Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Final Four is set

No surprises tonight, unless it was what a great game Purdue made it. They really did have a chance to take it until about 50 seconds. I appreciate that kind of grit.

Story link: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncw/recap?gameId=294000046

But again, I wish UConn (tonight's other winner) and Stanford weren't playing each other. That, to me, is the national championship game this year.

More on Maryland's loss last night - photos and links from the "basketcases":

http://dcbasketcases.blogspot.com/2009/03/great-run-terps-had-quite-run-this.html

National championships are sure hard to come by. Not too many people have rings to wear after all is said and done.

Kelsey Bone moves up her announcement to tomorrow

Just pick a school, already:

http://www.illinihq.com/news/women_basketball/2009/03/30/bone_moves_up_announcement

Although, you have to wonder why this item is in the Illinois newspaper.........

Monday, March 30, 2009

And then there were six (half of Final Four decided)

Though I was one of many who thought Maryland overrated this season, I don't think I'm alone in saying Louisville came out of nowhere this year to win tonight. I wouldn't have thought "Final Four" and Louisville to be in the same sentence at the end of March, but they were really gritty tonight. They wanted the win, which is more than it looked like Maryland wanted. I'm not going to speculate, but Louisville's hunger for victory was palpable tonight.

ESPN story link: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncw/recap?gameId=294000030

I was laughing at the way Louisville was starting to jump up and down.........until Marissa Coleman stepped to the FT line with tears in her eyes. When she came out of the game she walked into Coach Brenda Frese's arms and wouldn't leave them. Just inconsolable on the bench. It was sad.

Then Card Angel McCoughtry started yelling into the camera to Kara Lawson, about how she'd see her in St. Louis (Lawson had picked the Terps to win). McCoughtry also said she was ready for Obama before getting off camera. Some people thought it was in poor taste, but I'm willing to give the kid the benefit of the doubt. We all do and say wack stuff when we're excited.

This piece in today's Baltimore Sun provides some insight into McCoughtry's personality:

http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/college/basketball/womens/bal-sp.mccoughtry30mar30,0,1749103.story

In Angel, Roi and his wife, Sharon, had a capricious child, one who didn't like the word "no" and often brought her mother to tears.

"I'm sort of a quiet, laid-back person, and I thought I'd have a quiet, laid-back child," Sharon said. "But she was just the opposite. If I told her, 'Let's do this,' she'd do the opposite. Now that I realize, she had all that energy for a reason; it just had to be channeled into something."

Basketball became the perfect outlet. Growing up in Baltimore's Northwood neighborhood, there was always a game nearby for a teenage McCoughtry. It usually meant playing against boys, though older, quicker and tougher.


And here's another testament to hard work:

Once on campus, she kept working on her game and kept improving. As a sophomore, McCoughtry was named Big East Player of the Year.

"I joke with her that I'm not sure how many friends she has," Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. "She's always in the gym."


I'd like to take a moment to thank all the young men all over the country who had no problem playing with McCoughtry, Dawn Staley, and countless other women who went on to great things in the sport they love because of it.

On the other side of the NCAA tourney, and the country, Jayne Appel is taking over where Candice Wiggins left off last year. Forty-six points is pretty amazing.

ESPN story link: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncw/recap?gameId=294000015

Appel story link: http://www.mercurynews.com/sportsheadlines/ci_12026703?nclick_check=1

“She’s a 10 out of 10,” teammate Jillian Harmon said, describing Appel’s mental toughness. “You can count on her. She’s going to do whatever it takes.”

Tenacity and toughness are great things.

But all this leaves me a little uncertain. Have I mentioned I'm going to the Final Four? First time, and it's more than a little ironic that my team got knocked out in the first round. Even more ironic when I consider that the likely matchup on one side of the semi-finals - Stanford and Connecticut - will probably be the true championship game. Because let's face it, ladies and gentlemen, those are the top two teams in the country right now. Not taking away anything from Oklahoma (who will also probably win tomorrow, alongside the Huskies), but Stanford and Connecticut have been kicking butt and taking names this post-season. The only way either/one of them will lose in the next week or so is to each other.

Faced with that, I'm prepared for this year's championship game to be a bit of a letdown (unless some wild upset takes place). I just hope it's not like the 2005 game, when Baylor kicked the butts of Michigan State.

On the bright side, I'm not emotionally invested in any team right now, so I can just enjoy myself in St. Louis.

Tomorrow:

Connecticut vs. ASU, 4 PDT/7 EDT

Purdue vs. Oklahmoa, 6/9

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I was close

For someone who doesn't do predictions, I was only one point off on both night games.

Connecticut 77
Cal 53

Arizona State 84
Texas A&M 69

Purdue 67
Rutgers 61

Oklahoma 70
Pittsburgh 59

Cal looked really good for a little while in the first half, but Conn's defense smothers. I like Cal's progression, though, and hope to see Boyle cutting down nets sometime in the next few years.

I'm surprised by Arizona State's win, frankly. Nothing personal against them, but I didn't think they had it in them.

I'm impressed with the way C. Vivian Stringer and Rutgers didn't give up this season and fought back after a lot of adversity. They have it their all today.

Oklahoma, well, what can you say (They were up by almost 30 at one point in the second half tonight). They and Stanford and UConn are the three best right now, if you ask me. I wonder which two are going to make it. Whichever the case, it won't come easy.

UConn-Cal story: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncw/recap?gameId=294000053

ASU-A&M story: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncw/recap?gameId=294000060

Tomorrow:

Louisville vs. Maryland, 4 PDT/7 EDT

Iowa State vs. Stanford, 6/9

Alexis Hornbuckle comes back

The illustrious M.M. Cornelius - the scout.com reporter who is at pretty much every Tennessee practice - got some great photos the other day when Alexis Hornbuckle came to visit. She posted them on "The Summitt" message board and called them, "the hug collection." As someone who loves warm fuzzies, I dig each and every Lex pic. Dig:

http://mbd.scout.com/mb.aspx?s=7&f=1373&t=4146699

Thanks, MMC, for being the eyes and ears of Volfanatics and taking us where we wish we could be.

Today's NCAA Tournament schedule

Cal vs. UConn, 9 a.m. PDT/12 p.m. EDT

Arizona State vs. Texas A&M, 11:30/2:30

Rutgers vs. Purdue, 4:30/7:30

Pittsburgh vs. Oklahoma, 6:30/9:30

Predictions: UConn by 15

Texas A&M by 10

Purdue by five

Oklahoma by 12

Stanford Coach Tara VanDerveer predicts Cal will upset UConn. I don't know, but I hope she's right.

Candace Parker wins kid's choice female athlete award

CP beat out the Williams sisters and Danica Patrick for the honor last night:

http://www.nick.com/kids-choice-awards/nominees.jhtml

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/03/28/entertainment/main4900215.shtml

Parker always does put kids first - I can vouch for that from personal experience. The award is well-deserved. Congrats, CP.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The best games were the ones in the middle

Louisville 56
Baylor 39

Maryland 78
Vanderbilt 74

Iowa State 69
Michigan State 68

Stanford 84
Ohio State 66

Whoa on Marissa Coleman's 42 points for the Terps!

I pray Cal doesn't get slaughtered tomorrow.

Today's Sweet 16 matchups

Right now Louisville is playing Baylor - the game just started, and it's on ESPN360.

At 11 a.m. PDT/2 p.m. EDT, Vanderbilt plays Maryland.

Tonight at 6/9 p.m. it's Michigan State vs. Iowa State.

The final game of the evening is 8:30/11:30 - Ohio State-Stanford.

It seems like forever since round 2 on Monday. WOO!! Here we go!!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Spring/Summer circuit

A fantastic poster on the fullcourt.com forums put up the high school club team major events list for the summer:

Boo Williams Nike Invitational / Hampton,VA-April 17-19

Deep South / Raleigh,NC-April 17-19

Nike Tournament of Champions / Cincinnati,OH-May 23-25

Nike Skills Academy / Beaverton,Oregon-June 30-July 3

USA Invitational / Penn State-July 5-8

Boo Williams All-American Showcase / Hampton,Va-July 9-11

Showtime Nat'l Championship / Atlanta,GA-July 10-12

Battle in the Boro / Murphreesboro,Tenn-July 12-15

Nike Summer Showcase / Chicago-July 11-15

Basketball on the Bayou / New Orleans-July 21-25

Jr Nationals / Washington,DC-July-22-25

Nike Nationals / North Augusta,SC-July 28-31

Ah, if I was rich and could travel at will.......I'd be at every one of these.

Interesting comments in the rest of the thread, too:

http://mbd.scout.com/mb.aspx?s=427&f=1324&t=4145746

I bet I know which one of the Cal coaches declined to have a door opened for her.

Edit to add two more:

End of the Trails / Portland, OR - July 6-9

San Diego Classic / San Diego - July 16-19

Hey, I can go to at least one of those.

USC gets another one - and it's not Trakh

Cassie Harberts, a junior at San Clemente High School in Orange County, has given a very early verbal to the University of Southern California. (Link: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/varsitytimesinsider/2009/03/girls-basket-36.html).

The 6-foot-2 power forward ended up playing point guard a lot this past season for her guard-starved Tritons team. She averaged 19.7 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. Harberts plans to major in Medicine in college, with the goal of becoming an oncologist. She plays for the Cal Swish during the summertime.

According to an inside source, USC officials were most happy to have Harberts aboard for her rebounding. But who Harberts will play for - if she stands behind her verbal committment - remains to be seen.

Though it is the end of March and USC Coach Mark Trakh hasn't been released from his position, he hasn't signed a new contract with the Trojans, either. Rumors persist that he will take the Long Beach State University coaching job, freed March 11 when school officials declined to renew Coach Mary Hegarty's contract.

It's a pregnant pause, and it makes me wonder what is keeping USC from making a decision whether or not to keep the five-year coach.

More on Oregon's hire of Westhead

This is what those who know nothing about Oregon or the University of Oregon fail to realize:

What is it about Oregon, this aversion to convention, this addiction to unorthodoxy?

“That’s Oregon, to me,” Pat Kilkenny said. “We tend to do things a little differently around here, and I think that’s a good thing.”

This is definitely different. Whether it’s good, well, the athletic director put it best: “Time will tell.”


Link: http://www.registerguard.com/csp/cms/sites/web/sports/10601600-41/story.csp

The U of O has done crazier things.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sparks trade Temeka Johnson to Mercury for 2010 pick

Fresh off the Sparks HG email wire:

SPARKS TRADE TEMEKA JOHNSON TO THE PHOENIX MERCURY FOR 2010 FIRST ROUND PICK

LOS ANGELES, CA – The Los Angeles Sparks have traded point guard Temeka Johnson to the Phoenix Mercury in exchange for the Mercury's 2010 first round draft pick. Johnson was selected by the Washington Mystics in the first round (sixth overall) in 2005. The 2005 WNBA Rookie of Year joined the Sparks in March 2006 along with Murriel Page when the Sparks traded Nikki Teasley to the Mystics. During her time with the Sparks, Johnson averaged 6.4 points and 4.0 assists in 66 games.

"We want to thank Temeka for her contribution to our team over the past three seasons," said Vice President and General Manager Penny Toler.

The two-time WNBA Champion Sparks open the season on June 6th at the STAPLES Center against the Defending Champion Detroit Shock at 11:30am. To secure your seats visit www.lasparks.com or call 877-44-SPARKS.


Interesting. But then again, not surprising considering the length of time Johnson was in Coach Michael Cooper's dog house last season, and the visible tension between them after that.

Oregon will hire Paul Westhead

So says my hometown newspaper:

http://www.registerguard.com/csp/cms/sites/web/updates/10566382-55/story.csp

I didn't realize Westhead was 70.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Kelsey Bone will announce her choice on tax day

CHAMPAIGN – Tax Day also is D-Day – or Decision Day – for Kelsey Bone and the Illinois women's basketball program.

Kim Williams, mother of Texas high school All-American Kelsey Bone, said Tuesday that her daughter will announce her college decision April 15, the first day of the spring signing period.

Bone, a 6-foot-5 center from Dulles High in Sugar Land, Texas, is No. 1 nationally by Blue Star Basketball. She is deciding between Illinois, South Carolina, Texas and Texas A&M.


I hope she picks Dawn Staley and South Carolina.

Link: http://www.illinihq.com/news/women_basketball/2009/03/24/bones_decision_upcoming

More "there's hope"

It was good enough that a couple of my former male students are always talking to me about Tennessee. One of them initiated a conversation about the Vols this morning as I walked to my office. Now another boy just came in the office on his way to track practice, and the discussion began with Tennessee. But he started talking about who was going to win the women's tournament this year, just like my boy did this morning. They not only know who's in the sweet 16, but they each have a theory about who will win it all.

As if that wasn't good enough, a third student told me a while ago that he saw me at Saturday night's game - he was there to support Marist.

My heart is warm and fuzzy, because if teenage boys are starting to pay attention, there is hope.

Female player graduation rates higher

Not a surprise at all:

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/news/story?id=4015086

Sparks sign Marta Fernandez

Fresh from Sparks HQ:

SPARKS SIGN GUARD MARTA FERNANDEZ
Spanish League MVP Returns to Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Sparks have re-signed guard Marta Fernandez, Vice President and General Manager Penny Toler announced today. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Originally signed by the Sparks as a free agent in February 2007, Fernandez started 20 of 34 games for the Sparks and averaged 8.7 points, 3.0 assists and 2.1 rebounds in 26.2 minutes per game. The 5'11" guard spent the 2008-2009 season in Poland playing for Wisla Can-Pack Krakow appearing in 34 games and averaging 10.0 points, 2.9 assists and 2.0 steals in 32.5 minutes, while shooting 52% from the field and recording a season high 23 points in November 2008.

"We're very happy that Marta will be back in Los Angeles," said Sparks Head Coach Michael Cooper. "She's a very talented and experienced guard that is a great addition to our roster."

A native of Spain, Fernandez spent 2004-2006 playing for U.B. Barca where she averaged 18.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game. In 2006 she was the MVP of the Women's Spanish League, Domestic Player of the Year, named to the Spanish League First Team and the Spanish All-Domestic Player Team.

"I'm really happy to have the opportunity to be back in L.A. It was a great experience for me two years ago," said Fernandez. "There are great people surrounding the team, from the coaches to the players to the basketball staff. I can't wait to get back because I love the city and I'm excited about the great team they've put together that can make a run for the championship."

With the signing of Fernandez, the Sparks add another Olympian to their roster. Fernandez was a member of the Spanish National Team that finished sixth at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. During the games she averaged 9.3 points and 1.6 assists in seven contests. The Sparks also have the only two active brother-sister combos between the NBA and WNBA. Forward Candace Parker's brother Anthony plays for the Toronto Raptors and Fernandez's brother Rudy plays for the Portland Trailblazers.

The WNBA season will tip-off June 6th as the Sparks take on the Defending Champion Detroit Shock at the STAPLES Center at 11:30am. For more information on how to secure your seat visit www.lasparks.com or call 877-44-SPARKS.

Hats off to the 2008-2009 Pac 10 All-Academic basketball teams

Being a student athlete in college is no joke, and to get an outstanding GPA amidst the schedule? Amazing.

Congratulations, ladies.

First Team

Sybil Dosty, Arizona State, Gr. - 4.05, Liberal Studies
Kate Engelbrecht, Arizona State, Sr. - 3.75, Kinesiology
Lauren Greif, California, Jr. - 3.57, Psychology
Talisa Rhea, Oregon State, So. - 3.54, Exercise & Sport Science
Allison Taka, UCLA, Jr. - 3.72, Sociology

Second Team

Katie Appleton, Washington State, Sr. - 3.41, Movement Studies
Kezia Kelly, Washington State, So. - 3.65, Psychology
Danielle Orsillo, Arizona State, Sr. - 3.46, Communication
Erica Tukiainen, UCLA, Jr.- 3.39, French
Sami Whitcomb, Washington, Jr. - 3.38, History

Honorable Mention

Jayne Appel, Jr., STAN; Kelsey Adrian, So., CAL; Michelle Augustavo, Sr., WASH; Katie Calderwood, So., WSU; Micaela Cocks, Jr., ORE; Mercedes Fox-Griffin, Sr., OSU; Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, Jr., STAN; Jillian Harmon, Sr., STAN; Faihza Hill, So., ARIZ; Kari LaPlante, So., USC; Camille LeNoir, Sr., USC; Ellie Manou, So., ORE; Sara Mosiman, Jr., WASH; Sarah Morton, So., WASH; Kayli Murphy, Jr., ASU; Amina Njonkou, Sr., ARIZ; Kayla Pedersen, So., STAN; Jeanette Pohlen, So., STAN; Kirsten Thompson, Sr., ASU.

Sweet 16 is set

SWEET 16 SCHEDULE
(All tip-offs ET)

RALEIGH: Saturday
• No. 3 Louisville vs. No. 2 Baylor (ESPN, noon)
• No. 4 Vanderbilt vs. No. 1 Maryland (ESPN, 2 p.m.)

BERKELEY: Saturday
• No. 9 Michigan St. vs. No. 4 Iowa St. (ESPN, 9 p.m.)
• No. 3 Ohio St. vs. No. 2 Stanford (ESPN2, 11:30 p.m.)

TRENTON: Sunday
• No. 4 California vs. No. 1 UConn (ESPN, noon)
• No. 6 ASU vs. No. 2 Texas A&M (ESPN2, 2:30 p.m.)

OKLAHOMA CITY: Sunday
• No. 7 Rutgers vs. No. 6 Purdue (ESPN2, 7:30 p.m.)
• No. 4 Pitt vs. No. 1 Oklahoma (ESPN2, 9:30 p.m.)

All games also available on ESPN360.com.

Mechelle Voepel has a nice preview column on the next round:

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncw/ncaatourney09/columns/story?columnist=voepel_mechelle&id=4013983

There are no mid-majors left in this tight lineup of teams. Conferences yielding Sweet 16 teams are:

Big East - Connecticut, Louisville, Pitt, Rutgers

Big 12 - Texas A&M, Iowa St, Baylor, Oklahoma

Big 10 - Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue

PAC 10 - Arizona State, Cal, Stanford

ACC - Maryland

SEC - Vanderbilt

But was anyone more surprised at a game so far than Michigan State's upset of Duke? (Except maybe Ruters killing Auburn) Mechelle Voepel has a great analysis:

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncw/ncaatourney09/columns/story?columnist=voepel_mechelle&id=4013555

Pat Summitt still holding practices

Wow:

“We went around the table and I said ‘you in or out. We need to know,’” Summitt said. “I told them if you want to leave now’s the time ... We’re getting ready to raise the bar on the expectations we have on the court and in all your strength and conditioning work.”

Double wow:

All of the players were present Tuesday. Departing senior Alex Fuller didn’t need to attend. Still, she showed up and pitched in as a practice player.

“She’s about as lost and confused as the coaches right now,’’ Summitt said. “She doesn’t know what to do with her time right now.”


Summitt, Holly Warlick, Dean Lockwood and Daedra Charles can hold practices until April 15, and my guess is that they'll go up til midnight on tax day.

Link: http://www.govolsxtra.com/news/2009/mar/24/no-time-rest-lady-vols/

Edit to add link to photos of this morning's workout, posted on "The Summitt" message board:

http://mbd.scout.com/mb.aspx?s=7&f=1373&t=4136848

Good lawd......

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sparks and Candace Parker reppin at round 2 LA game

We walked out of the parking garage toward Galen Center last night and a very tall figure was standing there.....none other than Sparks Coach Michael Cooper. Gracious, extremely personable and funny as usual, Coop said he was waiting for Candace Parker. He also said they were there to see their (#13) pick play.

Hmmmm.

If the player is from Cal, it has to be Devanei Hampton, because the ridiculously good Ashley Walker will be gone long before 13. But maybe Hampton will too.

If the player is from Virginia, it's either Lyndra Littles (13 points last night), Britnee Millner or Aisha Mohammed.

I'm inclined to think it's a Cavalier. The general public tends to think only in celebrity terms, while owners and coaches look at the player and the needs of the team. How many times have WNBA fans tuned in to the draft and said what? Who is that my team just picked up?

I think any one of those three would look good in a Sparks uniform, but I have a question: when are we going to get some guards?



UCLA Coach Nikki Caldwell, Candace Parker and Sparks Coach Michael Cooper prepare to walk into the Galen Center arena.



Sparks General Manager Penny Toler, Sparks co-owner Kathy Goodman, Cooper, some unidentified dude, CP, UCLA Coach Nikki Caldwell and UCLA women's basketball operations manager Pam Walker all watch the game (and the Sparks draft pick) from their perch above the Virginia band.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mark Trakh ain't goin' anywhere

For those who hoped USC Mark Trakh was on his way out the door after another disappointing season, I don't think it's happening. He and assistant coaches Jodi and Derek Wynn were at tonight's Cal-Virginia round 2 matchup at Galen Center, yukkin it up and talking.



PS - My camera has 10X zoom...ya gotta love it.

California state championships decided

Not to be ignored just because I was busy this weekend:

DIVISION III GIRLS

ST. MARY'S (Stockton) def. INGLEWOOD 71-62

Afure Jemerigbe scored 21 points as St. Mary’s of Stockton won its fifth state title by beating Inglewood, 71-62, in the girls' Division III state championship game.

Alle Moreno added 21 for St. Mary’s (31-3) and Chelsea Gray had 14. The Rams used their trapping, pressure defense to force 36 Inglewood turnovers, which offset a 54-36 deficit on the boards.

Tayler Champion led Inglewood with 23 points and 13 rebounds, while Hazel Ramirez scored 13. The Sentinels’ official record for the season is 19-17 due to a series of early forfeits, but on the floor, they were 31-5.

After some early sputtering, St. Mary‘s broke a 13-13 tie and went on a 37-12 run en route to a 50-25 lead. After that, however, Inglewood battled back, and outscored the Rams 29-12 to get within 12. Unfortunately for Sentinels’ fans, there were only 53 seconds left at that point, and St. Mary’s was simply too far ahead.

Sportsmanship Award: Tayler Champion, Inglewood; Ali Gibson, St. Mary's

DIVISION I GIRLS

POLY (Long Beach) def. MONTE VISTA (Danville) 57-33

Long Beach Poly used its depth and balance to win its fourth straight girls’ Division I state title, and tie a Calfornia record for most consecutive championships. The victim this time was Monte Vista of Danville, which fell 57-33.

The Jackrabbits (32-3) got 12 points from Ta’Nitra Byrd and 10 more from 6-3 Monique Oliver, but nine different players scored for Poly, and 11 had rebounds.

The Mustangs (29-3) jumped out to 6-1 and 10-7 leads, and Poly didn’t lead at all until 6:22 remained in the second quarter. The Jackrabbits carried only a two-point advantage into the locker room.

Niveen Rasheed topped Monte Vista with 16 points, but unlike Poly, there wasn’t much help. Only one other player made more than one basket, and thus the Jackrabbits were able to focus on Rasheed.

Monte Vista stayed close through the first two minutes of the third quarter by outrebounding Poly, and also refusing to buckle under the Jackrabbits’ defensive pressure. The Mustangs hung back in a zone and dared Poly to make outside shots -- and the Jackrabbit starters responded by going one for 13 from the field in the first half.

But Poly broke the game open early in the third quarter, going on a 15-3 run to turn a 21-20 lead into a 36-23 advantage. Oliver made some unlikely contributions to that outburst, hitting a three and handing out two assists, but coach Carl Buggs had called a timeout during the run to make sure that Poly’s posts got plenty of touches, and the move paid off. Byrd hit three free throws during that span, and Monte Vista never threatened thereafter.

Sportsmanship Award: Jazzmine Shirley, Long Beach Poly; Alexandra Whalen, Monte Vista

DIVISION IV GIRLS

MATER DEI CATHOLIC (Chula Vista) def. MODESTO CHRISTIAN 54-51

Ebone Henry capped a 10-point Mater Dei of Chula Vista comeback in the final 3:36 of the fourth quarter with a series of big shots as the Crusaders edged Modesto Christian, 54-51, in the girls’ Division IV state championship game.

With Mater Dei (30-3) down by three with 1:13 remaining, Henry (11pts, 11 rebs) completed an old-fashioned three-point play with a free throw that tied the game, and then hit two free throws with 27 seconds left to give the Southern Californians the lead for good.

Mater Dei’s Jhazmine Lynch led all scorers with 18 points, and Soulijah Evans added 14 points and 10 rebounds as the Chula Vista school won its first state title.

Brandi Henton had 14 points and nine rebounds for Modesto Christian (27-8). Taryn Garza finished with 13 points and Danielle Thompson had 10 for the Central Valley school.

Modesto Christian controlled the game early, taking an 11-10 lead in the first quarter and jumping out to a 12-point halftime margin. Mater Dei made several runs at the lead in the third period, but Modesto Christian had an answer -- until the steady Mater Dei pressure finally wore down the Northern California representative.

After Lauren Lucchesi gave Modesto Christian a 49-39 lead, Henry started the comeback with a pair of free throws. Lynch then scored six points in just over a minute to cut the margin to one, but Lucchesi calmly made two more free throws to stretch the lead to 51-48 with 1:36 left.

Sportsmanship Award: Kamela Jackson, Mater Dei Catholic; Taryn Garza, Modesto Christian

DIVISION II GIRLS

BREA OLINDA (Brea) def. CARONDELET (Concord) 68-45

Brea Olinda now stands alone. The Ladycats won their ninth California title, defeating Carondelet of Concord, 68-45, in the girls’ Division II title game. That trophy moves Brea past the Crenshaw boys, who have eight state trophies.

Junior guard Kelsey Harris led the way for the Ladycats, scoring 25 points as Brea (33-2) won its 27th straight game (including a 44-38 victory over previously number one in the nation Mater Dei of Santa Ana). The Ladycats came into the game ranked third in the U.S., and did nothing to detract from that lofty status. After Carondelet took a 4-3 lead with 6:48 to go in the first quarter, it was all Brea thereafter. It was 37-18 at the half, and the Cougars never got closer than 15 points in the final two periods.

Sophomore Erica Payne led Carondelet (29-4) with 18 points and eight reobunds, but the Cougars’ offense was stymied by the harassing Brea defense, and Carondelet managed to shoot just 29 percent from the field while turning the ball over 25 times.

Brea-Olinda has been a California power since the 1980s. The Ladycats won four straight championships from 1991 to 1994, and three straight from 1998 through 2000. They have lost twice in the title game, in 1990 and 2007. Carondelet took the championship in 2004, but lost in 2006.

Sportsmanship Award: Kelsey Harris, Brea Olinda; Alyssa Flores, Carondelet

DIVISION V GIRLS

BELLARMINE-JEFFERSON (Burbank) def. PINEWOOD (Los Altos Hills) 55-47

Shelley Gupilan scored 22 points as Bellarmine-Jefferson of Burbank completed a 34-1 season with an 54-47 win over Pinewood of Los Altos Hills in the Division V girls’ state championship.

Gupilan’s cousin Margeaux added 13 points, including back-to-back three-pointers at the end of the first that extended Bell-Jeff’s lead to 31-20 at the break. Though Pinewood rallied in the fourth quarter, the final margin was the closest the Panthers could get.

Lindsay Nickel scored 16 points for Pinewood (31-5) and Hailie Eackles had
15 to go along with 10 rebounds. The Panthers had won three previous state championships, in 1999, 2005 and 2006, but could never get comfortable against Bell-Jeff’s full-court pressure. Pinewood turned the ball over 22 times and shot just 28 percent -- and made only six of 28 three-pointers.

The Guards’ only loss was to Montclair Prep on Dec. 30, by a 63-62 score, and they finished the season on a 20-game winning streak.

Sportsmanship Award: Elizabeth Hawthorne, Bellarmine-Jefferson; Lindsay Nickel, Pinewood

Link: http://www.cifstate.org/sports/state/basketball/finals_state09.html

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Kim Mulkey hospitalized

http://www.kwtx.com/home/headlines/41653622.html

Tennessee knocked out in first round for first time in school history

http://www.govolsxtra.com/news/2009/mar/22/ball-state-knocks-out-lady-vols/

First tourney upset: Mississippi State 71, Texas 63

Just wow:

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncw/recap?gameId=294000008

Quotes from Goestenkors and players are conspicuously absent from that story.

NCAA round 1 pictures from Galen Center

Cal 70, Fresno State 47



Alexis Gray-Lawson didn't heat up until the second half, where she scored 12 of her 14 points.



AGL, Ashley Walker and the rest of the bench watch the final minutes of the game.

Virginia 68, Marist 61



A relaxed Cal team watches their Monday night opponents.

Round 2, 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 23 at the Galen Center, USC campus

Saturday, March 21, 2009

NCAA round 1 starts today (!!)

Just looky at all these great games today:

http://scores.espn.go.com/ncw/scoreboard

I'll be at Cal vs. Fresno State and Virginia vs. Marist. I'm praying for good, close games.

Anyone else going to other reginal games is more than welcome to post a game report or three.

WNIT results so far, plus schedule

Round 1 Games
Friday, March 20

St. John's 83, Harvard 60
James Madison 61, American 59
Georgetown 73, Winthrop 45
Murray State 67, Arkansas-Little Rock 65

Round 2 Games
Saturday, March 21

UT Arlington at Oklahoma State, 3 p.m. ET
UC Riverside at Creighton, 8 p.m. ET
West Virginia at St. Bonaventure, 1 p.m. ET
Florida Gulf Coast at South Florida, 7 p.m. ET
Portland State at Oregon State, 10 p.m. ET

Sunday, March 22

Syracuse at Bowling Green, 2 p.m. ET
Dayton at Indiana, 2 p.m. ET
Kentucky at Wisconsin, 2 p.m. ET
St. John's at Hartford, 4 p.m. ET
James Madison at Richmond, 4 p.m. ET
Georgetown at Wake Forest, 5 p.m. ET
Murray State at Mississippi, 5 p.m. ET

Monday, March 23

Boston University at Boston College, 7 p.m. ET
Butler at Marquette, 8 p.m. ET
UT Arlington-Oklahoma State winner at Arkansas, 8 p.m. ET
UC Riverside-Creighton winner at Kansas, 8 p.m. ET

Tuesday, March 24

LA Tech at Illinois State, 8 p.m. ET
Wednesday, March 25
Nebraska at New Mexico, 9 p.m. ET

I bet we won't see Louisiana Tech in the WNIT next year.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Brea Olinda 68, Carondelet 45

Brea won the California state Division II championship this evening. As was the case last Saturday, the Wildcats were sparked by senior guard Jonae Ervin.

Steve Fryer of OCvarsity.com said Ervin seems to run faster with the ball than without:

Jonae Ervin of Brea might run faster while dribbling the ball than without the ball. There was a play in the fourth quarter on which she got the rebound on the defensive end, and then just started dribbling downcourt. It was like watching a sprinter just pull away in the 100 meter dash. She just put so much distance between everyone behind her in about two seconds.

Link: http://ocvarsity.freedomblogging.com/2009/03/20/quick-analysis-of-breas-state-championship/38201/

Sylvia Fowles makin' bank in Russia

Insight into Fowles' personality:

"But I like being by myself. I draw. I didn't think I would enjoy being by myself this much."

and:

Fowles never won a national championship with the Lady Tigers -- her college career ended with her hurling her mouthpiece in the stands in frustration after LSU fell to archrival Tennessee in the final seconds of the national semifinal in 2008 -- but every season she was there the team went to the Final Four.

and:

At the Beijing Olympics, Fowles' radiant personality -- she has a penchant for hugging friends and well-wishers -- along with her excellent play made her a striking figure. Back in Baton Rouge, when the opening ceremonies were being aired at a favorite haunt of the LSU athletic community near campus, a cheer went up when "Big Syl" was shown soaking in the spectacle half-a-world away.

Big Syl is also making about $700,000. Not freakin bad.

Link: http://blog.nola.com/lsusports/2009/03/former_lsu_lady_tigers_standou.html

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Draft day lunch with Candace Parker

I guess they're not having the WNBA draft the day after the NCAA finals anymore. Wonder why.

But CP is going to host a lunch for fans on draft day, Thursday, April 9 in Los Angeles. Here's the email I got earlier tonight:

Join 2008 #1 draft pick, Rookie of the Year and MVP Candace Parker at ESPN Zone as she watches the Los Angeles Sparks pick their newest members of the team during the 2009 WNBA Draft on ESPN. Enjoy lunch, mingle with Candace Parker and hear from head coach Michael Cooper and General Manager Penny Toler as they give you an exclusive behind the scenes talk (via webcam) after each pick.

Where:
ESPN Zone
1011 S. Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90015

When:
Thursday, April 9
11:30 AM – 2:30 PM

All MVPs attending with a REFERRAL will receive an autograph coupon to Opening Night post-game team autograph session

BUY season tickets at the event and receive a signed Lisa Leslie photo!

Pay $20 now or $30 at the door. Entry fee includes lunch and a donation to Tickets for Kids for Opening Night.

Space is limited to the first 150 MVPS!

If you want to go, you send an email to: rsvp@la-sparks.com

I don't know if I'm going yet. I'd like to, but I don't know if I can handle the sight of a nine months pregnant CP. I'll see.

California rankings going into tomorrow's state championship games

Maxpreps says it's Brea, Mater Dei, Cajon, St. Mary's and Poly:

http://www.maxpreps.com/california/basketball/state_sport.aspx?gendersport=girls,basketball&ssid=9f835eb4-0a53-4bec-89a8-a39e076e9f88&state=ca&urpath=,national

Somebody called Cal-Hi Sports says it's Brea, St. Mary's, Mater Dei, Poly and Sacred Heart Cathedral:

http://ocvarsity.freedomblogging.com/2009/03/18/new-state-girls-basketball-rankings/37861/

I guess we'll see tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Perfect graduation rate schools

Pretty damned impressive:

Fourteen women's basketball teams in the NCAA tournament have perfect graduation rates.

That list includes the tournament's top seed, Connecticut, according to a report released Monday by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida.

Of the other No. 1 seeds, Duke has a 90 percent graduation rate, Oklahoma is at 69 percent and Maryland is at 67 percent.

The other schools with 100 percent graduation rates are DePaul, Evansville, Florida, Lehigh, Marist, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Sacred Heart, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas, Vanderbilt and Villanova.


Link: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncw/ncaatourney09/news/story?id=3990040

WBCA JC/CC awards announced

The Women's Basketball Coaches Association has announced that Ned Mircetic of Ventura College is their 2009 National Junior College/Community College Coach of the Year. Mircetic, who just coached his 19th year at Ventura, has taken his teams to 12 state Elite Eight games, appeared in nine consecutive Final Four contests, made seven straight championship game appearances and captured five state titles.

In an interview with me last fall for a story on junior colleges that I was writing, Mircetic said he loves his job.

"My job coaching women's basketball is the best job in the state of California," he said.

Mircetic is known for his off-court warmth, and he maintains relationships with many of his former players - several of whom are coaches themselves now. But in practices and during games, Mircetic is intense.

"I've been around long enough so that (potential recruits) know what to expect from me," he said.

I met Mircetic over a year ago when I took my basketball kids to check him out. I would trust any kid of mine with him.

Mircetic will be honored at a luncheon April 6 in St. Louis during the Final Four tourament.

Link: http://www.wbca.org/Releases/JCCCCOYPR2009.html

The WBCA also named their All-American team and Honorable Mention Team:

http://www.wbca.org/Releases/SFCAATJCCC09.html

Fantastic couple of lists.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Uncool things to do: fire someone with no reason given

Longtime St. Mary's Academy (Inglewood, CA) Coach Bo Corona was fired yesterday. He not only didn't see it coming, he was shocked:

http://www.dailybreeze.com/preps/ci_11929713

I've always thought that if you're going to fire someone, especially with no warning, that you owe them an explanation. That whole "going in a different direction" line is so tired.

What to do if you think your daughter's coach has violated one or more rules

Some comments here recently have indicated that some parents think the coach or coaches of their daughter's basketball team have committed rule violations. So I've done a little research.

This section of the California Interscholastic Federation website serves as a resource in determining if a violation has indeed occurred:

http://www.cifstate.org/governance/transfer_eligibility/index.html

The CIF is broken down into 10 regions, and each has a local office. I called both the City Section and Southern Section offices this morning to ask what the proper procedure is for a parent wishing to file a complaint.

A spokeswoman for the City Section office said all complaints are welcome, but only those that are signed with the writer's legitimate name, address and phone number will warrant an investigation. She also said that the confidentiality of the letter writers will be protected in the event of an investigation. A spokeswoman for the Southern Section office said the same policies held true there. Written correspondence should be sent to:

(City Section)

Trent Cornelius, Commissioner, girl's basketball
1545 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 200
Los Angeles, CA 90017


(Southern Section)

Sharon Hodge, Commissioner, girl's basketball
10932 Pine Street
Los Alamitos, CA 90720-2428


List of all 10 section offices:

http://www.cifstate.org/about/sections/index.html

I encourage those who feel they have a legitimate complaint to step up and say something. Don't just complain about it on a message board or a blog. If you really feel your daughter is being cheated, you must speak out on her behalf. She's a kid; she needs you to help her.

I believe that too many people feel like they could "never" make a difference by speaking out. But the more I've lived the more I've seen that 1. it's amazing what you get if you just ask and 2. if you speak out and be persistent, you get places.

Finally, last night I changed my profile to include an email address where you can reach me with comments or questions. I've never claimed to know everything, but I'm great at finding out what I don't know.

Don't be nasty like some of my ninth-grade students: hoopism@yahoo.com

WNIT begins tomorrow

Here is the WNIT schedule, aka, what happened to my team if they didn't get invited to the Big Dance?

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncw/news/story?id=3989190

UCLA Coach Nikki Caldwell told reporters Saturday night that they had opted out of this tournament.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bev Smith won't return to Oregon

To no one's surprise, eight-year Oregon coach Bev Smith's contract won't be renewed. The announcement was made just a short time ago:

http://www.goducks.com/ViewArticle.dbml?&ATCLID=3694061&DB_OEM_ID=500

Though I expected it, it's tremendously sad for me. Bev Smith was my first basketball hero - she was pretty much the reason I got into the sport in the first place.

I remember how they honored her on senior night in 1982, with a special ceremony and lots of signs in the rafters. I remember how, a short time later, Oregon lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, on March 13, 1982, to Mizzou. I remember the picture of Bev, anguished on the bench, in the paper the next morning - a Sunday. And that day, I went for a run for the first time.

It's 27 years later and I'm still running, and I am enjoying the benefits of having been an athlete for most of my life: strong heart, low cholesterol, etc. I owe it to Bev Smith for the original inspiration.

I have no idea why she wasn't able to be an effective coach for Oregon, and I appreciate how excruciating it must have been for Oregon officials to dismiss her. I hope that Bev will find happiness in future endeavors, whatever they are. Her legacy as a player remains the same as it has been for almost three decades.

Edit March 17 to add link from the Register Guard: http://www.registerguard.com/csp/cms/sites/web/sports/9848491-41/story.csp

Kilkenny said senior associate athletic directors Renee Baumgartner and Joe Giansante would join him on a search committee for Smith’s replacement. Kilkenny said he’d like to have a new coach in place within 30 days.

With a new arena on the horizon, the Ducks want a coach with name recognition who will play an up-tempo, high-scoring style that will be attractive to both traditional women’s basketball fans and newcomers to the sport.

As an Oregon alumni, I'd like to see this too. I have an Oregon women's basketball T-shirt in my closet that I haven't worn for a long time.

Bracket is out

http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/ncaa/sports/w-baskbl/auto_pdf/WBK-D1-2009Bracket.pdf

My friend Don and I had dinner a few weeks ago and agreed that we could stare at a bracket for an hour. So I gotta go..................

No surprises: Baylor and Stanford

Baylor won the Big 12 Tournament over the weekend:

http://www.ncaa.com/sports/w-baskbl/recaps/031509aae.html

Stanford won its second Pac-10 Tournament in a row last night:

http://www.ncaa.com/sports/w-baskbl/recaps/031609aaa.html

This is a real nice piece on Nnemkadi Ogwumike: http://www.hcnonline.com/articles/2009/03/11/klein_sun/sports/031809_ogwumike_feat_kle.txt

I'm not a Stanford fan, but I like Ogwumike, and she's doing a great job as a freshman.

During the awards ceremony last night, Brynn Cameron went and got her son, who sat on her lap. It was cute. Here's a piece on that:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/13/sports/ncaabasketball/13usc.html?_r=1&ref=sports

Being a student athlete mother is no joke. She gets props.

NCAA seedings will be announced in 10 minutes.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pac-10 Tournament....whooo

Controversial call last night lead to USC's upset of Cal to put them in the Tournament finals tonight against Stanford.

Boy, was Cal upset afterwards. All the way through the press conference afterwards, too.

In the next game, Stanford slaughtered UCLA. It's not that the Bruins are bad, it's that the Cardinal are that good.



In the meantime, I have one question: how does one of the most expensive schools in the country have the cheapest-looking mascot and the rattiest-looking band? Is it a rebellion thing?

Final game is tonight at 6 p.m.

Long Beach Poly 67, Colony 54

Poly won the Division I title, but Colony made them work for it. The girls from the country are no joke, and Poly only broke the game open in the final quarter.



Colony waits to take the court for warm-ups.



Poly walks on to the court for their warm-ups.



Former Jackrabbit Jasmine Dixon (foreground, right), now with UCLA, sat with Poly during the first half of play.



Colony's big three: Camille Buckley battles in the post while Jazmyne White (23) and Te'onna Campbell (44) look on.



Haley White (1) and Buckley defend the hoop.



Buckley is a force of nature: high vertical and 12.8 butt-kicking rebounds per game, 22 points and three assists a game. Yet Monday night, one of the Colony team statisticians told me she has had only a few offers from colleges and hasn't decided where she wants to go yet.

Turns out this guy was an ignoramus, because Buckley has signed with Loyola Marymount University. I'm confident she'll have a brilliant career there.

White is pretty good too. I hope some SoCal college scout is in the process of signing her.

It's on to Arco Arena for Poly.

Shocker in Westwood: Brea Olinda 44, Mater Dei 38

Brea did it - they took on the dragon and they won. The matchup that everyone had been waiting for all year was surprisingly one-sided, as the Wildcats dominated the number one-ranked team from beginning to end, and handed them their first loss of the season when all was said and done.

Senior guard Jonae Ervin lead all scorers with 18 points in a gutty performance that saw her do everything from drive to the basket for the layup to steal the ball to sink crucial free throw shots. Ervin told OCvarsity.com that "this is the game to prove we are the better team, and we proved it."

Indeed. She was named MVP of the game.

Story link, featuring videos: http://www.ocvarsity.com/articles/game-state-olinda-2335761-brea-dei

Both teams looked nervous to start the game, as a veritable turnover fest ran for the entire first quarter and most of the second. But what did it for Brea was their defense. Though shorter and smaller than the physical Monarchs, the Wildcats played suffocating defense and double-teamed Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis on every possession. The sophomore sensation was held to just four points on the day.



Brea sophomore guard Alexis Perry takes it up the right side.



Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Janier Olukemi line up for a free throw shot.



Brea celebrates the victory.......



......and keeps celebrating.



A subdued Mater Dei prepares to accept their second-place award.



Mosqueda-Lewis and Alexyz Vailotama approach the medal stand.

I ended up sitting in front of the former attendance secretary at Brea (25 years before retiring a long time ago), whose crew was pretty amusing. They were gracious about their opponents, and the husband of her friend said with a shrug, "Brea will enjoy it now, because Mater Dei will be untouchable for the next several years."

He's right. Mosqueda-Lewis and Vailotama are both sophomores, and another of their top players - Jordan Adams - is only a freshman. Once they get some more playing experience under their belts this summer and next year, it will be lights out for other teams.

Both Brea and Mater Dei have great team composure. There were times on both ends where referees made calls players disagreed with, and several kids had their mouths open to say something, or their faces scrunched up into anger, but then they put themselves in check. I respect that; they've had good coaching.

Former secretary waxed on about Brea Coach Jeff Sink - not on the court but in the classroom. She said he is a heckuva history teacher, and doesn't hesitate to break something or rip something up to make a point. This doesn't surprise me.

"And the kids learn!" she said.

She and I were walking down the stairs when Sink came, and hugged her right next to me. I thought about saying something, since he'd posted on this blog, but.....naw. It was his moment.

On to Arco Arena Friday for the Wildcats.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pac-10 tourney: it's a Cali thing, baby

For the first time in Pac-10 Tournament history, today's semi-finals will feature all California teams. USC and California will square off at 6 p.m., and Stanford and UCLA take each other on at 8:30 p.m.

I was at work yesterday morning but was following online (and with the help of friend Daniel in the last minute) when USC hung on to upset #16 Arizona State, 70-65. Trojan point guard Camille LeNoir lead the charge with 18 points, and Heather Oliver added 17 - including five three-point shots. Danielle Orsillo lead the Sun Devils with 17 points.

I was on hand for the Arizona-Stanford game at 5 p.m., and Arizona is not as the 77-46 final score would indicate. It's not that Arizona is that bad - it's that Stanford is that good. The Cardinal is so loaded that one of their reserves - Lindy La Rocque - went off for four three-point shots. Three other reserves played key minutes as well.

The thing I really appreciated about Arizona was how scrappy they played, and how they kept fighting all the way until the final buzzer. There was never a moment where their heads hung and one got the sense they'd given up. I addressed that in the post-game press conference by asking Ify Ibekwe and Courtney Clements what improvements they'd noted from beginning to end of the season.

Ibekwe said they'd grown and matured, that they think more, and now they fight back and they didn't used to. Clements said the team had needed to find players who would step up to be leaders, and now they have several.

I liked hearing both of those things. The Wildcat program was never the same since the death of Shawntinice Polk in September, 2005.

Another thing I really like is Coach Niya Butts. She has a serious demeanor, but at the same time is very warm. When she had a short coughing spell during the press conference (she said she's been a little ill), Ibekwe rubbed her on the back. It's obvious the players like their coach, and I can see why from talking to her a few times. She's the perfect answer in the Arizona program.



Doreena Campbell, Christina Nzekwe, Rebekah Gardner.



Doreena Campbell plays D.



Doreena Campbell walks down court while a free throw shot is being set up.



The biggest flopper in the Pac-10, point guard Mercedes Fox-Griffin.

The UCLA-OSU game was exciting, as expected. UCLA finally got the monkey off their back (lost to them a few weeks ago) by putting them away, 62-56. Mad props to Brittney Davis, who scored 22 points for the Beavers - 15 in the first half. She was playing big.

I was amazed at UCLA freshman Antonye Nyingifa, who put up a team-high 18 points. She has been a monster the last few weeks, and I asked her and Doreena Campbell at the post-game press conference what has been going on.

"As a team, we have come together and begun to work together as a team," Campbell said.

Nyingifa said she'd had a slow start as a freshman, but that she was constantly trying to "build in daily improvement, like coach says."

I have really become a Campbell fan this year, and it's not just because of her fearless play and work ethic on the court: it's because she's also a bit of a nerd. It seemed like it on her player interview that they'd run at timeouts at Pauley Pavilion. Then I learned from a reliable source that Campbell has been known to hit the library after games, and I was in platonic player love. How could I not adore a young woman who can break ankles both on the court and in the classroom? (She also yells when she's running the point, as she was last night).

OSU is much, much improved, and Coach LaVonda Wagner said this year's 19-11 record is the best the program has had in a long time. The only fault I'd find with the Beavers is point guard Mercedes Fox-Griffin, who likes to flop. She was flopping all over the place at Pauley back in January, and tried it a couple times last night. The first time was the most blatant, and the refs weren't buying it at all (nor did they the second time). Still, it's irritating. It reminds me of the Sparks circa 2002, when they played dirty, dirty ball.

The winners of tonight's semi-finals will go on to play in the championship game Sunday at 6 p.m.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pac-10 Tournament update

Arizona gutted out a win over Washington State last night, so will face first-ranked Stanford at 5 p.m. tonight at Galen Center. Following that game, at 7:15 p.m., UCLA and Oregon State face off.

Tomorrow, in the semi-finals, the winners of today's early games will face the winners of tonight's games. The championship game will be 8 p.m. Sunday. Unless something really weird happens, that game should feature Cal and Stanford.

Bracket: http://www.pac-10.org/w-baskbl-tourney/

I will be there tonight, and Sunday night. Anyone else going should share their game thoughts.

Tomorrow's Southern California division high school games

At Pauley Pavilion:

Division I

Colony vs. Long Beach Poly, 6 p.m.

Division II

Mater Dei vs. Brea Olinda, 2 p.m.

Division III

Marlborough vs. Inglewood, 10 a.m.

Tickets are $16 general admission, $10 high school student with ID

I'll be at the 2 and 6 p.m. games, and am interested in game thoughts from others who go.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

High school playoff scores rolling in

Marlborough 63, Foothill 49

Inglewood 62, Woodridge 55

and the biggest shocker of the night:

Colony 59, Cajon 56

WOW

Tina Thompson interview

On teammate Candace Parker:

TT: We’re actually very close. We’ve spent quite a bit of time together, in the off-season. We have a relationship outside of basketball. And it’s so funny, her being so close to me, I think that she’s probably the only person that didn’t kind of push me to come to a team. Because our friendship is much more than just the basketball side of it. I did get an occasional, “You could just come to LA,” but it was never a push, and I think that shows the genuine side of the friendship. I appreciated it.


I'm really glad TT will be there to mentor CP.

Link: http://www.spmsportspage.com/published/spmfeatures/tina-talks-thompson-on-la.shtml

Pac-10 Tournament bracket

Action starts tonight at 6 p.m. at the Galen Center on the USC campus:

http://www.pac-10.org/w-baskbl-tourney/

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tina Thompson to play for Sparks

It's official:

http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-spw-sparks-tina-thompson12-2009mar12,0,4312883.story?track=rss

No one can keep a secret anymore, can they?

Candace makes cover of ESPN

OOO, interesting:

Parker has always been unflappable, an ocean of calm, the by-product of clear intention and unprecedented success. "I remember when we played at DePaul," says legendary Lady Vols head coach Pat Summitt. "Candace was maybe 12, and she came up to me to get a picture. I remember looking up at her and thinking, Wow! When she walked away, I said, 'Who is that?' She was mature beyond her years."

Oh, great! Just tell her she can't, and that's the best thing for the Sparks:

The important thing, everyone agrees, is to get the basketball player back on the court. "No C-section, that's the biggest thing," Parker says. "I'm stubborn. I've been through knee, ankle, shoulder injuries. I feed off of doubt, people telling me I won't be able to come back. We'll see about that." She says she's training hard, prepping to play as soon as July, two months after her due date. The dedication pleases Team Parker very much.

Ah, I knew it:

Parker does demand a lot from herself. She insists on making her own way. "I just want to be who I am," she says. And who is that? Parker carefully considers her answer. "I'm very sensitive," she ventures shyly. "Not many people know that. I don't like to show my emotions. I may go behind the door and cry, but I'm not going to cry in front of anybody."

.....which goes along with the last sentences of the first paragraph.....I never could understand why some people on rebkell have called her arrogant:

She's nice, too. Sweet, even. Kind to animals and children, she is the sort of woman who worries about others more than about herself, a saint in high-tops.

Link: http://sports.espn.go.com/espnmag/story?id=3967891

Pondering City ball vs. suburbs/Orange County ball

Saturday night I ended up sitting with a fellow teacher at the Brea-Edison game. He is a former coach himself, and coached a few of the Edison girls in their earlier years. We ended up talking about how basketball playing styles differ between the City Section schools and schools further out, in Orange County and beyond.

Teacher man sees a different game - namely, that city schools play a more athletic brand of hoop. He sees suburban school female players afraid to take the jump shot, hesitant to take contact. City schools, he maintains, just bang more, while suburban school teams have more rules. I told him about how Brea Coach Jeff Sink uses the "five pass before the shot" rule with his squad, and teacher man nodded and said, "yeah, that kinda stuff."

In general, I tend to agree with teacher man. City schools usually have more bounce, and if a player is good, you know her style if you go to enough games. For example, Chatsworth's Gennifer Brandon has a huge cache of tricks under the basket to get the ball into it. Kejuana Gardner of Washington Prep grabs rebounds mid-air, in crazy body positions. On the other hand, Brea has 18 players, but I'd be hard-pressed to tell you anything special I've noticed about any of them (and no, I'm not picking on Brea or saying anything bad about Sink - they're just an example).

There are two exceptions that I have seen this season to the Orange County/suburban rule: Mater Dei and Cajon. Mater Dei is an extremely athletic team, and two of their top players - Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Alexyz Vailotama - have distinct playing styles. So does Layshia Clarendon of Cajon, which is also an athletic team.

So I'm opening the floor for discussion.

1. Are city teams more athletic than suburban teams? Do they bang harder?
2. Are suburban teams more structured?
3. Which do you think is best, and why?

Last night's Southern California state playoffs results

Division 1

Cajon 64
Perris 48

Colony 61
Chatsworth 53

Colony at Cajon Thursday

Troy 62
Canyon springs 48

Long Beach Poly 76
Stockdale 48

Troy at Poly Thursday

Divsion 2

Mater Dei 85
Garces 26

Edison 53
West Hills 41

Edison at Mater Dei Thursday

Hanford 90
Bev Hills 65

Brea 67
Mt Miguel 44

Hanford at Brea Thursday

Divsion 3

Foothill 56
Our Lady of Peace 38

Marlborough 60
Roosevelt/Fresno 42

Marlborough at Foothill Thursday

Inglewood 74
Canyon Crest 49

Woodbridge 38
Porterville 20

Inglewood at Woodbridge Thursday

Division 4

Bishops 74
St Jospeph 55

Pac Hills 61
Corcoran 20

Pac Hills at Bishops Thursday

Harvard West Lake 72
Kingsburg 29

MD San Diego 53
Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks 34

HWL at MD San Diego Thursday

Division 5

Bell-Jeff 79
Sierra Canyon 65

Fresno Christian 58
Christian Life 47

FC at Bell-Jeff Thursday

View Park 76
Vincent Memorial 23

Santa Clara 60
Coast Union 46

Santa Clara at View Park Thursday

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New Sparks player to be announced Thursday

I got an email a short bit ago from the Los Angeles Sparks, inviting me to a press conference Thursday to announce the "latest player addition to the Sparks team." It's at 11 a.m., and I'm at work at that time. But for those who can and want to go, it will be at the Grammy Museum next to the Staples Center, and RSVPs must be made by 4 p.m. tomorrow to Sparks account executive Erica Pacheco at (213) 929-1309.

I hope that since they're having a press conference, it's a Big Deal Signing.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Tonight's first-round scores

DIVISION I

Cajon 64, Fairfax 39

Perris 62, Carlsbad La Costa Canyon 55

Chatsworth 66, Fresno Clovis West 62

Colony 65, Washington 35

Troy 50, Ayala 44

Canyon Springs 74, Poway 61

Bakersfield Stockdale 66, Taft 46

Long Beach Poly 63, Santa Monica 35

DIVISION II

Bakersfield Garces 55, Los Angeles Wilson 41

Spring Valley Mount Miguel 85, Los Angeles Roosevelt 45

DIVISION IV

Santa Maria St. Joseph 68, Los Angeles CES 30

DIVISION V

Sierra Canyon 75, Cuyama Valley 24

Tomorrow's games:

Perris @ Cajon

Chatsworth @ Colony

Canyon Springs @ Troy

Stockdale @ Poly

I may hit the Poly game.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Jeniece Johnson overcomes staggering circumstances

If this doesn't inspire you, nothing will:

After the academic year, Oliver drove Jeniece to summer school every day and she started taking classes seriously. She says she also quit smoking and drinking, and separated herself from the people who did. She said she told her friends, "Don't get mad at me if I stop talking to y'all. I got to do what I got to do."

Jeniece's grade-point average during her repeat freshman year had been 0.26, in part because she had been placed in sophomore-level classes. In the 2006-07 academic year, with classes ranging from freshman to junior level, she earned a 2.33. When the season started, she made the team.

From there, her improvement was "dramatic," Oliver says.

"She went from not being able to make a layup to finishing with either hand. Jump hooks in the post. Running the floor. . . . She had good hands. And any coach will you tell you any post player with good hands can go a long way."

As Jeniece came off the bench to help H.D. Woodson win its second straight D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association championship, her transformation extended beyond basketball.

"Before Jeniece had basketball, she was just . . . out there," said her godmother, Angie Green, with whom Jeniece lived during her sophomore year. "I thought she was going to be lost. And once she got in the mode of basketball, basketball, everything changed. . . . It's basketball practice, homework, sleep and do it all over again."


Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/07/AR2009030702116.html

I interviewed Johnson and her teammates on the phone last fall for a piece I was doing on them. Johnson seems like she has it together now.

Brackets are up

http://www.cifstate.org/sports/state/basketball/pdf/bb%20brackets%20girls%2009.pdf

Round 1 tomorrow:

Fairfax @ Cajon

Perris @ La Costa Canyon

Clovis West @ Chatsworth

Washington Prep @ Colony

Ayala @ Troy

Poway @ Canyon Springs

Taft @ Stockdale

Santa Monica @ Long Beach Poly

I went through this dance last year, as an assistant coach. Though obviously rewarding, it's very mentally draining if your team keeps advancing.

Looks like I'm taking a road trip tomorrow after work.

The Zen of losing........aw, screw it

There were some surprising losses yesterday, to be sure. But none surprised me more than Umpqua Community College's loss to Skagit Valley last night in the semifinals of the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges championship. The number-one ranked Riverhawks were picked by many, including me, to take it all this year. They certainly had the record to prove it, as well as the top-scoring players.

But last night Skagit Valley began the game on a 20-2 run, and Umpqua fought hard but was never able to recover from that. The final score was 82-72.

When I got the text I was just leaving the Brea-Edison game, and I gasped loudly enough for people to turn around. It's funny how even when you're way past old enough to expect the unexpected, that sometimes you're still surprised by the unexpected.

But I have to give it up to Umpqua because they set aside their extreme disappointment today, and at 3:37 p.m. they won their game against Clackamas, 81-68. The victory gives them the third-place trophy.

This is one of the keys to success in the game of basketball, is rebounding from heartbreaking losses. We've all seen our favorite team go on a losing skid after a key loss. When a team is able to get over a painful defeat quickly, they will be more successful in not only basketball, but life. It's a sign of maturity. So I give Umpqua props. Third place isn't first, but it isn't sixth place, either, which is what they would have got today if they had lost.

Great season, ladies.

Lane and Skagit Valley play at 4:30 p.m. for the NWAACC crown.

About 1500 miles away last night, Texas high school sensation Brittney Griner and her team lost the 5A state championship to Mansfield Summit. Pictures 5 and 6 on this link tell the story:

http://www.statesman.com/news/mediahub/media/slideshow/index.jsp?tId=148641

Highlights, plus brief interview with Griner: http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid823425601?bclid=894333136&bctid=14397003001

Congrats to Mansfield Summit.

And earlier yesterday, in the SEC Tournament, Tennessee got blown out by Auburn in the semifinals.

Also yesterday, UCLA fell to Oregon State, 61-58. It's been a horrible basketball weekend by my standards. In general, it's not been the best of seasons overall.

Last week, my high school team didn't make it to the City finals.

Have you had one of those years when all your favorite teams didn't quite get there?

Argh.

Southern Section championships, March 7



Colony (white uniforms) and Canyon Springs during play.

Colony 76, Canyon Springs 59

I came in at the half, and Colony was up 35-34. But it didn't take them long to begin breaking away. By the 5:27 mark in the third, they had pulled ahead 41-35, and they never looked back.

Canyon's defense kept them within at least 10 until about five minutes to play, when Colony stepped on the gas. The main reasons why were senior forward Jazmyne White and senior forward/center Camille Buckley. The two made a nice tandem, switching off between outletter and scorer. White finished with 12 points and Buckley, 30. Junior guard Te'onna Campbell added 17.

Brea Olinda 62, Edison 40

Edison deserves kudos for playing with so much heart and intensity. In a smaller pond, they'd be a dominating basketball team. But in the end, they were no match for Brea, who has waves and waves of skilled players.

Brea's Jonae Ervin is such a hustler. She finished with 12 points, and I'd love to see the rest of the stats. She was everywhere. Junior guard Kelsey Harris started going off in the fourth quarter. I counted four threes.....again, I'm looking forward to when the stats are put up on maxpreps. Sophomore Justine Hartman added 10.



Senior point guard Jonae Ervin lets another one fly, for the bucket. She finished with 12 points.



Coach Jeff Sink stands in front of Brea's long, long bench.



Edison's short bench.



After sending in his second complete set of reserves, Coach Jeff Sink chills in the last few moments of the game.

The game was a blowout, so normally-intense Brea Coach Jeff Sink didn't need to yell so much. There was no Diet Coke on the scorer's table for him, no frantic gesturing; just a few yells and a couple intense timeouts. Heck, his wife could have even come to this game.

I like the "crazy" Sink better.

I was sitting next to a teacher who knows three of the Edison players. He answered my question from last time I was at Mater Dei - he said he was told the cameras in the ceiling are used by coaches to diagram their shots. If that's true, wow. To have those kinds of resources at your disposal........



The cameras in the ceiling at Mater Dei. I feel better knowing they're probably for shot diagramming than some freaky Big Brother security thing.



But wait a minute......if the ceiling cameras are for shot diagramming, what are these cameras for?

I don't know if the security at this game was from Mater Dei, or from the CIF, but they acted like asses. To cap it off, after the game was over, they were trying to herd people out of the gym. The woman in charge of the section I was sitting in was being unecessarily rude about it, using sarcastic and mocking comments to attempt to get people to move (As a high school teacher I can tell you, this is not the way to get people to start walking).

In my younger years I would have said something to her, but last night I just gave her my most withering teacher look. She did a double-take and then looked away before looking at me again. Then she shut up. I swear to god.

(Future) celebrity sightings: Mater Dei super sophomore guard Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis.

On an unrelated note, here is a great video of Friday's Cajon-Poly game, courtesy of a reader:

http://www.pe.com/video/sports-index.html?nvid=339454

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Eyewitness account: Cajon def. Poly

My secret homey from the OC was at the game last night, and had this recap:

The line score was
Cajon 16 - 14 - 9 - 13 =52
LBP 11 - 8 - 8 - 17 = 44

Clarendon had 28 points.

Burnside had a lot of blocks and was able to out-rebound most of the Poly players all night.

Clarendon did have a couple of flops, but nothing like the MD game. She also took her time at the foul line late in the game, so that the Poly fans started a 1-10 count to make the refs call a delay on her.

I thought the refs could have called a lot more blocks on Poly when they were guarding Clarendon but they let the flow of the game go on if the bump wasnt affecting the flow of the game.

Poly had no real outside shooting game last night and that had to be due to the loss of Kelli Thompson/UNLV. She is coming back from a wrist injury and tried some shots, including an air ball that was way off target.

Strange site and something I thought might be ilegal was that (former Jackrabbit) Jasmine Dixon (Rutgers-next year UCLA) was allowed to sit on the end of the Poly bench.

Both teams brought a big group of fans.

I have seen Clarendon play and win two SS CIF championships in two straight years. She has done this with Burnside and then three other girls that are nowhere near as talented as their teammates nor much of the championship competition they have faced. I dont know if K. Lewis of Mater Dei or Christiana Marinacci of Foothill could do the same job as Clarendon has done. To me she is the player of the year for the Southern Section.


Thanks, IM. Not sure if Mosqueda-Lewis could do the same job for MD right now, but she's a sophomore. By the time she's a senior, she'll be all Clarendon is now and then some.

Game story link: http://www.presstelegram.com/preps/ci_11858149

City Section Championship: Chatsworth 60, Taft 49



On the strength of a fourth-quarter surge, the Chatsworth Chancellors beat league rivals Taft to win the City Section Championship last night, 60-49. After evenly trading baskets for three quarters, Chatsworth broke away in the fourth, lead by All-American Gennifer Brandon and junior guard Monica Jackson.

The 6-foot-3 Brandon not only made big plays under the hoop all night, but she dribbled the ball the full length of the court twice - once taking it to the rack herself and the second time, outletting to a teammate for the bucket. It was remniscent of the multi-skilled Candace Parker, who is 6-foot-4. Brandon, headed to Cal next year, finished with 22 points, 15 rebounds, two blocks and a steal.

Jackson, with 15 points and five rebounds, seemed to be in the right places at the right times, all the time. But it was her sometimes-dazzling moves that seemed to impress the crowd most. In the fourth quarter, she stole the ball and then spun around under the hoop, away from her defender, for the layup. Chatsworth fans were on their feet, and it was that bucket that put the Chancellors up 44-39 at the 5:34 mark, and began their run. Brandon, who had scored only six of her points in the first half, put in more than that in the fourth quarter; she seemed hungry for the win.

Taft, fighting valiantly behind their crew of good shooters, suddenly began to miss shots in the last period. Junior guard Rmanii Haynes lead her team with 10 points and 10 assists.

First quarter, 17-14 Taft
Second quarter, 26 all
Third quarter, 37-36 Chatsworth
Final, 60-49

Chatsworth won the title this year after losing in last year's finals to Narbonne High School. Chancellors coach Michelle Chevalier had also lost to Narbonne in the same game in 2003, when she coached for Sylmar. And ironically, it was a game against Narbonne this season that kicked Chatsworth out of a slump, igniting them to a 17-4 season finish:

Nine games into the season, the Chancellors were just 5-4, riding a three-game losing streak at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix. Not exactly a running start.

It would only take one game to get back on a roll though, and in a weird twist of fate, that opponent was Narbonne, the team that had ruined Chatsworth's season twice a year before.

On Dec. 22, the Chancellors defeated the Gauchos 49-34 - since then, they've gone 17-4.


Link: http://www.dailynews.com/preps/ci_11849042

Good pics of both teams on this link: http://www.dailynews.com/preps/ci_11858243

On the other side of the Los Angeles metro area.................

Cajon did indeed beat Poly last night. Strangely, OCvarsity.com has no story on arguably the biggest game and upset of the Southern Section tournament so far. I am dying to know how it went down, who scored what and what went wrong for Poly. Tidbits on socalhoops indicate that both Darshae Burnside and Layshia Clarendon of Cajon were in foul trouble in the second half, but kept Poly down 8-10 points when one or the other was on the bench. OCvarsity.com better get off their cans and post a story about this upset of the defending state champions by basically two players.

Down the road at the Mater Dei-Beverly Hills game, MD sophomore forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 41 points in her team's 81-42 route. This isn't the first time Mosqueda-Lewis has come close to outscoring an opponent on her own. It's ridiculous.

Is there anyone to stop Mater Dei this year? I think not. This piece says MD is ranked third in the nation. If they're third, who could be first and second? I'd like to see those teams.

Link: http://www.ocvarsity.com/articles/dei-mater-first-2327773-player-points

Tonight's games at Mater Dei High School:

Colony vs. Canyon Springs, 6:30

Brea Olinda vs. Edison, 8:15

Friday, March 6, 2009

Big Friday

SEC Tournament

Surprises today include Tennessee's big-heart victory over higher-ranked Florida, 71-67 in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament.

LSU's 63-58 victory over Mississippi State is also an eye-opener because of how well the Tigers have done in the last part of the season. Many had given them up for dead, and here they are in the semi-finals. I give them props.

One scary moment was in the first half when LSU's Later Eason was taken to the hospital after another player stepped on her neck. According to the SEC tourney website, Eason still had limb movement but was complaining of neck pain. That makes me feel a little less worried, but we need more news.

Link: http://www.secsports.com/index.php?s=&url_channel_id=4&url_article_id=12324&url_subchannel_id=&change_well_id=2

Perfect game?

What is Brittney Griner made of?

In tonight's Texas 5A Conference semifinals, Griner lead her Nimitz team in defeating Pflugerville 74-47. Her stat line? 44 points, 18 rebounds, eight blocks, four assists, and 32 minutes of play (for the unexperienced, that means she never sat down once).

Box score: http://www.uil.utexas.edu/athletics/basketball/state/girls_boxscores/game12.htm

One attendee reported on the Tennessee message board that he'd never seen anything like it - or rather, anyone. See for yourself:

http://www.statesman.com/sports/content/sports/stories/highschool/03/07/0307pflugerville.html

This is a nice piece too, with pics: http://www.statesman.com/sports/content/sports/stories/highschool/03/06/0306golden.html

NWAACC second day results

Lane 68, Columbia Basin 59
Clackamas 63, Yakima Valley 57
Skagit Valley 69, Walla Walla 63
Umpqua 89, Lower Columbia 61

Tomorrow Lane plays Clackamas and Umpqua faces Skagit Valley in the semi-finals.

Southern Section playoffs

Reports are that Mater Dei was blowing out Beverly Hills 51-25 at halftime of the II-A division semifinals earlier tonight. I said I felt bad for the team that would face MD, and I feel doubly bad because one of the BH coaches is a friend of mine.

Finally, it's being reported on socalhoops that Cajon defeated Long Beach Poly 52-44. If it's true, I can't say I'm surprised. When I saw Poly back in January, they had a lot of weaknesses. And short-handed Cajon has much heart.

Tournaments continue

SEC today:

Game Teams Time (CT)/TV Audio Stats

Game 5 #1 Auburn vs. #9 Ole Miss Noon / RSN SEC Audio Live!
Game 6 #2 Vanderbilt vs. #7 Georgia 2:30 / RSN SEC Audio Live!
Game 7 #4 Florida vs. #5 Tennessee 6:30 / RSN SEC Audio Live!
Game 8 #3 LSU vs. #6 Miss. State 9:00 / RSN SEC Audio Live!

NWAACC today:

Game 11 - Highline vs. Mt. Hood - 08:00 am
Game 9 - Whatcom vs. Centralia - 10:00 am
Game 10 - S. Puget Sound vs. Peninsula - 12:00 pm
Game 15 - Walla Walla vs. Skagit Valley - 02:00 pm
Game 13 - Lane vs. Columbia Basin - 04:00 pm
Game 14 - Yakima Valley vs. Clackamas - 06:00 pm
Game 16 - Umpqua vs. Lower Columbia - 08:00 pm
Game 12 - Bellevue vs. Treasure Valley - 10:00 pm

Last night, first-ranked Umpqua rolled over Bellevue CC 101-53. Reports were that the team played "awesome," and I can see that from the box score:

http://www.nwaacc.org/basketball/boxes.php?sport=wbasketball&game=668

The Riverhawks score more in most games than a heck of a lot of D1 teams. Their average point total is 90. (!!)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

This rollercoaster ride

Thank god department:

UCLA 70
Oregon 69

(I could only get the online ESPN continuous score update, and the Bruins were ahead by five with a minute to go, then were behind by 2 with six seconds to go.....can't wait to see the write up on this!

Tennessee 68
Alabama 49

Disappointing department:

Stanford 70
Arizona 67

Clemson 81
Georgia Tech 69

Mississippi 65
Arkansas 60

And this especially, because I was watching and it was a great, tight game...

Mississippi State 49
South Carolina 39

Aw, I feel so bad for USC but Trakh's gotta go department:

Oregon State 61
USC 58

Whoa, what's up department:

Arizona State 63
California 41

California Southern Section department:

Monique was on hand tonight for the Foothill-Inglewood game at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana. She and a few others I've heard from say the officiating was horrendous. Foothill won, 50-46.

Finally, on a lighter note, Magic Johnson visited with the Cal Bears before the game this past Sunday:

http://www.calbears.com/view.gal?id=43746

Tomorrow night is the City Section finals at USC's Galen Center. Preview later.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It's not too late to be upset

Tonight's scores:

#21 Kansas State, 66
#16 Texas, 50

Miami, 45
#25 Bowling Green, 40

And the biggest shocker of the entire week:

Kansas, 69
#6 Baylor, 45

The only thing that would be more strange is if Arizona beat Stanford tomorrow night.

Let the championships begin

The ACC begins its tournament tomorrow, as Georgia Tech faces Clemson, North Carolina takes on Wake Forest, Boston College goes at Miami, and Virginia and Virginia Tech play.

Link: http://www.theacc.com/sports/w-baskbl/acc-w-baskbl-body.html

My favorite SEC also starts its tourney tomorrow in Little Rock, AK. It's:

Arkansas vs. Ole Miss
Georgia vs. Kentucky
Tennessee vs. Alabama
Mississippi State vs. South Carolina

Link: http://secsports.com/index.php?s=&change_well_id=99770

Things get rolling in the Big Ten tomorrow with Wisconsin and Northwestern, Indiana and Michigan and Penn State and Illinois facing off.

Link: http://bigten.cstv.com/sports/w-baskbl/spec-rel/w-bracket-09.html

On Friday, the Big East Tournament begins with four games:

http://www.bigeast.org/ViewArticle.dbml?SPSID=92557&SPID=11229&DB_OEM_ID=19400&ATCLID=3679646

And up north, the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges begins their tournament tomorrow in Kennewick, WA. Top-ranked Umpqua CC plays Bellevue at 8 p.m. Here's the schedule:

Game 5 - Walla Walla vs. Highline - 08:00 am
Game 1 - Lane vs. Whatcom - 10:00 am
Game 4 - Peninsula vs. Clackamas - 12:00 pm
Game 6 - Skagit Valley vs. Mt. Hood - 02:00 pm
Game 2 - Centralia vs. Columbia Basin - 04:00 pm
Game 3 - Yakima Valley vs. S. Puget Sound - 06:00 pm
Game 7 - Umpqua vs. Bellevue - 08:00 pm
Game 8 - Lower Columbia vs. Treasure Valley - 10:00 pm

And the bracket:

http://nwaacc.org/basketball/Tourneys/2009_NWAACC_WOMENS_BRACKET.pdf

The Big 12 and Pac-10 tournaments are next weekend.

Where are Jackie Stiles and Cheryl Burnett now?

Mechelle Voepel outdid herself on this one - a long story about how former Southwest Missouri State Coach Cheryl Burnett and player Jackie Stiles are doing life without basketball. It's an informative but sad read, and includes some deep thoughts:

Do you think the anticipation of something is the sweetest part of life? That it's a universal human regret that those euphoric periods can't stay? That whatever we look forward to will come and go too fast, and the relentless ticking of the clock won't allow us to savor any of it?

Link: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncw/columns/story?columnist=voepel_mechelle&id=3951620

Ashley Walker holds the Cal Bears together

Last time I saw Cal senior forward Ashley Walker was on the bench this past Sunday, during the final minute of their game with UCLA. As the clock wound down and the Bears were still 12 points behind, Walker's shoulder shook and a teammate beside her ran her hand across her back to comfort her.

So it's nice to see this piece in today's San Francisco Chronicle:

Walker said she battles through day-to-day drags on her energy, lapses she can't afford on the court as the Bears' centerpiece.

"There are definitely times when you're sick or you're hurting, or you've been up all night studying for a test and you've got to go to practice for three hours the next day," Walker said. "And you might think that you are not going to be able to do it. But not everybody gets to do this. I try to remember that."


Link: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/03/03/SP07168C6G.DTL

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

SEC post-season teams announced

While other conferences are still toiling away, the women of the SEC are bracing for the next round - well, those who are going to the next round.

The post-season teams were announced today:

First Team All-SEC

Whitney Boddie, AU
DeWann Bonner, AU
Sha Brooks, UF
Marshae Dotson, UF
Allison Hightower, LSU
Bianca Thomas, UM
Alexis Rack, MSU
Christinia Wirth, VU

Second Team All-SEC

Ceira Ricketts, ARK
Ashley Houts, UG
Angel Robinson, UG
Victoria Dunlap, UK
Eleia Roddy, UK
Angie Bjorklund, UT
Shekinna Stricklen, UT
Merideth Marsh, VU
Jennifer Risper, VU

All-Freshman Team

Ericka Russell, UA
Lyndsay Harris, ARK
Ceira Ricketts, ARK
Trumae Lucas, UF
LaSondra Barrett, LSU
Lakeisha Sutton, SC
Shekinna Stricklen, UT
Glory Johnson, UT

All-Defensive Team

DeWanna Bonner, AU
Allison Hightower, LSU
Chanel Mokango, MSU
Armelie Lumanu, MSU
Jennifer Risper, VU

Coach of the Year

Nell Fortner, AU

Player of the Year

DeWanna Bonner, AU

Freshman of the Year

Ceira Ricketts, ARK
LaSondra Barrett, LSU

Defensive Player of the Year

Jennifer Risper, VU

6th Woman of the Year

Charity Ford, ARK

Scholar-Athlete of the Year

Christina Wirth, VU

Congrats, ladies!

Link: http://www.secsports.com/index.php?s=&url_channel_id=4&url_article_id=12306&url_subchannel_id=&change_well_id=2