Women's Hoops Blog: December 2008

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Over at Pat Griffin's blog, she rings out the year with the "2008 Top 10 Steps Forward for LGBT Athletes and Coaches."
I decided to focus my 2008 Top 10 list on events and actions that I think are exemplary steps forward in making sports a safe and respectful place for LGBT people. It’s a pretty eclectic list and is completely my take on things. Let me know what you think. Some items were high profile media events and others were not necessarily well reported, but I think they make a difference. Here we go, in no particular order.... (insert drumroll herel)
A couple of Mechelle pieces to start of the (east coast) New Year:

Zellous transforms from relative unknown to one of game's best
"Nobody was after Shavonte," said coach Agnus Berenato, who left Georgia Tech to take over at Pitt in 2003. "But we were horrendous my first year here; we had six wins. So we were looking for anything."
Olivier gets fresh start at UNLV
She was back in Los Angeles last week during the brief holiday break. Her daughter still attends UCLA, and Olivier admits she misses some things about her former program and about living in L.A. But she says she's very happy to be at UNLV, where she played her final two seasons of college basketball.

"I love it," she said. "I put my heart and soul into my work, and I love going into practice and seeing the players' faces -- that they're excited to see me."
So, let's see... what do we have here....

#2 UNC won
#3 Texas A&M did the "welcome to the top 25" stomp
#5 Paris double-doubled
#8 Tennessee dumps Gonzaga
#10 Auburn went to Florida to beat Miami,
#12 Notre Dame wins a squeaker
Angel helps the #13 Cards roll
#16 Maryland built a big lead and needed every point of it,
#18 Shalee Lehning had her fourth career triple-double,
#20 Florida went to Ohio to beat Miami
#22 Pittsburgh beat Shea Mahoney's alma mater (Lib trivia!)
#24 Georgia Tech dispatched Florida A&M

Out in lovely San Diego, the #4 Longhorns are Surfin' and Slamin' their way to a 7 point half time lead over host S.D. State University, cruisin' as the second half winds down... Holy Kamole!! The Aztecs are comin'! The Aztecs are coming!!!

And suddenly, behind Jene Morris' 24 points (and 8 steals - ouch, 23 Texas turnovers), San Diego State pulls off the upset!
"This is as good as it gets," San Diego State coach Beth Burns said. "How many people get an opportunity to play the great teams?"
FYI - Coach Burns is in her second stint as SDSU coach. She returned in 2005-06 and the team went 3-24, 0-16 in the Mountain West conference. Last year they were 18-13 (7-9 conference).

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Random convergence of brain waves and air waves -- was just thinking that the Donna should push for some classic WNBA games to be run on ESPN Classic when what should I see?

Program Channel Date & Time
WNBA Playoff:Indiana at Detroit ESPNC Tue, Dec 30 7:00 PM
As a self-acknowledged women's basketball history nut, it gives me great pleasure to support the work of others who have a similar passion.

John Molina is one such person, and he sends word of an exhibit set to open January 27th in Hartford at the Connecticut Historical Society.
She Shoots . . . She Scores! Women’s Basketball in Connecticut, will open at the Connecticut Historical Society. Learn how women’s changing social roles are paralleled in the game and how the passion to play basketball continues to grow today. This exciting exhibit will feature memorabilia from throughout the last century and footage from some of the most exciting moments in the sport.
Some active college blogs:

Dawn Staley: South Carolina
Other than the start of basketball season, Christmas is my favorite time of the year. It is the spirit and memories that are made with family and friends that make me smile. And it is the one day that I do not watch basketball!
Tamara Flarup (is that a great name or WHAT!) Director of Wisconsin Web Site services.
I hope Santa Bucky visited all of you over the holidays. We may expect an appearance yet tonight by the red-clad rodent.
Coach Webster et al: IPFW
I’ve just been watching, listening to, and scouting basketball as much as possible. I have to agree with Coach Mann and what she wrote earlier about always having a game on. It’s so much fun now that I know coaches at other schools and watching their progress, and that combined with watching my favorite teams (Duke men, the Bulls, and the Celtics) has been great so far. The other team I’ve been following closely is my Chicago Bears who just had a HUGE win tonight over the Packers which is always that much more satisfying for me after living in Green Bay for four years!!
Hitting the Harwood: USF Bulls
Future USF women's basketball player Tahira Johnson, of Christ the King High School in Queens, NY, is mentioned in a story today on ESPN's HoopGurlz high School basketball recruiting section. She, along with some of the top high school girls basketball players in the country, are featured in a story on the upcoming Nike Tournament of Champions in Chandler, Ariz., one of the most prestigious tournament's in all of high school basketball.
Roni Hicks and Matt Park: Michigan
What do you do with a week off during a season? If you’re a player for Michigan’s women’s basketball team, you spent time finishing up the fall semester, taking final exams and writing final papers, and practicing a little bit as well. If you’re a broadcaster – which I am – you spend time with your family, work on a redecoration of your bedroom, and take a peek at how not all non-conference schedules are created equal.
Coach Tom Webb: Cameron Aggies
This is the best time of year – college football bowl season, basketball is on every sports channel you can find, final test are over for our players, there is a little chill in the air (even in Oklahoma this morning), Christmas cookies, and a little snow on Christmas morning wouldn’t be all bad.
Senior Traci Ray: Charlotte 49ers
Yesterday, I saw the great competitive spirit in our team. Although losses are difficult I can see that our team is learning from them. Instead of breaking apart I see urgency in all of us. That gives me optimism and confidence as we near conference play. I know that our team is growing everyday and can see the potential for a Conference Championship. But before we can worry about that we have Clemson and North Carolina A&T to deal with. Our pre-season has shown us we can hang with the best.
Coach Karen Aston: Charlotte 49ers
Greetings from Niner Nation,
We are home from our tour of the country and are pleased with our 7-2 start. Since seven of our nine games have taken place away from Charlotte, the significance of being able to win - early in the season - AWAY from the friendly confines of our own Halton Arena - is not lost on any of us.
Cat's Dish: Vermont
Here’s a recap of the Vermont women’s basketball team’s trip to Louisville, Kentucky. It was the first time in the history of the program the team traveled to the state and played at Louisville .... Click Here for photos from the trip.

Day 1 - And Their Off:

Friday - 12:45 a.m. (that’s not a typo, yes that’s A.M.): We load the bus to drive to Manchester, N.H. where we will board our flight to Chicago. Joel, our all-conference bus driver, drives through a few snow flurries in the snow belt of Vermont (the Montpelier to Northfield for those of you not familiar), but we realize at Exit 5 (Northfield) we forgot to pick up Coach Lanpher. He lives in Barre (Exit 7) and we usually pick him up and drop him off during road trips. Luckily Coach Dawley was driving an hour behind us and was able to stop and pick him up.
Hofstra junior Sam Brigham and sophomore Candice Bellocchio: Bouncing Blog
After the long break for finals we are ready to get back to action on Friday night against Rice. Its been about a week and a half since our last game against Maine and our days have been filled with studying and practice. We have been learning from our mistakes and learning to play together more and more and realize that it is going to take everyone for us to be successful this year. We're ready to get back to games!
Wendy Ausdemore, Kelsey Cermak and Hannah Draxten: Iowa
On Saturday, we are heading to Des Moines to take on the very tough Drake Bulldogs. This is a big game for us in many ways. We all get excited to play Drake because that is where Coach Bluder coached and also where Coach J and Coach Fitz played. We are also one game away from being state champs, which was our first team goal for this season. Personally, I am excited because Drake is only a few minutes from my hometown and it will be fun to see some of my family and friends.
Oklahoma Sooners: Watch the Comeback
The game wasn't televised, but cameras were there. Created by syncing the OU coaches' game video with the audio from the Sooner Sports Network radio broadcast with play-by-play announcer Brian Brinkley and color analyst Kendra Wecker, this SoonerSports.com web exclusive is now available.
Sophomore Emma Cannon: University of Central Florida - Cannonball 24
St. Thomas was the most beautiful place I have ever seen, and when we landed I was so amazed. Every day was a nice day and walking out on the balcony of my hotel room brought me nothing but happiness. On the first day we got there I went to the beach. We stayed in the hotel with other teams such as Baylor, Cal, Texas Tech, Villanova, Wisconsin, and USF. Our hotel had two different swimming pools, several restaurants and its own beach. It also had a view that you could never forget.
Coach Marnie Darko: UMass
The kids are in the midst of a five-day break, which I'm sure they are very happy about. We went into Christmas on a good note having won our last game vs. Northeastern. The game before you leave for break is always scary because you don't want the kids to have "one foot out the door."
Blogs that are in hibernation, reminding SIDs once again -- if you're going to blog, you gotta commit!

Jenna Smith: Illinois (Last entry Sept 7th)
CSTV She's On Fire: (Last entry April 8th)
Coach McCallie: (Last entry June 17th)
Hartford Hoops Blog (Last entry March 31st)
Coach Shimmy Gray-Miller: St. Louis University (Last entry summer recruiting)
Notre Dame: (Last entry Sept 29th)
Stu's back! (hi stu)

Mr. Durando of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reviews the college season so far and finds "Early going brims with pleasant surprises."
Jeremy Stone of Yahoo! Sports checks in with his "Top Ten Stories of '08."

Monday, December 29, 2008

Gotta give a little shout out to Five Boro Sports, which lays out the NYC girls' basketball rankings.
Cinco minutos con senorita Taurasi.
2008 has been good to Katie: She graduates and captures her third Olympic gold medal.

Now it gets more better: She's been named USA Basketball's Female Athlete of the Year.
A truly extraordinary story out of Walla Walla Community College. After a head on collision causes a player to lose 17 years of memory, her coach and teammates band together to support her:
The ER providers assured the coach nothing had shown up on a brain scan and that this was how a severe concussion looked.

But Hazeltine doesn't limit her job to the gym floor and this would be no exception. "When I recruit these kids, I make a promise to their parents to take care of them, but you never think it's going to be this.

"Every year I get 15 new children. Kayla is like a daughter. Every day when I wake up, my first thought is, 'How's Kayla?'"
A little gem from the NAIA Division II home page: "Davenport WBB Coach Describes Personal Account With Coach Wooden."
As Tony walked out, two of our players (Carrie Grubius and Karlee Despres) asked Tony if we could maybe just follow him to Coach's place. Tony called Coach and Coach said that he would be happy to meet with us. We followed Tony to Coach's apartment and he led us inside. Coach was sitting in the middle of his living room with a huge smile on his face as we walked in. He shook each girl's hand and the girls gathered around him and sat down.

For an hour and a half, Coach John Wooden recited poetry, told stories, posed for pictures and signed copies of his "Pyramid of Success" for each one of the players. He allowed us to look at all of his awards, all of his hundreds of books (most written about Mother Theresa, Abraham Lincoln or himself). He asked us to recite a pledge of sportsmanship and he gave us all copies of the pledge. Coach Wooden beamed as he spoke with our team. It was as if he couldn't do enough for us (he even shared his favorite candy from a candy shop in his childhood home of Martinsville, IN).
Perusing the polls:

High School: Coach Buggs' Long Beach Poly sits in the top spot. A while back, he was quite upfront about the love/grrrrr relationship that can exist between high school and AAU coaches.
Doubtless, high school players reap enormous benefits from playing AAU ball, especially at the elite level. In fact, says Carl Buggs, coach at Poly-Technic in Long Beach, California, “In order to have a good high school program, you almost have to have good AAU experience coming in, just because it’s so competitive. Seventy-five percent of my team plays.”

But there are drawbacks. With the increased importance of visibility during the summer, players are playing two to three times as many games in AUU as they are during a high school season.

“It’s way too much wear and tear on these kid’s bodies, and the program that suffers is the high school,” says Buggs. “If a kid is injured, they will play travel ball, because you have to sacrifice for your team. The more you win, the more you’ll be seen. High school is not as important. You’ve been seen, colleges know who you are. Those same injuries you had in travel ball, if the [high school] coach attempts to play you, then he’s being an evil guy. The high school has become secondary.”
The top six Junior College Division I teams are undefeated: 1) Jefferson College (MO) 2) Central Arizona 3) Gulf Coast (FL) 4) Midland (TX) 5) U of Arkansas Fort-Smith and 6) Walters State (TN). I've got to believe that Trinity Valley's (TX) pedigree (remember Bobbitt?) gets them to 7th with a 9-5 record.

Des Moines Area Community College sits in the #1 spot of the NJCAA Division II poll, and our friends up north at Monroe College (the '08 champs) rule the current D-III rankings.

NAIA Division II goes all middle-America with their top 5: Morningside (IA), Shawnee State (OH), Davenport (MI), Hastings (NE), Jamestown (ND).

Familiar names atop NAIA Division I: Undefeated Union (TN), Vanguard (CA) and Trevecca Nazarene (TN).

Of course, that will change with the next monthly poll (Jan 5th). Mid-December, the Lee (TN) Lady Flames were very un-neighboryly, knocking off Union, 86-72. See? Upsets abound! How big an upset?
Coming into the contest, the Lady Bulldogs had won 46 straight regular-season games and were 13-0. Over the years the Lady Flames had never beaten Union in Walker Arena and stood at just 1-18 in the series.
Division III:
Hope College (MI)
Illinois Wesleyan University
University of Rochester (NY)
Thomas More College (KY)
University of Wisconsin, Whitewater - (the only team with a loss)
University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire
Simpson College (IA)
Division II: 1) Northern Kentucky University 2) Washburn University (KS) 3) University of Alaska Anchorage 4) West Texas A&M University 5) California University of Pennsylvania

Division I: 1) Connecticut, 2) North Carolina 3) Texas A&M 4) Texas 5) Oklahoma. Odd observation of the moment: All the teams have a state as part their name.
Cause for concern out of North Carolina: Coach Yow is missing her second game.
Who's getting their passports stamped with "RUSSIA"?

Mike T, Brian A and maybe Corey G.

Why? They're chasing some tall, faux blond with an outside shot.
A couple of teams pondered participating in the upset trend (hello, Notre Dame v. Charlotte), but only one stepped up a made good.

Over the last few seasons, Nebraska's Connie Yori has been putting together some very solid, scrappy teams. Yesterday, her Huskers took down #22/24 Arizona State. The opening from Ben Goldsmith's article in the Omaha World Herald nicely captures the ups and downs of the game.
Zero of 13.

That was the Nebraska women's basketball team's shooting line nine minutes into the first half Sunday as Arizona State built a 16-point lead.

With each missed shot, the season-high Devaney Center crowd of 4,652 on dollar-admission day let out a collective groan as the Huskers appeared to be on their way to a blowout loss. Less than an hour later, those same fans were roaring in approval as they watched Nebraska mount a second-half rally en route to a 62-58 upset of the No. 24 Sun Devils.
Nice to know that I'm not the only one -- well, not really "nice" -- who has some serious concerns about how the WNBA is managed. The Rebkellians vent and, no surprise, there are some constant themes.

Perhaps of most concern to the Donna and anyone else in the W's management who claims to care about the league, its fans and its future is the following statement:
This season, it's really gotten to the point where I've been saying that I love my team, but I don't know if I love my league.
The thing is, without and hard-hitting journalists out there willing to take the league to task (and there are MANY reasons for that) the only voice out there IS the fans.

Wonder if The Donna is interested in listening.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A WATN? moment with Rebecca Lobo and the NY Daily News. (Though we knew where she was all along!)
Voepel has more this morning on Elena Delle Donne, following up on this week's earlier coverage from her and other folks at ESPN.

By "more" I don't mean "more facts," or further interviews: I mean "more thought." Maybe the best thought, on this well-worn topic, so far.
Two other games of interest this afternoon: Nebraska host Arizona State, and UTEP host Texas.

The still-undefeated Longhorns should likely wallop UTEP, but on paper, at least, there are reasons the game could be close: UTEP finished last year's regular season unbeaten within Conference USA, and just before Christmas this year, the Miners beat Nebraska, whose most impressive showing this year was likely their very close loss to Ohio State.
The DI season resumes in earnest this afternoon, with eleven top 25 teams in action. Almost all are nonconference games that could be non-competitive, final tuneups for the nation's elite teams before conference play begins.

UConn will play South Carolina in the second installment of a home-and-home series: the first installment, in Gampel last December, took out SC native Kalana Greene's knee.

This afternoon Greene will finally play for her college team in her home state.

""The last time I played at the Colonial Center [in South Carolina] was the last game of my [Timberland High] career and we won a state championship," Greene says. "There are a lot of memories there... My grandparents are going to see me play. I don't think they've ever been to a game."
Why does Tina Charles look more focused this season? The Courant gets some answers from her mom.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I don't want to turn this into a whither-the-newspaper blog, especially since there are already good ones out there.

But it seems worth noting again at the end of the year that blogs like ours depend most of the time, for links and for information, on the conventional, "mainstream" media-- on writers who get paid to travel to games, to interview coaches and players, to crunch statistics, to report on women's hoops... and America's papers employ fewer and fewer such writers.

Milton Kent is gone at the Baltimore Sun, and Kent's blog hasn't been updated since September. (Nor has Q's blog. Where's Q?) Voepel has a blog (hurrah!) but writes no longer for the KC Star.

The Newark Star-Ledger-- whose sport pages exist online as NJ-dot-com, and who sometimes send reporters to Liberty games (not to mention covering Rutgers)-- this fall announced plans to get rid of almost half its staff. The Detroit papers will cease daily home delivery, partly to avoid cutting even more staff. The Hartford Courant is shrinking alarmingly, too.

Last month Mel Greenberg-- who's still at the Philly Inquirer-- examined the damage the ongoing crisis-in-newspapers has done to coverage of women's sports.

As usual, Greenberg and colleagues have more going on at the Inquirer's hosted blog. If you want newspapers to keep hosting such blogs (and to keep paying the writers who write them) you should consider checking in with them regularly (not just with, erm, us), since newspaper sites can and do keep track of page views: I'm thinking of Greenberg's Philly blog, and of Jayda Evans' blog at the Seattle Times, and of the Courant's UConn blog. What other newspaper blogs should we add to this mix?

If I had a gazillion dollars, the first thing I'd buy would be a WNBA team, but the second might be a serious regional newspaper-- and the next year will probably be a lot harder on the latter sort of business than on the former. Even without bias at sports desks (which I don't mean to dismiss) the ongoing shrinking of newspapers in general will mean fewer resources, and fewer paid employees, covering all sorts of things, from women's-- and men's-- hoops, volleyball and hockey to board-of-education meetings to state-changing rare-coin fraud. Blogs, message boards, sports information departments (who have no interest at all in reporting bad news), and the various arms of the ESPN empire (which looks more like a monopoly every week) might not be able to pick up the slack.

Friday, December 26, 2008

In parallel with ESPN's Outside the Lines piece on Elena Delle Donne (the UConn recruit who stepped away from basketball), Mechelle notes that her decision was a mighty rare one for women's basketball.

The fact is that most of the high school players who have been projected as the best in the country have indeed gone on to play four years in college. Some aren't as good as projected, and some have transferred. But the vast majority do finish their college basketball careers.

What has happened with Delle Donne -- not playing college hoops at all, although the option is still open if she chooses it -- is so rare that even the most well-known comparisons to her are notably different.

It would also be interesting to research players who've stepped away from Division I -- for whatever reason.

Erin Buescher, for example, went from UCSB to The Masters College (NAIA) and has managed a nice W career, if I do say so myself. And, IIRC, some of the top NAIA Divison I teams have players with NCAA roots.

I'd also be interested to see how often this happens on the men's side.
The Big Ten has expanded its conference schedule to 18 games this year, and it's making some coaches cranky.
Northern Kentucky University has two NCAA championships -- both in women's basketbal -- but that's not the only athletic flower in their bonnet:

Nine of the 13 sports at NKU qualified to participate in the NCAA Division II postseason in 2008 - the most recent being the men's soccer team, which advanced to the national semifinals earlier this month. That continued a trend of broad-based athletic success at the school.

Since 2000, 12 of the 13 athletic programs have made it to at least one NCAA postseason tournament, and the only sport that didn't, women's cross country, had an individual participant. Most Norse teams have made the NCAA postseason multiple times, and NKU also has won five of the last nine all-sports trophies in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

It's time for Marissa to share her perspective:

"Marissa, wake up! It's Christmas!"

Those are the words I woke up to on Christmas morning. My little brother Anthony came running in my room shouting those words.

Did I mention that he is 18, a freshman in college, and in no way should be so excited about waking his almost 22-year-old sister up at 7:30 on Christmas morning?

I love Christmas just as much as anyone, but 7:30 a.m.? Come on!

Mechelle visits with the Ghost of Final Fours (1998) past, and it takes her down memory lane.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

South Carolina's athletic department is reporting 11 secondary NCAA violations in the past six months, including two from the program of new women's basketball coach Dawn Staley.

As with most secondary infractions, these are considered minor.
Hard news to deliver on Christmas Eve: Alabama State University basketball player Richelle Jones was killed in a one-vehicle wreck Monday night.
It's been a while since I've done a Maggie Dixon Rookie Coach of the Year post -- hope to get to it before the new year starts -- but I have no problem pointing fingers in a certain west-like direction.

As Adam Rose points out: UCLA women's basketball quietly having a monster start.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Berkeley fans who wanted to see their Golden Bears take on Baylor will have to wait till who knows when: the teams were supposed to play yesterday, but there's been a snowstorm in the Northwest, and Baylor's Bears are stuck in the land of the Ducks.
'Twas two nights before Christmas
and at ESPN.com
Creme's bracketology was posted
Is he right or is he wrong?

Charlie then visits with Christmas Past as the NCAA tourney shifts back to predetermined sites.
Hop in the DeLorean. Crank up the flux capacitor. The NCAA tournament is headed back to the future.

Not to 1955, just 2004, which is the last time the format of 16 predetermined first- and second-round sites was utilized (it also happens to be the last time Connecticut won the women's basketball national championship, but that's a column for another day).
In the free part of Full Court, what seems to be a sad and inexplicable decision around Jenice Johnson, a high school player in Washington, DC who will likely attend NC State next year. Is there more to the story?
Candace Parker has been named the AP female athlete of the year.
Kevin Pelton: Remembering the Comets.

Monday, December 22, 2008

This week's AP poll: I see wabbits!
So, just to put those 992 wins into some kind of perspective (I'm not sure I can really wrap my mind around that ever growing total), consider that Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw just finished coaching her 800th game.

She coulda won ever single game she'd ever coached (672 games at Notre Dame, 128 at Lehigh), and still fall short of coach Summitt's total victories. Yikes!!!

Not to say that 570 wins ain't a nice chunk of change, coach McGraw. Congrats!
A while back, we posted about the unintended consequences of the NCAA putting such an emphasis on graduation rates.

With that in mind, one might ask, "So, just how much DOES a scholarship athlete 'cost' an institution?"

Consider this article by the AP's Chris Talbott (which, as Marie points out, reminds us of the importance of investigative journanalism, even in this time of disappearing sports desks).
Like a lot of other athletes at Ole Miss and elsewhere, Oher got not only tutoring help but a full range of academic support services throughout his career. At Ole Miss, 14 full-time staffers line up tutors for student-athletes, help them choose classes, monitor study halls and check attendance. More than 60 percent of the Rebels' 390 athletes receive at least some tutoring, and together they averaged about 1,000 sessions a week this fall.

Such services are not unusual.

The last five years have seen an astounding jump in the time, money and resources devoted to academic support for student-athletes, even as some faculty complain that just plain students are being left behind.
Over the weekend, a couple of teams flirted with ye olde upset, but #11 Tennessee was the only one who took the plunge. Having been on the receiving end earlier in the season, they were the deliver-er this time, knocking off the visiting (#3) Cardinal.

The game went overtime, after Stanford’s Jeanette Pohlen knocked down a 3-pointer to tie the game at 68 with 54 seconds left (and then Stanford couldn't get off a winning shot in the last 23). But, the Vols pulled away for the 79-69 victory -- a satisfying one for coach Summitt, who feels her team learned from an earlier loss to Texas:
“In the first half against Texas, we came back to tie the game then we had some players who hit the wall. A lot of that was because of youth,” she said. “We’re getting better at understanding how to compete.”
And, not that anyone is keeping track, but that would be victory #992....
Another reason high shool coaches need to develop good parent-managing skills. From the high school basketball police blotter:
Salisbury High School girls basketball coach Kenneth R. Shankweiler, 52, has been charged with disorderly conduct after a physical altercation Saturday with the father of one of his players...The Falcons lost the game, 62-19. The altercation in the stands immediately behind the Salisbury bench allegedly resulted from a disagreement about game management and strategy...
Not at all about basketball, but certainly deserving of a read: Hard Times, a Helping Hand.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Want to know what Seimone, Taj, Kelly and Candice are up to? Then don't forget to click on the USABasketball link to the right (or here) to catch the latest Euro League update by Caroline. It's where you're going to catch tidbits like this:
Halcon Avenida tied Bourges in the win-loss column, however, lost on goal differential and advances in second place, while the Polish club, playing again without Olympian Chamique Holdsclaw, who returned to the States for knee surgery and should be back for the next round, finished in the third spot.
On a cold, snowy Saturday morning, I'm playing catch up with Beth and Debbie's Shootaround podcasts.

Just want to say, if you haven't had a chance to sit around with a frosty beverage (or, in my case, a big ole mug of coffee) and talk shop for a half an hour or so, go to iTunes (or visit the WBCA site) and check out their stuff. It's free, full of interesting stuff about women's basketball, and it's free.

And, I just want to point out -- not only is it free, but it's mighty likely that both broadcasters are doing it for free, too, since there are no ads.
The Naismith Watch List is out, and some 'kellians are grumpy about names present and absent.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Graham lays out the top-10 games you should be watching/streaming/listening/gametracker-ing to this weekend.
Mechelle on the 'Claw:
In her pro career, Chamique Holdsclaw has been one of the more complicated people in women's basketball to write about. So it's with caution that we approach the announcement that she's apparently returning to the WNBA this coming season.
The Big 12 rules SI.com's Tracy Schultz's Power Rankings.

Kudos to the SI.com women's hoops page for not being as ugly (and an embarrassment) as it used to be. Hey, they even have a picture!
Congrats to current Drake coach Amy Stephens. She was named the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference's women's basketball coach of the century for the work she did at Division II Nebraska-Kearney.

She compiled a 197-43 record with Lopers from 1994-2002, and was the conference's coach of the year four times. She had seven 20-win seasons, and her teams earned seven consecutive berths to the NCAA Division II tournament.
"It's a great surprise, because I didn't have any idea they were doing an all-century team," Stephens said. "I'm honored and humbled, because I know how many great coaches there were. Many of the coaches went on to the Division I level.

"I just had a lot of phenomenal players that helped mold me as a coach. A lot of credit goes to them."
Beth Mowins writes about coach Amanda Butler's 10-1 Florida team:
This week, they broke into the Top 25 for the first time this season, at No. 24 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll and No. 20 in the Associated Press poll.

"We want to set the tone and be the aggressor," said Butler, who is in her second season coaching at her alma mater. "Win the first four minutes. We used to say it when I played here for Carol Ross, and we still live it today. At the start of every game, one team comes out swinging and one team gets hit in the mouth. We want to hit first, and we've won the first four minutes in just about every win this year."
What some fans are calling the best volleyball match they've ever seen (Penn State v. Nebraska) gives Mechelle a wonderful excuse to recall a time when two sport athletes were the norm.
Interesting side note: I wrote about Auburn basketball this week for ESPN.com (Auburn needs SOME good news now, right, with football being a big mess?) And I talked to Tigers coach Nell Fortner about her days playing volleyball as well as basketball at Texas in 1977-81. (Texas lost to Stanford in the first v-ball semifinal Thursday, if you weren’t watching.)

Fortner competed there in volleyball as a freshman and sophomore, and guess who her coach was in that sport then? The same woman who coached the basketball team, Jody Conradt. That’s the way things were in those days.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I "expect" that I'll eventually get an email from the WNBA... or maybe, since I've been a NYLib season subscriber since '98 they might think of informing me... but until then, yahoo alerts has informed me that the WNBA 2009 season schedule has been released.
Thanks to harlem_basketball, here is a heads up to check out a documentary this weekend on coach Ruth Lovelace.
Mechelle has a great piece on a player I have enjoyed watching battle in the Big 12 for Nebraska - Kelsey Griffin. Kelsey is redshirting because of an ankle injury, but still has an interesting story.
Yes, I know there was another upset. Yes, I know it was Duke over Stanford. Yes, I know it was on ESPN, not the Deuce... but.. well... I'll let the opening of Mechelle's entry do my work:
By the time the Cardinal had finished clanking free throws (12 of 27), both teams had made the 3-point shot look like scaling Everest (a combined 7 of 32) and had tossed the ball away like Iraqi shoes (combined 37 TOs), and the refs had put the frosting on this cowpie with a crummy call … well, I was tempted to put up this blog:

Headline: Duke vs. Stanford

Blog entry: This game was crap.

Poll: Was this game crap?

But then I decided there was probably a bit more to say about Duke’s 56-52 win. For instance, the fact that it reminded me of one of the stupider things I’ve ever done. (click here to find out more!)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Speaking female coaches, be sure to read Mechelle's piece on Coach Yow.
One key thing to remember when contemplating Kay Yow's recent feat of coaching her 1,000th game at NC State is this: There was a time, early in her adult life, when she wasn't even thinking about coaching her first college game.

When Yow graduated from East Carolina University in 1964, women's college basketball as we know it did not exist. She had earned a degree in English, and for all she knew, that's mostly what she would have to rely on to make a living.

She got a teaching job at Allen Jay High School right out of college … and along with that, coached the girls' basketball team. The teaching, mind you, is what paid the bills. The coaching is what fed her passion.
Graham's new article has a slightly different slant, but the headline, "Wanted: More Women Coaches," echoes back through the years.

For instance, from April, 2006:


This year, when North Carolina’s Sylvia Hatchell received the RUSSELL ATHLETIC/WBCA Division I National Coach of the Year award, every other award went to a man. “I’m not saying the men shouldn’t have opportunities to coach, but where are the women?” wondered Hatchell. The most recent studies show the decline in female coaches that started as more money came in to women’s athletics has continued. Contributing factors include the loss of female athletic administrators, the fact women are no longer limited to the traditional teacher-nurse-secretary jobs and, well, admitted Hatchell bluntly, “It’s a lot of hard work. A lot of people don’t want to put in the time.”

“I think these kids arrive at the age of 22 with a sense of entitlement,” said Janice Quinn, New York University’s (DIII) head coach for 18 years. “I see them jumping into coaching as ‘What they can get out of it?’ There are some really good people out there, but you really have to encourage the right people to get in to it. Being a leader is hard. Being a coach, being an administrator is a very challenging profession right now. The challenge is to curb the sense of entitlement with, ‘Hey, the fact that you’re getting so much out of this — what is your responsibility to give back?’”

“There has to be an appreciation for our history,” explained Howard University coach Cathy Parson. “And it happens across the span of life, where we feel the younger generation doesn’t quite embrace it the way they should. We have a responsibility that they understand it, because as they become older, that’s when they embrace it. I’ve never asked any of my younger coaches, ‘Do they feel entitled?’ but their actions indicated that they feel entitled. It’s very clear that the issue of paying your dues has not been preached so much to them as it was to myself,” Parson explains. “You have to work hard and nothing is promised to you. For me it’s like, ‘Okay, why are you involved in coaching? Is it because you have a passion for the youth? Is it that you really want to leave a legacy for the next generation? Is it because you really want to make a difference? Or is it that you really just want to go out there and make a name for yourself as quickly as you can, make as much money as you can and then just get out of it as fast as you can?’”

Georgetown’s (NAIA) Johnson knows a quick fix. Consider, she said, what a Junior College coach did this past convention: brought along a former student, now at another institution, and took her to everything, including the celebration of the 25th NCAA Silver Anniversary team. During the question and answer period, the young student-athlete asked Tennessee’s Pat Summitt a question (one of the few who dared). “Pat offered that woman a job at her camp because she had the gumption to get up,” Johnson pointed out. “Now that young woman is networking with people who can make a difference in her life. Who can encourage her to go in to coaching, to pursue her dream. If every coach in the country had done that, we’d be set with women coming in to the profession.”
Well, well, well.... perhaps the Claw isn't done with the W.

And that's got Atlanta fans a-Dreamin.'
From my Inbox:
Hey Helen, Here's what is going on in the WNBA:
1. Vote Now For the Photo of the Year
2. WNBA Stars Ring in the Holiday Season
3. Ruth Riley on Keeping Hope Alive
4. European Vacation: WNBA Players Overseas
5. Player Movement Central
6. Who Said It?
So, not to belabour the point... but, if .com doesn't send out email alerts to fans because the "expect" fans to visit the .com, why did I just get an email from wnba@fans.wnba.com?

Well, because, as the bottom of the email says: This message was sent to you because you subscribed to the official WNBA News email.

So, if I took the time to subscribe, and obviously they CAN send out emails, why don't they do it more often so, you know, fans would know about new stuff up on the .com?

sigh. *bangs head against keyboard*
'bama's basketball base:

Experience? Check. Academic credentials? Check.

Can hit a fadeaway and drive the lane? Check.

As President-elect Barack Obama joked here Tuesday, he may be "putting together the best basketball-playing Cabinet in American

I guess the International Herald Tribune is very confident that their readers a women's college basketball fans, since they neglected any to put any intro on this latest "Players Perspective" blog entry.

I'm bettin' the WHB readers are just as savvy.

Welcome to Words of Wisdom.
It's been pretty exciting since my last blog. We've traveled to Hawaii and tested ourselves against some of the nation's best teams.

Everyone in West Lafayette has had basketball fever this past month. Both the men's and women's programs have high expectations for this season.

Our team started the season well by winning our first three homes games. Those games were an opportunity for people to get back into the swing of things. Personally, those were games for me to get back into shape.

A Shay Doron update:
As the first Israeli to play in the WNBA, Shay Doron is used to being touted as one of the country's most valued exports. Now playing for Turkish powerhouse Besiktas, she was recently named one of 14 candidates for FIBA Player of the Year.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Oh, I just love cheap shots, don't you?

So here's this interview in the New Albany Tribune (Indiana) with Megan Eve, a high school junior. There seems to be some level of respect afforded to Megan ("Megan Eve, on the other hand, has been every bit as good as advertised.") from the author (Matt Cress), but then we get this:

Q: So who’s your favorite basketball player?

EVE: “Probably Diana Taurasi.”

Q: She’s OK, but that means you have to watch the WNBA. Ladies and gentleman, allow me to introduce the world’s only WNBA fan. This is a first.
My multiple reactions?

1) Dumb sh*t
2) COOL that the question wasn't "qualified" with "women's" or "men's"
3) But, he probably was thinking NBA anyways. Dumb sh*t
4) Good choice, Megan!!
5) "She's OK"???? Dumb sh*t
6) Who says something like that to a kid? Dumb sh*t.
As we (and the Title IX blog) have mentioned, Fresno State has had some issues with Title IX. They've settled their most recent "ooops" with former coach Lindy Vivas. For $5.2 million.

What part of "retaliation doesn't pay" do Universities not get?
Today, Duke and Stanford are kind enough to start their West Coast game nice and early to make ESPN (and fans on the East Coast) happy. Game time 7:30PM, EST.

Michelle Smith of the San Francisco Chronicle checks in:
The first time Stanford and Duke met was in 1988 at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C., where, as Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer put it, "they had, like, 15 people at the game," which was won by Stanford. It happened again in an early-season tournament in San Jose in 1998, the Blue Devils winning that game. That's it.

Tonight at Cameron Indoor Stadium, in front of a national television audience, the two schools will prove that times, stature and attendance figures have changed.

Stanford is the No. 3 team in the country and Duke is No. 8. Let the smarty-pants competition begin.

Monday, December 15, 2008

From the Times, "Working the Refs Is Part of a Coach’s Game Plan."

Not exactly what I expected. Reading it makes me kinda think the NBA refs have a sweet gig. *grin*
Rudy Tomjanovich, a former coach of the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Lakers, said he held firm to one simple rule: “Never get personal. It’s always about the basketball play — the way I see it and the way they see it. I never say, ‘Well, you aren’t doing this right.’ It can get as heated as you want about a basketball play, because you aren’t talking about the guy.”

At halftime, an N.B.A. coach may cycle through game film, especially if he has forcefully argued a call only to see it go against his team.

If he criticized a referee’s call and then saw it validated on film, D’Antoni said he would apologize. “I’ll do it all the time,” he said.“They’ve got to know I’m whacked out. Not because of them, but because of the situation. That I want my guys to play hard or feel the emotion.”
Or, maybe it's just that some women's basketball coaches could learn some lessons from the NBA.
'Cause it's all about the education.

She may have a ton of points, a handful of WNBA championships and Olympic medals, but 12 years later Katie can finally toss that hat tassel to the "graduated" side.
So K-State is now at 9-0, and wouldn't you know it -- the Kansas City Star bought out the reporter who's been covering them for years.

Curse those economy/modern technology gods.

Speaking of Mechelle, this excerpt frome her "poll vote explanation" blog entry is for my friend Steve"
I usually don’t make a big deal out of others’ voting because it’s such an inexact science and there’s always enough “wrong” with my own ballot. But that said, I disagree with anyone who wouldn’t have South Dakota State in their rankings this week. The Jackrabbits have played a very tough schedule, with their only loss to Maryland. And the idea of South Dakota State really being a legit program has had time to develop. By now, it should be one of the mid-majors that’s regularly on people’s radar screens.
Of note: 16,337 saw #13 Louisville defeat Kentucky, 75-59.

The crowd set the Louisville, state of Kentucky and Big East Conference paid attendance record for a women's basketball game.
Pat's youngsters went into the Longhorn's den and did not emerge unscathed, losing to Texas 73-59. The Lady Vols hit only 10 of 22 free throw attempts, and they shot only 33 percent from the field.
"When you don't shoot well from the line and you're turning the ball over and you're getting beat on the boards, it's tough to win," Summitt said. "We missed so many easy, easy shots in the paint. You've got to give Texas an awful lot of credit. They were tough."
But, noted the Stateman's Cedric Golden's post-game commentary, considering all Tennessee lost from last year, and the make up of this year's Texas team, the result shouldn't have been so close.
By comparison, the Longhorns returned all but one starter from the '08 squad. Texas, on paper, was the pick to win easily. And while Texas won by a 14-point margin, it was far from a blowout. A 10-1 run midway through the second half settled the issue and made for more comfortable moments down the stretch.

That's why it appeared at times that Texas was playing more against the Tennessee mystique than the Lady Vols' current roster of 11 underclassmen and one senior. Goestenkors understood that fact and it's part of the reason she was upset at the team's lack of ball movement, with Texas producing two assists in the first 20 minutes.

"That's not going to get it," she said. "I do not like that kind of basketball."
With the win, Texas goes to 9-0 and moves into the AP's top five.

It also means that, with the loss, the Vols ridiculously amazing streak of 211 straight weeks in the top 10 is over, as they dropped to #11. The run went 56 weeks longer than the men's record of 155 set by UCLA.
This time it's the ESPN.com-Hays-curse.

As promised he offers his piece on a Frogs life: "No ranked team's safe with Sverrisdottir, TCU around, (which is true, 'cause they did beat Maryland and Cal) and then them #22 Frogs get revenge-beat by #24 Oklahoma State, 85-80.

How much does it suck when the job that pays your rent gets in the way of your blogging....sigh.

9,000 plus were at the Maggie Dixon Classic to watch RU beat Army (59-38) and Penn State not get blown out by UConn (77-63).
"I thought that we did some good things defensively today," said head coach Dave Magarity. "It's just tough for us to match-up with a team like Rutgers. I thought Alex (McGuire) had a solid afternoon. We just have take advantage of when we're open and shoot the ball. Rutgers is just a tremendous team with great size and really talented guards. We'll take away a lot of learning points from this game."
The way Rutgers' Kia Vaughn dominated at the outset it's kind of odd to see she only ended up with 12 (season high?!) points. Epiphanny Prince was in fine form, scoring 25pts, and Coach Stringer had some kind words for Brittany Ray's performance:
We made an attempt to move Brittany (Ray) which is something I was really pleased with and she made me very calm. Moving her into the point position because as you can see were basically going to have a point (guard) by committee rather than to have any of the natural point guards who are freshmen. We don’t seem to move the ball as well but I was pleased with the way we moved it today.”
Penn State's Tyra Grant (26 pts) and the rest of her teammates came to play. Fearless and stubborn, the game never got away from them, but some key steals and conversions by Maya Moore and a monster game by Tina Charles (29 pts, 18 rebounds, 5 blocks) sealed the Nittany Lions' fate.
“Being that it was the No. 1 team in the nation, we hung with them all the way till the final buzzer went off,” Grant said. “Our whole schedule we played tough teams, ranked teams, we’ve always come close to beating them. When we hit the Big Ten Conference, hopefully these type of games will get us over the hump.”
A couple of words about Ms. Charles' blocks. While there's nothing quite as viscerally satisfying as swatting a ball into the stands with a scream, the reality is your opponent still has possession. Charles seems to take a page out of the "old school" play book that says you block the ball in a controlled manner so your team can snag it. I like that.

The crowd was treated to a fine half time show by the West Point drill team, a simple and a classy and heartfelt tribute to Coach Dixon between the double-header. Best news? The future seems bright for the Classic. Here's what Jamie Dixon [Maggie's brother] said about the future of the event"
"My goal is to fill Madison Square Garden, obviously we are already playing on national TV," Dixon said. "I think it has already probably become the premier event in the country. You have Tennessee and Rutgers are going to play next year, Baylor wants to be in it. Geno wants to be in it every year if he can. North Carolina wants to be in it but at the same time we want to keep Army involved in it so there are challenges.

I think the basketball even has taken care of itself. You have the Garden, you have national TV, our bigger goal now is to promote awareness of sudden cardiac arrest (which claimed the life of Maggie Dixon at the age of 28 in 2006, shortly after she coached Army into the 2006 NCAA tournament) and have some people who maybe haven't given it a thought that they can do some things to prevent it. Maybe we can save a few lives, especially young people because young athletes are more likely to suffer from sudden cardiac arrest. Our goal is to get better health, better diets, more education."
Sad news in Minnesota. Former Gopher great Molly Tadich passed away over the weekend at the age of 43.
Last March, the NYTimes had some articles on the realities of athletic scholarships. Today, the Star-Tribune addresses the topic in "The myth of the scholarship: A sliver of pie."
• For every 100 high school athletes, there is one full athletic scholarship available.

• More than 60 percent of all NCAA athletes receive no athletic scholarship aid. This includes Division III, which does not give out athletic aid.

• The average NCAA athlete on scholarship gets, per year, about $10,000 less than the value of a full scholarship.
The article doesn't isn't as rich or nuanced as it could be, but some of the comments on the article are quite interesting -- if pithy -- and broaden the discussion.
This time the WHB didn't jinx'em: Sacred Heart girls' winning streak is over at 61.
It's time for teams to talk to free agents (I "expect" the news is somewhere on the .dot, but hey, yahoo alerts delivered it right to my mailbox! Ain't modern technology grand?).

Tina "I wonder if she really will retire" Thompson and Lauren Jackson top GM's lists.
Graham has some numbers on those rankings and upsettings:
First, there's virtually no separation between tiers. Teams that were ranked in the preseason top 10 are 9-9 against teams ranked in the preseason top 25. Teams that were ranked between 11 and 20 are 6-6 in those games. And teams ranked between 21 and 25 are 2-3.

Stunning upsets have earned top billing so far this season -- Nevada beating Louisville, Michigan beating Vanderbilt, Arkansas-Little Rock beating Oklahoma State -- but the war of attrition within the rankings has been just as important in knocking three teams out of the top 10 already (compared to just one at this stage last season).

Sunday, December 14, 2008

"One of the craziest games I've ever been a part of," said Sherri Coale after the game. "Complete role reversal from one half to the other."

Which is probably why upset-trackers who went out to the movies after #9 Cal had built a 26-point halftime lead on #5 Oklahoma spit out their popcorn when they saw the finally score: 86-75, Sooners.
"Finishing is the thing we wanted to improve on," said Coach Boyle after the game. "I told them in the locker room, I've never lost a [26 point] lead as a coach. I keep asking myself, how did I not do my job to prepare them in that situation. That's on me. You have to have guard play at the end of a game. Our guards are good. For whatever reason, they were tentative. We didn't do the easy things. We made it all so much more difficult on ourselves. We were looking at each other to make plays instead of playing together. What we did in the first half was be aggressive. They were aggressive in the second half. We weren't."
Said Coale:
"I thought they were fabulous in the first half, almost played fabulously, about as perfectly as you can play," Coale said. "And we didn't, obviously. We couldn't make shots, didn't really have the aggression that we needed. Second half, I was really proud of our kids for not panicking, first of all, and for playing every possession as if it was the one that would win the game. It takes a certain amount of maturity, a certain amount of character to do that."
Other Divisions are getting the upset bug:
Two teams headed in different directions traded sides Saturday, as the Kenyon College women's basketball team paralyzed the previously undefeated Mt. Vernon Nazarene University Cougars. The Ladies defense was the difference throughout the tight 54-52 victory.

Kenyon, which entered the game 0-6 and had three sophomores and one freshman in its starting lineup, held Mt. Vernon Nazarene to 28.1 percent shooting (16-of-57) for the game. The Cougars entered the cross-county, non-conference tussle with a perfect 10-0 record.
Auriemma on today's Maggie Dixon Classic.
Geno Auriemma says he feels like a little kid when he coaches at Madison Square Garden. But he's taking the UConn women's basketball team to New York today to play a tournament he wishes he did not have to play.

"It's a positive thing because you're honoring the memory of someone who was a great person, a great coach," he said. "But it's a negative because you have to do that. She should still be here."
'cause "KISS" (Keep it simple, stoopid) can apply to the holidays, too...

So here's the annual "Books for your favorite women's basketball fan" list:

1) History. You knew I was going to start with that topic.

A History of Basketball for Girls and Women: From Bloomers to Big Leagues (Lerner's Sports Legacy Series). It's hard to go wrong with this brief, but expansive, gallop across time.

Get the skinny: Full Court Quest: The Girls from Fort Shaw Indian School Basketball Champions of the World. This tale of the 1904 team invites you to dive deep into the rich roots of female Native American basketball players.

2) High School.

You like to read:
These Girls, Hope is a Muscle. It's a classic. It's a must read. It's a good read. Get it.

You like to watch: Heart of the Game. Superb documentary.

3) Issues

Broad Strokes:
Women and Sports in the United States: A Documentary Reader. Jean O'Reilly and Susan K. Cahn, editors.
"O'Reilly and Cahn have compiled an extrordinary historical anthology of women's sports in the U.S. Their inclusion of original documents from each era and careful selection of knowledgeable writers make this book an absorbing and authoritative read for anyone interested in women's journey toward sports equality." (Pat Griffin, Professor Emerita, University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
And a must read, especially for those who understand that it's not "just sports."

Hot buttons: The word "homophobia" is used a lot in when discussing the challenges faced by women's sports (as if it ain't a huge issue in men's sports....). But sometimes we think of it only as a reaction TO female athletes and forget the impact it has ON athletes and coaches.

Published 10 years ago, Pat Griffin's book Strong Women, Deep Closets: Lesbians and Homophobia in Sport is still a humbling education.

4) College

Raise the Roof (1998). Pat Summitt and Sally Jenkins. Chapter One: No Girls Allowed
I'm a forty-five-year-old woman with a controlling nature and crow's feet from squinting into the country sun, and it's just not like me to act the way I did. To be so free with my feelings, and to wear blue jeans, of all things. Ordinarily, I'm in charge. I wear a suit and a perpetual glare. I'm a coach, so I take the issue of control personally. I've always seen the movements of players on a basketball court as an extension of myself, like puppets on a string. Their failures were my fault, their successes my responsibility. I demanded that they act like Pat, and think like Pat. A row of little Patlings. So when, exactly did I let go? When did I decided to let this team run? And when did they start running me?
'nuff said.

Contemporary: Heart of a Husky Determination, Perseverance, and a Quest for a National Championship, (2008). Mel Thomas.
"In Heart of a Husky, Mel Thomas captures the essence of what it’s like to play for Geno Auriemma and the UConn Huskies. Mel has a wonderful sense of humor that runs all through her book. Many of the stories she tells about her coaches and teammates left me laughing out loud."
--- Diana Taurasi
5) Photo Essays

At the Rim: A Celebration of Women's Collegiate Basketball (1991).
This book is out of print, but you can find it used through Amazon etc. Worth the hunt. After Kodak's Hunter Low died, I spoke with the WBCA's Betty Jaynes, and part of the conversation touched on the process of putting this book together. Not only do the photos included cross all divisions, but they're all female photographers.

Want more options? Check out Kim's "Women's Basketball Reference Library."

PS: Ms. Voepel? Where be your collection of "Tales from the Hardcourts?"

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Women's Sports Blog has a nice breakdown of the five women chosen as Rhodes Scholars:
Noelle Lopez - Santa Clara - cross-country
Caitlin E. Mullarkey - Swarthmore - soccer, track, basketball
Ashely L. Nord - Minnesota - pole-vault
Julia Parker Goyer - Duke/Harvard - varsity tennis
Lindsay M. Whorton - Drake - basketball
Rumor has it that you can catch tonight's 9pmEST #7/9 Cal v. #6/5 Oklahoma game online via radio and streaming.

Here's an Oklahoman preview to get you all prepped.
Graham is right. Jeff Nelson's Washington Post feature on the H.D. Woodson high school team is worth the read.

For H.D. Woodson Girls, Playing Through the Pain: After an Offseason Filled With Funerals, Warriors Persevere, Turn Their Attention to Basketball.
Oooooo, SOMEbody is going to get an orange at the end of his stocking!

From Graham's most recent "News, notes, links from the hoops world."
I can't imagine there is anyone reading this who didn't long ago bookmark the Women's Hoop Blog, but just in case that lone surfer exists, do yourself a favor and make it part of your routine.
While we go burnish our egos, I'll take one moment to point to his comment about Wisconsin.
There might not have been a team I was more wrong about last season (it's a long list, I know) than Wisconsin. Even with Jolene Anderson, the Badgers were simply never much of a factor in the Big Ten, let alone nationally. One year later, with few outside expectations, the Badgers are 9-1, with a win against Baylor and Wednesday's win at Wisconsin-Green Bay -- the latter not an easy place to win on the road.
Wisconsin added another notch on their belt today, holding the very dangerous Krystal Ellis to a season low 7pts, and taking down Marquette 67-48.

Note of hi-tech coolness:
Please join Tam Flarup as she chronicles from courtside all the action from today's game between the Badgers and the Marquette Golden Eagles with the Game Day Blog. Remember, the blog is now interactive, so be sure to chime in with comments and questions and vote in the polls or email me at tjf@athletics.wisc.edu. The live blog will start at 12:30 p.m. CT and tipoff is at 1 p.m.

For quick links to game notes, radio links and live stats, visit our Game Day page. The game will be Webcast live on and later archived on the Bigtennetwork.com. Today's game airs live on the radio on AM 1310 WIBA in Madison or for a fee on Yahoo.com. Mobile users can view the archived blog HERE.
Fair warning -- if you read Tam's blog, you'll get a Monkee's song in your head.

Thanks a lot, Tam.

Friday, December 12, 2008

In anticipation of their matchup against Tennessee on Sunday (2 p.m. ET, Fox Sports), Mechelle takes a peek at Texas.

The Star-Telegram uses the upcoming game to take note of the rise of the Longhorn program.
Notre Dame is hit with it's second ACL of the season: sophomore Brittany Mallory.
Well, ESPN didn't revisit the subject, so the International Herald Tribune did: Russian teams feel the pain from global crisis.

The global financial crisis has forced many of Russia's professional sports teams to trim costs, bringing to a halt a spending spree that was fuelled by soaring oil and gas prices over the past few years.

Many of the country's top clubs in soccer, ice hockey and basketball are owned or sponsored by individuals or companies which have made their money from producing raw material such as oil and gas.

The crisis has forced big clubs to cut their budgets next year and threatened smaller ones with extinction unless they find other sources of income in the changing financial climate

Mechelle wonders if Andy Landers and the Georgia program have "jumped the shark."
Easy tracking for the upset watchers last night: only two ranked teams played.

1) #10 Tennessee pulled away from Middle State Tennessee behind freshman Shenkia Strickland's 20 points. This is coach Summitt's youngest starting line-up ever. Said Pat of her young pups:
"We devoted one whole practice this week just to shooting. We were able to get in a lot of reps," Summitt said. "We've been doing so much teaching that I think we've suffered a little bit time-wise not getting reps."

2) As for #13 Rutgers? Oiy. Cynthia Cooper-Dyke's 2-6 Prairie View A&M gave the Scarlet Knights all they could handle. At the RAC.

Yes, RU emerged victorious (58-56) but ain't nobody impressed.
Amid the terrible passes, the matador second-half defense and the general uneasiness with which No. 14 Rutgers played, one fact is clear: This team isn't anywhere near championship quality right now.

Or happy.
"We're selfish," said coach C. Vivian Stringer, whose club had just one assist in the second half. "I thought I'd seen the worst. I'm stunned. I was really prepared for us to lose. I figured I would just let it happen. So maybe we can understand that we can lose."
Elaine Powell's got a coaching gig.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mechelle writes of the impact Samantha Prahalis has had on Ohio State and Jantel Lavender.
Lavender, the Big Ten's player and rookie of the year in 2008, is not experiencing any sophomore slump. She's averaging 22.1 points and 12.0 rebounds, leading the Big Ten in both categories. She's already one of the country's best players.

Meanwhile, Prahalis is the top-scoring rookie in the league (12.1 ppg) and is the overall Big Ten leader in assists (6.2 apg).

"It's been great, like the beginning of our puzzle being completely put together," Lavender said of Prahalis joining the Buckeyes out of Commack (N.Y.) High. "I'm grateful she's here, because we can finally say we have a true point guard. Last year, we didn't have somebody who can create plays like Sammy can."
Most sports radio shows avoid discussion of women's sports. But a new weekly program is hoping to change that. Women's Sports Talk Show is on this Saturday and will focus on the Houston Comets and WNBA.

Their "mission is to provide a new medium and long overdue outlet for women's sports fans to discuss sports issues, games, plays and scores; listen and talk to players from all areas and all levels of women's sports. "

"All WSTR offerings will be available via podcast, downloadable MP3s & our 1-click player."
Paging through the latest issue of Sports Illustrated, I was surprised to see a picture of Lauren Jackson, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi (along with the owner of the team they play on in Russia).

The article focuses on the owners of Russian teams and is not online (yet). So it may be worth a stop at your local newsstand.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

If you haven't been checking out Pleasant Dreams - An Atlanta Dream Blog, you're missing out on some great stuff.

Most recently, you can brush up your high school French!
Since you're coming in for the weekend anyway, why not come over to the Garden on Sunday for the Maggie Dixon Classic: Rutgers/Army, UConn/Penn State.

There are tickets available, and you can go over to Macy's *shudder* for some post-basketball shopping.
Well, phew!!! I thought them upset-peeps had run out of steam!

On a night when three ranked teams played, two went down.

1) Valpo knocked off #21 Purdue, 71-60. Granted, the Boilermakers had lost two in a row, but those were to ranked teams... and this is, no disrespect intended, Valpo.

Gotta say, the Crusaders have multiple candidates for the All Vowel-Consonant Team: Agnieszka Kulaga (17pts), Aimee Litka (13pts), Launa Hochstetler (13 pts) and Sylwia Zabielewicz.

I want to know who let Whitney Farris on the team.

2) It took overtime, but Michigan knocked off previously undefeated, and 8th ranked Notre Dame, 63-59. Hello Coach Borseth, part deux.

3) #13 Louisville, behind Angel's triple-double ( 18 points, 10 rebounds and 10 steals), cruised past Hartford, 70-42.
File under, "Not surprised."

Rutgers Athletic Director Robert Mulcahy will step down at the end of December.
From the good folks a the WBCA:
Good afternoon!

Log on now to wbca.org to listen to this week's "Shootaround with Beth & Debbie" that features special guest Amanda Butler, head women's basketball coach at Florida. In order to access the show, press play on the media player located on the right-hand side of the homepage.The podcast will begin immediately following the Pink ZoneT public service announcement. In addition, you can download he podcast by simply clicking on the "Download" button.

Beth and Debbie begin their "Starting Five" with discussion on the top-25 and continue with talk on how far ahead Connecticut is from rest of the country, when Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt will get her 1000th career victory, home court win streaks and the WNBA dispersal draft.

Amanda Butler joins the show and talks about the Gators secret to success, Sha Brooks and Marshae Dotson and phenomenal play from er bench. Beth and Debbie close out the show with their "Thoughts from the Cocktail Napkin," which includes mention of Rutger's Epiphanny Prince, Oklahoma's Courtney Paris, possible additions to tate Farm Wade Trophy list and Xavier head coach Kevin McGuff.

Please remember story ideas, questions and comments are always welcome at shootaround@wbca.org.

Next time you are on facebook, please take a look at the "Shootaround with Beth & Debbie" - WBCA National Women's Basketball Podcast group. We encourage everyone to join the group and participate in online discussions we will have throughout the year!

When the AIAW was... eliminated... in 1981 by the NCAA, many women administrators lost their jobs and, some will argue, women's sports lost their voice. So, here's some good news:

Division II is doing its part to help increase the number of women in athletics administration through an annual $50,000 grant to the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators.

NACWAA uses the grant to expose aspiring women to new opportunities by giving a representative from each Division II conference the chance to attend the organization’s annual convention and gain valuable networking and mentoring opportunities with veteran female administrators.

“From the cards and letters we get in return, we keep hearing that it’s one of the best experiences these women have,” said NACWAA Executive Director Jennifer Alley.

Sad news from the world of Division III basketball: Willamette (OR) College's head coach Bruce Henderson collapsed during practice and died from an apparent heart-related incident.

Henderson, in his fourth year as Willamette’s head coach, was 47 years old.
"Bruce was an amazing man with endless energy and enthusiasm. I don't know of anyone that didn't like Bruce," Bearcats athletic director Mark Majeski said. "He was always laughing and made others laugh, too. He was upbeat and positive even during the most difficult times. He cared deeply about people and worked hard, and successfully, to make all of us better people."