Friday, October 21, 2016

College news hues

College team news:

Washington aims for a repeat Final Four run.

Kentucky is ready to move past last year.

The Bluegrass hues to Kentucky's roster has positives and negatives.

Impact transfers litter the SEC.

Central Michigan is loaded and motivated.

Size won't deter the mission of Southern Mississippi's front court.

Skill work still comes first at FGCU.

College player news:

Kansas transfer Lauren Aldridge has settled in with Missouri.

South Carolina's point guard spot is Bianca Cuevas-Moore's to lose.

The tale of Makayla Epps, Boom Williams and the beloved belt.

What happens when a bitter rival transfers to your school?

Former Florida State Seminole Angel Gray is making a media career for herself.

College coach news:

The worst day of Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell's life yielded positive results.

Mitchell is looking for more defensively.

WNBA news:

Would the Bay Area support a WNBA team?

More on the Finals

Post finals:

Candace Parker's resume is complete with the title. She is at long last, a WNBA champion.

Sparks coach Brian Agler started last night's press conference by playing "Rocky Top" for Parker.

Nneka Ogwumike got the rebound of her life last night.

Chelsea Gray was the unsung heroine of Game 5.

Minnesota sold out the Target Center and broke a WNBA Finals record with 19,423 in attendance.

The missed call:

"Sore loser or league president someday": Cheryl Reeve's comments on the officiating have stirred strong reaction.

Minnesotans have long been strong on blaming defeat on officials.

....took away from the ambiance at Target Center.

It's time for the WNBA to fix officiating

Earlier this morning the WNBA announced that for the second game in a row, there had been an officiating error:

NEW YORK, Oct. 21, 2016 – Renee Brown, WNBA Chief of Basketball Operations and Player Relations, issued the following statement today regarding a play late in the fourth quarter of the Los Angeles Sparks’ 77-76 win over the Minnesota Lynx on Thursday at Target Center:

“After reviewing postgame video, we have determined that Nneka Ogwumike’s shot with 1:14 remaining in regulation time should not have counted due to a shot-clock violation, and that the referees improperly failed to review the play under the instant replay rules.”

In Game 4 Sunday, referees failed to call the Lynx for an 8-second back court violation, which would have given the ball to the Sparks.

To cast uncertainty and doubt on not one but two games of the championship series of a professional sports league is unconscionable. Not to mention shocking.

It's not like longtime fans of the WNBA, like myself, are unfamiliar with the league's trademark of horrendous officiating. Newer fans have trouble believing me when I tell them it used to be worse, but it did. There were too many games in early days that would leave me enraged afterwards for the terrible and unfair calls. It definitely took away from the game experience.

If officials had made the right call Sunday, I don't believe there would have been a Game 5, as the Sparks would have won. Last night the shoe was on the other foot, as a call on LA was missed. It seems even.

I've never quite got over last year's Western Conference showdown between the Lynx and Mercury, where a foul was called on Phoenix's Noelle Quinn that was later retracted. The call gave Maya Moore a foul shot and Minnesota a one-point win. The Mercury should have won that series, but because of that error, the Lynx went on to win the whole thing.

Games should never, ever be decided by officials, but by play itself. The WNBA has done a great job this season of boosting interest in the playoffs. Their next step now is to clean house and hire some competent referees. The life of the league depends upon it.

Finals Game 5 post-game press conferences

Interesting quotes from last night.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Three weeks til college season!

One great thing about a late WNBA season finish is that college season is just around the corner......

College team news:

Coaches have tabbed UCLA to win the Pac-12 title.

Garnet is the new orange for the SEC.

Mississippi State preview.

Florida State team primer.

North Carolina season preview.

Georgia season preview.

Expectations are rising at Utah.

Colorado looks to rebound this year.

Young Akron looks to continue their winning tradition.

College player news:

High school teammates Jordin Canada and Courtney Jaco don't let the UCLA-USC rivalry get in the way of their friendship.

South Carolina transfers Allisha Gray and Kaela Davis lead the transfer trend.

Now more than ever, Missouri will rely on Sophie Cunningham.

Dominique Doseck is looking to continue in her shooting role at Ohio.

The Canada-to-Utah pipeline is still going strong with Paige Crozon and Emily Potter.

Transfer Taya Reimer is boosting the outlook for Michigan State.

College coach news:

The contract of Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb has been extended through 2020-2021.

SEC coaches see parity - not dropoff - with the Lady Vols.

Charli Turner Thorne hopes ASU isn't exposed during the regular season.

Los Angeles Sparks edge Minnesota Lynx to win championship, 77-76

The Sparks won a classic, 77-76.

Nneka Ogwumike's shot in the final seconds lifted LA to the win.

Star Tribune game story.

Candace Parker said immediately after the game that the win was for Pat Summitt. USA Today story talks about that.

WNBA recap.

Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve lost her temper criticizing officiating after the loss. She is livid.

WNBA greats picked Minnesota to win the title.

Photo gallery.

Lynx and Sparks speak after Wednesday practice

Four and a half hours til Game 5.

Here's what Sparks and Lynx players said yesterday.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Pac-12 preview: the University of Colorado

This is the fifth in an annual season preview series of the Pac-12 teams.

Just a few years ago the Colorado Buffs were soaring, and got as high as 11 in the AP top 25 rankings. But it came crashing down the following season, and continued to decline. Last year Colorado went 7-23 overall and 2-16 in the Pac-12, finishing last.

Out went coach Linda Lappe after six seasons, and in came high-energy JR Payne, who had just grown Santa Clara into one of the nation's top defensive teams in only two years as head coach. She hit the ground running in Boulder, and hasn't let up.

The Buffs saw top scorer Jamee Swan (13.5 points, 7 rebounds per game) graduate last spring, but the four returning starters are long on talent.

Senior guard/forward Haley Smith (10.7 points, 5.7 rebounds per game) is what Payne calls "a utility kid" for her versatility.

"She will have to play 2-5 positions," Payne said. "She really fit us (the new coaching staff). We adore her - she's working hard."

Sophomore guards Kennedy Leonard (12.1 points, 3.6 rebounds per game) and Alexis Robinson (7.6 points, 3.2 points per game) are big for Colorado because of their on-court energy. Both received pac-12 all-freshmen honors last season, and Payne said the team will rely on them more than is the case for most second-year players.

"They will have to carry us for a while," Payne said, adding that both players have a deep love for the game.

"They are two of our hardest-working players - they are always in the gym. They want to compete, and they do more than typical sophomores."

Senior guard/forward Lauren Huggins (7.2 points, 2.5 rebounds per game) leads five other returnees.

Colorado's newcomers are a diverse bunch. Guard Quinessa Caylao-Do comes from Bellevue High School in Washington State, where as an ESPN three-star recruit, she lead the school to the state title last year. Eleanor Jones, a freshman forward/center, hails from Great Britain, where she played on the U-18 European Championship Division B Team. Ariana Freeman is a redshirt sophomore guard transfer from Louisville who sat out last season after the move. Monica Burich is a redshirt freshman who missed last season due to injury.

Payne said she and her coaching staff have been hard at work instilling a new work ethic in players.

"The foundation is hard work with discipline, which is harder than it sounds when your goal is to be a tough, physical team," she said. "We practice with a lot of discipline: do your job, run your lane correctly."

"If we can get them to grasp that, then even if we have to suffer some losses, it will be worth it."

Payne said patience is necessary.

"We have to be patient, while holding them to a level of accountability," she said.

But despite the hard work, Payne is ever-optimistic.

"It'll be a fun season," she said. "We're excited."

The Buffs will take on Air Force, Kentucky and Wyoming before beginning conference play Dec. 30 at USC.

One more night, one more game

At this time tomorrow night, we'll know who the WNBA champions are. And like the election, I can't wait until it's over! I hope tomorrow's game is epic.

Finals news:

The Lynx and Sparks prepare to finish an electric finals.

Lynx practice report: experience and grit.

Sparks practice report: some Magic.

Finals series musings from Michelle Smith.

The Sparks play for a title on Minnesota's court, but may have an advantage of their own.

The Lynx are eyeing another attendance record for Game 5.

LA is hoping their Game 4 loss will prove to be a growing experience.

The Lynx are on the verge of an historic finish.

Mature Minnesota has little more to prove.

The Lynx need one more victory to start talking big.

Will LA regain glory, or will Minnesota maintain?

One more game.

Candace Parker ignores the slights she's seen this year, heeding the life lessons of Pat Summitt.

Lindsay Whalen brings out the best in the Lynx.

College team news:

Vanderbilt is embracing a fast-paced style under new coach Stephanie White.

Missouri remains determined despite injuries.

New Mexico's starters have begun to emerge.

College player news:

UConn's Katie Lou Samuelson is looking to fill the void left by the Big 3.

Notre Dame's Brianna Turner hopes for a happy Houston homecoming next month.

College coach news:

Alabama coach Kristy Curry's contract has been extended through 2020.

Recruiting class of 2017:

ESPN's first recruiting class rankings, and look who's on this list! Parity might be coming.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Finals, WNBPA, NCAA and WBCA news on tap

Finals news:

The WNBA Finals are headed to a Game 5 for the second straight year.

The Lynx can match the Comets with a fourth title.

Sparks guard Alana Beard knows how to hold on loosely to dreams, thanks to advice long ago from Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale.

MVP Nneka Ogwumike has a chance to make history Thursday.

WNBA union news:

The WNBPA has new officers: Nneka Ogwumike as union president, Chiney Ogwumike, Layshia Clarendon and Monique Currie are vice presidents, and Monica Wright is secrtary-treasurer.

WNBA past:

The rise and fall of the WNBA's first dynasty, the Houston Comets. (The picture of Kim Perrot is a trip)

NCAA news:

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw says Division I might finally see some parity this season.

McGraw is confident and optimistic about her deep squad.

Talented Irish freshmen need to be thinking about defense.

Five games to get excited about this year.

Pat Summitt remembered UT Martin in her will.

New-look Oregon State looks versatile and competitive.

FGCU is still working on skills first.

Shoulder surgery could mean a slow start for Syracuse's Bria Day.

UT Arlington freshman point guard Ericka Mattingly is fitting right in.

Missouri forward Bri Porter will miss the season with a torn ACL.

Jasmine Sina returns healthy and improved for Binghamton.

Former Colorado coach Linda Lappe is now associate head coach at San Francisco.

WBCA news:

The WBCA has formed a Diversity and Inclusion Committee:

Melanie Balcomb, director of coaching offensive analytics at the University of South Carolina, will chair the committee, which is initially composed of the following additional individuals:

Joeleen Akin, associate athletic director/senior woman administrator, Georgia Tech (vice chair)

Kai Duncan, retired high school teacher, coach and contest official

Tracy Ellis Ward, associate commissioner, Big East Conference
AnnMarie Gilbert, head coach, Virginia Union University
Shimmy Gray-Miller, assistant coach, University of Florida
Diane Richardson, assistant coach/recruiting coordinator, West Virginia University
Norman Rodriguez, head coach, John Wood Community College
Julie Shaw, head coach, University of La Verne
Stephanie Stevens, head coach, Gallaudet University
Mike Terry, assistant coach, Wake Forest University
Steve Yang, director of basketball operations, George Mason University
Dana Drew Shaw, attorney, Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick LLP

WBCA 2015-2016 report.