Women's Hoops Blog: January 2007

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Tulsa Rotary Club will honor Dawn Staley with the Henry P. Iba Citizen Athlete award.
Could Atlanta be returning to its Glory days? Downtown business organization Central Atlanta Progress announced the formation of an eight-person committee that will try to land a WNBA franchise for the city by the 2008 season.
Here is the press release for the Comets sale.
Still unproven on the road, Rutgers remained really good at home, taking down Marquette. Carson scored 25, a career high.

If-- and it may be a big if-- UConn takes care of Marquette in Milwaukee on Saturday (we'll be there!), the Big East title could come down to the final day.
Dick Patrick profiles the leading scorer in the Pac-10, Casey Nash of Oregon State. The senior is averaging nearly 21 points a game, after coming off the bench her first three seasons.
Three days after shocking Oklahoma, Texas A&M needed every second to beat Oklahoma State: Danielle Gant's final free throw ensured the win.

Gant finished with 16, A&M defensive ace LaToya Michaux with 15. Atunrase, who usually leads the Aggies' scoring, came off the bench and didn't take a shot; perhaps her ankle injury on Saturday hurt worse than it first appeared.
You wouldn't know it from reading the Houston Chronicle, but the Comets sale will be announced at a press conference today.

Wurst mentions the sale in his blog. He also links to several minor rule changes for the upcoming season.

He also promises that "new things" are on the way that "will bring an entirely new and different look to the WNBA in 2007." (Unitards?)
UConn nearly fell apart in Cincinnati, but Kaili McLaren came through.

The Huskies blew a twelve-point halftime lead amid a river of silly fouls, non-rebounds, and miscues; the Bearcats wanted it more. But McLaren, with four fouls herself, blocked three shots in a row, Thomas and Montgomery hit big treys, and UConn did just enough to notch its 700th win.

Charde Houston started, but sat after four minutes and never returned. Injury? Freud? Geno isn't saying: "I just don't think she gave us a chance to win," he non-explained. "So we decided to go in a different direction."

The Bulletin's Joe Perez gives Kaili her due: "I knew I just had to tough it out," said McLaren. A slowdown offense compensated for her stamina troubles, letting her catch her breath and key the win.

For the Bearcats, who led with four minutes left, it's a huge might-have-been. "I'm proud of their effort," coach Pirtle says; "we've got to find a way to finish."

Greene scored 20; Bearcats reserves Ogide and Humphries keyed the near-upset with 11 and 12.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Via tennis2 - the K-State Collegian looks at sports and spirituality at the school. Not surprisingly, some of the article focuses on Deb Patterson and the women's basketball team.

"I didn't feel like what Coach P was doing was a good influence on me spiritually," Shanda Murdoch said. "As a woman in her position, she had a chance to have a huge positive impact on everyone in her program, as a Christian as well as a leader. I felt like she abused her roles as both."
Maybe the WNBA's front office (and others) can learn a lesson from the NBA's Toronto Raptors. On Friday, February 23, they'll host Rainbow Hoops Night. The event is named for Rainbow Hoops, a lesbian-positive women’s recreational basketball league that is using the event as a fundraiser, a way to encourage team spirit, and a way to develop an interest in basketball among the gay community in Toronto.
“I am thrilled that the Raptors are supporting our community,” says Nel Gomes, a member of the Rainbow Hoops league, which plays its games at a Toronto community center. “We don’t have a WNBA team in Toronto, and often women’s sports are not given the same amount of media exposure that men’s professional teams are. It’s a real treat to see the Raptors showcasing the importance of basketball among women, as well.”
The race for the Big 10 title may have been decided last night as the Buckeyes downed the Boilers 64-55 in West Layfayette. It is the only regular season meeting of the teams this year.

Purdue seemed to have the momentum at halftime they connected on 6-11 from three point range and scored at the buzzer to go up 33-30. Their lead would be as large as six before OSU took control in the middle of the second half. Leading the way for the Buckeyes was not Jessica Davenport, but Star Allen.

The sophomore scored a career high 21 and hit 10-12 from the floor. She also grabbed 13 rebounds and her team won the battle of the boards 31-22. For Purdue, their hot shooting from the first half did not carry over as they went 0-9 from three point range. The team hit only eight field goals in the second half and Katie Gearlds went 3-15 for the game.

"We just needed to share the basketball better," Boiler coach Sharon Versyp said. "We were taking a lot of quick shots. We had an opportunity to move through the offense and make Ohio State play more defense. "We didn't do a very good job of attacking the basket. We went stone cold there."

Monday, January 29, 2007

Boilers get ready for tonight's televised showdown, the only time (before the conference tournament) when Purdue and Ohio State meet. Boiler post Wisdom-Hylton: "It's a big game for us, and we know that."

Last year the Buckeyes blew it; now they remember. Brandie Hoskins: "I think that's the worst game we played last year as a team."
Karen Bailis over at New York's Newsday is doing what she can to increase the coverage of women's sports. Now a member of the Keyboard Quarterbacks Bloggers, her latest entry reminds readers that amongst the Garden's elite 50-point club, Carol Blazejowski's membership is often overlooked.
Michigan State lost at Rutgers on national TV. Essence Carson led the Scarlet Knights' late comeback despite her four fouls; she and Ajavon combined scored 35.

Carson "definitely was the player of the game," said State coach McCallie; "They went to her and she delivered."

With two losses last week (the other one at Penn State), the Spartans probably won't be ranked this time around: should Rutgers-- improved to 7-1 since New Year's Day-- replace them?
Big day in the CAA on Sunday: James Madison squashed Hofstra in Virginia behind 27 points from Tamera Young. JMU's Dukes have now won nine in a row, 22 in a row at home.

The win keeps Madison tied for first with perennial conference victor Old Dominion, who destroyed William and Mary. ODU began with a 15-0 run, and finished with 31 points from the bench. Thursday's match in Harrisonburg sets JMU against ODU: the winner will likely land the reg-season title.

Also in CAA play, Delaware took down George Mason. The Blue Hens took a comfortable lead early by shooting 61% for the first half: they needed the win, having lost to James Madison Thursday.
Two of the nation's three dominant teams squared off last night before a record crowd in College Park. The fans left disappointed as Latta and UNC notched a huge road win.

Neither team looked its best, but the Heels looked decidedly better. The Terps seemed out of sorts. Lots of turnovers, lots of missed shots. Mike Wise partly blames Kantner's officiating crew, which allowed the game to become "lawless" at times. Kathy Orton blames shaky Terp nerves. Graham Hays says Maryland should slow down.

Latta, even though she still looks hobbled, was fabulous. She led with 32 points, many bombed in from outside. "I just wanted to attack their guards and make them guard me," she said.

"We've got to find a way to get our swagger back," coach Frese said. "I think sometimes this team, they want to perform and they want to play so well. And sometimes I think they put pressure on themselves that they don't need."

Sunday, January 28, 2007

At today's game against Virginia, Florida State will retire Tia Paschal ('93) and Wanda Burns-Jackson's ('91) jerseys. Some may remember Paschal from her 1998 stint with the Charlotte Sting, but while at Florida State the women's basketball program enjoyed its greatest success. Paschal ended her career averaging 19.4 points and 7.4 rebounds as a senior, while earning first team All-ACC honors and ranks second all-time in scoring with 1,662 points.

Currently she works for IBM where she's a project manager overseeing security in five buildings. "She still plays in women's basketball leagues in Atlanta and frequents LA Fitness Club where she plays ball and beats up on the boys."

Wanda Burns averaged double figures and led the Seminoles to their first season in six years. In 1990-91, her final season, Burns was named Metro Conference Player of the Week, set a single game record with 10 steals in a game and led the team in three-point shooting.

Burns-Jackson now works with the Secretary of State Office. In December, Wanda completed her master's degree in counseling and psychology with a focus on rehabilitation.
Tonight at 7pm EST, #3 Maryland will battle #2 North Carolina in College Park. The Comcast Center (17,950) is sold out, marking the largest crowd to watch an ACC women's basketball game in the history of the conference. (The Terps Feb. 18th game against Duke is sold out, too)

The game can be seen on ESPN2 or you can listen to a live audio strea at www.umterps.com.

An extra bonus? Maryland great Vicky Bullett will be signing autographs during halftime.

Apparently the table is "sponsored" by the Mystics, for whom Bullett played so fiercely. How fiercely? Sue Wicks, who battled VB in the WNBA and Europe called VB one of her favorite players -- and least favorite to play against. After a particularily tough game down in D.C. Wicks commented about Bullett : "She's always tugging and pulling and grabbing at you and the ball. Come the end of the game, you just wanted to hand her the ball and say, 'Here, take it!'"
Texas A&M answered the doubters by beating the Sooners. Oklahoma had not lost a Big XII conference game since 2005.

The eventful, low-scoring game included stitches for Courtney Paris, a heroic block by A&M's Danielle Gant, a long scoreless drought for OU, foul trouble for everyone, and a two-shot technical foul on Oklahoma's coach Coale, whose two points became the Aggies' margin of victory.

A&M's LaToya Michaux apparently did a great job single-covering Courtney. Michaux: "I figured if she don't touch it, she can't score." OU's star center finished with 12 and 20; Atunrase led A&M with 18, but hurt her ankle with over a minute to play-- we'll let you know if we hear it's serious.

In other low-scoring Big XII action, Texas Tech just barely beat the Longhorns on Alesha Robertson's last-play trey: it looks like TTU's best win all year.

And in Lincoln, Nebraska made beating Kansas look easy. No, it already looked easy. Should Nebraska-- who lost to Minnesota, but beat Texas, Mizzou, and Kansas State-- be ranked? If not, who's your number 25?
To this year's discussion of strong teams from not-so-strong conferences-- MTSU, BGSU, maybe Western Kentucky-- it's probably time to add, once again, Green Bay.

The Phoenix, whose streak of invites to the Big Dance got rudely interrupted last year, have returned to their winning ways in the Horizon League: last night's win at Wright State saw three starters in double figures, plus nine for reserve Kari Harty, whom coach Borseth dubbed "the player of the game."

If you're looking at schedules with an eye to at-large bids, UWGB might, or might not, deserve one: their best wins are Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin, but their three losses came against DePaul (by one painful point), at K-State, and at Marquette.
UConn won a fugly one at Gampel. The Huskies turned the ball over 27 times, 15 in the first half, often on mental mistakes.

But Notre Dame just couldn't take advantage: the Irish shot 24%, Tina Charles blocked nine shots, and the home team got a convincing win.

Convincing, but fugly. Geno: "We were our own worst enemy there for a while. When you look at the way the game was played, there was no rhyme or reason to it. There [was] no flow, there was no rhythm to it.”

Swanier says she's grown into her role: a backup point guard, a lightning-quick defender, and a player who makes it possible for UConn to put two true PGs on the floor. Charde Houston: "She forces us post players to have to run with her."

In a more surprising Big East result, Seton Hall edged Pittsburgh on a final-possession free throw. Pitt center Marcedes Walker led everybody with 15, which wasn't enough.

Agnus Berenato's Panthers sink to 3-4 this month: they've played Duke, Rutgers, Marquette (a win), and Louisville already, though there's still UConn and DePaul to come.

And speaking of DePaul: the Blue Demons held Providence to ten first-half points last night. That hurts.
Stanford needed overtime to win in Tempe. Jayne Appel and Brooke the Hook fouled out, but Candace Wiggins scored 30 and never left the floor. "It wasn't going to be just on me, but I definitely did know that I was going to have to look to attack more," she said.

The Cardinal remain undefeated in Pac-10 play; the gap between the conference's top two teams (Stanford and ASU) and everyone else looks as big as it has in a while.

Full Court tempts subscribers with a Wiggins interview: "At times, I don’t feel comfortable playing point guard," she tells Anthony Caruso. (Also revealed: her love of volleyball.)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Via the quite indispensable Stever, Reuters explains why WNBA stars do well in South Korea.

Short answer: banks. Reuters writers Kim Yeon-hee and Jon Herskovitz: "Kookmin, Shinhan and Woori banks have been busy poaching top talent ... The women's league is an odd battle ground because games are often played to small crowds in rural gymnasiums. But it is the only place outside the financial industry where the three banks come into direct competition -- and most games are televised."

Catch described her months in Seoul on her blog. Reuters' reporters talk to Taj: "The people that run our team, a lot of them come around when we play Woori Bank or Kookmin... They always stress it is a big game. It is against a rival bank."
NBATV presents a TV special on the 2006 championship Shock. The show airs this Monday at 8pm Eastern.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Some more Chicago-ish, via Virginia. The Sky's CEO, Margaret Stender, will be inducted into the University of Richmond's Hall of Fame. Stender, team captain for three years, was the first female student athlete to recieve a scholarship at Richmond. My, how time flies...
The Chicago-Sun Times shows the University of Chicago Maroons a little love.
Being No. 1 in the nation represents quite a jump for the University of Chicago women's basketball team, considering the Maroons were picked fifth in the preseason.

In their conference.

National rankings? Come on. Chicago has made one Division III tournament appearance in the 36-year history of the women's program (it lost in the first round in 1994), and three starters graduated from a team that went 17-8 last season. But this meteoric rise appears to be no fluke.

Yes, I DO think it's time to talk about the WHB anti-curse.
SportsCenter gave repeated play to a feel-good story in Raleigh: NC State coach Kay Yow came back to the hardwood after two months of treatment for breast cancer, and her Wolfpack beat the Cavaliers.

UVA led by nine after the break but collapsed in the final minutes. NCSU's Whittington, who played every minute, pulled down 16 boards.

Virginia coach Debbie Ryan, who has herself fought pancreatic cancer, called the encounter emotional "in the beginning... Once the game started, I was OK."
All the Top Ten teams to play Thursday night won cleanly, but some pretty good ones lost in shockers: Michigan State, for example, fell at Penn State.

PSU center Amanda Brown, who sleepwalked through their loss at Minnesota, took over this game with 27 and 14; Michigan State's DeHaan came off the bench and didn't do much.

The Lady Nittany virulently homophobic controversial Lions improve to 8-3 at home, but 2-9 on the road.

In another surprise, Kentucky fell at home to Mississippi State. The double-overtime game included 22 points each from UK's Humphrey, who fouled out, and from Mississippi State's Imesia Jackson, whose team scored all the points in the second OT.

And in another surprising OT, Wyoming needed an extra frame to beat Colorado State, who have almost no bench at the moment and haven't defeated a challenging team all year.

Down by 13 early on, Wyoming played from behind for much of the game; the Cowgirls came through to win by double digits in OT. Wyoming's Hannah Zavescz, who led all scorers with 23, also hit the tying shot.
Lauren Jackson, challenged in Korea: "Katie Feenstra is without a doubt the strongest woman I have ever competed against... I get scared when she sets screens on our players."

Also from LJ's own blog (click "LJ's blog"): reactions to her Korean team's 3-3 record, and how to celebrate Australia Day overseas.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Via Marie Hardin's blog comes this article from Outsports about "gay friendly" ESPN.
What if you were told that one of the leading sports entities in the world was gay-friendly; That the company actively recruits gay people in its hiring efforts; That one of its top corporate initiatives over the last several years has been to make the workplace gay-friendly; And that some of its most high-profile members welcome the opportunity to work with gay people.

It may sound like a fantasy world to some, but it’s the ever-growing record of the self-proclaimed and widely recognized “worldwide leader in sports,” ESPN. Over the last 10 years, ESPN has developed a history of visible gay-friendly actions that have separated it from much of the rest of the sports world.
Perhaps that explains the coverage ESPN gave the Rene Portland/Jen Harris case. And no, the irony of Hardin being an assistant professor ar Penn State does not escape me.
Jeff Lippman on the secret to Duke's success.
The NBA Board of Governors will vote this week to approve the sale of the Houston Comets to furniture magnate Hilton Koch. The vote, and thus the deal, should be completed on Monday.

Like the Sparks deal, the nominal purchase price here is $10 million. Like the Sparks deal, some of the payments are contingent on future earnings. (Read: the actual value of the deal is something less than the reported purchase price.)

Koch owns Hilton Furniture. He is famous for his Katrina relief efforts. (Read: he is another do-gooder with money to burn, exactly the kind of owner the W needs.)

UPDATE: at the HRR, Kris reports that the team has scheduled a press conference for next Wednesday.
Led as always by McCoughtry and Covington, Louisville canned Pitt. McCoughtry racked up 18 and 15; Covington's 17 and 11 made her the Cardinals' all-time leading rebounder.

With a loss to St. John's (in Pittsburgh) and just one "good" win (Marquette, in Pittsburgh), the Panthers likely won't be ranked next week: the Big East team has already fallen hard to Rutgers, but has yet to play UConn or DePaul.
UConn beat DePaul in Gampel behind Kaylana Greene's impressive 25 and 12.

The Huskies led throughout, but the win wasn't easy: the Blue Demons sliced a 17-point deficit down to five with two minutes left.

Geno praised Greene and Houston (19 points): "I was really proud of [Houston] because she made big plays and she was dead tired... She needed a game like tonight to kind of get her juices flowing."

In other Husky news, UConn at Marquette has sold out. And in other Marquette news, Voepel has kind words for Marquette's do-everything guard Krystal Ellis, last seen running rings around Notre Dame.
Bernice Mosby won the battle with Tiffany Jackson and her Baylor team came back for a 63-59 win over Texas. Mosby outscored Jackson 23-8. "Tiffany wasn't as patient tonight as she has been," said Texas coach Jody Conradt. "I thought it was an ailment of our entire team.

In Norman, Courtney Paris continued her double double streak with 14 points and 13 boards, but it was while she was on the bench that her team took control in a 69-49 victory over Iowa State.

This was the 46th consecutive double double for Paris, who is making the remarkable look routine according to George Schroeder of the Oklahoman. When asked what would happen if the streak ever ends, Erin Higgins replied, "Half the world is gonna stop spinning."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

During the last week, there have been more than a dozen new articles on the male practice player issue. Most cover the same ground: the CWA has expressed its concerns, but coaches and players (including reserves) overwhelmingly disagree.

The CWA has begun to adopt a new line of argument: it suggests that many coaches and players oppose male practice players but are simply afraid to say so outloud. That is what is known as a self-sealing argument.

Former CWA chair Darlene Bailey also proffers two other reasons: the guys aren't being treated fairly, and coaches weren't using them to skew the roster numbers. The former is empirically doubtful and absurdly paternalistic. I'm not even sure what the latter means.

Current chair Janet Kittell now says:
Our goal was to start a discussion. On that I think we can say we're a resounding success.
That's funny... I thought their goal was to ban male practice players. That's what they said, isn't it? But it's becoming increasingly apparent that the ban proposal was just an opening offer in negotiations. That way the NCAA can implement some restriction and call it a "compromise."

It remains to be seen what restriction will get put forward. Some of the proposals -- such as tying a limit to the number of injuries -- make even less sense than an outright ban. (More on that later.)

Finally, Julie Hermann, an administrator at Louisville, makes one of those arguments that you didn't really think anyone would make out loud:
Those male practice players often become the student assistants who often become the assistant coaches. We're generating a pool of male coaches by creating male practice opportunities which really should go to women.
The lack of coaching opportunities for women in women's basketball is indeed troubling. The CWA and others should explore ways to address the problem. But banning male practice players would be one of the least effective means imaginable.
Good news for Jill Noe and Sun Devil fans - she has been granted a sixth year of eligibility. Noe has suffered two ACL tears during her career at ASU and is currently averaging over 9 points per game.

In their last game, ASU lost freshman guard Dymond Simon for the year to an ACL tear. The Sun Devils return to action tomorrow night against Cal.
Marquette got out ahead of Notre Dame early and stayed there for a nationally-televised (on CSTV) win in Milwaukee. "I can't remember the last time we beat [Notre Dame]," said MU coach Terri Mitchell. (The answer: December 1992.)

Marquette's 20 turnovers made them look less than sharp in victory; forward Osagie-Landry-- whose eight-month-old loves the camera!-- led the winners with 15.
Amber Connor of D-III Carleton in Minnesota is profiled in the Star Tribune this morning. Last March, she lost her mother to cancer as a high school senior.

This year, she is a starter on the Knights basketball team that is off to a 13-3 start. Averaging nearly 11 points a game, Connor has also made big plays in two of Carleton's wins. The Knights are hosting St. Ben's tonight in a MIAC showdown.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

An interesting little discovery in the lower right hand corner of the WBCA's website. Debbie Williamson writes about the discoveries she's made in her new job. Recently appointed as the NCAA's Women's Basketball Secretary Rules Editor, Williamson will be the national rules interpreter for women’s basketball and serve as co-editor of the Men’s and Women’s Basketball Rules and Interpretations book.
As a former Louisiana Tech women’s basketball player, I was on the fast track to a collegiate coaching career. I had been a part of four Women’s Final Four teams with two National Championships on my resume’, spent three summers playing basketball overseas, coached junior high and high school teams while I finished my Master’s Degree, was working camps and networking to land that perfect coaching job.

I jumped right in as a Division I assistant coach and stayed there for five years. I traveled, recruited, scheduled, tracked grades, organized summer camps, exchanged film, watched film and coached when I could get off the road in time to make a game.

Rules? Who had time to read the rules? Besides, I had played the game at a high level, spent hours evaluating game film and was in the gym year round. I knew the rules or, at least, I thought I did. And then I became a referee and read the rules book for the first time. I thought I knew the rules only to find out that “I didn’t know what I didn’t know.”
What follows is a series of classic "coach cries out to the referee about an infraction" quotes, followed by the "Belief" and clarified by the "Fact" and underscored by the actual "Rule."

Be warned, though it is worth the read, the link downloads a word document. Too bad they didn't make it a pdf.
So, you're a Husker and want to celebrate Nebraska's entrance into the Top 25 poll? Check out the Husker Women's Hoops Blog. It's written by a member of the Fastbreakers, a Nebraska women's basketball booster club.
In a recent post, we commented on the issue of inappropriate behavior between coaches and players. Now comes news out of California, a Chino Hills girls' basketball coach was arrested and charged with six felonies, including distributing lewd material to a minor.

Perhaps the concerned parents of the children Gregory Albert Carroll can take some comfort from the following:
For the Chino Valley NJB team that Carroll coached with Goodwin two years ago, Carroll was never alone with the girls because league rules require that a coach of the opposite sex of the players must be accompanied by another adult during games and practices.
Wouldn't it be wise for any organization involving young children -- be it educational or athletic -- to have such a clear and proactive policy? Consider that a related article, "Alarmed Parents Keep Watch: Institutional safeguards often ineffective at protecting kids," notes:

In the past month and a half in the Inland Valley, four adults in child-supervision roles - three teachers and one youth basketball coach - have been arrested for alleged sex crimes against minors.

Often, an almost non-existant vetting process or, even worse, a "don't tell" policy puts young children at risk. Writes Lori Consalvo in her article "Schools don't tell schools all they know about teachers,"

All too often, according to Einreinhofer, most school districts do not give personal information about an employee to other districts. They will, however, disclose if teachers have been charged with a crime during their time of employment.
But, if you've looked at this collection of articles, you already know this. More often than not, the perpetuator of sexual abuse is a close family member or a trusted friend.
Add four more to the Wade Watch: Baylor's Bernice Mosby, Duke's Abby Waner, Middle Tennessee State's Chrissy Givens and University of California-Berkley's Ashley Walker.
Division III rankings went topsy-turvey last week: the University of Chicago (16-0) soared from 5th into the top spot. This is the first time in the program's 36-year-history they've been ranked #1. U of C is one of only three undefeated teams in D-III and, in case you're wondering, plays in the University Athletic Association, a conference formed around schools with academic similarities (research-focused) and located in metropolitan areas. Next up for the Maroons? The Violets. Yes, this Friday they play fellow-conference member, and 12th-ranked, New York University (sometimes known as the Bobcats.)

A side note:
NYU is coached by Janice Quinn. A graduate of NYU in '85, Quinn double-majored in economics and metropolitan studies. She was also NYU's first 1,000-point scorer. Quinn became NYU's coach in 1987, went on to earn a master’s degree in finance and management, and guided her team to a National Championship in 1997. In her spare time, Quinn also serves as NYU's Associate Director of Athletics. Interestingly enough, it is not unusual to find D-III, D-II and NAIA coaches with post-graduate degrees and additional management or professorial responsibilites.

Now to our regularly scheduled poll-programming...

Another UAA conference member, U. of Rochester, dropped from the #2 spot down to tenth. Bowdoin fell from the top spot to #2, and Pennsylvania's Messiah College leapt from 7th to 3rd. Calvin College (Mich) (who knocked off Hope College) and Wilmington College (Ohio) round out the top five.

Not much changed in the top-5 Divison-II rankings. North Dakota's still at the top, undefeated Missouri Western State (18-0) inched up to number two, Washburn and Southern Connecticut are tied for third, while Florida Gulf Coast University holds steady in the fifth spot.

In Division I, the top ten held to form. Vanguard still holds the #1 spot in NAIA Division I, while 23-0 Indiana Wesleyan held on to the top spot in DII for the sixth consecutive week.
Pat Forde praises Bruce Pearl's shirtless appearance. Fans too.

Pearl aside, it was a great showing by UT students. Is the much-bemoaned absence of student fans from women's basketball finally coming to an end?
Via Stever, a few gems we would otherwise have missed: Bowling Green coach Curt Miller describes his Falcons, one of two teams from often-overlooked leagues that currently threaten to do real damage come March.

In Tacoma, columnist John McGrath thinks Clay Bennett wants to move Seattle's teams.

And in Romania, ex-KU center Crystal Kemp is still controlling the paint. "I just play the game," she says.
Into the wayback maching... Sadly, no images available with the original pebbles motif.
In a showdown in the Old Dominion state, Virginia Tech rallied from 14 back in the second half and took its first lead with 1.4 seconds left in the game in a 60-58 stunner over Virginia. Coach Ryan thought her team played well enough to win, but gives all of the credit to the Hokies.

Speaking of Old Dominion, while they played another tough non-conference schedule the Lady Monarchs are again in the hunt for a CAA conference championship and on a seven game winning streak. On Sunday, they cruised to a 83-51 win over Drexel.
Texas Tech took the Sooners to double overtime-- in Norman, yet-- but couldn't quite beat the home team.

Despite OU's usual emphasis on post play, backup guard Kendra Moore stole the show with 20; another guard, Erin Higgins, hit the game-winner.

Coach Curry on what would have been a huge upset: "It's not a moral victory... We expected to win."

Coach Coale says her OU team "kept our poise... It ended up being survival of the fittest."
If you turned off last night's Duke-Tennessee match-up after the Blue Devils opened up a 19-0 lead, you missed an exciting game. The Blue Devils looked flawless in the first five minutes and handled the comeback attempt of the Lady Vols to pull out a 74-70 win on the road in front of 18,559. Those in the stands included the Vols men's basketball team and head coach Bruce Pearl in the student section painted orange.

Abby Waner hit threes from everywhere to finish with 24 points and Lindsey Harding continued to impress with her play on both ends of the court. Candace Parker had a slow start to the game, but ended up with 22 points. However, her 1-7 performance at the free throw line did not help. "That's my fault," said Parker, who had shot 54 percent at the foul line heading into Monday's game. "If I would have hit my free throws, maybe we would have won. I take full responsibility. It won't happen again."
Good news in Raleigh - Kay Yow returns to practice today.

Monday, January 22, 2007

At Full Court, Caruso interviews Dawn Staley (subscribers only, alas): "I think the novelty of the WNBA has worn off," she says. "I think we have to have a new approach — whether that’s breaking away from NBA franchises and going our separate ways or not, but... we keep having teams dropping out and we can’t keep having that. We have to find people who can financially support teams."
In another in-state rivalry match, the Longhorns stuffed the Aggies. Tiff Jackson tallied 27; her team kept A&M shooting poorly throughout.

A&M coach Blair: "It was Texas all the way in everything."
Purdue hammered Indiana. The Boilers scored the first ten points and were never threatened; spurred by her pre-game hot dog, Gearlds scored 21.

The in-state rivalry match set Boiler coach and Purdue alum Sharon Versyp against the Hoosiers she coached last year. Her IU replacement, Felicia Leggett-Jack, sounded gracious: ""I want to thank coach Versyp," she said. "She could've gone up by 40, if she wanted to. She pulled her horses off."
Orin Day previews tonight's big game from a Duke perspective. His summary: "Duke is a bit smaller than Tennessee... If Duke can keep the Lady Vols off the boards, they'll be in good shape."

Parker is ready to go for UT despite last week's trouble breathing. ESPN's Melanie Jackson thinks the matchup between UT's Bobbitt and Duke's Lindsey Harding will decide the game.
Crappy news for Connecticut now confirmed: Erin Phillips will miss this year with a torn ACL.

Drafted in '05, the Australian guard waited a year to join the WNBA: she started thirteen Sun games in '06. Coach Thibault calls it a "devastating loss," praising Phillips' still-unseen potential: "I guess we'll have to wait another year."
On a day where Minnesota honored their past great players, the current Gopher team enjoyed a solid 75-62 win over Penn State.

MN used a zone defense for much of the game to slow down the inside game of the Lady Lions. It worked as last week's conference POW Amanda Brown was held to four points. Tyra Grant, Brianne O'Rourke and Kam Gissendanner provided nearly all of the scoring for the Lady Lions.

The Gophers relied on a more balanced attack as four players reached double figures and everyone who played scored. Kelly Roysland moved closer to 1,000 career points with 20 and Leslie Knight added a career high 18. Perhaps most impressive is the fact that 16 of the 20 made baskets were assisted. MN also did a great job of getting to the line and taking advantage of the opportunity as they connected on 31-38 free throws. Somewhat surprising, Coach Portland did not complain about the discrepancy. "They shot well from the line and overall played very well," she said. "They had a lot of energy and played with enough confidence to get the job done."

In a nod to the women who helped pioneer the Gopher program, four more former players were inducted into the Minnesota Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. Those honored included Marty Dahlen McKelvey (1978-82), Mary Manderfeld (1982-86), Carol Peterka (1982-86) and Molly Tadich (1983-87). Peterka was the only player who could not be there in person as she was coaching in the Hofstra-Delaware game in New York. Her team fell to the Blue Hens 67-59 before a record home crowd.

More history was honored at halftime, with an exhibition game from the Granny Basketball League that uses the rules from Six on Six Women's Basketball. During the game, there were also players from the great book, Daughters of the Game, featured.
Further confusing the Big East, Louisville beat Rutgers in Kentucky. Angel McCoughtry led the comeback with 20 and 16. (Rutgers posts a box score that's completely wrong; Louisville's site gets it right.)

The Cardinals have now defeated tough Rutgers and lowly Georgetown in one-possession games, but got torn apart at South Florida. USF then got crushed at Rutgers.

The solution to all this mysteriousness? The Scarlet Knights have become one of those teams that's good at home (6-1; the loss is Duke) but mediocre (4-5) on the road.
Arizona State took out USC, but lost guard Dymond Simon to an ACL tear. "I'd rather have lost the game and kept Simon," said coach Turner Thorne.

The game itself? A typically messy, defensive Sun Devil affair, with more turnovers (26) than field goals (23) for USC, and nearly as many (22 and 23) for the winners. Brianne January led ASU with 12 points.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Marquette nearly lost to Providence last night, despite a 17-point lead at halftime; the Golden Eagles, or Golden Gold, or whatever they're called these days, required Krystal Ellis' final layup to end up ahead.

Ellis ended up with 24, PC's Chelsea Marandola with 20. With a better supporting cast, Marandola could end up on national watch lists; she might do so yet.

Marquette improve to 17-2, 5-1 in conference; they have not yet faced UConn nor Rutgers.
Stanford trailed lowly Oregon State at halftime, but came back for a convincing win. Wiggins and Smith combined to score 32; Newlin blocked five shots.

Coach VanderVeer wasn't happy. "I just hope that we're not the type of team that has to get a bloody nose in the fight before we start fighting," she said.

The sluggish first half reminded her of Thursday's Stanford triumph over Oregon, in which the Cardinal led at halftime only because Oregon couldn't score at all.
The Toledo Blade (a good newspaper, by the way) remembers late-Nineties scorer Kim Knuth-Klaer, whose jersey will be retired next month.

"The time I was coming out [of college] was when the [ABL] was folding, and all the other girls from that league were trying to get into the WNBA," Knuth-Klaer recalls. "I was competing not just with the girls coming out of college, but with a lot of girls from the other professional league as well. I think I would've liked to have tried it."

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Connecticut Sun fans may want to stock up on Advil: Erin Phillips just damaged her knee in Australia; she's been seen in a wheelchair since. If Phillips has torn up an ACL, rehab will likely keep her off-court all year.

Lindsay Whalen, meanwhile, has had less than stellar numbers in Russia: perhaps her ankle needs more time to heal?

Want more Euro-news? Wurst roundup here. You can still vote for Euroleague All-Stars; note that European and non-European players get separate ballots, and that Margo Dydek has a longer name.
Over 11,000 fans watched Maryland crush UVA, in a game that never became competitive.

Virginia's Lyndra Lyttles scored 23, but four of five Terps starters topped 15. The Cavs' Monica Wright got in early foul trouble; Coach Ryan says Wright's time on the bench "really hurt us... We don't have a lot of room for error."

Oddly, the win moves Maryland up only to fourth in ACC play. Who's on third? Florida State, who needed two last-second free throws to beat Clemson, and who have yet to defeat any really good team.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Via 4ever_bball_fan, comes this Houston Chronicle article on the W. While attendance continues to go down, the fact that ratings and sponsor interest is up pleases David Stern.

"I have some number of NBA teams," Stern said, "that lost more money last year than the combined loss of the WNBA in the last 10 years times five.
The Longhorns' chances of staying ranked took a hit last night, when they lost 67-56 on the road to Iowa State.

While Tiffany Jackson was 3-19 from the floor and finished with seven points for Texas, it was clearly Lyndsey Medders' night for the Cyclones as she scored 23 and assisted on 6.

Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said of his senior point guard. "I don't think I've ever had a kid give so much to a team and fight it as hard as she did for a long time."
Georgia earned it's first win over a ranked opponent since beating Stanford earlier in the season with a 83-71 win over Vandy at home.

Freshman Ashley Houts played the whole game and got to the line often and made it count, finishing with 21 points. Tasha Humphrey added 18. But according to Andy Landers, "I think the person that sparked us the most in the second half was [Janese] Hardrick. She had at least six terrific plays defensively. She came out with the ball a number of times and just kept making plays that led to points in transition."
Keeping everyone from last season's Championship team is not possible for Bill Laimbeer and the Detroit Shock with All-Star Cheryl Ford due for a big raise. Once again, the Shock are looking to trade Ruth Riley. Laimbeer says that Kara Braxton is ready to start.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The WNBA's core designations have been made by the teams, and some of the info has leaked out. It wasn't supposed to be made public till Feb. 1, but due to an apparent website error at WNBA.com, fans have now figured it out.
Up in Missoula, Montana, coach Mike Bradshaw has coached the Drummond High School girls' basketball for 28 years. His 500th victory came on Dec. 8. against Sheridan, and his current record is 510 wins, 161 losses. "He claims no special formula," writes Fritz Neighbor.
“I think I've been fair over the years, usually, with the kids,” he says. “We stress fundamentals and kind of being a good defensive team.

“And I've been kind of lucky over the years, too. I've had great kids who were willing to learn and work hard.”
At the Double-A Zone, former UA baller Anna Chappell expresses support for regulations on scout players.
Looking back in time, I was a player that can contest that male practice players indeed hindered my athletic development as a women’s basketball player. As a bench player I was frustrated, because I was not only competing for playing time, but I was constantly competing for practice time. I was sitting out of practice a larger portion then necessary, watching random guys play that were never going to be in a uniform. As a young player eager to learn and develop, working with male practice players was trying and intruded upon my development at this point.
Chappell also notes that later in her career, when the team was hit with injuries, the scout team was essential. She concludes:
While it is evident across the country that there are numerous coaches that support the usage of male practice players, more importantly there are hundreds of student-athletes that are in opposition.
That last claim is slippery and hard to assess. We've heard scores of athletes speak on the issue. So far, with the exception of Anna Chappell, they have consistently opposed the CWA's recommendation. (And even she doesn't appear to support the CWA's proposed categorical ban.)

Perhaps there are "hundreds." If so, it appears that they are nonetheless in the small minority of the thousands of young women who play college basketball.

Laura Harper recently blogged on the issue as well. Her take here.
So the refs made a mistake in the Minnesota-SDSU game. The last basket shouldn't have counted. Is it fair to say that the refs cost Minnesota the game?

I don't think so. The refs' error cost 2 points. But the Jackrabbits (not the refs) scored 57 other points. Minnesota (not the refs) missed 32 shots and 8 free throws.

You can truthfully say: "if the refs hadn't made the mistake, the Gophers would have won." But you can just as truthfully say: "if the Gophers had made one more basket, they would have won." In any close game, you can point to dozens of plays and say: "if that hadn't happened, the other team would have won." Outcomes of complex events like basketball game results have multiple causes. The refs' error here was a cause; it wasn't the cause.

The Gophers' intent in appealing was to get the attention of the Selection Committee. Worried that it might end up on the bubble, Minnesota wants the Committee to ignore or discount this game. Should the Committee do that? Should it exclude this game from its RPI calculation?

Again, I don't really think so. There are lots of close games, and quite a few of them have arguable reffing errors that contributed to the outcome. This is a particularly clear case, but adjusting the RPI in this case could produce a raft of appeals. The game isn't worth the candle.

Beyond the RPI, the Committee looks at a bunch of factors. The RPI is based on results alone, but the Committee might look at scores and qualitative performance. Perhaps when assessing this game in those mushier ways, the Committee could factor in the error.

Aside from that, however, this appeal should have no effect. The only really important thing is clarifying the rule and working to ensure that the same mistake isn't made again in the future.
Utah's Elaine Elliott is the 32nd coach in Division I women's basketball history to win 500 games -- and every single victory has been with the Utes.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Still more Big XII games postponed due to ice storms.
Catch up with Jennifer Azzi who is, amongst other things, moving to Marin and being inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame this April.
About two and a half years ago, there was a flurry of articles about inappropriate behavior between coaches and players -- more specifically high school and/or AAU-club coaches sexually abusing their young players.

You may recall this blog's coverage of the Rick Lopez case in Colorado, and this article wondering at the silence of the NCAA, AAU and WBCA in the face of this issue.

They're still rather quiet about the whole thing.

Not surprisingly, it's the Women's Sports Foundation who continues to take the lead in educating and activating about coach-athlete sexual relationships. You can check out their position paper here and recently their "It Takes a Team!" newsletter included a Chalk Talk by Pat Griffin, best known for her seminal book, "Strong Women, Deep Closets."

In the article, Griffin writes:
Parents are entitled to assurances that the adults who coach their children are ethical professionals who respect appropriate intereaction boundaries between coaches and athletes. Coaches need to set appropriate boundaries in their relationship with athletes regardless of the athlete's age. Even when athletes are college age or older and a consensual sexual relationship between a coach and an athlete occurs, these relationships are never acceptable regardless of the gender or sexual orientation of the people involved.
Griffin also addresses the issue of homophobia as it relates to the issue:
No evidence supports the claim that lesbian and gay coaches pose a greater sexual threat to young athletes than coaches who are heterosexual. In fact, police statistics support the contention that sexual abuse or harassment is more likely to occur between adult males and young girls. This is not to suggest that males should be prohibited from coaching young girls, but that all coaches, male and female, should be vetted to assure that they are trustworthy and ethical leaders as well as knowledgeable about their sport.
The newsletter also included an article on "No Name-Calling Week" and a link to the Executive Research Summary on how effective "It Takes a Team!" has been in making sports safer and more respectful for LGBT athletes and coaches.
Voepel: watch out for Montana, Utah, TCU, Xavier's Amber Harris (formerly known as Purdue's Amber Harris), and Cal-Berkeley's Ashley Walker.
The Women's Basketball Officiating Consortium, which judges such matters, now says the Gophers should have won last Sunday's photo-finish game.

The refs on the scene gave the win to South Dakota State by misunderstanding the rules about when time expires; the Gophers filed a protest. The records will still show a win for SDSU.
Orin Day and Rob Clough have set up a new site, DWHoops.com, focused on Duke. Given their history covering the game, this promises to be a must-read.
Via shizanna: a photographic afternoon at home with Ivory Latta. Yes, the camera loves her.
Is there anything that Tulsa's Jillian Robbins can't do? The senior is her school's career leader in points, rebounds and steals. Off the court, she earned her undergrad degree last month, works two jobs and is a single mother.

A WNBA career may be next.
Final Four picks - many would say Duke, North Carolina, Maryland, Tennessee, UConn, Stanford or Oklahoma are the favorites. But Middle Tennessee State coach Rick Insell thinks his team could make it there this year.

"His big thing is to not let outsiders bring us down. We hear all the time we're just a mid-major school. Winning the first game in the NCAA tournament is the best we're going to be," freshman guard Jackie Pickel says. "He's trying to tell us that we have the heart that no team has. As long as we believe it, then we don't need anybody else. It's just our attitude that matters."
Louisville might vanish from next week's rankings after last night's clobbering in Tampa.

Jessica Dickson and her South Florida Bulls-- last seen on TV getting crushed by Rutgers-- blew away the Cardinals early on. Shantia Grace picked up 20 points, six treys, and nine assists; Louisville's McCoughtry scored 21.

Speaking of rankings: should USF get your vote? They haven't beaten any top teams, unless you count last night, but their only losses came to Michigan State, Vandy, LSU and Rutgers.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

No real surprise in the D-I Coaches' Poll. Maryland and Duke switched places, North Carolina stayed third, with Tennessee fourth and UConn, despite its loss to UNC, stayed fifth.

D-II poll shows the University of North Dakota and Washburn at one and two, followed by three undefeated teams: Missouri Western State, Southern Connecticut State University and Florida Gulf Coast State University... if only it were Eastern Florida, then we'd have teams from all four points of the compass....

Hmmm, maybe the WHB curse only applies to D-III? Hope College finally lost one, dropping them down to third. Bowdoin College takes over the top spot, followed by the University of Rochester. The University of Scranton and the University of Chicago fill out the rest of the top five.

The top-ranked teams in D-I and D-II of NAIA held their spots.

Christopher Lawlor's top five high school teams are Collins Hill, Poly, Rockwall, Murry Bergtraum and Cy-Fair. Fenwick, the former #2, lost to Bolingbrook and dropped to seventh.

Lawlor's player of the week? Something that'll make some fans in New Jersey happy:
Guard Khadijah Rushdan of No. 11 St. Elizabeth (Wilmington, Del.) contributed 30 points, 18 rebounds and five assists keying a 77-63 victory vs. Woodrow Wilson (Camden, N.J.). She made all eight field-goal attempts and 12 of 16 free throws. Rushdan, who's headed to Rutgers, closed the game with a Delaware-record 2,146 career points, surpassing the mark of 2,131 with two free throws in the third quarter.
Note to SI.com: If you want people to read Clay's HS rankings and notes (this is still last week's), can you add them to the drop down list so we can actually find them?
What's up at UConn? Glenn MacGrady has a theory.

(Does Geno have his heart in it the way he used to?)
Once again, Connecticut looked overmatched at the half-- too slow, without hops, and cold from behind the arc. Again, the Huskies gave up a double digit lead.

Once again, UConn came back strong to tie late, this time behind the superior post moves of Tina Charles, who seemed to grow smarter and taller as the game went on.

And once again, UConn couldn't quite pull it off; Charles fouled out, Erlana Larkins-- who had four fouls for much of the half-- stuck around, and the Tar Heels regained the lead.

Compared to Saturday's exemplary matchup, this one looked a mess-- athletic, yes, but a mess, with 44 turnovers overall. Four UNC players had double figures; UConn's Kalana Greene scored 23, but the Huskies shot 1-12 from downtown.

Latta looked subpar for much of the game, but her last three-pointer was the killer: Latta recovered easily from Ketia Swanier's failed steal, then drained, with her usual confidence, an open look.

Tar Heels coach Hatchell: "We can get a whole lot better than we were out there today, but it is a W."

Compared to last season's disaster in Hartford, this year's Huskies look smarter, tougher, improved. Geno doesn't disagree-- and yet: "We're just not quite there yet," he says. "We can talk all we want about the courage that it took to come back, [but] at Connecticut, the only time you're happy is when you win."
When reviewing last-second shots on the video monitor, do refs go by the clock or the backboard light? The NCAA changed the rule in 2004.
When officials are required to view the monitor before making a final ruling, the determining factor as to whether the ball was released before time expired shall be when the game clock shows 0:00, provided that the game clock is visible on the monitor. This rule change clarifies game-ending situations.
Why did they change it?
The rationale is that using the reading of 0.0 when it's visible on the monitor, which indicates that the game has ended, factors out the time lag that occurs when that reading sends an impulse that triggers the mechanisms in the light and the horn.
More on the male practice players issue, this time from USA Today's Dick Patrick. He talks to several coaches and players, the WBCA and CWA chairperson Janet Kittell.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Minnesota is appealing the SDSU loss. Newscast video of the contested shot available here.

More from Terry Vandrovec's blog at the Argus Leader: "What’s certain: Maria Boever’s game-winning shot did not leave her hand before the clock reached zero."
Stat Fans! Want to know which current players participated in USA Basketball during 2006-07? Check out this pdf at the USABBall's site.
Refs discuss the Minnesota-SDSU finish.
Hays previews tonight's UConn-UNC matchup (7PM, ESPN2).
Before the season began, I thought that Iowa-- with big, skilled soph post Megan Skouby-- and Wisconsin, with outside scorer Jolene Anderson, would do some damage in the Big Ten this year.

Apparently not. Sunday the Hawkeyes got hosed by Michigan State; the 6'8" DeHaan (20 points) contained the 6'6" Skouby (who scored 11) as the visiting Spartans pulled away. Iowa fell to 3-3 within the Big Ten.

And in Madison, the Badgers fell to Illinois despite 18 each from Anderson and Janese Banks. Post play remains a problem for Lisa Stone's team: Illinois blocked a school-record eleven shots.

Except for the flagging Penn State (2-4 in conference), the Big Ten standings look much like they have in years past. Charlie Creme projects five Big Ten bids to the Big Dance this year, one of them belonging to Wisconsin: is he being optimistic?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

In her latest blog, Sherri Coale eloquently argues against the ban of male practice players.
Jesse is one of our "fellas." He's what much of the basketball world refers to as a scout teamer. He's what the NCAA calls a male practice player. By definition that means he has paid for his own physical, he has registered with and been cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse (paid for that personally as well), he consistently passes a minimum of 12 hours per semester making him eligible for intercollegiate competition (though he can't compete), and he has filled out enough certification paperwork to fill up a small upright filing cabinet. He practices with us between and around classes. Mostly he guards, but sometimes we make him get guarded, too. For all of that we are allowed to tell him "thank you." They are a special breed, our fellas.
Coale writes of the relationship "our fellas" have with her Sooners:
It's almost like they're teammates, Courtney and Jesse. And that's the best part of it all. It's genderless! In our little world of women's basketball we have finally figured it out. We are athletes. We are a team getting as good as we can get using every available whetstone we can find.
I swear, I would read Coale's blog if it were about paint drying...
Most people -- even fans of the women's game -- are surprised when I tell them women have played basketball since 1892. They are also suprised to learn that in the 20's and 30's, Lou Hoover (wife of president Hoover) and the Women's Division of the National Amateur Athletic Foundation led an effort to ban state high school tournaments because they considered playing competitive basketball unhealthy and inappropriate.

Boy, were they successful. By the mid-30's most every state had ceased sponsoring tournments though Iowa, rather famously, proved the exception.

That didn't mean everyone was as enlightened as John Agans who, in 1925, told the Iowa High School Association, "Gentlemen, if you attempt to do away with girls' basketball in Iowa, you will be standing in the center of the track when train runs you over." Consider what Jewel Chapman heard 45 years ago:
Playing basketball isn't ladylike. That's what Jewell Chapman's high school principal told her in 1961 when he banned the girls basketball program.

"We were very frustrated," said Chapman, a forward for her high school team in Des Moines.

Nearly 50 years later, Chapman is back on the court. She's 62 and plays for the Hot Pink Grannies, joining about 10 other women on a team whose uniforms are black bloomers and hot pink socks. They play in the Iowa Granny Basketball League.

And if you ever wondered what "modern" women do with their love of basketball after college, check here.

Shameless homerism:

Kia Wright returned to form for the Red Storm as St. John's went to Pittsburgh and knocked off the #23 Panthers. Wright was one of four St. John's players in double figures, registering a double-double with twenty-three points and ten assists. Marcedes Walker had twenty-two points, eleven rebounds, and six steals in the loss. It's the first conference win for St. John's, a school that's... er, not having the season it expected.
Crazy finish to the Minnesota-SDSU game. Down one, SDSU made a layup at the buzzer. The refs went to the monitor and waived it off, then after getting an earful from the SDSU coach, went back to the monitor and counted it.

Video here. (It's several minutes long -- you can skip forward to 2:20 if you just want to see the final play.)

Postgame, the refs denied that they waived it off. But see the video at 3:30.

Their decision may also have been based on a rules error. The backboard light went on a moment after the clock reached 0.0. The ball was in hand at 0.0; by the time the light went on, it was probably out of her hand. The refs went by the light, but under NCAA rules, they were apparently supposed to go by the clock.

Saturday night's all right, but not for fighting. (That was Thursday.)

Atlantic Sun: Belmont defeated Mercer, 61-38, in Nashville. Mercer's TaShera Lewis led all scorers with eighteen, but the Bruins' balanced attack won the day.

Big South: Looks like Saturday was the start of conference play there.

Big West: UC-Riverside, welcoming back forward Amber Cox and looking to an aggressive 2007-08 schedule, defeated Cal State-Fullerton, 64-48. Kemie Nkele had nineteen points and eleven rebounds to lead the Highlanders.

Meanwhile, Cal-State Northridge, fresh off having beaten Riverside to claim a share of the conference lead, knocked off the young and inconsistent 49ers of Long Beach State. Karina Figueroa had twenty-seven in the loss, while Jamie McCaa's twenty-four led the Matadors.

Horizon: Kevin Borseth picked up his 200th win in a game that Wisconsin-Green Bay wanted and wanted badly. UWGB defeated rival Wisconsin-Milwaukee 85-70 in front of a sold-out crowd. Forward Nicole Soulis led four Phoenix players in double figures with twenty-four; the Phoenix shot sixty percent from the field.

Ivy: Owing to the Ivy League's scheduling quirk of playing Fridays and Saturdays, Cornell gets to be in both reports. At Jadwin Gym in New Jersey, Meagan Cowher put up thirty-five points and added eleven rebounds, but that wasn't enough as Princeton fell 70-66 to Cornell. Claire Perry had twenty for the Big Red.

Mid-Continent: At Valparaiso, IUPUI gave the Crusaders all they could handle. It took overtime for Valparaiso to pull out a 78-72 win, and a Jaguar shot that bounced on the rim four times before coming off to get to the OT session. There were three double-doubles in the game: Jaguars Tanika Mays (seventeen points/ten rebounds) and Jernisha Cann (eighteen points/eleven rebounds) and Crusader Betsy Rietema (twenty-three points/twelve rebounds), who led all scorers. Valparaiso is looking to capitalize on their early wins in the MCC and the injury to Oral Roberts's Jenny Hardin.

Mid-American: #18 Bowling Green continued their MAC winning streak against Ohio, winning 64-55. Having eaten and ran, Carin Horne led all scorers with sixteen, one of three Falcons in double figures.

On the other side of the conference, Ball State visited Eastern Michigan and came away with a 55-46 win. The Cardinals' Julie DeMuth put up thirteen points and added fourteen rebounds to lead Ball State, who's looking to start conference play 5-0.

MEAC: North Carolina A&T, a squad without seniors, defeated Bethune Cookman, 75-62. Amber Bland, the erstwhile Nittany Lion, led the Aggies with twenty-two points. (And Bethune-Cookman really needs to update their homepage.)

Meanwhile, Coppin State trailed Norfolk State by three at the half, but fifty-nine points in the second half thoroughly put away the Spartans, 89-61. Rashida Suber had twenty-eight points to lead the Eagles to their 34th straight MEAC win.

Missouri Valley: Hosting the Lady Bears of Missouri State, Illinois State ran off a 39-6 run on their way to a 76-47 victory. Kristi Cirone led all scorers with twenty-one points, adding eight assists.

Mountain West: In Vegas, Utah beat UNLV 49-37. (No, those weren't the halftime numbers.) A 19-1 run put the Utes in control in the second half. Morgan Warburton put up twenty points for Utah, fifteen in the second half.

Northeast: Sacred Heart forward Amanda Pape was on crutches all week, but she was ready for gametime. The senior had twenty-nine points, ten rebounds, and six assists as the Pioneers beat Monmouth 60-51.

Patriot: At Holy Cross, Bucknell used twenty points each from Lindsey Hollobaugh and Amanda Brown to defeat the Crusaders, 63-50 (although Bucknell is claiming only nineteen for Hollobaugh; 12 rebounds are still pretty awesome, though). Holy Cross, sans their top two point guards, is trying to find their way.

Meanwhile, Army and Lehigh went down to the wire, with the Black Knights coming away with a 66-63 win. At 16-2, it's the best start in program history. Cara Enright had twenty points.

Southern: Georgia Southern's Carolyn Whitney led all scorers with fourteen points, but Davidson's bench outscored Georgia Southern's 32-12 to power a 69-51 win in Statesboro.

Southland: In Arlington, Southeastern Louisiana cut a ten-point lead to three with 1:21 left, but Texas-Arlington held on to the game and the Southland lead to win 51-43. Terra Wallace had sixteen points for the Mavericks.

Southwestern: In a thriller in Huntsville, Alabama A&M held on for a 68-64 win against in-state rival Alabama State. 25 turnovers did the Lady Hornets in, despite a balanced attack that featured four players in double figures.

Sun Belt: Middle Tennessee State just packs those games in, don't they? The #21 Blue Raiders dismantled New Orleans, 78-50. Chrissy Givens scored seventeen points and had a school-record eleven steals. New Orleans committed 40 turnovers in the game. (Also, Privateers may be the coolest nickname ever.)

West Coast: In Spokane, Gonzaga dominated St. Mary's, 85-49. The Zags Bulldogs remain undefeated in WCC play. Heather Bowman led all scorers with twenty points in twenty minutes.

Western Athletic: Louisiana Tech isn't what it used to be. For the first time in fifteen years, a conference foe came to Ruston and defeated the Lady Techsters. Boise State never trailed in their 68-47 victory over Louisiana Tech. Four Broncos finished in double figures; for Louisiana Tech, senior center Ty Moore had sixteen points and ten rebounds.

...I really hope some of these conferences sort out their leads by the end of the week. My fingers hurt.