Women's Hoops Blog: February 2005

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Monday, February 28, 2005

The Sports Economist agrees that contracts between coaches and shoe companies are, in economic terms, no different than contracts between universities and shoe companies.

Regardless of whether there's any real economic impact, the legality of the contracts depends on the Connecticut Ethics Code. Based on a quick read, the Code doesn't seem to contain any blanket prohibition of outside contracts for a state employees or any blanket prohibition of benefits that arise out of the employee's work.

The Code would prevent Geno from entering any contract that would cause "substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his duties or employment in the public interest," that would "impair his independence of judgment as to his official duties," and so on. Those sorts of provisions (like almost all anti-bribery and anti-gratuity laws) are notoriously difficult to interpret and apply.

Like many other people, I do find something vaguely creepy about Nike paying Geno to enforce a pro-Nike dress code on his players. The problem is: I'm not exactly sure why I find it vaguely creepy.

Maybe it's just because I don't like dress codes. Rules requiring players to cover tattoos, for example, strike me as unnecessary, inconsistent, and probably racist.

Whatever the reason for my as-yet-unexplained intuition, it doesn't seem to have much to do with Geno. In other words, I would feel just as uneasy if Nike paid UConn (rather than Geno) to enforce a pro-Nike dress code on its players. Beyond that, I just don't have much traction on this one -- economically, legally, or ethically.
Updated player of the year candidate efficiency ratings --

WNBA Efficiency Formula:

Irvin - 27.7
Davenport - 25.7
Lyttle - 24.4
McCarville - 24.1
Early - 23.7
Wecker - 23.6
T. Jackson - 22.5
Young - 21.8
D. Jackson - 21.6
White - 20.6
Augustus - 19.8
Currie - 19.1
Batteast - 18.0
Wright - 15.9

ACC Efficiency Formula:

Davenport - 1.46
Irvin - 1.45
Wecker - 1.42
McCarville - 1.36
Augustus - 1.27
Early - 1.27
Lyttle - 1.27
T. Jackson - 1.26
White - 1.22
Young - 1.21
Currie - 1.19
D. Jackson - 1.15
Batteast - 1.08
Wright - 1.01

Prouty Rating:

Davenport - 0.578
Augustus - 0.560
Young - 0.544
Irvin - 0.541
Early - 0.541
McCarville - 0.539
Currie - 0.538
Wecker - 0.537
Lyttle - 0.527
T. Jackson - 0.513
Batteast - 0.511
White - 0.499
D. Jackson - 0.491
Wright - 0.465

If you excluded games missed due to injuries, McCarville would be 0.554 and Wecker would be Wecker would be 0.557.

It's a tough call. For the combination of individual numbers and team success, it's hard to argue against Davenport. If you want to go with a senior, you can make a case for Irvin, McCarville, or Wecker based on their individual performances, or you can make a case for Currie based on her team's success. Augustus still gets credit for being the best player on the best team.

Last week I emailed the folks who run the three major awards to see when they're decided. The Wade is awarded on Final Four weekend and the votes are due the previous week, so it is supposed to include the first four rounds of the tournament. The Naismith is also given on Final Four weekend -- I couldn't get a straight answer on when voting takes place, but I assume it's also the previous week. I couldn't get any answer at all from the Wooden people, but it's not given out till the weekend after the Final Four.

Bottom line: March is the most important month, and the race is still open.
Jessica Davenport was huge again: 29 points, 16 boards, 6 blocks, and 4 assists. She led the Buckeyes to a big win over Penn State and a share of the Big Ten title. In the process, she probably clinched the Big Ten POY award over McCarville.

"What a way to go out," said senior Caity Matter. "A sellout crowd, a Big Ten championship -- there's nothing like this."

Said coach Rene Portland of her seniors: "They’re devastated. Tanisha and Jess really look spent. I hope I can get them back on their feet before next weekend."
UNC is fun to watch. (By contrast, Chubby Checker singing the anthem is not fun to watch.)

Led by Ivory Latta, the 'Heels beat the Devils again and earned their first season sweep since 1997.

"I just dance and smile all the time," Latta said. "That's just me. I'm just so happy right now."
Bubble action --

The SEC, bid-wise, is a mess. Mississippi won to finish fifth in conference play, but its RPI is in the 50s. After losing to LSU, Florida finished 5-9, but the Gators' RPI is in the 30s. Mississippi State beat Auburn, so both teams finished 6-8.

I think Ole Miss is in -- the nonconference play was pretty sad, but wins over Vandy and Georgia are nice. As for the other three SEC bubble teams... I don't know. Coach Fortner thinks her team needs to win two tournament games to get a bid.

In the Big Ten, both Purdue and Iowa won.

In the ACC, Virginia Tech won and Georgia Tech lost, thus solidifying the dividing line between the seven who will get bid and the four who won't. The Hokies will get in with a sub-.500 conference record -- because they play in the best conference, because they played a solid nonconference schedule, because they have a bunch of nice wins, and because their worst lost all year was at Miami (RPI 55).

In the A-10, GW and Xavier both won. GW has one nice nonconference win over NC State, but a bad loss to La Salle. Xavier's nonconference resume is weak. Both have more to prove.

In Conference USA, Houston may have earned its bid by beating TCU. Marquette may have lost its chance at one by losing to DePaul.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Favorite guilty pleasure lately: reading the Fresno State board.

The story keeps getting dirtier. Tiffany Williams says Johnson-Klein said to her: "you should be faster than any slow white girls. You're black and its instilled in you."

A former team trainer, however, has come out in support of the embattled coach. Jennifer Alcorn says Johnson-Klein is facing retribution from her assistants, who were on the chopping block. Alcorn also makes vague claims about the assistants' inappropriate conduct with players.

The players are tired of all this. Last night, they took out their frustration on Nevada.
Boston College had an emotional pregame ceremony as Jessalyn Deveny celebrated her Senior Night on crutches. But as the Boston Globe says, the Eagles didn't want sympathy, they wanted a win.

They got it, and it was a big one over UConn. "We beat them on our court in front of a sellout crowd," said senior Clare Droesch. "I think it's everyone's dream to play a game like this. We just took advantage and played from our heart."

It was a step backward for UConn.

"For us, coaches and players, to be called Big East champions this year would be a travesty," said Geno. "We didn't deserve it. You have to deserve it. We didn't deserve it, not with some of the efforts that we've put out there and not the way we've played."
Oklahoma hurt its tournament chances. Not just because it lost to Texas, but because it didn't show up -- only four Sooners scored; the team shot 22%; they got doubled up.

"We shot 29 percent in the first half and I thought that was bad," coach Sherri Coale said. "I should have thought again. Really, it was almost ridiculous. How do you do that?"

Nina Norman was taken off on a stretcher after a blow to the head, but she was quickly released from the hostpital.
In last night's other bubble action --

UCLA probably lost its chance at a bid by losing to USC. The Bruins finished 10-8 for sixth in the Pac-10. USC is probably in.

Nebraska suffered a bad loss at home to Missouri. If the Huskers could just have won the last two games over Mizzou and Colorado, they would have been a lock. With the loss, they remain on the bubble.

In the Big East, Seton Hall is dead (if it wasn't already) after losing to Syracuse. St. John's is still dead even though it beat RPI-killer Providence (by only 3?). Villanova is shakier after losing to Georgetown, but it's hard to imagine the Big East only getting four teams in, so 'Nova is probably still ok.

In the WAC, Tulsa hurt its chances by losing to San Jose State. It will need at least one win over SMU or La Tech.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Fresno AD Scott Johnson is retiring, but he says it has nothing to do with Stacy Johnson-Klein.

"I know some may want to connect my retirement announcement with items in the news about the women's basketball coach's suspension," Johnson said. "There simply isn't any connection."
Last night's bubble action --

Xavier used a last-second shot to beat Richmond. It was the Muskateers' best win of the season; they are still a long-shot for a bid, but the win at least keeps hope alive. With an RPI in the 20s and some nice quality nonconference wins, the Spiders are probably a lock despite the loss.

Louisville beat Cincinnati. The Cardinals have quality wins over Auburn, TCU, Houston, and Xavier, but also questionable losses to East Carolina, Vermont, and Indiana.
Tennessee got more bad news yesterday, as Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood became the fourth Vol this year to be knocked out by a knee injury. The ultra-fast freshman point guard will miss the rest of the season.
Babcock talks to Orender about the new Chicago franchise.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Today brought a nice round of applause in the press for departing Colorado coach Ceal Barry, the winningest coach in CU history.

At her press conference yesterday, Barry explained that she got tired of recruiting. Part of that had to do with how the all-powerful Colorado Hoopsters program had shunned her program.

"I want to be sensitive to Rick Lopez's family. Let me say that at the outset," she said. "The best girls in the state from 1995-2005 played for the Colorado Hoopsters. Rick never told them not to go to CU. But he did encourage them to believe they were a cut above if they went to college out of state.... That was the beginning of the end for me."

Barry hung on to her integrity, but in the world of big-time recruiting -- sausage factory, used car sales, and all that -- integrity can be a drawback.

The most touching eulogy comes from Mechelle Voepel, who laments that Barry "had to deal with the utter stench of Rick Lopez and his 'system' in her backyard the last several years." In an apparent shot at Geno and others, Voepel says that "Barry's not good at holding her nose the way some college coaches are."

Of course, not all of Barry's recent problems were recruiting related. Over the past five years, nine players have left the Buffs program. Although she became gentler as she got older, she was still known as a tough, "old school" coach. Barry also struggled to build a fan base; the Buffs were drawing fewer than 2,000 fans per game this year.

Recent problems aside, Barry leaves Colorado with an admirable record: 509 wins and 12 NCAA tournament appearances in 26 years. She won't be forgotten.

UPDATE: a reader asks why I single Geno out by saying "Geno and others." I was more trying to read Mechelle's mind than express my own. Maybe I'm off base either way.

Coach Barry herself has mentioned Strother specifically as a "huge loss." But I suppose you could just as easily mention the Waner sisters, Katy Flecky, or Jamie Carey, so you could just as easily assume that Voepel is talking about Coach G, Muffet, or TV as coaches who are willing to hold their noses.
Sue Bird Russian diary, entry #4.

Sue's dad visited recently -- it was Dr. Drib's first trip overseas. His family is originally from Russia and formerly named "Boorda," which was changed to "Bird" by the good assimilationists at Ellis Island.
Around the web --

The Sports Prof ponders the difference in salary between NBA players and their WNBA counterparts.

Jen Garrett scoffs at the arguments about "reverse discrimination" against male coaches. (So do Sibyl and other Summitteers.)

Some other guy complains that the WNBA was crammed down his throat during the NBA's All-Star Weekend. In the ten or so hours of All-Star coverage that I watched, the women were on my TV screen for all of 15 minutes, so once again, I fail to understand the "crammed down our throat" thesis.

Incidentally, the Wers did quite well in the Shooting Stars competition. The still-hobbled Swin Cash was a disaster -- it took her about 8 tries to hit a 10-foot baseline jumper. But Leslie was good, Hammon hit her team's half-court shot, and Taurasi was predictably awesome. Her stacked Phoenix squad (Dan Majerle, Shawn Marion) cleaned up.
From the mailbag, Philster notes that Coach Fortner's claim about a .500 SEC record being a guaranteed tournament bid is a little off:
Just last year, Mississippi State was 7 and 7 in the SEC, and not invited. In 2002, Alabama was 7 and 7 in the SEC, and not invited. That's two examples in the last three years. Nell needs to do her homework.
Stacy Johnson-Klein doesn't have many allies inside the Fresno State program. Three assistant coaches and another staff member all planned to quit at the end of the year.

"We were 10-1 and I was on the hotel balcony in Hawaii and I'm looking out over the ocean, and I could not convince myself that I would allow my child to play under these circumstances," said assistant Adrian Wiggins, who is now the interim head coach.

Wiggins also doesn't believe that Johnson-Klein took pills only once. (Johnson-Klein's lawyer Warren Paboojian says Wiggins shouldn't be talking publicly about any of this... which would be a reasonable argument if Paboojian himself would keep quiet for just one day.)

At least one player says she'll leave if Johnson-Klein is reinstated. "I just don't want to go through what we've gone through with her," freshman Tierre Wilson said. "I wouldn't want to stay, even if things changed."
Swin Cash signed a three-year deal with the Shock for the maximum salary of $89,000.

"My commitment to Detroit is not only to help bring championships but also to help inspire our young men and women," Cash said in a statement. "The last six months of my life have been filled with adversity, but through a lot of prayer, hard work, and support from my family, I will be mentally and physically ready for this upcoming year. For me, this season is personal."
Of the twelve ranked teams that played last night, only one lost. #22 Maryland went down at home to Virginia Tech.

Maryland has dropped two questionable games in a row. Coach Frese, not happy. "Where our team is right now, it's extremely disappointing. It's a privilege when you put that uniform on, and the way we're playing is disappointing."

With an RPI in the 20s but a 5-8 ACC record, Va Tech remains a tough case for the committee. I would guess that last night's win sealed its ticket. If not, a win over Miami on Sunday almost certainly will.
Bubble action last night --

Georgia Tech suffered a bad loss to lowly Clemson. That is the sort of loss that will knock you right out of the tournament.

Purdue, as expected, fell to Ohio State. Coach Curry believes that a win on Sunday will be enough. "If we win over Wisconsin to go 9-7 in this league, that should get us in. So, yes, I'm politicking the (NCAA selection) committee."

Iowa beat Illinios badly. I think we can now officially say that Illinois is not even on the bubble. Iowa Coach Bluder started her campaigning last night. "The naysayers will have the last word, but I think we looked like an NCAA Tournament team tonight, and if we win two more, I think we'll be there," she said.

In the SEC, losses for Mississippi State and Arkansas probably ended their hope. Florida and Mississippi also fell but are still alive. Auburn helped its chances with a win. The Tigers have one game left to reach .500, and as coach Fortner says, "No SEC team that has finished the season .500 in the league has failed to make the NCAA Tournament."

Stanford throttled Oregon, avenging its only conference loss. Kraayeveld scored 0 points. Oregon is now one of four teams tied in the Pac-10 with an 11-6 conference record.

In the Colonial, both ODU and Delaware won. Both have two conference losses and RPIs in the 40s or 50s.

Utah beat BYU. The Salt Lake Trib reports that the Cougars "short-circuited their own comeback attempt with an ill-advised shot that could have cut an 18-point lead to five." Must have been some shot. Both have two losses in the MWC.

In the WAC, Rice, SMU, and Tulsa all won.

George Washington beat Duquesne.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The UConn student paper weighed in today on the issue of shoe contracts and college coaches. Like Jessie & Steve, the editorial board believes that the University, not the coaches, should benefit from such deals.

But let's talk econ for a minute. Suppose that fair market salary for Geno is $1 million. And suppose that Nike is willing to pay $500,000 in order to have UConn players wear its shoes. Imagine two scenarios.

(1) UConn pays Geno $1 million, and it also contracts directly with Nike to get the $500,000.

(2) UConn pays Geno $500,000, and it also grants him the right to contract with Nike and reap the $500,000 value of that contract.

In the second arrangement, even though Geno contracts directly with Nike, UConn still essentially receives the benefit. So there is no economic difference between the two arrangements.

You might worry if the school knew nothing about the contract -- if it paid Geno the full $1 million, then he went on his own without UConn's knowledge and took the $500,000 from Nike too. But it doesn't seem like that's what happened here -- UConn knew about all of this.

Is there any other ethical problem? Possibly. I suppose UConn could use the second arrangement as a way to pay Geno a sort of "hidden" salary. As a public institution, it might worry that by paying Geno a million bucks, it will face criticism that it is being too loose with taxpayer dollars. UConn might see arrangement (2) as a means to avoid that sort of scrutiny.

Maybe a school shouldn't play those sorts of games. Maybe if UConn is going to give Geno a compensation package worth a million bucks, it should do so openly so that everyone can see it. Maybe these contracts should be disallowed for that reason.

That's a fair argument. But it doesn't seem like a major ethical concern to me.
Stacy Johnson-Klein update: among other things, Fresno State is investigating whether Johnson-Klein overbilled the school for roadtrip expenses.

At the game last night, some Bulldog fans cheered for Johnson-Klein's return. The players, however, don't seem to share the sentiment. "It was a different crowd than what we're used to playing in front of," said captain Aritta Lane. "It was kind of shocking to hear them make the comments, but people are going to have their opinions. We have to play through things like that."

Columnist John Branch says Stacy will never coach at Fresno State again. "Most of her allies seem to be those who, professionally, know her the least."
Michigan State clinched a share of the Big Ten title by beating Michigan.

"It's been a dream ever since I was younger," said Lindsay Bowen. "And now it's here. To celebrate with our teammates -- at home -- it's unbelievable.
The Big XII has two teams on the bubble: Oklahoma and Nebraska. Both lost at home last night.

The Huskers got routed in front of a near-sellout crowd at the Devaney Center. The Huskers have an RPI now around 50, but they also have some nice quality wins over Baylor and Iowa State. With two easy games left, Nebraska should finish 10-6 in conference, and that will likely get them in.

The Sooners lost by 13 to Texas Tech. Oklahoma still has another tough game at Texas, so it will probably finish 8-8 in the Big XII. It will have to hope that its good December stretch is enough to overcome its mediocre conference performance.

I would guess, however, that unless Oklahoma upsets Texas, it will need a big win in the conference tournament to earn its ticket. That will mean that the Sooners, as a predicted 7 seed, will need to take out the 2 seed on March 9. That's a tall order.
Michael Cooper gets screwed. Again.

Coop has been fired as a Denver Nuggets assistant. He will be "reassigned," which means that he'll work under GM Kiki Vandeweghe till he finds another job.

When George Karl replaced Cooper as head coach, the Nuggets tried to keep Coop as an assistant, but it was an awkward situation destined for failure. It sounds like some of the players remained loyal to Cooper and were not happy that he was replaced by Karl. Karl finally grew fed up.

"The one thing I didn't like about the staff is they lived in the past and not the future and for me, I'm a future guy," Karl said.

Karl also said that he is "not against him hanging around the team some and be a part of some practices." Nice, George -- way to be a condescending prick as you're stabbing someone in the back.

Coop, diplomatic as always, says he has no hard feelings. "I still believe it's a championship team. As far as coaching, I may not be there helping in that aspect, but I can help in other areas."

But the move was not well received in the locker room. "I think all the players (feel bad for Cooper)," Andre Miller said. "I think they're in shock."

This situation has been handled disgracefully by the Nuggets. Vandeweghe brought in Coop last year with the promise that Coop would get the head coaching job when he finally got around to firing Jeff Bzdelik. But Vandeweghe didn't have the courage to stand up to pressure from his owner when Coop didn't produce immediate wins. When the going got tough, Kiki immediately sold Coop down the river to cover his own ass.

We can only hope that this ridiculous saga hasn't caused irreparable damage to Cooper's career.
It's been a nightmarish season for Colorado. Last night the Buffs got slammed by Texas; they have now lost 10 in a row for the first time in school history. Colorado sits at the bottom of the Big 12.

Ceal Barry has had enough. The Boulder Daily Camera reports that she will retire at the end of the season. After last night's record-setting loss, she informed her team of her plans.

Barry has had a solid career. Last year she reached 500 wins. But the program fell off a cliff recently.

Barry struggled to keep top local recruits like Ann Strother in Colorado, a problem she blamed in part on Rick Lopez. After a good year last year, Tera Bjorklund graduated, and Emily Waner and Amber Metoyer transferred. They were followed by Leslie Howard this year. Last month brought news of possible misconduct by one of Barry's former assistants.

Earlier this month, Barry said her frustration level was "about maxed out." Things probably couldn't get any worse, but Ceal doesn't want to stay around to see.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Beth Mowins on Jess Davenport.
The SportsProf has been enjoying Sue Bird's Russian diaries and her positive attitude about a situation that NBA players would never accept.
Johnson-Klein: "I'll coach again." OK... but at Fresno State?
I spent the weekend in LA living out various self-destructive fantasies. While there, I read Jessie & Steve's post clarifying the scope of WBCA proposal 2004-130, which does not, in fact, prohibit WNBA players from being employed as college coaches.

I also read the WBCA's somewhat pissy letter, which lambasted "erroneous journalism" for failing to notice the "clearly state[d]" clarification that "an institution's coach may participate as a player with a professional women's basketball league or team." I was quite prepared to write some sort of apology for my mistake.

Just one problem -- nothing on the WBCA's website "clearly stated" anything of the sort.

The WBCA committee's website contains two overviews of the proposals: this one in table form (scroll down to page 9), and this one in letter form (scroll down to page 13). Both say the same thing: the proposal would prevent college coaches from being employed "in any capacity" by a WNBA team.

Neither document contains the limiting language. In fact, no document anywhere on their website contains the limiting language, and until recently, nothing even stated that the proposals weren't fully described.

The website now includes a disclaimer, which states in part:
We have simplified the proposals by only providing the intent and rationale for each. However, we strongly encourage visitors to read the text of the proposals in their entirety, which can be found at NCAA.org, in order to fully understand the legislative proposals. The bylaw amendments of each proposal provides the exact details and any exceptions that are not stated in either the proposal’s intent or rationale. For example, the exception in Proposal No. 2004-130 to permit a college coach to also participate as a player with a professional women’s basketball league or team can only be found in the proposal’s bylaws. (Emphasis added.)
That disclaimer was added only recently -- prior to that, a visitor had no way of knowing that some fine print was excluded. The WBCA's site still contains no link to the full proposals, which I found here using Google.

Perhaps if Lori Riley or Mike DiMauro would have called someone at the WBCA and asked the right questions, they would have avoided the error. But you can't fault them very much for relying on the WBCA's website, which according to the WBCA, provides "the most complete, up-to-date and accurate information" on the committee's proposals.

If I or anyone else made a mistake, it's because we read "in any capacity" to mean in any capacity, and we read "complete" to mean complete.

Rather than blaming journalists, the WBCA might think about doing a better job providing information on its website. How hard would it have been to provide the extra sentence in the documents or to provide a link to the full proposals? None of this bears much on the merits of the committee's work, but the WBCA's unnecessarily defensive response to this episode was silly.
It's been nearly a month since the NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics announced that it was looking into the use of male practice players. As the news has slowly spread around the country, more papers have picked up and reported the story, and more coaches have expressed opposition to any restrictions.

Some coaches have also expressed some frustration with the process. "I'm a little disappointed to tell you that from a membership of coaches' perspective, I don't think we're in the loop," said ODU coach Wendy Larry, who is also president of the WBCA. "It hasn't been mandated yet, but if there's discussion, it's my hope that we'll still have an opportunity to voice an opinion."

If nothing else, coaches have been voicing their opinions in the press, and it appears that the committee is listening.

In some of the more recent articles, committee chair Darlene Bailey has attempted to clarify what has motivated the committee's study. "Those sports that are using male practice players on a consistent basis ... is that keeping female athletes from an opportunity to get better?" Bailey said. "If a freshman or sophomore is not part of the top five or the first team in that sport, is she getting better standing on the sidelines?"

At least one coach agrees. "I have a problem with a bunch of kids standing on the sidelines when guys are out there on a regular basis," OSU coach Jim Foster said. "Given my druthers, as the skill level of the women's game improves, I would rather practice against us." (It should be noted, however, that Foster's feelings on the issue may be the result of a problem he had at Vandy.)

This latest rationale makes more sense than some of those offered earlier. If the use of male practice players results in bench players sitting on the sidelines too much during practice, maybe it's not a good idea. But I'm still not sure why the NCAA would need to step in and regulate the matter rather than just allowing each team to figure out what's best.

Any coach on a given team may have good reasons for deciding not to use male practice players. A coach may decide that she wants to give her bench more practice time, that she doesn't want her starters to face such tough competition in practice, or that she just doesn't want to deal with the already existing regulations.

By the same token, if any individual player doesn't want to risk getting stuck on the sidelines for practice, she may want to choose a school that doesn't use male practice players. Players and parents concerned about the issue should make sure to ask questions during the recruiting process and choose schools accordingly.

In short, coaches, players, and teams can decide for themselves -- the free market works fine in this situation, and I don't see any sort of market failure that requires centralized intervention. Perhaps male practice players aren't a good idea for every school, but there's no reason that the NCAA needs to impose a ban on everyone.

Darlene Bailey herself apparently agrees. "I'd like to see it left to each individual coach. Who knows a team better than its coach?" Exactly.
Birmingham News columnist Kevin Scarbinsky expects that Rick Moody will be replaced by a woman, and he complains about "reverse discrimination" against male coaches in the women's game.
Geno: "I don't read the Boneyard."
Edna Campbell is heading to Sacramento. "San Antonio is gaining not just an amazing athlete but a phenomenal person," said John Whisenant. "Edna's efforts both on and off the court have made her a well-respected player in our community, and we know that San Antonio is very lucky to have her."
Hmmm.... turns out god doesn't want women to play sports because it makes them "ill-prepared to be Biblically obedient wives and mothers."

Salvation isn't worth such a price. And therefore I hasten to return my ticket.
UConn beat Pitt by almost 50. On Senior Night, Ashley Battle scored a career-high 23 points.

"Someone said it would happen on Senior Night," Battle said. "It was a storybook ending; I couldn't have planned it any better. I had my career high tonight against Pittsburgh. I'm from Pittsburgh, my family is here and it's Senior Night. What a way to go out."

This quiet group of seniors -- Battle, Moore, Marron, and Ashley Valley -- will leave with at least three national titles.
Rutgers beat BC. Not a single Eagle player reached double figures.

"I think we just got frustrated, and that's the biggest thing I'm disappointed in," coach Inglese said. "We missed four inside shots in the first half, and you just can't be doing that against Rutgers."

Coach Stringer kept the fans entertained by joining in the wave during a long timeout for a clock malfunction. "Might as well keep the fans entertained," she said.

The Knights finished the year undefeated at home.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Duke-bound Abby Waner had a good weekend. She got to take in the NBA All-Star festivities. She also had a record breaking game on Friday: 61 points and 17 steals.
Inquirer columnist John Smallwood praises Dawn Staley for the job she's done at Temple.

Staley also re-upped with Charlotte today. "We are overjoyed that she will continue to lead the Sting as we move forward in the rebuilding process," Trudi Lacey said.
More weirdness in Fresno, now with Vicodin. Local TV says fans support the suspended coach.

And in WNBA action, the Chicago TBAs are now the Chicago Somethings. I like both names just fine.
USA Today's Whitehead on FSU's triumphs and obstacles: multiple overtimes have been the least of their worries.

Coach Semrau: "You can develop a real character about you if you really believe and commit to going through pain... obviously, we've been through that."
Doctors get angry about an "epidemic" of overuse injuries in young athletes. "More than two dozen" blame "specialization in one sport at an early age" and subsequent "year-round" training. "Overuse injuries" in kids "were once virtually unknown."

Should this issue affect any arguments about recruiting and seasons for AAU play? (The WBCA's proposal would limit fall and spring non-school recruiting, making it more important for ambitious high school athletes to play summer ball.)

The feds weigh in with a parents' guide.
Alabama coach Rick Moody announces that he will retire after this season. Moody (no relation) (310-173) led the Crimson Tide to eight NCAA berths in 16 years, the last in 1999.
Another Western winning streak goes down: on Sunday Northern Arizona defeated Montana, who had won 23 reg-season Big Sky games. NAU landed their first-ever win in Missoula. Flagstaff's soph guard Rice shot 8 for 8.
New poll: Spartans up, Green Bay out, Gonzaga in.

The Zags beat Montana, Utah and Idaho, lost to Arizona State and New Mexico, and haven't lost a West Coast Conference game; a ticket to the Dance would be their first. Over at Full Court, Clay Kallam saw it coming.

Monday, February 21, 2005

She won't tell, but we will: Sara's old team, back on top of their league with an escape from New York.
Sue Gunter, Hall of Famer? The longtime LSU coach already holds a well-deserved place in the WBHOF; she's now on the ballot for the Hall in Springfield. (So is the Candyman.)

Gunter coached the Tigers for 22 years before leaving due to respiratory illness; she and assistant coach Pokey Chapman led LSU to last year's Final Four.

Last night Chapman's top-ranked Tigers had trouble at Auburn, hanging on via defense and free throws to win by 5. LSU shot just 36.7%, Auburn 35.5%, though Augustus had 22. The intrepid Temeka Johnson took a knee to the hamstring, but returned to the game: "my mindset was to forget about the pain," she explained.
New W. president Orender greets fans, requests "time to find my desk and the bathroom." New promo campaign at least shows players in uniform: Ohlde asks whether she really looks "like that."
DePaul clinched the C-USA title, squashing Memphis in Memphis.

The Blue Demons missed their first six shots but ended up shooting 60.3%, including 12-18 from downtown. Their only conference loss came Jan. 9 at Marquette; the rematch in Chicago comes this Saturday.

DePaul's first C-USA title in nine years will also be its last; next year DePaul, along with Marquette, Louisville, Cinncinnatti, and USF, joins the Big East. TCU decamps for the Mountain West. Will next year's replacements lower the bar?
Reader Rob L points out that Sunday likely marked "the first time that every game in the Big Ten on the same day had over 10,000+ in attendance in each game." The Gophers drew 14,203, the Spartans 14,066.

PSU attracted 15,117 for a lopsided revenge against Northwestern, who beat them a month ago. Then, Strom didn't play (flu); yesterday the Wildcats lacked an ill scorer, Sarah Kwasinski. Tanisha scored 20, sinking a three (rare for her) with her last-ever BJC shot.

The Hoosiers drew 10,022, another record, but lost by 4 to Purdue in overtime, in a contest with 15 lead changes. IU guard Annika Boyd scored 19 on 6-10 shooting, Purdue's Gearlds 20 on 5-15. IU coach Bennett says the crowd "helped us a great deal. I just wish one of these days we could get them a win." Boyd concludes: "we just got outrebounded by 30 and that was the game right there."

Rob adds that the Big Ten tournament's top seed now goes to the winner of PSU-at-OSU unless MSU beats Michigan and Purdue beats OSU on Thursday first, in which case an OSU win over PSU would give MSU top seed.
"This game couldn't have been scripted any better for Janel," Gophers coach Pam Borton said. "It was a great way for her to end the home season with her effort and the way she played."

McCarville delivered a performance worthy of the All-American, guaranteed first-round draft pick that she is, making her career high 33 points look like a walk in the park, nabbing 14 rebounds, and topping it off with 4 assists, 3 steals, and 3 blocks. She also played like that big, goofy kid who has stolen the hearts of Gopher fans: the one whose devilish grin glows to the rafters of the Barn, who grabs her teammates in a headlock after their drive to the basket gets an old-fashioned 3-point play, who follows her own big plays with Tigger (and Taurasi) -esque bounces of joy.

The crowd of 14,203 was the second largest of her tenure, and the second largest in the program's history, which has expanded mind-bogglingly since the bleach-blonde, tall, zaftig freshman first loped onto the court of the Sports Pavilion. She ends her college days in the top five of five statistical categories: fifth in points (1,726), third in rebounds (1,125), second in blocks (184), third in steals (259), and fifth in assists (284).

The Wisconsin Badgers lost 84-53. Freshman Janese Banks, on her 19th birthday, played the entire game with fierce resolve, and led the team in scoring with 16 points. Another usually impressive frosh, Jolene Anderson, played her heart out, but couldn't connect when Shannon Bolden was guarding her. Lisa Stone could have a pretty good team next year, but for now she should be proud that they managed to score above fifty points against the Gophers in Janel's house.
Still making their tournament case, UVA upset Maryland in Charlottesville, 63-61.

The home team's LaTonya Blue scored 29, but the real story seems to have been late-game defense: the Cavaliers held Brenda Frese's scoring machine to just four points in the last four minutes, the last two when it didn't matter.

UVA coach Debbie Ryan says her squad built a wall around Maryland's Langhorne: UVA's Jocelyn Logan-Friend (four steals) says "we made up our minds... to play great defense." Terps leader Shay Doron responds "I don't think we should ever play like that."
More ACC overtime: Nikita Bell's putback sent UNC into extra minutes at home against NC State, and Ivory Latta's free throws gave the exuberant Tar Heels a three-point win. Camille Little says Latta got hit in the face; Latta says she's "glad they called it."
Spartans over Buckeyes, 66-64, "the biggest victory in the program's history," before a record crowd (14,066).

Michigan State's superior teamwork at guard helped the green and white take an early lead; Haynie (9 assists) kept every Spartan involved. At one point MSU led by 12; OSU ended up with 19 turnovers, MSU just 9.

But Haynie sat down with two fouls, Roehrig seemed to lose steam, and MSU's guards started to lose Caity Matter, who (as usual) hit her open shots. OSU bored their way to a comeback, slicing the lead to 2 at the break. (Matter finished with 20.)

The second half looked the same: early MSU lead, then a series of ties, the last on a Brandie Hoskins 3-point play at 00:31. Haynie then drove into the lane, got surrounded (by Davenport and Allen) and got fouled (apparently by Allen) with 5.4 ticks to go; her free throws provided the MSU margin.

Roehrig should be proud: she played Davenport, not even, but well enough. (Davenport blocked her six times, finishing with 19 points, 13 boards, but Roehrig finished with 14 and 9, and stole the ball from Davenport four times.)

Davenport, who again played 40 minutes, again showed why it's so hard for anyone with less size than MSU to even attempt an interior game against her; the only ways to stop her seem to be to push her out of her limited shooting range or deny her the ball. Listed at 6'4", she used her longer arms to shoot directly over Roehrig, and just killed the Spartans in the paint for the second half; her 12 blocks tie a Big Ten record. Foster says she played well but his guards couldn't get her the ball.

It's a little dispiriting to see officiating decide a big game-- SDS, announcing, got mad. But it's exciting to see six good players working together at home defeat one who's spent most of the year unstoppable. Can MSU do it again in Indianapolis?

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Cappie Pondexter will return to Rutgers for a fourth season next year, rather than entering the W's draft.

"I enjoy being taught by coach Stringer," she says; this season, "years of hard work" for the Knights are "paying off."
Voepel with a really moving piece on Laurie Koehn, K-State's modest, but determined, sharpshooter.

Last night was Senior Night. K-State devoured Colorado; Koehn hit five threes (in 13 attempts), and Wecker's double-double broke Ohlde's school rebounds record-- Kendra now has 1,002. Wecker: "I didn't think I was going to cry."
Generous, optimistic feature on Chicagoland women's hoops, with quotes from Stern, DePaul coach Bruno, Khara Smith, Catch, the TBAs' owners, and Illinois all-time scoring leader Ashley Berggren. Outgoing W prez Val Ackerman points out that the W's strong 1997 numbers "in some ways make it harder to show progress."

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Michigan State gets ready for Sunday's big game; press and fan attention have smashed records. Coach McCallie warns that the Buckeyes "don't have any weaknesses." (Being boring isn't a weakness.)

Janel reminisces, gets ready for Senior Day at the Barn: "My career has obviously been crazy," she says.
What is it about the ACC and overtime? Four times this year Florida State has gone to extra minutes; each time FSU have won. When the 'Noles played Virginia Tech in Blacksburg it took two OTs to get the win.

Tonight in Tallahassee it took three. Adeduntan garnered 20 points and 14 boards; the Hokies' Dawn Chriss, 33 and 15 on 14-18 shooting, nearly a school record. FSU coach Semrau and her player Roneeka Hodges really like the word "fight."

VT, who edged Texas Tech in OT back in December, have now dropped three ACC games in overtime, two more (both to UVA) by three points each. So close, and yet so far...
Free sneakers may not be enough to keep UConn playing well through an entire game. At the Hartford Civic Center today, they managed to make it through the first ten minutes without a turnover, then only had two for the entire first half. Geno must have seemed too happy in the locker room, though. Ten turnovers in the second half brought the game to just five under their season average. We wouldn't want to mess up that stat, now, would we?

Sloppy play or no, Syracuse never really had a prayer, in spite of a great performance from beyond the arc by senior guard Rochelle Coleman. The Huskies easily put them away 85-49, bringing the Orange-gals to 3-11 in the Big East.
Oregon had to beat Arizona this afternoon to preserve their tournament hopes. It's "do or die," guard Brandi Davis said.

Today the Ducks did it, canning the Wildcats decisively on Senior Day for an undefeated home season. Arizona led most of the first half. Kraayeveld and Bills got double-doubles. "We played a disjointed game," said UA's coach.

Up next for Oregon: Stanford. (Up next for UA: Washington, then Washington State.)
UConn Coaches Auriemma and Calhoun have lucrative contracts with Nike that may cause them troubles with the State Ethics Commission.

The Hartford Courant article casts light on some of the more disturbing provisions of the contracts:
Auriemma's contract with Nike... has similar provisions requiring the coach to make Nike products available to the team, and allowing Nike to terminate the contract if players fail to wear them. Nike also can sever the pact if Auriemma leaves his job.

The contract requires the women's team to purchase any additional athletic gear it needs only from Nike, at prices set by the sports apparel giant. And the agreement obligates Auriemma to enforce a "dress code" prohibiting players from covering up the Nike swoosh.
The real question with these contracts is whether they are good for the programs and the University. Is it better to let individual coaches negotiate directly with sponsors, or should Nike, Reebok and the rest be limited to dealing with the schools? If college sports teams are going to be in bed with corporate interests, shouldn't the colleges be the ones doing the pimping?

Related Posts:

1. Any economic difference?
2. Generally creepy
3. What the law says
4. Investigation
5. Ruling
Twice this year Rutgers lost badly on the road to a ranked Big East opponent; twice they’ve won the rematch at the RAC. Last week they did it to UConn; this afternoon they did it to Notre Dame.

The Scarlet Knights established a big halftime lead, but the Irish opened the second half with a 11-1 run, much as in these teams’ last meeting. This time, CVS's team responded; Newton scored 12 in the second half, 14 overall, and finished with 8 assists. The Knights’ 16 steals helped hold Notre Dame to a season-low 48 points-- coach McGraw called it "the best defense I've seen all year"; ND guard Megan Duffy had 10 turnovers. The 11-point win would have looked even more impressive had the home team shot better than 10-23 from the line.

Coach McGraw's father passed away the day before the game; she learned of his passing a few hours before tip-off. Both teams' players (and coach Stringer) found out only after the game.
Sad day in Green Bay: the no. 23 Phoenix fall to Youngstown State. UWGB's first loss since Dec. 11 is their first conference loss, second home loss this year, first home Horizon League loss in 56 games.

Green Bay lead the nation in fewest team fouls per game (12.6); today they committed 18. The Phoenix shoot almost 39% from downtown; yesterday they shot 4-18 (.211), with no threes till about six minutes remained. The Penguins, by contrast, made 10 of 18 from long range. UWGB cut the lead from 8 to 3 with 16 seconds left, but Tiffany Mor-- who had hit Green Bay's first three-pointer-- missed her last attempt. Green Bay's energetic radio announcer had trouble believing what he saw.

Last time these teams met, Green Bay had to come from behind, and only Mor’s free throws with 2.8 seconds left gave the Phoenix the win; coach Kevin Borseth remarked “how difficult it is to score” against YSU.

But Youngstown (10-15, 4-10) had never beaten the Phoenix before, and won't even contend for their conference title; UWGB may need to win their tournament to return to the Dance after all.
In Australia, Dandedong repeat as WNBL champions in a defense-oriented game.

LJ, who sat out the WNBL season to rehab her ankle, will return to Australia in fall '05 (spring and summer '05, if you are Australian) after the WNBA season, rather than playing in Europe. Her Australian team show delight and relief.

The 2003 WNBA MVP complains about lack of Australian corporate sponsorships: "the dollars just aren't there." She also describes rehab-prompted fears: "I'd like to play until I was 40, but in six or seven years it could be all over." (Anne Donovan, on the other hand, would "love to sign her to a 20-year deal.")

Jackson returns to Seattle today.
Tamika Catchings wants to invent an airplane. (Thanks to pilight.) She's also running a contest to name the new franchise, currently known as the Chicago T.B.A.s.
Liberian-born Rutgers frosh star Matee Ajavon calls herself a "lost girl"; a Scarlet Knights assistant coach calls her "fearless." OSU coach Jim Foster says he's"glad I'm not in the Big East."

Rutgers host Notre Dame a few hours from now; the Fighting Irish won with a huge second-half comeback when the teams met in South Bend.
Surprising nobody, Stanford clinched the regular-season Pac-10 crown, their fifth in a row. Wiggins shot 1-7 in the opening minutes but finished with 14. Four other Cardinal players hit double figures during a blowout second half at USC.

Stanford (23-2) beat BC (pre-Deveny injury), Texas Tech and both Arizona schools: can that give them a number-one seed? Bracket projections disagree.

Friday, February 18, 2005

The (New London) Day's Mike DiMauro on the WBCA's proposal to restrict college coaches' pro employment: "This is their way to finally get back at Summitt."

DiMauro also thinks the proposal would ban college coaches from playing on WNBA teams, which isn't true. From the WBCA's memo (PDF here):

"An institution's coach may participate as a player with a professional women's basketball league or team...

"The members of the WBCA Special Committee on Recruiting and Access were adamant that an exception be created for college coaches participating as players. We fully support the continued growth and competitiveness of the WNBA, and we regret that... erroneous journalism has called the committee's intentions into question."

Me too. (The WBCA blames this article.)

I still think it's silly to ban Geno from announcing; whatever "unfair advantage" (the WBCA's language) he gets as "broadcast talent" for a few Sun games is diddlysquat besides the perfectly fair "advantage" he gets from four championship teams. The Sun gain more from his face at their games than UConn does, and he has no say as to who the Sun will draft. (She, on the other hand, has a say in a pro draft, and probably shouldn't.)
Creme's new bracket excludes Oregon, but includes Arizona State, whom the Ducks beat last night in Eugene. Kraayeveld took home three steals, six boards, and 11 points; Duck guard Brandi Davis scored sixteen. "They did a good job of denying the post," said ASU coach Turner Thorne.

Ducks have no quality road wins, but a home win over Stanford, just one home loss, to Ohio State, and RPI of 53 (just below Villanova). Are they the mini-PSU of the Pac-10? If they beat Arizona in Eugene, do they get considered for the Dance? Or do they have to beat Stanford at Stanford, too?
Former Columbia head coach Traci Waites, now barred from campus after her abrupt depature, has led a tumultuous life. At Pitt, she was "known to be abrasive with players"; the same piece reports that she had "talked about replacing all of her [Columbia] starters."

In other bad coaching news (or bad-coaching news), twelve of fourteen Colorado State players have apparently "registered complaints about" coach Chris Denker.
Wisconsin-Green Bay, on the other hand, may make the Big Dance no matter what. The no. 23 Phoenix hasn't lost since Dec. 11; last night they beat Cleveland State in Green Bay, assuring at least a share of a regular-season conference title.

Abby Scharlow, who transferred from CSU in 2000, just missed a triple-double; she calls never losing to her old school "one of my goals."

UWGB coach Kevin Borseth says the team shouldn't relax: the NCAA "selection committee isn't kind to the Horizon League." In non-conference play, UWGB lost consecutive squeakers to Minnesota and Wisconsin, but defeated Marquette, Auburn and Illinois.
Last year's UC-Santa Barbara Gauchos reached the Sweet Sixteen, where they fell to UConn in Hartford, playing the Huskies much closer than Penn State did. Towering center Lindsay Taylor now comes off the bench for the Phoenix Mercury and plays in Turkey; April McDivitt is now an assistant coach. Of their key players, only Kristen Mann has returned.

Last night the Gauchos beat Pacific 73-40. They've now won nine of their last ten games, and lead the Big West.

Tournament hopes? Maybe not: this year they played several major-conference teams but lost, not only to LSU but to Arizona, Mississippi State, Purdue, even to Michigan.

They'll probably have to win the Big West tournament. In conference play, they've also lost twice to Idaho. Charlie Creme thinks Idaho will make it instead. The Vandals, however, have now lost two in a row.
Ohio State are superb this year, but no fun to watch: Davenport is a juggernaut, Matter shoots threes, and Wilburn or Hoskins might steal or drive or dish. Same thing every time.

Michigan State, on the other hand, are amazing to watch. Four guards share the ball, with room for everyone; any one of them can shoot. Shimek scores from close range while Roehrig pushes people around, they play together well in (and against) a pressure defense, and each trip up the floor shows flair. The two best teams in the Big Ten (and in the Midwest) meet Sunday in a much-anticipated showdown on ESPN2 at 2pm Eastern.

Both teams have recently had some trouble in Iowa. Last night the Spartans preserved a 7-point first-half lead for a win in Iowa City despite 23 turnovers.

The two big centers shut each other down: Cavey, whose scoring Iowa needs, shot just 5-15. "I should have made them," said Cavey; "it's my fault." Roehrig, whose scoring MSU rarely needs, fouled out. Shimek, whose scoring MSU does need, finished with 20 points, 13 boards.
Last time the Gophers played the Buckeyes, in the '03 Big Ten Tournament, Janel McCarville landed the only triple-double in tournament history, outplaying the taller Jessica Davenport on both ends of the floor. Ohio State won on superior guard play.

What a difference a year makes. Last night McCarville scored 22 points, but no assists and no blocks, and picked up a technical, her fourth foul, for complaining about her third. The T "devastated our team," Coach Borton said.

Davenport, who played all 40 minutes, finished with 35 points (plus 11 boards, 5 blocks, 3 assists) on 15-19 shooting, at least her third 30+ point outing this year. When she got layups she made them; when she found herself a few feet from the basket, she sank a string of effortless bank shots, shooting directly over Baby Shaq as if she had six inches on McCarville, not two. "My teammates found me in good spots," Davenport said; "once she gets position it's over," McCarville admitted.

Midway through the first half our Gophers led 21-15. Then Davenport began to get position. Ohio State ended the half with a 13-2 run, Minnesota with two traveling calls, missed layups, and an offensive foul that negated Shannon Schonrock's first three-pointer; the second half mostly brought more of the same.

Shannon Bolden held Caity Matter to 7 points on 1-8 shooting but scored no points herself; Broback and Lacey showed good effort but dreadful close-in shooting. April Calhoun scored 12, mostly on drives. No one else on either team hit double figures."Our guards played excellent defense," said coach Borton, "but we didn't have an answer for Jessica Davenport."

Does anyone?
I was actually kidding yesterday, but it turns out that the genesis of the Stacy Johnson-Klein controversy really was her appearance in the "men's magazine."

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Candace Parker will redshirt. "This is my second major knee injury in two years. The knee is good," Parker said. "There are no doubts in my mind about making the decision. There are no regrets."

I guess it was inevitable, but I'm still disappointed.
Sacramento matched Phoenix's offer, so DeMya Walker is staying with the Monarchs. "I wasn't about to let DeMya leave," coach Whisenant said.
The Fresno Bee reports new details about Stacy Johnson-Klein's harassment and discrimination claims. According to Johnson-Klein, her athletic director suggested that her flashy clothes were inappropriate.

Possibly related: Johnson-Klein recently did a spread for HiS Magazine, "The Central California Men's Magazine."

(Other than foot fetish porn from Kazakhstan, it's hard to imagine a baser form of culture than "Central California's Men's Magazine." It's so low-brow it's almost cool.)

The promo reads: "Now in her third year of coaching the Fresno State women's basketball program, Stacy Johnson-Klein has become one of the more popular figures in the local community. It doesn't hurt that's she's a total babe and knows all about sports. Stacy sits down with HiS and begrudgingly admits her fondness for the Dallas Cowboys, as well as her secret desire to be a detective...."

Oh, how coquettish!
Mercedes Mayer says the ACC is the best conference in the country this year. In pilight's recent bracket projection, the ACC was the only conference to get seven tournament bids.
In Big 12 action last night --

Iowa State got back on track. Mary Fox made 9 of 10 as the Cyclones beat up on Oklahoma State. "It was a big night for the whole team," Fox said. "When you have a good shooting night, it feels good, but after the week we had last week, I'm just happy for the team and happy I contributed."

Texas Tech struggled against Kansas but still won. "I'm always thrilled to get a victory on the road, but I thought we played a little inconsistent at times and was disappointed in our ability to put them away," coach Marsha Sharp said. "But at this point, we have to feel good about being 5-1 on the road in Big 12 play. We have two more road games and two more at home, and if you win them, you have the chance to hold a trophy up."

With Sophia Young on the bench in foul trouble, Stephanie Blackmon took over, scoring a career-high 31 points to lead Baylor over Mizzou. "It was weird because I've never played that much without her," Blackmon said. "When she went out, I decided to step it up."

And in the night's biggest game, Texas edged K State. Wecker was the only Wildcat in double figures -- she accounted for 28 of the Cats' 60 points and 12 of 28 rebounds. "I don't think there's any way to stop her," coach Jody Conradt said of Wecker. "We just had to do the best job we could to make it hard for the rest of the team to score."

Nebraska and Oklahoma both won to stay, at least, on the bubble.
Coach Chancellor on signing Tari Phillips: "We are thrilled to welcome an All-Star player who is a tremendous rebounder and brings us another scoring threat in the low post." Blaze explains her decision to let Tari go.
New WNBA Chicago owner Michael Alter: "There will always be some people who will never warm to this game. But there are others who just haven't been exposed to it. I'm a perfect example. My memory of women's basketball was from high school where no one really played and it was kind of a joke. I paid no attention to women's basketball until about a year ago."

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Stacey Dales-Schuman names the top six passers in the college game.
From the mailbag, regarding Emily Fox: "it's hard for me to get worked up about a world-record holder in an event that her dad created..."

Ah, given the weird corporate promotional aura that surrounded this story, I should have known. Bob Fox is the founder and president of Speed Stacks. Bob is "excited about cup stacking, because it helps promote hand-eye coordination, ambidexterity, quickness and concentration -- skills needed to excel in most any sport." I guess it's worked for his daughter, who was a Street & Smith All-American honorable mention last year.
In other sports news:

April Heinrichs resigned as head coach of USA Soccer.

Annika Sorenstam has filed for divorce.
Former UAB head coach Jeanie Milling is suing the school. UAB let her go after several losing seasons, but she claims that the school acted in retaliation after she reported that an assistant coach, Jonath Nicholas, had sexually harassed some players. Nicholas, now an assistant with St. John's, is also suing.

In other coaching scandal news, the Fresno Bee reports today that before being suspended, Stacy Johnson-Klein made harassment and discrimination claims against AD Scott Johnson and assistant AD Randy Welniak.
Minnesota recruit Emily Fox will be on the Ellen show tomorrow to show of her cup stacking ability.

What is cup stacking, you ask? Well, according to Speed Stacks, it's "an exciting individual and team sport where participants stack and unstack 12 specially designed plastic cups in pre-determined sequences."

What is Speed Stacks, you ask? Well, according to Speed Stacks, it's the leader in sports stacking.

Emily holds the world record -- she was able to stack the cups in 7.43 seconds. You can watch an asp video of her world record performance here or a wmv here.
Here is the transcript from the WNBA's conference call yesterday. The basic story David Stern told is that he has known Orender for a long time, so when Val resigned, he went after Donna and convinced her to take the job.

Mel Greenburg's article today is headlined: "Orender should prove perfect link as new WNBA president."

Other reports: Mike Terry, Adam Zagoria, Oscar Dixon, Lena Williams, and Mechelle Voepel.

By way of correction -- yesterday I said that Orender's maiden name was Simms; in fact, it was Geils. (See what happens when you rely on message boards for factual information?)
BC went up on Notre Dame early, but an 18-point second half advantage gave the Irish the win. "It was a tremendous defensive first half, and we took them out of what they do well," coach Inglese said. "The second half, I was still pleased, but we gave up too many offensive rebounds, and let them have too much penetration to the basket."

The Eagles outrebounded the Irish, made more threes, and hit just as many field goals. The Irish won because they went to the line 20 times compared to the Eagles' 6. Said one fan (who requested anonymity), "I may or may not have morphed into crazy fan and started screaming at the refs."

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

From the mailbag, regarding the RPI:
Why is it a flaw that the RPI does not take into account margin of victory? What do you think would happen if it did mean something? Coaches would be running up the scores and that is not good for the game.
True, you wouldn't want an official system like football's BCS, which gives teams an incentive to run up the score. Plus, in college basketball, late-game substitutions after the outcome has been decided often mean that the final score doesn't reflect how close the game really was.

There is a difference, however, between losing by one in overtime and losing by thirty. For certain games, the margin of victory should affect how much weight we give it. It is just another subjective factor to throw in the mix on top of the basic RPI calculation.

Note also that ratings systems based on margin of victory are actually, according to Sagarin, a better predictor of future games.