Women's Hoops Blog: December 2003

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better


Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Penn State drops to North Carolina on the road.

Coach Portland criticized the officiating, calling the free throw disparity "a joke." UNC went to the charity stripe 35 times, compared to only 7 for PSU. "That 35 to 7 is outrageous," said Portland. "That's too drastic to explain. I've never been involved in a game like that."

NC Coach Hatchell had a different take. "They are an outside-shooting team, and we wanted to get the ball inside," she said. "That is one reason we went to the foul line as much as we did."

The Tarheel's inside presence also led to a 40-28 advantage on the boards.

Coach Portland was also unhappy with her players. "There was absolutely no leadership. The head coach can only do so much."
A couple nice links sent along by Mary Jo: this one about rising Villanova star Liad Suez, and this one about Penn State's point guard Jess Strom.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Following Texas's win in Knoxville, the rankings have reshuffled at the top.
We finally have some conference action going, as the Pac 10 season has gotten underway.

Stanford (without Nicole Powell) beat Oregon 77-51. Azella Perryman had a great game, with 17 points and 11 boards. Without Kraayeveld, it doesn't look like Oregon will be pulling many upsets this year.

Washington, surprisingly, has started 0-2 in conference play. On Saturday, the Huskies lost to Arizona, and yesterday, they lost to ASU.

Giuliana fouled out, and it seems that the refs might have messed up. Washington thought she only had 3, but she picked up another and the refs said she was done. The Huskies suspect that the refs got the sisters mixed up.

"We all had her at three," said a visibly shaken coach Daugherty. "Giuliana doesn't foul like that at the end of a ballgame. She knows exactly what she's doing. They (the officials) told us she had five."
UConn beat NC State at the Civic Center for its 69th straight home win. One more will set the record. But that one is the Duke game next weekend.

The Huskies have been looking good lately. "I think the first eight games we were trying to find ourselves," said Taurasi. "But I think the St. Joe's game and this game, we kind of got the sense that when we got on the court, we were going to dominate."

Taurasi had 18 points and 8 assists. Strother had 20.
My Gophers beat Virginia easily. Whalen had 31 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists.

"Lindsay Whalen is just the most amazing guard I've ever seen," Virginia coach Debbie Ryan said. "When her team needs her, she steps up. She's a very unselfish player. She is the heart and soul of that team."

High praise from an ACC coach.

We are probably gonna see the Gophers back home Thursday night. Should be fun!

Monday, December 29, 2003

In the clash of titans yesterday in Knoxville, Texas came out on top. By besting Coach Summitt, Coach Conradt tied with 828 career wins.

The Longhorns had some clutch play down the stretch. Freshman Tiffany Jackson had a double-double off the bench, and Jamie Carey kept knocking down her free throws at the end.

Coach Conradt: "Pat's done a great great job with this team. They've had a tough schedule, and the improvement by players like Ely and Robinson are impressive. This is an important win for us - a big boost - especially in this environment and in this area which was packed with Tennessee fans."

John Adams says that it was clear from the beginning that Texas was the better team, and that despite the difference in the rankings, this was no upset. I think he's right.

Coach Summitt was surprised that, even with Stephens and Schreiber on the bench with foul trouble, the Horns still dominated inside. "I can't remember the last time we were outrebounded by 15. I think that tells you a lot about heart and desire.''

It was a rough game for the nearly 15,000 Vols fans in attendance. At least they aren't Vikings fans...

Saturday, December 27, 2003

It is official -- the Rockers are dead.

About three months ago they said they'd decide within 10 days. When the announcement never came, I was hoping it was because a deal was in the works. That optimism was misplaced.

The dispersal draft is January 6. I guess we'd have to expect the Mercury to take LaToya Thomas, and the Mystics to take Chastity Melvin.
Hey... we're home. Our parents both have the slowest damn internet in the world. So blogging will remain pretty spotty till we're back in SF in a week. Thanks for all the holiday notes. Hope everyone has a great New Year's.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Just wanted to wish you all a happy holiday season. We are heading off to the frozen tundra of Minnesota this afternoon to drink egg nog and huddle around the fire with our families. Happy Holidays!
Yesterday, the Seattle Times ran a story about how the Mendiola sisters are dealing with life following their brother's murder conviction. It was the first time they have spoken publicly about their brothers since the trial.

"We're not looking forward to Christmas," Gioconda said. "There's nothing to celebrate. It's about family, and our family's not there. How can you celebrate something that you don't feel?"
Voepel wrote last week about the Pac 10's frustration after the almost-upsets of USC over UConn and Stanford over Tennessee.

This weekend was more of the same.

On Friday, Washington lost by 4 to Texas Tech. Giuliana Mendiola had another huge game, but it wasn't enough. Tech scored the final 8 points of the game, and with a chance to tie at the end, Mendiola fumbled the ball in the lane.

On Saturday, USC lost another heartbreaker at home by 2 points to Colorado. Rometra Craig's last-second jumper went in and out. Coach Gobrect said the Trojans looked like freshmen in the second half, as they let the Buffs back in the game, then dropped it.

Yesterday, it was Stanford's turn to lose to Texas Tech. The big news was that Nicole Powell went out with an ankle injury in the first half. The game then turned into a battle of the freshmen between Kristen Newlin and Alesha Robertson. Robertson won.

Texas Tech remains unbeaten, and the Pac 10 remains frustrated.
The Gophers didn't have much problem with UW Green Bay.

The difference was the inside play. Led by Janel McCarville (17 pts, 13 rebs, 4 blocks, 4 steals), Minnesota had a big rebounding edge and a 40-14 advantage for points in the paint.

Whalen added 22 points. That's what's great about the Gophers -- they have one great player on the perimeter and one great player inside.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

It was a great weekend for sports here.

We got to see 4 women's games on tv, and they were all great games -- Tennessee - Oklahoma, Stanford - Texas Tech, Georgia - Texas, and Colorado - USC. Not often that we get to see so much great hoops.

Plus, the Vikings and the T'Wolves won.

We were too busy to do much blogging, but we'll have a full rundown in the morning.

Friday, December 19, 2003

I've trashed Cheryl Littlejohn before, here and here, for example. Cheryl played at Tennessee for Coach Summitt in the 80s, but apparently she didn't learn much about coaching.

Littlejohn nearly ruined Minnesota's program. She finally got fired, but then found another job at Chicago State. She ruined that program too and got fired last fall.

Yesterday the NCAA announced sanctions against Chicago State for Littlejohn's infractions. She had illegal practices in the offseason, and she ordered her players to miss class for practice.

The infractions committed (just as it had for Littlejohn's previous infractions at Minnesota) emphasized the severity and intentional nature of the violations. Among other things, Cheryl used to tell her players: "If you walk in late for class it's no big deal. If you miss a day, it's not like you haven't missed a day before."

Here is the Infractions Committee press release, describing the findings in detail.

I'm guessing her college coaching career is over. Finally.
All those winter storms out east have taken their first women's basketball casualty: Penn State coach Rene Portland fell on ice and broke her leg yesterday.

Mary Jo notes that this incident might inhibit Portland's famous foot-stomping on the sideline.
Shoot! Our trip to Minnesota starts a day too late to get the Lindsay Whalen bobblehead doll!!
Also from the CT Post, a good article about freshman players and how hard (nearly impossible) it is to make an impact in elite programs. Geno wishes every freshman could redshirt a year just to get used to college life and big time hoops.
UConn got its 600th win last night beating ASU 81-55 in front of, get this, over 16,000 people!!! UConn started out slow in the first half with sloppy play. The Huskies committed 10 turnovers in the first half and went into the break with a just 2 point lead. The second half was a different story, namely the Taurasi story. With 15 minutes left Taurasi loaded the team on her back and lead the Huskies on a 21-3 run (she scored 15 of the 21). Taurasi finished with 22 points, 7 assists and three steals.

Although it was a great win for the program, both Geno and the players know they need to rely less on Diana to always be the one to make things happen. "We know she's going to do what she does," Battle said. "She's going to make plays. That's just what you get when you play with D, but we can't put everything on her shoulders. We can't rely on her to get all the rebounds, to score all the points, to get all the assists. We've got to do our part."

Thursday, December 18, 2003

In its game against Texas Pan-Am, Texas started last night with a 20-0 lead and went on to win by 65 points. Every player on the roster got at least 11 minutes on the floor.

Coach Conradt was happy to rest the starters in preparation for Saturday's game against #10 Georgia. "It would be really hard for us physically to play a demanding game and turn around and play Saturday in a game that is going to be demanding physically. We got a little work for everyone. Timing is important and playing in game conditions is too. At the same time we didn't have to run our legs off."
UConn goes for its 600th win tonight against ASU. They've had a nice long break, which should make them a little more polished.

Nicole Wolff, meanwhile, is dealing with the frustration of another missed season. "I didn't think anything more could go wrong, but I guess you can never say that," she said. "Every time I feel I need to work through something, it just seems like something like this happens."
Coach TV isn't too upset about the Tennessee loss.

"We gave the game away, we gave it away,'' VanDerveer said. "But to be in a position to give it away says something. Playing Tennessee is a good thing for our team. People are very disappointed we lost, but not discouraged. I know people want to say, 'Oh, Stanford lost to Tennessee again,' but we will be better for it."

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Tennessee goes to overtime again, this time against DePaul.

DePaul is an offensive machine, averaging about 95 points per game. The Vols couldn't stop them tonight, but managed to outscore them... barely.

Neither coach was happy.

"Clearly they were the better team for 40 minutes," coach Summitt said. "We found a way to win, but our defense was very ineffective for most of the evening until we had to buckle down. The biggest disappointment was we didn't compete."

"A minute 30 to go and up four, we still had to finish the dadgum game," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. "We didn't finish the game. But I don't want it to get lost just how great these young women (played) to put us into position to get that basketball game."

Khara Smith led all scorers with 23.
The WNBA has adopted three rule changes for next year:

1. Move three-point line back to international distance,
2. Widen the lane to 16 feet, and
3. Reset shot clock to only 20 on defensive fouls.

All three are designed to help offense. The first two, in particular, should make for prettier basketball -- more space around the court.
The Seattle Times has been running a chilling series of articles on coaches who prey on girl athletes. Today is the fourth installment in the series -- all of the articles are available here.

With the explosion in women's sports, there's been a huge demand for coaches. A unfortunate consequence of this demand is that it's created an easy opportunity for predatory men to gain access to girls and young women.

The series of articles discusses several cases where male coaches have assaulted girls or used their position of power to coerce the girls into sexual relationships. The articles also cites some studies suggesting that these are not rare or isolated incidents.

Worst of all, schools and athletic associations often turn a blind eye. Teachers unions prevent investigations. And even some parents are so focused on their girls' athletic prospects that they become complicit in these horrible events.

This is a terrible story -- bad for women's basketball, bad for women's sports. But ignoring it won't help. Kudos to the Seattle Times for the investigative work and reporting. (Hat tip to Eric McErlain for the link.)
Lieberman on Taurasi:

"One of the best things about Taurasi on the court is how much she impacts the game just by being on the floor. Like Magic Johnson, she doesn't have to score a lot of points to have a major impact on the game. Her passing skills and court vision are vital to UConn's success. If she's not hitting the shot, she's usually drawing the defense to her to give a teammate a better look at the basket, or making the pass that sets up the shot. Though Taurasi has never had a triple-double in college, there's no doubt she can do it all."

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

The history of USC women's basketball -- a glorious past of national championships and great players like Cheryl Miller and Lisa Leslie, followed by a long nightmare of coaching turnover, lawsuits, and losing.

But the Trojans might be back this year. Yes, they're only 2-3 right now. But two of those were very close games against UConn and New Mexico. Only one wasn't close (against, ahem, the Minnesota Golden Gophers).

No, USC isn't gonna win the NCAA title. But they should have a solid season, and they could compete at the top of the Pac 10. That will help keep the program moving forward again.
After multiple ACL injuries and years of lost opportunities, Caitlin Howe will finally get on the floor for Duke. Great news.
Seimone Augustus was named Female Athlete of the Year by USA Basketball.

The honor for the guys went to Timmy Duncan. That's some good company to keep.

Previous winners include Lisa Leslie, Theresa Edwards, Chamique Holdsclaw, and Cheryl Miller. Also good company.

Last night on the court, Augustus played only about half the game, allowing the LSU bench to get some work against Sam Houson.
Natalie Williams tried to start a restaurant when she was in Salt Lake. It didn't go well. She's suing her partner.
Sorry about the spotty blogging. Too much going on out here...

Monday, December 15, 2003

New AP poll. No one new in, no one moved much.

UConn is at the top for the record 91st time. Two of the forty-seven voters, however, switched this week and cast their #1 vote with the Vols. Geno has called for an inquiry.
With its crazy road trip -- 4 games against 4 ranked teams (all resulting in losses) -- in the past, Rutgers was back home yesterday.

The Knights beat #19 TCU. Rutgers had 4 in double figures, led by Cappie Pondexter with 23.

In other Rutgers news, Coach Stringer suspended Nikke Jett yesterday. Cause undisclosed.
More recap of yesterday's huge game --

Coach TV wonders what Coach Summitt told her team at half. Coach Summitt says she didn't even yell that much.

Coach TV also says it was bad to rely so much on Nicole Powell, but what choice did she have? Powell admits that she was tired at the end.

Kelley Suminski on her turnover to LaToya Davis, which led to 2 points and OT: "It was just a bad play. I turned my back. That's something you should never do."

Regardless of the result for Stanford, it was still a great game for the program and the fans, especially those of us in attendance. We got to witness an awesome chapter in a classic rivalry between two of the all-time great programs.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Great game we saw today -- Tennessee over Stanford in OT.

Nicole Powell was the story of the game -- she was the best player on the floor, and she played all 45 minutes. 32 points (on 35 shots) and 16 rebounds.

Powell carried her team. She backed people down in the post. She drained threes. She dominated the boards. For most of the game, she brought the ball up.

But at the end, she ran out of gas. On Stanford's last three possessions in regulation, they gave her the ball and cleared out, but she couldn't convert on the isolations with Ashley Robinson. And by relying so much on Powell, the Cards never got anyone else going.

The Vols had a huge edge in the backcourt. And Coach Summitt made some great adjustments for the second half. Taking advantage of the Vols' speed advantage, she pressed some more and ran some more to capitalize on their speed advantage.

UT was able to close a big gap in the second half and contain Powell at the end. LaToya Davis got the huge steal and lay-up to tie the game and force OT. Then Zolman got hot in OT to seal the win.
The game at Maples today is huge.

"I don't know what this team will do. I certainly know what I expect them to do,'' coach Summitt said. "Typically, we've played a very tough schedule and won a lot of road games. I expect the same from this group."

"It is a star on our schedule to play them, and it means a lot to me and everyone on the team to play well and win,'' said Nicole Powell. "It would be great to beat them, we haven't done it in a while. It would be something we could look back on and say 'that was the start of something.'"

Another cup of coffee, and we're off to Palo Alto. Should be awesome.
Jeff Metcalfe at the Arizona Republic does a long spread on Taurasi to familiarize the Phoenix fans with their soon-to-be savior.

"Taurasi could be the greatest influence on a generation of girls in the nation's sixth-largest city. And how many guys who refuse to go to a WNBA game even if their daughters plead would be first in line for the chance to go one-on-one against Taurasi?"
USC had an almost-huge-upset over UConn last week, and yesterday, UCLA had an almost-huge-upset over Purdue.

But Beth Jones saved the day. With 2 seconds left and the Boilermakers down by 2, Valek found Jones in the corner, and Jones nailed a three.

"When I got back to the locker room, I said, 'Erika, I think that was the most perfect pass I've ever seen,'" Jones said. "You have to give Erika a lot of credit for being double teamed and being able to recognize there was an open person down the floor."

"I thought to myself, 'We're going to beat them,"' UCLA coach Kathy Olivier said. "All we have to do is play defense for nine seconds. But we only played for 7.2 seconds, which wasn't long enough."
One of the best things about the Saddam raid was that it was called "Operation Red Dawn." Red Dawn was my favorite movie in high school.
Ted, don't be too sad about Punk'd. Maybe Ashton is just saying it is cancelled so he can really surprise folks!

We are headed down to Palo Alto to watch Tennessee vs. Standford game today (and hopefully hit the Stanford mall too!). We will have an full report this afternoon. Happy Sunday!

Friday, December 12, 2003

"Punk'd" is cancell'd. NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!
With the Winters hiring yesterday, 10 of 14 WNBA coaches are men. Several of them are former NBAers.

By contrast, few college coaches are men, especially at top programs (leading to high-profile whining by some male coaches -- see, e.g., this post).

Why? Winters himself offers some explanation. "I guess there are certain things that work better in professional basketball than do in college. You play more games in a shorter period of time. There's the travel, a lot of things. The whole rhythm of what you do and how you do it; maybe we have a little more insight because we've been in professional basketball."
Big Ten update:

No. 7 ranked Penn State is gearing up for a tough schedule over the semester break. Instead of giving her team a little rest before the Big Ten season begins, coach Rene Portland has her team playing four Top 25 teams in the next few weeks. "We were looking to [schedule tough]," Portland said, adding that big-game experience would help her team in the NCAA tournament. "Some people owed us games. We called everyone in the Big 12, everyone in the [Southeastern Conference]."

At Purdue, Coach Curry is is not pleased with how her No. 8-ranked Boilermakers have been rebounding and playing defense. The Boilermakers face UCLA on Saturday.

Over at Illinois, the Illini are hoping to come up with a win this weekend over Pepperdine. The Illini have had a disappointing 3-4 start to their season and are hoping to pull off a win to get back to .500 before the Big ten season kicks off.
Across town, USF topped New Mexico last night. Mary Jane Krueger grabbed 21 rebounds -- there were a lot of rebounds to go around, since the teams missed almost 80 shots combined.

It's not often you can win shooting only 25%.
Rutgers made a good run at the Vols.

Fleser: "The visitors dictated the course of play with an aggressive zone defense and patient offense led by McCullough and Pondexter." But at the end, Tennessee found a way to win.

There was a lot of trash-talking during the game. The problem with trash-talking is that you look a little silly when you lose.

Ely led Tennessee with 18 and 12.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Here is the Fever press release on the Winters hiring.
Oregon is trying to figure out what to do without 6'4" senior star Catherine Kraayeveld, who led the team in scoring, rebounding, shot-blocking, and three-point shooting.

Tennessee is still trying to figure out what to do without Kara Lawson. ''We all have to take on more responsibility, including the coaching staff,'' Summitt said. ''The communication has to be there, and we have to have tighter and stronger huddles and come out of timeouts on the same page.''

We get to see the Vols take on Stanford this weekend -- should be awesome.
Mickie DeMoss on UK's loss to Xavier: "This was our worst performance of the year."
Some Aussie national team officials had suggested that LJ should skip the WNBA season next year to stay home and prepare with her countrywomen.

LJ says no dice.
Former NBA stars Michael Cooper and Bill Laimbeer have had success coaching in the WNBA. Now it looks like Indiana is going to try the same thing.

The Fever will name Brian Winters as their head coach, replacing Nell Fortner, who resigned at the end of the season. Winters played 9 years with the Lakers and Bucks.
As the Pac 10 looks to put its underachieving ways behind it, teams like USC and Cal are trying to step up and perform.

USC nearly upset UConn, and Texas Tech coach Sharp said Cal is the best team they've played yet.

"We feel good about what's going on,'' Bears coach Caren Horstmeyer said. "It's giving us confidence and we are feeling better about what we are doing."
Drake finished last night's game against Iowa State with a 30-2 run to secure the win.

ISU coach Fennelly was aghast. "The very first play of the game, we ran the wrong play. Ten seconds into the game, we did the exact opposite of what we talked about doing... The last 13 minutes were as bad as we've played -- maybe ever. The last time I saw 30-2 was, I think, when my son Steven was in fifth grade, playing at Fellows Elementary School."

"We probably played the best defense we played all year," Drake senior Allison Burchill said. "That's what the coaching staff and all the players are happy about tonight."
Caton Hill had 23 and 10 as #14 Oklahoma beat Montana State. Coach Coale probably wasn't happy about the Sooners' 28 turnovers, but they got the easy win anyway.
BC just joined the AP poll this week... and then lost to GW last night.

It was a great game, decided in OT. Marsheik Witherspoon was the hero -- she made a layup with 11 seconds left to put GW ahead, then grabbed a loose ball to keep BC from getting the game back.

"Coach drew up the play, and I'm thinking, 'Okay, I'm going to run this play,' " Witherspoon said. "But then, I was thinking, 'I know they're not going to play me because they weren't playing me the whole game.' I was wide open. I was like, 'What the heck, I'll take it.' I better make it, and I made it."

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Voepel gives some love to my home conference, the Big Ten, which has 3 teams in the top 10 for the first time in a decade.
Happy news for women's sports -- the WUSA is not dead!

It sounds like they'll have some mini-league next year -- a time of semi-dormancy to line up new sponsors and play the Olympics. Then, the league will try to be back in full for the 2005 season. That would be sweet.

Speaking of women's soccer -- we never mentioned the UNC team, which won the national championship after winning its 6 tournament games by a combined total of 32-0.

That is truly incredible. Is there any other team right now that dominates its sport more?
As Ted said my fall hoops league ended last night with a loss in the semi-finals. We played well, but we were physically out matched. I hate to lose, but really, it is just great to be able to get out there and play competitively.

It surpises me that with so many ex-college and ex-high school players out there that there are still lots of towns where there really aren't any organized women's leagues. There are men's leagues everywhere, but you really need to hunt around to find a women's league. My sister lives in Minneapolis and she has nowhere to play. If you know of anything let me know!

Well, back to working and icing my fat lip!

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Tera Bjorkland was unstoppable tonight (26 points, 11 boards) as Colorado beat Washington.

"They are one heck of a team," Giuliana Mendiola said. "We had to work hard for every basket and I don't think we made the adjustments early on, but we kept fighting. I just think it was a great game in general. I think we lost on the rebounding. Colorado is very physical and they have a lot of weapons and good shooters. We knew that coming into the game, but they just stuck it to us."

Giuli got some help from her sister and Lalum, but the Husky bench contributed almost nothing offensively tonight.
Just got back from league play -- Sara's team lost in the semis. Unfortunately, we met the best team in the league again tonight for the second time in a row.

Imani Dunbar (Notre Dame) wasn't there, but Kristin Knapp (USF) and Molly Shanley (USF) were there, along with another six-footer. No one on our team is taller than 5'7". Needless to say, we had some matchup problems in the post.

Unlike last week when Dunbar was at the healm, the other side wasn't terribly classy in victory... but they are an impressive team, and it was a fun game. We played close till the last ten minutes, and had a bunch of great plays.
If you're looking for a game of pickup, check InfiniteHoops.com. Great idea for a website.
Sue Bird chat at ESPN: Sue likes 50 Cent, Justin Timberlake, and Zoolander.

She had a trip to Hawaii, is rehabbing her knee, and is coaching an 8th grade team. They're 0-1.
A good matchup tonight between Washington and Colorado.

The Buffs are trying to figure out what to do about Giuli. "If you put someone quick on her she takes it down on the post," coach Barry said. "If you put somebody bigger on her she can take them outside."

How bout one of each?

Because of the Huskies injuries and other problems, freshman Cameo Hicks, Breanne Watson and Maggie O'Hara have been thrust on to the floor. So far, so good.
More Taurasi coverage, this in the Mercury News, picked up from the OC. The hype builds...
Another dominant performance from the Red Raiders a 100-39 win, 6 players in double figures. Jia Perkins played only 16 minutes, and the bench got a lot of work.

Spirits are running high in Lubbock. The team has its highest ranking since 1995, and over 12,000 showed up last night to see their hot team.

"I told our team at halftime that it might be the best 20 minutes that we've played in a long time at Tech," coach Sharp said. "I thought on both ends of the floor that we did everything almost as well as we can. We thought tonight was all about us and that we needed to come out and feel good about the way we played before going into this long break

Monday, December 08, 2003

Soon to be the richest female athlete in history: Serena Williams is about to sign a $50-$60 million endorsement deal with Nike.
Latest AP Poll:

1. UConn
2. Tennessee
3. Duke
4. Texas Tech
5. Texas

Rutgers drops out; BC joins.
The story of how Taurasi came to be a hoops star, as told by her parents.

Says her mom, who waits tables at Sizzler: "I always tell Jessika and Diana, ‘If you don’t study and don’t get a degree, you get nothing.’ In this country, it’s about big opportunities. I tell them, ‘You want to work in a restaurant and get paid what Mommy gets? You’ve got to get a degree and get a good life for yourself.’"
Purdue survived a scare from Houston.

The Cougars' defense caused 23 Boilermaker turnovers, and almost won the game. But Shereka Wright, playing near her hometown, carried Purdue down the stretch.
It was an emotional day for Catch, in town to retire #24.

"I'm sitting here crying,'' she said. "I'm glad I didn't wear makeup.''
The Vols had a nice win, proving that they deserve their ranking, which will now improve to #2.

The Vols switched to a zone midway through the first half, and after that Tech couldn't make any shots. The Techsters ended up shooting only 23-67.

Aarica Ray-Boyd took a bad knock to the head and was unconscious for 45 tense seconds on the floor. She was diagnosed with a concussion; she was able to leave with her team last night.
Another easy win for my Gophers. More good numbers for Whalen and McCarville.

"We have a great point guard and a great center and a great supporting cast," Gophers coach Pam Borton said. "We've got a lot of weapons."
Coach Gobrecht thinks the Trojans should have had it: "We didn't lose the game today playing our best basketball. I thought we were a little too content just to be in the game with them. We needed to pounce on the opportunity more and realize 'maybe it's OK for us to [be ahead].' I'm not sure we believed that about ourselves."

"It looks like Diana bailed us out again, but there were a lot of plays made by a lot of kids leading up," said Geno. "The last five minutes, you know she's going to make them, as long as we put ourselves in position to give D a chance to win the game in the last five minutes."

Turner and Battle also had good games. Conlon really struggled: 3 points, 3 assists, and 5 turnovers.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

UConn pulled it out. Barely. Taurasi came through in the clutch -- she's a winner.

Congratulations to USC on a great game.
To be honest, I didn't think Penn State had much chance against Texas. I thought the top four teams were a few steps ahead of everyone, and I thought Penn State was possibly a little overrated.

Wrong was I.

The Lions won, and won easily. Penn State's defense was solid, and Texas shot poorly (33%) and turned the ball over 19 times with only 9 assists.

Coach Conradt: "Basically, Penn State out-worked us in every phase of the game. It was disappointing for us not to play well in front of a great crowd and a great atmosphere. I'm sorry we couldn't make it more competitive. When all three of their perimeter players score about 20 points each, you are not going to win."
Wild day of hoops -- Texas down, UConn in trouble.

We got to see Washington-Notre Dame on Fox West. First time we'd seen either team this year. Huskies came out on top.

Giuli Mendiola was impressive. Her game is fairly similar to Taurasi's (though not quite at the same level). She's not terribly fast, but big for a guard. She's smart and uses her size well.

Giuli has a good post game, and she makes excellent use of screens: if the defender fights through, she can curl and head down the lane; if the defender goes behind, she knocks down outside shots. She ended with 27 today.

Jacqueline Batteast looks great for the Irish. She's very quick for her size, and she's a good passer out of the post. But the Irish play like a young team, and they just couldn't stop Mendiola.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

We were tied up last night watching the Wolves-Kings game. The game was so intense and stressful that it nearly cause a divorce.

Garnett saved the day (and our marriage).
Google bomb attacks the Pres.
K State against Sac State - 51 rebounds to 22; 57% shooting to 22%; 94 points to 31.
In its first ACC game, Duke crushed Wake. Beard had only 9, but Tillis, Currie, Bass, and Foley picked up the slack.
Georgia hasn't been happy with its offense lately. It will get another tough test against NC State -- that game is just about to start.
Mandi Moore is trying to find her groove again for the Lobos. Last year, most teams had to double Jordan Adams, leaving New Mexico's guards free for open shots on the perimeter. This year, with Jordan gone, they are having to create their own shots off the dribble. It's not easy.

Last night was pretty easy for the Lobos. They beat Tennessee St by 71. Moore still struggled.
Taurasi had fun playing near home. "We had a lot of fans, they had a lot of fans. It was like a high school environment. It was a good time."

Some WNBA scouts were there to see her also.
The Star Tribune catches up with old Gophers Coach Oldfield, now Maryland Coach Frese. She's happy where she is, but she regrets the bad feelings caused by her abrubt departure.

"I regret how it played out in the media, but it was out of my control. I tried to protect the players, and ultimately they were the ones who were burnt the most. The criticism I took? I'm a big enough person to handle that as an adult. I was able to view the criticism as at least people are passionate about women's basketball because it wasn't that way when we walked in there. You have to take it as a backhanded compliment."

On beating Geno in recruiting battles: "We outworked him, plain and simple."
All of the games tonight were pretty boring. Favored teams won by a lot. Disfavored teams learned that they're not even close.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Watch out for the Big Green, baby. With a bunch of good freshman, Darmouth could soon challenge Harvard's dominance and earn a trip to the big dance.

Reminds me of the old days, when giants like Betsy Gilmore and Sara Sampsell strode the Earth.
Headache? Don't bring Advil to school.
K-State's early season offensive efforts have been spotty. Some new faces in the rotation have hurt the Cats' coherence, and the outside shots just haven't been falling.

They'll try to get it put together tonight for Sacramento State. Shouldn't be too hard against an 0-5 team.
A nice story about Devils walk-on Dana Morgan.
It's hard to know whether Tennessee is the third best team in the country, or the fourth, or the tenth, because they haven't really played anyone yet.

Yes, they beat Notre Dame, but Muffet's squad isn't exactly tearing up the court so far this year.

We'll know a little more after Sunday, when the Vols face La Tech. Even without Cheryl Ford, the Techsters have been looking strong this year.

"They're just always so athletic and so explosive,'' said Coach Summitt. "They can match our size and quickness. It's not like we have an athletic advantage.''
UConn women haven't had a happy week, but Malibu is always a good cure for the blues.

Plus, it's a nice homecoming for DT.
The Sun may be serious about trying to get Taurasi. GM Chris Sienko says "For our team specifically, she's a marketing dynamo."

This is true -- Taurasi is worth more to the Sun than to the Mercury or anyone else. She could single-handedly make Connecticut a profitable franchise. In a well-functioning free market, Taurasi would end up with the Sun.

But the WNBA isn't a free market. There are several restrictions that will likely prevent a deal from getting done.
Katie Smith joins the USA Senior Team. Congratulations, Katie.
Point guard Shannon Shonrock is an occasional liability for the Gophers. Last year against Texas in the tournament, Jamie Carey tore her up.

Last night, Creighton was getting to Shonrock with its aggressive press. So the Gophers sent Shaq McCarville into the back court to set some picks and bust some heads. The press pretty much fell apart after that.

Said McCarville: "I'm sure every time the girl went up to guard her again, she had in the back of her mind I might be there."

Thursday, December 04, 2003

My Gophers: beat Creighton, but it was a little tighter than it should have been. Whalen: 30 points (plus 7 boards, 7 assists, 3 steals).

Oregon: without Kraayeveld, they get crushed by Portland. What might have been...
Voepel has a must-read column over at ESPN. It offers comments on Frank DeFord's must-read SI article on Geno and Taurasi.

(DeFord's article isn't available free online -- you have to be an SI subscriber. Given my lack of respect for copyright law, I was thinking of getting it off Lexis and reposting the whole thing... but that's probably a little more illegality than I'm ready for.)

Voepel objects to the article's contentions that men aren't wanted as coaches in women's hoops, that Taurasi is the best ever, and that UConn has the best fans around.

Like Mechelle, I'm pretty tired of the whining about discrimination against male coaches, and this angle of the DeFord article was annoying. Voepel also makes great points about how much of the history of the game has been forgotten -- we'll never really be able to compare Taurasi to Cheryl Miller.

But Taurasi certainly has elements of her game that I've never seen before (in men's or women's hoops). And UConn does right now have the best and largest fan base in the country. Obviously, there are great fans supporting other programs around the country. But in terms of depth and breadth of fan support, UConn is on top by a good stretch.

In short, I didn't find DeFord's article to be as hyperbolic as Mechelle did. I thought it was great -- not just because I'm happy to see SI covering the women's game, but because it was as thorough and thoughtful as DeFord's work usually is.

Still, DeFord isn't any sort of women's hoops expert. Voepel is.
There is another draft coming up: the NWBL draft on Saturday. You can listen live on sportsradionet.com.
Fleser today pens an homage to Catchings. As he says, there are thousands of reasons for honoring Tamika Catchings on Sunday.
On Sunday, Texas travels to Penn State -- the Nittany Lions also had a good win last night.

Mazzante had 33 last night as Penn State topped Maryland.

Coach Frese is tired of losing to Mazzante: "I'm ready for her to graduate."

She's also unhappy with the Terps' rebounding efforts. "We're very disappointed in our rebounding. We just felt like we needed to be a lot more aggressive on the boards."
Texas squared off against Texas State last night. It turned out to be a powderpuff game.

Texas State shot only 24% and scored only 9 points in the second half. Stacy Stephens, meanwhile, had 19 points on 9-10 shooting, 9 rebounds, and 4 blocks.

Said Coach Conradt: Stacy Stephens has improved a lot over the last few weeks, and she keeps getting better every game. Again, Stacy is limited in the minutes she can play each game following her achilles surgery this summer, and she is slowly regaining her conditioning and her timing on the floor."
USC fans are excited about this season. And so is Coach Gobrecht: "This is potentially the best team that I've had at USC."

The Trojans are only 1-2 so far. They lost a close one at the Pit, and they got beat pretty bad by my Gophers in the Bahamas. But they're not discouraged.

"Well, I think that when you go and play a tough game, it just makes you have a much more realistic view of where you are as a team," Gobrecht said. "And then by the time you get to Pac-10, there isn't anything you haven't seen yet. And that's the way you want to feel. You want to feel like, 'OK, whatever happens now, we've seen it, we've done it, we're OK.'
As the pro league readies for her, Taurasi is focused on her current team's play. And she isn't happy.

On their performance against Siena: "We weren't defending. We weren't rebounding. And when you don't do those two things, your offense isn't going to do anything, either. Everyone was just on a different page. No one was helping each other on defense. No one was boxing out. It was just brainless play."
A franchise-changing moment in Phoenix.

And if Cleveland folds, the Mercury will get both Taurasi and LaToya Thomas.

But Phoenix also says that it's willing to listen to trade offers. Taurasi is worth a lot more to Connecticut, because she'd probably produce another 5,000 paying customers per night at Mohegan. But the Sun likely don't have enough to offer.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Remember a few months ago when Holdsclaw said she didn't want Beard or Taurasi?

From the August 3 Hartford Courant:

"The Washington Mystics have the worst record in the Eastern Conference and a good shot at landing one of the top two picks in next year's draft, expected to be Taurasi and Duke's Alana Beard. Chamique Holdsclaw has another idea: 'The only thing I look forward to is getting an inside player,' she said. 'I'm not looking at any particular player but I do know we need a big [center]. You look around at this team and some people say we need an athletic [shooting guard] or a scoring point guard. Those are great, but I think the thing we definitely need to [complete] the puzzle is help in the post.'"

So do you think the Mystics will pass up Beard to take Ohlde or Powell? Don't bet on it.
Phoenix wins.

Looks like Taurasi to the Mercury, Beard to the Mystics.

I was sort of pulling for the Stars to get a great pick; they're #4. I'm also hoping that Minnesota ends up with Whalen.
Alana Beard may go down in history as one of the greatest athletes in ACC history. No news there!
We are back from the frozen tundra of MN, and we are full of turkey, stuffing ,and all that good stuff. Ted made the best stuffing and gravy I have ever had (not to mention two delicious, moist birds)- I am nominating his thanksgiving performance for stuffing of the year!

As Ted said earlier, I spent last evening chasing a former Notre Dame player around the court. She was fast and I am old (and lets not forget all that turkey)! It was great fun. We lost and I can hardly move today, but otherwise it was great!!!!
WNBA coaches gush about Taurasi.
Tough day for two of this year's upstarts.

Oregon started 6-0, including an upset win over LSU, and moved to #20. Yesterday, the Ducks' star Cathrine Kraayeveld went down with an ACL injury. The 6-foot-4 senior leads the team in scoring (17.2), rebounds (8.6), 3-pointers, blocked shots and free-throw percentage.

Michigan State, just a day after entering the top 25 for the first time in years, lost to Oklahoma State.
Last night against Siena, UConn had a slow start, but rallied for the easy win.

Strother had her best game of the year, with 14 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals.
Taurasi on Wolff:

"It's horrible that it had to happen to her again. She missed all of last year. This year she was finally healthy, starting to pick it up a little and play well in practice, and then all of a sudden (Monday) a freak accident and she's gone for the season again."

Strother:

"It just makes everyone sick."
Following the kind intervention of a loyal reader, I've decided to enter a 12 step program to treat my unnatural obsession with Paris Hilton. (If it worked for Rush...)

The first step is admitting that I'm powerless to Paris.
Today is the Taurasi lottery.

Seattle has an outside shot of reuniting D and Sue in the backcourt.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

This Sunday at Thompson-Boling, the Vols will retire #24. Congratulations to Catch.

Tamika is the fifth Vol to be so honored. The previous four: Holly Warlick, Daedra Charles, Bridgette Gordon, and Chamique Holdsclaw.
Rutgers and LSU have both had tough starts. Both have struggled with injuries, both have lost a couple games, and both have slipped in the rankings.

Tonight they faced off in Baton Rouge, and LSU came out on top.

Newton was back for the Scarlet Knights, but it wasn't enough.

What happened? Rutgers "turned in a lackluster first half that saw them miss 17 of their first 20 shots and look completely unorganized on offense. They got out-hustled to loose balls, were slow to switch on wide-open LSU 3-pointers and they failed to get back on fast breaks."

Rutgers shot poorly and had only 7 assists, while LSU shot nearly 50%.
In case you missed it, Annika's performance at the Skins Game this weekend was truly amazing.

Her eagle out of the bunker on Saturday was one of the greatest moments in the history of the game.
Terrible news tonight in Storrs: Nicole Wolff has torn her ACL and will miss the whole season. She missed all of last year with foot injuries.

I was very excited to see her play this year. So sad...
In league play tonight, Sara matched up against Imani Dunbar, who was a backup guard on Notre Dame's 2001 National Championship team.

It was one of the best games of the year. Imani and her team came out on top 76-70, but Sara played her pretty well. Imani was also a classy winner.

The two might meet again in the playoffs next week.

(Krista Knapp, who played for USF, wasn't there tonight. If she's back next week, it'll be a little tougher for Sara & Co.)
Tonight is the night we've all been waiting for.

Sadly, Sara has a basketball game.
Due to the Olympics, there will be no WNBA All-Star Game this year.
So what's wrong with Arizona and Notre Dame?

With Arizona, one issue is Shawntinice Polk's foul troubles. She is obviously the foundation of the Wildcat's inside defense, but she hasn't yet learned how to guard the lane without picking up fouls.

In each of the last 3 games, Polk has had serious foul trouble, leading to reduced minutes. When she's not on the court, Arizona's defense can get soft.

Notre Dame's defense has also been suspect. With Ratay gone, many worried about the Irish's guard play this year. But post play has been even more of a problem.

MSU outrebounded Notre Dame 38-17. When the Irish faced the Vols, Ely and Robinson were able to do whatever they wanted inside.
NBA TV will cover the draft lottery tomorrow. Rebecca Lobo and Sue Bird will provide commentary, and they'll also interview their old coach Geno.

The UConn-heavy lineup is an early indication of what we will see lots of over the next year: the WNBA trying to build tons of hype around Taurasi.
The Times has a nice piece today on Mo Currie and her return to the Devils following surgery.

Her coach and teammates think she is the difference between just making the Final Four and winning the whole thing.

"I can't even put into words how much pressure she took off of those two," Coach Goestenkors said. "She was always somebody that could get to the free-throw line for us. She led the A.C.C. in free throws attempted as a freshman. When we needed points, she found a way to get them for us. She had that mental and physical toughness that you need. Without her, we were missing that toughness and that ability to manufacture points."
We're back.

New AP Poll out yesterday -- Arizona and Notre Dame booted out of the top 25, while Va Tech and Michigan State moved in.

This is MSU's first appearance in the Top 25 in over 5 years.