Women's Hoops Blog: April 2009

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Former Golden Gopher and Timberwolves sideline reporter Lea B. Olsen wonders where is the love for women's basketball.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Those poor Lib management folks -- with me they should know they can't win for losing. What's the source of my latest "gently bang my head against my front door" moment?

I get home from birding in Nebraska and find a FedEx package on my door step. It's from the Lib. Inside, I find a Moore jersey.

No note. No nothing. Just the jersey (something they've promise people who sign up for season tickets NOW).

I wonder if they sent one to every "renewed in January" season subscriber, or just the one that kvetches on a blog about the perks late-to-sign-up for season ticket peeps get.

It did have a "maybe this will shut her up tossed into the FedEx envelope" feeling.

Of course, there is a part of me that wonders: Considering the current state of economics, couldn't they have just handed it to me when I walked into the Garden and picked up my season tickets, saving themselves the FedEx fee?

As I said -- yah can't win for losing, Lib management.
This is from last week, but I just came across this podcast interview with Chantelle Anderson. Megan Heuter of the Because I Played Sports blog talked to Chantelle about her interesting blog on Yard Barker and using Twitter.

Pat Griffin has also enjoyed reading the posts from Chantelle and has great commentary in her post, "When Athletes Speak, Fans Will Listen...And Talk Back."
Mechelle on that other tall Olympic coach and the SEC.
Hey, I'd be cranky too!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Liberty assistant coaching staff just got really, really tall.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

You haven't been keeping up with Rethinking Basketball? Oiy.

Here's what you've missed:

Why We Will Never Know As Much As We Think We Know About a Draft Pick: A Lesson From the Success of Michael Redd
Kristi Cirone’s situation – going undrafted and then being picked up by the Connecticut Sun with an outside chance to make the roster – made me think about just how completely unscientific this whole drafting process is…and how every year some player defies the odds.
Geno vs. "the Nation of Cowards": What Auriemma's comments tell us about racial dialogue in the U.S.
Far more interesting to me than Geno Auriemma’s initial comments about the racial stereotyping of Stanford and Connecticut women’s basketball players is the ongoing commentary about the “incident”.
Pam McGee interviews “Pam McGee’s Son”: How do youngsters develop into quality pro basketball players?
There was a great article by Kevin Broom on RealGM.com the other day about player development in the NBA that focused on Washington Wizards forward(/center) JaVale McGee, son of retired WNBA player Pam McGee.

Apparently, despite Ms. McGee’s support for her son, there was apparently some frustration about the way the Wizards used her son. Ms. McGee’s alleged frustration with the Wizards wasn’t what inspired Broom’s article (at least he does not mention that), but in his discussion of McGee’s rookie year I think he poses a good question that could be applied to the WNBA as us fans speculate about roster decisions: How do youngsters develop into quality basketball players?
Most clutch WNBA player?
One woman made the list: Florence Griffith Joyner (#9).

Not that I can think of any glaring female omissions, but I wondered which other women might be worthy of that list. The author admitted that he did not know all sports (he mentioned the NHL).

Any WNBA'ers? Or female college athletes?
No regrets or looking back for ex-coach Roller
Something tells me that Tracy Roller is going to be OK.

Near the end of our two-hour phone conversation earlier this week in which she described in detail the personal hell that she has been living in over the last five years, it was Roller who actually was encouraging me.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

When I was teaching in the UAE, I learned about a woman who started her own ice hockey team. (I love ice hockey. Played it -- VERY badly -- and in many ways it reminds of basketball). Here's a story of the first Saudi women's team playing in Amman:
Jeddah United (JU), the first Saudi women's club basketball team, is in Amman this week on an invitation from Riyadi Club's women's team.

Saudi Arabia and Brunei are the two countries barring women from their Olympic delegations, and women's sports is banned in Saudi public schools and there are no federations that organise women's sport.

Despite this, Lina Al Maeena and her husband set up the Jeddah United Sports Company (JUSC) in 2006, with one of the main aims being the promotion of female sport in the Kingdom, with the eventual hope of producing Olympic-standard athletes.
More on Mique.
Chamique Holdsclaw is in a good place in all senses of the words. The New York native has made her home in the South – the roots of her beloved grandmother – she can be on Pat Summitt’s doorstep in under three hours, she will play basketball before appreciative fans with an orange tint, plus the red and blue hues of her new team in Atlanta, and she has finally found peace

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fuel the Ride, Fund the Fight!

2nd Annual TaTa Tour

Saturday, May 2nd 3 pm
Wild Wing Cafe
Grab some Chrome and join the day ride or come later for the after party on the deck.

Log onto
for more info
Coach Fennelly will be an assistant for the 19-and-under USA team. (Dudes! You couldn't find a better photograph?)
Southern Illinois has a new coach: Missy Tiber
Mechelle looks at the connections and challenges that face Kelli Harper at NC State.
That someone is about to turn 32 years old in May, brings a championship pedigree as a player and is obviously quite familiar with recruiting in North Carolina. Wolfpack fans are hopeful of what the future can be under Harper.

But it won't be a painless transition by any means. Harper will deal with recruits who planned to sign with NC State and now are looking at their other options. She will need to earn the trust and respect of her new players. She might face some resentment from those fans and the alumni who are angry Glance wasn't retained.

That wasn't Harper's decision, of course, but that doesn't change the fact that she's now in the job that those people thought should go to someone else. Harper will win over some of those folks quickly, some gradually … and some not at all.
It's nyet for Svet(a).
Odd: Baylor's Danielle Wilson won't return for her senior season.
Catchin' up with Jody C.
Conradt is listed as special assistant to women’s athletics director Chris Plonsky. She continues to represent the interests of women’s sports at the University and also serves in an ambassadorial role in fundraising and representing the school around the country. But those are only her official duties. Conradt also talks with female high school athletes around the state, upholding her sporting legacy and cultivating various projects in the athletics department.
From Mechelle: A permanent way to remember Coach Yow.
When asked if Harper should make it a priority to reach out to former players, Gardner showed she really did learn well the lessons Yow taught.

“Really, her plate is so full already – she’s got quite a bit of things to handle,” Gardner said of Harper. “I wouldn’t say to add that to her task list. Instead, I’d say of former players and staff, the onus is on us to really present ourselves to be there and be supportive.

“It’s about the young women who are now wearing the jerseys we used to wear. It’s not about, ‘Oh, we don’t know Coach Harper yet.’ It’s difficult for her – she’s got a huge group of former players to meet and get to know, and it’s our responsibility to show ourselves as supporters of her players and her. We should go there. And then let her know, ‘We need you to understand what we’ve been a part of that lasted for 34 years.’ ”

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

From the University of Oregon's Daily Emerald:

The homophobic jock might be more than just a stereotype, says a new study that links sports zealots with attitudes about gender and sexuality.

The recent study presented to the American Educational Research Association suggests that college students who are avid fans of their schools' football and men's basketball teams are more likely to have homophobic and sexist views than their non-sports fan peers.

The study's authors surveyed 459 students at an unnamed college whose sports teams play in the Division 1 subdivision of the NCAA.

The three surveys students took measured their degrees of support for their teams and their degrees of sexist and homophobic beliefs.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Lobos join in: New Mexico's athletic department is imposing a 10 percent budget cut on each of its teams.
Feaster is waived and Williams (sorry, it will always be Williams. I don't know any Tamika Raymonds) will be taking the season off.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mechelle starts working on one piece and gets distracted into a writing a stunner.
"Because I Played Sports" talks with Chantelle Anderson.
Chantelle touched on many different points in this interview, but this discussion was not centered upon her role on the court.

Instead, it’s formulated around some of the topics that Chantelle has brought up off the court on her blog, and they have to do with the image and sexual orientation of modern female athletes.

Chantelle’s blog has gotten quite a bit of attention since she’s started writing just a year ago. For example, her post titled The Choice between Sports and Sex Appeal received 73 comments, and her most popular post to date, Why Men Hate Lesbians, received 193 comments. Looks like she’s going to start video blogging, too.
It's officially official: 'claw be Dreaming.
Check out Holly and Nikki's new site: Champions for a Cause.

No dates yet for their Tata Tour 2009 or the Cruisin' for a Cause ride, so check back for dates.
Log on now to wbca.org to listen to this the season finale of "Shootaround with Beth & Debbie."

Beth and Debbie kick off the show with their "Starting Five." The duo give their thoughts on the N.C. State head coaching hire, coaching changes across the country, transfers, 2008-09 senior class and close out with a brief look at next year's top teams. The show continues with a recap of the NCAA Tournament, Geno Auriemma's new position with USA Basketball and take a look at the incoming freshman class.

Beth and Debbie close out the show with their "Thoughts from the Cocktail Napkin" and a recap of the live show from St. Louis!

Please remember story ideas, questions and comments are always welcome at shootaround@wbca.org.

Don't forget to check out the "Shootaround with Beth & Debbie" - WBCA National Women's Basketball Podcast group on facebook.
Looks like the Connecticut Sun are fumbling a fabulous opportunity to honor women's basketball history during the All-Star Game.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tough news for whoever gets the USC gig - Long Beach Poly's Monique Oliver has decommitted.
From USA Basketball: Teresa Edwards has been nominated For the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Class of 2009.
From now through June 16, fans can cast their votes for the 2009 class of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame online at http://www.teamusa.org/halloffame. The inducted class will include five individuals, one team and one Paralympian, as well as three additional individuals: a coach, veteran and special contributor. The inductees will be revealed in early July and will be honored at a black-tie induction ceremony on August 12 at McCormick Place in Chicago.
Out of Oklahoma:
Toni Young was proud of what she used to be best known for. But it doesn’t even compare to what she’s known for now.

"I like the title of being a basketball state champion with my team more than being the ‘Girl who can dunk,’ ” said Young.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Fear the wabbit?
The New York Times looks in their own backyard (again): Frustration Rises for Fans as Fordham Struggles

Tom Konchalski, who puts out a prominent scouting report of high school players, cited the recruiting disadvantage of Fordham’s small campus gymnasium, the oldest in Division I. The Rams have gone 65-159 in men’s play in the conference, with only two winning seasons.

“I think they’re in the wrong conference,” said Konchalski, who says he believes Fordham’s affiliation from 1981 to 1990, when it was a member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, was a better fit. “I think they can be competitive with a great deal of effort, but it’s always going to be a struggle.”

From "Harper aims to know her team:"

She met with players for 30 minutes before Thursday's news conference.

"I'm so anxious to spend more time with them," she said. "I want them to come by my office and say hello and sit down and tell me what their favorite color is. I want to get to know these young ladies. I want them to know who their coach is when they leave campus."

The blog "Auburn Football" tells us that Auburn head women’s basketball coach Nell Fortner has signed a contract extension which will pay her a minimum of $570,000 annually for the next six seasons according to an announcement by Athletics Director Jay Jacobs.

I love the fact a football blog is breaking the news.
McLaughlin's hire gave me a WATN? (well, more of a "How are they doing now?") moment about former Penn Coach Kelly Greenberg.

Mighty fine, it would appear. She just got a contract extension at BU.
The 2009 America East Coach of the Year, Greenberg led the Terriers to a 25-8 record this season, capturing the program's first regular-season championship in 20 years. With a 16-0 mark in conference play, BU was one of just four Division I women's basketball programs this year to post an undefeated record in its conference. The Terriers advanced to the conference tournament championship game for the fourth time in five years under her watch.

By virtue of its regular-season championship, BU participated in postseason competition for just the second time in its 34-year history when it received a bid to the WNIT. The Terriers earned the program's first postseason win with a 79-60 home victory over Central Connecticut State in the first round.
Wayne Staats from the Daily Collegian writes about "Training Rules,"
The film, which concerns Harris' allegations against former head coach Rene Portland, was shown as part of the 7th Annual One in Ten Film Festival with the Penn State Coalition of LGBTA Graduate Students. The film had two showings Thursday night in the Willard Building, with the first showing playing to a capacity crowd in 160 Willard.

The film contends that Portland forced players, including Harris, off the Penn State women's basketball team because she thought they were lesbians.
Dartmouth and company better watch out: Penn hires Mike McLaughlin.
McLaughlin went 407-61 in 14 seasons at Holy Family and won his 400th game faster than any women’s coach in NCAA history. He reached the milestone in 459 games, beating former Louisiana Tech coach Leon Barmore, who needed 463.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Dave Zirin wrote an piece for Bleacher Report "Geno and Gender: Lady Huskies and the Perils of Perfection." I resisted the impulse to comment on it, but since it was republished by The Nation (or vice versa), where it was retitled: "Lady Huskies' Glory Stolen By Coach," I could't resist.

(actually, now the "Lady" has been removed from the headline at the Nation but it still is sprinkled through the piece as in: "The University of Connecticut Lady Huskies just won the NCAA women's basketball title.")

It would appear that Mr. Zirin thinks the reason no one covers women's basketball and, in particular, honors the UConn Huskies as they should be for this year's accomplishments, is because Geno is a big ole selfish egotistical blowhard and (it would seem) dared to address stereotypes in women's basketball..

I'm sure that Mr. Zirin would find plenty to agree with that assessment of Auriemma. And equal numbers who'd say, "You just don't get him, and that's too bad for you."

That being said, you might posit that the media attention that Auriemma garners detracts from the attention given his team. (Just don't tell the infamous Connecticut Horde that) But if you do want to make that argument, you damn well better do a better job than Mr. Zirin has done.

Point One: Mr. Zirin, get your basic facts right: There ain't no such thing as a Lady Husky. That you don't know that really undermines my willingness to give much weight to what you're complaining about.

Point Two: Mr. Zirin writes:
But now that he has a team even grander than his ego, Auriemma should--for the good of his players and the women's game--take a step back and cede the spotlight. This should be a moment to praise a team that for my money is the best NCAA women's team ever and in the conversation as the most dominant college team, men's or women's in history. The fact that their exploits haven't received more attention is just another instance of the way women's sports get the fuzzy end of the lollipop. Auriemma isn't helping.
Gosh, Mr. Zirin must have missed all the "Really want this for Renee" stories.

And, to be honest, I'm not quite ready to believe Mr. Zirin knows that Auriemma has had THREE undefeated teams. Were those other two not so grand?

Or if he does know about '95 and '02, did he actually watch the 2002 team in action? (And if he did, does he know about those other perfect teams: Texas and the amazing Lady Vols? But I digress)

Getting back to the point -- whether this is the bestest team ever has been argued ad nauseum all season and, now that the season has concluded, most knowledgeable fans and observer's money, say that 2009 ain't #1.... But, hey, he's entitled to his opinion about which "Lady" team was the best. (Though I find it confusing that he mocks Aureimma for outlining the accomplishments that might make the team numero uno.)

Point Three: Here's what Mr. Zirin means by this spotlight hogging.
There was a prime example of this right before the Lady Huskies Final Four matchup with Stanford. At a packed press conference, Coach Geno "stood up" for Stanford, saying: (insert the quote that everyone knows about "soft" players)

The statement was bizarre but it was also pure Auriemma. First it made no sense. No one had made any such statement about Stanford. Also, if there is a tired stereotype about white players, from baseball's David Eckstein to basketball's Kevin Love to football's Wes Welker, it's that they are "scrappy, hard-nosed" and "would go through a wall to win.
Makes me wonder if Mr. Zirin was at the Final Four or simply reading about Coach Tara and Coach Geno and Coach Jeff and Coach Sherri from afar. 'Cause this is what Mechelle Voepel, a sports writer who knows a bit about women's basketball, media coverage and stereotypes, said about the same moment:
It's quite funny to hear him say this, because Auriemma as "cautious" is still bolder and more forthright than just about anybody else at wide-open throttle. Auriemma is a born entertainer, but he was not meant to be taken in small-clip sound bites. If you only heard or saw, "So, yeah, they are a bunch of pansies," in regard to folks from the West Coast, you totally would misinterpret what Auriemma was actually saying Saturday.

In four paragraphs, he tackled some of the stereotypes that all of us know even the most well-meaning people succumb to. When someone asked about Stanford being "soft," Auriemma wasn't afraid to cut right through the euphemisms.

He could have so very easily ducked or dodged it, pretended he didn't know that the unspoken question was pretty specifically about whether Jayne Appel and Kayla Pedersen really were all that "tough" because they are white.
Point Four: Mr. Zirin writes:
Tina Charles in the past has defended these tactics by saying, "the pressure's off us and on him." Whether Auriemma was trying to take the pressure off his team or just has no internal censor, this moment should be about giving all the credit in the world to the team, not him.
To be honest, it reads like he believes Charles is a self-deluded little girl who doesn't know better. Charming.

It also sounds like Mr. Zirin doesn't know the difference between "this moment" (which, I'm taking to be the moment after the Championship was claimed) and "interviews before the Final Four where reporters ask questions about the upcoming match ups," which is when Auriemma made his comments.

Did the Auriemma comments really take focus from the teams that were playing in the Final Four? Gosh, and here I thought it was Bubba and the $64,000 question.

After said "moment," what exactly did Aureimma do to draw attention to himsefl and not say, his team that Mr. Zirin wanted to hear?

Finally: Mr. Zirin concludes:
Gender should be irrelevant when we reckon with perfection. But perhaps we should accentuate it even more and recognize that the Lady Huskies right now are as good as it gets.
I wish I knew enough about psychiatry to know if I can call the use of "Lady" a Freudian slip. Or I could get away with saying it was "ironic," except I worry my high school English teacher will come back to correct me.

Instead, I'll end with a request:Mr. Zirin, if you're truly concerned about the women's game and how it's covered, next time please take the time to wipe the fuzz off your lollipop.
Call me cranky. Call me fickle. Say there's just no pleasing me. G'head. It's true.

After numerous emails and calls to the Lib subscription peeps saying, "Um, hey -- subscriber since 1998, please don't send me these invites to become a season subscriber because I get cranky when I see all the perks you're offering 'THEM' and I got zilch for signing up in January and it's making me cranky," I'm no longer getting those emails.

That would be the good news, in that maybe management has learned something about not ticking off longtime subscribers.

Of course, I'm fickle because I still hear about all these cools things they're offering ANYways because people talk about'em and/or blog about 'em. And I want in.

Honestly, there's just no pleasing me.

Unless, of course, you were a smart Liberty front office and you realized this (and realized that it's not a condition unique to this subscriber) and offered to do something about it. Like invite me to media day or something. Even if I couldn't make it, it'd make me feel special and appreciated.

And really, that's all it would take.

Because then I'd honestly believe management cared enough about the Lib to think these things through and stop take longtime subscribers for granted. If not, they may start sounding like Lily Tomlin's Edie:
I'm back working on my book, "What's Left of the Left." It's a slim volume, folks.
On Angel Goodrich's return from an ACL.
Two to transfer from Oklahoma: guards Jenny Vining and Rose Hammond.
I was waiting for this: the NY Times' Harvey Araton spends some time with Geno.
Already atop his hemisphere of the basketball world, Geno Auriemma had a sobering overview of the men’s professional version, New York metropolitan area chapter, from a sky suite at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night. He watched the Knicks close their season by slaughtering the Nets and pronounced himself wholeheartedly fulfilled as the architect of Connecticut’s recently crowned N.C.A.A. women’s champions and the newly named coach of the United States national team for the next Olympics cycle.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Don't forget to check in with Pleasant Dreams -- The Atlanta blog that covers more than the Dream.

Love this post: Attrition
I shoulda known the approaching WNBA season would have stirred Q from his slumber. Yippee! "Rethinking Basketball" is back!

A quick catch up, since he started during the Final Four:

What Difference a Year Makes: Why Ahistorical Analyses of Sport Perpetuate Misrepresentations of the WNBA
If you pay attention to women's basketball, you've probably heard about that March ESPN the Magazine article that included a cover photo of a pregnant Parker.
Of course, this led to some commentary about the state of the WNBA, female athletes, and marketing. The WNBA even made a good move by posting an interview with the editor of ESPN the Mag to get some insight into the thinking behind the article. But there were two articles in the last week or so that really caught my eye.
Of course, there weren't really any new arguments added to the discussion... really just people rehashing the same old arguments in new packaging.

However, the big difference this time around is that given all the media attention given to Parker and the Olympics last year, speaking from a place self-imposed ignorance about the WNBA no longer carries much credibility. Parker's arrival on the national (and international) sports scene last summer was one of those special moments in sports history that even the below-average lunkhead male would have had a hard time just ignoring. This does not mean we suddenly have a whole lot of enlightened, gender-conscious WNBA commentary...it's just a new sort of ignorance I guess...
What the NBA Could Learn From the WNBA: Staying in School FTW
Martin Johnson wrote a nice little piece for TheRoot.com about how the University of North Carolina men's team won the national title primarily on the strength of their upperclassmen...which is further support for the NBA to implement a higher age minimum, as the WNBA has always done. The result could be better basketball:

The response from women's basketball fans: uh, duh....

No matter what critiques one might have about women's basketball this is something that it has right already -- their players stay longer and it makes for the development of great teams rather than the fleeting excitement of great individual performances.
Curious About Kristi Toliver: Is She the Right Pick For the Sky?
And then the unthinkable happened -- I was all set to do some cramming for the draft Thursday morning before my 11 o'clock PST meeting. Then the meeting got pushed to 11:30 PST...then 11:45...then I got there at 11:50...and the meeting didn't start until 12:02... in the end, I missed the entire draft....

So now I sit here two days after the draft almost completely clueless about the newest WNBA rookie class and lamenting the fact that I didn't have the guts to cancel the damn meeting ("Um, I'm sorry, but I really have to watch the WNBA draft right now. Can we put off the meeting about the grant proposal due Tuesday? Thanks!").

But what really sucks is looking around for post-draft analysis on the WNBA.
Kudos to Women's NCAA BB for Actually Graduating "Student-Athletes"
The other day I posted about how the WNBA's age limit is a good thing in terms of keeping basketball in perspective and making sure female basketball players stay in school relative to their male counterparts.

Tangentially related (though not necessarily related at all) is this report from the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport:

What Does NCAA Point Guard Performance Say About Pro Potential?
If you’ve ever paid any attention to any draft in any sport, you’ve probably figured out that drafting is by no means a scientific process – people often make arbitrary decisions or use shaky evidence to justify decisions.

I would argue that there is no position more difficult to unscientifically evaluate than that of the point guard, a position that people struggle to evaluate to begin with. I think a lot of people have gut feelings about what a good point guard “looks like” but have a much more difficult time describing what a good point guard “does”, much less what differentiates a good point from a great one.

Along these lines, I find Chicago Sky coach Steven Key’s comments about his selection of Kristi Toliver over Renee Montgomery particularly interesting.
Jonesing for some basketball? Check out the W's (underutilized) YouTube page.
Glance, Yow's staff pack up at NCSU
N.C. State interim head coach Stephanie Glance sat in her office at Reynolds Coliseum on Wednesday evening attaching lime green-colored sticky notes to the few papers atop her mostly empty desk.

She answered the phone, "Wolfpack women's basketball," but told a caller to try back in a few days.

To a reporter she offered a seat, but she declined an interview about her status as a candidate for N.C. State's vacant women's head coaching position.n"I said I wasn't going to do any interviews," she said. "I want to stick to my word. I want to do the right thing."
Fourth Street's alive for U of L women: Fans fete national runners-up at downtown rally
But for one last time yesterday, the players, coaches and support staff who made U of L women's basketball history stood together, on stage at Fourth Street Live! in front of about 1,000 fans dressed in red and black.

"It's been a ball, and we wanted to tell them thank you," said Cardinals fan Judy Harris, a four-year season-ticket holder.
Dawn and Kelsey Bone:
The 6-foot-5 Bone, rated the country’s No. 2 recruit by one Web site, is the biggest piece of a four-player class expected to be included among the top 10 nationally when final rankings come out.

“I think it’s long overdue for me, just as a coach and being in the business, to sign this type of class,” said Staley, who began her coaching career at Temple in 2000. “I think this is the best class that I’ve ever been a part of.”
Mechelle offers some wisdom and balance when she asks, "How should we view N.C. State’s decision?"
When writing about Kay Yow’s death in January, I used a passage from the uplifting Robert Frost poem, “The Tuft of Flowers.” To paraphrase, it was about how people can work together even when apart.

But there is another Frost poem that comes to mind when trying to sort through feelings about how N.C. State and its women’s basketball program is proceeding after her death. It is a very different sort of poem - a doleful, brooding, tragic one called, “Home Burial.”

A mother is deeply grieving the death of her baby son while also furious with her husband, whose way to deal with his grief is to not acknowledge it. The woman is, in general, profoundly angry about the nature of grief, how the living are expected to pass through their sadness and continue on. In her state of mind, this is a betrayal of the dead.
Mechelle on Geno's selection as USA coach.

It's a nice review of the history of USA Basketball head coach history. Have you read Venus to the Hoop or Shooting from the Outside about the 1996 team? Go out and get'em. They're so worth the read.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Quick, before it remembers it doesn't cover women's basketball, catch Kelli Anderson's piece in Sports Illustrated.
The USA Basketball press conference is available online.

From the ESPN article:
I think Geno's been tremendous with our game here in the states. He's won, he's won a lot. His record speaks volumes. When the committee decided to go on that, he was the top choice," she said.

Auriemma is likely to be reunited with several of his former players on the national team, including Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, who both won gold medals in China.

"I trust him completely, and know he's going to have us playing at our best and keep the USA Basketball tradition going," Bird said in a statement. "I also know we're going to enjoy the entire experience with him in charge because there is no one better at being serious when it's time to be serious, but also no one better at having fun when it's time to have fun."
Thanks to a tweet by Jayda Evans, a new blog has been discovered.

This one is from Nicole LaVoi of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sports.

In her latest post, she wonders "Are Women Sports Fans?"
From the NYTimes' Brian Heyman: Stringer Spends Time on Hall of Fame Speech
“They said that they had a time limit, and Coach Chaney spoke for an hour and 19 minutes,” Stringer said on Thursday at the W.N.B.A. draft in Secaucus, N.J.

“They want three to five minutes, and send them the speech ahead of time. So Coach Chaney said, ‘Don’t worry about it, Viv. Don’t worry. When you’re up there, there’s nothing they can do. They’re not going to jerk you off the floor. What the heck. Say what you want.’ They said, ‘Don’t tell her that. Don’t tell her that."
"No, really, don't tell her that!" cry reporters from across the country...
The Oklahoman does a Q&A with Sherri Coale.
Could you talk more about your incoming recruits, Joanna McFarland and Lyndsey Cloman, and what they might bring to your team?

"Joanna McFarland has had two sisters play in the Big 12, one at Colorado, one at Kansas State. She’s the baby of four, and she’s as tough as any kid we’ve ever recruited. She will not shy away from one thing, any player bigger or faster, she’ll find a way to compete. She’s not a great athlete, but that doesn’t mean she can’t function. McFarland will remind you a lot of Caton Hill. She can set a screen, and pop out and hit the 3. She’s an incredibly smart kid, her ACT score will make your head spin. She loves to rebound, loves to get in the gym and will be our kind of kid from the word go.

"Lyndsey Cloman is from San Antonio and just begun to scratch the surface of what she can do. She can really score the ball. She’s 6-3, she’ll need to work on her physical conditioning to play at this pace. But she’s very competitive and has a really high ceiling.”
Former Boston College women's basketball coach takes reigns at URI and holds her first press conference in front of approximately 75 members of the media, URI staff and faculty.
Coach Inglese: I did not expect to have this kind of crowd here to greet me. It tells me a lot about what URI is all about. Now for questions. Yes, you -- the smart aleck from the Women's Hoops Blog?

WHB SA: So, Coach, is one of your contract perks a copy editor?
Pope is officially a Bear.
It's looking more and more like Kelli Harper will lead the Wolfpack next year. Will it be a Jolly tenure?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Betty is back on the West Coast.
Not Mike. Not Gail. Not Dawn.
It's official -- Cathy Inglese is back in the coaching ranks.
To say that the discussion of who will replace Coach Yow at NC State is fraught with emotion would be one of the bigger understatements of the basketball year. It's never easy to balance heart and head and still see clearly.

And, while I don't envy Athletic Director Fowler's position, if his choice is NOT Stephanie Glance, I certainly don't envy whoever is invited into the position. Will all eyes be on Kellie Jolly Harper?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Speaking of the Title IX blog -- a bit of news:
Conference Secures Broadcast of HS Girls' Basketball Tournament Selection Show
Title IX and women's sports advocates frequently bemoan gender disparities in media's coverage of high school and college sports. So it was nice to read about a high school athletic conference (upstate New York's Section III) that leveraged its broadcast rights to take steps towards equal coverage of boys and girls basketball by Time Warner Cable.
Oh, now THIS is interesting. What has been rumored now has some factual basis:
Sparks Coach Michael Cooper is having discussions with USC about becoming the Trojans' women's basketball coach, Sparks co-owner Carla Christofferson confirmed today.

"From our perspective, he's under contract to coach our season," Christofferson said. "We've confirmed with him he's coaching our 2009 season."
Oh, now THIS is interesting: Hawaii's recently dumped coach Jim Bolla alleges he was fired in retaliation for complaining about Title IX violations. *heads up Title IX blog!*

Nothing in the AP piece about the "alleged" reasons he was fired: Bolla had been on paid leave from the team since mid-February, after allegations surfaced that he kicked a player during practice. Also, since the (rather odd) hire, the team has posted a 64-80 record with no postseason berths. The Rainbow Wahine finished just 8-23 in 2008-09.
Iowa State loses two to transfers.
Maryland loses another one: sophomore guard Marah Strickland will transfer.
With a h/t to Barrister, the Gothamist blog takes note of the UConn team: Making The Call: A Perfection Underappreciated
Figgs returns to the Boilermakers.
Lindsay Kimmel will transfer from Temple University.
Jamie Carey retires.
So, the irony is, if you want to improve you need to play the best. But once you DO improve, will "the best" play you? Said Middle Tennessee State University coach Insell:
"Some of the major programs had open dates. We walked up and signed up and they said, 'We're not going to play you.'"

"So, they're not going to play us. They want to keep their jobs. But our whole philosophy is that we want our RPI at the end of the to give us a chance to get an at-large bid in case we don't win the tournament. It's frustrating."
"Fear the Loss" is not a new modus operandi, especially with the increased pressure to win and the impact of the RPI and such on the tournament selection committee.

In the next few years, expect scheduling to be even more of a challenge because of the economy. Not only do people "Fear the Wabbit," but it's a loooong trek out to South Dakota. How does a coach convince an Athletic Director to take such an expensive, "risky," trip?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Damn. Dawn's got some drama to deal with.
So, how did YOU do on Mechelle's pop quiz?
Predicting how the draft went is just an educated guessing game, and sometimes you can even leave the "educated" out. It's just a guessing game. But don't worry, there's neither a reward nor a penalty for your performance on this draft quiz … because, as we said, there are no wrong answers! Not yet, anyway.
From Lobo on the evolution of the women's game (And I was tempted, but will make you click to read the kicker of a final paragraph).
On Tuesday afternoon, a few hours before UConn won its sixth national championship in women's basketball, I sat on the floor of my St. Louis hotel room and watched an ESPN Classic replay of my 1995 team's national championship game. My daughters, ages 2 and 4, watched with me and saw women's basketball as it looked 14 years ago, when their mother wore a French braid. "That's Mama?" asked Siobhan, the 4-year-old. "With the twisty hair?"

In the grand scheme of things, 14 years is not a long time. But in women's basketball, 14 years has been a lifetime. The game (and the hair) has changed so much since 1995. Women's basketball is infinitely more athletic now. I kept wondering if the '95 game was being rebroadcast at half-speed.
Changes and updates:
Brittany Boser, the leading scorer last season on the University of Maine women's basketball team, will not return for her final year of athletic eligibility. Boser, a chemical engineering major, will graduate this spring. She played three seasons after redshirting her freshman year at Maine, but will not play basketball next winter even though she would be eligible.

Sophomore point guard Shanita Arnold is leaving the University of Arkansas.

Michael Landers, a former East Texas Baptist standout, will end his nine-year tenure at Trinity Valley CC next month to become athletic director/head women's basketball coach at Baton Rouge Community College. Landers ends his stint at TVCC with a 265-36 record. (and produced such players as Shannon Bobbitt)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Moore makes it a clean sweep and wins the Wooden:
"...to be associated with a man like John Wooden is great. He's done so much for basketball and I think is a large part of where we are today. A lot of coaches have learned from him and I've been able to benefit from the legacy he left. This is a great honor."

Friday, April 10, 2009

Some final Four thoughts
From inside the arena: So, where is our "Fow-tow" PA announcer from? Inquiring minds want to know.

From outside the arena: What's with the hippo atop the building on Washington and 14th?

From outside the state: My mom's a sports fan, but not a basketball fan. Hadn't ever watched a women's game, to my knowledge. Then I spoke with her yesterday and find out that she joined her husband (who'd watched the entire Championship game) for the last part of the game. "The way the shoot the ball into the net without it touching the rim...it's beautiful!"
Mechelle reviews the draft in her post "Confessions of a mock-draft dodger." and asks, "Will roster be Dream or nightmare?"
Maryland's Drey Mingo is transferring.
Cincinnati needs a new coach.
Puleo leaves Georgia.
Courtney fulfills a dream.
The Arizona Wildcats women's basketball team announced that freshmen Amani Butler, Jhakia McDonald and Malia Nahinu have left the program. Coach Niya Butts said it was a mutual decision.
ESPN's David Schoenfield talks perfection across all team sports.
Wish you could have attended the pre-draft and draft in person?

Well, at least you can live vicariously through blogger extraordinaire Rececca.
I'm sure those with more advanced systems than mine get some sort of email-text-handsome-gentleman-knocks at-your-door alert about these things, but me? I just scan the web.

ESPN Classic will be re-airing some of the tournament games starting tomorrow 4/11/09 at 2pm.
Vanderbilt vs. Maryland 2pm ET
Iowa State vs Michigan State 4pm ET
UTSA vs. Baylor 6pm ET
Louisville vs. Oklahoma 8pm ET
Uconn vs Louisville 10pm ET
Of course, check your local listings.

Great way to remind everyone that it was a great, great tournament, even as some claim a UConn victory is "bad for the game," or proves there's no "parity" in women's basketball.

I've never understood the argument against excellence. Do those same people say Pat winning her 7th and 8th (in a row) is bad for the game? Or that chocking up 1000 wins is bad for the game?

Clearly, by their logic, Tiger is bad for gold, Martina and Pete and Bjorn were bad for tennis, the Bulls and Jordan all but killed the NBA and men's college basketball is lucky to have survived Wooden's 11.

Me, I'd rather go by what Sally Jenkins wrote in her Washington Post piece, "Soul of a Champion."
You probably predicted Connecticut would win the NCAA women's basketball championship, and it's safe to say no one will be asking, "Oh my God, how did you know that?" The Huskies' title was a drama-less affair; the real contest was whether their ambition would hold up for 39 games, and it did. They remained greedily sensational, right to the end.

Young players take note: The inconsequential possession didn't exist for this team. They did nothing casually. They didn't have an ounce of cool.

There was never a chance U-Conn. was going to lose to Louisville, understand? Not a chance. Not a team with such good habits, so exacting in its execution and so confident in its hard work, and not with the forceful Tina Charles and all-American point guard Renee Montgomery leading them to a 39-0 record and victories by an average of 30.5 points all season. They played all-out, every second.
With Voepel out at the KC Star (though busier than ever at ESPN) and Michelle Smith gone from the Chronicle, we turn our attention to an important women's hoops writer who still works for a daily paper outside Connecticut: that would be the Guru, Mel Greenberg, who checked in yesterday with surprising news about who will, and who won't, succeed Kay Yow.

Meanwhile Voepel reacts to yesterday's draft. Purdue fans: don't miss her praise for Wisdom-Hylton. Lynx fans: did you know that Hollingsworth was so, so young?
President Obama telephones Geno; Geno puts Tina Charles on the line.
We lose another talented women's basketball writer as Michelle Smith leaves the San Francisco Chronicle after 14 years. (h/t hoopfan24)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Paul noticed it before we did-- but we see it now, and it's a perfect three-way combination: the one-by-one draft picks, Mechelle Voepel, and Twitter.
We've talked about wheelchair basketball on the blog.

Thanks to a friend of the blog we get this article: Ball State family takes lead in spread of wheelchair sport throughout nation
The draft is done and, of note, Owino of Union (TN) via Mombasa, Kenya, becomes the second NAIA player drafted.
Since Oklahoma won't take her money, Courtney has another plan.
Seems Alysa Auriemma (daughter of Geno) has been bloggin'! From her latest:
Someone on the boards at the Boneyard called my father classless for not hugging Tina Charles at the end of the game yesterday. First of all, how dumb are you if you expect all of your life's approvals to be complete with a hug. And second of all, Dad did something better than a hug for Tina.

As we touched down at Bradley, my father received a call from President Obama, something that is standard protocol when you win the national championship. We had been waiting for this call since the game ended, especially Tina because she's in love with the guy. Dad made his way to the back of the plane as he chatted with the President and got to where the team was sitting so they could hear him, and the girls crowded around him practically buzzing with excitement. As the conversation wore on, Dad said, with a smile, "I think the person who you should talk to is our Final Four MOP." And with that, he passed the phone-and the President of the United States-to the person he did not hug at the Final Four-Tina Charles. You can call my dad a lot of things (I've called him an idiot about three times today and that's a light day) but he will never not be classy and you can't ever argue that with me. Of course, I'm his spawn, so I don't know if it's a fair fight...
Now, about that call -- the AP reports that President Obama is a big ole meanie:
"Gibbs said the president praised Charles for a great game but kidded her about what happened on the two shots she missed."
Just how far is Chicago from Philadelphia?
Just a reminder, really: the draft takes place today, with the first round on ESPN2 at 3pm Eastern (later rounds on NBATV).

Says Renee Montgomery, a likely top-four pick: ""I know [the draft order]. But this is what I don't know: what the Atlanta Dream needs, what the Chicago Sky needs."

Want more? keep checking, not only ESPN and the W's official page (where the draft will also be webcast), but this fan site.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

In retrospect, outcomes like last night's national championship for UConn, and even its undefeated season, seem inevitable: the 39-0 season, the double-digit wins, and the rest of it seem, in the story that fans will tell, like they just had to follow from all that UConn had in its favor when the season began.

Look at Renee's renewed focus, Maya's unmatchable skills, Tina's better-than-ever determination, Geno's Xs-and-O's skills, and so on: look at how superior the Huskies seemed in the very first 'big' game of the year. It had to happen, didn't it? Didn't it?

No, it didn't. We are storytelling beings-- all of us, but especially serious fans-- and we like stories that give reasons for what happened, whether it's bad, inevitable, tragic or (if you're a Huskies fan) long-awaited and awesome.

But the Huskies could not have won if they had believed their own win inevitable, and, and they needed some luck, at least in the form of a relative respite from the big-injury bug-- Heather Buck got sick and Doty went down in January, but after the Syracuse game the Huskies had no other big injuries all year.

As for the season so for the game Tuesday night. If Renee and Maya shoot as badly as they shot in last night's first half, but Tina Charles has a bad day instead of a great one, Louisville could have been a real threat. (For about twelve minutes, they were.)

Geno's players never lacked reminders, because he and his coaching staff, and even alums who dropped by to say hi, knew all that. But fans and reporters (reporters more than fans) who treated title number six as foreordained need reminding: you only get something like this if you get a few breaks and you work together nonstop, even if you're the favorites going in.

And the Huskies are barely off the plane and back at Storrs, but they're already putative favorites for next year-- not unlike the post-perfection Taurasi-led team of 2002-03.

"I don't want to ever burden these guys with what Diana did," Geno says now. He knows that these guys know how tough it was.
It's official: Trakh jumped, or was pushed, away from USC.
Karen on the game.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Pat Griffin reflects on "Training Rules," the documentary about Rene Portland's "no lesbian" era of Penn State women's basketball, that was just previewed.
The documentary also calls attention to the entire women’s collegiate basketball coaches’ community. They knew about Portland’s “training rules” yet their silence about Portland’s rule was complete. To the contrary she was honored twice by the WBCA as Coach of the Year. How are we to understand this reaction? We can only hope that the bravery of Jen Harris and the other former Lady Lions featured in Training Rules encourages coaches to reflect on the cost of their silence to young women’s lives and moves them to choose a different response in the future to prevent the egregious abuse of power tolerated at Penn State from ever happening again.
Looking to the future, Griffin offers proposes a new "training rule" for all sports:
"No bullies, no bigots, and no bystanders. It has a nice ring, don’t you think?"
Sure does.
Mechelle somehow manages to find time to pop out a blog entry:
Sometimes I think women’s basketball is like the growing kid who just wants to go out to play. And those of us who follow it and care about it so much are like worrywart parents trying to decide if it’s too cold outside, or if the kid’s clothes are warm enough, or if the playground is really safe, or the other kids are going to be mean, or if the kid needs our help …

Maybe we should just let the kid play.

Except we can’t help it. The kid does need guidance and support … and darn it, sometimes the other kids really are mean. So we fret about it all and try to figure out what more we can do, what needs to be changed or tinkered with.
High school coaches ponder the impact of the Cardinals:
Mudd said Louisville’s deep run could keep the top players in the state from looking elsewhere.

“I think we’ve always had good girls’ basketball in our state, but I think they would go to higher profile programs outside the state,” Mudd said. “(Louisville coach) Jeff (Walz) has tried to get the best kids in Kentucky. He’s made that a priority.”

Monday, April 06, 2009

From Stu at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Yow's legacy impacts Final Four
An urgent phone call sent Ina Wiggins scrambling to Reynolds Coliseum, where she arrived to an unsettling sight in February 2007.

North Carolina State coach Kay Yow was lying down, stretched across several chairs with an ambulance en route, while her team continued running up and down the floor under the direction of assistant coaches.

The school planned to dedicate the court in Yow's name the next night. But she was about to be whisked to a local hospital as the cancer in her body delivered another punch. As Wiggins and others had come to expect, Yow punched back.

St. Louisan had profound impact on Yow's life
Laurie Moore-Skinner met Kay Yow in 1975 while she was working for Campus Crusade for Christ and Yow was in her first season as the women's basketball coach at North Carolina State.

The native of Richmond Heights was instrumental in leading Yow to life as a born-again Christian. The world discovered the depth of Moore-Skinner's impact on the beloved coach when she became a focal point of the video Yow recorded for her own funeral.
Dick Patrick on Renee: Montgomery on point for undefeated Connecticut
Renee Montgomery has been a four-year starter at point guard for Connecticut but hasn't always been an extension of coach Geno Auriemma.

Her freshman year she talked mostly to then-assistant Tonya Cardoza, now the Temple coach, and didn't always grasp Auriemma's instructions. "He knew what it took to be a point guard, and I was not there," Montgomery says.
UConn's shining light
While her Connecticut teammates warmed up before practice Saturday, Tina Charles played keepaway with guard Renee Montgomery. Later during a layup drill, Charles smiled broadly as she bobbed her head to the beat of the UConn band, nearly missing her turn at the front of the line.

Charles has fun playing basketball. Maybe too much so at times, coach Geno Auriemma noted. He's used an assortment of motivational tactics to try to stoke her considerable ability.
Honesty Walz's best policy as Louisville coach tells it like it is
Jeff Walz isn't always the most popular person in the locker room.

The coach called senior All-American Angel McCoughtry an "embarrassment" at halftime of Louisville's national semifinal against Oklahoma.

In one of her first practices before the season, freshman Becky Burke was relegated to pouring about 50 cups of water because she wasn't following instructions.
From Jody Demling at the Courier-Journal Change of heart led Burke to Louisville, championship game.
One year ago today, Becky Burke had never been in contact with anyone from the University of Louisville women's basketball coaching staff.

Burke committed to South Carolina as a sophomore in high school and signed with the Gamecocks in November 2008. But after a coaching change at South Carolina, Burke had a change of heart and opted to sign with Louisville last May.
From Mike Lopresti at USA Today: UConn women are on verge of a dynasty unlike any other
The men wrapped up their Final Four Monday night. Michael Jordan was in town to be announced as a new Hall of Fame inductee. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were here to mark the 30th anniversary of their championship game. Plus, it snowed. All in all, a grand finale to college basketball.

But you might want to spend one more evening with the sport. If you have never watched a women's team in your life — never even thought about the idea — then watch Connecticut.
As Moore wins the Naismith, SI continues to pay its annual attention to women's college basketball. From Kelli Anderson: With an unstoppable drive, UConn's Moore reigns over women's hoops.
When Connecticut forward Maya Moore saw the Thanksgiving turkey or rather, the decorated outline of freshman guard Caroline Doty's left hand drawn on assistant coach Shea Ralph's office whiteboard in October, she couldn't resist. Moore picked up a marker, outlined her own left hand, added colorful gobbler flourishes and wrote beside both birds, "whose turkey is best?"

If the results of the polling were unreliable ("Maya got more votes, but she was standing right there, so the count could be skewed," says Ralph), the contest itself, which wasn't a contest at all until Moore got involved, is instructive. "Maya wants to be the best at everything, and I mean everything," says junior center Tina Charles. "Video games, grades, who's first in the mile -- you name it. She takes every opportunity to show what she can do."
Faithful fans despite fiscal fears.
Don't know if TV mentioned it, but at the half of the Oklahoma-Louisville game, a video tribute to Coach Kay Yow sorta "snuck" on to the center display boards.

It took a moment for the crowd to realize what was happening, but as the word spread, the applause started -- and continued and continued and continued as everyone in the arena stood, offering their respect and respects.
More from Karen:
Women's Final Four: Go the distance

A halftime tribute to Kay Yow, the late NC State coach, ended with her quote: “Play hard. Hang tough. Go the distance.” That’s exactly what Louisville did, after an abysmal first half, to advance to its first-ever NCAA final, 61-59.
You know, I wasn't expecting a Stanford victory, but I wasn't expecting what UConn, and its Nation, got.

UConn has the best guards in the country, at least if you're willing to call Maya Moore-- given her speed, her agility and her outside shot-- a guard. (Yes, I know she's listed as a 4.) Stanford has perhaps the best post, and the one who has looked the finest in postseason play.

So Geno made it all about the guards: attacking the passing lanes, creating transitions, and licensing his Huskies to take the number and the kind of jump shots you'd expect from an underdog. Renee Montgomery responded with a career game.

Tina Charles, meanwhile, rose to the occasion: she didn't score much, but she, and her double-teaming, fronting teammates, managed to keep Appel in check. Jayne and Renee tallied 26 apiece-- and UConn had other weapons; Stanford did not.

Coach TV-- somewhat surprisingly for a team that's relied on the three-point shot in years past-- didn't ask her guards to take many outside shots, or else they did not want to take them: when they did get those shots off, they mostly rimmed out.

In the end, it was another UConn blowout. Stanford scored nada for seven minutes after halftime: the Huskies led by thirty for a while, and the final margin was bigger than the final margin by which UConn won at St. John's.

Geno's second-half challenge (a familiar one, for him): keeping his Huskies focused despite their growing lead. "In the locker room, I brought up the Louisville-Oklahoma game. Oklahoma was up 12 and we were up 13," he said. "I thought if we would come out in the second half and put together a real good five-minute support, it would be hard for Stanford to come back from that."

The national semifinal was a truly national game, and a reversal of the shocker from last year; the national final could be anticlimactic-- or it could be a jumbo-sized upset-- but it will certainly be a rematch of the Big East championship game, in which Jeff Walz's team got crushed like a can.

The Huskies beat Louisville in January too, so expect to hear a lot about how it's hard to beat a team three times. More relevant than the number of previous victories: the location of each game-- one of the Huskies' wins against UL came in Hartford; the other one took place in Storrs.

UPDATE: Geno against racism, before last night's game: "White kids are always looked upon as being soft. So Stanford's got a tremendous amount of really good players who, for whatever reason, because they don't look like Tina Charles or Maya Moore, the perception out there is going to be, 'Well, they must be soft.'

"Well, I think that's a bunch of bull. I watched them play and nobody goes harder to the boards. Nobody takes more charges. Nobody runs the floor as hard. Those kids are as tough as any of the kids in the country. But people in the sports world like to make judgments on people by how they look. And it's grossly unfair."

Geno on his team's next challenge: "I wish we were playing anybody but Louisville. The last team you want to play is a team that you beat the way we beat them the two times we played them... At least we're going to have a Big East national champion. And that's a good thing."
Nobody doubts that Courtney Paris is a very good center, nor that her twin sister-- now in very good shape (as the commentators kept repeating)-- knows how to move and score. The question marks at OU have always been guard play: can these people play together? can they line up their shots from outside? can they get the ball to the Paris twins, without making them fight for an O-board first?

Sooner-watchers last night had two answers: first half "yes," second half "no." Louisville swarmed, disrupted, sped up the pace, and generally tied OU's second-half offense in knots, and UL's role players-- so obscure a month ago that the announcers struggled with their not-especially-hard-to-pronounce names-- connected on second chances and hit from outside.

The Cardinals' comeback from twelve points down had the fast pace UL almost always prefers, along with a really dramatic ending: what might have been a mistaken blocking foul on Courtney Paris; some brave defense by the Cardinals, with remarkable rebounds by Louisville's undersized guards; a heartbreaking and nearly game-winning buzzer beater from Ayesha Stevenson that rimmed out; and a first-ever national title game for Angel McCoughtry's squad.

Angel-- who looked bad in the first half-- looked great in the second: she's a slasher with a startling, dramatic five-to-ten foot game.

“I told Angel [at halftime] it was the worst I’ve seen her play, that she was an embarrassment,” coach Walz recalled. “And that’s the way we do things in our program: we’re honest. And she came out in the second half and played the way she’s supposed to play.” So did Bingham, and Byrd, and Burke: nobody wins big games like this one alone.

Courtney says she'll honor her promise to repay her scholarship. "We came out too relaxed," she commented. McCoughtry reminded the cameras that UL has no high school All-Americans; nobody else thought they'd be playing-- even if they are playing UConn-- Tuesday night.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Full Court's Thompson and Michaelson join the crowd opining that any team able to beat UConn, or to beat Stanford, should beat either OU or Louisville Tuesday night... and then they tell us, plausibly, that OU vs. Louisville should be lots of fun to watch, though the Paris sisters and their supporting cast should win by double digits.

From St. Louis's daily paper comes one neat preview article per team, starting with one about Ashley (not Courtney) Paris.

Also from STL: coach Walz has built UL's Final Four squad around transfers and others who never expected to go there.

Tina Charles is as much fun as any post in the country to watch, but she still has a big question mark inside. Geno speaks frankly: ""The biggest challenge that I had was to make her see that, inside of [Charles] is the best player in the country. Has the light gone on? Yeah, I'm sure it has. But ... you've always got to have your hand ready to put it on the switch, because it could go out at any time."

Stanford's Jeanette Pohlen is a gym rat who never expected to be a point guard. Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly, whose team lost to her team last round: "She can do whatever she needs to do, whenever she needs to do it... She never forces a shot. She never gets tired. She runs their system almost perfectly. She is someone you have to defend."

Finally, and admirably, Kathleen Nelson at the STL Post-Dispatch considers three athletic mothers and daughters to show what Title IX has, and has not, done.
Graham also points out: Pohlen gets the point for Stanford - Sophomore takes over point guard duties after hard work in offseason
A year ago, on the biggest night in women's college basketball, Stanford played for a national championship in front of 21,665 fans and a national television audience at the St. Pete Times Forum. Now the Cardinal are back in the Final Four for another shot at Connecticut, the team they upset in the semifinals in Tampa, and possibly the championship that ultimately eluded them on that subsequent Tuesday night against Tennessee.
Asks Graham: Can Walz outmaneuver Final Four?
Whether it's Henry V taking on the French at Agincourt or Rollie Massimino taking on the Hoyas in Lexington, it pays to follow the person with the perfect plan.
More Mechelle: Rematch about much more than revenge: UConn and Stanford both feel they have plenty to prove in Sunday's nightcap
Sure, you could condense this to a revenge rematch. This would be, say, the Twitter version of Connecticut vs. Stanford:

Reversal of fortune? Moore, Monty and Tina hope unbeaten No. 1 Huskies avenge 2008 national semifinal loss to Appel's Cardinal.

That wouldn't be inaccurate … but it also would not capture the nuances of how Sunday's UConn vs. Stanford 2009 (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET) is different from the previous year's version in the Final Four. But perhaps "nuance" is too, um, nuanced a word.
At ESPN.com, Mechelle says, "Paris so much more than a promise."
Oklahoma center Courtney Paris stood up to deliver a collective message of gratitude on behalf of her fellow State Farm All-Americans on Saturday. And she slipped in a little joke.

"I have no guarantees for you guys," Paris said, poking fun at her senior-night promise to Sooners fans to win a national championship or repay her scholarship.

This will tell you who the real Paris is, and how much she's liked by those in the sport. Even the very people who might stand in her way have her back about a statement that Paris meant as a devotional pledge, not a cocky guarantee.
"A Pox on Picks!" says Mechelle.
The Basket Cases are already thinking about the Mystics' pick.
Really long, and articulate, preview of Stanford-UConn from Jim Clark (a longtime UConn observer) and Lee Michaelson at Full Court.

Clark says if the refs let 'em play, UConn will win; if the whistle blows often and Tina sits, it's a toss-up. Michaelson says it's "dead even" no matter what the zebras do, because Appel is much stronger, and Stanford much taller, than their UConn counterparts.

For what it's worth-- and it's worth almost nothing-- I'm in between: a whistle-filled game likely gives an advantage to Stanford, though the Cardinal shoot free throws at just 69%, not far from UConn's 72%. A game with no foul trouble for either side, though, should be a game that UConn wins.
Mike Thibault On The Scholarship Race
Mike Thibault, the coach of the WNBA's Connecticut Sun, has seen it from nearly every angle: He coaches a professional women's basketball team and spends the offseason scouting college games; his daughter, Carly, played basketball for East Lyme High School and for a number of intense travel teams, and received a full scholarship to play for Monmouth University in New Jersey next year.

Thibault has also worked in men's basketball, as an assistant coach in the National Basketball Association and in the “minor leagues” of the sport.

Thibault said an athlete's motivation in trying for a scholarship is the important thing.