Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ahead of the big showdown

About tonight:

The matchup between UCLA's Jordin Canada and UConn's Crystal Dangerfield tonight will be prime.

The Bruins are set on beating the Huskies after their upset of Baylor.

Husky Katie Lou Samuelson comes home to SoCal, but won't be able to play due to injury.

Holiday tournaments:

Preview of four tourneys.

College team news:

Villanova is the NCAA's team of the week.

The freshmen are taking over at Iowa State.

South Carolina will have a "Star Wars" game theme at one contest next month.

Boston University heads to Harvard to build on their winning streak.

College player news:

Time management is key for Arizona State's Courtney Ekmark.

Alexis Sevillian's redshirt year served her well at Iowa.

Sophomore Bella Alarie's hot start is a sign of things to come for Princeton.

Bonus:

How college athletics is bringing together conservative Christians and the LGBTQ community.

At 76, Patricia Ferguson is nationally one of the best hoopers in her age group.

International news:

Liz Cambage has been suspended for two games in the WNBL for "unduly rough play."

No trifling: a win is a win

Sports has increasingly become my refuge from politics, but sometimes sports are just as maddening.

Yesterday I was deluged with tweets from fans of a couple of teams who were upset that I didn't mention their beloved athletes on a random tweet about undefeated teams. What was really concerning, though, was a small thread of thought that UCLA's upset of Baylor Saturday was diminished because of the absence of coach Kim Mulkey and second-best scorer Lauren Cox from the Bear contingent.

We heard this kind of talk earlier in the year, when some maintained that South Carolina's Championship didn't mean as much because they hadn't had to face UConn to get it. While on paper it might seem like a legitimate beef, in the true spirit of competition, such a line of thinking is nothing but sour grapes.

Sports fans take the biological human tendency of comparison to obscene extremes. They compare athletes and teams from different eras, the same eras, and invent hypothetical situations. They crunch unlikely statistics, make imaginary trades at the pro level, and project results and outcomes far, far in advance.

Obviously, the ideal situation is when all on two competing teams are healthy and able to perform at their peak. But reality is not always ideal.

If UCLA beats Connecticut tonight, there will be a contingent of naysayers who will say it was because Husky guard Katie Lou Samuelson was injured and unable to play. They will more than likely neglect to mention that the Bruins are missing injured guard Lindsey Corsaro, Ashley Hearn and transfer Japreece Dean, who is waiting to be activated. It will be the same people who discounted that Mulkey's right hand, associate head coach Bill Brock, coached Baylor well over the weekend, and that Kalani Brown doubled her scoring average in the game.

Sports, like life, isn't fair. Houses burn down in wildfires, but people still have to go to work. Injuries happen, but teams still have to play. You have to take what you have and make it work.

Plenty of teams in sports history have made bad situations work for them. Perhaps most notoriously in recent memory was the 2012 Indiana Fever, who were missing key players in their Championship run, but still hoisted the trophy at the end. Truly, there are no excuses. True champions step up in the face of adversity and perform. Connecticut fans are famous for saying, "don't hate, just be more like us." The same is true in reverse.

Don't discount an upset just because conditions weren't "ideal." A win is a win. No ifs, and's or buts about it.

Monday, November 20, 2017

In the midst of week two

Today's results:

#12 Tennessee struggled, but got the win over Wichita State, 68-56.

Utah took down Purdue, 81-68.

Chattanooga handed Indiana their first loss of the season, 64-61.

Ball State is undefeated after their 88-79 win over Vanderbilt, which is still winless.

Same situation with Penn State and Central Connecticut and NC State and Old Dominion.

USC put away Long Beach State, 75-60.

All scores.

Tomorrow's schedule features #1 UConn at #5 UCLA.

College team news:

The Beavers learned lessons in their loss to Notre Dame yesterday.

UConn will visit John Wooden's home before their matchup against UCLA tomorrow night.

A new season and different results for Rutgers.

Ohio continues to improve its offense as it prepares for tougher competition.

College player news:

Asia Durr is ESPNW's player of the week.

The Louisville star is on Around the Rim this week.

ESPN talks with UConn's Gabby Williams.

International news:

Does Liz Cambage try to injure opponents?

Much shifting in this week's AP top 25 poll

Changes abound in this week's AP top 25 poll:

1. Connecticut
2. Texas
3. South Carolina
4. Louisville
5. UCLA'
6. Notre Dame
7. Mississippi State
8. Baylor
9. Ohio State
10. Oregon
11. West Virginia
12. Tennessee
13. Florida State
14. Stanford
15. Maryland
16. Duke
17. South Florida
18. Oregon State
19. Texas A&M
20. Marquette
21. California
22. Kentucky
23. Missouri
24. Arizona State
25. Michigan

Oklahoma out, Arizona State in.

Coach’s Chair: Charlotte Smith, Elon University

This week in the Coach's Chair is Charlotte Smith, Elon University.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Many teams have yet to lose

Upset:

Villanova took down #11 Duke, 64-55.

Almost-upset:

#6 Notre Dame escaped #18 Notre Dame, 72-67.

#25 Kentucky edged Washington State, 73-68.

More results:

#1 UConn hit the boards to defeat #15 Maryland, 97-72.

#5 Louisville locked down #10 Oregon to win the WNIT preseason championship, 74-61.

#9 Ohio State downed Washington, 85-76, but Buckeye coach Kevin McGuff wasn't pleased with his team's effort.

#20 Cal held off Brown, 89-79, behind Kristine Anigwe's 28 points and 25 rebounds.

Among the teams that are still undefeated after today's games: Arizona State, Rutgers, Minnesota, Virginia Tech, Middle Tennessee, Villanova, Northern Colorado, Kansas State, North Dakota State, Iowa, Dayton, Stony Brook, Kansas, Georgia, Alabama, Georgia Tech, Michigan State, Penn State and Purdue.

Among the undefeated ranked teams after today's games: Connecticut, South Carolina, Texas, Louisville, Notre Dame, Mississippi State, UCLA, West Virginia, Tennessee, Florida State and Kentucky.

All scores.

Tomorrow's schedule includes some interesting matchups.

College team news:

After losing to UConn, Maryland coach Brenda Frese focuses on the future.

#23 Missouri got past Missouri State, 69-59.

College coach news:

Lady Vol assistant coach Bridgette Gordon feels another emotional twist in her return.

WNBA news:

Winning the draft lottery may not lead to a jackpot for the WNBA's new Las Vegas franchise.

No. 8 UCLA controls the tempo to upend No. 3 Baylor, 82-68.

Check out our game story and photo gallery.

Saturday, November 18, 2017