Women's Hoops Blog: February 2008

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Friday, February 29, 2008

Catching up with Macalester: After battling injuries to move within one victory of a MIAC playoff berth, Macalester Women's basketball came up short against Hamline University last week.
Head Coach Ellen Thompson believes that the loss shouldn't detract from the team's achievements this year. "We had an exciting season," she said. "One of our goals was to make each game a game. Obviously we didn't get to our ultimate goal, [the playoffs], but I'm really proud of the team."

The team has made significant strides this year. Two years ago, the team was at ground zero, with barely enough women to play. This year, the Scots have twelve players, and were able to finish their season with an overall 9-16 record."Based on many factors, this was a really good year for us," Majra Mucic '11 said. " We had a chance, especially in our last few games, like St. Ben's and Carleton, to beat top teams despite our lack of a home gym, many players, and experience. Macalester [is] no longer a practically guaranteed win for other teams like it used to be."
Borseth goes berserk.
You'll recall the Catholic high school near Topeka, Kan. that barred a female referee from officiating a boys basketball game.

Snagged this California follow-up from Stever, which suggests that it ain't unique to Kansas.

“It will not happen this year, but I have at least three women I would put on (a boys final), no problem,” Floquet says(San Diego area's chief assigner ). “I go on a person's ability – strictly on their ability. If they're good enough to do a men's game, they do them.”

Not everyone agrees with his assignment philosophy.

Coaches are allowed to “scratch” up to five officials per season from working their games, and Floquet says one male coach in the county – he won't name him – routinely uses all five deletions on female officials.

Well, rats -- going to be in Chicago for the DePaul/UConn game this weekend, but now I'm sorta wishing I was travelling to Iowa. Why?

"More Than a Game: Six-on-Six Basketball in Iowa" debuts at 6:30 p.m. Sunday on Iowa Public Television. It will be rebroadcast at 8:15 p.m. March 7 and then again on March 16 at a time to be determined.

"The heart of six-on-six basketball was in the small towns in Iowa," said Laurel Bower Burgmaier, 34, who produced the 60-minute documentary. "Small towns played six-on-six basketball from the early 1900s to 1993. As I interviewed people for this project, I sensed that within an hour I could focus on the heart of the game: Small towns.

"Iowa broadcasting legend Jim Zabel appears on the program and tells the audience how entire communities will follow their girls' basketball team to Des Moines for the state tournament, for years dubbed "The Sweet Sixteen."

How totally cool is that?

You'll of course know, wise readers, that when lovely Lou Hoover and crew was sucessfully wiping out girls high school basketball across the country, Iowa said, "not a chance." In fact, the very famous quote goes:
"Gentlemen,if you attempt to do away with girls’ basketball in Iowa, you’ll be standing in the center of the track when the train runs you over."
John W. Agans, 1925

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Voepel celebrates coach Stringer's 800th win.
Did Ohio State lose, in Monday night's upset, not to Indiana, but to a scorekeeper's error?

According to ESPN, yes and no: unlike, say, the game clock mess involving Tennessee, this was a situation in which the Buckeye coaches could have pointed out, and hence fixed, the mistake-- had they only seen it in time.

Wait a second: the Buckeyes say they did. "One of my assistants asked why they added a point," says coach Foster, "and we were told it was taken care of."

The Women's Basketball Officiating Consortium, which handles such issues within the Big Ten, officially blames everybody nobody, and says, understandably, that nothing can be fixed now.
Off-topic, but important.

The Times' George Vecsey again choses to write about women's sports. (You'll recall he tweaked the media on the lack of coverage of the women's soccer World Cup.).

This time he looks at women's softball and its elimination from the Olympics.

Those of us who remember pre-WNBA women's basketball know exactly what the Olympics meant (and still mean) to the likes of Edwards, Leslie, Staley.

Ditto that for softball, which is why people are fighting for its reinstatement.
De Varona is volunteering her expertise to Back Softball, an organization seeking the return of the sport to the Olympics. She recalled how her softball-playing daughter, Joanna Pinto, now 18, heard of the exclusion of softball in 2005, and said, “Go fix it, Mom.”


While the television networks and sponsors would probably never feature women’s softball as an Olympic mainstay, Samaranch was on the right track in bringing women’s sports into the Games. Porter and de Varona must now persuade the I.O.C. members to do the right thing and reinstate softball.
Thank you GV: geovec@nytimes.com
From Stever, a little male practice player flashback:
He had played against NBA center Tyson Chandler in high school. He faced off with Detroit Piston Tayshaun Prince that same year. But nothing quite prepared him for his first practice with the Cal women's basketball team.

He walked onto the court with plans of using his street-ball mentality and just trying to get a decent workout, but he knew the situation was slightly more precarious when two other practice players-both former walk-ons for the men's basketball team-told him the same thing: we're not guarding Devanei Hampton today, it's your turn. The walk-ons wanted no part of the dominant center, who averages 13.8 points and 8.0 rebounds a game and consistently plays with a reckless intensity.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

She is considered one of the best point guards in the country, but is not well known nationally.

Utah's Leilani Mitchell started out at the University of Idaho and received well deserved accolades in her first three seasons, but now is with a more successful program and one of the hottest teams in the country.

And there is even more to her story, including a mom fighting breast cancer in Australia.
Though neither RU nor UConn saw action, it was still a big night in the Big East, and all fourteen of us who get CSTV could have seen two big games:

1. Perennial Big East doormat Georgetown upended the 'Cuse in DC a few week ago: last night, the Hoyas couldn't quite do it again.

Erica Morrow's last-chance trey bounced high, then gave her Orange a one-point win. Morrow finished with a game-high 22 points, sinking four out of six from long range.

'Cuse coach Hillsman harangued his team earlier, after they gave up a lead, but shouted himself hoarse after the win: "I don't give them nothing," he said. "I don't let them not play hard. I don't let them not compete. We don't settle for mediocrity."

SU improve to 21-6 (9-5), and might expect a Big Dance bid despite their rather fluffy nonconference schedule.

2. In the game we did watch, West Virginia's big scorer Olayinka Sanni took on Pitt's big center Marcedes Walker, and Pitt's Shavonte Zellous took on the universe as her Panthers survived overtime for a big home win.

Zellous burned the Mountaineers for 29 points, including some dramatic (Cappie-esque, even) pull-up drives. Skeptics might note her 9-17 performance from the line; Pitt fans might respond that Zellous missed the Panthers' prior game with a concussion, and had, last night, a nasty late-game fall: it's neat that she was able to play at all.

WVU's Owens, no longer suspended, came off the bench and saw extended minutes; her teammate Chakia Cole sent the game to the extra frame with a layup, but fouled out.

Pitt's dramatic victory ends a four-game losing streak, including a loss in Morgantown to WVU. "We're a good team, but we're banged up right now," said coach Berenato. "We need to get ready for March."

In last night's other Big East matches, a good team crushed a bad one, and a team way below .500 in conference flattened a team a bit farther down.
USA Today looks at C. Vivian Stringer closing in on career win 800.

The Guru's crew will be on hand tonight as Rutgers takes on DePaul. The crew was also at practice yesterday. “I don’t want to lose – not because of the 800,” Stringer said.
The D-III playoffs in Minnesota continue tonight as the top four teams face off in the semi-finals.

The Star Tribune profiles an impact player on #1 seed St. Ben's - Danielle Frank. The freshman had a surgical procedure on her heart in late January and has come back playing even better.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Green Mountains of Vermont "Thought Pink" and turned it into green as the Catamounts raised $3,596 for the Vermont Cancer Center.
Clay likes watching UConn, can't quite figure out this year's Big XII (who can?), and concludes with (largely deserved) mockery: "It’s a sad state of affairs when a Big 10 power has to highlight a win over Marist."
A disaster, a mystery, a disappointment, a ball of confusion, a pathetic mess? At Full Court, Sharon Crowson (who should know) says this year's Big Ten is all that and more.
While coach Borseth keeps supervising Michigan's turnaround, Matt Bollant in Green Bay is trying to fill Borseth's shoes. UWGB's Phoenix have won the Horizon League reg-season title, as usual-- but they came quite close to a bad loss on the way there.

Back in Michigan, Borseth's Wolverines have now won four out of five. Thursday they trashed Purdue: Sunday they got past Illinois after a manic late-game burst from Jessica Minfield, who finished with 25.

The M-Go-Blues nonconference record has no bad losses, and wins over not-so-good teams from the Pac-10, ACC, and SEC. They'll need to look good in the Big Ten tournament to get a ticket to the Big Dance-- but it could happen. In this year's Big Ten, anything could.
Tamecka Dixon will stay with the Comets.
UConn doubled up LSU early, then fought to stay ahead in a strenous back-and-forth game. They did it: the Huskies' win avenged their ignominious tournament loss, and recalled their nailbiter in Baton Rouge last year.

The game was one of the toughest, and one of the most fun to watch (at least if you were rooting for the winners), of the year's national TV slate thus far, and it made both teams look pretty good like potential champions.

For the Huskies, Maya Moore looked stunning (10-17 from the field, 7-7 from the line) but she couldn't have done it alone. "As good as Maya was tonight," said Geno, "and I thought she was phenomenal, Kaili [McLaren] coming off the bench and Ketia Swanier and Tina [Charles], that’s what you need to beat a really good team."

Also needed: a tantrum from Geno himself, who picked up a technical foul in the second half after a bevy of whistles went LSU's way. Afterwards, calls seemed to even out.

Despite the T, there was lots of love between the Huskies and the Geaux Tigers beforehand and afterwards. A Baton Rouge sportswriter lauded UConn's intensity, while coach Auriemma enjoyed the purple and gold atmosphere: "I can’t say enough about the people down here and how we’re treated," he added. "There’s some schools up in the northeast that could take a lesson from the way the people treat you.”

Fowles and Charles even hugged postgame. Coach Van (who seems to be having a lot more fun at LSU than in his last years at Houston) had praise for Moore, and more praise for McLaren: "She just overpowered us inside." UConn had at least two folks crashing the glass, while LSU relied overmuch on Big Syl-- one reason for the visitors' double-digit rebounding advantage.

Fowles-- once she started elevating-- looked great, and Quianna Chaney had an invisible telescopic laser sight: she finished 6-11 from long range, but couldn't make the final trey that would have tied it. "You can't ask for better," said Fowles. "I enjoyed it while it lasted." So did we.
The Big 10 title remains up for grabs after the Hoosiers rallied past the Buckeyes in overtime, 66-61. This was Indiana's first win over Ohio State since 2003.

Indiana was able to slow down Jantel Lavender, turn 20 Buckeye turnovers into 21 points and take advantage of 16 more trips to the free throw line. Jamie Braun led four players in double figures with a game high 19 points.

"I think they really took it to our guards," Jim Foster said. "They beat us off the dribble. I thought their guards played very well. (Braun) doesn't shy away from wanting the ball in her hands when the game is on the line. She just made some big-time plays."

Monday, February 25, 2008

You're going to laugh, but at the beginning of the season I TOLD the NYTimes' Frank Litsky that he was going to have to arm wrassle Jere to see who was going to be the first to write about Maya Moore.

Frank won.

In a piece published tomorrow (and, yet, up on the website today, Internet magic!) you'll find the first of what I can only imagine will be many: In Freshman Season, Moore Shows UConn What May Come.
In an interview last week, Moore said of her coach: “He’s very direct. He’s not afraid to speak what’s on his mind. I like that because he’s going to tell you what you need to hear. I’ve never played for anyone like that. He yells at me. I understand. I’m a freshman and probably make more mistakes than a senior. I’ve been out of position and didn’t know where I should be. I’ve shot too fast. I’ve rushed things. I’ve made bad turnovers.

“I know how to take it. It’s not personal. You just keep playing. If you make a turnover, get back. If someone scores on you, you score on them.”
The "Think Pink" campaign continues and is now nearing 1,100 participants. Not only that, but The Hartford has signed on to be a founding partner.

The Hartford was the first to offer life insurance coverage to survivors of breast and prostate cancer at the same rates as healthy women and men of the same age.

Even better, the total amount raised has soared to $441, 210 -- every penny of which will go to cancer research.

Add to the total by donating here.
A bit of sponsorship history in light of State Farm taking over the "Kodak" All-Americans.

Kodak was one of the first companies to step up and support women's basketball -- or, should I say, post-Title IX basketball. (I don't want to forget Maytag, Aetna, or Hanes Hosiery, much less the business colleges.)

In March of 1975 the Eastman Kodak Company sponsored the inaugural Women's Basketball Coaches Clinic in conjunction with the national women's basketball collegiate championships, marking the first women's basketball corporate sponsorships.

1975 also marked their sponsorship of the first All-American Team.

In 1981, with the disolution of the AIAW looming and the NCAA in the future, several women's basketball coaches met to discuss the formation of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association. It was Kodak who underwrote the cost of the meeting.

Something less generally known (if I'm remembering my conversation with the great Bill Wall of USA Basketball correctly) is that in 1976, when the US put together the first Olympic women's basketball team, no one outside the team and coaches really thought they'd survive the qualifiers (though no one told the players) and make the Montreal games.

When they did, there was no budget and no logistical planning in place. It was Bill who stepped in with his Amex to cover expenses and it was the head of Eastman Kodak who stepped in with housing and a place to practice up in Rochester, NY.

I can understand the business reasons Kodak might drop its sponsorship, and deeply appreciate State Farm stepping up to the plate -- even if that Pat Summitt ad is driving me a bit crazy.

But I also wanted to take a moment and express my appreciation for the people and company who had vision back when most people didn't have the sense to look.
Remember when that 6'5" blond from the Land of Oz showed up and we all went "WHOA!" when she stepped out to stroke those threes?

Looks like someone was paying attention.

Check out another 6'5" blond kid out of Blue Hen land, Elena Delle Donne, the WBCA's High School Player of the Year, in this youtube highlight reel.
Checkin' in with the Griz:

In the biggest game of the season for the Montana women's basketball team, coach Robin Selvig started his three seniors Saturday. That meant Laura Cote and Dana Conway were on the floor for a rare Big Sky Conference tip-off, and junior Britney Lohman had to cover the best player in the league, Idaho State's Natalie Doma.

It couldn't haveworked out much better. Lohman set the tone defensively with a lockdown on Doma, Cote took command offensively during a key first half stretch and Montana used hot shooting to bury the Bengals, 76-54, before a season-high crowd of 5,524 at Dahlberg Arena.

Interesting side note: Doma, needs 26 points to pass Montana assistant coach Shannon (Cate) Schweyen as the Big Sky's career scoring leader. She got 12.
A little pre-game reading in preparation for tonight's LSU-UConn match-up.

Out of Connecticut: Matchup Part Of Learning Process, UConn women face test at LSU and No. 6 LSU Presents Well-rounded Challenge For UConn Women.

Louisiana offers two articles:
LSU: LSU takes aim at top-ranked Connecticut and Chancellor Takes LSU Offense And Kicks It Up Another Notch.
No, really, what is UP with Maryland? Are they simply a team who plays down to the competition? Or are they an example of a team that is mentally tough in crunch time?

No doubt, there was a lot of emotion flying all over the court yesterday, what with it being Senior night and Brenda making an appearance a week after the Turtle-Twins were born... but does that explain why they were, yet again, taken to overtime?

Florida State (16-11, 6-6) had the honors. Again, a late run by the Terps and they pulled away in overtime, winning 92-84 and sending the crowd of 16,000-plus home happy. Sorta: Maryland shot 56% and had a huge rebounding advantage (48-29), but they also 23 turnovers to FSU's 7 and 14 assists on 30 baskets.

Maryland's fourth overtime game in its last eight gave the team its first undefeated season at home since the 1988-89 season and its fifth perfect home record in school history.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The New York Times gives D-III Kean University some love.
Kean, which leads N.C.A.A. Division III in scoring at 86 points a game, will meet Rutgers-Newark (19-6, 8-5) in the N.J.A.C. playoffs Monday at 7 p.m. at Harwood Arena. The Cougars, who are ranked No. 8 in the nation, seemed poised for a serious run in the Division III national tournament, which will play its finals March 21-22 at Hope College in Holland, Mich.

“We obviously have high expectations,” said Kean Coach Michele Sharp, watching her players warm up before the Stockton game. “My kids want to be playing in Michigan next month.”
Some interesting number information from Marie Hardin:
The average salary of a sportswriter at an APSE-member paper is around $47,000, according a phone survey of more than 200 reporters. The minimum salary was $18,000 and the highest salary reported was $150,000. The average for women was slightly less than for men.
Another reason to say "thank you" to the writers who support women's basketball.
Fun game on the horizon: #1 UConn goes down to Baton Rouge to meet #6 LSU on Monday. (ESPN2, 7pmEST).

Clearly an important game for tournament seeding. And both teams will want to play well in preparation for their final Conference games -- LSU is 12-0 in the SEC, UConn is 13-1 with a game against 12-1 Rutgers still to come.

But there is that is that small matter of revenge: LSU tattooed UConn last time they met, eliminating them from the NCAA tournament.

Mecelle Voepel writes about UConn junior Renee Montgomery, who's stepped up her leadership and scoring after the Huskies lost two starters to ACL tears.
"In all the time that I've been at Connecticut, our best teams have always been when we have two guards on the floor who are somewhat point-guard mentality," Auriemma said. "The ultimate was when we had Sue Bird and Diana [Taurasi] -- I don't think it's ever gotten better than that anywhere ever in women's college basketball.

"But what we have now is similar. … It doesn't matter if Renee is handling the ball or playing off the ball. She's a playmaker who can score, and a scorer who can make plays."
Lot's of interesting numbers coming out of yesterday's games:

1. Vivian Stringer earned her 799th victory as Rutgers defeated Providence, 62-43.

2. Over 12,000 watched Oklahoma avenge an early stomping by Oklahoma State, 81-71. Courtney Paris broke the 2000 point mark while notching her 86th straight double-double.

3. St. John's suspended six players and then UConn senior Ketia Swanier scored a career-high 20pts as the Huskies romped 98-41.

4. Candice Wiggins opened the game 0-14, but Stanford managed to escape with a 60-58 victory over California and move in to the top spot in the PAC-10. Over 10,525 packed the stands, the biggest crowd ever to see a Pac-10 conference game.

5. Trailing by 12 with 4:49 left, the Utes went on an 18-4 run to earn a victory over New Mexico in the Pit.

Coach Elliott's team picked up the W despite scoring no points at all for the first 8:10; the win--Utah's 18th straight-- also keeps the team undefeated in Mountain West Conference play.

6. Kim Mulkey decision to not to sit Angela Tisdale, their top scoring threat, who'd picked up her fourth foul, proved a wise one. Baylor finished on a 15-4 run to beat Iowa State, 59-54. Another good crowd in Ames: 10,613.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Union University just keeps on winning.

The top team in NAIA Division I defeated #7 Freed-Hardeman University, 72-68.

I know what you're thinking. "Freed-Hardeman, University, Freed-Hardeman University.... Sheesh Helen, why does that name sound so familiar?"

That's because you, my little historical-nut-in-training, are recalling this particular historical tidbit about Margaret Wade, Mary Nelle Brumley Chalk and Dew Drop Rowlett -- the latter two who were inducted in to the FHU Hall of Fame.
The latest tally is $373,000.

Add your contribution HERE.
Congrats go out to Dawn Staley, who became Temple's all-time winningest women's basketball coach.

Her 166th win happened the same night the kid who's not on the Nancy Lieberman award list... what's her name? Zoll? Right.

Anyways, what's her name broke Staley's ACC record for assists. An alley-oop pass to Monica Wright in the second half of Virginia's 83-71 win over Clemson was #730. Said Virginia coach Debbie Ryan:
"Words can’t describe. To have two of those players like Dawn Staley and Sharnee Zoll, obviously I’ve been blessed and honored to be able to be their coach and to have the kind of relationship I’ve had with them has just been a dream for me."
Blocks are beautiful. And St. Mary's Louella Tomlinson has a ton of'em. The 6'4" Australian is on pace to set the single-season Division I record.
“I love doing it. I’m not going to lie. It’s the intimidation factor,” Tomlinson said. “Coach Thomas said to me he hated shot blockers on his past teams. But I think I can get away with it. I don’t foul out. It is what I do. He’s not going to want to take me out of my game.”
Michigan State’s Alyssa DeHaan holds the freshman record (145) and the overall record of 152 by Amie Williams of Jackson State in 2003.
It's Awkward Coincidence Day at ESPN: Hays writes this morning about the great job coach Mike Carey has done at West Virginia. One line below, on the front page, we read that Carey has suspended LaQuita Owens, WVU's second-leading scorer, for unspecified violations of team rules.
Ever heard of Gretchen Gregg? She's shooting nearly 48% from downtown for Cornell, a number that places her fourth in the nation right now.

She was number one a week ago, when her Big Red beat Harvard in Ithaca to take (what they still hold) first place in the Ivy League.
Newly ranked UTEP (that would be the University of Texas-El Paso) just barely avoided the WHB curse: the Miners-- now 22-2 and undefeated within Conference USA-- trailed Southern Mississippi at the half, raced back from nine points down with two minutes to play, then edged the Eagles by one point in overtime.

"We're thrilled," said coach Adams. Southern Miss-- near .500 overall-- had lost just one earlier game at home. Kasia Krezel-- who had scored no points in the Miners' last two outings-- led everybody with 21.

With the tough win, UTEP preserve the nation's second-longest winning streak, and secure the top seed in C-USA's tourney.

Will they have to win that tourney to reach the Big Dance? You decide: their best nonconference win appears to be New Mexico.
Sanford will stay in DC.

Friday, February 22, 2008

So, is this like a delayed baby shower for Lisa? First Candace (oh, come on, like LA's going to give up Parker) and now they add Mariiieeeeee.

I'm thinking the year-old owners are feelin' pretty good about being basketball bigwigs.
Debbie Paladino, who played on the Rutgers women's basketball team that won the last AIAW national championship in 1982, has died. She was 44.

During her career, her teammates included Chris Dailey, associate head coach at UConn, Patty Coyle, Liberty head coach, Mary Coyle, (Klinger) coach and athletic director, Rutgers Prep, and Sue Wicks, assistant coach, St. Francis (NY).
From Wisconsin comes a story of Shelley Dietz, who went from playing the game to officiating it at the high school and college level.
The Big 10 continued to turn last night.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was in Ann Arbor. Going into their game against Purdue, the Wolverines were 9-1. So it is not shocking they were able to win. What is surprising is the score...72-36. The win broke an eight year, 18 game losing streak to the Boilers that went back to 2000.

Purdue got off to a slow start, and never recovered. And Coach Versyp is not sure why. "I thought we were very well prepared and totally focused. I can't really give you an answer other than we got our butts really waxed tonight." The balanced offensive attack and stifling defense by the Wolverines even got their coach to do something he rarely does - sit down during a game.

In Columbus, the Buckeyes moved a step closer to another regular season crown by taking down the Hawkeyes 69-56. Ohio State led by as many as 19, before Iowa closed within 10 points in the second half. But super frosh Jantel Lavender wasn't worried. "It never crossed my mind that we would lose the game. We just had to fix some of the little things we were doing." Lavender and Ashlee Trebilcock paced OSU with 18 points a piece.

In the other games, Michigan State won their fourth in a row and kept Northwestern winless in league play. The Illini took care of the ball, got it to Jenna Smith and handed the Lady Lions their eight loss in a row.
Maya Moore in Sports Illustrated alert.

Richard Deitsch talks to Geno and the amazing Maya in the latest print issue of SI. Unfortunately, it does not seem to be online (yet?).

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bruce Pearl on PTI today: "Between Pat Summitt and I [sic], we have seven national championships."
There's no doubt left: Candace says she'll turn pro this year. (Will the Sparks' hometown paper pick up the story?)

UPDATE: Voepel reacts.
USA Today's Dick Patrick writes about the "The season for knee injuries" and notes:
According to Antonelli's research earlier this season, the top seven women's team had 11 players with knee injuries compared with two in the men's top 25.

Make that 12 players: Rutgers has lost Myia McCurdy to an ACL.
Couple gems from the Title IX blog:
“I guarantee you this.... From this day forward, if the girls are eating a bologna sandwich, the boys will eat a bologna sandwich.”

**Raleigh County (WV) Superintendent Charlotte Hutchens's unequivocal promise for equal treatment for the female athletes at Woodrow High School

and from University of Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley:
There’s a law that says you have to do what’s right by the women. And as I said, to me, that’s a moral obligation. It is what it is. For the longest time you’ve had women’s sports that have been under-funded. You’ve had women’s sports that have not been getting the right priority. You’ve had women’s sports where the facilities are abysmal. You’ve had women’s sports that have been treated as second-class citizens. That’s just not right. So that part has to be fixed. And if it means taking away from another area of your program or your university, that’s what you have to do.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mwadi goes to Houston and some Comets fans are none too pleased. (And is there a hint of a SASS going West to Sparks -land?)
Not really surprising, but Candace to L.A. is looking more likely. (hat tip Grumps)
Another day, another grinding, low-scoring win at the RAC for the Scarlet Knights. "Everyone in America knows we struggle with zones," said coach Stringer afterwards. "We weren't moving the ball."

RU had more turnovers than assists, but kept Notre Dame's shooting under 33%.
The Lynx look for power and experience inside by making an offer for Nakia Sanford. DC now has five days to match. (Query for the Basket Cases: is Nakia really 6'4"?)
Sad and awful news from Baton Rouge, where high school star and LSU recruit Shannon Veal collapsed and died on Monday during a game.
COOL!! Debbie and Beth go podding on iTunes now!
"Shootaround with Beth & Debbie" is also now available on iTunes. This allows all listeners to subscribe to the podcast. Each new show will automatically be downloaded into your iTunes podcasts once they become available. To access this function click on the "Subscribe to iTunes Podcast" on our archive page.
On this week's show:
An interview with North Carolina Head Coach Sylvia Hatchell where she touches on turnovers, Erlana Larkins, possibly going undefeated in the ACC, success of her three middle players and her blueberry patch.

Following the interview, Beth and Debbie hit you up with "Full-Court Pressure Trivia" and "Matt the Stat Guy". The two, then, discuss possible candidates for the NCAA Division I State Farm Coaches' All-America Team. To wrap it up, this week's cocktail napkin includes WBCA High School All-Americans, Marist and Brenda Frese delivering twin boys.

Story ideas, questions and comments are always welcome at shootaround@wbca.org.
History nut alert.

Give me three minutes, and I'll remind someone that women have been playing basketball since 1892,

Give me two minutes more, and I'll point out that in the mid-30's Lou Hoover helped ban all (but one) state high school tournaments and most college varsity teams had been eliminated.

One more minute, and we'll get to the story of those stubborn women who truly played for the love of the game. The best of those players became AAU All-Americans. It's a list that dates back to 1929.

Margaret Sexton Gleaves was one of those women.
Few players in the country stacked up with the 1938 Bellevue High alumna.

"She was one of the best guards there's ever been," said Alline Banks Sprouse of Manchester, the decade's most dominant player (nine times she was AAU national tournament MVP) and Gleaves' roommate on the road for several years with NBC and the Blumes.

"We won many national championships. We were All-Americans.
Utah's is winning like it's 1977.
For fans who have grown up watching Utah women's hoops, it seems like head coach Elaine Elliott has been on the Utah bench drawing up plays and muttering under her breath since the dawn of time. But Elliott, who is in her 25th year and picked up her illustrious 500th career win last season, had yet to show up in Salt Lake City the last time the Utes had an 18-game winning streak.

"I'm glad to be on this team and do it for a coach like Elaine Elliott," Warburton said. "She deserves this. It's because of her that we're where we're at right now. I know she always says it's us, but you know when you have somebody to look up to, and you know that she's supporting you every day, you want to play good all the time."

Sometimes just a headline makes you pay attention to a story. For instance:
Iceland native turns up heat for Lady Frogs
I mean, how can you resist clicking on the link and finding out more about freshman guard Helena Sverrisdottir?

(And don't you just wish she'd go up against Cetera DeGraffenreid and Courtnay Pilypaitis?)
Maybe you need to have watched the Big East for a couple of years to see how weird it is that Providence beat a ranked team. The Friars improved to 2-10 in conference (12-13 overall) by clamping down on Syracuse in the final minutes of play: PC frosh Mi-Khida Hankins led all scorers and sealed the deal with late free throws.

"In our last three games, we had opportunities and we kind of melted," said Friars coach Seymore. "We didn't melt this time."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

SI.com picks up the story of the Marquette players who donated their hair for cancer victims.

Notes Marquette Fan:
Marquette had their Think Pink game vs. Seton Hall and were taking donations per 3 pointer made. MU was last in the BE in 3 point shooting coming into the game and made a season high 11 3 pointers Saturday. Weibel may never be able to have long hair again during her career at MU as she's gone 10-13 from 3 point land since she had her hair cut.

Marquette had their second highest crowd of the season for this game (and highest attendance at the Al - their usual home court) and it was a great environment for a great cause. Props to the band director who bought a special pink suit just for the game.
Think Pink and donate here.

Over at WBCA.org you can read Missouri State University coach Trish Marsh's story:
I started to attack this as if I were preparing for the biggest opponent of my life. I started to “scout” out information on the internet and be as informed as I could when I headed to the surgeon’s office on Tuesday, the next day. I met with the surgeon and he was very positive about helping me with my fight. I opted for a lumpectomy and scheduled it for Thursday. I wanted to get this cancer out of my body as soon as possible.

First, I had some other people to tell of my diagnosis. Coach Milleson gathered our Drury team over to her house. Our players knew something was wrong. We as a staff had some beans to spill. Nyla was going in on Friday to have gallbladder surgery. Another assistant, Carly (Deer) Stubblefield, was several months pregnant with a child diagnosed with club feet. Then I let my big hammer down that I had breast cancer. Lots of tears in that room....will never forget that night.
Not much drama last night in Columbus, but maybe a new Buckeye star: OSU in general, and Shavelle Little in particular, made Purdue look pretty inept as they led the home team to a big win.

The Boilers finished with twelve assists to 18 turnovers, four of the latter being Shavelle's steals. The lopsided loss surprised Boiler fans, since Purdue won in West Lafayette two weeks ago; the result puts OSU into contention for the reg-season title-- and gives some evidence to the people who think, as Clay really doesn't, that they deserve to be a top 25 team.

In other Ohio hoops news, Jantel Lavender is not Drew Lavender. In fact, they may not even be related.
McCarville checks in from New Orleans with a striking photo and a Chinese shoe.
So, now that the Bird has Cash, will the Sales leave?

When asked of Sales, who is the team’s only remaining unrestricted free agent and “core” player, Thibault sounded doubtful the veteran would also return.
A bracket-ologist/committee slammer alert from reader Jesse, who does the radio broadcasts for the University of Hartford women's basketball:
The Hartford-Binghamton game tips at 7pm with a pregame beginning at 6:50pm on WWUH 91.3 and on the web at wwuh.org. The halftime interview with Mel Greenberg will air at approximately 7:40 pm.

Mel discusses some of the formalities of last week's mock bracket created by a (mostly) media panel in Indianapolis with the REAL committee actually shadowing what they do.
Procrastination means Poll Time!

And then there were three...

That is, three undefeated teams at the top of the D-III polls: Hope College, Howard Payne and Thomas More.

"Delta Dawn what's that ranking you have on..."

Yes, it has happened. The Lady Statesmen have hit the top of the Division II charts. (Actually, they've been there, but we were otherwise engaged).

The School of Wade and Lucy is undefeated (22-0). Hot on their heels, Seattle Pacific, also undefeated.

You can now compare and contrast the AP and ESPN/Coaches Division I polls.

NAIA polls will be out tomorrow, but expect Union University to remain at the top of the Division I poll.

You may recall that a Feb. 5th tornado wiped out most of the Union campus. They're now 25-0, the best start in team history. This week, Josephine Owino, a 6'4" junior center from Mombasa, Kenya, was named TranSouth Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Player of the Week.

Division II will, most likely, remain unchanged with Hard Work U (College of the Ozarks) and the Northwestern College Red Raiders in the top to spots.

In the Raiders' last game, Debbie Remmerde set a new school record with 51 points, breaking her own previous mark of 50 set earlier this season against South Dakota Tech. She made 19/28 field goal attempts, 6/11 three pointers and 7/8 from the free throw line.

Good news for fans. The NAIA announced a partnership with JumpTV to stream exclusive live video and audio of the NAIA Division I and Division II Men's and Women's Basketball National Championship tournaments.
No, don't ask how I uncovered this... But in a flashback to '98, we have Mechelle talking to buildings... during whicg this little nugget pops up:
Operator: Excuse me, but we have a late addition to the teleconference. Caller, state your name, please.

Coleman: Uh, my name is Coleman Coliseum, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Operator: Well, this teleconference is for buildings whose teams lost.

Coleman: Yeah, I know, but ... I think my team did lose, except there were a couple of, um, teensy glitches at the end of the game, see. And, um ...

Hilton: Yeah, we saw it, Coleman. Just curious, how'd you pull off that clock trick?

Coleman: Hey, it wasn't my fault. I don't think it was anyone's fault, exactly. It's just, you know, a couple of mistakes were made. But they were, like, BIG mistakes and ... well, I tried to call Pauley Pavilion to apologize, but it won't speak to me.
The .com has Player Movement Central page where you can see who's cored, unrestricted, restricted, new signings and trades.

Yo, .com! Where's the fan email telling all us fans about it?
Kris interviews Sherri.
Those wacky blogging economists have more to say about the economic impact of sports. Of interest, this comment:
In Oklahoma City, which is on the wooing rather than shooing end of the game, sensible commentary from Rod Fort and Rob Baade is given the usual treatment by local politicos. The pattern of the piece seems to be: get Rob or Rod to say something about what academic research has found on the impact question, and then have the president of the OKC Chamber of Commerce take a whack at it. The whacks may "sound good," but they are pretty lame whacks, especially this one, in response to the local substitution issue: "That's not true. They could have gone to Dallas that weekend and spent that money."

Ok then, I guess sports' economic impact is not important, except when it is. Then we'll obfuscate. Errr....***
So, yeah, I know I don't really put much stock in polls (though they do help when writers want to point out "upsets").

But looking at the AP poll, sometimes you've got to wonder about the qualifications of the voters...

Mel Greenberg's answer to our wondering is simple:
The reason the Scarlet Knights stayed in fifth place and it's a harsh truth: Simply, the knowledge base across the 50-member panel is not as deep as one would like.

He then offers a reconfigured AP poll:
Having spoke of the "knowledge base," the Guru went to the AP voting site and randomly grabbed names of media whose awareness of the scene and rhythm of the season might be more extensive than others. Some exceptions were made to get "beat" writers of local teams in the mix, while not every name was taken from those considered to be a bit more aware, nationally.
The results:
1. Connecticut (10 first-place votes) - Full AP vote: UConn
2. North Carolina (1) - Full AP vote: UNC
3. Rutgers (6) - Full AP vote: Tennessee
4. Maryland - Full AP vote: Maryland
5. Tennessee - Full AP vote: Rutgers
6. LSU - Full AP vote: LSU
7. Stanford - Full AP vote: Stanford
8. Baylor - Baylor

Worth a read -- and it'll be interesting to see how the ESPN/Coaches poll matches up. (Which, of course, raises the question, how much time do THEY spend watching and/or analyzing teams they don't play?)
Thank goodness, some good news outta Houston.
The big redhead is back, and I don't mean Bill Walton or Dave Cowens. Nope, Joe Curl is back, just four months removed from double-bypass surgery. But the Big Guy got clearance from his doctors and says he will return for Thursday's game at Tulsa.

"Dr. (Michael) Sweeney, the guy who tore my chest open, gave me the green light (Monday) to come back," Curl said. "I think it's really a good time (to return). If the team was on a 12-game winning streak I'd say, 'That's OK. My heart still hurts.' But they've lost (three straight) games, so this is the right time."
Thanks to Cam for bringing forward LZ Granderson's response to almost being gay-bashed during the NBA weekend.
As long as we as a culture continue to make incidents like the one involving Quinn a news brief, then we as a culture will continue to give credence to the barbaric caste system that has led to several violent attacks and even deaths of people just because they are gay. Contrary to the mistaken notion that brings us comfort, this branch of hate crimes didn't stop once the nation eulogized Shepard. Some of us just stopped paying attention.

A year ago Tim Hardaway was under fire for saying he hates gay people, a sentiment that seemed to be shared by the small, drunken mob that surrounded me. I also suspect those who may not agree with gay people -- but certainly don't hate us -- are far greater in number. When you speak up you can help change hearts, even save lives. That may sound hokey but I know I'm probably able to write this column today because it's true.
Four words, people: It Takes a Team.
Annie goes to Minnie and someone doesn't like Katie going to Indie.
Sad news out of Sioux Falls: Fred Tibbetts, who set records for most wins and a 111-game win streak in girls' basketball, died Sunday of colon cancer. He was 58.

Writes Stu Whitney of the Argus Leader:
No one meant as much as Tibbetts, who brought fire and flair to the girls game simply by being himself. Those of us who cherish sports, and long for big showdowns, should honor him for that.
Another reason to "Think Pink," with a reminder that donations go to research in curing ALL cancer. You can donate here.

Monday, February 18, 2008

So, here comes some "sources say" information from Connecticut's The Day:
Katie Douglas, the Connecticut Sun’s All-Star guard, will be dealt to the Indiana Fever on Tuesday for forward Tamika Whitmore and Indiana’s 2008 first round draft pick (12th overall), according to league sources. Another Indiana player may also be involved in the deal.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

WHB and the NYTimes are like ONE these days.
[11-year-old] Collin had an injury that doctors used to think almost never occurred in children. He had torn the anterior cruciate ligament, or A.C.L., in his left knee, the main ligament that stabilizes the joint.

Although there are no complete or official numbers, orthopedists at leading medical centers estimate that several thousand children and young adolescents are getting A.C.L. tears each year, with the number being diagnosed soaring recently. Some centers that used to see only a few such cases a year are now seeing several each week.
Time for some "cross-blogging" with Pat Griffin. (and apologies for it being .2 days late)

"One of the enduring issues in women’s sports, at both the professional and collegiate levels, is the reluctance to acknowledge lesbian fans," says Pat. After a thoughtful overview, she gets to the cool news:
As far as women’s collegiate sports go, few schools make any serious attempts to attract or capitalize on support from the local lesbian and gay community. That is why the University of California women’s basketball game vs. the University of Arizona on February 16 is a real landmark.

UC-Berkeley has declared this game “GLBT Pride Day” and, on their publicity poster for the day, they invite LGBT fans to “get loud and be proud.” The poster goes on to invite everyone to “join Cal Women’s Basketball in celebrating the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community and embracing our diversity.” The poster, complete with rainbow flags, is posted on the UC-Berkeley athletics ticket page on the Athletic Department web page. The event is also advertised in the Bay Area Reporter, the local LGBT newspaper.
Is this, Pat asks, a first in women's collegiate sports? She also encourages fans to show their support through phone calls and emails.

Here, I'll make it easy:

Administration (510-642-0580 )
Sandy Barbour, Director of Athletics, athletic.director@berkeley.edu
Teresa Keuhn-Gould, Deputy Dir. of Ath, Sr Women's Admin., tkuehn@berkeley.edu

Marketing & Promotions (510-642-2444)
Matt Terwilliger, Assistant AD / Business & Revenue Development, mterwill@berkeley.edu

Women's Basketball (510-642-9448)
Joanne Boyle, Head Coach, jboyle@berkeley.edu
Auburn's "Think Pink" Sunday brings the story of Marianne Merritt (Melton), the first woman to receive a basketball scholarship at the University.
Almost three decades later, including lots of NCAA Tournament appearances and an array of All-Americans, and her accomplishments have not been diminished. She still sits atop the Auburn record book in scoring and rebounding averages, has been honored as one of the SEC's greats and finds her name in the walk of honor through the streets of Auburn.

She is also a survivor.
By the way, the "Think Pink" initiative has now raised $210,000. You can donate here.
It's not just an alumna's enthusiasm; Maryville's story is getting noticed.
Rumor has it Maryland's most written about mama-to-be is now a mama-of-two.
I know it's almost de rigeur for fans of women's basketball to bash the NBA. I understand the impluse, but I'm not so sure it's useful.

Thanks, then, to the SportsProf who offers up a gem while wondering why the me-first Allen Iverson perenial .500 76'ers drew while the current team "that's won 5 straight, involves everyone on the offense and is playing good team ball" doesn't.
There's no glitz in true beautiful basketball. There's bling in basketball that's played for the value of a Top-10 Highlight on ESPN's Sports Center.
More on Ms. Zoll and Dawn's record of 729.
An old-school point guard, Zoll worries about what the looming record is doing to her Virginia teammates. "Every time they miss a layup they're like 'Nee, I'm sorry,'" she said. "Or they think, 'I can't take too many dribbles' [or Zoll won't get an assist].

"I hate that it puts pressure on my teammates, but I love that they respect me enough to want me to get the record."
The headline of Kathy Orton's piece (a headline, of course, that she didn't compose) is "Knock on the Terrapins Is a Lack of Knockouts: 26-2 Mark Includes Some Surprisingly Close Wins."

Hey! Yah think the Washington Post reads WHB?
Title IX in Greater Boston, thirty-five years on: "I always thought, OK, when are my boys going to finally say, 'You know, Mom, I don't think I want you to coach anymore?'" says Nancy Benullo, a hoops star in Methuen (Mass.) in the late 1970s. "But they don't say that at all."
Okay, I'm not saying I'm prescient, but it is nice when teams read the blog and then go out and make my point.

Yesterday, currently unranked DePaul snapped #11 West Virginia's 9-game winning streak. 14 three-pointers and Deirdre Naughton's 24 points and 15 rebounds earned the Blue Demons an 81-80 victory.

St. Bonaventure earned its first victory over a ranked team in school history. Their 44-24 halftime lead over #13 George Washington held, and they went home with a 63-60 win.

How much of a surprise is this? Well, consider that before last season's 16-15 finish they've not had a winning season since 1997-98. Said Bonnies coach Jim Crowley,
"I think there's going some wide eyes. I'm not going to lie, I thought of people seeing the bottom line at halftime and figuring it was a misprint."
Seems like other unranked teams didn't get a chance to read the blog (let this be a lesson to them). Rutgers won, as did Stanford (Wiggins is 50 points away from breaking Lisa Leslie's conference scoring record of 2,414.), California, Utah (16-straight), Notre Dame and Wyoming.
Now that Force 10 has extracted the Storm from the clutches of that nice Mr. Bennett, and Mr. Stern has said the Supersonic's move out of Seattle is an "inevitability" it'll be interesting to watch where the men's team lands.

You'll recall that lawyers for the Sonics have said that their move would have "little economic impact" on Seattle. Which, of course, makes one wonder what would make the team attractive to, say...Oklahoma City?

The Sports Economist blog has been unpicking the projected economic impact. A recent entry links to bigleaguecity.com which reports the results of consultants who are using the temporary relocation of the Charlotte Hornets to Ok. C as a point of reference/projection.

Both the original poster, Dennis Coates (U of MD Baltimore County -- didn't they have a nice run through the America East conference last year?) and a couple of "commenters" seem to have questions about the... accuracy? of the numbers. "I wonder how the consultants explain the job creation figures," asks Coates.
Note that in 2006-07 there were 37 games and direct and indirect jobs created of 289, but in 2005-06 there were 38 games but 229 direct and indirect jobs created. In other words, according to this report, playing one fewer game in OKC in 2006-07 than in 2005-06 brought the city 60 jobs.

It is also interesting that per game attendance fell by 3650 from 2005-06 to 2006-07. Seems like the novelty of having a team wore off pretty quickly.
This is relevant because, writes John Estus of the Oklahoman,
The question Oklahoma City voters are now asked is whether $121 million of their sales tax money that would mostly pay to upgrade the Ford Center is worth trying to change everything yet again. Civic leaders tout the March 4 sales tax election as a referendum on whether the city wants an NBA team — likely the Oklahoma-owned Seattle SuperSonics club that has applied to relocate here.
I have no dog in the hunt, but I gotta say, I sure do wish that nice Mr. Bennett the BEST of luck in finding a new home for his new team. Especially in light of those gray economic clouds that seem to be looming on the horizon.

I mean, it would totally suck to be caught out in the rain with no place for your basketball team to play, wouldn't it?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Mechelle writes about "the other twin," Ashley.
"It is like back in high school, because I'm a key factor on our team now," Ashley said. "And I'm able to play a lot with my sister. Whereas the past two years, I've been kind of relieving her and just getting a small amount of time on court with her.

"It was hard those first two years, but I'm so grateful for it. I've learned so much, and I feel like it's put me in a position this year to play this way."
Programing note: If the site looks wicked ugly in Safari, try looking at it in Firefox. Or, if it's ugly in Firefox, try Safari.

Rumor has it you shouldn't bother trying in IE.

The tech-elves (known as Jessie) are looking in to it.

I MIGHT be to blame, but I say no, it's Chris in Montreal's fault.

Bloody Canadians.
Quick - what does UTEP stand for?

Graham Hays knows.
It's arguable whether any program has come as far this season as the University of Texas El Paso, which entered the Top 25 this week for the first time in 34 years of women's basketball.

It's easier to make the case that no NCAA Tournament hopeful came as far just to get to this season than the Miners, who count three players from Poland, one from Bolivia, one from Belarus and one from Mozambique among their number. But despite the clash of cultures converging on a border town easily lost amidst the open spaces that define West Texas, the Miners continue to produce a balanced brand of basketball suggestive of uncommon familiarity.
Union University (TN) is #1 in NAIA Division I. Undefeated this season, the Lady Bulldogs have a history of success. They've won 30 or more games in 13 of the last 15 seasons, and were national champions in 1998, 2005 and 2006.

On February 5th, the campus was devastated by an EF4 tornado. ESPN's Kieran Darcy writes about the school's move to recovery and the team's decision to play a game on the 11th.
"We thought we were ready to begin focusing on the future," says Dockery [school president]. "Women's basketball is our most visible sport. I think the fact that it's basketball season allows our students and our friends in the community to rally around the team."
The game was played at Jackson Christian School's gymnasium. Down early, writes Darcy,Union fought back to take a 38-36 lead at halftime. Then the Lady Bulldogs turned on the shooting touch in the second half, running out to a big lead. But the hot shooting wasn't what stood out most. Rather, when Kaitlin Dudley got knocked to the ground after a hard foul, she smiled. When Jessica Graves got called for a ticky-tack reach-in foul, she giggled. When Crystal Eason got a shot stuffed right back in her mug, she burst out laughing.

"It was so great out there," Eason said after the game [a victory]. "It was a relief from everything outside, to be able to focus on basketball for a little while, even though that's not our main focus."

By the way, you can thank Kieran for his coverage of women's basketball via email: kieran.d.darcy@espn3.com
Though the "Think Pink" initiative raises awareness about breast health and breast cancer, the money raised goes to research for cures for all cancer.

Not surprisingly, this week has brought to light several stories highlighting how basketball and the fight against cancer are linked.

In South Dakota, when bone cancer prevented a young girl from playing basketball, her teammates and coaches found a way. They've created the "Cylie Rule," which says that when there's a foul, anyone recovering from bone cancer is allowed to check into the game to shoot her team's free throws.

In Missouri, when Kickapoo High School's girls' basketball coach Stephanie Phillips was diagnosed with colon cancer, her friend Shannon Kinney turned to her knitting needles to help raise money.
"When I heard about Stephanie's cancer, I thought 'Everyone else can do something for her, what can I do?'

What she could do, she reasoned, was what she knew and what other people might want. She could knit, and the sturdy, pretty dishrags she knitted for friends and relatives lasted forever. She called Anderson to bounce the idea off, and her friend thought her idea was great. She researched the colors associated with different cancers — the American Cancer Society told her purple is for colon cancer — but from out of nowhere, a slogan popped into her mind: "White Out Coach Phillips' Cancer."
"Think Pink" has reached $138,675. Donate here.
One of my favorite parts of the Final Four weekend has been the high school all-star game. It's a rare chance to next year's freshmen strut their stuff and college fans to dream of next year.

The WBCA has announced today the nation's top 20 girls' basketball players selected to participate in the 17th annual WBCA High School All-America Game. The college-style regulation game is scheduled for Saturday, April 5, at the University of South Florida's Sun Dome in Tampa Bay. Tip-off at 4:30 p.mET.

Colleges (scheduled to be) represented:
Florida State
Tennessee (x4)
Connecticut (x2)
Rutgers (x4)
North Carolina
Notes the press release:
The Nike Co-Captains are the WNBA Minnesota Lynx's Lindsey Harding and Indiana Fever's Tamika Catchings. Harding and Catchings will be available for an autograph session at 4:00 p.m. (ET) at the Sun Dome. The WBCA High School All-American Team will be available for autographs following the game.

Reserved seats are available for $15 and can be purchased by calling 813-287-8844 or by visiting wbca.org or ticketmaster.com.
Now, if only someone would step up and sponsor the college senior game.
Anyone involved in women's sports is heartbreakingly aware of the impact of ACL tears.

Lots of theories, lots of research, lots of questions. Lots of frustration.

A well-respected ski coach has formed a study group with two major foci:
1) the relationship between sophisticated stretching programs and ACL injuries
2) foot structures, shoe fit, shoe stability, orthotics, and foot-beds.
"Some history," he writes:
I have been very involved with many more athletes who have suffered ACL injuries than I want to recall. (ACL injuries are even more prevalent among alpine ski racers than among basketball or soccer players.) I have friends in the medical community who have been pioneers in developing the first reconstruction procedures for repairing torn ACLs. The earliest work in this field began in the late 1960's and early '70's. Since that time, as the incidence of ACL injuries has multiplied almost exponentially, I have observed the development of alternative techniques for ACL repairs that doctors now have to choose from.

Over all these years, I am not aware of any doctors, coaches or trainers who have had many concrete ideas for reducing the number of injuries beyond strengthening of the muscles that support the knee joint, and some tentative efforts to teach female athletes how to better jump and land. While these efforts may have prevented some injuries, there is no way we can know how many. Thus, in summary, a lot of people (including countless women's basketball fans, coaches, players and parents) continue to wish there were concrete answers to the ACL problem; but, in truth, they simply don't exist.
He has posted a fascinating (and long) outline of the study's goals and protocols. A "worth it" read for those wanting to know more.
No, it's not exactly a season of parity, but it is a season where unranked teams have given top teams a lot to think about. This time is was Virginia threatening UNC.

The Cavaliers had a 2-point lead at halftime and had the ball, down two points with 1:58 left to play. That's when the Human Ice Bag (otherwise known as Erlana Larkins) came up with a key steal that led to a Pringle jumper, and an eventual 90-82 victory.

Oh, and yo, sports writers who vote on the Nancy Lieberman Award Finalists? Meet Virgina point guard Sharnee Zoll. Didja know the team captain in on track to break Dawn Staley's assist record?

How does the MIA Z compare?
Ajavon: 12.5 ppg (274), 98 assists, 1.36 assist-to-turnover (98/72), 40% (25% 3-point), 35 steals

Beck: 13.7 ppg (315), 145 assists, 2.69 assist-to-turnover (145/54), .427 FG%, .397 3FG%, 51 steals

Bobbitt: 9.9 ppg (238), 83 assists, 1.30 assist-to-turnover (83/64), 42% (40% 3-point), 40 steals

Montgomery: 12.9 ppg (310), 100 assists, 2.04 assist-to-turnover (100/49), 39% (34% 3-point), 44 steals

White: 7.0 ppg (160), 100 assists, 2.7 assist-to-turnover (100/37), 44% (27% 3-point), 40 steals

Zoll: 8.5 ppg (205), 138 assists, 2.00 assist-to-turnover ratio (138/69), 41% FG (37% 3-point), 38 steals
And others have pointed out K-State's Shalee Lehning:
10.2 ppg (224), 144 assists (144/77TOs), 53% FG (27% 3-pt), 51 steals.
From Sports Business Daily:
With the NBA's All-Star weekend in full swing, the league has new marketing deals to bounce off business partners and basketball fans congregating in New Orleans. One new partnership sees the WNBA exporting its intellectual property for the first time to a company in China, a market the NBA has been exploiting with resounding success in recent years. Chinese footwear and apparel company Fujian Peak Group, better known as Peak, has signed a multi-year pact with the WNBA. Under the deal, Liberty C Janel McCarville and Silver Stars G Erin Buescher, the last two recipients of the league's most improved player award, have signed on as endorsers. While Peak's shoes aren't sold in the U.S., McCarville and Buescher will wear their shoes in WNBA games, some of which are televised in China. Additionally, Peak will underwrite clinics and other basketball activities aimed at promoting health and fitness among teen girls and young women in China.
From Stever and the Times-Picayune.
"And as the talent pool gets bigger and broader, the game gets better," [said Orender] And with the game being better, there's more fans coming to it. The guys are not saying, 'Oh, it's girls basketball.' It's basketball that happens to be played by women."

It's a chain reaction that has the WNBA thinking more about thriving these days instead of simply surviving. The league is healthier than ever before, with a recently negotiated collective bargaining agreement that runs through 2013 and a TV deal with ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 that runs through 2016.
How much are we loving the St. Petersburg Times' commitment to covering the women's basketball game pre-Final Four? Check out their special section here.

They've got a new article about the .2-gate aftershocks.

Quelle suprise! "The controversial finish to Monday's Rutgers-Tennessee showdown is the kind of critical situation that will be discussed and reviewed with the officials chosen to work the NCAA Tournament."

If you don't know, you should know that officials are independent contractors. That is, they are NOT hired by the NCAA. Which means, they answer to their employers - aka, a conference's Supervisor of Officials.

Those supervisors (when their conference gives them the time and money) will do some training, observe and have observers at game to give feed back to the officials. (As independent contractors, officials are expected to prepare and train on their own time.)

Come tournament time, though, it is the NCAA who hires and supervises the officials. Note's Greg Auman's article, "When the NCAA's selection committee meets to choose the 64 teams in the tournament, it also selects the officiating crews:"
...immediately before the tournament begins, the NCAA's coordinator of women's basketball officiating, Mary Struckhoff, will hold a "prep call" with all of the officials. She will go over a dozen or so reminders particular rules that need to be enforced and identify specific situations and the proper way to handle them.

At each of the eight first- and second-round sites, the NCAA sends evaluators. They grade each crew then choose which ones advance to the regions and, eventually, here to Tampa
Side note: You can say thank you to Greg and crew for their coverage: auman@sptimes.com.
Newday profiles Adelphi University's Gianna Smith, who is just 58 points short of becoming the schools all-time scoring record of 1,519.

Smith played her high school basketball at the Waldorf School in the Independent Private Parochial School Athlete League. "It wasn't like [recruiters] were beating down her door," said Adelphi head coach Kelley Watts.
Smith still has to pinch herself to believe what has transpired over her career, saying, "I wasn't planning on going to college to play basketball. I didn't think it was a possibility. I was applying to Syracuse, Rhode Island, places down south, Fordham and Stony Brook. I never thought of playing basketball.

Truthfully, it [the record] is shocking to me every day. I thought I'd just come in, play my role and do what I'm supposed to do. Coach saw something in me and knew I had the talent to play at Adelphi. There were actual plays, something we never had [at Waldorf]. And I was playing with teammates who had actually played basketball before."

Friday, February 15, 2008

Will Bird get some Cash?

Swin thinks so.
RebKell, on the move.
The Big Ten keeps on turning. (As does the Big XII, but we'll leave that to Voepel for now.)

In a grindingly painful second half full of missed chances and missed layups for both sides, Minnesota preserved the shreds of an early lead to garner the Gophers' first-ever win at Penn State. Emily Fox, as often these days, was the hero: PSU had a big comeback when she had to sit, but Fox's late steal and fast break put the game in the bag.

In West Lafayette, the Hawkeyes got run over by a train, falling by double digits to Purdue. Lakisha Freeman led everyone with 18 and 9; her Boilers move into a tie with Iowa for the top spot in the conference, with Ohio State and Minnesota not far behind. (OSU had the night off.)

Down in the middle of those standings, Illinois lost a close one in Wisconsin, who came through down the stretch for a change. Badger fans remain unhappy with their lot.

And in Bloomington, Michigan State got past the home team: DeHaan, who can be flattened by stronger players, looked tall good in their absence, with 16 and 15.
Maybe the women in orange were still thinking about Tuesday night; after their still controversial win over Rutgers, the Lady Vols collapsed against LSU.

Pat Summitt's team-- now number one in the country-- led early, 21-2; they then took about eight minutes to blow that lead, and flailed helplessly through most of the second half.

Candace finished with 26 and ten; her teammates, together, shot 13-45 (under 30%), perhaps because it's really hard to finish a layup when Big Syl is standing right there.

The Geaux Tigers have now defeated Tennessee twice in a row. Voepel says LSU could be a number one seed. She also says she's never seen a top-tier game with such a dramatic reversal: I wondered whether she had didn't say what I thought she had said, and no doubt hasn't forgotten about this one, also involving LSU.