratay took over the game in the second half to lead Notre Dame to victory. Arizona played its worst game of the season; the two-week break may have hurt the the Wildcats' rhythm. The other Wildcats (K State) beat Harvard in front of a big hometown crowd. Harvard Coach Delaney-Smith was very proud of the Crimson's effort.

On Saturday, Valpo opened up an early lead, but then Purdue woke up and won. Sonja Mallory's last-second shot in the lane gave Va Tech a win over Georgia Tech.
The only real first-round upset was Notre Dame over Arizona. But even that wasn't too surprising, since by the end of the season, the two were very close in the RPI.

Let's start in the West. LSU destroyed SW Texas, and they're now getting ready for Green Bay. Green Bay was thrilled to get past the first round; LSU will be its toughest challenge yet. Emotion overcame the Washington Huskies as their season came to an end at Green Bay's hands.

Pepperdine focused on containing Cheryl Ford and Trina Fierson, but that just allowed Erica Smith and Amber Obaze to surge and lead La Tech to the win. OSU played great defense, holding Weber State to only 33% from the floor.

Stanford dominated the paint in its win over W Michigan, and it hopes to do the same against Minnesota. Stanford's Susan King grew up just across town from the U of M; she's ready to beat her home-town Gophers. The Gophers are hoping not to repeat their performance earlier this year, when they lost to Stanford by 31.

Texas had no problem with Hampton's press and it won easily. Arkansas rallied to overcome a halftime deficit and beat Cincinnati.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Great game in the D3 championship. Trinity of Texas was up most of the way, and led by as much as 17. Eastern Connecticut had a huge rally and tied the game in the last minute. But then Allison Wooley hit a go-ahead jumper for Trinity with 11 seconds left; EConn's buzzer-beater fell short.

Sorry we haven't gotten any D1 tourney reports up yet. We had a big party last night, just trying to recover, try to find our floor under the dirt and bottles. We'll get something up in a bit...
More on UConn and Juhline -- Friday we passed on some info from a reader who said that Juhline wanted to go to UConn. Not so, says another reader:

"Trish grew up in Havertown, PA only 10 minutes from the Villanova campus. She went to Nova camp as a young girl and always said she was going to Villanova to play. Her AAU coach is friends with the UCONN staff and an O'Hara teacher/boys coach, Bud Gardler is great friends with Geno - both wanted them to look at Trish. UCONN did not recruit Trish - partly because they knew Trish heart was with Nova. She did visit PSU and felt that it was not a good fit for her. So lets set the record straight - Trish wanted to be close to home and Nova had always been number one for her."

We've gotten a couple emails saying the earlier story was true, and a couple saying it's false. Some folks on the UConn chatroom said Geno recently said on a TV interview something to the effect of "we recruited her" or "she wanted to come here." But this most recent email seems like it has some inside info...

Anyway, we have no first-hand knowledge of this situation whatsoever. What certainly seems true is this: UConn needs another guard, and they'd be much better if Trish were out there in the backcourt with D. If they didn't recruit her, they should have.

I am really looking forward to the possible Tennessee-'Nova match-up. I'd love to see if Trish can pull off another huge upset...

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Finally finally finally.... it's time to get going....

The NY Times profiles UConn's freshmen, Ann Strother, Barbara Turner, and Willnett Crockett. Taurasi says that if UConn is to succeed, "they can't play like freshmen." Meanwhile, at ESPN, Eric Adelson trashes the Huskies. Husky fans are not taking it well.

Read here about the bizarre tourney-time experiences of Rutgers Coach Stringer. Once, to help her team, she made an appeal to Axl Rose. To no avail.

Elsewhere, Notre Dame says it doesn't mind the role of underdog. But its season has been disappointing. Miami is ready for The Pit, where they are expecting the largest first-round crowd ever. The Washington Huskies wonder what their team might have been if they hadn't lost so many to injuries and other problems.

Valpo is ready for the challenge of playing at Purdue. Duke is trying not to take GSU for granted. The Vols are just trying to have fun. Coach Balcomb is trying to deal with the pressure of Vandy's reputation.

LSU is ready to begin its quest in the faraway land of Eugene, Oregon. Laurie Koehn is ready to get rolling despite lingering injury. Texas Tech is ready for do-or-die time. Pepperdine is dealing with some culture shock in Ruston as it readies for La Tech.

Some bad feelings may cast a pall over the Texas - Hampton game. Texas assistant coach Fred Applin used to be the head coach at Hampton, but he was fired when he criticized the school's Title IX compliance.

The Minnesota Gophers have adjusted to the tough new regime under Coach Borton. They hope the discipline will pay off.

what am i still doing up? need sleep.... tomorrow's a big day.

Friday, March 21, 2003

The D3 semis are tonight, Rochester v. Trinity and Eastern Connecticut v. Eau Claire. Finals tomorrow -- we'll try to find some coverage soon.

Women's College Hoops has some new content. They have picks for tomorrow, but no real upsets. Sue Bird and Swin Cash both say that UNC will come out of the Mideast over Tennessee. Full Court says the East is the place to look for upsets. They think Vandy, Purdue, and K State are all vulnerable.

Here WCH has some dish on coaching changes -- they say Coach Blair will leave Arkansas once they are out of the tourney. For constant updates on coaching moves, check the WBCA's site. USA Today has a nice profile of Duke Coach G and how she turned around the program.
Responding to Sara's entry yesterday about UConn and KJ, a reader writes in with this:

"Here's some additional info re UConn's recruiting mistakes that has not been widely reported. After UConn got Johnson's committment and they decided not to offer another scholarship that year, a young guard with her heart set on going to UConn was very disappointed. She wound up deciding to stay close to home spurning Penn St. and signing on with Villanova where she's been a top performer - especialy in games against UConn. Her name is Trish Juhline."

That is amazing -- I had never heard that before. For Juhline, that win must have been so sweet. For UConn, think of what might have been...
More player profiles today: Vandy's Abi Ramsey, Tennessee's Gwen Jackson, ODU's Corrina Turner, Hampton's Brendy Ellis, 'Nova's Trish Juhline, Minnesota's Shannon Schonrock, LSU's Temeka Johnson, La Tech's Erica Smith, Rutgers's Cappie Pondexter, and Michigan State's Lindsay Bowen.

Finally, John Adam's says the Vols' road to the Final Four is a cakewalk. He's not, for example, at all worried about 'Nova.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

There has been lots of talk this last week about UConn and their ability to bounce back from their streak-breaking loss to Villanova. So what do I think? I agree with what Coach Auriemma has been saying for a while: this UConn team is young. In fact, they don't have a single senior on the roster. They are a good team, not a great team. I, however, don't think being young and inexpereinced is the only weakness of this team. I think UConn has one critical piece missing out on the floor: a true point guard and floor leader. I am not saying Taurasi isn't a great leader and motivator for the team, but she is not a the type of floor leader I am talking about. And Conlon? I know Conlon is a good spot-up 3 pt shooter, but other than that she is a weak spot on the floor. She just isn't fast enough on D and can't really create her own shot on offense. Also, she is not a good enough ball handler and doesn't have the court presence to run the point. UConn needs a point. They need someone to who can run the plays, get people where they need to be, communicate with the coach, and so on.

So how is it that a perennial power like UConn ends up without a single decent point guard on the roster? Well, it seems to be a result of poor recruiting decisions and personality differences.

I don't know if you have gotten a chance to read the ESPN article on UConn and Geno Auriemma that Ted linked up this morning. If you haven't, you should check it out. About half way through the article (which is all about how great a job Auriemma has done with such a young squad), Chris Dailey admits they made a mistake when they only signed up one player for the 2003 class -- Kennitra Johnson, an all-american point guard from Indiana. KJ had very good freshman and sophomore seasons with the Huskies. She averaged 7.2 points, 1.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals in 22.4 minutes per game for the 2000 NCAA champion Huskies her freshman year and was named to the Big East All-Rookie team. Her sophomore year KJ averaged 5.7 points, 1.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.6 steals. The numbers make it look like things were going well for Kennitra at UConn, but at the end of her sophomore year KJ decided to transfer.

Whether it was homesickness, her mother's illness, disagreements with Coach Auriemma, or something else, KJ packed up and headed back to Indiana to join the squad at Purdue. But it seems that KJ always wanted to go to Purdue and ended up at UConn because of a coaching change. Carolyn Peck at Purdue had recruited Johnson heavily throughout her high school career and it seemed she was lined up to play there. Then the summer before KJ's senior year Peck left Purdue to coach in the WNBA and KJ ended up at UConn. It seems KJ hadn't really even considered UConn until that summer.

KJ didn't fit at UConn. Sadly for KJ, it didn't work out at Purdue either. She had academic problems and wasn't eligible for a scholarship, and she had to leave Purdue after only a semester. She transferred to Southern Indiana. She is planning to play for the D2 Screaming Eagles next year.

It is too bad things didn't work out for Johnson at UConn. Even though she had a bit of and attitude and was known to be difficult to coach, I liked her. She was fun to watch at UConn -- fast, athletic, smooth moves... She is the missing piece for UConn this year. In an interview for the Hartford Cournat last month Auriemma said, "We're one really quick guard away from being a really, really good team." I think that's exactly right. When the Courant interviewed her, KJ said she doesn't have any regrets... but it's too bad for UConn that she's not there to be the last piece of the puzzle. If she had stayed, UConn might have been unstoppable again this year, just as they were last year.
Some pre-tourney injuries to report...

Penn State's Jessica Brungo is sidelined with an injured bone in her foot and it is uncertain whether she will play in Sunday's game against Holy Cross. Brungo is Penn State's leading rebounder (6.3 per game) and is averaging 11.8 points per game.

Washington reserve Sarah Keeler tore her ACL in practice Tuesday and will not be able to play in the tourney. Keeler is averaging 15 minutes a game and 3.7 points.
Here is Rob Howe's conference by conference rundown of the Midwest bracket in USA Today (articles on the others were posted yesterday).

What do Val Ackerman, Bob Lanier, Van Chancellor, Michael Cooper, Katie Smith, Anne Donovan, Dawn Staley, and Tina Thompson have in common? They've all signed the WNBA petition to support Title IX. You can add your name to the effort here.

To learn more about the issue, you can check out the Women's Sports Foundation site, including this report.
well, it is some craziness in downtown San Francisco today. Helicoptors all over, cops in riot gear, traffic everywhere. I'm gonna go out for a donut.
Geno was on the Budweiser Hotseat last night on ESPN. We missed it, out catching up with friends, drinking pinot. Our friend Syd said it was sort of weird. When asked if he would ever coach men's ball (rumors lately about him at UCLA), he said no. He expressed some regret about the Amanda Alnutt incident, and said that he didn't mean anything sexist by the "guys" remark (he does, incidentally, call his players "guys" all the time -- no opinion here on whether that's appropriate). When asked "Is UConn's dominance bad for women's basketball?" he said: "only if you aren't on our team."

ESPN has this article about Geno today, and this article about Taurasi and her injuries. Geno says, as he told Jeff Jacobs the other day, that she's at about 50%.
Some pre-tourney coverage: the Courant discusses Coach Conradt. Her teams haven't made it past the second round since 1991, but now that she's no longer athletic director, the team could get rolling again.

Some player profiles: Arkansas's Shameka Christon, Stanford's Kelley Suminski, Marquette's Kelly Schwerman, BU's Adrienne Norris, Georgia's Ebony Felder, Washington's Giuliana Mendiola, Rutgers's Shalicia Hurns, Xavier's Amy Waugh, Liberty's Feenstra sisters, Texas Tech's Natalie Ritchie, K State's Kendra Wacker, and Texas's Stacy Stephens.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Here is the schedule for ESPN's coverage of the tournament. For the first two rounds, each channel will be showing multiple games at once -- whiparound style. I like the word "whiparound."

Here is a color-coded map of coverage.
Some more bracket breakdowns from USA Today...

Kate Smith gives a run down of the East and talks about some of the teams that we don't hear much about -- Hampton, GW, Xavier, etc.

Jessica Sterlitz sums up the South -- a little more on the pre-determined sites (Tennessee at home and LSU off to Oregon) and some info on some other teams in the bracket.

In the West, Pete Donovan talks about the Pac-10 being slighted by the committee with only 3 teams. He also gives a conference by conference run down of the teams playing in this exciting and strong bracket.

No article on the Midwest USA Today yet.
DI coaching changes...

Tennessee assistant coach Mickie DeMoss has accepted the job as the head coach at Kentucky next year. After 18 seasons at Pat Summit's side, DeMoss is ready to go it on her own. "The timing was just perfect," DeMoss said. "It's a time in my career when I am ready for a new challenge to have my own program to build. When Kentucky presented this opportunity, it was a very good fit."

Here is the ESPN list of all the DI coaching vacancies and new hires. Looks like 20 some odd schools will be shopping for new coaches during the tourney. Also, the Times had good a piece today talking about the "Job Fair" that NCAA Men's Tourney has become in recent years.
Are Taurasi and Beard like Magic and Bird? Well, the WNBA is very excited about the junior Class of Titans, according to the LA Times. The article notes the growth in the game, and says the amazing junior class could push it further. The Boston Globe is talking about the increased TV coverage.

Speaking of TV coverage: contrary to our report yesterday, it now sounds like ESPN won't move the women's games if it takes the men's games due to war in Iraq. "At this time, our (women's) coverage will not be lessened in any way," said an ESPN spokesman. (What's the "at this time" mean?) This report is somewhat more ambiguous. I guess we should have more news announced today; maybe they'll clarify.

LSU star and freshman of the year Simeone Augustus was carjacked last night. Luckily, she's ok.
In the Times today, Harvey Araton takes a look at the new model of combined pro-sports arenas/entertainment complexes. Moghegan Sun Casino in Connecticut is the "home" court for the the NWBL Springfield Spirit and will be the new home for the Orlando Miracle franchise in the upcoming WNBA season. Other pro-sports teams are also looking at this new model for new arenas. Good Idea? Hard to say...

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

NWBL action...

The Houston Stealth defeated the Grand Rapids Blizzard 98-89. Maxann Reese led the Blizzard in the first half hitting 5 for 7 from behind the arc and scoring 19 points. The Blizzard led 55-50 at the half, but Houston came out strong after the break. Tina Thompson, Sheryl Swoopes and Kelley Gibson came out strong in the second half and the Stealth were able to pull off the win.

5-foot-6 Becky Hammon led the Tennessee Fury in their victory over the Birmingham Power Sunday night.
The field of 64 is getting ready for this weekend's kickoff. Here are some articles about some of exciting teams in the field.

UW Green Bay has already had a record breaking season for the school -- the program’s first appearance in the national polls, a Division I record 27 wins, and its highest seed ever in the NCAA Tournament. Led by seniors Sara Boyer, Elizabeth Dudley, Chandra Johnson and Kristy Loiselle, UWGB is ready to be a contender this year.

Bubble team Miami was able to eke its way into the tourney this year. This will be the team's first appearance since 1998. Coach Ferne Labati spent most of selection Sunday cleaning to keep her occupied until the bracket announcements. Miami is led by Tamara James, the first freshman to lead the Big East in scoring. Miami will take on New Mexico in the first round.

Vandy's first round opponent , the Liberty University Lady Flames, will be making their first appearance in the NCAA tourney. While it might be easy for Vandy to look past the Lady Flames, especially with the second round match-up with BC or Old Dominion and a possible Sweet 16 contest with UConn, Coach Melanie Balcomb believes her team does not have that attitude. Commodores senior point guard Ashley McElhiney said, "You can't look past them because they don't get the exposure that some other teams get. They're a good team, or they wouldn't be in the tournament.'' LU has the SEC player of the year, Katie Feenstra, a 6-foot-8 sophomore, who leads the team in scoring and rebounding. They also bring 6-foot-7 Meribeth Anderson off the bench.

Checking in with the defending national champs...
After the streak-ending loss to Villanova in the Big East championship Geno Auriemma is refocusing his young huskies to prepare them for the tourney. Taurasi has been playing through aches and pains all season, but there is no question she will be fired up and ready for the tourney. Although Auriemma has some veteran players, the team is pretty young and inexperienced. Geno talked separately to each of the freshman this week describing the tourney as a Christmas present.

Some more on the site and seeding trainwreck...

Mechelle Voepel's FBBI (Federal Bureau of Bracket Investigation) Agents Mildew and Skullduggery investigate where the NCAA went wrong and breakdown the resulting problems region by region.
Uh-oh... this doesn't sound good at all. The Times reports that if there's war, the men's tourney might get bumped from CBS to ESPN and ESPN2. So what would happen to the women? They might end up on TNN or TVLand. What the heck is TVLand? I'm not sure, but I know we don't get it... Donna Noonan has received assurances that the women's games would not be affected, but it's hard to see how that's possible.

As a backup, I guess we could listen to the games on Yahoo audio. Thanks to Phil (who runs this UConn site) for pointing us to Yahoo audio.



I'm back. Our internet was down all day yesterday so I was out of the loop. What a day to be shutdown!!! Oh well, best to jump right back in...

Lots of talk about seeding and the strength of the West bracket which includes 8 of the Top 25 teams.

A little anger here: Jimmy Watson of the Shreveport Times calls the selection committee self-righteous morons. Ouch.

Tara VanDerveer says, "Seeds don't mean squat" and just because Stanford has home court does not mean it is going to be any easier for the Cardinal. She says, "The committee is going to make it as tough as it can for us because we're hosting.'' Plus, let's not forget Harvard's upset of Stanford in the first round a few years ago.

Speaking of Harvard, Coach Kathy Delaney-Smith talks about the Crimson's first round match up with K State.

Also, there is more disapproval of the NCAA's predetermined sites and the resulting home court advantage for some of the high seeds. Matt Hill is upset that Duke was "shipped out to the Midwest Region" while Tennessee gets to stay home. Has the NCAA pushed aside fairness in favor of ticket sales? I certainly don't have the answer, but I do think some of the predetermined sites and resulting seeds are definitely questionable. On the flip side, I really want to see some crowds at these games. I don't think the women's tourney can go to neutral sites yet, maybe someday, but there is no question the NCAA could have done a little better job this year.
In D2 action yesterday, a huge upset -- undefeated and top-ranked Seattle Pacific lost to Bakersfield. Bakersfield made a second half run to knock out the Falcons for the second year in a row.

After beating West Chester a couple days ago, Cal U of PA beat Glenville State yesterday to advance to the Elite Eight. It was sweet revenge for the Vulcans, who had been knocked out by Glenville last year. "Last year, they laughed in our faces," said Sara McKinney "That's what makes this one feel so good." Cal will play North Florida.

South Dakota State, led by Shannon Schlagel, beat U South Dakota. SDSU will play Bakersfield in the quarters.

Here's something bizarre: ESPN says that Arkansas Tech beat Central Arkansas, but the local paper says Central Arkansas won. I guess I have to assume the locals have it right... Central Arkansas will meet Bentley, who easily beat Stonehill.

Northern Kentucky overcame a 15-point halftime deficit to beat Qunicy. Washburn had a scoring burst to beat Drury.

The quarterfinals are next Wednesday. Thanks to Meredy for the D2 updates!

Monday, March 17, 2003

More international hoops: last month Canbarra beat Sydney to win the Australian WNBL championship. Lauren Jackson had 30 points, 23 boards, 4 assists, and 5 rebounds in the title game.
In overseas action, Tamika Catchings scored 45 points to lead her team to the Korean Basketball championship. Sounds like she has dominated the league. Her own website is here; maybe soon she'll have a journal entry on the championship run.
Sara's internet is broken, so she's been quiet today. Should be back tomorrow. From the Michigan campus paper, via the wbeeball server, an article on the shambles of Michigan's program.
UConn hometown press begins to waiver: Lori Riley of the Hartford Courant picks Duke to win the whole thing. All season long, the NY Times has referred to Taurasi as "the nation's best player." Now, they are starting to make excuses for her: "Many consider Taurasi to be the best player in the country, but she has been bothered by a wrenched back and a bone spur in her right ankle. She can still dominate a game, but it remains to be seen whether she can score 30 points when her team is in a bind in a tournament game."

Fair weather fans?
Lots of people are upset that the Big East got 7 teams. To be more specific, many think it's unfair that Miami got in from the BE while teams like Auburn (SEC) and Baylor (Big 12) were left out. Much of the objection is based on the RPI rankings. Auburn is ranked 42 and Baylor is 61, while Miami is 67. Auburn's strength of schedule ranking is 36, while Miami's is 79.

When asked about this Cheryl Marra says: "Auburn was one of those schools we considered but they had a 5-9 regular season conf. record and their non-conf. schedule was not enough to overcome having a below .500 record in their conference." About Miami, she says: "Miami got in by virtue of their strong conf. and having significant wins over schools that were significantly ranked high in RPI. They played extremely well down the stretch and in their conference tourney." About Baylor, she says "the lack of strength in their non-conf. schedule became a factor. They were 8-8 but the lack of strength with the non-conf. schedule hurt."

Yes, the Big East is tough. But it's not as tough as the SEC (Marra admits this -- says BE is the #3 RPI conference), and some in the Big 12 would argue that it is tougher too, though the Big 12 ended #5 in the RPI conference rankings. Auburn had a bad conference record, but most of those losses were to top-25 teams. They've lost three times to Tennessee, but they played well in those games, and almost beat the Vols in February. They lost by one point to Vandy. They lost twice to Mississippi State, and once each to Georgia and LSU.

Who has Miami beaten? Well, they beat Rutgers in the tournament on that controversial time-out call (they lost to Rutgers earlier). They've beaten Georgetown (RPI #83), Syracuse (119), and Pittsburgh (129). They did have a big win at Notre Dame (RPI #28), but that was earlier in the year when Notre Dame was really struggling. They've also lost to Syracuse, West Virginia (122), and Seton Hall (100). They lost twice each to BC and 'Nova, and they got crushed by UConn.

So.... I don't know. I think between Miami and Auburn, I would have gone with Auburn. My two cents...
Rutgers is pleased with its #4 seed, but they aren't surprised by it. They aren't worried about traveling either. Notre Dame is happy to be in, but (unlike ESPN) they never thought they were on the bubble. Miami Coach Ferne was praying to get in; her prayers were answered. BC is comfortable traveling. 'Nova is thrilled with the #2 seed.

The Sf Chron says that the selection committee tried to mitigate Stanford's home court by stacking the west, but Coach VanDerveer wasn't surprised. Washington is happy to play in Oregon. Arizona, on the other hand, is not happy with its #6 seed, and it's also not happy with getting shipped out. UCLA was very disappointed to be left out; and both Pepperdine and UCSB were disappointed with their placement.

Purdue was honored by the #2 nod. The Gophers were hoping for a #5, but were fine with a #6. Iowa was ok with the NIT bid. Penn State is upset -- they wonder, "If we're the Big 10 champions, then why only a #4 seed?" OSU is happy that if it has to play La Tech in round 2, it will be at home.

Virginia was happy with its seed, but George Washington says it's unfair that they have to play Oklahoma at Oklahoma. Duke got exactly what they expected. Kathy Orton doesn't like how the committee did its business.

Tennessee is happy that Texas didn't end up #2 in their region. This is Tennessee's 15th #1 seed. Vandy was hoping for a #3 but they were expecting the #4 that they got; they are eyeing the possible match-up with UConn. LSU is happy about the #1 seed, but they aren't looking forward to traveling, especially to the tough West region.

La Tech couldn't believe that they were only a #5. (Speaking of La Tech: Coach Barmore turned down the Aggies job.) Mississippi State is ready for the Pit in Albuquerque.

K-State felt queasy watching the selection special, but they ended up OK with the results. Coach Patterson says there's no difference between a #2 seed and a #3 seed anyway. Texas Tech is pleased with its #2 draw, and the Raiders are excited about hosting. Colorado thinks the #6 seed is fair.

Texas had mixed feelings about its #2 seed; Coach Conradt was more surprised by other factors -- she said that it's shocking that the Big East got 7 teams in while the Big 12 only had 5. Texas also reiterated its anger with the hosting process, which resulted in lots of travel for the Longhorns. Conradt says it's all about money -- "I guess it's an auction now."

Hampton is trying not to be indimidated with its first-round match-up against Texas. Utah is unhappy. Coach Elliott says the committee has treated them unfairly before, and they did it again.

Auburn believed that its high RPI made it worthy of a tournament slot; they were sad not to get it. Xavier was glad to make it in off the bubble.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Media review: I would give ESPN's selection special a B or B-. Stacey and Nell were good, but I thought Reese Davis was pretty mediocre. He was corny, and didn't really seem to know what he was talking about. His interview with selection committee chair Cheryl Marra was weak. He asked the obvious questions -- Why is the West so strong? Why was Texas #2? Why so many from the Big East? -- but she gave pretty soft, non-responsive answers, and he just moved on. (Cheryl Marra did, however, give some more substantive answers in the ESPN chatwrap.)

The worst moment of the show was the interview with Alana Beard. Davis says, two years ago you were a bridesmaid, last year you were maid of honor... are you ready to be the focus of attention this year, to be the bride? Beard graciously tries to play along with his lame metaphor and responds, yes, I'm ready to wear the wedding dress, to win the whole thing this year. Then Davis says: what do you mean? You just mean basketball, right? [nervous laughter.] You're not breaking any news? Beard (probably thinking: what in the devil is this fool talking about?) kind of laughs, and says no, followed by more nervous laughter.

Oh well. ESPN is getting better, but they have a long way to go in their women's hoops coverage.

Anyway, tomorrow we'll have full coverage from the papers of who's happy, and who isn't.