Women's Hoops Blog: December 2004

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Friday, December 31, 2004

From the mailbag, about what should be an interesting game on Sunday when Va Tech plays Maryland for its first ever ACC game:

Maryland still trying to recuperate from the loss of freshman Laura Harper for the season. Terrapins won their "classic" at Comcast, beating Massachusetts and Marshall. They still have plenty of young talent, but losing Harper so close to the start of conference play forces Frese to try some new patterns and rotations on the fly.

Tech, under its new head coach, has had a decent early part of the season (including a nice win over Texas Tech), and it will be interesting to see how it reacts to being in a new conference, as it will for Miami this year and Boston College the next. I only wish the ACC played 16 league games rather than 14. As women's hoops continues to become more evenly matched, there's no reason for conferences to play fewer league games than their male counterparts.

Yeah, that's lame. In the Big Ten, both men and women play 16, but it's still frustrating that we can't do the full double round robin. This year, for example, we won't get to see Penn State or Ohio State at Williams.
Utah assistant Phil Johnson took himself out of the running for the Nuggets job. Phil Jackson will likely do the same. George Karl, however, wants the job.

Coop isn't upset that GM Kiki Vandeweghe is running a search. "That's his job," he said. "He wouldn't be doing his job if he didn't do what he had to do to make this team good. You know what, they've given me the OK and the confidence I can get the job done."
Big Ten action got underway last night.

In the best matchup of the night, Penn State knocked off #7 Ohio State. Tanisha Wright and Jen Harris had 22 each.

"We didn't move the ball," said Ohio State coach Jim Foster. "We are a team that reverses the ball and we just didn't reverse it. We were standing still too much.

You could call it an upset, but given the Lions' amazing conference record at home, no one should be too surprised. In its last 32 Big Ten games at the Jordan Center, Penn State is 31-1.

"We always remind them of that," coach Rene Portland said. "In the Big Ten, it's important to win at home and steal on the road."
In last night's other Big Ten games --

Iowa stayed unbeated with its victory over Indiana. "They're very good," Indiana coach Kathi Bennett said. "Every kid can score. Crystal Smith is so good. She's lightning." Smith had 24.

Purdue went to Madison, and Wisconsin led for much of the game, but the Boilermakers pulled it out. "We were scrappy, we implemented some new defensive things and the players responded," said Badger coach Lisa Stone. "It's just unfortunate that it was ripe for the picking and we just couldn't take it tonight."•

Angelina Williams made an amazing turnaround jumper with 7 seconds left to give Illinois a two-point win over Michigan. Said Williams: "I just willed it in."

And here in Minnesota, the Gophers beat Northwestern in a sluggish game. April Calhoun had a strong performance, and McCarville had 13 and 14.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Jackie Stiles became the greatest scorer in the history of the college game by working constantly. Now she thinks that she may have ruined her career by working her body too hard, and she's telling younger girls not to follow her example.

"I never thought I needed a day off. I never listened to my body when it was hurting. I just kept pushing, pushing and pushing," she said. "Now, I really regret that I didn't have more balance, didn't take care of my body through little things like nutrition and sleep. Then, it finally broke down."
Kevin Pelton on Coop, the trends, and the WNBA as stepping stone.

On ESPN and elsewhere, there's been a lot of talk like: "Hey, he won championships with the Sparks -- it's only women, but it's still winning." We can take that either as an insult or a compliment.

And as Kevin says, if the WNBA serves as a stepping stone, it will be a mixed blessing. Ultimately, he's not too worried about it, because "the better coaches in the WNBA, whatever the reason, the better for the league." I think that's right.
Coop on Fire: "I don't think they expected me to come out as intense as I was. This is obviously a fun sport to be involved in, but it's also a business, and we're in the business of trying to win championships. That's the only way I've ever known it, coming from the Lakers and the Sparks. As Pat Riley once said, 'If you don't talk about being a champion, you'll never be a champion.'"

Kiki, meanwhile, is working the Rolodex, trying to see who else is interested in the job.
Some great statistics and information from Pilight:

The last time UConn and Tennessee lost in the same day?

December 1, 1990. UConn lost to Purdue 89-87 in Durham. Tennessee lost to NC State 90-77 in Knoxville.

The last time UConn and Tennessee lost on the same night and both teams lost by double digits?

February 2,1985. UConn lost to Villanova 77-66 in Storrs in overtime, while Tennessee lost to Georgia 72-56 in Knoxville. Geno Auriemma was not yet the coach at UConn at that time. Jean Balthaser led the Huskies to a 9-18 record in her last season as head coach.
The 16-point loss to Michigan State was UConn's worst home loss since 1992. The large Civic Center crowd was quiet, and many of them went home early.

"Our fans were leaving our home court. It doesn't get more embarrassing than that," said Barbara Turner.

"When you play like that in front of so many people who have helped to make your program what it is, you just want to go jump in a hole," said Ann Strother.

"We didn't play their tradition tonight," said MSU coach Joanne McCallie. "We respect their tradition, of course, but when it comes to the court, you play the court, and you play what's on the court."

Dave Solomon says this year's team is unrecognizable and hard to watch.

Jeff Jacobs says this year's Huskies are simply awful.

Everybody knew the Huskies would have to forge a new path without Diana Taurasi. You don't lose the best player in school history and the greatest winner in college history without some difficult winter nights. But this also is a program filled with high school All-Americans up and down the lineup, players who played pivotal roles in three successive national championships. They should be better than 6-3. They should be better than three losses this early since 1992. But they aren't.
Cappie Pondexter returned to the court for the Scarlet Knights, and Rutgers came away with a huge win over Tennessee. Pondexter was a bit rusty trying to get herself back into the flow, and scored only 1 point, but her presence alone made a huge emotional difference to her team.

CVS said that Sunday's practice, when Cappie returned, was the best they've had. "Because of Cappie's presence, those were the toughest and most intense practices we've had. Matee (Ajavon) is calm because Cappie was out there telling her what to do."

freshmen Freshmen Essence Carson and Avajon both had huge games. "I think they're probably the best group of freshmen we've seen all year," Shanna Zolman said. "For them to come into this type of atmosphere and perform like they do, they're really talented."

Coach Summitt was simply frustrated with her team. "We weren't good in any aspect of our game tonight," she said. The Vols shot 28% from the floor.

Adam Zagoria reports that a bunch of WNBA scouts showed up to see Pondexter, and went away excited about all of the future talent on the floor. Said Blaze: "That bodes well for the future of our league, doesn't it?"
Washington got back on the right track with the upset win over ASU.

"The biggest thing is that we haven't completely given up," said guard Kayla Burt of the Huskies' recent struggles. "With each loss we've taken something positive from it and we haven't lost confidence." Burt had 12 points and 6 assists.

ASU had 15 assists, 23 field goals, and 27 turnovers. "When you just throw the ball away for no apparent reason and you continue to do it throughout the game, I think it's hard to not get frustrated with yourself," coach Turner Thorne said. "It was hard to play through that."
Arizona played without Polkie and barely eked out a win over Washington State. "This was an ugly game," coach Joan Bonvicini said. "I knew it was going to be tough. We spent eight hours in the airport and seven hours on a bus coming here yesterday. You could tell our kids were tired.
Oregon trailed by as many as 14 points before pulling out the huge win over Stanford.

"We struggled," said coach Bev Smith. "We didn't play a perfect game against Stanford -- I don't know if that's possible. But we played perfectly in our intention and in our grit."

The Cardinal had foul trouble, and McArthur Court isn't its favorite place, but there were no excuses. "It had nothing to do with this place. They were better tonight, they played harder, they were more aggressive," coach VanDerveer said. "We didn't get offensive rebounds. We sent them to the free-throw line all night. Our defense let us down. This is our worst outing of the season."

Kraayeveld had 16 and 15 for the Ducks. "She makes such a difference for them," said TV.
Last night was one of the craziest ever in women's college basketball. ASU fell to Washington. Stanford fell to Oregon. Tennessee fell to Rutgers. UConn fell to Michigan State.

When was the last time UConn and Tennessee lost on the same night?

More in the morning.
Coach Cooper's first day of practice: new drills, straight talk, high expectations, defense.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

ESPN.com is running a poll asking, among other things, whether Coop's WNBA experience means anything in the NBA and whether he will pave the way for other WNBA coaches -- even female ones -- to jump to the NBA. Eric also wonders whether Coop's hiring will legitimize the WNBA as a source of coaching talent for the men's game.

So will this start a trend? It's hard to know, but I doubt it.

First, keep in mind that coaching trends are fickle. Remember at the beginning of the year when everyone was fretting about how men were taking over the WNBA coaching ranks? Then Brown flamed out, Adams struggled, Richie got fired, Coop left, SMS won COY, and Anne won the title.

Second, keep in mind that Coop was not just any WNBA coach. He had incredible success, and he left as one of the two most successful coaches in the history of the league. And in addition to his women's coaching experience, Coop also had a solid resume on the men's side, including his playing time with one of the greatest teams ever, his time under basketball genius Jerry West, and his work as a Lakers assistant. Someone who builds a career solely or mostly in the women's ranks will have a tougher time moving over.

Finally, Coop's value as a trailblazer will depend in large part on his success, and even if he gets the permanent job, he won't have it easy. His injury-hobbled roster includes some difficult players, and the Denver public seems to have overly inflated expectations of the Nuggets' short-term potential.

Even if he wins, I doubt it will do much to help a woman get a job as an NBA coach. In the NBA, the inmates run the asylum, and players only like to play for coaches who command a certain kind of respect. (That's why Coop didn't get considered for the LA job -- Kobe would only play for a super-elite college coach, like Coach K, or someone with NBA coaching rings, like Rudy T.) When it comes to gender politics, NBA players aren't the most progressive bunch of fellows, so it's hard to imagine them giving their respect to a female coach anytime soon.

Before a woman coaches in the NBA, I think we'll need to see a woman have success coaching in the men's college game. That doesn't seem imminent -- the only viable candidate right now is Pat Summitt, and she's not going anywhere.

There's only one women's coach who is likely to follow Coop's path in the short- or medium-term: Bill Laimbeer. His situation is similar to Coop's in LA, because he's a Pistons guy through and through, and coach Larry Brown and GM Joe Dumars probably won't leave their seats for several years. I think Bill will eventually end up in the NBA, but he'll either have to wait patiently or move to a new town.

Beyond that, as Dimmy Karras says, don't hold your breath waiting for a trend. But trend or not, it's great news for coach Coop. He's a suberb coach who deserves this job.
The contents of Rick Lopez's suicide notes were leaked to the Denver Post yesterday. In one of the notes, he complained that he had been railroaded by the criminal justice system. He did not apologize to the girls, and he expressed no remorse.

The mother of one of his accusers was outraged. "I really feel that even in death he feels he's able to psychologically manipulate people to feel sorry for him. His modus operandi was always 'poor me.' He showed no remorse."
Coach Cooper is ready to get rolling as the interim coach in Denver. "I've said from Day One coming here that this is a championship-caliber team," he said. "We just have to get after it now."

Coop believes that his WNBA experience will help him. "Coaching is coaching, whether it's high school, junior high school (or) college," he said. "Getting to learn my craft at that level was great, and hopefully I can use that experience that I had there here."

The players respect Coop, but probably more for his rings with the Lakers than for his rings with the Sparks. "He's been around," Kenyon Martin said. "Guys know him. Guys respect him."

Back home in LA, everyone from the Lakers-Sparks organization sang his praises yesterday. "We are very pleased for this opportunity for Michael to be a head coach in the NBA," said Lakers owner Jerry Buss. "We are particularly pleased that his experience and success with the Sparks has helped bring this about. He has worked hard to prepare himself."

Some were surprised that Coop only got the interim tag. Denver Post columnist Mark Kiszla suggests that Coop will only be around till someone better comes along. And with several top coaches -- including George Karl, Phil Jackson, and Del Harris -- on the market, Coop's job may not be 100% secure.

Kiki will wait to see how Coop deals with the players, especially the Nuggets' petulant young star Carmelo Anthony. If Michael can convince Carmelo to play some defense, it will be a minor miracle, and Coop will deserve to lose the interim label.

Some are already certain that Coop is the best man for the permanent job. "They're not going to find anybody better now than Coop," said Hall of Famer Bob McAdoo, a Miami Heat assistant. "He was always very professional as a player and he got to the top of the mountain. He's also been there in the WNBA. You can say it's coaching women, but that was a great experience."

UPDATE: will this start a trend?
UCLA nipped USC 62-61 to get a win in its Pac-10 opener.

"We should have won the game," said first-year Trojan coach Mark Trakh. "But we are so young and we don't have a lot of people back from last year. They've just got to keep hearing they can do it."

Noelle Quinn led the Bruins with 21, and also stole an inbound pass in the final second to seal the win.
The South Dakota State Jackrabbits were a D2 powerhouse over the last few years. They won the national championship in '03, and they went back to the Elite Eight last year.

This year, they decided to step out as an independent, provisional Division I team.

Last night, the Jackrabbits gave Purdue a good scare. Katie Gearlds made a bunch of late buckets to prevent the upset. "I really believe the difference was Katie," SDSU coach Aaron Johnston said. "She came off a couple of ball screens in the last three minutes, and that's a tough play. There are very few players in America that can come off a ball screen and shoot it, and she does it well."

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Highly-touted freshman Stephanie McGhee has left Oklahoma. Her father says that she was homesick and didn't get along with Coach Coale. "The plan they seemed to have for Stephanie was not acceptable for us," he said.
You heard it here first: the Denver Nuggets have fired head coach Jeff Bzdelik, and are expected to replace him with former Sparks coach Michael Cooper. For now, Cooper will serve as the interim coach.

Congratulations to Coop. (Thanks to Helen for the heads-up.)
After beating the Gophers-sans-McCarville last month, Washington lost six of their remaining eight nonconference games. Things didn't get better in the Pac-10 opener last night, as the Huskies fell to Arizona.

Kayla Burt struggled, scoring no points, playing only eleven minutes. "We put a lot on her, with the captaincy and coming back," coach Daugherty said. "There's no doubt about it, Kayla's pressing."

Shawntinice Polk had a great game, but went out at the end with a knee injury. Her status is not yet known.
Rick Lopez follow-up: the Denver Post reports that Lopez had threatened suicide several times in the past, usually as part of attempts to manipulate and control his players.

He had not, however, threatened suicide since being in jail, and he was not on suicide watch. But given his past threats (which the police knew about), some are now wondering whether he should have been monitored more closely.

And yesterday, at least one of the victims' families had mixed feelings about the news. "By no means do I want to make him out to be a saint, but I got to know him and he was very giving. He was the most generous person," said the mother of one accuser. The mother also said that her daughter cried for a half an hour upon hearing the news.

Lopez did leave a suicide note. The contents will not be released until after the police have completed their investigation of his death.

Finally, an academic addendum to this story. Professor Volokh has been looking for an explanation for why a 1977 report co-authored by then-professor Ruth Bader Ginsburg recommended lowering the age of consent for federal statutory rape laws to twelve years old. (Not surprisingly, Congress didn't take that one too seriously.)

Statutory rape laws have been a subject of frequent debate in the academy, but it's certainly surprising that a traditional feminist like Justice Ginsburg would have taken that position.
Mel Greenberg predicts that Staley will be an assistant coach for the Beijing Olympics and a head coach in 2012.
For the second year in a row, Annika was named AP Female Athlete of the Year. Taurasi was second, Sharapova third.
UConn blew out George Mason. "It definitely feels like a step in the right direction," said Ann Strother, who had 11 points. "We had some moments of chaos, but overall I feel like it was a good step."

The Huskies will now embark on a tough stretch of basketball; in the next few weeks, they'll face Michigan State, Tennessee, Notre Dame, and Texas.
The Cal Bears still have a ways to go. In Eugene last night, they lost to Oregon by 31. Kraayeveld led the Ducks with 15.
Susan Borchardt returned to the court, and Candice Wiggins shut down Shannon Howell, as Stanford cruised to an easy win in its Pac-10 opener.

"It was all Stanford," Oregon State coach Judy Spoelstra said. "I give Candice Wiggins a lot of credit. She did a good job of getting in Shannon's face, and I thought Shannon was too casual with the ball. She's had games before where she starts slowly and picks it up, but she couldn't do that tonight."

Monday, December 27, 2004

UConn is out of the AP top 10 for the first time since January 1994.

Voepel recaps what has been a crazy season so far. She also has a message for Pac-10 coaches who complain about respect: "Look, I like the Pac-10. It's very important for the continued growth of women's hoops for it to do well. But … just keep winning games, guys. That does get respect."

On that note, Phil wrote in earlier today:

I’ve been one of those people who have agreed that the Pac 10 has been over-rated in the past. Not this year.

While the RPI rankings have flaws, and are still too unstable for individual teams, the conference RPI rankings are now credible. The Pac-10 was in seventh place last year, behind the usual power conferences, and behind Conference USA as well. This year they are in second place, behind only the Big 10.
The Rick Lopez story came to an end yesterday. The former Colorado Hoopsters coach apparently killed himself in his jail cell where he was awaiting trial for having sex with some of his players.

"The whole thing about Rick going back to Day One is that he was selfish. He showed his true colors by ending it like this, rather than showing any true remorse about the kids," said CSU coach Chris Denker. "You could talk about this being cowardly. You could talk about standing up and facing the facts. He showed no remorse."

Shelly Steig, a former Hoopster parent, said, "This story had to be told. It's a shame he hadn't been exposed before. Maybe if he had been exposed before, his life could have been saved and the girls that he hurt could have been protected."

UPDATE: Douglas County Sheriff's Department information officer Tim Moore described the reaction of the victims to Lopez's suicide: "The emotions were mixed. Some were relieved, some were frustrated. There's no question his decision to take his own life was his decision."
Former University of Oregon coach, Jody Runge, has just opened her own bed and breakfast in Portland. The coach, known for her no-nonsense coaching and slightly ill-tempered demeanor, was forced to resign from the OU position in 2001. It is unclear whether the players (who may have disliked her style) or the administration (which might have been tired of her demands for equality per Title IX) was the driving force behind her resignation.

In any case, today Jody Range can be found at her inn amidst the "intricately carved antiques, frilly furnishings and lace curtains". Check it out at www.apaintedladyinn.com
Time for conference play to get rolling. Four Pac-10 games tonight.

Today in the Seattle Times, Greg Bishop reports on how the Pac-10 is once again campaigning for respect, and the coaches are once again talking about how this is year when they'll turn it around. See also Jonathan Okanes in the Contra Costa Times, Dick Rockne in the PI, John Sleeper in the Herald, Bob Rodman in the Register-Guard.

There is some talk about east coast bias in the media and in the NCAA tournament selection committee, but as UCLA coach Olivier says: "You have to get it done in the nonconference games. That's the bottom line."

This year it appears that the Pac-10 has done a better job playing a tough schedule and (unlike last year) getting some wins. ASU over Georgia and UConn, UCLA over Texas and Purdue, Stanford over Texas Tech and Utah, Washington over Minnesota. The Pac-10 has ended the nonconference season with 5 or 6 teams in the RPI top-40, which is about where you need to be to make the Dance.

So maybe, finally, this really is the year.
Korea's women's pro league, the WKBL, begins its season tomorrow.
Melanie Jackson on Dayton coach Jim Jabir, who has recently returned to the bench after heart problems.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Kevin Garnett won the MVP and led the Wolves to the Western Conference Finals. Johan Santana won the Cy Young.

So who was the Sportsperson of the Year for 2004 in Minnesota?

Lindsay Whalen. Pat Reusse says it wasn't even close, and he explains why.

(One annoying sidelight: Mike Thibault is quoted as saying that he never considered trading Whalen. Seems to be some revisionism going on there. If he never considered trading her, you have to wonder why he and Sienko jerked the Lynx around for a week last April, and why he publicly trashed Minnesota for failing to put together "anything that resembles a good trade offer" and for failing to "step up" and make a fair deal. Never let the truth get in the way of a good quote for the papers, right Mike? Thibault, in my book: still a jackass.)

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Why is Richmond not ranked among the top 25 teams in the nation?

The Spiders are coached by Joanne Boyle, the former Duke player who spent nine years as an assistant coach for the Blue Devils. In 2002-2003, her first year at Richmond, she led the Spiders to a record of 21-11 and a berth in the WNIT quarterfinals. In 2003-2004, the Spiders finished 23-10, losing in the semifinals of the postseason WNIT.

This year, Richmond is 8-0 and has defeated Virginia (in Charlottesville), Florida (in Gainesville), Southwest Missouri State, plus Liberty, the perennial Big South champion. And Richmond is 6th in the latest RPI rankings.

Next year, Coach Boyle brings in her biggest recruit yet...6-3 post player, Crystal Goring, who is rated the 6th best recruit in the country by Blue Star and the 8th best recruit according to All Game Sports.

Back to this year...Richmond deserves to be ranked among the nation's top 25 (or 20) teams. Fear the Spiders!
Explain this logic...

In the 2005 WNBA Draft, Connecticut has the 8th pick, while New York has the 10th pick. However, in last year's playoffs, Connecticut earned the top seed, while New York was second - by virtue of the tiebreaker.

Normally, draft order is determined by won-loss record. If New York finishes second to Connecticut by virtue of the tiebreaker, how is it fair that Connecticut, the top seed in the East last year, has a selection two picks earlier?

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Time for us to spend a few days focusing solely on eating and drinking. We'll be back Monday.
Tennessee also got good news yesterday when team doctor William Youmans cleared Candace Parker to practice.

It's still unclear when Candace will see her first game action, but Vol fans are thrilled nonetheless. Betty Bean says the second-best moment of the game last night was "When Parker came out after the half -- wearing her uniform. Caused a HUGE buzz in the stands."
The game in Knoxville turned out to be a classic. Kelley Suminski tied the game with 5 seconds left. Coach Summitt started to call a timeout, but no one picked up Zolman after the inbound, and she raced up the floor and nailed a three at the buzzer from way outside the arc.

"I saw there were four seconds left, and I was at half court so I took a couple of dribbles in and just let her fly," Zolman said, who had shot poorly most of the game.

"I think you saw an NCAA tournament game," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "This is what it's like. It was a December game that had the feel of March."

Coach TV refuses to get upset about Tennessee's continued mastery of the Cardinal. "I think we'll be better from it. If I didn't, we should cancel the series. It's masochistic."
Despite the losses by UCLA and Stanford, the Pac-10's night wasn't all bad. ASU upset UConn in front of the Devil faithful.

ASU simply refused to fear the Huskies. "We look at them, and each of them is like us, girls with jerseys," said Emily Westerberg. "That puts things in perspective. We played as hard as they did. It's just basketball. When you keep that in mind, you don't have to be scared."

Geno can't believe his team. "I walked in the building today and said ‘There is no way we’re ready for this’," he said. "We used to walk into buildings like this and we would laugh about how the other team was going to handle playing in front of the full crowd, and how they would panic and we would just blow them out."

Geno wouldn't let any of his players come out for interviews. The UConn box score is a nightmare. Crockett: 2 points. Turner: 6 points, 0-for-5 free throws. Strother: 2 points, 1-for-7 from the field.

This is the first time since 1992 that UConn has lost two games before the New Year.
Ohio State trounced UCLA.

"They're a very good team. We've played some ranked teams, and to be honest, I feel like Ohio State is the best team we've faced this year," coach Oliver said.

The Bruins were without Nikki Blue, who had a possible concussion in the Illinois game.

Caity Matter led the Buckeyes with 19 and broke the school's all-time three-point record.
Texas Tech bounced back from the Virginia Tech loss with a nice win over Penn State, which fell to 5-5.

"I thought tonight we closed it better," coach Sharp said. "I think in the back of our minds was the fact that we have a 10-point lead, but there’s still six minutes to go and we’re going to have to take care of this. I don’t think any of us wanted to go home for Christmas and be thinking about a loss. I was really proud of their effort."

Greenwalt led with 21.
How often to we see a team claw its way into the rankings only to drop a couple quick ones once it get there?

Oregon started 7-0, but after losing to Arkansas last night, it has now dropped two games in four days. Arkansas shot the ball terribly, but its press flustered the Ducks, who turned the ball over 26 times.

Kraayeveld did nothing for the first 30 minutes, then took the game over for a late comeback. In the final minute, with her team down two, she took a questionable three-pointer.

"Any time the ball is in her hands, I think that’s a pretty good shot for us," said coach Bev Smith. "We could’ve gone for that 2-pointer. It might’ve been something that coaches would like to do based on time and score and the percentages. But Cathrine is our senior leader and if she feels she’s open and she can nail that then she needs to shoot it and make it."
UCBS suffered its worst home loss since 1990 at the hands of #1 LSU. Seimone Augustus was sick but scored 16 anyway.

"Their quickness is breathtaking," Gaucho Coach Mark French said. Tell me about it...

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Yet... another... parity article.

Same quotes. "I know we say it every year, but this year we really mean it."

A challenge to my sportswriter friends and readers: if you're going to write an article on parity, try putting together some numbers. Support or undermine the hypothesis with evidence. Last year I did a little Lexis research for a very simple analysis. Do something like that, or find something even better. We readers are tired of reading the same articles over and over again.
The college basketball season is about to go into a week-long hibernation, but tonight there is a huge lineup of games. Among the big ones:

ASU hosts UConn, and the Devils are expecting their first sellout ever.

LSU rolls into Thunderdome. The last time these two played, the game went to triple-overtime.

UCLA will try to rebound from its loss to Illinois, but it won't be easy getting a win over the Buckeyes in Columbus.

And in the headliner, #2 Stanford heads to Knoxville to take on #10 Tennessee. The Vols have owned this series for the last several years, but Stanford isn't scared. Tim Vacek explains why the Cardinal may be better this year without Nicole Powell. Wiggins and Wiley-Gatewood will be talking some smack.
Adam Zagoria has this article today on Nicole Louden, a former Jersey high school star who's now a senior at Auburn.

Louden didn't have a great experience playing for Joe Ciampi, but it's a whole new world under coach Fortner. "I just tell the freshmen that I envy them because they've embarked on something so great and they have no idea (about the difference) in terms of the coaching situation."
Two years ago, Terry Emmert offered the Portland Trailblazers $1 million for the Fire. Paul Allen and friends decided to fold rather than accept the offer.

Emmert cancelled his Blazer season tickets, and he's still upset about it. "I like the women’s game. I liked the Fire," he said. "They played more fundamental ball. It was team ball. They played with more heart."

Now Emmert is running the ABA's Portland Reign.
Houston fell to Long Beach State.

Forward Jayme Connors had a rough night, playing on a sprained ankle, shooing 1-for-9... but she hit the game-winning layup in the final seconds.

"Not too often do you get to play a ranked team, and it was something I really wanted," said Connors. "I tried to go and shoot at halftime, and I couldn't really shoot because I couldn't jump off it. My shot wasn't going at all tonight, but it did when it counted."

Sancho Lyttle had 11 points on 5-for-15 before fouling out with five minutes left.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Coach Laimbeer rumored to be a potential candidate for the Cleveland Cavaliers GM job.
At WNBA.com, Matt Wurst previews the free agency period, which begins on January 15 when teams will start declaring their core players.
Georgia got an easy win over Iona yesterday, and in the process, Andy Landers became the fifth women's coach to join the 700 club.

"I never set out to win 700 games," said Landers. "If I am proudest of anything, it's that we have been able to win consistently over such a long period of time, playing difficult schedules and in a very competitive conference."

Coach Landers was happy to join the rareified group of 700-win coaches. "It's great to join such an elite list," he said. "More than that, I consider all those coaches friends, which makes it that much more special."
Eric reports on FIFA's decision to bar a Mexican club from signing a female player.
Yesterday saw two big upsets.

Illinois's up-and-down ride took another turn up. The Illini got blown out by UWGB at the beginning of the month. Then they went on the road and upset La Tech. Then they lost at home to Bradley. Then, yesterday, they upset UCLA.

Angelina Williams had 30 for Illinois. "I think we played through our defense tonight," said Williams. "We just played together as a team. That's what we needed. That's the same attitude we had going into the (Louisiana Tech) game."
And in Las Vegas, Virginia Tech beat Texas Tech in OT. The Raiders blew a 14-point lead.

"We deserved what we got," coach Marsha Sharp said. "We didn't play very well, we didn't play consistent and we didn't have players make big plays when we needed them to."

"This was a total team effort," Hokie coach Beth Dunkenberger said. "Everyone contributed, which is proven by the fact that our bench outscored the Texas Tech bench 29-4."
Jacqueline Batteast saved the day for the Irish. After Marquette tied the game with a three in the final seconds, the Irish quickly took the ball up court, and Batteast sank a three of her own for the win at the buzzer.

"I was open ... I was 0-for-2 (shooting 3's) and I just shot it and (waited to) see what happens," she said.
Tennessee fans finally got to see Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood. She had a nice game off the bench as the Vols crushed TCU.

"It is exciting to think about the future that these young players have here at Tennessee," Coach Summitt said. "I sleep a lot better at night. I'll have a good night's sleep tonight after watching Gatewood."

Coach Mittie saw a different team on the floor than the one he'd seen on tape. "On tape, they were individually talented, but they were out of sync," he said. "I thought they looked really in sync today offensively."

Sandora Irvin led the Frogs with 21 and 16 but shot only 5-for-16 from the field.
LSU got a little scare from SMS on Saturday. As Mechelle Voepel reports: "Just when it seemed like the roof might explode off the building and Southwest Missouri State's women really could upset LSU... The No. 1 team in the country took control."

Augustus led the Tigers with 19. Up next: a trip to Thunderdome Tuesday night.
Purdue held a lead over Duke in the first half, but the Devils went on a killer 19-0 run during which they held the Boilermakers scoreless for nearly nine minutes.

"We had some critical possessions where we had poor shot selection," coach Kristy Curry said. "We’ve got to grow up quickly to eliminate these mistakes."

Mo Currie again led the Devils. "The confidence she has just spreads to the team," coach Gail G said. "We never panic."
ASU felt the pain of playing in The Pit. The Lobos' defense held the Devils to 29.5% from the floor.

"Our defense was just the equalizer," said New Mexico coach Don Flanagan. "We wanted to hold them to 61 and we held them to 45. Our defense wasn’t too shabby."

Said Kylan Loney, who went 0-for-7 from the floor: "They didn't beat us; we beat ourselves."
Oregon suffered its first loss of the season at the hands of Ohio State. Kraayeveld had 21 but no other Duck made it to double figures.

"They (Ohio State) were just a tough team to try and crack," Oregon coach Bev Smith said. "There were moments where I thought we did a really good job and took some really good shots, but they just didn't fall in."

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Tech update -- the Times today on Mozilla Firefox. I switched from Internet Explorer to Firefox a few months ago, and won't go back. It has some nice features, and most importantly, it's less vulnerable to viruses and attacks. If you haven't switched, do so now.

It's free, and you can import your bookmarks from IE.
We had our first chance to see Stanford and Candice Wiggins yesterday. Mizzou hung tough for awhile, but the Cardinal pulled away and won with ease.

Wiggins looks pretty impressive. A fast, tall guard who crashes the boards and plays aggressive defense -- I love it. In yesterday's game, she appeared to have one weakness: she's not a very good passer, in part because she seems to be focused on scoring, not passing. But at only 17 years old (!), she'll certainly have plenty of time to work on that.

Stanford has some good things going, power inside and solid guard play, which will get even better once Susan Borchardt returns from her injury. I don't believe that they're the second best team in the country, but they'll have a chance to convince me when they play in Knoxville on Tuesday.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Wake upset Houston in Hawaii. Sancho Lyttle had a typically solid game, but it was a nightmare for many of the rest of the Cougars. Joann Overstreet played all 40 minutes but only scored one point, going 0-for-10 from the field.

Excluding Lyttle, Houston went 8-for-41 from the floor, 1-for-13 from outside.
The Nike Tournament of Champions, featuring the Paris twins, among others, will be next week in Phoenix. Taurasi will be speaking.
Mickie DeMoss on Sade Buley: "It's a kid making a bad decision. I hate it for her, for the program, her family and for everyone."
The NCAA men's selection committee is changing the way it calculates the RPI. The new formula adjusts for home games and road games. It is expected to benefit mid-major schools, who play more non-conference road games.

Unclear if the women's committee is considering a similar move.

Friday, December 17, 2004

An email from Carol Anne regarding my comments yesterday about Coach Mulkey-Robertson:

My guess is that when Coach KM-R is interviewed by non-Big 12 media, she is asked about the Sweet 16 .2 debacle. (Very bad call indeed!) Seattle sportswriters probably spent 10+ minutes flipping through Baylor's media guide, then 5+ minutes Googling on the Lady Bears. So, the one controversy involving the Baylor women's basketball team gets asked about...again and again and again.

True enough. We always need to remember that what players and coaches say in the press is largely a function of the questions they are asked by reporters. And it is the job of reporters, after all, to prod their subjects into saying something stupid or controversial or newsworthy.

On the other hand, you always have the option of giving a non-answer. No reason coach Kim can't just say: "You know what, I've said all I'm going to say about The Call, and right now I want to focus on tomorrow's game, not a game from last March."
In the women's volleyball Final Four, Minnesota beat USC and Stanford beat Washington to advance to the championship match in Long Beach.
The Vols will know soon whether Candace Parker will be able to return this season.
The Lynx did not send a scout to the LSU game. They know Janel won't be around by #11, so why bother?
Becky Hammon's #25 to be retired at CSU.
Dee Kantner is the WNBA's supervisor of officials. Again.

Kantner held the post in 1997 and 1998 before heading to the NBA, where she was one of the league's first two female refs. Kantner was ultimately fired by the NBA in 2002. "I'm completely stunned," she said at the time.

Violet Palmer is still on the floor with the NBA.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Skye Sweetnam, of WNBA promo fame, has an album out. Says reviewer Judy Rosen: "The truth is, sometimes teen pop is godawful overproduced schlock, and sometimes it's... terrific overproduced schlock. In the latter category is Noise From the Basement, the debut album by Skye Sweetnam, who, despite her name, is not a porn star."
Last spring, Mechelle Voepel complained bitterly about the NCAA tournament site selection system. I defended the system as a necessary evil and as better than the previous set-up.

Mechelle's complaints may have had something to do with the fact that her Wildcats had to play my Gophers at Williams. My defense may have had something to do with the fact that her Wildcats had to play my Gophers at Williams.

Today, Voepel explains the new 8-pod system for the early rounds, and she also reports on the committee's plans to move us toward neutral sites, which everyone agrees is the ultimate goal. As a first step, beginning in 2007, there will be no homecourt sites for the regionals.

She makes the important points that fans have a responsibility to show up and watch other teams play, and the media have a professional responsibility to cover other teams.

Also at ESPN.com, Mechelle reminisces about how she got started covering women's basketball.
Ashley Battle Day in the Connecticut media. Stories in the Courant, the Middletown Press, and the Rep-Am.

They all say the same thing: Ashley had a rough start this year, but things are looking up.
UW had a chance for a big upset last night over Baylor, but after scoring 42 points in the first half, the Huskies managed just 16 in the second.

Greg Bishop describes the game in a nutshell: "There was 20 minutes of pure basketball bliss, followed by 20 minutes of miss, miss, miss, miss."
Kate Smith at USA Today on Coach Stringer, parity, and other odds and ends.
Down 25-22 late in the first half, coach Summitt got T'd up, and then the Vols got fired up. They went on to take down La Tech.

The Techsters and coach Budke were pleased with how close they played a top team. Columnist Jimmy Watson says the game should put us all on notice that La Tech is for real. A win at Oklahoma this weekend would make me a little more convinced.
This article is bizarre. First line: "Dawn Staley's a lot like Fat Albert."

It goes on to say how Dawn gave up men because they're too distracting. "My focus has always been sports and basketball. When I started sharing basketball with a boyfriend, I didn't have the same focus on basketball. That's when I realized that basketball has been the true constant in my life ... it doesn't cheat. I can always turn to it."

Fishes, bicycles, and all that.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

A few weeks ago, I mentioned how the old story about the Tasha Humphrey recruiting battle had resurfaced as Tasha got rolling for the Dogs.

Today, in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Tasha, her mom, and Coach Landers try to set the record straight.

Tasha explains why, after originally settling on Duke, she changed her mind and decided to stay home. "The determining factor was the majority of my family was in Georgia, and not a lot of them are capable of traveling to see me play. If I were to have gone to Duke, it's not like an hour away as opposed to me being in Athens. Growing up, family's always been important to me. They've done a lot for me, and being able to play in Athens, this is my way of saying thank you for that love and support."

It's good to have Georgia's side of the story aired in public; kudos to Steve Wyche for pursuing this report, and kudos to Tasha, Brenda, and Andy for talking.

That said, the article does not really directly respond to some of the specific rumors. There are a few more questions I'd like to see asked and answered about what happened between the time Tasha verballed to Duke and the time she committed to Georgia:

1. Did Coach Landers have any contact with the Duke coaching staff, and if so, what did he say?

2. Did Tasha, Brenda, and Coach Landers have a meeting, and if so, what was discussed at that meeting?

3. Did Brenda receive a raise, a vacation, or anything else of value, or promises for anything of value?

I suspect the answers to these questions would be "no," "no," and "no." Rumors often get spread around with absolutely no basis, and maybe Georgia just figures it would be silly to even respond to them. Still, this is a serious issue, and just to set the record straight once and for all, I'd like to hear the answers.
Two more early reviews of the Rutgers-Stringer documentary, this from Adam Zagoria, and this from the Des Moines register.

It sounds truly fascinating. Lots of times biographical documentaries (or biopics of any sort) degenerate into hagiography. From the sounds of it, that's not what we have here. This is no puff-piece designed to convince you that CVS is a saint.

Take this quote, for example, from forward Linda Miles: "I think partially I lost (an interest in basketball) within the process of the ups and downs I had with coach Stringer. I was ready to transfer and just get out of her program."

All of which means: it should be a great film to watch.
Coach Mulkey-Robertson, still complaining.

"We're never going to forget it," she said. "You can't forget it. It's something that we definitely used when the preseason conditioning was going on. We had T-shirts made up with .2 on them. Those kids wore them throughout the summer... It's something that will go down in the history of basketball, probably at officiating clinics, on how not to let a game end. I don't wish anybody to ever have to experience that."

I thought it was a terrible call too. And if Kim wants to use it internally to motivate her team, that's fine. But does she have to keep talking to the press about it?
Alana Beard is setting up a new basketball tournament in Shreveport, proceeds to charity. "I have a passion for basketball and for getting through to young kids," Beard said. "This is my way of giving back to the community that has done so much for me."
As Ted mentioned last night, I do disagree with some of his assessment of last night's Gopher v. LSU match-up. He seems to think the Gophs had no chance of winning last night's game and that LSU is a possible dominant powerhouse. I think LSU is beatable, and I think the Gophers could have won last night.

LSU is much faster and more athletic and the MN team, but they beat us because they had a much better game plan and had scouted better. I hate to say it, but I think Borton got out-coached last night. The "McCarville is going to get her points, but let's not let the rest of the team beat us" strategy worked great for the Tigers. As Ted said, not doubling McCarville left the rest of the team flustered as none of the guards can really create for themselves. At which point offensive adjustments should have been made to get some open looks on the perimter and get the rest of the team involved. Never happened.

LSU had a solid defensive strategy, the Gophers did not. Shannon Bolden was given the assigment of containing Augustus. She did fine, nothing great; Augustus is going to score. Temeka Johnson was the one who tore apart the Gopher D scoring 18 points and handing out 13 assists. Johnson is FAST!! Shannon Schonrock got torched by Johnson. The thing that drove me crazy is that Schonrock kept picking Johnson up beyond the 3 point line. Johnson has improved her outside shooting, but she is still not a real threat from 3 point land. It was depressing to keep watching Schonrock run out there and get burned. Why not make her prove it from outside instead of giving up layups or setting up nice hand-offs for easy layups off the help D. Again, coaching I think.

Lastly, MN finally put on a press when we were down 12 with about 1:45 left in the game. LSU didn't handle well and MN started to come back, but it wastoo late. If the Gophers were going to press and try to make a comeback, why wait until less than 2 minutes left? Oh well. Hats off to the Tigers and to Pokey Chatman for a well-executed and well-played game.

Also, Augustus's reverse alley-oop from Johnson made the SportsCenter Top 10 today.
Between McCarville and Fowles, who gets the 'Shaq' nickname? Janel thinks Fowles might be more like another star NBA center. "She can block the yahoo out of some shots," McCarville said. "She's more like Yao"

Has Janel ever faced anyone like Fowles? "I think there's a couple of people in the Big Ten who kind of compare to her, but her athleticism is unlike anybody else," she said. "She's got a long way to go, but when she gets there, I think she's going to be really tough."

And what did Sylvia think of Janel? "She's the strongest, ever. She can play."

Coach Borton on the loss: "It was a good measuring stick for our team, and we have a lot to work on. We have three months before we hopefully meet up with them again in the Final Four."

"One of the things we need to work on is getting more scoring from other players," Borton said. "We can't always rely on Janel and Jamie."

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

We got soundly beaten by a much better team tonight. The game wasn't really as close as the final score. LSU is simply taller, faster, and more athletic than we are. And probably better coached.

McCarville had an awesome night, and Broback was solid, but the rest of the Minnesota squad was subpar. I knew that their backcourt would beat us up, but I didn't expect it to be so bad. Augustus and Johnson torched us like the slow, cornfed, Midwestern girls we are.

Augustus and Johnson combined for 40 points on 17-for-30, plus 16 assists. Schonrock, Calhoun, and Bolden combined for 13 points on 5-for-17, plus 7 assists. Hence the result.

Coach Pokey did a smart thing by not double-teaming McCarville. LSU was the first team all year not to double or triple her (of course, they're the first team with Sylvia Fowles). The rest of our team is so used to getting wide-open jumpers out of the doubles that when it didn't happen, they simply didn't know what to do.

Sara disagrees with me, but I'm not sure we can play a whole lot better than we did (unless Schonrock, Calhoun, and Roysland grow two inches and get faster). LSU looks good. It's scary how good Fowles will be for the next four years. It's scary how good she and Seimone will be for the next two.
Previews for tonight's big game:

The USA Today has a long article on McCarville's upbringing, her family, her mom's cancer and her weight. Janel says she's now 220, down from 270 freshman year. "I was a real bread truck back then."

The Star Trib compares McCarville and Augustus, two old-school stars, and the U of M student paper asks Bolden what her strategy will be for containing Seimone.

The Advocate discusses what LSU has been doing with its long break.

The Pioneer Press tells the backstory about how ESPN put the game together. Carol Stiff, ESPN's director of programming and acquisitions, wanted to feature the two stars, the two Final Four programs, and the Williams Arena crowd.

This will be the first time a #1 ranked team has ever played in The Barn. The Gophers have played a #1 team only once before -- Duke in Norfolk last March.
Ohio State coach Jim Foster returned to the Palestra and beat Penn. The Quakers played well, and Foster wasn't thrilled with the Buckeyes' performance. "You would have thought we were a rugby team out there," he said.
Dawn Staley got her first coaching victory over a ranked team as Temple took down Rutgers.

It didn't feel great, however, that the win came at the expense of coach Stringer. "It's almost like beating your sister," Staley said. "You want to win, but yet you feel bad that somebody had to win. They've beaten us three of the five years I've been here, so she still has the edge."

Over at ESPN.com, Miki Turner tells why coach Stringer is one of the greatest ever. Turner also reviews the award-winning PBS documentary profiling CVS.

The documentary is showing at different times in different local markets. To find out when it's on in your town, hit the "Check Local Listings" button on the official film site.

Monday, December 13, 2004

We are gearing up for tomorrow night, when LSU will visit The Barn, presenting the rare opportunity for the whole country to see Augustus and McCarville, two of the top Player of the Year candidates. The game will be on ESPN2 at 7 PM eastern.

I've only seen the Tigers play once this year, but my sense is that Minnesota will have the edge in the frontcourt, while LSU will have a big advantage in the backcourt.

Shannon Bolden will be key. She is a tall, long-armed perimeter defender in the mold of Bruce Bowen, Trenton Hassell, and Katie Douglas. She will likely draw the responsibility of chasing Augustus around for much of the night. Bolden recently missed some time with a foot injury, and though she isn't back to 100%, she seems to be good to go.

For the Gophers to have a chance, Shannon will need to limit Seimone's ability to penetrate, and she'll need to contest Seimone's midrange jumpers. Along with Bolden, the entire Gopher backcourt will need to make a commitment to transition defense, which remains an Achilles heel.

While we can't expect the cacophonous madness of last March, the crowd will be in the neighborhood of 10,000, and the home court advantage should be worth a few points.

It should be a fun game, and it will be a great test of where these teams and their stars really stand.
More bizarre interactive internet art to fill your Monday at work.
Coach Summitt hasn't made a final decision on the length of Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood's suspension. Sa'de will continue to practice with the team but won't travel to La Tech.
Ouch. At least they left the Fourth Amendment ruling intact.
Tennessee came back from down nine at half to beat DePaul. The Vols were led be freshmen Sybil Dosty and Alexis Hornbuckle.

"Huge. Big time," said Shyra Ely of Dosty's performance. "She had a double-double in 15 minutes. I think she brought a lot of energy off the bench. She was able to give us momentum, give us energy in the game. I think this will really give her a lot of confidence, momentum going into the next game."

"I wanted to bring a lot of energy when I came off the bench," said Dosty. "I haven't gotten too many chances to do that. So whenever I get my chance, I'm just going to take advantage of it."

DePaul's second half woes were aggravated by foul trouble. Three players fouled out, including Erin Carney, who was sent away with over twelve minutes left. "I wish we had 10 (players) deep," coach Doug Bruno said. "We don't."
In yesterday's other top 25 matchup, Tasha Humphrey squared off against Shawntinice Polk. Polk had a big size advantage, but she was limited to only 22 minutes due to foul trouble, and Humphrey and the Dogs came out on top.

"Playing AAU ball, I've gone up against some big players like that, but this is a different level," said Humphrey. "I just tried to play smart and take advantage of the (offensive) opportunities when I could."
Yesterday's other games were mostly blowouts.

#2 Stanford, again led by Candice Wiggins, crushed USF. Coach TV didn't enjoy beating up on her younger sister Heidi, an assistant for the Dons. "I'd rather be coaching on the same bench with her, to be honest," Tara said. "It's no fun to play friends and family. You always end up feeling worse for them than feeling good for yourself."

The Falwell Flames proved no match for #3 Duke. "We needed to start well, and we didn't, and consequently we got in trouble very early," Liberty coach Carey Green said.

#7 UNC beat up Coastal Carolina. Freshman Erlana Larkins had 17 and 7 in her first start.

#11 Vandy got back on track by beating St. Louis.

#13 Texas Tech thumped Ole Miss despite zero points from Grant and Greenwalt.

Erin Lawless had 26 to lead #19 Purdue over W. Michigan.

#21 Maryland took a huge early lead over Monmouth and never looked back.
Voepel reports on Nicole Ohlde Appreciation Day at the Clay Center Community High School gym.
Kara Lawson is doing a great job as a commentator for the Kings.

"Kara Lawson is just a breath of fresh air. She's flat-out great," said co-host Jim Kozimor. "Working with her, I've probably learned more about basketball this season than I have in years."

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Kayla Burt is on the cover of this weekend's USA Today. In the accompanying article, you can read the remarkable story about her near-death experience, her recovery, and her return to the hardwood.

Kayla led Washington with 16 last night, but Notre Dame beat the Huskies easily.
In yesterday's only result that could be called an upset, Utah beat TCU.

Sandora Irvin's 20 points put in in first place on TCU's all-time scoring list. "It doesn't feel good at all to lose and get the record," said Irvin. "It's a great honor. It's tough to really enjoy it right now because we lost the game."

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Geno now says he regrets arranging for Nykesha Sales's uncontested layup in 1998. The reaction to it was "the single most disappointing thing that I've ever experienced."
Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood is almost recovered from her tendinitis, but now a suspension may keep her on the bench after she left town without telling the Tennessee coaching staff.
Big night for freshmen stars last night.

Candice Wiggins scored 21 as Stanford played its first game in the newly-remodeled Maples Pavilion.

Tasha Humphrey had 21 and 12 (in only 18 minutes) as Georgia got back on the winning track.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Coach Rene Portland was back on the bench last night, and the Lions got their first road win of the season, in OT over Pittsburgh.
Several people have emailed to ask what's up with the Women's Basketball Server, which hasn't been updated in a couple weeks. I don't know, but I hope it's back soon.
In last night's matchup of two top-25 teams, Purdue beat DePaul before a big crowd at Mackey. After trailing by eight at the break, the Boilers scored 50 points in the second half.

Katie Gearlds had 16 of those 50. "She does some things in practice that are just staggering," coach Curry said. "Every time she touches it she has the ability to make things happen."

The Demons suffered without Charlene Smith, who is done for the season with her ACL injury. "I just told the team that they can have sympathy and empathy for Charlene," coach Doug Bruno said. "But we're not the first team to lose a kid, and we can't have self-pity."

For a full rundown with links to more stories, see the Boiler Blog.
Sandora Irvin powered the Frogs past Oklahoma with 32 points and 18 boards.

"She was everywhere," coach Coale said. "She was a very difficult matchup for us. We kept her in check early on the boards, and as the game went on, she wore us down."

Irvin remains humble. "In the beginning of the season, the only thing we've been hearing is that this is Sandora Irvin's team because there are so many new faces on the team," she said. "It's nice, but I think people are underestimating the rest of the team. I couldn't do this on my own."

(Elsewhere in the POY race, Batteast had a quiet night, lettting her teammates do the work needed to top Dayton.)
Western Kentucky was coming off of three straight losses, to Charlotte, Arkansas, and La Tech. Last night they turned course and beat #11 Vandy.

Foul trouble hurt the Commodores; the Toppers went to the line 35 times.

"It was a tough second half," Coach Melanie Balcomb said. "We were running out of players. We didn't do a good job of keeping them in front of us (on defense); we kept giving up drives in our zone, and the back line had to come up, and we kept drawing calls. On the road, you're not going to get calls. We have to realize that."
Do not miss SportsCenter this morning to see one of the craziest finishes ever: Tracy McGrady, 13 points in 35 seconds to overcome an 8-point deficit. He hit four threes, one with and-one. Add to that UMass's finish over UConn -- it was a wild night.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Marc Connelly on Mia -- reluctant superstar, Katie Holmes in cleats, soccer's Babe and Billie Jean -- one of the most important women in the history of sports.
For contrarian takes on the steroid issue, see Eric's roundup, and also this piece from John Lott (yes, that John Lott) at Fox News.

I am sympathetic to these arguments. Listen, I don't believe Bonds for a minute when he says he didn't know what he was taking, and I don't believe Marion either.

But as I've said before, I think it's problematic to punish athletes for taking substances (like THG) that weren't illegal when they took them, especially considering that there's no clear or intelligible standard for determining which substances are banned and which aren't.
Mia Hamm, or rather Mia Garciaparra, went out with 2 assists and a win.

"I just want to thank you for making my last game and Julie's and Joy's so memorable," Hamm told the crowd.
Coach Stringer earned #700 last night as the Knights beat Princeton.

"When I thought about 700, I thought about how I used to watch 'The 700 Club' (TV show) with Pat Robertson," Stringer said. "I never thought about it like that. The older you get the more you do learn and the scarier it becomes because you realize how much you don't know."

"I respect so much the people like Pat Summitt and Jody Conradt," Stringer added. "We've all been great friends for many years. We were all 21 and 22 (when we started coaching) and we've been roommates and we've been coaching colleagues and good buddies."

CVS is the fourth to 700 behind Summitt, Conradt, and Gunter.
Boston College routed Fordham. Sophomore point guard Sarah Marshall has done a good job filling Amber Jacobs's big shoes.

"She was kind of in Amber's shadow, but I think Amber did a good job teaching her," coach Inglese said. "She did a great job with pushing the tempo tonight, calling the plays, and also scoring."
UWGB kept the game within a possession or two deep into the second half, but Minnesota hit a couple big shots and made stops down the stretch.

And the Gophers were simply too big. "Picture yourself in a weightroom, bench pressing for 40 minutes at your maximum weight," GB coach Borseth said. "That’s what we had to do. We leaned on them the whole game."

McCarville, who almost picked Borseth's program over Minnesota, led with 16 and 12. Columnist Chris Havel left with one conclusion: "Janel McCarville is the finest women's college basketball player I have ever seen."

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

DePaul has gotten off to a good start, opening with six wins and moving up to #15 in both rankings. It suffered a major setback in Monday's game, however, when Charlene Smith went down with a torn ACL.
Pat Coyle, no longer interim, now just coach.

"I am extremely proud to be named head coach of the franchise that I have called my home for the past six years – the New York Liberty and I’m grateful to Carol Blazejowski for showing confidence in my abilities," said Coyle. "I have very high expectations for myself and the Liberty, and am committed to working with Marianne and the team to ensure that our outstanding fans see a competitive team that plays with pride, passion and persistence each and every game."
Tonight, after 17 years on the women's national team, Mia Hamm will officially retire from professional soccer. The USA will take on Mexico tonight in CA in what will be the soccer legend's last game. Times writer Jere Longman has a nice article today on the the world's most popular and well-known female soccer player.
Coach Stringer missed the chance for 700 at ODU, but it will be easier tonight when Rutgers hosts Princeton.
UWGB, eager to break into the top 25, is ready for Minnesota and McCarville.

"You try to focus on one game at a time, but in the back of your mind you’re thinking, oh gosh, the Gophers are coming," said forward Nicole Soulis. "For a team of that caliber to come here... what an opportunity."
Another women's basketball blog to add to the rolls: this one devoted to Purdue.
Maryland won. The Terps are 6-1, the sole loss was to LSU, but with their light nonconference schedule, we may not know how good they are till ACC action begins.
Wolves-Lynx owner Glen Taylor, dealing with some behavior issues on the men's side, praised his WNBA players for the way they handle themselves in public.
Coach Rizzotti got a standing ovation at the Civic Center. "It was definitely an emotional moment," she said. "I wasn't expecting that overwhelming ovation. I'm very touched. It's nice to know you're never forgotten."

Jeff Jacobs says there will be more Geno disciples in the coaching ranks before long.

UConn won the down-tempo, defensive battle. Turner led with 17 and 11, but the Huskies shot poorly and missed half of their free throws.

"[N]othing bothers me more than when we play basketball the way we played tonight," Geno said.
Geogia falls again, this time at home to Arizona State. The Dogs shot 59% and outrebounded the Devils but gave up 30 points off turnovers and didn't defend the three.

Coach Landers, not sure what to do, won't let his players wear anything with a 'G' on it and won't let them in the lockerroom. "We have one of the nicest dressing rooms in the country," he said. "But they think they are just entitled to it. They are not."

"I just don't think we're that good right now," he continued. "I don't think we have the right habits to be that good right now. We're going to have a difficult time winning at the level the game was played at tonight because we don't practice at that level, and that's killing me. I don't think our kids understand that."

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

In other women's sports news --

The Sports Network eulogizes the end of the Golden Age of women's soccer.

The Star Trib reports on the debate about whether to allow checking in women's hockey.

And the Times reports on the IOC's investigation of Marion Jones. Apparently the doping cops plan to ignore the three-year statute of limitations so they can strip Marion's 2000 medals. Taking the high road, I guess?
A year and a half ago, when Texas knocked Minnesota out of the '03 tournament, Kala Bowers absolutely shredded us. We had no one to guard someone so tall on the perimeter, and she was excellent in transition.

Last year, Bowers had an illness that sidelined her for much of the postseason.

Now she's back. A Lobo fan wrote in with this report on Kala's performance in The Pit:

We started calling her the 'stealth weapon.' Her defense is really really solid, she has hops (we had no idea!), and does all those important things off the ball that often get overlooked. We've always known she was a great shooter. As she gets her conditioning back she's going to be a big help come tournament time.

Bowers herself wrote up this diary entry on the plane trip from Albuquerque back to Austin.
Voepel explains why K State is still ranked despite the loss to Liberty.
Disney on Ice kicked Boise State out of its usual gym, so the Broncos had to host Idaho State in a smaller, crappier alternate facility. It turned out to be a rough game, and ISU coach Jon Newlee wasn't too happy about it.

"From the stupid little gym to what happened here on the floor, the whole thing was ridiculous," he said. "It wasn't a Division I game, it was a joke."
La Tech dropped out of the AP top 25 yesterday for the first time in 13 years. Tennessee has the longest streak -- the Vols have been ranked in 344 consecutive polls. How many years before that streak ends?
Jen Rizzotti returns to the Civic Center tonight as the coach of the Hartford Hawks.

"I'm going to feel pretty proud, but not as proud as she's going to feel for herself, and that's what's important," Auriemma said. "I'm going to look at it as here's somebody who has gotten an opportunity to do something and she's in a position to let 17,000 people see it. This is an opportunity for Jen and her team to separate themselves from their league."
Lisa Leslie will be speaking at the Govinator's Conference for Women. Sounds vaguely creepy.
Former Jackson State center Amie Williams just signed with the ABA and became the first woman to play in that league. She's hoping to work her way into the WNBA.
Alesha Robertson turned some heads last night; she poured in 37 as Texas Tech crushed Miami. Robertson hit nine three-pointers, breaking the school record.

"It feels great, and it's a dream come true," Robertson said. "But that's not the big picture, getting the 3-point record. It's a great record, and I love to have that, but the big picture is that I can use that ability to take us farther and get us a championship banner in the arena."

"I'm really proud with her whole performance tonight," coach Sharp said. "I think defensively she's really stepped up on that end of the floor, and that has allowed us to leave her on the floor for a longer period of time. Certainly whenever you're in a situation where a defense doesn't react to her, she's gonna make them pay. I was really proud of her confidence."