Women's Hoops Blog: February 2004

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Sunday, February 29, 2004

Lightning strikes twice: for the second straight year, Villanova knocks off #1 UConn.

Liad Suez was the hero. She hit a go-ahead jumper as the game entered the last minute, and then she hit two free throws in the final seconds.

"I didn't think this young team could beat them," said the ever-humble coach Harry. "I told the kids, 'The longer we stay in the game, the pressure goes all back to them.' That's the burden they have to carry. We played the best we could play. Can I call this season off now?"

"We got exactly what we deserved and Villanova got what they deserved," Geno said. "They deserved to win and we deserved to lose."

Taurasi got her 2000th point, but she had only 8 in the game on 3-for-13 shooting.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Duke pounded Clemson. Alana had a near-perfect game for Senior Night.

"It was a fun game to play in," Vicki Krapohl said. "We were having a good time on the court, and everything seemed to be clicking."
Well, before Thurdsay's game, we knew there was bad blood between Washington and ASU. So we knew it would be an intense game.

But it was apparently more than that.

After the game, Gioconda Mendiola slapped ASU player Kylan Loney. When ASU coach Turner Thorne complained to coach Daugherty, Gio said that she just went to high five Loney and Loney moved her hand.

That explanation probably didn't seem very plausible to begin with, and after the game, coach Daugherty talked to several people who saw the incident. Yesterday, she decided to suspend Mendiola for today's game.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Penn State and Purdue both won, setting up their big Sunday showdown for the Big Ten championship.

The Lions had a pretty easy time with Michigan State, and the Boilermakers had a really easy time with Iowa.

Check the Indiana Women's Hoops Blog and Stacey Geyer's Penn State/Rutgers blog for more info.

Ohio State, after last night's win, is now in sole possession of third. Minnesota, Michigan State, and Iowa, after last night's losses, are now tied for fourth.
My Gophers lose again to Ohio State. Ouch. Again.

Things have pretty much fallen apart since Lindsay went down. What can you do...
Sue Bird boyfriend watch: 3-for-15 and 5 turnovers in a loss to Washington, the second-worst team in the league.
Tonight is Senior Night at Duke, and the Cameron loyal will say goodbye to Alana, Iciss, and Vicki.

"I have been blessed," said Beard. "Everyone wants to play in Cameron. You have people who come from across the country to see Cameron. I love this place."

Stanford loses to... Oregon?

Corrie Mizusawa was the hero. Nicole Powell had a rough night.

With the Ducks down 5 with about 30 seconds left, Corrie scored. Then she grabbed a loose ball and scored again. Powell (who shot 4-for-14) missed the front end of a 1-and-1. Corrie scored again with 8 seconds left, putting Oregon up one. Powell missed the last shot, and that was it.

"We need to figure out who is going to come to play," coach VanDerveer said. "We need senior leadership. We do not have the competitive fire for 40 minutes that being a great team demands. We need to figure out what combination of people is going to work hard and get done what needs to be done."

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Former Wisconsin high school standout and current University of Wisconsin junior guard Shawna Nichols has been plagued by injuries her entire collegiate career, and she has spent much of her first two years at UW on the bench. After finally getting healthy this fall, Nichols was expected to challenge for a starting spot. But,in late October team doctors told her that due to the several concussions she sustained throughout her career at UW it would be too dangerous for her to continue playing basketball.

Nichols has continued to attend practices, travel with the team, and she has become a kid of inspirational leader on the team. Of her early retirement and her new role Nichols says, "I miss that feeling, when you do something you love and put 100 percent into it. I haven't been able to find that feeling anywhere else in my life. I hope more so that I can remind them that it can be taken away from you in an instant, make the best of everyday that you have whether it's on the floor or in class because something that you love can be taken away so fast."

Read the Badger Herald's article on Nichols here.
Interesting article on the UConn coaching staff. The four person team of Geno Auriemma, Chris Dailey, Tonya Cardoza and Jamelle Elliott has basically stayed the same for the last, well, as long as anyone can remember. Hmm...
Does your Senator support the FMA? Find out here.
Washington is still hoping to make the dance. Tied for sixth and .500 in the Pac 10, right now they're out.

"Right now, our team goal is to get into the NCAA Tournament and in order to do that, we have to win the Pac-10 Tournament," senior guard Gioconda Mendiola said. "That's what we're going out to do."

The Huskies have a homestand coming up as the Arizona teams come to town. They start with ASU tonight.

This game has some bad feelings attached to it. When the two teams met earlier this year, the Mendiolas and ASU fans were involved in an ugly incident.

ASU fans students the sisters all night long, and they made frequent reference to the family's legal troubles. "You can say all you want about how I suck, how I play or that I'm ugly," said Giuli. "I couldn't care less. But when people keep saying stuff about my family, I won't allow that."

After the game, Giuli went over and confronted them. Someone took a swing at her, and then her dad came over and punched a student in the face. The police came, but no one pressed charges. The Pac 10 may still take action.

So the Mendiolas really want the win tonight. "Let's just say I haven't forgotten it," said Giuli.
UConn had an easy win over Providence and clinched its 11th straight Big East title.

"Last year at this time, going down to the Big East tournament, we had struggled for two or three weeks," said Geno. "We were winning, but we weren't exactly happy. Right now we're in a pretty good frame of mind. We're winning and we're happy and we're playing well."

Geno gave Diana and the other starters rest, and he gave everyone else a chance for some minutes and numbers. Strother was the only player in double figures; she had 10. Taurasi had 10 assists and 1 turnover.
Meanwhile in Norman, Texas Tech was upset by Oklahoma. The Sooners beat Tech on February 10 in Lubbock, and they did it again last night at home.

"I'm disappointed in the way we played," said coach Marsha Sharp. "I think Oklahoma did a good job, but we really didn't match them in any form or fashion. I thought we got outplayed in every spot, and that's really disappointing after the game we played in Lubbock on Sunday. It is probably the most disappointed I've been all year."

"A very significant win," OU coach Sherri Coale said. "One that I think will be an impressive couple of wins when the selection committee gets together. You beat a team that’s been ranked in the Top 10 a majority of the season, if not all the season. You beat them twice, I think that earns you some stripes."
Wild night in the Big 12.

In a classic game, Texas beat Baylor in double-OT. Nina Norman hit a three to tie the game at the end of the first extra session. Then in the second, Jamie Carey broke out of her slump and hit two threes.

"I've worked a lot on my shot this week," Carey said. "The coaches have emphasized staying with my shot. Sometimes I was getting back on defense instead of staying with my shot."

Coach Conradt hopes the Horns don't have to face the tough Baylor team again too soon. "I don't know where they'll be seeded in the NCAA tournament," she said, "but I hope it's far away from us."

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson's mother-in-law, who has had heart problems in the past, collapsed at the end of the game. Kim rushed to the hospital after the game. "That quickly puts this loss in perspective for me," she said.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

21st-ranked Miami is looking to snap Notre Dame's 17-game home wining streak tonight when they take on the Irish at the Joyce Center in South Bend. A win for the Hurricanes would move them into the 2nd position in the Big East and guarantee UConn the outright regular season title.
Looks like Brittany Jackson will be back in the line-up for Tennessee by the start of the SEC tourney next week. Good news for the Vols.

I hope we get the same type of good news about Whalen soon. My Gophers need her.
After dropping a game to Brown last Friday, UPenn is holding on to slim a one game lead over my old team (Dartmouth) in the Ivy League conference race. With only five games left in the season, the race is tight for the league champoinship and the automatic bid to the NCAAs. If Dartmouth can finish out the season strong, they have a good shot at the title. The Big Green will have to get by both Harvard and UPenn in the next week and a half to make it happen. Go Big Green!

You can keep up with the Ivy teams on the league website here where you can read each week's Ivy Weekly Women's Hoops Notebook. Check out this week's here.
DeLisha Milton-Jones's ACL tear took place during a scrimmage. She was racing down to contest a layup, but decided to stop and let it go. When she stopped, her right leg hyperextended and twisted.

"I just made a little twist and it was gone," she said. "It's overwhelming when I think about it. But you can't start wallowing in self-pity. That's not the way I am."
Boulder coach Ceal Barry became the 24th active coach to reach 500 wins last night as the Buffs pounded Kansas.

"We're proud of her, especially because of what she has done for young people," said her mother Adele Barry, who sat at midcourt celebrating every basket.
Rutgers dropped to West Virginia. Coach Stringer, baffled: "We just didn't get the defensive stops. I don't know what it is."

With ten losses, are the Knights in any danger of missing the dance?

Probably not. They are tied for 7th right now in the Big East, which is a little scary. But with an RPI in the high-20s or low-30s, and a bunch of quality wins, they should be fine.
Coming down to the wire in the Big Ten -- the big game is Sunday on ESPN2 as Penn State hosts Purdue. And before they even get there, both teams have tough matchups on Thursday against Michigan State and Iowa, respectively.

Because Texas lost this past weekend, the Nittany Lions and Boilermakers may be fighting for #1 seed.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

If you want to view the Mendiola story from SportsCenter, you can see it here. It is, however, a large file, so you probably don't wanna do it if you don't have a fast connection.

Thanks to eclair at the StormFans board.
Updated attendance figures, incidentally, are available at this link.

For the overall lead, Tennessee is on top, ahead of UConn by less than 30/game. Of course, UConn's numbers are hurt because of the games at Gampel, which holds just over 10,000.
Related to Coach Curry's criticism of students in Sara's post below, Clay at Full Court just published this piece about problems with fans of the women's game.

Clay notes that, compared to the men's game, the women's game draws more older people and few students. He says that those older women's fans need to get more cosmopolitan and follow the whole game, not just their own team.

That issue aside, it would be nice if more students went to games. They cheer louder and harder. They provide a different level of energy. Teams need to work harder to reach out to students.
Purdue and Penn State aren't just fighting for the Big Ten regular season title, they are also both trying to capture the title of Big Ten attendance leader. With this Sunday's game between the two teams at Penn State already sold out (with 15,389 tickets sold), Purdue needs "Pack the Mack" for their Thursday game against Iowa State to stay in the race.

Coach Curry is doing her best to get the fans out for the game, "I challenge this community, this department and everyone involved. More importantly, I challenge the students. It's amazing to me we don't have more students in Mackey Arena when we have 30,000 people on this campus. We're winning; what else can we do?"
Candace Parker, getting some attention in Israel.
UNC got its 20th win this year and coach Hatchell got her 650th career win as the Heels topped GTech. Little had 13 and 11. Latta shot 2-for-14 -- she's got some talent, but still needs to work on the shot selection.
We get a lot of emails of the following sort:

"Dear Sara & Ted -- Great website!!! I come every day to use all of the links on the left column. I don't usually read all that other stuff you write, but, um, I'm sure that's probably, um, very interesting too..."

In response to such dubious compliments, I've added some more links at left and fixed some other ones. As always, please email if you have more to suggest or if some links aren't working.

Now that we're in election season, I added a bunch of political blogs. These are the sort of uberblogs that get literally millions of visitors. They cover some things better than the mainstream media, and they may be fairly influential this season. So they're good to keep up with.

Lest anyone think this is yet another attempt to use a website ostensibly devoted to sports as a vehicle for radical Foulcaudian propaganda -- rest assured that the sites listed are ideologically diverse.
Taurasi was nominated for the Sullivan Award for the best amateur athlete in the country. The other nominees are LeBron James, skater Apolo Anton Ohno, swimmer Michael Phelps, and masters track and field star Philippa Raschker.

The award has been given to basketball players four times: Bill Bradley (1965), Bill Walton (1973), Chamique Holdsclaw (1998) and Kelly and Coco Miller (1999).

That would be some good company. But does Diana really have a chance against LeBron? Maybe the committee will have a hard time giving an amateur athlete award to someone who signed a $90 million sneaker contract halfway through the year.
Liebermen tells how Carol Smith has resurrected Ole Miss and put them in a spot where they may get some postseason action.

Monday, February 23, 2004

The 2004 McDonald's All-American Girls High School has been named. Here are the selections for the East and West Teams.

In the East (you can read the players bios here):

MATEE AJAVON, Malcolm X Shabazz High School - Newark, NJ, Point Guard - 5'8 - 163 Pounds, Rutgers University

NKOLIKA ANOSIKE, St. Peters High School - Staten Island, NY, Center - 6'3 - 185 Pounds, University of Tennessee

CHANTÉ BLACK, East Forsyth High School - Kernersville, NC, Center - 6'5 - 185 Pounds, Duke University

ESSENCE CARSON, Eastside High School - Paterson, NJ, Guard - 6'0 - 155 Pounds, Rutgers University

SYLVIA FOWLES, Gulliver Preparatory School - Miami, FL, Center - 6'5 - 205 Pounds, Louisiana State University

LAURA HARPER, Cheltenham High School - Wyncote, PA, Forward - 6'4 - 180 Pounds, University of Maryland

ALEXIS HORNBUCKLE, South Charleston High School - South Charleston, WV, Guard - 5'11 - 154 Pounds, University of Tennessee

TASHA HUMPHREY, Gainesville High School - Gainesville, GA, Forward - 6'4 - 215 Pounds, University of Georgia

CRYSTAL LANGHORNE, Willingboro High School - Willingboro, NJ, Forward - 6'2 - 185 Pounds, University of Maryland

ERLANA LARKINS, The Benjamin School - N. Palm Beach, FL, Forward - 6'3 - 190 Pounds, University of North Carolina

WANISHA SMITH, Riverdale Baptist High School - Upper Marlboro, MD, Guard - 5'11 - 160 Pounds, Duke University

ERICA WHITE, Ribault High School - Jacksonville, FL, Point Guard - 5'4 - 126 Pounds, Louisiana State University

And in the West (you can read the bios here):

QUIANNA CHANEY, Southern University Lab High School - Baton Rouge, LA, Guard - 5'11 - 160 Pounds, Louisiana State University

KRISTEN FORRISTALL, Oregon City High School - Oregon City, OR, Forward - 6'2 - 160 Pounds, University of Oregon

ALEX FULLER, Shelbyville Central High School - Shelbyville, TN, Center - 6'2 - 175 Pounds, University of Tennessee

DARRICE GRIFFIN, Seagraves High School - Seagraves, TX, Forward - 6'1 - 160 Pounds, Texas Tech University

CHARDE HOUSTON, San Diego High School - San Diego, CA, Forward - 6'2 - 175 Pounds, University of Connecticut

MARSCILLA PARKER, Pickerington North High School - Pickerington, OH, Guard - 5'10 - 155 Pounds, Ohio State

CANDACE PARKER, Naperville Central High School - Naperville, IL, Forward - 6'3 - 165 Pounds, University of Tennessee

CISSY PIERCE, Heritage High School - Littleton, CO, Guard - 5'10 - 135 Pounds, Stanford University

LINDSEY PLUIMER, San Clemente High School - San Clemente, CA, Center - 6'3 - 145 Pounds, UCLA

MEL THOMAS. Mount Notre Dame High School - Cincinnati, OH, Guard - 5'9 - 155 Pounds, University of Connecticut

CANDICE WIGGINS, La Jolla Country Day School - La Jolla, CA, Guard - 5'11 - 140 Pounds, Stanford University

SA'DE WILEY-GATEWOOD, Lynwood High School - Lynwood, CA, Point Guard - 5'9 - 153 Pounds, University of Tennessee
Terrible news: Barry emails to say that DeLisha Milton has torn her ACL.

The injury occurred yesterday as the USA National Team practiced in Florida. An MRI confirmed the diagnosis.

It is unclear whether the National Team will have to replace Milton for the Olympics in August. DeLisha, for her part, plans to be on the team: "I'm planning on getting this taken care of as soon as possible so that I can get back on the court this summer. I worked too long and hard not to be a part of this team and I'm going to work even harder to come back."
Jackass of the Day: Mike Moschetti, former Boulder quarterback. On ESPN Radio yesterday (replayed on SportsCenter this morning), Moschetti called alleged rape victim Katie Hnida a liar. Despite 6 separate allegations of rape by football players, Moschetti said the whole thing is just a "witch hunt" at the behest of "these women organizations" and "you know, feminists."

Hnida's story was published in this Sports Illustrated article.

What would Stacey Pressman say about all this?

You remember Stacey. The most vacuous writer at ESPN.com's Page 2 (and that's saying a lot). The avowed women's hoops hater. The woman who thinks that more football is the cure for American men, who are just too gay.

Stacey writes about football, yet she's been remarkably silent about this, the biggest college football story this year. So what does she think?

She once wrote that "The world would be a much better place if more women's studies professors embraced [football]!"

Maybe now she would see that the converse is also true -- that the world might be a better place if college football players took a women's studies class. Then again, it shouldn't take a women's studies class to teach you that your status as a bigtime football player -- though it makes you godlike to some -- does not absolve you of your responsibility to obtain consent before having sex with a woman.
Duke clinched the ACC title yesterday with its win over Maryland. The game looked entirely lopsided in the first half, but the Terps made an admirable comeback in the second. Still, it was too little too late for coach Frese's squad.

The game was played before 13,446 fans at the Comcast Center. It was the second-largest crowd ever to watch and ACC women's game and a nice boost for the Maryland program.
SportsCenter this morning featured a piece on the Mendiola family saga.

One of the story's slightly silly angles focused on Giovanni's nobility for taking the fall. In his jailhouse interview, he explained that his brothers had wives and girlfriends but he didn't, so he agreed to take the long sentence.

The crime reporter who covered the case for the Spokesman Review once told me that the whole case gave him the impression of a bunch of guys who had watched too many mob movies. It was as if Brendan Butler and the Mendiolas were trying to act out The Godfather (but weren't really smart enough to pull it off). Giovanni's statements today gave me the same impression.

Still, it was a pretty good report. If you're interested in more Mendiola case posts, see here, here, here, here, and here.
In yesterday's Big Ten action --

#20 Michigan State took a good run at #5 Purdue, but the Boilermakers rallied in the second half and won the game 59-56.

Mazzante had the worst game of her career. She shot 2-for-12 and fouled out with only 4 points. But led by the fire of Tanisha Wright, the Lions beat Iowa anyway.

Happy to be back in front of the hometown fans, Minnesota got a much-needed win over last-place Northwestern. "It feels like a very long time since we've been here," Gophers coach Pam Borton said. "It was a good game to get ourselves back on track."

Minnesota, Iowa, and Ohio State, and Michigan State are all tied for third in the Big Ten.
K State won its toughest game of the year in a classic at Mizzou.

Missouri senior Even Unrau had an incredible game. 40 points, 15 rebounds, and 4 assists. Of Unrau's performance, K State coach Patterson said: "It was phenomenal; she did everything you could ask a player to do. I don't know that I've seen a better overall performance in my years in this league than the one she put on today."

But Unrau's work wasn't enough, and the Wildcats came away with the victory after the second overtime.

"I've never been more proud of a team after a loss than I am today," Mizzou coach Cindy Stein said.

With the Horns' loss, K State is now in sole possession of first place in the Big 12.
Without Perkins and Greenwalt, I honestly didn't think it possible, but Texas Tech got the win over Texas yesterday. The Raiders looked solid -- crashed the boards, played great defense, won the battle in the paint.

"What a great game. I don't think you can ask for a much better matchup in women's basketball than that," Tech coach Marsha Sharp said. "You just go to war against each other for 40 minutes and somebody makes a few more plays than someone else. It was a great team win."

"We got outplayed, outhustled, outworked and outmuscled," Texas Coach Jody Conradt said.

UConn will take sole possession of the #1 ranking. But Coach Conradt wasn't too upset about losing #1: "Hopefully, we'll make our mark at the end of the season."

Sunday, February 22, 2004

ESPN is the most narcissistic network on TV. And apart from Friends (thank god they're finally putting us out of our misery), SportsCenter is the most narcissistic show on TV. (As Eric says, these days you might be better off just watching PTI.)

The Big Show's self-love was taken to a new level tonight with the premiere of Dream Job, the ESPN reality show where the winner gets a SportsCenter anchor job. Despite the incessant Stu Scott clown act and the aren't-we-great overtones, it's actually a fairly compelling show.

Sports fans who just want to make a living out of sports. Welcome to my world...
Phil forwarded this article about Abby Waner, a baller in Colorado who got in a serious car accident, then scored 44 points in her game that night.
Powell had a solid game for her last at Maples. After a quiet first half, she hit some more shots in the second, and her team got the win. It was an emotional day for Nicole.
The other Huskies have won their last couple Pac-10 games. Barring a win at the conference tourney, they might have lost too many games already to get a berth. But with the recent wins, they have at least managed to keep themselves on or near the bubble. And they have regained some confidence.

"Who knows where we're going to go in March?" Washington coach June Daugherty said. "But we know that we can beat anybody."

(Anybody? Maybe she means anybody in the Pac 10.)
Taurasi's injuries have been a problem lately. She has missed some practices and has taken limited minutes in games. UConn has relied on other players -- this hasn't been a problem in their recent games, but they'll need Diana in March. Unclear how healthy she'll be.

Geno says she's even worse than she was last year. "She's pretty banged up right now," he said. "The only way she'll come out is she'll throw two of the worst passes you ever saw in your life and then I have to take her out. She's not going to say, `This hurts.' [Saturday], when she made that face, you knew it was really bad. ... [Her ankle is] not going to get any better until they go back in there and clean it all back out."

Saturday, February 21, 2004

And the Times today has this wonderful article on the Bowdoin women's hoops team, which is the #1 Division III squad in the nation.

The team is dedicated and excellent, but Coach Stefanie Pemper allows -- indeed, insists -- that her players remain well-rounded and experience all of college life outside basketball. Coach even re-scheduled practices next week so that one of her players wouldn't miss her rehearsal for the Vagina Monologues. Sounds like a great bunch of people...

Thanks to Cynthia for the pointer.
Nothing to do with sports, but this article about SF and our recent party is pretty awesome. I'm just heading down to city hall to check it out...
#21 Houston handed #12 DePaul its third loss; the Cougars took sole possession of first place in the C-USA with the win.

Sancho Lyttle scored 30 points. But coach Joe Curl wanted her to get more -- she only took 6 shots in the second half, and the rest of the team just didn't get her the ball enough. ""That was a little disappointing," Curl said. "I told them, 'The big dog is hungry, and we need to feed her,' but we didn't do enough of it."
Pittsburgh, potential home of a WNBA franchise, will host an exhibition between the Shock and the Lynx.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Kara Braxton's suspension is no longer indefinite -- it's now permanent.

Don't know what her violations were, but I have to applaud Coach Landers. By kicking her off the team, he has lost one of his best players, and probably hurt his team's chances to go far in the tournament. But some things are more important than winning.

If more coaches of men's teams had Coach Landers's courage (you listening Coach Barnett? Coach Harrick? Coach Eustachy? Coach Bliss?), perhaps men's college sports wouldn't be such a mess.
Nicole Powell's shooting troubles continued -- she was 4-for-13 last night. But she still filled up the stat sheet with 18 points, 10 boards, and 6 assists.

Stanford got the win and a measure of revenge over USC, who had started their slump a few weeks back.
Iowa coach Lisa Bluder on beating Minnesota without Whalen: "You can pressure them a little bit more now, because it always seemed like Lindsay Whalen would be able to bail them out of any situation. And there was really nobody to bail them out this time."
Beard got her 2,500th point last night. "I had no clue," she said. "I just play."
Jeff Jacobs tells the story of Shamika Jackson, the best player to come out of the state of Connecticut in a decade. Geno passed on her.

In other Geno news -- last night St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli was on PTI. When asked how he deals with the pressure of being undefeated, Martelli said he relies on frequent advice from coach Auriemma, his best friend. When asked if St. Joe's is the best team in the country, he said the UConn women might be better.

In today's Philly Inquirer, Geno talks about St. Joe's.
With her health flagging, legendary LSU coach Sue Gunter will be taking a break from the bench. She'll still run the program and help out at practice, but she needs some rest.

Pokey Chatman will run the games.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Tennessee, down for much of the game, pulls out the win. Zolman pulls out of her slump.

Minnesota, without Whalen, and with McCarville on the bench for much of the game with fouls, gets blown out by Iowa. Ouch.

Penn State and Purdue both roll, setting up their big showdown to determine who wins the Big Ten.

Beard's late-season POY-caliber play continues, and Duke crushes Virginia.
Jackass of the Day: Twin Cities radio personality Dark Star, who recently called Lindsay Whalen's injury "a relief, because now they can go back to page nine where they belong."

You can email Dark through admin@wccoradio.cbs.com and tell him to fuck off.
For more analysis of the Holland-Corn trade, we turn again to the expert, Barry Uhrman:

With Ukari Figgs married and living in Kentucky (and coaching high school boys' basketball), Van Chancellor needed to find someone to fill the void at the point...a position that has never been adequately filled to Van's satisfaction since the late Kim Perrot.

Kedra-Holland Corn wanted out of Detroit. While she had her best season in terms of her production and effectiveness, she was not happy with her 20 minutes per game backing up the point and shooting guard positions.

This is the problem. KHC is not the point guard that will work in Van's system. Chancellor likes his point guards to pass, pass, pass (to Swoopes, to Cooper, and to Thompson). The point guards can basically only shoot when WIDE open or if there is one second remaining on the shot clock. Kedra is a shooter. She was effective backing up Elaine Powell at the point, but in limited minutes...and she split her time pretty well between the point and shooting guard positions in Detroit. Van likes to ride his starters and play them for most of the game. Kedra's game is not suited to running an offense for 32+ minutes per game in Chancellor's system. To top it off, Houston gave up its first round draft choice and signed Kedra to a hefty three-year contract.

As for Detroit, it loses one of its core seven players (the five starters, plus KHC and Barbara Farris) from last season. But signing Merlakia Jones filled another need...getting a backup small forward. Lake Jones was an All-Star and her 2003 season was most likely an aberration. She can play the two and the three, so Bill Laimbeer now has backups for Deanna Nolan and Swin Cash. The backup point guard situation is still left to be determined. Sheila Lambert has never recovered from her injury in the 2002 WBCA All-Star game. She has the athleticism, but some question her abilities as a point guard, thinking of her as a 5-7 shooting guard. Lambert may be on the trading block anyway, as Laimbeer may end up keeping Jae Kingi as the backup point guard.

And now Detroit has the 11th and 13th picks in the 2004 draft, which make a nice package should the Shock want to move up.
Although we're mildly ashamed to admit it, our most-admired baller isn't a woman. Not Whalen, Taurasi, Lawson, Catchings, Swoopes, LJ, Smith, Edwards, Stiles... They are probably 2 through 10.

But #1 is KG. The best basketball player in the world. And someone who has been through more than most in his life. He's younger than us, but he's got an old soul.

Tonight the Wolves take on Sacramento. To see who's the best team in the NBA. 7:30 eastern on TNT. Check it out.
Texas A&M had yet another almost-upset, but they Aggies blew their 10-point halftime lead, and K-State survived with another win.

"We wanted the game to be a street fight,” coach Gary Blair said.

K-State and Texas are now both 11-1 in the Big 12.
Bad news in Knoxville: Brittany Jackson sprained her MCL in practice yesterday. Unclear how long she'll be out, but a similar injury kept her off the court for three weeks last year.
Oklahoma double-teamed Bjorkland, and Colorado's guards couldn't hit from outside. On the other end, the Buffs had trouble figuring out the Sonners' motion offense. The result: Colorado's second straight loss.
USC plays Stanford tonight. A win would put the Trojans into first.

"It's nice to know that it is all within your hands," said coach Gobrecht. "If we can do it then we are certainly deserving of a championship."

Stanford has been struggling. Powell shot 16-for-51 over the past three games. Her POY hopes are fading.
South Carolina has fallen off the map this year. After two straight NCAA bids and a trip to the Elite Eight in '02, the Gamecocks are just hoping to make the NIT. They're tied for last in the SEC.

"It is disappointing. I’m disappointed for our team. I’m disappointed for our fans,” coach Susan Walvius said.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Jackass of the Day (and leading candidate for Jackass of the Year): soon-to-be-ex-Colorado football coach Gary Barnett.

Amid mounting accusations that his players committed multiple rapes, he simply refuses to acknowledge the problem or admit that he is in any way at fault.

Katie Hnida was a place kicker on the team a couple years ago, and she says that she was raped by another player. In response to this accusation, Barnett attacks the victim:

"It was obvious that Katie was not very good. She was awful. You know what guys do - they respect your ability. Katie was a girl, and not only was she a girl, she was terrible. OK? There's no other way to say it. She couldn't kick the ball through the uprights."

The attack on her playing ability is, at best, irrelevant and mean-spirited. But his remarks suggest something even worse: an oblique suggestion that she is at fault -- that she was raped because the other guys didn't respect her because she was a bad kicker.


WSF's Donna Lopiano was aghast. "This is truly not a woman's sports issues," she said. "This is an issue of violence against women. I don't know why it is a conversation about how good a kicker she is. This is obviously a program gone amok."
Just a month after losing Jia Perkins, Texas Tech gets dealth another blow: Cisti Greenwalt will miss the remainder of the season with a broken ankle.

"This is just another blow to our team," said coach Sharp. "I feel bad for our players and our fans to have to endure this adversity. I have confidence that our team will respond as they have all season long."
The Liberty have re-signed Becky Hammon to a multi-year deal.
Florida center Vanessa Hayden getting some props.

Vanderbilt coach Balcomb says she's the best post in the country. She was also the only Wade Trophy finalist who wasn't on the preseason list.

After Taurasi, Beard, Powell, and Jones, she'll be on of the first to go in the draft.
Detroit got even younger yesterday and Houston got even older as the Shock dealt Kedra Holland-Corn to the Comets for the #11 pick.

Laimbeer picked up Kedra last year to add some experience to his roster. She had some great games last year, and she was the hero of Game 2 of the finals. But playing behind Nolan and Powell, she averaged only 20 minutes per game.

She should see the floor a little more in Houston. And she'll get to be closer to her mom.
Stacey Dales-Schuman doesn't mind playing for a man: "From everything that I've seen and read about Michael Adams, it shows a lot of promise for our team. . . . The fact that this is a male coach is no problem at all. I think it's great that he has professional experience with the NBA."

Coach Adams is already referring to himself in the third person: "I've never been handed anything in my life. I was never drafted in the first round. I just think it's another challenge in Michael Adams' career to prove all the doubters wrong when something comes up like this occasion here."

Count me among the doubters. Nothing to do with Adams, in particular... it's just that the Mystics coaching job is the worst coaching job in the league.

Maybe this year will be different -- with Bullet back and a #2 draft pick, help is on the way. But you still have to figure out how to deal with a difficult group of players and the league's most petulant star.
Texas Tech had another close on at Mizzou. The Tigers had pulled to within one in the last minute, but Erin Grant made a sweet driving layup with 11 second left to put it away.

Grant filled the stat sheet with 8 points, 7 boards, and 7 assists.
Connecticut had its easiest game of the season against Pitt. The starters played only about half the game, then took some rest.

"We're cruising right now," said Ashley Battle. "We're playing really good basketball, and if we keep this up, the sky's the limit."

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Wade Trophy Finalists announced. So who's left off from the preseason list?

Batteast, Benningfield, Chones, Ely, Hoffman, Kublina, Lillis, Mendiola, Moore, Perkins, Smith, Teamer, Thomas, Tillis, and White.

A little surprising for the Vols to have no one on... but they are more balanced and less reliant on stars. The Pac 10 and the ACC have only one player each.

CORRECTION: as Ralph points out, the Pac 10 has 2: Powell and Polk.
Pam Schmid reports some good news: Whalen's injury might heal quicker than originally thought, and she could be back for the tournament.
The Mystics have named former Washington Bullet Michael Adams as their new head coach.
In today's Times, this disquieting story about the basketball obsession of Jaeson Maravich.
In the subscribers' portion of Full Court, Barry Uhrman has a rundown of some of the recent action in the WNBA.

Phoenix has said that it's considering Nancy Lieberman, Brian Agler, and Maura McHugh for the head coaching job vacated by Shumate, but Carrie Graf may get the nod.
Charlie Creme has an updated bracket projection at ESPN.com.

Creme has 23 teams locked for the 33 at-large bids, and another 21 competing for the final 10 spots.

He has only 4 Pac-10 schools making the cut. He has Auburn and Minnesota as 3 seeds, both of which might be aggressive. But he gives a pretty good picture of where we stand right now.
Texas Tech has survived tons of close games this year.

"This has to be the most competitive season that I've ever been a part of," coach Sharp said. "Before this season, I can only remember one or two games that came down to the last shot, but that seems to be the case in almost every game this year. From a coach's perspective, I just hope it doesn't wear us out."

The Raiders are prepared for another close one tonight at Mizzou.
Pitt plays UConn tonight. Shea Ralph is now on the Pitt side.

Shea saw a job posting in June and called around midnight to leave a message expressing interest. Coach Berenato picked up the phone.

Agnus: "Good evening, women's basketball."

Shea: "Uh - what are you doing there?"

Agnus: "Um, I work here. What are you doing calling me?"

Shea: "Well, this is Shea Ralph and there was a job on the Internet and I'm interested in the job..."

Agnus: "Well, this is Agnus Berenato and if you're interested in that job, you'll be working here too at midnight."

Monday, February 16, 2004

The Mystics will announce their new coach in a Tuesday press conference.

Dan Hughes has the inside track. Other contenders: Rick Mahorn, Nell Fortner, and Leon Barmore.
Crazy weekend in LA. ASU and Arizona came to town for games at USC and UCLA. Both teams had been hot lately. Both teams just beat Stanford last weekend. Both teams were on the cusp of the rankings, and Arizona had finally clawed its way into the AP top 25.

Both teams left LA with two losses.

The losses ended ASU's title hopes.

The wins put USC into second, just a half game out of first. "Where we are now is having [the season] mean something," coach Gobrecht said.

Georgia senior Kara Braxton has had an up-and-down career. She's been a dominant inside player off the court, but off-the-court difficulties have marred her career and led to repeated suspensions.

Yesterday, coach Andy Landers had to suspend her again for violations of team rules. The suspension is indefinite.

"(The situation) came down this morning and my attention and focus, as much as I could keep it there, was on this game," Landers said. "I've got to do some thinking on it. I've got to think about what's best for our basketball team, I got to think about what's best for Georgia and I got to think about what's best for Kara."
Duke had a big win on national TV on Saturday. They beat UNC by 10 in front of the biggest crowd ever to see a women's game in the Dean Smith Center.

It would be nice to say that this is a big rivalry, but the Devils have now won 11 in a row. Maybe next year it will tighten up. Latta, in particular, is an awesome talent, and will only improve in time.

Rob Clough's recap is here.

Beard was awesome. Sometimes criticized for her outside shooting, she shot 4 for 5 from 3-point land and finished with 31 points. Krapohl also had another great shooting outing.
On Saturday, UConn embarrassed Rutgers for the second time this year. I guess that ticket policy thing didn't really work out...

The Huskies' defense was solid. Rutgers scored only 10 in the first half. Cappie Pondexter shot only 3 for 20.

The best news for UConn was that Barbara Turner continued to kick some butt down low. She had 27 on 12 for 15 shooting, and 8 rebounds to boot.

Said Turner: "I wouldn't say [the confidence] is newfound," Turner said. "I just think it has to do with making more plays than I usually make, whether it's taking charges or just getting in the lane and breaking players down with the shot clock running out. Those things help you gain confidence during the course of the game, and I think as the game went on, I felt more and more confident."
Down 6 at half, the Vols came back to beat Vandy.

The Vols comeback was sparked partly by the unconventional lineup of Courtney McDaniel, Dominique Redding, Brittany Jackson, Tasha Butts, and LaToya Davis

Butts had 37. Even she was surprised: "I might have scored this much in an AAU game."
Elsewhere in the Big Ten --

Penn State destroyed Michigan in front of a record crowd of over 15,000. It was the Lions' first sellout at Bryce Jordan. And an important win after last week's loss.

Ohio State notched another upset by beating #17 Michigan St on the road. Caiti Matter, whose brother died on Saturday, led the Buckeyes with 23. Said Matter: "The game didn't really matter."

Purdue had no trouble with Northwestern. "We're not the most talented team in the country or league, but we take care of each other," said coach Curry.

Purdue and Penn State remain tied at the top of the league. They don't play till February 29.
Happy Pres' Day. Just got done with a big weekend.

Starting with the home team: our Gophs got a very important win over Illinois. Playing without Whalen, everyone else had to show up. Surprisingly, it wasn't McCarville that took the scoring load, but rather Bolden, Roysland, and Schonrock.

"This is huge for us because we needed to know we could win without her," said Bolden, who scored a career-high 18 points. "It just gives us confidence going into the last four games of the season and the Big Ten and NCAA, that we know we can play without her and we know people are going to step up and have big games."

Saturday, February 14, 2004

USC beat ASU easily last night, and moved into third in the conference. It was a dominant performance from start to finish for the Trojans.

And across town, UCLA upset Arizona.

Meanwhile, up north, the grim reality is setting in that the Washington Huskies may not make the tournament. After Thursday's loss to Oregon State, things aren't looking good.
TCU beat East Carolina last night. It took 4 overtimes.

"This would be my first four-overtime game," said Frogs coach Jeff Mittie. "I think it's safe to say that it's the longest game I've ever been involved in. I've never been through anything like that."
The press release said "four to six weeks"... but that's probably overly optimistic.

Whalen said at her press conference yesterday: "Anything before [six weeks] will be a bonus, at this point. I guess, usually with a fracture of any kind, it's about six weeks -- four weeks for the bone to be healed, and another two weeks to be as strong as it possibly can be."

The doctors will decide early next week whether surgery is needed.

Columnist Pat Reusse describes how everyone in Minnesota is feeling right now.

We spent last night mourning. Bought a bottle of rum, made dark & stormies, closed the shades, listened to some John Lee Hooker...

Voepel says the rest of the team has to find a way to keep from getting crushed. But how?

Friday, February 13, 2004

Worst fears realized: Whalen has two broken bones in her shooting hand. She's out at least till mid-March, and it seems doubtful that she'd be able to make it back for the tournament.

Hard to even comprehend the implications of this. This is worse than Tennessee with Moore, worse than UConn with Wolff, because the Gopher's whole offense is built around Whalen. This is almost like Texas Tech with Perkins or even Oregon with Kraayeveld -- totally devastating to the team.

Of course, we still have a powerhouse player in McCarville. And it's possible that some of the younger players can step up and fill the void. But it won't be easy.

With Whalen, we had an outside shot at the Final Four. Now it looks nearly impossible.

There are also substantial implications for the WNBA draft. I've been saying for some time that the Lynx must draft Whalen if she's still available, because even if she's not "the best" player available at the #7 pick, her impact on the franchise would be huge.

But now it gets riskier. You never know how someone will recover from an injury like this. Plus, this injury will seriously hurt the Gopher's chances and their local popularity over the next two months. It will hurt Whalen's chance to become an even bigger local superstar.

Consequently, it will hurt her chance to turn around the Lynx franchise like she turned around the Gophers. Depending on how things shake out, the Lynx may have to look elsewhere.
Saddam was on drugs when he decided to invade Kuwait. So drugs really do cause terrorism!
The Vols hung on in a frantic game in Athens.

Georgia played a crazy, high-pressure style of ball that rattled Tennessee. "We looked like we were running a fire drill," said coach Summitt. "You know when a fire drill goes off, everyone goes crazy. That's how we looked at times."

Georgia had a chance to go ahead in the final seconds, but a shot by freshman Janese Hardrick rolled off the rim. UT called time with 1.5 seconds left, but they were late coming out of timeout, and had to run out on the court to inbound. They barely made it, and won the game.
Michigan made a strong showing against Michigan State last night, but the Spartans ended up with the win.

"Maybe we can call this a rivalry again," said coach Cheryl Burnett. "I'm very proud of our players. We had to play very, very hard against Michigan State because they play hard."
UConn plays at Rutgers on Saturday. Rutgers has changed its ticket policy to prevent Husky fans from taking over.

They essentially didn't sell any tickets to the general public. If people called and asked for tickets and the caller ID showed CT area code, they were told it was already sold out.
Tillis returned and Duke pounded Wake.

"I felt good," Iciss said. "I was really excited. You never know how much you miss the game until you can't play."
No word yet about Whalen. But it doesn't sound too good:

"My arm felt a little different," she said last night. "Then I felt my hand. I couldn't move it, I couldn't make a fist. I tried to walk off the court as quick as I could. It's not good. But whatever happens, things always happen for a reason. I have to get through it, I guess."

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Minnesota lost badly to Ohio State, almost assuring us a 4 seed at best.

Worse yet, Whalen left the game with a wrist injury. No official word will come till tomorrow, but it apparently looked bad, like she might have broken it. Devastating.
For those of you who thought Paris Hilton has nothing to do with women's hoops:

Paris will join Lisa Leslie, Sue Bird, and Nikki Teasley on the basketball court for the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game. No joke. It will be on ESPN at 7 eastern tomorrow night.

Seriously, as much as I totally heart Paris, I would give anything to see Sue foul her hard, or to see Leslie dunk on her head.
No Big 12 upsets last night.

The Longhorns had a surprisingly tough time with bottom-dweller A&M. "I've had more fun at the dentist than I had during that game," coach Conradt said.

K State had no problem with KU.

Colorado struggled, but still beat Iowa State.

Mizzou couldn't make a shot and lost to Baylor. "It was almost an embarrassing game to be a part of," said coach Stein.
Tennessee has a big test tonight as they travel to Athens to play #19 Georgia. No fewer than 7 players on the Vols will try to play some point guard.
USC is 4th in the Pac 10, only a game and a half behind first place Arizona, and only a half game behind third place ASU.

The Sun Devils come to town tonight, and the Wildcats on Sunday.

"We understand how big it is," USC coach Chris Gobrecht said. "It is so difficult that we literally have to stay in the moment. Sometimes the importance of the game can be a distraction."

Elsewhere in the Big East, #25 had a strong second half to beat Georgetown.

Brunson had 30 points on 14-19 shooting and 13 rebounds. The rest of the Hoyas had only 9 field goals combined. Maybe Brunson should hang out with Nicole Powell...

But Rebekkah (unlike Powell) hasn't lost faith in her teammates: "I would love to see them score and see them have big nights. It's not really frustrating to the point where I think I have to do too much. I know that they can do it."
UConn smoked the Orangepeople last night. Taurasi had 10 in the first half then sat much of the rest of the game.

Geno says the confidence is back: "Right now the kids feel pretty good about themselves. I'm happy for them. This is their deal. I know how badly they want to be good and want to improve. The last thing you want is to feel bad about the way you're playing."

Best of all, after 33 turnovers Sunday, the Huskies had only 8 yesterday.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Liz Podominick was the most highly-touted recruit ever to come to Minnesota. But her freshman season has been a disappointment.

She hasn't practiced well, she hasn't played much, and her confidence has slipped. Still, Coach Borton is convinced that Liz will eventually be a star, and that she may even be ready to give the Gophers more help up front come March.
Becky Hammon was supposed to be the marquee player for the NWBL's Colorado Chill. In fact, if not for Hammon, the Chill might not even exist. But Becky has yet to play a game for Colorado because the New York Liberty doctors won't clear her.

Chill owner Dave King is extremely frustrated. "The Liberty and their doctor are taking protocols that are slower than the industry standard. She's under their care. We can't get her release; she's under their workman's comp claim. They've stalled everything. We're past what I would consider the norm. "

Hammon, meanwhile, remains a free agent in the WNBA. Houston and Indiana have made some preliminary offers, but it would be very surprising if she didn't end up back in New York.
Lin Dunn, former Storm head coach, has been hired as an assistant by the Fever.
#7 Texas Tech has done remarkably well since they lost Jia Perkins, but last night they really missed her as they were simply unable to score against Oklahoma. The Sooners pulled off the upset on the Raiders' home floor.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Melanie Jackson argues that Shereka Wright deserves more attention.

Melanie says it's unfair that fellow Big Ten-ers Mazzante and Whalen receive so much more "national attention" than Wright. I'm not totally sure what she's talking about -- Whalen and Mazzante are obviously local heroes in their respective towns, but neither receives lots of attention in the national press (even the national women's basketball press, such as it is).

But as to Jackson's basic point -- that Wright deserves to be on the Kodak All-America team -- there's no argument from this Gopher fan.
By a vote of 28-11, UConn tops Texas in the coaches' poll.
Jackass of the day: House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who says in an upcoming TV interview (quoted in today's Roll Call): "A woman can take care of the family. It takes a man to provide structure. To provide stability."

You would think that in the 21st century, someone with views like that couldn't be one of the most powerful elected officials in the country. But then you'd think a lot of things...

If anyone is interested in starting a sheep-farm commune in New Zealand, please let me know. We can play hoops all afternoon (once chores are done). Sara will provide all the structure and stability while I sip local sauvingnon blancs and sample psychotropic herbs. Soon we will have forgotten all about Tom DeLay.
Bunch of WNBA news the past few days. Sue Bird was named to the Olympic team -- apparently everyone is finally convinced that her knee is fine.

The Lib re-signed C-Rob. The SS re-signed Goodson. Houston signed McCrimmon, who comes from the Sparks.
The other Huskies, meanwhile, are facing a new problem. Breanne Watson, one of Washington's starting forwards, is expected to miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury.

When sorrows come, they come not as single spies -- The Huskies are currently 7th in the Pac-10, and they've slipped to around #50 in the RPI. If they don't have a strong finish, they won't make the dance.
The #2 Huskies have improved on their rebounding recently.

Says Geno: "If we're going to get knocked out [of the NCAA Tournament], that's how its going to happen. Someone will just overwhelm us in the lane like Notre Dame did. That's something we're going to constantly have to guard against."
The AP voters split yesterday on who is #1 -- Texas got 29 first-place votes and UConn got 18. (I think it's a toss-up.)

This is the Longhorns' first trip to the top of the poll since the late 80s.

Monday, February 09, 2004

In the Big Ten --

Purdue survived Ohio State by 3 points. "Ohio State has as much or maybe more talent than anybody in our league," coach Kristy Curry said. "We feel like we just beat one of the best basketball teams we’ll play all year."

My Gophers got some long-awaited revenge by knocking off Penn State. In front of their biggest crowd ever, the Gophers did everything right. "We showed we can play with the best teams in the country," said Janel McCarville. "And Penn State is up there. . . . They've got everything they need to get to the Final Four. It's a big statement for us to beat them by almost 20."
Two huge Big 12 games:

#9 Texas Tech got a big win over #17 Baylor. The Raiders relied on young guns Grant, Robertson, and Greenwalt. Said Coach Sharp: "I adore our seniors, and I think they are great people and good players. But I just think these (younger) guys have been making more plays regularly and been more consistent. I think the fact that they were able to do that for a longer period of the time today gave us a chance to win."

#11 K State beat #10 Colorado easily. "I think anytime you beat any team in this league by anywhere close to double figures, there's an element of surprise,” K-State coach Deb Patterson said. “Just because everyone is that good. But there are nights for everyone in this league on the road where it's tough to be yourself.” Wecker had 23 and 10.
NC State dumped #12 UNC. The Wolfpack are now just 13-11, but with their late season run, they're trying to make a case for the tournament.

UNC Coach Sylvia Hatchell was beside herself. "I am upset about our rebounding," she said. "I am upset about our intensity level because there is no way we should have lost this game. Our post defense was awful."
The Vols bounced back with a win over South Carolina. The Vols didn't shoot terribly well, and they had some listless stretches, but they won the game by crashing the boards and pulling down 58 rebounds.

It was a good first step on the road to psychological recovery after the UConn loss.
UConn topped #21 Miami despite 33 turnovers.

Taurasi had 8 herself. "Is [the glass] half-empty or half-full? Obviously, I look at it as empty. We always end up kind of kicking ourselves in the butt somehow, or some way in every game, which I guess is good because you need something to complain about."

"You know, minus the turnovers, it was an unbelievably good game by us," said Geno. "But that's like saying 'Minus Cindy Crawford's body and her face, she's an average person.' That was a big damn part of the game."

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Another women's hoops weblog on the block:

this one run by Stacey Geyer, focused on Penn State and Rutgers.
Big day in Minnesota -- as the NHL has its farewell party across town, the Gophers will try to take some revenge on Penn State. Sellout crowd expected.
The Stanford men won the best college basketball game of the season yesterday and improved to 20-0. The Stanford women lost their worst game of the season to ASU. Coach TV called it "an absolute meltdown."

It takes more than one player to make a good basketball team, and the Cardinal continue to be hurt by their near exclusive reliance on Nicole Powell. No one other than Nicole reached double figures yesterday. The team shot 28% overall and just 2 for 25 from outside.

And sometimes Nicole gets worn down or just has a tough stretch -- she was 2 of 16 in the second half. (The same thing happened in the second half of the Tennessee game, when Stanford gave that game away.) Something needs to change.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Arizona knocked off Stanford last night.

Nicole Powell, upset after the game, criticizing her team(mates?): "I'm mad and I'm disappointed. I don't want to say I'm shocked because Arizona played well, but I thought this (loss) was on our team and I'm concerned with the way we played tonight. I felt like something was missing. We were prepared, but we just didn't come out and execute. We didn't bring it tonight."

With the win, the Cats strenghthen their case for a ranking and a better seed. With the loss, Stanford looks in danger of slipping to a #4 seed in the tournament. Which could mean Texas in the third round. Which is undesirable.
Geno: "We had the lead the whole game, but it wasn't like we were sitting back and being comfortable about it, like we were in the Duke game. With about three or four minutes left, I turned around and said to the guys, `We're not giving this one away, under no circumstances.' And we didn't. Maybe we've grown a little bit since that day."

Coach Summitt: "They flat outhustled us. They outworked us on the boards. Their execution was better in the half court. I think we let our offense direct our defense sometimes. I think some of our players have to learn to play at that level all the time."

Taurasi: "Booing? I thought they were mooing."

Robinson: "Whenever we play them, they bring their A game and we bring our C game."

Ely: "It was mostly my fault. I wasn't moving to open spots. It wasn't good for me to be standing around hanging my teammates out to dry."

Thursday, February 05, 2004

UConn outplayed the Vols in nearly every aspect of the game. More offensive boards, fewer turnovers, twice as many 3s, much better shooting. If the Huskies had managed to make a reasonable percentage of their free throws, it would have been a blowout.

But on the to real story of the game: the reffing.

I watch a lot of basketball, both men's and women's. (In fact, a lot more men's because there's so much more on TV.) I sometimes think that the reffing is generally terrible in the women's game, but I've never really complained about it because they're doing their best, and I have no way to measure whether it's really worse than the men's reffing.

Plus, complaining about the refs is so cliched.

Tonight, however, was really absurd.

There were a bunch of anticipation calls, like the clean block that Taurasi had in the first minutes and the clean block that Robinson had in the beginning of the second. Dear refs: just because the defender swings her arm doesn't mean it's a foul -- sometimes that arm movement is how you stuff someone.

There were also endless touch fouls. Yes, I know the rules say that the defensive player can't put her hand on the offensive player. But sometimes, when the contact doesn't affect the play, a good ref lets it go.

No one wants to see this game decided with Ashley Robinson and Diana Taurasi on the bench. No one wants to see a second half where most of the players have four fouls, so no one can make any aggressive plays. No one wants to see the pace slowed to a crawl because there are so many goddamn whistles.

Seriously, it needs to change. Tonight, the bad reffing was equally retarded both ways (23 fouls vs. 22; 28 trips to the line vs. 21) so in that sense, it didn't affect the outcome. But it painful to watch.

Every member of that crew should be fired. Sally Bell first. If not fired, they should never be able to work such high-profile games again.
Another big trade: Charlotte sends Kelly Miller and the 9th pick to Indiana for the 4th pick.

The Fever get some badly needed help on the perimeter (will McCray still play this year?). Charlotte gets a shot at Chandi Jones or Nicole Powell, or one of the other big seniors in the draft.
Duke lost in a shocker to Florida State. The Seminoles had been only 3-6 in ACC play and 10-10 overall. They had also just lost Genesis Choice, their top rebounder. In short, they were frustrated, and they took it out on the Devils.

"It was pathetic. We played the worst basketball game I think I've ever seen," Duke coach Gail Goestenkors said. "We were slowing everything we did and every pass we made and every pass seemed like it was a struggle like it was about a half second slow or late. And I don't have any excuse-I don't think the players have any excuse-for why that happened. We just didn't have what it took on this day, unfortunately.... This is a wake up call. We can't walk into the game thinking we can beat anybody. You learn from losses so that's what we have to do."

The Seminoles couldn't miss -- they shot over 57% from the floor.

The Devils were without Tillis as a result of the concussion she sustained during the Clemson game. The loss ended Duke's 51-game ACC winning streak.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Marion Jones, sprinter and former and future baller, is trying to rebuild her reputation after her association with various doping scandals. She has never tested positive, but she has close ties with coaches and athletes who have cheated. "I don't believe in guilt by association in the least," said Jones.
This has been a fun week for basketball. ESPN's Rivalry Week has presented a whole bunch of great games from across the country, and many of them have gone down to the wire.

Tomorrow's games are the crown jewels. On ESPN2 tomorrow, back-to-back, we get to see the greatest rivalry in women's basketball (pro or college) followed by the greatest rivalry in men's basketball (pro or college). At 7 eastern, the #4 UConn women play at #1 Tennessee, and at 9 eastern, the #1 Duke men play at #17 UNC.

So if you have the chance, make some dinner, get a couple bottles of wine, and sit in front of the TV tomorrow for 4 or 5 hours of the most intense basketball you'll ever see.

ESPN has done a nice job plugging the women's game. It's great that they've included it as part of Rivalry Week, and it's great that they've got it leading into the Duke-UNC men's game.

I do wish they would have included a couple other women's games as part of the week-long celebration. Like -- how 'bout move the Texas-Texas Tech game to Monday, instead of Sunday, where it played in the shadow of the Superbowl? How 'bout Duke-UNC women as well as the men? How 'bout a Big Ten matchup?

Maybe we'll see more in time. For now, it will be nice to sit back and enjoy tomorrow's contests.
Long-time Liberty star and fan favorite Teresa Weatherspoon is headed for LA. The Sparks are expected to announce that they've signed T-Spoon off the free agent roles.

New York had some problems last year trying to figure out how to split floor time between Teresa and Becky Hammon, who emerged as a star. Problem solved.
Pac-10 coaches argue that Nicole Powell should get the Player of the Year nod over Beard and Taurasi. Mixed in with their arguments are continued complaints about east coast bias, media bias, no respect for the Pac-10, yada yada yada.

(As I said last week, the Pac-10 needs to start winning more if it wants more respect.)

It is true that Powell carries her team in a way that Diana and Alana don't. It's also maybe true that the numbers put up by Diana and Alana (especialy the former) so far this year haven't lived up to the preseason hype. But right now, the award race is still between the two of them. If Stanford can go somewhere in the tournament, however, that could change.
Texas beat down Mizzou last night. After going 10-for-10 in her last game, Stacy Stephens slipped a little -- she was only 10-for-11 yesterday.
With the Nittany Lions sitting at 9-0 in the Big Ten, Walt Moody suggests that they could run the table.

Of course, they haven't played Purdue yet, and they have away games coming up against Minnesota and Michigan State.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

After a storied 13-year professional career, Jennifer Azzi has announced that her hooping days are over. Azzi spent the last the last five years in the WNBA, and she leaves as the league all-time leader in three point shooting with a 45.8 percent average. Prior to the WNBA, Azzi played in the ABL and also in Europe. She played on the 1996 Gold Medal-winning USA Olympic team, and who could forget her tremendous career at Stanford.

WNBA President Val Ackerman had this to say about Azzi's retirement, "Jen has made far-reaching contributions to the women's game over the past decade and has played an important role in moving our sport forward during that time,. At all levels -- at Stanford, on the national team and in the pros -- she has always exemplified professionalism, a tireless work ethic and a complete understanding of the importance of connecting with fans and serving as a role model for young people. "

I couldn't agree more with Ackerman. I idolized Azzi as a young girl. I remember following her when she was at Stanford. She was my first female basketball role model. She was strong, fast, a great shooter, she had tremendous poise and leadership on the court, and she was a point guard -- just like me! I remember playing my imaginery games in the driveway -- I was always Jennifer Azzi. Bringing the ball down, looking for the open player, head fake, cross-over and to the hole!

Good Luck Jennifer! Thanks for all the great hoops!
Jackass of the day: Greg Norman.

The Shark, taking a cue from fellow golf idiot Vijay Singh, doesn't like women playing on the PGA tour. "I think the rightful place is that women play on their tour and we play on ours." Rightful place, eh?

"I think the situation is more of a marketing ploy than anything else," Norman said. "If the girls come out and think they can play against the guys and fail every time, that can't be very positive."

But Greg, they don't "fail every time." Michelle Wie, at 14 years old, missed the cut by one stroke! In a tough field, that was a stunning success.

The main complaint is that women use up sponsors' exemptions. With sponsors' exemptions, tournament sponsors give spots to people who don't otherwise qualify. Norman says the use of these exemptions for women is just a made-for-TV play, and that it takes away spots from men who are better players.

But sponsors' exemptions, by definition, always give a spot to someone who doesn't otherwise qualify. They're often given to famous old-timers who can no longer compete or local favorites or even non-golfer celebs. They are regularly used to put players on the course who will generate crowds and ratings (and thus financial returns for the sponsor).

In short, sponsors' exemptions are often given to players who aren't the best out there.

Maybe sponsors' exemptions are an all-around bad idea. You could make some argument that it's not fair to give a spot to someone other than the best, most deserving player... but what difference does it make if his spot is taken by a man or woman? If sponsors' exemptions are unfair, why hasn't Norman been complaining about them for years?

Norman also says it's bad for the women's tour. (This is the paternalistic, it's-for-your-own-good part of the argument.) There is a legitimate point here, but it may or may not reflect reality. So far it hasn't -- Annika's appearance last year on the men's tour generated increased interest in the LPGA. In the long run, however, if Michelle competes regularly on the PGA, it could hurt the LPGA.

But if it does eventually hurt the LPGA, the LPGA can recognize and deal with the problem. The LPGA is for the most part a fine organization run by smart people. It doesn't need fools like Greg Norman telling them what's best for them.
An important story from the business side of the game --

Anne Mariucci and Kathy Munro have purchased an ownership interest in the Mercury. This is the first time that one of the NBA owners has partnered with an outside investor. Also the first time that women's have held equity in a team.

Ann's bio is here; Kathy's here.

This bodes well for the financial health of the league. If outside investors have interest in buying pieces of teams, the NBA owners are less likely to fold up and more likely to take the league -- and their investments -- seriously.

But Mariucci and Monro, who have an option to acquire a majority stake later on, aren't just in it for the money. "It's a luxury to be at a stop in our lives to make investment choices based on what matters to us instead of just an economic return or to advance your career," said Mariucci. "We can put our time and passion in the Mercury and the things that matter."
The Insane Platypus has an early mock draft up.
Duke had no problem with Clemson. Well, one problem: Iciss Tillis left the game with a concussion.

Beard was unstoppable. Said Tigers coach Jim Davis: "I thought we got off to a pretty good start with Beard. We wanted her to work hard to even get the ball. But when she got the ball, golly, she was phenomenal."
Sue Bird boyfriend watch: 31 points and one self-feed alley-oop off-the-backboard highlight dunk. Bulls still lose.

Monday, February 02, 2004

We've talked some about the large number of upsets, and what seems to be a new level of parity in the women's game.

Of course, parity is sort of a nebulous concept, and it's hard to measure.

One rough way to measure is to just look at how much the top teams lose. As of yesterday, the top 10 in the women's AP poll had a total of 23 losses, and the top 25 had a total of 75.

In the abstract, this doesn't mean much. But it does suggest -- contrary to a usual criticism -- that there is relatively more parity in the women's game right now than in the men's. The top 10 men's teams have 14 total losses, and the top 25 have 59.

Based on that measure, however, it's less clear that there's more parity this year than in the recent past. Last year at this time, the top 10 had 18 losses, and the top 25 had 85. Two years ago, the top 10 had 25 losses, and the top 25 had 105.

The difference is at the very top. Over the past few years, it's sometimes seemed as if there's one or two or three dominant teams at the top that no one else can touch. This year, it has seemed more wide open, in the sense that the number of teams that have a legitimate shot at the Final Four and the championship seems greater.

But that said, the top four teams right now are last year's Final Four teams, and it wouldn't be at all surprising if all four ended up in New Orleans. So, the parity story remains mixed.
New AP poll; not many huge changes. Despite 7 losses, Notre Dame jumps in after knocking off several ranked teams. Oklahoma slips out.
In NWBL action, Catchings had 30 points and 21 rebounds to lead Chicago over Springfield.

The Spirit were hampered by the loss of Swin Cash, who recently left the team because she's too busy.
Freshman Janese Hardrick led Georgia over Alabama yesterday. It was the 600th win for Bulldogs coach Andy Landers. He is the 11th D1 coach to do so, and with only 184 losses, he is the third quickest to get there.

"The 600 wins is the sum total of a university's, an athletic department's and an administration's commitment. It's the result of a lot of hours in the gym, a lot of assistants recruiting well and a lot of good players," Landers said. "I've just been fortunate to be at the steering wheel driving the thing."

Andy's wife Pam Landers has also been key to the program's success all along.

Hat tip to Kim for this story.
Slate's review of Superbowl ads.
The Texas-Tech game lived up to the hype, even without Perkins. It was surprising how well the Raiders did without Jia. They ended up losing by 9, but it was a tight contest till the last few minutes.

Stacy Stephens was simply incredible. She had 12 rebounds and 28 points on 10 for 10 shooting.

"I was shocked by that," she said of her shooting accuracy. "I didn't feel any pressure today. I felt everybody got open looks. When I got an open shot I went for it."

We talked about just staying close and hanging around a little bit until we could make something happen," Tech coach Marsha Sharp said. "I thought we did a good job of doing that, but they just overpowered us in a couple of spots. They are just so strong and physical."
Gawker nails the halftime show: "Whenever your brother is on trial for molesting children, it's a great idea to keep the family in the news by secretly planning to have Justin Timberlake rip off your clothes for the Superbowl's 80+ million viewers."

Timberlake called it a "wardrobe malfunction." Hilarious.
Tennessee was counting its blessings Sunday after barely surviving the tough Auburn Tigers. Tasha Butts made a miracle shot at the end of regulation to tie the game, and the Vols won the extra frame.

UConn comes to town Thursday to write the next chapter in the best rivalry in women's basketball. Taurasi will play. Sally Bell will ref.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Taurasi went out yesterday after only 12 minutes and 2 points. In her absence, future All-American Ann Strother showed what UConn will look like post-Taurasi: still pretty good.

"I don't think you can just sit there and worry about [Diana]," said Strother, who had 27 points. "We did end up coming together and getting the job done, even though she wasn't in the game. It's just doing it when she's in there, too. That's going to make us the best team we can be."

Taurasi is fine, by the way. Her back was just sore after she aggravated a stress fracture in her back on a play where St. John's center Kati Kurtosi gave her a shot.

The Huskies called it a cheap shot, and after they game they were fuming about the reffing.

"That's what happens to her all the time," Ashley Battle said. "It happens every single game. She can't cut across the lane. She's like a pinball, because everyone's taking shots at her, throwing their forearms at her, grabbing her, scratching her. That's not right. That's not cool. She got caught in a bad spot."

"Here's my feeling on that: The only thing worse than the way we played today and the way I coached was the officiating," said Geno. "And the officiating has been horrible all yearlong. Diana Taurasi is the best player in the country. She gets mugged more in a game than any player I've ever been around in the 19 years I've been here, to the point where it's flagrant most of the time."