Tuesday, March 31, 2015

UConn's dominance is a drag

Columnist John Smallwood is right on the money with this piece: Dominant UConn is taking all the excitement out of women's basketball

It's always risky to make a foregone conclusion of a sporting event before the title game is played, much less the semifinals, but UConn winning its record 10th title is about as solid a lock as you will ever get.....

Still, being great does not necessarily mean being interesting, and, through no fault of their own, the greatness of the Huskies has made NCAA women's basketball unappealing.

Unless you are an alumnus or fan of Connecticut, you will need to watch only the first 25 minutes or so of next Tuesday's NCAA title game.

By then, the Huskies probably already will have beaten whomever they are playing to a pulp. Or at least gotten close.

At that point, the only question left will be whether the eventual loser stays within 15 points.

For the men's Final Four, Kentucky might come in as the undefeated favorite, but everyone knows the Wildcats can be taken out by any of the other three participants - Wisconsin, Duke or Michigan State.

No one will be stunned if Kentucky does not win the NCAA title.

It is just the opposite for the women.

We have had some of the greatest competition in basketball this past season, and so far in the NCAA Tournament, in the history of women's hoops - except for games UConn played in. Fans know they will probably win the title yet again next week.

I respect what UConn coaches and players have built. I have nothing against any of them. But they've made the Tournament a let-down. Their domination has become boring and passe, except to Husky fans.

I wonder, like Smallwood, what is being done to develop the game and bring up more players? It doesn't seem like much, at the moment.

Around the way

Tournament news:

Once a doormat, South Carolina is one step from the final game. Coach Dawn Staley has taken her team on an unorthodox route to success.

Gamecock senior Aleighsa Welch blogs.

Maryland's secret? Versatility. Lexie Brown and her teammates are savoring their Final Four berth.

Non-Tournament news:

Six players are transferring from Illinois State.

Former Indiana guard Taylor Agler has landed at Texas Tech.

USA Basketball:

Pan-American team coaches are Iowa's Lisa Bluder, Michelle Clark-Heard of Western Kentucky, and Scott Rueck of Oregon State.

WNBA news:

A little something I heard about last Friday: the Sparks have named former Indiana coach Curt Miller assistant coach.

AP All-American teams

Associated Press All-Americans:

First team

Jewell Loyd
Breanna Stewart
Tiffany Mitchell
Nina Davis
Amanda Zahui B.

Second team

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis
Brittany Boyd
Moriah Jefferson
Elizabeth Williams
Kelsey Mitchell

Third team:

Samantha Logic
Reshanda Gray
Lexie Brown
A'ja Wilson
Jillian Alleyne
Ruth Hamblin

Monday, March 30, 2015

Final Four is set

Dayton presented Connecticut a great battle, including leading by one at halftime and scoring more points on them in the first period than any team since 2008. But the Huskies stepped on the gas in the second half and won, 91-70. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis hit 7 three-point shots, which put her at 393 for her career - a new NCAA record.

Maryland came on strong in the final few minutes to top Tennessee, 58-48.

For only the third time in the 34-year history of the Tournament, all number-one seeds advanced to the Final Four. It happened before in 1989 and 2012.

South Carolina and Notre Dame will face off next Sunday, while Maryland faces Connecticut.

Who will win?

Non-Tournament news:

Baylor is expected to be bigger and better next year.

Liz Stratman is leaving Indiana - the fourth player to depart after coach Teri Moren's first year.

The NCAA has granted Fresno State guard Alex Furr a sixth year of eligibility, for next year. She sustained several injuries.

Retiring Georgia coach Andy Landers still has some country in him.

Tulane recruit Taylor Emery is openly gay.

John R. Wooden Award All-Americans:

Nina Davis, Baylor
Jewell Loyd, Notre Dame
Tiffany Mitchell, South Carolina
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Connecticut
Breanna Stewart, Connecticut

Link to release.

McDonald's All-American game:

....is Wednesday.

Tennessee seniors have Pat Summitt in mind

In case you were wondering why Tennessee's comeback Saturday night was so emotional, this explains it:

SPOKANE — They are her last recruits, the last players legendary coach Pat Summitt looked in the eye and told, “You’re the future of Tennessee.” But before point guard Ariel Massengale, forward Cierra Burdick, and center Isabelle Harrison started their freshmen seasons in 2011, Summitt announced she was diagnosed with early-onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type.

Immediately the players’ thoughts shifted to playing for Summitt. As freshmen they vowed to win their original coach another championship. Four years later, they’re faced with the last opportunity to do so.

More Tournament news:

The goal of the Final Four is within reach for the Lady Vols.

Dayton reminds UConn coach Geno Auriemma of earlier Husky teams on the rise.

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw appreciates her team's run more than ever.


These are the seniors the WNBA has their eyes on.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The rest of the basketball world......

Non-Tournament news:

Iowa's four seniors are leaving a legacy.

Despite their loss yesterday, the future is bright for Texas.

Tiffany Lewis and Shelbie Davenport are leaving Clemson.

Colorado coach Linda Lappe sees light at the end of the tunnel.

Women still make pennies on the dollar in college coaching.

Division II:

Cal Baptist's historic run to the national championship has reset the bar for the program.

WNIT quarterfinal results:

West Virginia 75, Villanova 70 OT
Michigan 69, Southern Miss 60
Temple 69, Middle Tennessee 57
UCLA 82, Saint Mary's 66

West Virginia will host Temple and Michigan will host UCLA in Wednesday's semifinals.

Two Final Four tickets punched

South Carolina used a last-minute run to surge past Florida State, 80-74, and win the Greensboro regional.

Tiffany Mitchell's super finish lifted the team.

Hundreds of fans welcomed the Gamecocks back to Columbia, S.C.

Notre Dame also used a late-game run to beat Baylor, 77-68.

More Tournament news:

Shatori Walker-Kimbrough's "swag" has kept Maryland rolling in the Tournament.

The Terps are gearing to face Tennessee.

Dayton looks a lot like a team UConn has seen before.

Olivia Gaines is a behind-the-scenes leader for South Carolina.

Practice makes pretty play for Irish guard Jewell Loyd.

Why Oklahoma City could host a Final Four someday.

Lady Vol senior Isabelle Harrison is still leading, despite her ACL injury.

Tennessee's win last night was a familiar comeback. The Lady Vols simply seized the moment.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Last four tickets to Elite 8 punched....along with thousands of defibrillators

If you were like me, it took some time to recover from watching Tennessee's defeat of Gonzaga in overtime, 73-69:

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - For more than 33 minutes, Gonzaga did more than answer every challenge presented by Tennessee.

The underdogs were running the storied Lady Vols out of the gym, on the cusp of pulling off an upset that would be regarded as one of the best in NCAA Tournament history even if it came with the tinge of having somewhat of a homecourt advantage.

And then it was gone for No. 11 seed Gonzaga. The second-seeded Lady Vols turned up the pressure and the Bulldogs wilted in the closing minutes, losing 73-69 in overtime, bringing to an end their NCAA tourney run.

The Lady Vols won it on free throws - 21 0f 22 overall, and 10 in overtime. They didn't score one field goal in the extra period:

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Tennessee was having trouble sinking field goals but fortunately the free throws kept dropping and dropping.

The Lady Vols made all 10 of their shots from the line in overtime -- and missed all five field goal attempts -- to beat Gonzaga 73-69 on Saturday to advance to the Spokane Regional final of the NCAA tournament.

Tennessee shot only 32 percent from the floor for the game, but made 21 of 22 free throws to come back from a 17-point, second-half deficit for the win.

Kara Lawson's analysis.

Before that we had an upset, as Dayton topped Louisville, 82-66.

We had an unsurprising win, as Maryland downed Duke, 65-55.

And Connecticut routed Texas, 105-54.

Tomorrow's schedule:

South Carolina vs. Florida State, noon Pacific time, ESPN.

Baylor vs. Notre Dame, 5:30 p.m. Pacific time, ESPN.

Monday's schedule:

Dayton vs. Connecticut, 4 p.m. Pacific, ESPN.

Maryland vs. Tennessee, 6 p.m. Pacific, ESPN.

More Tournament news:

What it's like to play for Dawn Staley.

Division II:

California University of Pennsylvania ended an emotional season, which included the death of a teammate, won the Division II Championship last night. They took down Cal Baptist, 86-69.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Outside the Tournament

Player news:

Princeton's Blake Dietrick will forego lacrosse for a chance to be drafted into the WNBA.

Team news:

Louisiana Tech and new coach Tyler Summitt grew this year.

Coaching news:

Central Michigan has signed coach Sue Guevara to a new five-year contract.

New Mexico coach Yvonne Sanchez has signed a four-year contract extension.

East Tennessee State has extended coach Brittney Ezell's contract by four years.


Sunday, March 29

Villanova at West Virginia, 2 p.m. ET
Michigan at Southern Miss, 3 p.m. ET
Temple at Middle Tennessee, 5 p.m. ET
Saint Mary's at UCLA, 5 p.m. ET

Michigan is playing with renewed passion.

Pac 12 all-academic teams:

First Team Yr. GPA Major

Quinn Dornstauder, ASU SO 3.85 Biochemistry
Alli Gloyd, ARIZ RS SR 4.00 Educational Leadership
Ruth Hamblin, OSU JR 3.86 Mechanical Engineering
Kelsey Moos, ASU SO 3.87 Communication
Taryn Wicijowski, UTAH SR 3.98 Biology and Psychology

Second Team Yr. GPA Major

Elisha Davis, ASU JR 3.76 Communication/Social Work
Kari Korver, UCLA SO 3.68 Communications
Lexy Kresl, COLO SR 3.56 Integrative Physiology
Samantha Siegner, OSU JR 3.75 Digital Communication Arts
Sydney Wiese, OSU SO 3.80 Digital Communication Arts


On to the Elite 8

The Greensboro regional is poppin:

An intense, back-and-forth game between South Carolina and North Carolina ended up in a 67-65 win for the Gamecocks, after a Tiffany Mitchell layup with 4.2 seconds remaining.

Then Florida State survived Arizona State, 66-65, after the Sun Devils couldn't get off a shot in the final seconds.

In Oklahoma City, things weren't quite as tense:

Baylor cruised by Iowa, 81-66.

Notre Dame routed Stanford, 81-60.

All four games went as I expected.

Tomorrow's schedule:

Texas vs. Connecticut

Dayton vs. Louisville

Duke vs. Maryland

Gonzaga vs. Tennessee

I predict Connecticut, Louisville, Maryland and Tennessee.

Another fine day in front of the television set.

More Tournament news......

Player news:

Louisville guard Bria Smith finally gets to play in front of her grandparents.

What's born in Texas should stay in Texas, aka UConn guard Moriah Jefferson.

Team news:

Increased scoring from Andraya Carter and Jordan Reynolds could serve Tennessee well.

The twin towers of Texas will challenge UConn. The Longhorns have returned to the spotlight, but the Huskies cast a big shadow.

Coaching news:

First-year head coach Lisa Fortier has put her stamp on Gonzaga.