Women's Hoops Blog: April 2003

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better


Wednesday, April 30, 2003

More from down under: Price Attack says women's basketball represents a "sexy, healthy, and fit lifestyle." Um.... ok.

Lauren Jackson says the sponsorship will boost the WNBL's visibility and increase the Aussies' chances of winning gold in Athens.
The Silver Stars are wondering how many will show up for the first day of training camp. Because the negotiations went so long, most teams only had about a week to sign all their players.

Kara Lawson is heading to Sacramento after yesterday's trade. She'll join fellow SECer Chantelle Anderson. Detroit's Coach Laimbeer, who has the youngest roster in the WNBA, wanted a little more experience, and got it in Kendea Holland-Corn.

Coop is psyched for the comeback, and she denies that friction between her and Sheryl was the reason she left.

Connecticut is readying for its first practice with its existing roster; it doesn't plan any big trades.

Price Attack down under! In Australia, the WNBL is doing well, and it just signed a marketing deal with a hair-care chain called "Price Attack." Is that like Cost Cutters... but more aggessive?

Finally, more here on Wicks's retirement.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

One of my favorite players, Sue Wicks, has announced her retirement.
Yep, it is a slow time. My boss got reversed by the Supreme Court today. Oh well.... I guess 5-4 isn't too bad. Anyway, there are a few hoops articles around:

The SacBee talks about how GMs are struggling to get ready under the new rules.

The Houston Chron discusses Cynthia Cooper's comeback. The Comets have also signed Sheryl Swoopes.

And in Detroit, Coach Laimbeer is re-shaping the Shock.
Kind of a lull in the women's hoops world these days -- college season is over, wnba season has yet to start -- so, I guess I will just have to write about what is happening in my hoop life...

First and foremost, the Timberwolves. Being Minnesota natives, Ted and I are going crazy cheering for the wolves. I can't wait for the game tonight. I want them to beat LA more than anything. I am sick of the Lakers smug attitude. Go wolves! I love KG!

Second, I am finally found a league! Yeah! I played terribly in our first game last week, but I am practicing my shot and hoping I can make a better impression on my new teamates in the next game.

And last, but not least -- shoes! I need new bball shoes, but I can't find any! I just want a pair of decent looking, comfy, women's bball shoes and no one has any. I have been to four sporting goods stores so far and not one has even had a single pair of women's bball shoes. Men's shoes are way too big and wide for my feet. I mean, come on ! I remember having to wear men's shoes in junior high, and I remember having trouble finding the first women's shoes in stock the early 90's, but that was over 10 years ago! Has nothing changed!

Monday, April 28, 2003

Voepel says, now that the deal's done, the WNBA must focus on improving the quality of the league.

We fans also have some responsibility here: the league won't grow unless the fans start supporting the game more. So buy some tickets! It's up to us.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Last week's Journal article on women's sports has been syndicated, and is available here.

The Courant says that the Sun have enough talent to win the East.

Saturday, April 26, 2003

Cleveland had trouble scoring last year, so they are excited to add LaToya Thomas to the floor.

Sacramento was thrilled to get a big-time center in Chantelle Anderson.

Detroit got two stars with Ford and Lawson. Shock Coach Laimbeer and Karl Malone used to hate each other, so it'll be fun to see how Laimbeer and Ford get along.

The Phoenix staff was impressed at how Plenette Pierson came back after her rocky junior year. Phoenix also added some speed with Marion. After watching tons of tape, they decided Pierson was worth a #4 pick. The Mercury recently found out that Stepanova will not be playing this year.

You can't have too many post players, so Indiana took another one with Gwen Jackson. Coach Fortner doesn't expect her to make a huge impact as a rookie, but she should be able to contribute. The Fever also got DeTrina White in the 2nd round; Doris Burke said that was the steal of the draft.

Pat Summitt got the Mystics some help inside by adding Jenny Mowe and Aiysha Smith.

Seattle stunned many by selecting Jung Sun-Min. After the announcement, the party started in South Korea.

Charlotte stayed close to home and grabbed Jocelyn Penn.

Bucknell star Molly Creamer is heading to the Big Apple to play at MSG.

With their first pick ever, the San Antonio Silver Stars took Coretta Brown.

With the last pick of the first round, Houston took shooting guard Allison Curtin.

With the first pick of the second round, the Sun took forward Courtney Coleman.

The Lynx picked 38-year-old Teresa Edwards, who Coach Serio says is the best guard ever to play the game.
Kate Starbird has mixed feelings about the new contract. She wants to play, but it's hard to make it work for so little money. "We're going to finish playing basketball at age 28 to 30 with no money."

Friday, April 25, 2003

One interesting note from the draft that I just noticed: Phoenix drafted Marion Jones in the 3rd round. Last I heard, Marion said she wanted to participate in the next Olympics and then switch to hoops.
Our stupid archives are still broken. (Yes, it's true, BlogSpot sucks.) We just put more posts on the main page. If that seems to make it (even) slower, please let us know. Sorry about that... Some day maybe we'll find a different host.
You can see the draft results here. No real surprises so far: Thomas, Anderson, Ford, Pierson, Lawson, Jackson. Some thought Jackson would go higher than Ford, but others are worried that Jackson doesn't have the size to play post in the pros, and might struggle as a 3.

Speaking of Jackson over Ford, Barry Uhrman has his picks for college All-Americans here on Full Court (subscription required). He has Jackson as 2nd team and Ford as HM. Disagreeing with the AP picks, Barry boots Ohlde and Mazzante off the 1st team in favor of Lawson and Penn.
We have a deal. And the draft is only a couple hours away -- 1PM on ESPN2.

Voepel names the top 15 prospects. On the same page, Lieberman says "we're looking at a very shallow draft pool this year."

Some folks wondered why Ukari Figgs didn't go higher in the dispersal draft. Apparently she's not playing this year.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Here are the results of the dispersal draft. Detroit wisely took Ruth Riley. Minnesota dissed Betty Lennox (again), and took Sheri Sam. Jackie Stiles is going to the Sparks. One of my old-time favorites, Kristen Folkl, didn't get picked up.
Thomas heading to Cleveland? The Rockers won the draft lottery and will have the first pick. The date of the draft remains up in the air.

This interview with Tamika Williams gives some insight on how torn the players were about accepting the deal.
Not much hoops news today....

USA Today has a funny article on golfing phenom Michelle Wie. Lots of the web (like Andrew Sullivan) is being taken over by the Santorum debate.

But back to hoops. Yesterday Stefan Fatsis had an article in the Journal about finances of women's pro sports. It's not free on the web. The main story of the article is that WUSA players quickly accepted pay reductions, while WNBA player and the league ended up in their knock-down, drag-our contract fight.

Some excerpts: "[T]he nation's most prominent women's pro leagues have taken different approaches to their problems. The veterans of soccer's WUSA, which began its third season this month, were willing partners in slashing costs to help stem league losses. By contrast, the players of the Women's National Basketball Association, which will start its seventh season next month, engaged in a to- the-brink fight with their parent, the deep-pocketed men's NBA, that threatened to cancel the season and possibly the league itself...

"The WUSA has been more of a partnership than the WNBA from the start. Nineteen members of the 2000 women's national soccer team are "founding players" and collectively hold a 1% equity stake in the league. One of them, Julie Foudy, sits on the league's board..."

The article notes that WUSA attendance fell 12% last year, and that WNBA attendance has fallen 15% from its 1998 peak.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

We had our 10,000th site visit today (champagne at our house tonight). Thanks for coming...
Doris Burke picks the WNBA draft's top ten.
Now that Cheryl Burnett has taken the job at Michigan, SMS fans are reliving the saga that led to her departure a year ago. And again, the whisper campaigners are obsessing about her sexual orientation. What would Rick Santorum think?

Last month we had this post on anti-lesbian recruiting tactics. I guess it's spread into the coaching market too...
Great night for hometown sports last night -- Wolves and Wild are awesome. Sara had a tough night in her first league game (she was playing center some of the time!), but she'll bounce back.

The WNBA is inching closer to a deal, hammering out the fine print. The league delivered a 300-page contract, and the players are trying to wade through it (aren't lawyers great?). Jeff Jacobs discusses David Stern.

And in the Seattle PI, David Locke tells why the league is so important. I agree with evertything David says here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Rita sends along this article, which offers a compelling response "to the cynical media members who have stated that 'no one cares if the WNBA goes away.'" Right on.
Brooke Smith is leaving Duke.
Well, today is a big day for me...first day of a new hoops league! It is always so hard to find a competitive, well-run women's basketball league. There are a million men's leagues. Every gym and park and rec department seems to have at least a few men's leagues, but there is never anything for us former high school and college womens hoops players!!! It makes me mad mad mad. It has taken me 9 months to find this league. I hope it is good. I just can't wait to get out there and play.

Well, off to the gym to dust off my jump shot...
According to WNBA.com, the draft is now tentatively scheduled for Friday.
One of the worst things about leaving New Haven was saying goodbye to our mechanic, Rich at Tripp's. Now we've finally found a good mechanic in SF too. Our Volvo (ranked #9) blew up this weekend, but Tom at Richardson Auto got it rolling.

Car fixed, knee fixed... almost back to normal here.

And tonight: Sara starts playing some league play. I'll be there to scream at the refs and embarrass her.
Cheryl Burnett, the former SMS coach who has recently wondered if she'd land another good job again, is taking over at Michigan. For Burnett, getting this job at a major university is a dream come true.

Drake has also landed a new coach: former Nebraska assistant Amy Stephens.
A WNBA deal could be finalized today.

Monday, April 21, 2003

The Times on David Stern: "An equal opportunist, Stern treats both genders with the same conceit and inflexibility." The article also quotes an anonymous official, who says: "In the end, the players had to pay for mistakes by a league that believed their way was the only way to grow the game."

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Not much more news on the WNBA labor situation. There have been a bunch of articles, like this one and this one, criticizing the players.

This criticism has been repeated so frequently now that it's practically boilerplate. It goes: the league loses money, no one really watches, the players therefore have no leverage or bargaining power, and therefore they are stupid (selfish, arrogant, etc.) for complaining and asking for more money.

I'm getting tired of this nonsense. These players are giving a lot for not much in return. Suppose you play in the WNBA for 10 years, making $50,000 a year, not a bad salary, but not great. Maybe you pick up a few grand extra in endorsements, off-season play. It's enough to live, save a little. Then you retire at 33, and then what? What are your career options? Men's pro players don't need to worry about this stuff. If they play for a few years, then can be financially set for life.

The players don't get a great deal. Sure, the league could walk away and say: we're losing money and it's not worth the trouble. But the players too could walk away and say: I love basketball, but I need to plan a life and a career, and I'm not making enough here to make this all possible.

Plus, the league has generally done a bad job promoting the women's game. Sure, they have national TV ads. But what sells tickets is local marketing efforts. You need to have the team as an active and visible presence in the home market. This hasn't happened AT ALL in most of the WNBA markets. Most of the owners (who were practically forced into ownership by David Stern) don't have their hearts in it. Some of them (see Paul Allen) would prefer the league to go away. They don't give a crap about the players or the women's game at all.

It's good now that they have opened up ownership to non-NBA owners. Connecticut got a team, and Tennessee might get one soon. If anything will make the league grow, it's these new teams in new markets.

And if the league does grow, the players should get some of the upside. That's what was so bad about the deal offered by the league: the league was insistent that the players agree to a long-term deal for nothing, so that even if things do turn around, the players see none of the benefit.

So as far as I'm concerned, all of these stupid columnists -- those who have taken this opportunity to point out that no one likes women's sports, to revel in the sport's trouble, to say that the players are stupid, to cheer the decline (not that they ever watched to begin with) -- can go to hell. So can the league.
A reader writes in and says: with all the negative press the Mendiolas have been getting, on this site and elsewhere, they deserve recognition for their positive (game-related) accomplishments.

Absolutely right. So -- adding to her pile of awards, Giuli received her third straight Big Dawg award at the team banquest last week. Nice work...

Saturday, April 19, 2003

Not much news today. The league continues to deny that a deal has been reached. Why? no idea...

Friday, April 18, 2003

Well, now they're disagreeing about whether they're disagreeing. The players say a deal has been reached, but the league says they aren't there yet.

It hasn't been pretty: "It was not a love fest," said one union official. Pam Wheeler said the players are left with bad feelings toward the league. "The players realized the partnership, quote unquote, that the players thought was there was not there," she said. "It's quite an astonishing revelation."

Mmmm.... maybe the players should have just walked away. Yeah, it would have been terrible for everyone, including me. But sometimes you just have to tell someone to go to hell, and walk away. Oh well... I'm glad it's over. If it's over.
Sounds like we've got a deal -- the league and the players have reached an agreement in principle. In other words, they seem to have come to the basic terms, and they'll keep hammering out the details over the weekend.

Sounds like the league won on the length of the deal. The league mostly won on minimum salaries, and the players mostly won on free agency terms and marketing restrictions.

It was very close: the players only voted 56% to 44% to accept. Yikes...
Some progress reported, but a major sticking point remains: the length of the deal. The league wants a five year deal; the players want three.

I'm no genius negotiator.... but how 'bout we say four and call it good?
Well, I was hoping to wake up this morning to a headline reading: "WNBA, Players Settle on Contract." It didn't happen.

We are getting down to the wire. There's no specific drop-dead time -- it's just the end of the day today. Both sides, meeting in midtown Manhatten, worked into the night last night. It could be another late night tonight.

Mechelle Voepel says they aren't far apart, and that the biggest sticking point remains the free agency question.

Augusta-hater Martha Burk has been campaigning for the players. And yesterday she took aim at Portland owner Paul Allen for folding the Portland Fire. Allen not only refused to keep the team going himself, he also refused a $1 million buy-out from Clyde Drexler and others. Have to agree with Martha on this one -- that was a terrible and unfair decision.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

My boss ran into Alana Beard last week. He went to Duke to judge a moot court at the law school -- we made him promise that he'd go see Cameron. He was there poking around, and there was Alana Beard in the hallway. Pretty cool...
While the WNBA teeters, the NWBL is expanding. Next season, the league will add a 7th team: the Colorado Chill. The Chill will work hard to sign former CSU star Becky Hammon as their cornerstone player.
Says Pam Wheeler, director of the players' association: "[The players] are expecting to get a fair and equitable deal. Women are beyond the point where just having the opportunity to work is the standard. They have a greater respect for themselves than to accept any deal."

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

A deal is within arm's reach.
The Sacramento Bee has this article on the troubles facing women's pro sports. It's not just the WNBA that's having trouble -- the LPGA, the WTA, and the WUSA are all experiencing downturns.

Participation in women's sports has been growing pretty steadily. But the growth in participants hasn't been matched by a growth in spectators. So what's up? I guess we all need to get out there and see more games....
Only 2 more days to settle this WNBA stuff. Come on people!!! We need this league!

Nothing much new here on the situation. Talks resume Thursday.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

The Times has some analysis of the WNBA labor dispute. The article says this is different from other pro sports strikes: "What makes it unique is that the union has no leverage." No kidding...

Even folks down under are worried. Lauren Jackson says she couldn't survive on the WNBL alone, but she's confident enough about a settlement that she hasn't even made any back-up plans.
Minor Mendiola update -- Steve Lowery in the OC Weekly says that the family "has had run-ins with police ranging from spousal abuse to possession of stolen property."
There were lots of worried articles around the country today about the WNBA situation, like this one from the Plain Dealer, this one from the Pioneer Press, this one from the Houston Chron, and this one from the Star Tribune. Not much new in any of them... just worries.

Here is the sort of typical, gloating article we can expect to see if no deal is reach. Yes, there are lots of people out there who would just love it if the league failed. Including, most unfortunately, some of the owners. Well, they can all get lost.

My prediction remains the same: they'll settle near the deadline. The players don't have much choice.
In the NWBL, the Spirit weren't happy with third place. Said Swin Cash: "I don't believe a fourth-place trophy is good enough." Um... yeah, but you won third. "Third place, fourth place, whatever."

Elsewhere in Huskyville, Taurasi had surgery on her ankle yesterday.

Monday, April 14, 2003

Yes, there were negotiations Monday, but no formal proposals. "None of us are in this panic mode," said union president Sonja Henning. As a pronoun, is "none" singular or plural? A question for the ages...

In other WNBA news, former Vol Michelle Marciniak retired from the Storm yesterday. Michelle will be coaching at South Carolina.
The WNBA draft has been postponed -- it was supposed to be Wednesday.
nothing going on right now at all. I assume that the WNBA negotiations are getting back into swing today.... the clock is ticking. I hope the league is willing to throw the players a bone so that they can accept a deal without looking like losers.

I was supposed to be back at work today, but my knee is still the size of a grapefruit. So I'm just home reading. Hope you all are having a good Monday.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Another finals loss for Tennesse: the Fury went down to the Stealth in the NWBL championship. Tina Thompson and Sheryl Swoopes were just too good. The Houston Chronicle, the Stealth's hometown paper, doesn't even have a word about the game.

Springfield won the consolation game.
Here is an interesting piece about the first female letter-winner at Ole Miss. Too bad she doesn't live in Minnesota. My hoop loving 90-year old grandma would love her.
In the NWBL, Tennessee got some revenge on Connecticut, as the Fury beat the Spirit last night. Sue Bird had a terrible shooting night, going 2-of-13, and Springfield missed Lobo. Semeka Randall and Becky Hammon were huge for Tennessee.

The Fury will face Sheryl Swoopes and Houston today in the final. Tina Thompson scored 31 as the Stealth defeated the Chicago Blaze yesterday.

Saturday, April 12, 2003

In the NWBL, Springfield is getting ready for its game today. Even though the Spirit won the season, they might have a tough time in the Pro Cup, say the Register. The Spirit has also announced that it will move back to smaller gyms next year, after disappointing crowds this year. Where are all those UConn fans?

So it's Tennessee vs. Springfield today, which is sort of like a Tennessee-UConn rematch. Hello?

It's rainy and cold here today. Can't even see Marin across the water. Tiger seems to be out of the hunt, but the Gophers hockey team is in the championship game tonight. Till then, I'll be sitting in our nook, doing some reading.
Despite the labor dispute, the Sun are proceeding with business as usual. (They just got a radio deal.) It would be sad if the league shut down before Connecticut got its first game. Sonja Henning claims that the league is under more pressure to settle than the players, but that seems patently untrue.

Friday, April 11, 2003

In the second Pro Cup game, Chicago beat Grand Rapids. Mfon Udoka led the Blaze with 20 and 9.

Tennessee will face the first-place Spirit tomorrow.
I'm back -- thanks for the notes. Was awake, talking to the doctors about basketball and [stuff]. Now it's vicodin time.

I'm home listening to the NWBL webcast. In the first game, Tennessee beat Birmingham in OT, 80-75. Marie Ferdinand came up huge at the end; she finished with 20.
Well, I'm off for some surgery to fix my knee. The anesthesiologist called last night and asked, do you want local or general? Both equally safe, up to you. How am I supposed to answer that?

Also, I'm starving. Won't let you eat before.

Should be over pretty fast. Soon I'll be in the Presidio Y gym, backing Sara down in the paint, making her wish she'd never played the game...
With all the attention on the Final Four, we've been neglecting the NWBL. The playoffs are this weekend. You can listen to the games through sportsradionet.

On Wednesday, Tennessee beat Birmingham to get the fourth spot in the league rankings. In the process, Becky Hammon got enough points to win the scoring title (Swoopes was a close second). The Fury are feeling good going into the playoffs.

Rebecca Lobo will miss the Pro Cup because she's getting married on Saturday. If you haven't gotten the invite, don't show up: "I don't want anyone there who wasn't invited," said Lobo.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

The Grey Lady profiles the homespun crowd that went to Storrs for the Huskies' homecoming (this means you, Katy) -- "It's definitely not the go-to-a-bar-and-get-drunk-watching-the-game fans." In its hoops-and-media review, the Times also gives high marks to ESPN's championship pregame show. (And in Georgia, God is punishing Hootie for his no-woman stance.)

As long as we're at it: in the Post, Boswell trashes Hootie, while Jenkins trashes Burk.

On other topics, Marion Jones, sprinter and future WNBA-er, is pregnant.
From the Post, this article on the WNBA negotiations. The players keep saying: we're close, we'll figure it out. The league keeps saying: we're not close. It's a sign of how much more leverage the league has. At the end of the day, the players will pretty much have to accept whatever's offered. It's sad -- not really fair. But the players will live to fight another day.

The Charlotte Sting, disassociated from the Hornets, now under their new owner, are setting up shop.
another women's hoops blog? seems to be... check out the Insane Platypus.
Hadn't noticed this till yesterday: Mechelle Voepel won the WBCA's Mel Greenberg Award for best media coverage.

Speaking of good reporters, Pam Schmid of our hometown Star-Trib had this article a couple days ago (via Meredy) examining attendance and finances in the college game.
More college post-mortems: Jere Longman on Taurasi, "Has there ever been a more reliable player in college basketball with a game on the line, male or female?" (Maybe not, but let's not forget the Notre Dame game two years ago.) Jere also proposes that the NCAA move the women's Final Four to Friday and Sunday, so it's back-to-back with the men. [Meanwhile, the chatroom debate over Taurasi's language seems to have subsided.]

UConn returned home to the celebration in Storrs. This year (unlike last year, when I was there) they arrived on time. The hometown fans in Derby are preparing for Maria Conlon Day.

In Tennessee, the Vols look toward the future. Dan Fleser says the program has reached a crucial crossroads.

A few hundred fans showed up in Cameron to greet the returning Devils.

Voepel says the championship was a classic.
The league is playing hardball in the WNBA draft negotiations. The problem is that the league is in a better bargaining position, because it can make credible threats that it will simply walk away, shutting down women's pro ball. Indeed, many of the owners (who have been losing money, and just don't like the headache) would probably like nothing more.

We continue to see how the association with the NBA, while a good thing in some respects, has come back to bite us.

The Seattle Times has this update on the issues of the negotiations.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

The ratings were down 14% from last year. I'm a little surprised. Maybe it was the war. Maybe it was just last year, lots of people wanted to see the undefeated season completed.
We can also start to think about the upcoming WNBA Draft. Ann Meyers gives her thoughts on the guards and the fowards and centers available in this year's draft. Not surprisingly, Tennessee's Kara Lawson is her bet for top pick for the guards. Mississippi State's 6-2 forward LaToya Thomas is Meyers's top pick for the forwards and centers. Meyers thinks Thomas will also be the number one choice overall.
Ted mentioned David Stern's announcement regarding the WNBA season. Here is a summary of what came out of yesterday's meeting of the NBA Board of Governors meeting and a transcript of Stern's press conference follwoing the meeting. NBA owners have been asked to provide a $12 million subsidy for the league this season. So far it sounds like the players and the league are no where near to settling this issue. With respect to the players' offers Stern said, "We’re not in the same ballpark. And frankly, I understand the individual players’ perspective. They are playing the sport at the highest level, they are playing … the television audiences that get to see them, and they see the men getting astounding numbers by comparison." Stern also points out that unlike playersin the women's soccer league, WNBA players are not being asked to take a pay cut to keep the league afloat. He said, "We’re the NBA, we are backing this league and we are not asking our women to take cuts. But we are asking them to make a deal that we can demonstrate once and for all that the WNBA has a strong future. It’s up to the women of the WNBA."
On Taurasi's left-handed shot: Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe says that was a lot like Larry Bird.
Of Taurasi, Mechelle Voepel says that "no one player since Swoopes has been any more responsible for a title." Mechelle also looks forward to next year, which will have the best senior class ever.

Next year should be fabulous in the college ranks, but for now, it might be time to turn our attention to the WNBA... if we can. David Stern announced yesterday that if a labor deal isn't reached by the 18th, there won't be a season. C'mon, people.
Some Tennessee fans aren't happy that the Vols' bench got so much time, but Coach Summitt disagrees. ''Our bench played better than our starters if you look at the numbers. I wanted to push tempo. At halftime, clearly our bench had been the better team.'' Speaking of her two senior stars: ''They've become like two of my daughters. I hurt for them. I love Gwen and Kara."
From the Courant: Defying expectations, the Huskies decided that this year wasn't about rebuilding -- it was about repeating. They couldn't have done it without Strother. "Once she hit that first three," said Willnett Crockett, "it was like, `Oh, Annie's back!'" Conlon's game was nearly flawless. "I didn't know whether to cry, or pass out from exhaustion," she said.

How does Taurasi get her hair like that? "I lay in the bed and brush it back and put on some hair spray and throw it up," Taurasi said. "It's pretty simple."

The Vols' lockerroom was full of sadness and disbelief. A tough loss, especially for the seniors.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

From the morning Times, Jere Longman on the game: it was UConn at their most selfless and maddening. Harvey Araton says the loss doesn't lessen any of the amazing things Kara Lawson has accomplished in her life. True that.

From the KnoxNews, Fleser quotes Coach DeMoss: "Too many weapons." Adams says this was the Huskies' most compelling championship. Gary Lundy says bad FT shooting and slack defense cost the game. "We lost by five points,'' said a tearful Ashley Robinson. "And I missed five free throws."
Congratulations to both teams. I know the Vols aren't gonna be happy with their performance, but that was truly one of the finest games I've seen. Competitive, fierce, solid basketball.

Tennessee killed UConn on the boards -- 37-22 overall, and 17-5 offensive. But UConn shot better from the field (51%-44%), from beyond the arc (48%-39%), and, perhaps most importantly, from the charity stripe (13-16 vs. 11-19). Turnovers have given Geno headaches this year, but tonight they actually had fewer than the Vols.

We've been critical of Conlon all year, but tonight she was so solid: 3 3s, 2 steals, 6 assists, and no turnovers! Ann Strother picked the right time to come out of her slump. And there's really nothing to say about Taurasi that hasn't already been said.

Lawson played with so much heart, so far beyond what seemed possible. Gwen Jackson did pretty well, but she got quiet in the second half. Butts, Ely, and Moore did not have great games.

Two of the most incredible shots I've seen: (1) Brittany Jackson's three-pointer, (2) Taurasi's left-handed jumpshot on the baseline.

I, like most people, had picked the Vols before the game. After Brittany made that 3, I thought the Vols were on the way back. But every time Tennessee got close, UConn responded with a huge basket. Congratulations, Huskies.
Thanks to ESPN, also. Rece, Nell, and Stacey got better as the tourney went on. Overall, I think they did a great job with their coverage.
Phew.

That was a fun one. Ted and I had to go to the gym to blow off a little steam and energy after that game!! It was awesome; a great display of women's hoops. Great players, great competition, great coaching -- what else can I say.

Coming in to tonight I really didn't think UConn could do it. During the regular season and the first 5 games of the tourney it just seemed like Taurasi was out there by herself sometimes. And, I didn't think she could defeat this Lady Vols team all by herself. Tonight she didn't have to. Taurasi played awesome don't get me wrong, but hello Ann Strother and hello Conlon!!! What a game for the supporting cast. They were definitely the key UConn's win tonight. I think this Huskie team played about as well as they possibly could have -- they drained their shots, played tough D, stayed patient on offense, and played with a ton of determination and heart. They seemed to have executed Coach Auriemma's game plan to a the tee.

Tennessee, on the other hand, did not play their best game. Kara Lawson did about everything she could to get the win. Lawson played her heart out. Brittany Jackson also played like she wanted it, but it seemed that the rest of the Vols were not fully there tonight. Their shooting was not "on" and they didn't run their break as much as they should have. They let UConn slow it down too much. They played a darn good game, but not their best. That said, dang what a game!
what a game....
I am getting pretty darn excited for the big game tonight!!! It has the potential to be a great game, and I hope it is. I am hoping tonight can be a game that draws a ton of attention to women's college hoops. Both teams have lots of personality and great storied programs. For the Huskies you've got Diana Taurasi's talent, determination, and energy mixed with Coach Auriemma's flare and often annoying public statements. For the Vols you've got senior leaders Kara Lawson and Gwen Jackson (possibly one of the best duos in women's hoops) and the coaching legend Pat Summit. Oh man, this game could be one we talk about for a long time. I hope so! Only 4 and a half more hours until tip off!
Mechelle Voepel is already looking forward to next year, when Tennessee and UConn won't have it so easy. Texas, for one, can't wait to get another shot. Duke and its star are still trying to recover from the painful loss.

On the Tenessee-UConn final, Coach Conradt joins the it's-bad-for-the-game crowd. But Geno says, "Strictly for good theater, you couldn't ask for a better matchup."
In the KnoxNews, Fleser says the Tennessee empire is ready to strike back. He also talks about Geno, and how the Vols fans hate him. Adams discusses Taurasi, who says: "If we're gonna win, it will be because of me. If we're gonna lose, it will be because of me."

The Tennessean also works over Geno, as well as Taurasi's hair. More here on Lawson's tourney shooting woes and other topics.
The Hartford Courant blankets the pages with women's hoops coverage. It recaps UConn's first 3 finals, and also the meeting earlier this year between the Huskies and Vols. It breaks down the matchup, giving Tennessee the advantage in the frontcourt and UConn the advantage in the backcourt. It discusses the Pat and Geno rivalry. It profiles Jessica Moore and her father, who died in a car accident. It also rehashes the story of Lawson and her father. Finally, more on fearless and peerless Taurasi, who yesterday won the Wade Trophy.

The Register talks about how Geno has motivated Conlon: "She has that wonderful combination," Auriemma said. "She’s short ... but she’s slow." Though many are unhappy with the finals pairing, says the paper, this is a made-for-tv matchup.

In the Conn Post, Geno says Tennessee is the favorite. "I don't think there's any way we can win if Tennessee plays their 'A' game."
A fond farewell from the Duke daily.

Monday, April 07, 2003

From the morning Times, Jere Longman on Taurasi. "Is she the best ever? Cheryl Miller and Chamique Holdsclaw would receive a lot of votes in any poll. At the least, Taurasi seems to represent another branch in the evolutionary tree of the women's game." And this: "The night before the N.C.A.A. tournament began, she met with Auriemma and told him that she did not deserve the national player of the year award. Yes she did, he told her. She would have the tournament to prove it."
For the men's championship, ESPN experts pick a winner. For the women's championship, the experts all agree on the bold claim that rebounding is important... but most don't actually pick a winner.
Also, an awesome article today on Donna Lopiano and her fight for women's sports and Title IX. Lopiano is currently the head of the Women's Sports Foundation and was the former Women's Athletic Director at Texas. Jody Conradt got her start under Lopiano many moons ago.
Another good article today by Harvey Araton of the NYT on the finances of women's college hoops and the comparison with the earnings and attendance of men's programs. In the article Jody Conradt questions whether this comparison is even appropriate, "If you're asking do we produce revenue, the answer is yes because we charge for our games and everybody comes. Do we cover all our expenses? No. But have you asked those same questions of swimming, of men's track?" Another good point made by Araton in the aritcle is whether great finanicial success for women's programs will lead to the same pitfalls and scandals that we see in the men's programs. He writes, "There is, we know, a stiff price to pay for big-time payoffs, even if zero graduation rates don't show up in those Department of Education men's financial figures. Nor do they reflect the shame of recruiting violations and exposed academic fraud, or those players left high and dry by contract-jumping coaches, forever on the career make."
Meredy forwarded this article about attendance from the Athens Banner-Herald. Says the author, "It's hard to imagine that Wisconsin, a team that went 7-21 this season drew an average crowd of 6,676. It is embarrassing that a program like Georgia, which is one of five schools to reach the Final Four five times, had an average of only 3,345." Why is it that some schools just won't get behind women's sports?
It was an improbable win for an improbable team, and it was a memorable game for Geno's 500th victory. Taurasi was simply brilliant down the stretch. Ashley Battle made several key plays, including a huge rebound after Taurasi missed a lay-up. Unlike Conlon, Taurasi, and Crockett, AB made 2 free throws. Battle also drew a charge on Stephens (a call that infuriated Longhorn fans). But aside from Taurasi, the key performer was probably Wilnett Crockett, whose hustle was invaluable.

Texas had a very solid game at the end of a great season, but it faltered in the final five minutes. Those five minutes and a player named Taurasi ruined the 'Horns' destiny. Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls described the game this way: Taurasi, the best player in the nation, beat the 'Horns, the best team in the nation. UConn made key plays at key times; when Texas needed something huge at the end, the ball just slipped out of Alisha Sare's hands. Texas did not call a time-out on the final possession. That decision, and the decision to give the ball to Sare (who had barely played), may give Coach Conradt nightmares.
After a back-and-forth game with 16 lead changes, Tennessee finally pulled away. For the last couple games, Duke had played "survive and advance" ball; last night, Tennessee did. At times, both teams' offenses looked stagnant, with little ball movement and no cutting. But Tennessee got a little more motion and a little better push from its bench. Gwen Jackson was Vols' go-to player and the key to victory. At halftime, Jackson and Lawson, the seniors, realized that if they didn't do something, the next 20 minutes would be the last. So they came out with more urgency, and surged past the Devils.

It was a devastating loss for the Devils. The team is left wondering what happened to the intensity that drove it all season. It was especially disappointing for Mosch and Matyasovsky, who ended their careers on a sour note. "You can’t win a basketball game with one person scoring all the points," said Mosch. Duke needed someone to step up and help Alana -- no one did.

The turning-point moment came with four minutes left. Gwen Jackson hit a surprising three-pointer to break a 49-49 tie. Coach Summitt switched to a 2-3 zone for the final minutes. After that, no one other than Beard scored for Duke, and Tennessee never lost the lead.

Sunday, April 06, 2003

What a game. UConn finally figured out how to stop Stephens: Wilnett Crockett. The refs were allowing a lot of contact underneath, and Crockett was really pushing Stephens back. Taurasi had some trouble breaking free from Texas's tough, physical D, but she made huge plays -- the half-court one-handed pass to Crockett was sick. UConn almost gave the game back with missed free throws, but they made just enough.

It was a close game in all respects. Texas had a slight rebounding edge (32-29) and fewer turnovers (12-14), but UConn shot better from the field (45%-42%) and, despite the garbage at the end, also shot slightly better from the line.

Texas fans hate the refs. No one fouled out, and the foul discrepancy wasn't huge -- 20-15. But there were some key fouls called at the end.
Very solid game for the Vols. As expected, they were dominant inside, with a 41-27 rebounding edge. Gwen Jackson was amazing, with 25 and 15. Brittany Jackson had huge plays in the second half.

It was a sad game for Duke. Much of the time, it looked like Beard (who ended up with more than half of their points) was playing alone out there. Tillis played poorly. Mosch was the only other player in double figures. Bass, Krapohl, Harding, Whitley, and Matyasovsky contributed very little on the offensive end.

Coach Summitt got the team exactly where it needed to be at the most important time of the season. As usual in the Final Four, senior leadership means a lot. Lawson and Jackson are driven. They'll be hard to stop.
In Shreveport, Jimmy Watson objects to Taurasi's POY award. Says Taurasi "isn't qualified to carry Alana's sweat-stained jersey, much less oust her as player of the year in any logical vote."
Only a few hours now... looks like Sara and I are cheering for different teams in each game, so one of us may have to spend all evening at a sports bar. Good luck to everyone.
The Vols don't plan on repeating their worst game of the year, when they lost to the Devils by 21. The Vols are confident. Though they don't have tons of star power, they know what it takes to win. Fleser says that, because of the Vols' balance, there's probably more individual pressure on Beard than on Lawson. (Maybe even more on Taurasi, who yesterday was named AP POY.)

Duke feels slighted that, after beating the Vols earlier, and after being #1 or #2 all season, so many have picked Tennessee. So they are trying to feed off their apparent underdog status. The hometown press is confident that Duke will prevail.

Geno says UConn has the best program right now, and that Tennessee's glory days are in the past. The Courant praises Geno's coaching accomplishments this year.

Play in the paint might be the key in the UConn-UT game. It'll be Moore, Turner, and Crockett against Stephens and Schreiber. Conlon's composure will help to steady the Huskies. The spirit of the Husky alums might also help. But, in the end, it will be largely up to Diana.

Texas is different from Villanova. While 'Nova won with a slow game and guard play, UT hopes to win with inside dominance. The Statesman recalls the great '86 championship year.

Saturday, April 05, 2003

Jamie Carey is one of the best stories of the year. The Times disscusses her here, in an article titled "Concussions Just Part of Her Game." Jere Longman also discusses how far the women's game has come since the early days. Says that when Coach Summitt played ball, her team sometimes had to sleep on mats in the gym when they traveled.

On Thursday, Sara posted something about how it's unfair that coaches can leave without sanction but players must sit out a year if they transfer. Maybe the folks at the Times are reading our blog -- they agree with Sara that this is the most troubling contradiction in college sports.

The Post says the one thing missing from this year's Final Four is a clear-cut favorite.
In response to my previous post, a few Dukies have written in. The consensus seems to be that competition with the men's team is the biggest reason why the Devils aren't drawing huge numbers yet. People also note that the program has made amazing progress. Says Barry: "Instead of wondering why Duke doesn't sell out every game, look at what they have done.... the attendance is constantly on the rise in the Coach G era. There will be sellouts for every game soon enough." Good point -- hope the program keeps moving forward. I bet a national championship would really rally the fans.
Most college programs lose money. Of the Final Four, Texas, Tennessee, and UConn are all on the plus side; Duke is not. Geno and Pat are in agreement about this: it's the schools' fault, and if they want things to improve, they need to work on their marketing efforts.

On Duke, it remains shocking to me that they don't sell out every game. They have a top team with some of the best, most likeable players in the game. They play in Cameron, the greatest basketball venue in the entire world. Can anyone tell me what's up in Durham?
In the NIT championship, Baylor had a 13 point lead with 9 minutes left on its home floor, but it couldn't hold on. Le'Coe Willingham made a layup with 3 seconds left to give the Tigers a 64-63 win.
Texas is thrilled to have both men's and women's teams running this weekend -- it doesn't get any better than that. Jamie Carey is giving them the kick-butt attitude they will need to combat UConn's arrogance. Schreiber has experience milking cows that might come in handy.

Voepel says long before UConn was UConn, Texas was UConn.
For the Devils, Wynter Whitley has had a tough year. Her brother died in June, and she's been struggling with all aspects of life since. Coach G told her that if she couldn't pull it together, she couldn't come to Atlanta.

Coach G says that despite the media stir about the lack of Devils offense, "there is really nothing wrong with us." Duke will need to start shooting better. They will also need to listen to their coach (or her cut-out).

Iciss is looking forward to her TV show. I hope someone will send us tapes.
10 years ago, the Final Four was in Atlanta. The folks there witnessed the greatest performance in the history of the college game, as Sheryl Swoopes scored 47 in the title game.

The '93 tourney pushed the game to a new level of popularity. Nancy Lieberman says we've come a long way since the anonymity of the AIAW days, but there's still a long way to go.
Taurasi's self-criticism: "you sometimes feel like you don't deserve it ... you maybe don't feel like you played as well as you could have the whole year." Amazing. Only one way to cure those self-doubts...

The Courant also reports on Liz Sherwood, arriving in the fall.

The Vols' bench is getting psyched. Shyra Ely replaced Ashley Robinson in the starting line-up awhile back. Says Robinson: "who cares?"

The KnoxNews reports on Geno. His repeats his claims that this year was "awful" and that he wanted to lose. Nonsense. He wanted the 89th win. He wanted his name above Wooden's. He looked heart-broken after the loss. He hated losing. And good for him -- the best performers in sports always hate losing more than anything else. Who hates it the most this year?

Kathy Orton discusses how Connecticut and Tennessee define the game, and she discusses whether that's a good thing. The folks at WCH have picked a UConn-Tennessee final.

Friday, April 04, 2003

My pet obsession continued: a new Mendiola article. The police say that they "found some duffel bags consistent with the type we are told are used by smugglers." Exactly what kind is that?

Meanwhile, on the SoCal hoops board, the Mendiola hate debate rages on.
There is an article in the Hartford Courant today talking about the television coverage of the women’s tournament. The article says that even though the television coverage has been widely expanded this year (all 63 games vs. just a selected handful last year) national ratings are actually down overall for the tourney because there just aren’t enough upsets or close, riveting games. There are two things I have to say about this. First, they are right, the women’s game lacks parity, but I believe it is getting better. Second, I don’t believe the lack of parity is only reason why ratings aren’t that great. Ratings are low because no one even knows who these teams and players are until March!!

Okay I am getting a little excited here, let’s start with the problem of parity. Ann Meyers told the Hartford Courant, "People continue to say there are not as many upsets in the women's game as there are in the men's game. That's true, but I did feel there was a lot more parity this year than there has been.” I agree with her. There were several teams who had exciting break-out seasons this year and got lots more publicity that they had ever gotten before. This not only brings fans to arenas and viewers to the TV, but it also helps better the recruiting efforts thus strengthening the programs at these schools.

The most notable newcomer the spotlight this year definitely was Villanova. Villanova made a national name for themselves by upsetting the then undefeated UConn Huskies in the televised finals of the Big East tourney, and then by advancing to the Elite 8 of the tourney. Another exciting team getting publicity is Final Four contender Texas who I believe has a real shot to win the title this year. Jody Conradt’s Longhorns haven’t been past the Elite 8 since the 1989-1990 season. Then there is a team like Colorado who is working towards becoming one of the new powerhouses. The Buffalos, despite a 4th place finish in the Big 12, advanced to the Sweet 16 and narrowly missed their second consecutive trip to the Elite 8.

We may not be at parity, not by a long shot, but there are lots of programs who showed there stuff in the tourney this year, and I believe that more television exposure is only going to help quicken this process.

While I believe parity will be sped up by television exposure, I don’t think we can expect much to really happen as far as parity or viewership unless we see an increase in the regular season coverage. I am willing to bet that coming into the tourney most people had never even seen more that 4 or 5 of the 64 teams play, and I don’t just mean TV viewers, I mean dedicated women’s hoops fans, sportswriters, and potential recruits. This needs to change. I think it's awesome that ESPN decided to carry the whole women's tourney this year and I hope they will do the same next year, but they can’t just drop the game in April and then expect to bring it back as a success the next March.

There are lots of teams out there generating excitement that no one ever gets to see. Teams other than UConn and Tennessee are starting to pull in huge hometown crowds. Sweet 16 teams like New Mexico with their crazy fans at The Pit, and Minnesota, who until last year had barely ever had a winning season and only a few hundred people at their games, now draws big time crowds. Let’s see some of these teams on the tube next season.

All that said, I can't believe March is over and the tourney is nearing its end. It has been so awesome to be able to see so many of the tournament games on television this year. This has been the best March Madness ever! Thanks ESPN.
Another arrest last night in the Butler-Mendiola case.
After Selection Sunday, I argued that Auburn, and maybe Baylor, should have made the tournament over Miami. Tonight in Waco, those two teams will square off for the NIT championship. But remember also that Miami played very well against the Lobos at the Pit.
Lots of fans showed up in front of Cameron last night to send off the Devils. Tillis says they're ready to roll. She stays with the unfortunate wedding metaphor that has been haunting this tournament (thanks to Rece Davis, I think): "A wedding may take 25 minutes. The national championship [game] lasts 40 minutes. I’d rather have that 40 minutes."

Fleser says Lawson's pick as a second-team All-American "is based more on team success than personal achievement." That's how it should be for a point guard and team leader. The Tennessean has more about Coach DeMoss's dual role.

Nancy Lieberman has expanded her discussion of the Duke-Tennessee match-up. She picks the Vols.
Geno reiterates that Taurasi is the best. "If we traded her for any other kid in America ... we wouldn't be as good." Jeff Goldberg says the 'Nova loss may be the team's defining moment. It helped them shake off their exhaustion and their fragile emotional state. Here is the latest from famous reporter Amanda Alnutt.

Can Taurasi dunk? I know her arms and hands are freakishly big.... but her verticle is about 20 inches. Maybe she could do it on pure adrenaline.

Texas will focus on defense. Also in this article, Geno has some kind words for Coach Conradt. Conradt tells Voepel that the January 25 loss to K State was the season's turning point. Coach C also says: "I don't know if we can beat UConn, but we are going to be happy to measure ourselves against what is the standard right now in women's basketball."

Thursday, April 03, 2003

All-American teams named:

First team: Beard and Taurasi (both unanimous); Kelly Mazzante (Penn State), Nicole Ohlde (K State), and LaToya Thomas (Miss State).

Second team: Chantelle Anderson (Vandy); Kara Lawson (Vols), Jocelyn Penn (South Carolina), Nicole Powell (Stanford), and Lindsay Whalen (Gophers!).

Third team: Seimone Augustus (LSU), Plenette Pierson (Texas Tech), Stacy Stephens (Texas), Kendra Wecker (K State), Shereka Wright (Purdue).

Surprising omission: Iciss Tillis. She is, however, an Honorable Mention, along with: Jenni Benningfield (Vanderbilt), Jennifer Butler (Massachusetts), Coretta Brown (North Carolina), Molly Creamer (Bucknell), Allison Curtin (Tulsa), Cheryl Ford (Louisiana Tech), Vanessa Hayden (Florida), Gwen Jackson (Tennessee), Tamara James (Miami), Temeka Johnson (LSU), Chandi Jones (Houston), Trish Juhline (Villanova), Giuliana Mendiola (Washington), Jia Perkins (Texas Tech), Shawntinice Polk (Arizona), Cappie Pondexter (Rutgers), Lindsay Taylor (UCSB), Tan White (Miss State) Tanisha Wright (Penn State).
Some male coaches claim that they are discriminated against in hiring. But not many women coaching guys...
After the Purdue game, UConn players asked: "Where's my SpongeBob doll?" Geno also praises Conlon and her 4 free throws at the end. Geno can't escape his neuroses.

What's the significance of Duke's big win over the Vols in November? Both sides say it doesn't matter. Still, it was torture for Coach Summitt to watch the tape. Lawson is optimistic -- she says this is the best Final Four team she's played with. Shyra Ely's energy will push the Vols. What Tennessee lacked the last few years, says Pat, was balanced offense; this year she's got it.

Hope the Duke players are focusing, and not hanging out with J.J. Redick. (Then again, maybe they should hang out with him more to relax a little?)

Texas has been practicing hard and playing hard. The 'Horns think it's wide open; this year's Huskies are nothing like last year's... and no one else is that good either.

Michelle Smith at the Chron is hoping for a Duke-Texas final. She says it's gotten "mind-bendingly boring" watching the perennial UConn-Tennessee rivalry. I'm not bored.
Local crime reporter Kevin Taylor reports on the indictments in the Mendiola case. Many of the details remain spotty. As relates to the daughters -- the last call from Brendan Butler's cell phone was to a number listed to Gioconda Mendiola. But it turns out that the family "bought cell phones in bulk" and, "to simplify billing," listed all in Gio's name.

So, after some initial investigation, the investigators concluded that the sisters had no connection to the murder or the drug ring.

This article from the UW student paper describes the rollercoaster emotional ride that Husky fans and Mendiola friends have been on since the indictment.
Ted posted a few things under my name last night -- silly Ted. Oh well, he wrote some good stuff so I am happy to take the credit.

I would like to pick up on something he said in the post about Arkansas Coach Gary Blair's departure. It has always made me angry that coaches can just get up and move to a new school without penalty, but players do not have that freedom. Once a player starts at school they do not have the freedom to go somewhere else or accept a better offer (e.g., the opportunity to attend a better school academically or play on a better team) without having to face a penalty. If a player chooses to transfer, they must sit out for a season. They can practice, but no games. So why are players bound to their commitment to a school and a coach, but their coaches are not bound to them? I think this is not fair. I think the NCAA needs to re-examine this policy and start looking out more for the well-being and rights of the student-athletes. The NCAA needs to either come up with way to limit the coaching game of musical chairs or give players the same freedom to move around that their coaches have. I vote for the latter.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

This guy at msnbc.com picks the Vols to beat UConn in the finals. Kelli Anderson of SI picks the Vols over the Longhorns in the finals. Is anyone out there giving Duke some love?
Mick McCabe says the Michigan program is an embarassment. Maybe a new coach will turn things around.

And yes, the rumors were true: Coach Gary Blair is leaving Arkansas for Texas A&M. He's getting twice as much money and a longer contract. Arkansas women's AD Bev Lewis doesn't sound terribly disappointed to see him go. As always, it creates a tough situation for the players. Sara has argued for years that, when a coach leaves, the players should also be able to leave without having to sit out a year. I have to agree...
The Times has this nice preview of the Final Four. Jere Longman says Texas's poise and balance could hurt UConn. It calls Tennessee the most impressive team, and Duke the most enigmatic. And this quote is sure to anger LadyVols fans: "Lately, UConn has supplanted Tennessee as the most dominant team in the women's game and, many believe, Geno Auriemma has displaced Summitt as the top coach." But before fire-boming the Times, read on: "Still, the Lady Volunteers have the deepest, most talented team in the country."

President Bush is cheering for the Longhorn men. No mention of the women.

Also in the Times, this story about Lady Tiger Michelle Wie. It's golf, not hoops, but she could be one of the biggest stories in women's sports of years to come.
Coach Summitt discusses the Final Four here -- she talks about Lawson, Beard, and how the two teams have changed since the first match-up.
The LA Times seems to have taken a serious interest in the Mendiola story. It has another article today.

The article says that Giuliana and Giocanda were questioned by police. The Mendiolas apparently have an apartment in Seattle -- not clear if the daughters live there. The murder victim's last cell phone call was to the Seattle apartment, and his car was found in Seattle several weeks after his murder. But the girls "were quickly dismissed as suspects." The supervising detective said he didn't want to see Giuliana and Giocanda get hurt as a result of this case. (That might be impossible.)

The article also discusses the family's past behavior at basketball games. A couple days ago I linked to posts, like this one, from folks in the SoCal women's hoops community who have experience with the Mendiolas. Most are negative, but some have expressed support: "The Mendiola family was always incredibly kind to my daughter, who played El Toro basketball with both Gio and Giuli. Yes, the boys were loud and relentless, but despite what you might think of them, they loved the El Toro team and cheered the girls on no matter what."
Texas couldn't have played much better. Not to be outdone by the Longhorn men, also in the Final Four, the women earned their berth with a dominant win over LSU. Heather Schreiber was incredible -- "The more I made, the more confidence I got." Seemingly every player on the floor was doing well for the 'Horns. Perhaps spurred (no pun intended) by Coach Conradt's return to full-time coaching, the team is playing great fundamental basketball.

"We just weren't prepared," said Seimone Augustus. Coach Gunter held out hope for another comeback (La Tech is still hurting from the last one), but it never came.
A flawed victory for a flawed team. But still a victory. Still a trip to Atlanta.

Like many of UConn's performances, it was a tale of two teams. But despite the problems late, their composure held. Battle had a great game for UConn; she, along with Conlon and Moore, have been getting big minutes.

The Boilermakers didn't figure out that UConn is not invincible until too late. Eight good minutes was not enough. Lots of pressure by taller Husky guards led to an off night for Valek. "We wanted to be remembered as the team that didn't back down," said Shereka Wright. In that sense, mission partially accomplished. Mary Jo Noon played pretty well, but fouled out in her last college game.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Texas is back in the Final Four for the first time since 1987 after a convincing win over LSU tonite. Texas looked awesome. They moved the ball around on offense, hit their shots, played solid defense, and ran some nice transition. The Longhorns were led by sophomore Heather Schreiber who scored 32 points and had 8 rebounds. The 6-2 forward was all over the place hitting shots underneath, from three point range, and on the break. Junior Stacy Stephens came back from a lackluster performance in the Minnesota game to score 14 points and pull down 12 boards. Jamie Carey's Stanford homecoming (she played at Stanford her freshman year before leaving because of multiple concussions) ended sweetly as her team is headed to Atlanta. After the game Carey said she had always "dreamed of cutting down a net on this floor".

LSU started off strong, but by the middle of the first half Texas had taken control of the game and never looked back. The Lady Tigers just couldn't get anything going on offense after that. They weren't running their offense, and they could not stop Texas inside or out. LSU freshman star Seimone Augustus was a non-factor. It seemed as though she let her nerves get the best of her. Augustus didn't score a bucket until there were only 6 minutes left in the game!!! LSU's point guard Temeka Johnson also had a sub-par game. She made some bad decisions and tried to do too much herself at times.

I thought tonight's game was going to be a good one, but Texas just came out smokin'. If the Longhorns come out like that on Sunday, look out UConn.
Purdue won the second half by 10, but UConn had won the first by 20. The Huskies were dominant for the first 30 minutes. They were ready to coast in, but Purdue wasn't on board with that plans. A couple steals, a few 3s... all of a sudden, it was a game.

But it never really seemed that much in jeopardy. Taurasi and Conlon hit their free throws down the stretch. UConn's defense tightened up again. Nice effort by Purdue to make a game of it. UConn needs to learn to keep the pressure on when they're ahead.
Something that has been bugging me for a few days...

This weekend one of the announcers in the Duke game kept saying that Iciss Tillis's first name comes from Isis, the Egyptian goddess of magic. This is incorrect. Here is a little lesson from Ancient Egypt:

Isis is the mother goddess. She is the wife and sister of Osiris, the first king of Egypt and later the god of the underworld and vegetation. Osiris was murdered by Seth, their brother, who wished to gain control of the throne for himself. Seth chopped up Osiris's body and cast the pieces into the Nile. Isis searched the land and eventually recovered all the pieces of her husband’s dismembered body with the exception of the penis which was said to have been eaten by a crocodile or a fish. Isis fashioned a facsimile penis and hovered over the reassembled body of Osiris in the form of a sparrow hawk. She was able to breathe enough life into his body to conceive a son, Horus. Isis knew that Seth would try to harm her son, the rightful heir to the throne, so she went away to deliver her child in secret. Later, with the help of his mother, Horus regained the throne from Seth.
We're back! Blogger and BlogSpot have fixed the server problem. In the mess, we lost our left-side links... but we'll get them up soon.
The LA Times has this update on the Mendiola situation. Mrs. Mendiola asks for privacy, and asks people to wait before judging.
Stacey Dales-Schuman has been getting high marks for her work in the ESPN studio. She says she spends a ton of time at the computer preparing, learning about teams, learning about players. The hard work pays off. She still needs to lower the voice one notch though...

In this AP article, Purdue Coach Curry says Taurasi might be the best ever. The article was picked up by the Knoxville News-Sentinel and the Charlotte News-Observer, among others.
Sometimes the tortoise loses. Trying to stop Tennessee from scoring was like "trying to hold back a river with a piece of plywood," said 'Nova Coach Perretta. For the first 20 minutes, it looked like 'Nova could perform another miracle, but the 23-3 run to open the second half was more than the Cats could handle.

Coach Harry didn't take Geno's remarks criticizing the Harry-Pat Axis of Evil too seriously. Coach Summitt said they were out of line.

Duke recovered from one of its worst starts all season. The offensieve flow wasn't there, but the Devils made crucial plays down the stretch. It was all about Tillis and Beard -- Iciss had a terrible shooting night, but made the huge 3 at the end; Alana just scored whenever she wanted to. She won't let them lose.

Texas Tech believed all season that it had the spirit of the Sheryl Swoopes 1993 championship team guiding it, but destiny abandoned the Raiders last night. Plenette Pierson battled with a pulled groin muscle, but she just ran out of time. The loss, for her, was unbearable. In the end, it was Beard, not Pierson, who carried the mantle of Swoopes.

The locals in the Pit were definitely on Duke's side. Raider fans are angry at Lobo fans and at the refs.