Women's Hoops Blog: December 2005

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year to all!

Here comes 2006.
In Pac-10 action, Stanford beat up USC at Maples Pavilion. Wiggins scored 26, Brooke Smith and her hook shot racked up 20. Jump shooter Cissy Pierce left the game with an ankle injury and may be out for a bit.

And in what may, or may not, count as an upset, the increasingly promising Cal Bears beat UCLA. Cal's Devanei Hampton dominated the paint; UCLA star Blue shot just 2-15.

Cal coach Joanne Boyle: "The kids looked over the scouting report and knew them like the back of their hand....Nikki Blue is a catalyst for getting them going. Jene [Morris] and Lexi [Gray-Lawson] did a really good job taking her out of her game."
Rutgers took out Texas on TV. Cappie scored 22; Rutgers' defense, or Texas' mistakes, gave the Longhorns 20 turnovers to just 9 assists.

Longhorn coach Conradt: "Their guards are really good. With the shot clock winding down on certain possessions, you knew one of them was going to take control and we didn't do well in stopping them."
Oklahoma beat New Mexico again. The Sooners walloped the Lobos, taking a huge lead at the half despite Courtney Paris' foul trouble-- the dominant frosh played just 22 minutes overall.

NC State beat George Washington despite GW's late comeback. Now 6-0 at home, NCSU get ready for Monday's game against still-unbeaten Virginia Tech, who had trouble Thursday against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

LSU pulverized South Florida, holding USF's Jessica Dickson-- who leads the country in scoring-- to less than half her season average. Was USF's overtime win over DePaul a fluke?

LSU's Fowles scored a career high; at one point the Tigers led by 49. LSU defensive specialist (and three-point threat) Scholanda Hoston: "The plan was team defense. They set a million screens for [Dickson] and every time I came off one there was a teammate there to help me out with a hand in her face."

Friday, December 30, 2005

Scott Skiles recalls the game where he set the NBA's assist record (30) in a game against Paul Westhead's Denver Nuggets. Asked if anyone will break that record, Skiles responded: "Maybe if Westhead comes back into the league."
Why SportsCenter sucks, chapter 21.
Big Ten conference play began last night. Surprising no one, Ohio State spanked Penn State in Columbus; the Buckeyes led by 18 at the half.

Purdue canned Wisconsin. The Boilermakers dominated the free throw line, landing six players in double figures, and holding Wisconsin scorers Anderson and Banks to a combined 8-for-26 from the field.

Frosh guard Jodi Howell broke out of a shooting slump. Purdue's coach Curry: ""If you're going to zone us, I'm going to come at you with a couple of shooters. It's nice to see Jodi get some confidence."

In a mild upset, Indiana overcame an injury-frazzled Iowa squad. Cyndi Valentin scored 20, and went 9-9 from the line, which isn't even unusual: she's a 96.9% (62-64) free-throw shooter this year.

Minnesota beat Northwestern in the Loyola-Chicago gym, which became a home away from home for the Wildcats after a wrestling tourney came to Evanston. Schonrock hit 4 of 7 trey attempts (she's approaching the Gophs' all-time record), but Minnesota overcame a disorienting start (and 21 turnovers) to win the game in the paint and from the line.

Gopher fans outnumbered Wildcat supporters in the near-empty gym. Coach Borton: "It's important to play in an environment like this. We usually play in front of 8,000 people at home. On the road in the Big Ten, sometimes you get that atmosphere, sometimes you won't. The players have got to motivate themselves. We had a slow start, but they did that well tonight."
Mike DeBonis at Slate reviews the bizarre institutional ads that run during televised college sporting events.
North Carolina needed overtime to beat ODU and remain undefeated. Ivory Latta had 33 points (9 in OT), 9 assists, and 6 rebounds.

Latta wasn't happy with the game. “We’re all disappointed in ourselves,” she said.

ODU coach Wendy Larry was still impressed. "Transitionally she's so tough to play," she said. "It's fun to watch her and it's unfortunate when you have to watch her when you're the opposing coach."
Debbie Arrington covers Giuliana Mendiola and her drive to make the WNBA.
Carol Slezak at the Sun-Times predicts good crowds for the Sky.

Philip Hersh at the Tribune says Candace Parker is living up to the hype. (Hat tip, Stever.)

"Could she be the next Mia? The next Serena?" coach Summitt wonders. "I think she could She has received an enormous amount of attention already."

Thursday, December 29, 2005

In an interview with the student paper yesterday, Courtney Wicks made some additional allegations against Rene Portland. She says, among other things, that during recruiting Rene promised that PSU was a "straight environment, a lesbian free environment."
Via Carol Anne, Post-Gazette sports editor Jerry Micco explains why his paper isn't covering the Rene Portland story more.
Frank: Why not talk to former Penn State players and coaches? Get a perspective from them? I have a cousin who played for Rene 10 years ago. I asked her at Christmas if the allegations were true. She said she was surprised that nobody had come forward sooner. It's been going on for years. Make a few calls, I'm sure there's a story there.

Micco: We are trying to reach people who are willing to talk on the record. It's much better if we can get folks who will use their name rather than be quoted anonymously. We have not given up on doing stuff on Portland and the entire situation at the University. We will continue to make calls and try to get folks to talk. If we can do that, and we're comfortable with the story, then we'll make a go of it. Also, Portland's stands against homosexuality are pretty public and were reported when they were news years ago. We're trying to concentrate on this case in particular, but we also are taking a look at other things.
Michigan State's Liz Shimek is still a fine player, but she's still 6'1"; last year Kelli Roehrig created space in the paint for Shimek to work. Without Roehrig, the nation's best posts can shut Shimek all the way down, and they can play their own interior game at will.

That's what happened when State played Tennessee, and it appears to be what happened last night: LSU held Liz to ten points on 5-14 shooting, and the Tigers pulled away for a big win. Sylvia Fowles (yes, she's still just a sophomore) had 20 points and 17 boards; LSU's long-range gun Scholanda Hoston had a breakout night with 19.

Coach Pokey: "So often Scholanda's defense overshadows her offense, but when you can get it done on both ends of the floor to the tune of 19 points and then also do a nice job on [Lindsay] Bowen on the defensive end, and also add five assists to zero turnovers, you're going to help your team be successful."

Coach McCallie: "I like to credit a coach and an opponent. I'm glad we have a game coming up."

Watch an entertaining tribute to Coach Pokey here.
Tennessee thrashed Temple in Philly. The Lady Vols racked up 32 from their bench, while the Owls got... none.

Candace Parker twisted her ankle in the first half, but returned to the floor and looked fine; Temple's Candice Dupree scored 17.
It's been a good week for the ACC. On Monday, it added a fifth team to the top 25 poll, and thus overtook the SEC as the conference with the most ranked teams. Yesterday it got another big win as BC beat Stanford.

The Eagles overcame a big halftime deficit. "They were outrebounding us and outhustling us in the first half," said Aja Parham, "and you never want to be outhustled in a basketball game."

Parham scored all of her 15 points in the second half.
Via pilight, a fascinating quote from Katie Feenstra on her move from Baylor Liberty, a school with anti-gay policies anti-gay policies, to the WNBA.

"I had to get used to that," Feenstra says. "We didn't have (lesbians) here. I'm totally comfortable with it now."

UPDATE: Freudian slip? I posted this, then went to the gym, then came back to about 15 emails from people reminding me that Feenstra played at Liberty, not Baylor. Yes... sometimes I get confused. Thank you, as always, for the corrections.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Fed up with Typepad, Timber has moved her blog to new digs at Blogger/Blogspot.

In her most recent entry, she compares T-Spoon to Stephon Marbury.
Via dts, Kristi Harrower has told the Lynx that if they don't trade her, she'll probably just stay in Australia next summer.
Alexis Hornbuckle called a team meeting after Wiley-Gatewood's departure to deal with the fallout. "Somebody you love and care for and tried to help suddenly up and leaves, that's a big blow to you," Shanna Zolman said. "You've lost a sister."

With Sa'de gone, Hornbuckle will start at point tonight against Temple. Zolman and Lindsay Moss will get some time at point also. Candace Parker may move from power forward to small forward.

A webcast of tonight's game will apparently be available on the CN8 website (thanks, reb).
From yesterday's Courant, a feature about Ketia Swanier and her family's experience with Hurricane Katrina.
'Tis the season for top-ten lists and end-of-the-year honors...

Matt Wurst presents the first annual "Dottie" Awards, for the best of the WNBA. Maria Stepanova wins "Best Short Feature." (D'oh!)

At AfterEllen.com, Sheryl Swoopes gets a mention as one of the biggest lesbian stories of the year.

Fox Sports has a compilation of 30 of the best photos from the 2005 women's basketball year... or at least 30 photos from the 2005 women's basketball year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Clay scouts prep elites. Take heart, UConn fans: Tina Charles looks good.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Five years ago doctors told UVA coach Debbie Ryan that she had pancreatic cancer, which kills most patients within a year of diagnosis.

Ryan is still coaching, and still winning. She's one of only eleven college coaches with 600 career wins, and her Cavaliers apparently look good: they're 7-1 on a decent (if not heroically difficult) schedule.
Via Carol Anne and Stever, it's a moving profile of promising Pitt center Mercedes Walker, who overcame a chaotic West Philly childhood to become one of the leading bigs in the Big East. Her team may not be going places this year, but she's come very far.

And via pilight, a Candace Parker interview, with Christmas fluff and also more durable quotes.

Parker: "A couple of days ago I dunked, and I thought, 'Wow, I actually dunked it.' And one of my teammates said, 'That's not a big deal anymore.' And I laughed, because it was funny how no one thinks it's a big deal anymore."

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas present for Sooner fans: Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood's stepfather says she'll likely end up at Oklahoma. (Good catch, mysticsfan.)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Iowa beat Creighton by coming back after a sluggish first half. Center Stacy Schlapkohl went down early with a knee injury: frosh backup post Megan Skouby scored 22.

If Schlapkohl's hurt knee takes her out for the season, she'll be the third Hawkeye starter, after Solverson and Richards, to lose her season due to knee injury this year.
The Penn State Pride Alliance has put together an archive of documents and articles from the Rene Portland case. It includes, most notably, some of the pre-internet newspaper articles discussing Rene's policies, including the 1986 Sun-Times article and Jere Longman's 1991 feature.

(Hat tip, BGP.)

Friday, December 23, 2005

Minnesota built a big lead over Iowa State, blew it all during the second half, but won anyway.

The visiting Cyclones attempted 32 treys, many of them early in the shot clock, because, apparently, that's what they do. The Gophers attempted 29, because, apparently, they couldn't figure out how to do much else against ISU's zone: frustrated for much of the second half, Minnesota slowed the game down and pulled in enough O-boards to get the win. Liz Podominick lit up the scoreboard early; Bolden and Calhoun hit crucial shots at the end.

Half the Cyclones had the stomach flu. Coach Bill Fennelly: "When you think about what our team did to stay in this game, Nicky Wieben leaving for the hospital last night, Lyndsey Medders is throwing up for two days, I thought it was a really hard-fought gutsy effort on our kids' part."
Voepel profiles Mary Struckhoff, the NCAA's new chief of zebras.

Struckhoff explains how she became an official, what other jobs she still holds (for the NCAA and the high school game), how she might get more ex-players to start officiating, and how refs must adapt to changes in the game.

Voepel: "Officials are far too easily caricatured, second-guessed, verbally abused and taken for granted. Even so, the rest of us will never be able to stop complaining."
Washington knocked off Stanford for the first big upset in Pac-10 conference play.

The Cardinal had a double-digit second half lead but by gave the ball away too much and allowed UW to fight back in. "I think this is the way it's going to be for us," coach Tara VanDerveer said. "We don't have a lot of room for error. We played poorly, and we were still in the game, we still had a chance to win. They out-worked us."

The home crowd was a big factor. "I mean my ears were ringing," Kayla Burt said. "I couldn't hear anything. It was such an unbelievable feeling. I think hats off to our fans. I have never been in a gym that loud in my entire career. It helped us so much."

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Jen Harris's federal complaint against Rene et al. is 71 pages long. I've been through it a couple times; here is an initial breakdown.


There is not much new in the factual narrative that hasn't been stated before either on OTL, in the papers, or in NCLR's previous press releases. NCLR has claimed that several other players will support its claims about discrimination, but the complaint does not include much additional information along those lines.

The complaint does, however, reference the experience of another "targeted" player. It alleges that during the '03-'04 year, Rene came to believe that this other player was gay. Rene allegedly attempted to ostracize that player as a "bad influence" and told Jen that the player was trying to "brainwash" her.

The player is unnamed in the complaint.


The complaint includes 20 causes of action against the various defendants. Many of them are overlapping. Here is a brief and nonexhaustive overview of the claims.

1. Gender discrimination in violation of state and federal constitutions, Title IX, and Pennsylvania antidiscrimination law.

These claims are, I think, the core of the case. Harris alleges that Portland pressured her to be feminine and non-gay. She says that Portland harassed and booted her because Harris "did not conform to the gender stereotype of femininity." Hopkins is the key case here.

2. Race discrimination in violation of state and federal constitutions, Title VI, and Pennsylvania antidiscrimination law.

Harris says that Portland carried out her discriminatory policies mostly against African American players. Harris also says that Portland pressured her not to wear her hair in cornrows, a style that "reflect[s]... African American identity."

3. Breach of contract.

This is an interesting claim. Harris alleges that her scholarship agreement incorporated PSU's antidiscrimination policy, and thus that by violating that policy, the defendants violated their contract with Harris.

She also alleges that Rene violated her own employment contract by violating the policy, and that Harris was an intended third-party beneficiary of that contract.

4. Procedural due process

Harris says that after she was kicked off, the defendants refused to afford her a hearing or any sort of appeal.

5. Substantive due process, right to reputation, other privacy torts

The substantive due process claim appears to be a sort of Lawrence claim. Harris says that she has a fundamental privacy interest in both her sexual orientation and her dress/appearance. She alleges that Rene violated that right.

She also alleges that Rene, by inquiring about private matters and publicizing false and harmful information about Harris (i.e., telling players that Harris was gay and a bad influence), violated state tort law and the state constitutional protection of the "right to reputation."

6. Defamation and retaliation.

When Harris initially went public with her claims, Rene responded with a press release saying that Harris was kicked off for nondiscriminatory reasons -- because she was a bad team player. Harris alleges that Rene's response was both defamatory and an act of retaliation in violation of Harris's First Amendment rights.


Harris is seeking compensatory damages of at least $50,000 as well as unspecified punitive damages.

She is also seeking a variety of non-monetary remedies. She asks the court (1) to order the defendants not to discriminate against other players, (2) to require annual anti-discrimination training for Portland and other employees, (3) to require PSU to adopt a better grievance and appeal procedure and to notify students and staff about the procedure, and (4) to require PSU to hire a full-time employee to monitor the athletic department's compliance with the school's antidiscrimination policy.
New Mexico State took New Mexico to triple overtime. UNM won; Dionne Marsh had 26 points and 10 rebounds, but 9 TOs.

A much better team on paper (the Lobos are 9-2, NMSU 2-7), UNM kept giving up offensive boards, and NMSU kept coming back.

New Mexico fans discuss the thriller in great detail. Next up for the Lobos: a rematch with Courtney Paris Oklahoma, who beat them last month in the preseason WNIT.
Michigan State mowed down Oklahoma for the Spartans' biggest win this year.

OU's Courtney Paris made State look like a team without a center. The first-year finished with 29 and 21; State couldn't do anything about it except foul her (she made most of her second-half free throws, too), and State's big run came when Paris had left the floor with two fouls.

But State played fast and smart; they made OU look like a team without guards-- and without power forwards, for that matter. Liz Shimek had a superb first half, ending up with 25 and 14; State's Haynes and Bowen shot well enough to protect the lead. (As the TV announcers noted again and again, Bowen thinks like a shooting guard, not like a point guard: she works best when she can get herself open and use screens.)

MSU coach McCallie praised Shimek and warned against overconfidence: "We're going against LSU next. We're going against the best center in the country, by far. I guess this is an interesting couple games."

Oklahoma guard Erin Higgins summed up: "Courtney can't win games by herself."
Via pilight, Wendy Carpenter explains how the WNBA tightened its schedule to avoid a conflict with the FIBA World Championshpis.
A day after filing its federal lawsuit on behalf of Jen Harris, NCLR explained that it still hopes to reach some sort of settlement with Penn State.

NCLR attorney Karen Doering said that they had reached tolling agreements with PSU and AD Tim Curley. Portland, however, did not respond to requests for a similar agreement, so NCLR was forced to file now to avoid statute of limitations problems.

Doering also said that now the suit has been filed, they will begin to subpoena former players.

Under Rule 12, the defendants have 20 days to file their answer. Those 20 days may or may not just happen to call over Christmas and New Year's.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Jen Harris has filed a federal lawsuit against Rene Portland, Athletic Director Tim Curley, and Penn State.

The complaint is available in this PDF. I'll have more thoughts on the case in the morning.
The Globe continues its "Road to Boston" series with a feature about TV coverage of the women's game.

ESPN director of programming Carol Stiff explains how they pick games.
We need to just be really, really smart. We select a few windows of opportunity and just a few games.. . We ask schools to play each other. Our goal is to program the best games that we're contractually obligated to do and sprinkle in some new matchups [to] try to develop a new Connecticut-Tennessee rivalry.
(HT, Carol Anne.)
Pac-10 conference play kicked off last night. The conference, as Mike Terry says, "continues to fight a lingering image of underachievement." (Sound familiar?)

UCLA and USC both won their openers, beating Oregon and Oregon State.

The Huskies used a big rebounding edge to beat Cal. Near the end of the game, Bears forward Ashley Walker fouled Breanne Watson hard; Watson had to be helped of the court. Fans booed, but coach Boyle denied that the hit was intentional.

Stanford pounded Washington State in Pullman. "You have to play a flawless game against Stanford, you really do -- and we didn't," coach Sherri Murrell said. The Cougars haven't beaten the Cardinal in 22 years.
Yesterday, Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood made an effort to distance herself from the comments she made in the Tennessean.

"There were other factors that were stressing me out," she told Dan Fleser. "I really can’t say. There’s a lot of stuff going on off the court and on the court. It’s a lot of stuff people don’t know about.’’

While Sa'de did damage control, however, her stepdad did damage. Jerry says Sa'de left UT because she didn't want to be a "role player."

He also suggests that Oklahoma is her most likely destination.
The WNBA has released its schedule for the 2006 season. The tip-off game is Sacramento at Phoenix on Saturday, May 20.

The first national TV game appears to be Connecticut at Minnesota on the 23rd, but that's not listed on the TV schedule. (UPDATE: now fixed.)

Last year the league announced that ESPN2 would carry a game every Monday; that's now been switched to every Tuesday. Either way, it's a great thing: "In essence we're delivering appointment viewing for WNBA fans. This consistent package of Tuesday night games on ESPN2, in particular, makes us easily accessible to our fan base."

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Temple stunned fans two weeks ago by losing at Stony Brook.

Last night the Owls began the climb back to respect, beating Georgia in overtime. With under 2 seconds left, Jen Owens' fourth three-pointer prevented a double OT.

UGA's do-everything post Tasha Humphrey had beautiful numbers, as usual-- but the rest of her team combined for just 38 points and 16 boards, which isn't going to get it done in the SEC. Temple star Candace Dupree had 17 and 9 before fouling out in the extra period.
Wiley-Gatewood, on her decision to leave the #1 team in the country:
I don't know about everybody else, but speaking for myself, this just wasn't my style. I felt like a robot while I was playing. I only had 12 assists in nine games, and I'm a passer. So how do you have 12 assists in nine games if you're a point guard?
Coach Summitt: "If it's that important to her to find an environment where she can play her game ... it's probably best for everybody."

The rumor mill contemplates her destination.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Truly surprising news: Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood is leaving Tennessee.
Waynes Drehs at ESPN.com has a great write-up of Tulane's return to New Orleans. The Green Wave rode their emotion to a victory over Central Connecticut.

"As many distractions as we had and as emotional as this week has been, I couldn't be happier with our performance," coach Lisa Stockton said. "We had a lot of pressure. The team really felt they had to win for our fans."
Sparked by Danyel Crutcher's 24 points and 11 boards off the bench, Illinois upset Oklahoma.

"I just feel real happy all of a sudden," Crutcher said. "I really enjoy practice and working hard."

"I don't know what box they've been hiding her in but they let her out today and she went crazy," said OU coach Coale. "Everybody played their role and did their job and we were miserable."
Notre Dame took out Utah in Vegas. The Irish had all 5 starters in double figures and a rebounding edge of 43-28.

Melissa D'Amico was named MVP of the Duel in the Desert tournament.
Storm COO Karen Bryant doesn't love having all of her players overseas in the offseason. They might get injured, and they can't help out with marketing efforts here.

This year has been harder than previous years. "I have never had nearly every player overseas," Bryant said. "I've always had access to two or three players from January to the start of training camp, so I'm concerned if this becomes a trend."

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Today the Tulane women will become the first team in any major sport to play a game in New Orleans since Katrina.

"This team is tremendously close because of this shared experience," coach Lisa Stockton said. "We have had so many distractions to deal with off the court. We have been in a different city, on a different campus and in different classes. The one thing we all recognized was the game. We came together every day in the gym. The basketball court was the only familiar thing in our lives."
UCSB was 1-6 entering yesterday's game against UCLA. Jessica Wilson made a driving layup at the end to tie it up, and the Gauchos went on to win in overtime.
Deadspin wants to see a battle of "Ray Allen and Danny Fortson against Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson for basketball supremacy of Seattle."
Babcock: "What a mess Rene Portland has gotten herself into."

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Shattering the Glass tells the story of American women's basketball from Senda Berenson's first game at Smith College, through the Val Ackerman era of the WNBA, the first ten-- or is it fifteen?-- years of the Geno-Pat rivalry, and the last game of the 2004 Olympics. It's a good read.

It's not quite an oral history, but it's based on what seem like thousands of interviews, and its great strengths involve coverage of the game in decades when it was hard to document, but from which living participants still remain-- roughly, from the Depression to the early Eighties.

It's illuminating on earlier periods, too: I learned, for example, that Berenson's father was a Jewish immigrant who began as a street peddler, and that her brother was the extraordinarily influential art collector Bernard Berenson, who all but told the Metropolitan Museum in New York what Italian paintings to buy.

Something else I didn't know, though it's no surprise: black Philadelphia in the 1930s was the center of a competitive adults' game just as exciting as anything played in the better-documented industrial and rec leagues of the upper South.

All good stories have not just heroes, but blocking agents, villains (sometimes well-intentioned) who get in the way. If the heroes are players and coaches who advanced the game, encouraging competitive girls and women to develop their talents and pursue their hopes, the principal blocking agents-- from the start of the century right up until the early 1970s-- were "physical educators," many or most of them women, who considered exercise good, but competition bad-- they didn't like games that made talent stand out. Instead the physical educators promoted school-wide "play days," where everyone got a workout, but nobody won.

The authors make clear that West Texas hoops success in the Fifties and Sixties has something to do with the big crowds Texas Tech draws today. They might have said more about what-- and who-- the game inherited from the postwar industrial-league era. Is Pat (Head) Summitt related to John Head, who coached the Nashville Business College teams of the 1950s, on which Sue Gunter played? Is N.C. State coach Kay Yow related to Virgil Yow, whose Hanes Hosiery teams dominated North Carolina just after the Second World War?

Some of the people the authors interviewed were pre-NCAA players who did not succeed in coaching careers. You've probably never heard of them, which is too bad: let us know if you ever saw Nera White play.

Other pre-NCAA players, of course, became prominent. My favorite anecdotes come from C. Vivian Stringer, whose high school had no girls' sports-- so she tried out for cheerleading. The school had both black and white students, but the cheer squad had only white kids. After Stringer failed to make cheerleader, the NAACP sent a rep to her house:

"I was upstairs doing my homework, and my father called me downstairs. The man said 'Look, I just want you to know that I was so hurt you didn't make the squad. You were clearly the best cheerleader there... Everybody in the gym knew it. We need you to allow us to go down and speak on your behalf."

Perhaps ten years later, Stringer was coaching at Cheyney State, a historically black college which she took to the Final Four in 1982. At the beginning she had to drive the team bus: "I'd slow down but not enough to stop because we weren't sure [the bus was] going to start again, so my assistant would crane her neck out the window [at intersections] and yell, 'Vivian, keep going, no one's coming.'" (Could this be the origin of the Rutgers pressure defense?)

The NCAA fought against the application to sports of Title IX almost all the way through the 1970s, while the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women ran national tournaments for college ball. No wonder the AIAW got angry when they learned that the NCAA wanted to take the game over; they ran competing tournaments for a few years. But the NCAA had the money to grow the game further-- the AIAW did not.

If you read this blog regularly you won't learn much from Shattering the Glass about current teams and institutions, nor much about the WNBA-- the remarkable access here is to the past. But that past is still evident, for example, in the structure of the institutions that now support women's hoops, and in what those institutions have done, or not done, to remedy their history of neglect.

Donna Lopiano, who now runs the Women's Sports Foundation, made an enormous impact as director of women's athletics at the University of Texas, which hired her to that new post in 1974. (It was Lopiano who hired Jody Conradt in 1976.)

Lopiano told the authors: "I stayed in sport because I had been denied the chance to play Little League. I always regretted that I never got a chance to see how good I could have been pitching a baseball."

How many other departments, programs, conferences, leagues, took shape-- or didn't take shape-- because an inspired woman had earlier been denied something that she deserved? And how many more now depend on Title IX?

Friday, December 16, 2005

WNBA fans have long clamored for more substantive content, and less fluff, on the league's website.

Matt Wurst, the site's editor, has responded with excellent work in his "Offseason Blog" and other features.

Yesterday he posted an interview with Wade Morehead, the WNBA's Senior Director, Basketball Operations. Morehead explains the league's new rules. "Our goal is for the game to evolve into a free-flowing, less physical, team brand of basketball that puts the athletes on a stage where they can succeed and entertain our fans."
In Rene news...

Via email yesterday, Centre Daily reporter Anne Danahy confirmed that she and another reporter have talked to "a couple more" former PSU players (in addition to Strom and Coleman) who say they never heard Rene say anything bad about lesbians. NCLR has said that it has talked to other players and staff who will say otherwise.

I've been critical, implicitly or explicitly, of the way PSU has handled this matter in the press. In the public statements of various spokespeople, the school has sounded defensive, intransigent, and far from neutral — not what you'd hope from a public university that is committed to ideals of pluralism and non-discrimination, and that is honestly hoping to discover the truth.

I asked Helen Carroll about that. She said that regardless of how the athletic department and the spokespeople come across, the university lawyers have been "sharing and working toward a common goal."

Regardless of outcome, that's good to hear.

In case you missed it, here is the complaint filed by Harris with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. The last few pages describe Harris's allegations in some detail.

In programming news, the OTL bit on Rene will be played on the 6 PM SportsCenter, probably around 6:40 eastern.

Tomorrow night Penn State public TV will air a special called "Rene Portland: Celebrating 25 Years at Penn State." Joe Pa, Suzie McConnell Serio, and Kelly Mazzante, among others, will pay homage to their pal Rene.
If you had the #1 pick and could take any player, any class, what would you do? Parker? Augustus?

Maybe Sylvia Fowles.

Fowles absolutely abused Jessica Davenport last night on national TV. Davenport had 9 points outside the arc last night (yes, really); in the post, she shot 2 for 10 and had only 5 rebounds. Fowles had 25 points on 11 for 15 and pulled down 16 boards.

Fowles blocked 4 shots and altered a dozen more. She deflected away a half dozen post-feed passes. OSU couldn't get the ball to Davenport, and when it did, she couldn't score over Fowles's huge body.

The result: an LSU rout.

"We knew she was the head of the snake," Fowles said. "We made the assumption that if we took her away, if we slowed her down it would affect the rest of the team."

"It was physical out there," Davenport said.

"The chances of us having an upside and improving are greater than theirs, because Augustus and Fowles aren't getting any better," OSU coach Foster said smiling. "The goal is to make Jess and Brandie of that level. There's a toughness and competitiveness about that basketball team that we don't have right now."

(Graham Hays looks very smart.)
ESPN loves it some Candace Parker. The Vols had an easy win over La Tech last night, and Candace made enough highlight plays to fill a couple minutes of SportsCenter. She finished with 18 and 7.

Don't tell it to Pat. "It's a win," she said. "Am I pleased with how we played? Absolutely not... If this team doesn't learn what rebounding is, someone is going to drill them and maybe they'll figure it out."

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Dan Weil profiles Mystics owner Sheila Johnson.

"My financial advisors said 'why own a women's team, they aren't making money,'" Johnson says. "But I said that's how the NBA started too. Let's make it work."

In a separate feature, Weil names Johnson as the second most powerful woman in sports, behind Sharapova, but ahead of Donna O.

UPDATE: a reader notes that the first article, while listed as one day old, was actually written last summer. Stupid Google news.
Rutgers has had some close calls this season. Last night the luck ran out as the Knights fell to Mississippi.

"They can take our spot [in the rankings]. They certainly played better than we did," coach C. Vivian Stringer said. "This should be a wake-up call for us. It doesn't surprise me. Frankly, we've been floating through some games we should have lost."

The Rebs were thrilled. "You try to schedule games that give you a chance to change the course of your program," coach Carol Ross said. "It was a big win, no question. When you do something against a team from the East, it has a ripple effect across the country."

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Graham Hays says that with Caity Matter gone, Ohio State is not a true contender.
In recent wins against Boston College and USC, two programs nowhere near as strong as they have been in recent seasons, the Buckeyes revealed the kind of flaws that ought to keep the Columbus faithful from scouting out restaurants around Faneuil Hall.
South Carolina upset Minnesota for its first win over a ranked opponent since 2003. "We felt like we should've beat [Texas and Purdue] in the Bahamas," Shannel Harris said. "So we came into this game and we knew what we were capable of and we felt like we could beat this team as well." Harris led the Gamecocks with 13.

The Gophs are now 0-2 on the road. "It's easy to play at home," coach Borton said.
Melanie Jackson wonders how many records Courtney Paris will break at Oklahoma.
More on the WNBA/FIBA conflict: Opals coach Jan Stirling says that Aussies who head to the W risk being left out of the world championships.

"The reality is, and I'm being very open with this . . . if seven players go to the WNBA for 2006, those seven players will not all be picked for the world championship team," Stirling said. "It just can't possibly happen. That does open the door for a number of these players right now. We don't know who's going to the WNBA and so forth. We have a responsibility to our nation to prepare a team and we can't do it with seven in the WNBA."

Stirling says she hopes that she only has to deal with two or three players returning from the U.S. Lauren Jackson and Penny Taylor are automatic selections for the team, meaning that Suzy Batkovic, Tully Bevilaqua, Kristi Harrower, Belinda Snell, and Laura Summerton risk losing their spots if they come up next year.

LJ again discussed 2008, and says that she hopes to stay home and prepare for the Olympics. "You know, I'm at the stage now where I've achieved everything that I need to achieve except a gold medal and that's what I'm aiming for," she said.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The OTL feature on Rene Portland aired Sunday. The local papers -- Centre Daily, Altoona Mirror, and the Collegian -- get around to covering it today. The papers' coverage of the story is fascinating in its own right. The Collegian's report is downright bizarre.

On the show, Jen Harris repeated her claims that Portland hounded her about whether she was gay before kicking her off the team. Jen's mother recounted how Rene had used anti-gay recruiting tactics.

Courtney Wicks, who played at Penn State in the late 90s before transferring, also attested to Portland's anti-gay stance. She described an incident where the team attended a pro game. Portland made remarks about the lesbian fans, and after the game, launched into a "full-fledged gay-bashing." Wicks's older sister Nichole is gay.

Wicks had previously described her reasons for leaving Penn State this way:
My problems with (Portland) started in October of my freshman year. I kind of saw a different person than the one who came into my home. It's not the stuff on the court that gets you. Everything that is totally irrelevant to basketball is what gets you. She makes the irrelevant stuff relevant.
Wicks told the Centre Daily yesterday that Portland's anti-gay policy was a "firm" and "public stance." On OTL, she criticized Penn State for failing to protect its student-athletes.

The core of the OTL feature was an interview with Cindy Davies, a stand-out high school player who arrived at Penn State around the same time Portland did.

At some point, Rene learned that Davies was dating a female student manager. She called Davies in for a meeting and threatened to out Davies to her parents and the media. (Liz McGovern was a grad assistant at the time and was part of the meeting; she confirmed Davies's account.) Davies quit the team rather than face the humiliation Portland had threatened.

Davies tearfully described how she had struggled with depression following her experiences with Portland.

Davies, or at least someone purporting to be Davies, has been posting on the Penn State board under the monikers KDW35 and CLD35. (Warning: that board is a fucked up place. Enter at your own risk.)

The university responded to the new information yesterday. "[T]he policy is very clear, and we can't do anything about students who choose not to come forward with complaints, said spokesman Tysen Kendig. "If they don't come forward to file a formal complaint, I'm not sure what specific action the university could initiate." (Yes, God forbid that in the course of a neutral investigation pursuing the truth, the school would actually pick up the phone and call former players.)

In the Centre Daily today, two former players defended Portland. "When I played there from 1990 to 1995 I never heard those comments," said Carla Coleman "It was never directed to me. It was never said in my presence." (Perhaps she was sleeping during the entire month of March 1991).

Said Jess Strom: "A lot of stuff is being said about her, but she really did anything for us and she still would."

Two short clips of the OTL feature can be viewed in the Motion Video box on the ESPN page. A shortened version of the show will be aired tonight and tomorrow night at 12:40 eastern on ESPN, and tomorrow morning 7:40 eastern on ESPN2.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Lauren Jackson is already thinking about 2008.

Rather than playing in the WNBA, she would like to stay with the Opals and get ready for Beijing. LJ has proposed that she and others should get paid enough that they can stay home and practice with the team.

"Unfortunately the money says we have to go back there, especially those who have a house and have to pay it off," she said. "I think it would be awesome if we could stay, especially before the next Olympics."
Over the weekend, Babcock caught up with Stacey Dales-Schuman, who explained her reasons for taking the year off.
I was kind of getting a little burned out on it. I mean, I’ve been playing basketball pretty much nonstop since I was 8. It just seemed like I didn’t have the same passion I used to and I didn’t want to jeopardize that. It was good for me to step away.
USC had a chance to upset Ohio State but couldn't quite pull it off.

Mike Terry: "With all the progress the USC women's basketball team has made the past year and a half, the Trojans still haven't defeated a good team when the game was there for the taking."

Coach Mark Trakh: "We're getting there. There were a lot of things that were encouraging. They're a darn good team and we were right there in the last two to three minutes."

The Trojans did a decent job containing Jess Davenport, who had 15 points on 4 for 11 shooting. "She had a workman like basketball game," said OSU coach Foster. "She got a lot of rebounds, affected a lot of shots, and made a lot of good passes. She showed today that she's not a one-dimensional player, that she can affect the basketball game without having to score a ton of points."

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Monarchs (and Kings) aren't the only pro teams who might relocate if they don't get a new or expanded venue: there's now an arena hassle in Seattle.

Sonics/ Storm exec Terry McLaughlin wants to renegotiate the KeyArena, and soon: "We can't deal with that problem later. We need some decision immediately." The teams have supposedly lost $58 mil over the past five years.

Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata: "I think that there is a significant difference between making KeyArena work for the public and subsidizing the Sonics." (And the Storm.)
Pat Summitt will no longer consult for the Washington Mystics.

The Mystics' chief operating officer: "She helped us build a strong system." (No, she didn't.)
Defending not-quite-champion Michigan State fell out of the top ten (rightly) this year after being dismantled by Tennessee and losing to Maryland in the Virgin Islands. They're still in the poll, but they haven't beaten anyone else who is.

Last night, though, they stifled South Florida in Tampa. USF star Jessica Dickson scored 25, but Liz Shimek topped that with 28; State never trailed.

Can the solid win boost State's damaged rep? It might.
Wisconsin-Green Bay has been pretty good for a while-- they make the Big Dance, and last year nearly beat Minnesota.

In fact, they've been good enough that head coach Kevin Borseth got offered a Big XII job, which he turned down, saying he'd stay in Green Bay until he retired.

This year his team already has three losses, including a blowout at Indiana State; they needed overtime to beat Northern Illinois.

Last night they couldn't keep up with DePaul at DePaul. The Blue Demons led by 25 at the half. The loss is no surprise, but the blowout might be: the Phoenix couldn't remotely compete on the boards.

UWGB lost (to graduation) Tiffany Mor, a real post who could shoot lots of threes, but still has scorer Nicole Soulis. Is this a down year for them? How far down will it be?

DePaul needed the win after this week's loss to unranked USF. Their rebounding prowess comes largely from Khara Smith, whose dad played for the NBA Clippers: she talks about him in the Chicago Sun-Times.
Oklahoma overcame the school formerly known as Southwest Missouri State in Springfield. OU had nearly twice as many rebounds as SMS Missouri State, but nearly three times as many turnovers, too. Courtney Paris had 15 points and 18 boards despite scoring nothing at all in the first half.
Last week the Gophers took a huge lead over Nebraska, then had real trouble holding it.

Last night, they had foul trouble, but no other trouble, steamrolling Washington State. Jamie Broback tallied 16 points and six assists in 22 minutes, including a nifty behind-the-back dribble through multiple defenders, bringing the ball almost all the way down the court, to find 5'6" Shannon Schonrock undefended in perfect position for a layup. (The guy behind us then exclaimed, "SportsCenter!")

Wash State came in 6-1, but without having played a top 25-- or, really, a top 50-- opponent. Their head coach sounded bummed out: "Our kids didn’t compete."
Unusual news in D3 ball this weekend: Macalester won its first game in about two years.

Last year the college decided to cancel its season; this year, not just the coach but almost all the players are new, making this their first-ever win. One of Steve's advisees appears to have had a double-double.

For national D3 hoops news all year long (both men and women), follow the aptly-named D3hoops.com.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Rene Portland OTL episode will feature interviews with Jen Harris and two other former Penn State players.

Penn State refused to participate because it might have been confronted with a "surprise guest," according to spokesman Bill Mahon.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Voepel weighs in on the Rene Portland- Jen Harris maelstrom:

"A victory over Liberty would have meant a 20-win season the year after losing star Kelly Mazzante. That would have been quite satisfactory for the program. So it appears Portland was willing to use Harris just long enough to try to get that.

"Penn State has stuck behind its long-term employee, of course, and not the young woman who came there to represent the school and get an education. Welcome to college athletics... When relationships go bad between a player and a coach, almost all of the time it's the player who's sent packing. Sometimes, deservedly so. But is this one of those times?"

Read the whole thing. Ted fills in the backstory here.
On Sunday morning, Outside the Lines will do a feature on the Rene Portland case. Representatives from NCLR will be interviewed live.

The show is scheduled to air on ESPN at 9:30 AM eastern.

I'm guessing Rene won't appear. Maybe Franco Harris will stand in.
Bummer for fans of exciting point guards: Carla Cortijo may miss some time, perhaps the entire year, due to a re-aggravated knee injury.

Cortijo, who injuried her ACL last year, missed yesterday's game after her knee "felt loose" in practice earlier this week. Said coach Conradt:
Carla has felt a dramatic difference in last few days with that knee. There was no traumatic injury... We took the day off Monday and came back Tuesday and Carla said her knee really was not feeling right. To her, it feels loose and lax. She had a graft on her ACL, and sometimes those grafts become stretched or loosened. None of those are good scenarios, so we will see. She will be evaluated on Monday and get a second opinion. I hope we will have good news, but adversity is part of athletics.
Adversity indeed: the Horns have also lost Earnesia Williams for the year.
UConn rebounded from the UNC disaster and beat Villanova. Ann Strother had 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists.

"That's the way I need to play all the time," Strother said. "And I'm mad that it kind of took something like the Carolina game to make me feel that way, but that's just the way I need to play every single game from here on out."
Adrian McGowan of Goodrich, Texas has broken the national high school scoring record. The record of 4,506 had been held by Missy Thomas of Gibsland-Coleman HS in Louisiana. McGowan passed it earlier this week. She will attend Texas A&M next year.

You can watch a clip of Adrian by checking out the Motion Video box on the right side of the ESPN women's basketball page.
Voepel considers coach Stringer's emotional return to Iowa last weekend.

Stringer, after the Rutgers win: "I'm happy I came back. But I can say this to you: We'll have to discuss it, but I'm not sure that I want to schedule Iowa [again]. I just love them too much to compete like that...

"I just want to thank all the fans for their kindness and what they've meant to me and my family. I wish I could thank them all individually.

"You almost have to burn some of those memories out of your mind."

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Stormblogger Patrick evaluates the W's rule changes.
Stony Brook upset Temple in a thriller on Long Island. Owls All-American Candice Dupree lit up with 23 points and 16 boards, but her team turned the ball over 23 times and made just 7 of 18 free throws. Temple's Kamesha Hairston nearly managed a comeback anyway.

Coach Dawn Staley's squad has now lost two one-possession games in a row. The win belongs to ex-Monarchs (and ex-ABL Long Beach Stingrays) coach Maura McHugh, whose Seawolves had never played (much less beaten) a ranked team.
Remembering that Lynx fans are Lynx fans all year, the Strib keeps tabs on Cappie, Augustus and Currie, potential #1 picks in next year's pro draft.
Coming to a bookstore near you, at least if you live in or near Connecticut: Geno, by Geno and SI writer Jackie McMullan (who earlier coauthored Larry Bird's autobiography).

Chapter one, online here, describes his parents in wartime Italy, his childhood as an Italian immigrant, his struggles in high school and college, and (literally) "hot coals that seared my flesh":

"Because of my background, because of where I come from, I have this feeling that I have to constantly prove myself—over and over again, just like when I was seven years old, trying to fit in, trying to show everyone I was just as good as they were.

"Every game, every practice, every possession, I need to get it right. I need to make it perfect. And, of course, I never do."

(Thanks, DTS.)
Purdue upset Notre Dame, the first time the Boilermakers beat a ranked team this year. The Boilers kept up the pressure on ND star guard Megan Duffy; Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton had maybe her best game ever, cueing a decisive first-half run.

Coach Muffet McGraw didn't make the trip to West Lafayette, missing her third game due to undisclosed illness. It was the first loss this season for the Fighting Irish, who have never won at Mackey Arena.
South Florida upset DePaul in Tampa. Khara Smith scored 17 on 8-10 shooting, but USF's Jessica Dickson racked up 35; USF won in overtime despite using just six players-- Dickson and Shantia Grace played all 45 minutes.

USF coach Jose Fernandez: "This is a big win for us.” (Sure is.) “We went out and scheduled North Carolina, LSU, Michigan State, and a lot of people thought I was crazy, but we want to contend against the Top 25 teams from around the country. For the kids to come out and play the type of game that they played tonight was tremendous.”

Going into the contest, DePaul was undefeated and had the highest AP ranking in Blue Demon history. It was both teams' Big East opener, and both teams' first-ever Big East conference game.

You may be hearing more about Dickson soon.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Boston Globe is running a "Road to Boston" series to get the city ready for the Final Four.

Today Amalie Benjamin profiles OSU's Jessica Davenport. The message is frightening to opponents: Davenport is dominant already, and she's still improving. Says Jess:
I think I can be a lot better. I'm the person who puts the most pressure on myself. My game right now is not totally where I want it to be. Just because I got a lot of accolades last year doesn't mean I'll get them this year. Communication, defense, rebounding, I don't think any part of my game is where I want it to be. I'm my own worst critic.
Arizona State continued its hot start with a win over New Mexico. The Devils shot 51% from the floor and out-rebounded the Lobos 37-24.

"I couldn't be more prouder of the team," said Turner Thorne.

ASU sought to tire out New Mexicos starters, who typically play big minutes. "I think we wanted to try to wear down those players," Regan
Pariseau said
. "We knew coming in that they play a lot of minutes; I thought we did a good job of that."

ASU is now 7-1, including wins over Vandy and Western Kentucky. Their only loss was at UNC, by 7 points.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The WNBA Board of Governors has approved three rule changes for next year: (1) four quarters instead of two halves, (2) a 24-second shot clock instead of a 30-second shot clock, and (3) possessions rather than jump balls to begin the last three quarters.
North Carolina annihilated UConn. The final margin was 23 points — Geno's worst home loss ever — and the game wasn't even really that close.

Coach Auriemma:
For the first time in 20 years, I didn't know what to say. I'm sitting there speechless. That's not me. Coaches coach. They instruct. They direct. At the end of the game, I'm powerless. I'm sure they're just as frustrated. There's a lot of soul-searching that has to go on. Maybe we just don't have it in us. Maybe we're just not good enough.
Ann Strother:
It was embarassing to the program, to everyone that's played here, to the name on our jersey. It was embarassing. They just came in and walked all over us and we didn't do anything about it.
Jeff Jacobs wonders whether these Huskies just don't have the horses, especially at one position: "The point is Carolina has a championship point guard. UConn does not."

UConn fans applauded Latta when she went out of the game. "It was a great honor," she said. Latta was fabulous, as were her teammates. The 'Heels — long, fast, athletic, confident — looked like an NBA team playing a college game.

Geno said that his players "just don't have the confidence to play here." After last night, they have even less.
The Paris twins considered UCLA before choosing Oklahoma. Last night Coach Olivier got to see what she missed up close. Courtney had 24 and 22, and the Sooners won.

Kendra Moore also had a terrific game. “She made some big-time plays,” said coach Coale. The Sooners improved to 8-1; the Bruins fell to 4-3.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Wisconsin goes 0 and 3 against midwest Catholic schools.

#11 Notre Dame traveled to Madison to take on the Badgers Sunday. After losing to Depaul in Hawii, looking terrible in a Friday night loss to Marquette, the Badgers bounced back with an excellent effort against the Irish. In a hard fought game which saw lead changes and fine play on both sides of the ball for both teams, the Irish pulled out a 77-72 road victory at the Kohl Center.

Potential WNBA pick Megan Duffy had 20 and 6 with 5 assists - her team shot 55%. The game was in doubt until Duffy sank 6 free throws in the final minute of play. As good as Duffy is, the Irish also have a fun frosh to watch in 6' guard Lindsey Schrader, who dropped in 13 points on 6-6 shooting.

Perhaps the biggest surprise for this spectator was the play of Wisconsin Frosh Caitlin Gibson. Gibson started her first game in place of the injured Kjersten Bakke. After looking a bit tentative in the opening minutes, Gibson emerged as a force on the inside, scoring 12 points on 6-10 shooting and collecting 5 boards in 24 minutes. She brought to mind another center from small town Wisconsin and looks to have the potential to be a great inside compliment to super sophomore Jolene Anderson.

The good news for the Badgers is that they aren't scheduled to play any more Catholic schools this season (No, the Nittany Lions don't count...).
In a much-anticipated homecoming, Rutgers took out Iowa in Iowa City, with the sort of close, low-scoring game Rutgers seems to like.

The Hawkeyes got to the line, sinking 15 of 19 freebies, but couldn't get to the glass: unheralded Rutgers post Mariota Theodoris pulled down 16 of Rutgers' 40 boards.
Crystal Langhorne had 30 points (14 for 15) and 10 rebounds in 21 minutes yesterday. Yow!

"I was just getting the ball in the right places," she said. "My teammates were getting me the ball. [Mount St. Mary's] really wasn't doubling me that much so it made it a lot easier for me."
When Stanford came up to the Barn two weeks ago, Candice Wiggins looked unstoppable, Kristen Newlin proved herself a legit big, and Brooke Smith-- the power forward much-touted for her hook shot-- made clear that she'd score in bunches if you let her. The way to beat Stanford, as the Gophers proved, was to double Smith, help out on Wiggins, rebound a lot, use post depth if you have it, and make the Cardinal shoot from outside.

That's what Tennessee did yesterday, and it worked.

Stanford looked much better at home (and on TV) than they did at Minnesota-- more Cardinal players attempted, and made, more threes, and Newlin was an absolute hero, with a double-double and a career high.

But it wasn't enough to beat Tennessee. Shanna Zolman went nuts (21 points on 8-13 shooting). Candace Parker had her own double-double. And Newlin, at times, looked all alone in the paint: Stanford fought back from a seven-point halftime gap to tie the game at 47, but Newlin then picked up her fourth foul, and by the time she came back the Lady Vols had the momentum. Soon they had the lead.

Parker is tired of questions about dunking; Brooke Smith is even more tired after guarding Parker most of the game. Smith on Parker: "She's extremely versatile. She's mobile. She's long and lanky. She turns around and her arms just keep going.'' Parker and Wiggins played together for USA Basketball this summer, where their nicknames were "Ace" and "Ice."

It's been almost nine years since the Cardinal beat Tennessee. Stanford coach Vanderveer, on the sellout crowd: "People feel really disappointed and really hurt by the loss. We're not excited to be close."
Before the season started, Texas and Texas Tech were picked to finish second and third in the Big 12. They were ranked 12th and 13th in the first AP poll. They have both had rough starts.

Tech's first month has been downright disastrous. At 2-4, they limped into the Happy Valley yesterday to face a weak Penn State squad.

Much of the nationally-televised game was ugly. The Raiders scored only 16 points in the first half. The teams combined shot 32% in regulation. Listening to Nancy Lieberman kiss Rene Portland's ass (oh, the irony!) was probably too much for many viewers. And Tennessee-Stanford was on Fox.

But the end got crazy. Erin Grant hit a three then a two to tie the game in the last minute. At the end of OT, she made the best play of the WCBB year — with 3.2 seconds, she got the ball, ran the floor, and pulled up for another three to tie the game again. In the second OT, however, the Lions pulled away. Kamela Gissendanner (who?) couldn't be stopped; she hit shot after shot and won the game.

Tech coach Marsha Sharp was proud of the comeback effort. But the result was the same, and the Raiders early-season woes continued.

Texas's slow start, while not as bad as Tech's, has been more puzzling. With Jackson, Norman, and Arriaran, among others, the Horns are loaded with talent. But they haven't looked like a top team yet; they fell to the Lobos, beat South Carolina and GW by slim margins, and lost their pants in Knoxville.

Yesterday, Texas hosted Duke. The Horns looked solid for most of the game, finally playing the way you'd expect, but they couldn't hang on — the Devils pulled away in the final nine minutes.

"We fought hard and just couldn't finish the job," coach Conradt said. "I wanted the team to play with determination, courage and fight. I'll give them an 'A' in all those categories."

(Carla Cortijo, my new favorite player in all of women's basketball, didn't shoot well but was still incredibly fun to watch.)

Texas may be poised to pull everything together. Tech, on the other hand, may be in for a long season. Erin Grant is capable of heroics... but she can't beat good teams (or even so-so teams) on her own.
Minnesota ran out to a huge early lead on the Huskers Saturday and then decided that it could mail in the rest of the game. Kiera Hardy refused to go along with the plan. Nebraska pulled even and even took a small second-half lead. The Gophers found out that it's easy to give up momentum, but hard to get it back.

"The first 17 minutes was an indication of how great we can be," coach Borton said. Yes, and the next 17 minutes were an indication of how bad you can be.

Hardy and Jamie Broback, the game's two best players, had to sit much of the second half with foul trouble. When Hardy came back, she went cold — she called her fourth foul the turning point of the game.

When Broback came back, she just won the game.

(Some young Gopher fans were frightened by the whole ordeal. See below.)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Some of us thought Ohio State-- led by post juggernaut Jess Davenport-- wouldn't get a real test this year till they played LSU. We were wrong.

Yesterday OSU defeated Boston College... in overtime, behind a Marscilla Packer trey. Double- and triple-teams held Davenport to 12 points on 4-9 shooting. BC center Ress scored 16 and got a double-double.

OSU coach Foster: "I think we were lucky to have a fresh start and go out and get a chance to win the game. I liked our team a lot in overtime. I didn't like us for the first 38 minutes."

Big Ten coaches scramble for tape of the game.
Temple lost at home for the first time in 14 games: the Owls turned the ball over a startling 26 times, and Florida took advantage.

Temple's Kamesha Hairston scored 24, but Owl All-American Candice Dupree had just 8. Gator coach Carolyn Peck: "We were able to keep Candice Dupree in single digits and that was a key."
DePaul held on to a big first-half lead to beat Purdue, who shot badly and couldn't keep up on the boards. Khara Smith got another double-double.

This year DePaul joins the Big East. Fans say Big East titans UConn and Rutgers should watch out.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

This week, Ashlee Trebilcock announced she would transfer from UCLA after only playing in four games.

Trebilcock was a prep All-American and a highly-touted guard who was part of UCLA's plan to replace senior point guard, Nikki Blue, and senior guard, Lisa Willis, both of whom will go very high in the 2006 WNBA Draft.

With Trebilcock's announcement, UCLA head coach Kathy Olivier is now on the hot seat. She has been at UCLA for over a decade, but has not achieved the on-court success that many expect out of one of the best athletic programs in the country.

In the late 1990s, UCLA reached the Elite Eight with Erica Gomez, a tough-as-nails point guard; Maylana Martin, a fluid/finesse post in the mold of Nicole Ohlde; and Janae Hubbard, an undersized banger in the paint. However, the following season, UCLA underachieved, despite returning those three players. Prep phenom (and Gomez' replacement at the point) Nicole Kaczmarski transferred from UCLA, leaving a big whole in the backcourt.

Blue, Willis, and Noelle Quinn (a junior guard/wing), form one of the most talented 1-2-3 combinations in the country. However, UCLA has not really been the threat on the national scene that people expected. In addition, very talented high school players were either leaving California for college or attending other PAC-10 institutions.

In late spring, assistant coach Tia Jackson announced she was leaving UCLA after five seasons to take an assistant coaching position at Duke. Tia was UCLA's best recruiter and someone who was very popular with the players. She was instrumental in the recruiting of Blue, Willis, and Quinn, as well as Lindsey Pluimer, a former McDonald's All-American. More importantly, Tia was able to get recruits to make official visits to UCLA who might not have otherwise.

With Blue and Willis graduating this year, Olivier is under even more pressure. The Bruins have not had the on-court results expected of a team with its talent. More importantly, the other PAC-10 teams are either pulling away from UCLA or starting to supplant the Bruins. Arizona State has risen to prominence under Charli Turner-Thorne. Stanford is still a national force and has brought in Candice Wiggins (Class of 2004) and Jayne Appel (Class of 2006), two of the top players in California high school basketball and top-10 recruits nationally. USC, under Mark Trakh, is bringing in the top recruiting class in the nation next year, including Jackie Gemelos, who spurned UCLA for USC after de-committing from UConn, and three other top-40 recruits. Joanne Boyle (another former Duke assistant) has taken over at Cal, with a tremendous freshman class and a great reputation as a recruiter and an Xs and Os coach.

Olivier is in the final year of her contract. For an athletic program with over 100 national championships in its history, located in the state with top-tier talent in the high school ranks, and with conference rivals who appear to be supplanting the Bruins on the national scene and in the conference, will the administration decide to offer her an extension? Or will the university decide to go in a different direction? For the good of the UCLA women's program, I hope UCLA chooses the latter.