Sunday, February 28, 2010

Southern Section semifinal results and championship pairings for next weekend

Booyah.

SOUTHERN SECTION

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Semifinals, Saturday

DIVISION 1AA

Long Beach Poly 59, Etiwanda 47

Corona Santiago 56, Troy 51

DIVISION 1A

Summit 72, Canyon Springs 71

Santa Monica 67, Ayala 37

DIVISION 2AA

Brea Olinda 59, Ventura 42

Villa Park 78, Edison 47

DIVISION 2A

Mater Dei 80, Beverly Hills 63

Woodbridge 42, Diamond Ranch 34

DIVISION 3AA

Agoura 67, Buena 55

Inglewood 63, Bishop Amat 48

DIVISION 3A

Santa Margarita 57, Bonita 43

Muir 57, Barstow 39

DIVISION 4AA

Harvard-Westlake 63, Oak Park 45

Bishop Montgomery 53, Orange Lutheran 52

DIVISION 4A

Windward 61, Bell-Jeff 57

Santa Maria St. Joseph 65, Oaks Christian 61

DIVISION 5AA

Gardena Serra 77, Brentwood 57

Cerritos Valley Christian 55, St. Paul 48

DIVISION 5A

St. Anthony 57, Chadwick 31

Montclair Prep 69, Pasadena Poly 45

DIVISION 6AA

St. Bernard 46, Holy Martyrs 31

Granada Hills Hillcrest Christian 40, Orangewood Academy 28

DIVISION 6A

North County Christian 54, Apple Valley Christian 26

DIVISION 6A

Semifinal, Monday, 6 p.m.

#3 Calvary Baptist at #2 Lake Arrowhead Christian (at Pinecrest Conference Center, Twin Peaks)

Championships

Mar. 4-5 at Colony or Mater Dei , game times TBA (4:30, 6:30, 8:30 p.m.)

Mar. 6 at Cal State Long Beach, game times TBA (9:30 and 11:15 a.m., 1, 2:45, 6:30, and 8:15 p.m.)

Division 1AA: #1 Long Beach Poly vs. #2 Corona Santiago

Division 1A: #4 Summit vs. #2 Santa Monica

Division 2AA: #1 Brea Olinda vs. #2 Villa Park

Division 2A: #1 Mater Dei vs. #3 Woodbridge

Division 3AA: #1 Agoura vs. #2 Inglewood

Division 3A: #1 Santa Margarita vs. #3 Muir

Division 4AA: #1 Harvard-Westlake vs. #2 Bishop Montgomery

Division 4A: #4 Windward vs. #2 Santa Maria St. Joseph

Division 5AA: #1 Gardena Serra vs. #2 Cerritos Valley Christian

Division 5A: #1 St. Anthony vs. #2 Montclair Prep

Division 6AA: #1 St. Bernard vs. #3 Granada Hills Hillcrest Christian

Division 6A: #1 North County Christian vs. Calvary Baptist/Lake Arrowhead Christian winner

I can't say any of the victories were a surprise, which is a bit unusual.

The LA Times seems to think the interesting matchups next weekend are:

Inglewood vs. Agoura

Long Beach Poly vs. Corona Santiago

Santa Monica vs. Summit

I tend to agree.

Jayne Appel isn't satisfied

Jayne Appel surpassed Lisa Leslie's old Pac-10 career rebounding record last night, but she wants more: “It is a tremendous accomplishment, but I’m sorry, I want a national championship,” said Appel, a 6-4 senior who once had 20 rebounds in a single game.

It sounds kind of greedy at first, but you see where she's coming from. Stanford has been very close for a long time. It's good to see a player still hungry like that.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Paris, Stringer do good

Ashley Paris gets another chance in the WNBA, as she was signed by the Phoenix Mercury today after spending the winter playing in Israel. I'm glad for her, as I didn't like that she was cut from the Sparks roster last year.

And here's some positive press about Rutgers Coach C. Vivian Stringer that includes some kind comments from Carolyn Peck.

City Section semifinal games were gut busters

Narbonne and Carson will face off for the City Section title next Saturay at the Galen Center after both won tight semifinal games last night. Here's the low-down from the LA Times:

Carson defeated Washington, 44-42, Thursday night in a City Section Division I semifinal game at Washington High.

Reshanda Gray, the Marine League MVP, converted a free throw to tie the score at 42 with 21 seconds left. Then Carson's Chante Miles and Brianne Ingram each hit a free throw to lift the Colts.

Washington's Kiana Furlow went in for a layup with the seconds expiring off the clock, but it was blocked by Carson's Janitah Iamaleava.

In another semifinal, Narbonne took a 50-47 overtime victory against host Taft.


The title game is completely up for grabs. Both teams are pretty much an even match all the way down the line. Unless someone completely doesn't show up next weekend, it should be a good game.

Southern Section playoff matchups

All games are at 7 p.m. tomorrow, at various neutral sites. Here are the matchups:

DIV 1AA:
LB Poly vs Etiwanda
Troy vs Santiago

DIV 1A:
Canyon Springs vs Summit
Ayala vs Santa Monica

DIV 2AA:
Brea Olinda vs Ventura
Edison vs Villa Park

DIV 2A:
Mater Dei vs Beverly Hills
Woodbridge vs Diamond Ranch

DIV 3AA:
Agoura vs Buena
Bishop Amat vs Inglewood

DIV 3A:
Santa Margarita vs Bonita
Muir vs Barstow

DIV 4AA:
Harvard Westlake vs Oak Park
Orange Lutheran vs Bishop Montgomery

DIV 4A:
Bell-Jeff vs Windward
Oaks Christian vs St Joseph

DIV 5AA:
Serra vs Brentwood
St Paul vs Valley Christian

DIV 5A:
St Anthony vs Chadwick
Pasadena Poly vs Montclair Prep

DIV 6AA:
St Bernard vs Holy Martyrs
Hillcrest Christian vs Orangwood Academy

DIV 6A:
North City Christian vs Apple Valley Christian
Calvary Baptist vs Lake Arrowhead Christian

Win and it's on to the next round; losers go home.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A lil good, a lil not-that-great

Tennessee wins the SEC title!

Fresno State wins the WAC title!

Congrats to my favorite coach and one of my favorite coaches in those efforts. And Adrian Wiggins gets extra props for using affirmations ("WAC champs") in practice.

Earlier this week, Rutgers Coach Vivian Stringer commented that she'd rather leave the country than play in the WNIT. Today she clarifies that she meant she didn't want players to be lauded for not making the regular tournament. I'd watch the video statement, but I don't have that much time.

Tina Thompson may not have re-committed to the Sparks for the upcoming WNBA season, but she's having a great time playing overseas right now.

Cute story about the friendship of Oregon seniors Micaela Cocks and Taylor Lilley.

You don't think the recent "Compton Cookout" racist debacle and ensuing protests at the University of California, San Diego has hurt recruiting? It has. I've talked to a few high school recruits who have crossed the school off their list, even after answering questionaires.

And I just got word that my favorite City Section team, Washington Prep, lost by 2 to Carson in their semifinal game moments ago. Maaaaaan, that really bums me out. I'm offa here.

Edit at 9:06 p.m. - UGH! USC just beat Oregon, 87-84. Now I'm really gone.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Shaq is back; one high school baller won't be

The University of Oregon is sure getting nostalgic this year. First they acknowledged ousted former Coach Jody Runge at a January game. Now they're honoring Shaquala Williams, dismissed by former Coach Bev Smith:

For all the highs and lows of Shaquala Williams’ career at Oregon, she missed out on one of the most dramatic moments any player will ever enjoy in college.

Dismissed from the team during her senior season in 2002-03, Williams never got to experience senior night. Never got to be celebrated by the fans who so enjoyed her remarkable UO career, or soak in one more memorable night at McArthur Court.

Williams will get that final chance to be feted Thursday, when she serves as the honorary captain for the opening game of the final homestand for the Oregon women’s basketball team in McArthur Court, against USC at 7 p.m.


Is the U of O realizing it messed up? Seems like it.

Here's something I've not heard before: Jacksonville, FL standout Kayla Brewer will forego her high school senior season to begin playing for South Carolina next year. I can see her point, because if she doesn't feel the competition is there, then there's no reason to stay.

Last night's City Section results

Division I

Quarterfinals, Tuesday
Taft 65, Los Angeles Wilson 48
Narbonne 58, Chatsworth 42
Carson 81, Dorsey 50
Washington 34, Crenshaw 31

Division II

Quarterfinals, Tuesday
El Camino Real 73, Los Angeles Jordan 46
Los Angeles Roosevelt 63, West Adams 49
Granada Hills 62, Reseda 47
South East 45, Wilmington Banning 40

Division III

Quarterfinals, Tuesday
Monroe 50, King-Drew 41
Sylmar 38, Garfield 34
Locke 35, Huntington Park 32
Birmingham 54, Sun Valley Poly 29

Small Schools

Quarterfinals, Tuesday
View Park 69, Northridge 28
Douglass 62, Sherman Oaks CES 58
Huntington Park College Ready 58, Vaughn 33
Los Angeles CES 79, Orthopaedic 23

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

ESPN Academic All-America team

If you google the above headline, the search engine asks if you meant to inquire about the men's team. That's the first irritation. Then the only link I could find that lists the players and their GPAs was this one, from the University of Oregon. No respect for the women. It's not even on the ESPN women's basketball page.

But congrats to the student athletes. What a great honor.

And yes, junior college dreams do come true for those who work hard. Just ask Deana Allen.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Block party, double-double fest

Two players sure kept Monday night interesting this evening.

Kelley Cain set a Tennessee single-game record for blocks in tonight's victory over LSU, with 12.

Meanwhile, Baylor freshman Brittany Griner had 22 points, 21 rebounds in her team's defeat of Texas A&M.

It's great to see Cain finally reaching her potential.

As for Griner, I wonder if she still has more potential to reach. And if so, that's exciting.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Catching up

Thursday's LA City Section results are here. and here:

First round
DIVISION I

Taft 63, Gardena 44
Wilson 42, Manual Arts 37
Chatsworth 62, San Pedro 41
Narbonne 47, Palisades 37
Carson 73, Franklin 22
Dorsey 63, Fairfax 60
Crenshaw 46, Westchester 30
Washington 68, Kennedy 33

DIVISION II
El Camino Real 52, Panorama 25
Jordan 52, Marshall 25
West Adams 51, Arleta 33
Roosevelt 67, Hollywood 48
Granada Hills 73, Van Nuys 28
Reseda 70, Grant 67
Banning 42, Eagle Rock 32
South East 49, Lincoln 29


DIVISION III
Monroe 55, East Valley 7
King-Drew 52, North Hollywood 24
Sylmar 55, Contreras 22
Garfield 63, Bravo 37
Huntington Park 60, Maywood 25
Locke 54, Santee 33
Poly 44, San Fernando 34
Birmingham 52, University 34

SMALL SCHOOLS
View Park Prep 101, Downtown Magnets 12
Northridge 38, Animo Robinson 29
Sherman Oaks CES 34, Camino Nuevo 18
HP College Ready 60, Gertz-Ressler 25
Vaughn 51, New Designs 46
Orthopaedic 46, Foshay 10
L.A. CES 90, Harbor Teacher Prep 7

No real surprises anywhere, though it's interesting to note how things change. Fairfax is clearly having a down year to lose in the opening round. Jordan got its old coach back this year and came roaring back to even be in the playoffs, much less win the first round. King-Drew, Huntington Park and Locke are getting better.....interesting.

From knowing about two matchups specifically, I believe Tuesday's second-round games run down the list, i.e. Taft vs. Wilson, Chatsworth vs. Narbonne, Carson vs. Dorsey, Crenshaw vs. Washington.

All games begin at 7 p.m.

UCLA swept the Washington schools these last three days, culminating in a win yesterday over Washington State. I'm pleasantly surprised that Rebekah Gardner decided to have a career high, and that Moniquee Alexander actually showed up. All in all, a balanced attack by the Bruins that featured big performances.

I knew Coach Nikki Caldwell would get this team into shape, but I honestly didn't think it was going to be this soon. I'm so happy to be off in this case.

Finally, one writer says the Cal freshmen are maturing quickly.

Coming into the madness season

There are quite a few college teams that are in the "rebuilding" or "creating" stage this year with new or relatively new coaches. One is North Carolina State, and that school's Alumni Association has an unusually in-depth interview with Assistant Coach Jon Harper that is more than worth a read. I can't think of any other questions they could have asked him.

Might as well gift wrap the Pac-10 title and give it to Stanford right now. *Yawn*

Florida A&M lost to Howard by one last night. Of course they're heartbroken, and I can relate. One of my kids' high school teams lost in the playoffs last night by two points. Once again, the double-edged sword of basketball rears its head: your greatest love can be your greatest heartbreak. And again I say: hang in there, girls. Keep those heads up.

Oh, it hurts, though.

Friday, February 19, 2010

ESPN high school low down

Two juicy items off of this thread.....

Top recruit Shoni Schimmel has narrowed down her list of schools for the late signing period in two months. It's probably between these teams, at the top of her list: Louisville, UCLA, Oregon, Rutgers and South Carolina.

I know at least one of those coaches has been to Oregon to see her this week.

And Mater Dei point guard Jordan Adams is hurt! Damned injuries.

Chris Hansen gives an early and excellent preview of what's coming up on the club circuit this summer, and next regular season.

AAU strikes back on club residency requirements issue

In an apparent response to the new NCAA ruling limiting out-of-state players on club teams, Amateur Athletic Union officials have temporarily enacted a policy that will permit teams to include more players from out of their area.

The temporary move, allowing its sanctioned teams to have an unlimited number of members outside the state or district boundaries, is a dramatic departure from longtime AAU rules. The AAU previously restricted teams to a maximum of three players from a bordering district. A team's district is defined by the coach's residence......

"The AAU believes in residency requirements and encourages the NCAA to approve such legislation in the future," the AAU girls basketball board said in a statement. "However, we believe, that for this summer, temporarily modifying our residency requirements will facilitate improvements in the Girls' Basketball environment to coincide with the NCAA standards."


That quote indirectly says a lot. It looks like the AAU feels there should be some "free agency," so to speak, in youth athletics. And if the NCAA won't provide it, they will.

What are the implications of this ruling?

High school playoffs in full effect

For all brackets, go to cifss.org and hit the "sports" tab. There will be a dropdown menu that says "basketball," then another from there that says "girl's basketball." From there, to the right, hit "playoff brackets," and all 12 are there.

It's February Madness, baby.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

USC loses to WSU

The Trojans extend their losing streak to five tonight with a loss to the worst team in the Pac-10. What's up in Troy??

Department of........

In the old-timers department:

Former WNBA player Tynesha Lewis lead a Black History Month program with a motivational speech this week.

Tamecka Dixon has announced her retirement, leaving Tina Thompson as the only WNBA player left who was with the league when it began in 1997.

In the current timers department:

Tennessee beat 'Bama tonight, but Coach Pat Summitt wasn't at all pleased with the effort. In fact, she said her team "disrespected the game of basketball tonight."

*Gulp*

Yikes.

EXPN's Mechelle Voepel says there are other rookies in the big 12 worth considering besides Baylor's Brittany Griner.

In the coaches department:

I'm so worried about University of Houston Coach Joe Curl, who is back in the hospital much too soon after being released for heart problems. Get well, coach.

Slamonline says Phoenix Mercury Coach Corey Gaines is what the WNBA needs.

Tennessee: functional

This story about Tennessee's road game against Alabama tonight is cause to blink on a few levels. First, center Kelley Cain will miss the trip to stay home and go to class:

Cain won't be there for the Lady Vols' SEC women's basketball game Thursday against Alabama (10-15, 2-10 SEC) in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (TV: CSS, 9 p.m.) Tennessee's starting center will stay in Knoxville to attend classes. The 6-foot-6 redshirt sophomore, an honor-roll student who's scheduled to graduate in December, is a marketing/logistics major and has a busy class schedule on Thursday. Road games have cost her class time three of the last four Thursdays.

"I talked to her about it and I said 'Would it help you if you worked out with us (Wednesday) and then (Thursday) you would be here to go to your classes?' " Summitt said. "She was like, 'Coach, that would be awesome.' ''


Glory Johnson is trying to figure out her mistakes. And this:

Summitt has been especially critical of her players lately. She ripped them at halftime of last Sunday's game and tossed freshman Kamiko Williams from practice on Monday. Yet she sounds more like a concerned mother after perceiving a dip in Johnson's usual level of effort.

"I ask her even during the game; I say 'you seem to give into fatigue, are you eating, are you eating healthy,'' Summitt said. "Everything I ask her, she says, 'No, I feel OK.' I don't think she's quite aware of it, but we'll keep emphasizing what she needs to do."


Critical but caring don't sometimes go hand in hand like that.

And then Assistant Coach Dean Lockwood's role as a translator is illuminated:

Lest anything else get lost or garbled in translation, assistant coach Dean Lockwood follows up with Johnson after she's been yanked. As he said, "I've tried to keep a little bit of what it felt like as a player. I know how I felt when that happened. I think I would want someone to talk to me."

Sounds like a Final Four team to me.

Dawn Staley leads a new wave of coaches

ESPN's doing a helluva job covering Black History Month this year. Today, Mechelle Voepel writes about legendary Dawn Staley, who is one of a few prominent black female coaches in the NCAA.

While that is a very welcome circumstance, this part of the column explains why Staley is one of the great coaches:

"I have to blow my top on occasion if I feel it, but also remember to speak in their vernacular," Staley said of her players. "Because they really don't understand. If they understood, they would do differently. So you've got to take it down a few notches and put it in a way where they'll understand it.

"Sometimes, it's just experience. You've got to get through their growing pains. But I'm never going to put up with anyone disrespecting the game."

Staley is both "old-school" and "new wave." She was part of a generation of players that was still closely linked to and respectful of the strides that had been made by those athletes who came before them and established women's college basketball as we know it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Some Candace Parker with a side of other news

Those of us on twitter already knew Shelden Williams flew to Russia to see wife Candace Parker and daughter Lailaa last weekend, during NBA All-Star weekend. But I didn't know that it caused him to get fined for missing a practice.

Parker has posted two pictures on twitter today: one showing that Russia isn't a "no running water" country after all, and the other showing off her cooking skills with a bad pun. But Parker's corniness is one of the reasons I like her.

Great piece on Kelsey Griffin, and all she's gone through to get to this amazing year at Nebraska.

Speaking of battles, James Madison University's Dawn Evans is fighting kidney disease, but playing on. Amazing, and inspirational.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

St. John's pulls off the upset

Woooooooow! St. John's took down Notre Dame tonight in what Coach Kim Barnes Arico called "unbelievable," - a victory ESPN characterized as the biggest victory in the Red Storm's school history.

I'm impressed. And while I'm at it, I vote for Skylar Diggins as freshman of the year. She's been more than amazing.

In other news....

It looks like Teresa Weatherspoon is slowly building Louisiana Tech back up. (Excellent)

And besides the LaToya Pringle signing today, there was this:


The Indiana Fever signed Shay Murphy, Lyndra Littles and Josephine Owino to training camp contracts.

The Minnesota Lynx withdrew its qualifying offer to Tasha Humphrey, making her an unrestricted free agent.

Very happy for the Fever signees, all of whom I like. I hope Tasha Humphrey sticks with the Lynx.

LA City and Southern Section playoffs preview

This thoughtful post on socalhoops.com is supposedly from Los Angeles Daily News writer Jack Pollon. Even if it's not, it's right on the money, and thought-provoking:

RLS
City Section Division I
1. Taft of Woodland Hills
2. Washington Prep of Los Angeles
3. Carson
4. Narbonne of Harbor City
Locals in the draw: Chatsworth, Kennedy of Granada Hills

TEAM TO KEEP AN EYE ON
Narbonne. The Gauchos are always tough and just got back Kim Pickett,
a transfer from View Park Prep of Los Angeles, who was nursing an
injury that kept her out of almost all Marine League games.

PLAYER TO WATCH
Monica Jackson, Chatsworth, Sr. An absolute scoring machine that can
turn a game in a matter of seconds. Jackson averaged around 30 points
per contest and is capable of putting the team on her back in crunch
time.

OUTLOOK
The division is wide-open as a number of teams can win it all. Look
for Taft and Washington to be there at the end but don't count out
Narbonne or a talented Fairfax of Los Angeles team, led by freshman
John'ea Thompson.

Division II
1. El Camino Real of Woodland Hills
2. South East of South Gate
3. Granada Hills
4. Roosevelt of Los Angeles
Locals in the draw: Reseda, Eagle Rock, Grant of Van Nuys, Arleta,
Van Nuys, Panorama.

TEAM TO KEEP AN EYE ON
Grant. The Lancers came back from a horrendous start to their season
by sharing the East Valley League championship with Poly of Sun
Valley. If Grant can get by Reseda and No. 3 Granada Hills, it could
end up in the championship game.

PLAYER TO WATCH
Vanessa Aguilar, Grant. The senior, who became eligible after
transferring back to Grant from Hart of Newhall has flirted with
quadruple-doubles the last two weeks. Aguilar is another player like
Jackson that can put a team on her back for long stretches.

OUTLOOK
El Camino Real is about the closest thing to a lock in the playoffs.
The Conquistadores won the West Valley League for the first time
since 1999 and would be a favorite in Div. I. ECR can get its fingers
sized for rings now.

Division III
1. Monroe of North Hills
2. Birmingham of Lake Balboa
3. Huntington Park
4. Garfield of Los Angeles
Locals in the draw: Sylmar, Poly of Sun Valley, North Hollywood, San
Fernando, East Valley of North Hollywood

TEAM TO KEEP AN EYE ON
Birmingham. The Patriots own victories against Taft and Chatsworth
and could give the West Valley League three City champions in one
season if Taft or Chatsworth get it done in Div. I and ECR or Granada
Hills takes care of business in Div. II.

PLAYER TO WATCH
Ayisat Afolabi, Monroe. The freshman fit right in to coach Quincy
Brooks' system and meshed with upperclassmen Ani Avanessian. Afolabi
routinely had double-doubles while leading the Vikings to an
undefeated Valley Mission League season.

OUTLOOK
Monroe and Birmingham should be in an all-valley final. Can Monroe
beat a battle tested team or will Birmingham's strength of schedule
and experience prevail.

Small Schools
TOP FOUR SEEDS
1. View Park Prep of Los Angeles
2. L.A.C.E.S
3. Huntington Park College Ready academy
4. Douglass of Los Angeles
Locals in the draw: Sherman Oaks C.E.S., Northridge Academy, Vaughn of Sun Valley.

PLAYER TO WATCH
Ea Shoushtari, L.A.C.E.S. Shoushtari averaged 17.5 points per game, 4.5 assists and four steals. Along with Taylor Holeman, Shoushtari is part of one the best guard duos in the City regardless of division.

TEAM TO KEEP AN EYE ON
Sherman Oaks C.E.S. It owns a victory against a depleted Campbell Hall team but that is good enough to not be overlooked in this division.

OUTLOOK
Book View Park Prep and L.A.C.E.S. in the final. The two teams are heads and shoulders above the rest of this field. By a lot.


SOUTHERN SECTION GIRLS
TOP FOUR SEEDS
Div. I-AA
1. Long Beach Poly 23-2
2. Santiago of Corona 24-2
3. Troy 22-1
4. Etiwanda 21-6
LOCALS IN THE DRAW: Palmdale, Quartz Hill, Knight of Palmdale

TEAM TO KEEP AN EYE ON
Cajon of San Bernardino. Cajon finished 24-3, won the San Andreas
League and only need to get by Etiwanda to reach the semifinals.

PLAYER TO WATCH
Lindsay Scherbert, Great Oak. Scherbert averaged 27 points per game
and has been selected to the McDonalds All-American game and the Nike
Women's Basketball Coaches Association all-star game in San Antonio.

OUTLOOK
Long Beach Poly is 23-2, the top-ranked team in the division and you
can never bet against coach Carl Buggs in the playoffs. Poly has
superstar Ariyah Crook-Williams and owns an impressive victory
against nationally-ranked Whitney Young of Chicago. The Jackrabbits have won four consecutive state titles and boast six Div. I-bound players.

Div. I-A
1. Canyon Springs of Moreno Valley 23-3
2. Santa Monica 20-6
3. Ayala of Chino Hills 19-6
4. Summit of Fontana 22-5
LOCALS IN THE DRAW: Crescenta Valley of la Crescenta, Valencia

TEAM TO KEEP AN EYE ON
Ayala of Chino Hills. The Bulldogs went undefeated in the
Sierra League and feature talented seniors Ariel Marsh, UCLA-bound Rhema Gardner and Krishawn Tennies. Sophomore Jillian Alleyne is not bad either.
Ayala also owns an impressive victory against Chatsworth.

PLAYER TO WATCH
Cassie Pappas, Crescenta Valley, Sr. Pappas is a scoring machine who
doesn’t force anything and makes her teammates better. Pappas led the
Falcons (22-5) to second place behind Muir of Pasadena in the Pacific
League.

OUTLOOK
The top four seeds are all capable but Santa Monica, behind standouts
Thea Lemberger (UCLA commit) and Moriah Faulk is the pick to win it all.

Div. II-AA
1. Brea-Olinda of Brea 26-2
2. Villa Park 20-7
3. Edison of Huntinton Beach 20-4
4. Ventura (22-4)
LOCALS IN THE DRAW: West Ranch of Stevenson Ranch, Royal of Simi
Valley, Canyon of Canyon Country, Thousand Oaks, Burroughs of Burbank

TEAM TO KEEP AN EYE ON
Canyon. The Cowboys finished 19-6, won the Foothill League and have
flourished under the direction of new coach Chuck Johns, an Indiana
transplant. Brooke Lemar is a talented guard headed to Southern
Illinois.

PLAYER TO WATCH
Bonnie Samuelson, Edison. The junior scoring machine is one of the
best in the state having gone over 30 points nine times.

OUTLOOK
Brea-Olinda is the best team, is ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation and it owns an impressive victory against Mater Dei of Santa Ana.

Div. II-A
1. Mater Dei of Santa Ana 24-1
2. Diamond Ranch 20-1
3. Woodbridge 23-5
4. Laguna Hills 22-3
LOCALS IN THE DRAW: Rio Mesa of Oxanrd, Camarillo,
Newbury Park, Moorpark, Westlake

TEAM TO KEEP AN EYE ON
Beverly Hills. The Normans (17-11) finished third in the tough Ocean
League behind Inglewood and Santa Monica but were still seeded No. 5 in this division. Inglewood and Santa Monica are both seeded No. 2 in their divisions.

PLAYER TO WATCH
Kaleena Lewis, Mater Dei, Jr. Lewis does it all for the one-loss
Monarchs, scoring and handling the ball. At 6'3, Lewis was one of the
most coveted underclass recruits in the country until committing to Connecticut and was named the Orange County Register’s player of the week three different times.

OUTLOOK
Nobody can beat Mater Dei. The are simply that good. Many teams will
try, including No. 2 Diamond Ranch of Pomona but it lost to Alemany
of Mission Hills, not a good loss if you are trying to beat one of
the nations best.

Div. III-AA
1. Agoura 26-0
2. Inglewood 22-5
3. Bishop Amat of La Punete 19-6
4. Buena of Ventura 18-8
LOCALS IN THE DRAW: None besides Agoura

TEAM TO KEEP AN EYE ON
Agoura. The Chargers best players are seniors Brittany Oster and
Sasha Borenstein and sophomore Kylie Cunningham. Agoura has a
sparkling record but hasn't been tested too many times and it will be
interesting to see if the Chargers came come through in a tough road
game if they are behind.

PLAYER TO WATCH
Hazel Ramirez, Inglewood, Sr. The steady floor-leader averages 13
points per game, shoots over 40% from the floor and 86% from the
free-throw line.

OUTLOOK
It is very rare for a team to undefeated so look for Inglewood or
Bishop Amat to challenge but Agoura has answered every question thus
far this season and it could be the magical year for a team that won
its first league championship in school history.

Div. III-A
1. Santa Margarita of Rancho Santa Margarita
2. Barstow 20-2
3. Muir of Pasadena 17-7
4. Bonita of La Verne 21-3

LOCALS IN THE DRAW: Calabasas, Littlerock.

TEAM TO KEEP AN EYE ON
Santa Barbara. The Dons finished second in the Channel league but
have victories against powers Ventura and Buena of Ventura.

PLAYER TO WATCH
Victoria Yutronich, Palos Verdes, So. This ultra-talented guard
averages 11 points, five rebounds, seven assists, three steals and a
block.

OUTLOOK
This divison is not very scary so don’t forget about Pacific League
champion Muir of Pasadena. The Mustangs might have the chemistry and
experience to win it all.

Div. IV-AA
1. Harvard-Westlake 26-1
2. Bishop Montgomery of Torrance 22-6
3. Orange Lutheran 19-5
4. La Canada 23-3
LOCALS IN THE DRAW: Antelope Valley of Lancaster, Alemany of Mission
Hills, Chaminade of West Hills, Oak Park, Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks.

TEAM TO KEEP AN EYE ON
Antelope Valley. The Antelopes went 24-2 and have the sections
biggest one-season turnaround after going 4-21 last year. A.V. went
20-76 in the four season prior to this one. Yvette Bennett and Quartz
Hill transfers Keoina Matthews and Destini Price have transformed
Antelope Valley along with fiery coach D.J. Hein.

PLAYER TO WATCH
N.C. State-bound Kody Burke, Notre Dame, Sr.; Princeton-bound Nicole
Hung, Harvard-Westlake, Sr.; UCSB-bound Nicole Nesbit,
Harvard-Westlake, Sr; Lauren Varney, Oak Park, Sr.; Trinidee Trice,
Alemany, Sr.; Angelica Sahagun, Alemany, Sr., Courtney McCutchan, La
Canada, Sr. Take your pick of local standouts.

OUTLOOK
This division is Harvard-Westlake's to lose. The Wolverines have only
lost to Mater Dei, are ranked No. 5 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports and
are ranked No. 1 in the state in Div. IV.

Div. IV-A
1. Bell-Jeff 22-5
2. St. Joseph of Santa Maria 22-4
3. Oaks Christian of Westlake Village 22-4
4. Windward of Los Angeles 15-9
LOCALS IN THE DRAW: Louisville of Woodland Hills, La Reina of
Thousand Oaks, Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth, Malibu, Village Christian
of Sun Valley, Flintridge Sacred Heart of La Canada-Flintridge, L.A.
Baptist of North Hills

TEAM TO KEEP AN EYE ON
Sierra Canyon. A lot of attention has been paid to the top four seeds
but the Trailblazers are on the cusp of greatness. Coach T.J. Knox
guided Sierra Canyon to a Div. VI-A championship a year ago and has a
talented roster of underclassmen.

PLAYER TO WATCH
Brianna Barrett, Oaks Christian, So. Barrett might be the quickest,
most athletic player in the division but still needs to work on
consistency with her shot and decision making in the open-court. She
is being recruited by most PAC-10 schools and a few others nationally.

OUTLOOK
Bell-Jeff has played the toughest schedule by far, has a victory
against Oaks Christian and received a first-round bye but can it get
through four more tough games getting every other teams best
performance?

Div. V-AA
1. Serra of Gardena 20-6
2. Valley Christian of Cerritos 18-6
3. St. Paul of Santa Fe Springs 17-10
4. Santa Clara of Oxnard
LOCALS IN THE DRAW: Viewpoint of Calabasas, Holy Family of Glendale
Milken Community of Los Angeles, Flintridge Prep of La Canada,
Providence of Burbank.

TEAM TO KEEP AN EYE ON
Campbell Hall. The Vikings had another stellar season only losing to
Sherman Oaks C.E.S. and Montclair Prep. Sophomores Lauren Holiday,
Nicole Tolbert and Alexa Brown are a year older and ready to make
some noise.

PLAYER TO WATCH
Lauren Holiday, Campbell Hall, Freshman. The younger sister of
Philadelphia 76'ers guard Jrue Holiday and one of the best female
athletes in Southern California. Holiday averaged close to 10 points
per game, over 11 rebounds, three assists and two steals.

OUTLOOK
Serra has wins over some very good large schools and has the
athleticism and depth necessary to win the championship. A first
round bye also helps the cause keeping the Cavaliers one game fresher
than the rest of the field.

Div. V-A
1. St. Anthony of Long Beach 17-9
2. Montclair Prep of Panorama City 18-6
3. Pasadena Poly 20-3
4. Chadwick of Rancho Palos Verdes 15-9
LOCALS IN THE DRAW: Vasquez of Acton, Glendale Adventist Academy of
Glendale, Buckley of Sherman Oaks.

TEAM TO KEEP AN EYE ON
Mojave. The Mustangs (19-1) come in with a stellar record of 19-1 but
we will see if strength of schedule becomes a factor. Mojave is
relatively unknown so no team wants to travel to the high desert.

PLAYER TO WATCH
Michelle Miller, Pasadena Poly, So. Miller is another scoring
machine, who routinely went over 30 points several times, including a
46-point effort against Mayfield. Miller is basically the life-blood
of Poly's hopes so if she is taken out of the game, Poly goes down.

OUTLOOK
St. Anthony is year older andhas outstanding freshman Kendall Cooper
in the post. Montclair Prep has Long beach St.-bound Chantel Dooley
with Kim Scamman, Lindsey Anderson and Alex Taylor. Expect the top
two seeds to be in the final.

Div. VI-AA
1. St. Bernard of Playa del Rey 14-13
2. Orangewood academy of Garden Grove 22-2
3. Hillcrest Christian of Granada Hills 13-8
4. Desert Christian of Bermuda Dunes 16-4

LOCALS IN THE DRAW: Holy Martyrs of Encino, Highland Hall of
Northridge, Newbury Park Adventist.

TEAM TO KEEP AN EYE ON
Hesperia Christian. Last season it reached the 6-AA championship but was overwhelmed against Sierra Canyon. A year later and a year older might be the difference.

PLAYER TO WATCH
Raechelle Davis, Orangewood Academy. Davis averaged 23 points per game but attempted nearly 25 shots a game. Seven times, she attempted over 30 shots in a game, including a Kobe Bryant-like 40 shots in a season opening victory against San Fernando Valley Academy of Northridge.

OUTLOOK
St. Bernard has a talented roster, played a tough schedule and has a grizzled-veteran coach in former St. Mary's Academy of Inglewood head-man Bo Corona.

Div. VI-A
1. North County Christian of Atascadero 15-5
2. Lake Arrowhead Christian 15-3
3. Calvary Baptist of La Verne 16-7
4. A.G.B.U. of Pasadena 9-2
LOCALS IN THE DRAW: San Fernando Valley Academy, West Valley Christian of West Hills.

TEAM TO KEEP AN EYE ON
Calvary Baptist. Coach Lincoln Dial's squad is on a 13-game winning streak since losing four consecutive games at the Oaks Christian tournament after Christmas. In an example of why there are too many divisions this is the sore thumb. Calvary Baptist lost to Agoura 55-6, Horizon of San Diego 61-19 and Sierra Canyon 56-10 but is the No. 3 seed.

PLAYER TO WATCH
Sammy Roupe, West Valley Chr., Sr. Roupe, the daughter of coach Ken Roupe, averages 21 points per game, 10.5 rebounds and four assists. Roupe only had one game scoring in single digits.

OUTLOOK
Despite dropping to a No. 6 seed, West Valley Christian might be the best team simply because they played a tougher schedule than most other schools in the division.

Sparks sign LaToya Pringle

This just in from the Sparks MVP wire:

The Sparks have signed forward LaToya Pringle! LaToya joins us after being drafted #13 overall in the 2008 WNBA Draft. She spent her rookie season in Phoenix and joined the Minnesota Lynx for the 2009 season.

LaToya is a native of Nuremburg, Germany and played college basketball at the University of North Carolina where she helped the Tar Heels reach the Elite Eight in each of her four seasons.

As MVPs, you heard it first!

LOS ANGELES SPARKS SIGN FORWARD LATOYA PRINGLE

LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Sparks have signed forward LaToya Pringle, announced today by Sparks head coach Jennifer Gillom. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Pringle joins the Sparks after being drafted 13th overall by the Phoenix Mercury in the 2008 WNBA Draft. Making a big splash in her rookie season, she finished the season by starting the Mercury's final seven games and shooting an impressive 44.8% from the floor and 82.4% from the free-throw line. Her rookie year ended with her being ranked 5th in the WNBA in blocked shots (1.52 bpg) and first in the WNBA in blocks per 40 minutes (4.66).

"I saw the type of player and person LaToya is when I had the opportunity to coach her in Minnesota," said Sparks head coach Jennifer Gillom. "I knew we could use her because she is a fantastic defensive player and has a great locker room presence. I look forward to the impact she will have on our team."

After spending one season in Phoenix, she was traded to the Minnesota Lynx in a multi-player trade. With the Mercury, Pringle saw action in 29 games and averaged 4.4 points and 3.5 rebounds. In 2009, she played in 17 games for the Lynx and averaged 2.2 points, 2.2 rebounds in 9.4 minutes/game.

"I am very excited to join the Sparks," said Pringle. "It is a great organization with a great team and great players. I am truly looking forward to playing with this group of talented players and I hope that I can make this team even better."

A native of Nuremberg, Germany, Pringle played college basketball at the University of North Carolina where she helped the Tar Heels reach the NCAA Elite Eight in each of her four years with the program. As a senior she was named the 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year and received First-Team All-Defensive honors. In her final campaign, she ranked second in the ACC in blocks (3.18bpg) which was good for 5th in the NCAA. Pringle finished her career averaging 8.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.43 blocks in 110 career games played.

Mid-majors have an opportunity

So says ESPN's Charlie Creme.

The Wiggins experience

All I knew is I liked Fresno State Coach Adrian Wiggins based on what I knew of him and saw of him in last year's NCAA Tournament. He made a great impression at the post-game press conferences. But his stock has gone up with ESPN Graham Hays' piece today:

Yet if you stumbled into a Fresno State huddle at practice on any given day and expected to hear chalk talk, you'd be almost as likely to find Wiggins talking to his players about the minuscule number of African-American students enrolled in college in the United States in 1917, or sharing with a generation too young to remember even Don Mattingly's days in pinstripes the details of how Lou Gehrig seized an opportunity provided by Wally Pipp's headache.

Variously described as "sharing time" or "family time," it's all part of the Wiggins experience.

"It's our time to share," Wiggins explained. "And honestly, the big premise is there's more to life than basketball, and we say there's more to basketball than basketball. So it's a thought process, and it's about learning. And I believe with young people, if you take them outside of basketball and step into other parts of the world, you can touch their imagination and get their attention. So we spend time just talking about things outside of basketball."


The coach is a voracious reader? LOVE it.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Conflicting reports from Knoxville

I'm confused.

About eight hours ago, Angie Bjorklund was named SEC player of the week.

Approximately five hours ago, Assistant Coach Holly Warlick twittered that today's practice was great and the team had earned a day off tomorrow.

Then about three hours ago came the news that freshman Kamiko Williams was kicked out of practice today for lackluster effort - the first Lady Vol in three years to earn that honor.

I guess it was a good practice after she left?

But as they'd say in my neck of the woods, Pat Summitt don't play.

Top 25 mostly the same

The AP's list is out:

1. Connecticut 25-0
2. Stanford 23-1
3. Nebraska 23-0
4. Notre Dame 23-1
5. Tennessee 23-2
6. Xavier 20-3
7. Ohio St. 25-3
8. Duke 21-4
9. West Virginia 22-3
10. Florida St. 21-4
11. Oklahoma 18-6
12. Texas 18-6
13. Iowa St. 19-4
14. Georgetown 20-4
15. Texas A&M 17-6
16. Kentucky 21-4
17. Oklahoma St. 18-6
18. Baylor 17-7
19. Georgia Tech 20-5
20. Georgia 20-6
21. Gonzaga 21-4
22. St. John’s 20-5
23. LSU 17-7
24. TCU 19-5
25. Vanderbilt 18-7

Full Court's top 25 is similar.

It would be sooooo much fun to see a Tennessee-Nebraska final this year. But since it'll probably be UConn again, I'm not likely to go to the Final Four.

V-Day follow up

From this LA Times piece yesterday, we (unsurprisingly) learn that USC Coach Michael Cooper is glad he said "eff UCLA" a few weeks ago. Equally non-shocking is the revelation that UCLA Coach Nikki Caldwell holds a public relations degree:

"Me, I'm old-school," she said. "My mom always told me, 'If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.' So, good win, UCLA," she said.

Once a WNBA coach, Suzie McConnell-Serio is finding success at the collegiate level.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Southern Section, City Section brackets are out

Teams have been seeded and games for this first week of playoff action have been set. Since I'm unable to download the brackets, I'm relying on the crazies at socalhoops.com:

LA City Section Division I

No. 16 Gardena at No. 1 Taft
No. 9 Manual Arts at No. 8 Wilson
No. 12 San Pedro at No. 5 Chatsworth
No. 13 Palisades at No. 4 Narbonne

No. 14 Franklin at No. 3 Carson
No. 11 Dorsey at No. 6 Fairfax
No. 10 Westchester at No. 7 Crenshaw
No. 15 Kennedy at No. 2 Washington

LA City Section Division II

No. 16 Panorama at No. 1 El Camino
No. 9 Marshall at No. 8 Jordan
No. 12 Arleta No. 5 West Adams
No. 13 Hollywood at No. 4 Roosevelt

No. 14 Van Nuys at No. 3 Granada Hills
No. 11 Grant at No. 6 Reseda
No. 10 Banning at No. 7 Eagle Rock
No. 15 Lincoln at No. 2 South East

Southern Section Division

5AA bracket

Serra (1)
BYE

*Ontario Chr (16)
CAMS

*Frazier Mountain
St. Bonaventure (9)

*Notre Dame/R (8)
Woodcrest Chr

*CantwellSacHrt(5)
Viewpoint

*Alverno
Brentwood (12)

*Animo Leadership
Westridge (13)

Santa Clara (4)
BYE

*St. Paul (3)
Desert Chr/L

*Providence (14)
Holy Family

*Milken Comm. (11)
Oxford Academy

*Flintridge Prep (6)
St. Matthias

*Campbell Hall (7)
Academy Acad Excell

*Sacred Hrt Jesus
St. Monica Cath. (10)

*Loma Linda Acad(15)
Silver Valley

*Valley Chr/C (2)
Kern Valley

3AA bracket

Agoura (1)
BYE

*Elsinore (16)
Bellflower

*Beaumont
Eisenhower (9)

*Arlington (8)
Palm Desert

*North Torrance (5)
Newport Harbor

*Garden Grove (12)
Beckman

Palm Springs (13)
Lakeside

*Buena (4)
El Modena

*Bishop Amat (3)
Los Amigos

*Cerritos (14)
Pacific

*Godinez (11)
Western

*Sonora (6)
Arroyo

*Arroyo Grande (7)
Northwood

*Jurupa Valley (10)
Pasadena

*Marlborough
Torrance (15)

*Inglewood (2)
Los Altos

1AA bracket

*Poly/LB (1) Moore #1
Aliso Niguel South Coast At-Lg

*Alhambra Almont #1
Los Osos (16) Baseline #3

*Lynwood (9) SanGabrielVly #1
Palmdale Golden #3

*Colony (7) Mt. Baldy #1
Redlands Citrus Belt At-Lg

*Cajon (5) San Andreas #1
Vista Murrieta Southwestern #3

*Pacifica/Oxnard Pacific View #1T
Millikan (12) Moore #3

*Rialto (13) Citrus Belt #1
La Sierra Inland Valley At-Lg

*Etiwanda (4) Baseline #1
Quartz Hill Golden #4

*Troy (3) Freeway #1
Downey SanGabrielVly #3

*Knight Golden #2
Silverado (14) Desert Sky #2

*San Clemente (11) South Coast #1T
Cabrillo/LB Moore At-Lg

*Great Oak (6) Southwestern #1
A.B. Miller Citrus Belt #4

*Jordan (8) Moore #2
Redondo Union Bay #2T

*Schurr Almont #2T
Warren (10) SanGabrielVly #2

*RanchoVerde(15) Inland Valley #2T
Wilson/LB Moore #4

*Santiago/Cor (2) Big VIII #1
Upland Baseline At-Lg

2AA bracket

Mater Dei (1) Trinity #1
*Mater Dei
BYE
Mark Keppel Almont #2T

Culver City (16) Ocean At-Lg
*Century Orange #2

Newbury Park (9) Marmonte #4
*Hesperia Mojave River #2

Norco (8) Big VIII #4
*Beverly Hills (5) Ocean #3

Righetti PAC 7 #4
*Mayfair (12) Suburban #1

Kennedy Empire At-Lg
*San Bernardino San Andreas #2

J.W. North (13) Big VIII At-Lg
*Laguna Hills (4) Pacific Coast #1

Rowland San Antonio At-Lg
*Woodbridge (3) Sea View #1

Norwalk Suburban At-Lg
*Orange Golden West #3

Patriot (14) Sunkist #3
*Rio Mesa (11) Pacific View #1T

Peninsula Bay At-Lg
*South Torrance (6) Pioneer #1T

Westlake Marmonte At-Lg
*University Pacific Coast #2

Canyon/A (7) Century At-Lg
*Glendora (10) Sierra #3

Cypress Empire #3
*Segerstrom (15) Golden West #1

Moorpark Marmonte At-Lg
*Diamond Ranch (2) Miramonte #1

Adolfo Camarillo Pacific View At-Lg

Playoffs for all teams begin Thursday, Feb. 18. Higher-seeded teams are the host sites.

Pac-12?

The second item of this news brief is emminently more interesting than the first: Pac-10 officials are thinking of expanding the conference:

"I don't understand. I like the Pac-10 the way it is," said Tara VanDerveer, who's been the Stanford coach since 1985. "That might be old-school. But there is something special about playing a true double round-robin and that we have a true winner of the Pac-10. It's a normal life for kids to not be playing on a Wednesday night and then chartering, which is what you would have to do (if expanding) and it would be extremely expensive."

As usual, I can see both sides. Add to VanDerveer's thoughts the opinion that we should first improve the quality of the teams we have in the league before we go expanding. But on the other side, the conference needs some excitement. And some fans believe the only legitimate conferences are those with 12 teams. We'll see what happens.

In other news.....

Angel McCoughtry is living her big hoop dreams.

North Carolina State Coach Kellie Harper laced up the shoes yesterday to raise funds for breast cancer research. And as a big fan of big love, I love this part of the story:

Former guard Ivy Gardner, who played from 1999-2002, said it was critical in this first season for former players to support Harper. She drove from Washington, where a blizzard had dumped more than 30 inches of snow.

"We have a great respect for Coach Harper," Gardner said. "She's done a great job of transitioning the girls, as well as herself. To say she had large shoes to fill is the most enormous understatement there is. And she's done it with class and respect. She's making her own way in this program."


The Norwich paper talked about the meeting of new teammates Kara Lawson and Asjha Jones without once mentioning where either athlete played in college. It's a miracle.

And you gotta love this "academics comes first" story: UConn's Lorin Dixon was sent home from the NCAA tournament last year due to her poor grades and study habits. She went to class instead, and she learned her lesson.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Oregon 82, Arizona State 81

When the Sun Devils were swept by both Southern California schools at home last month I thought OK, they're just having a bad week.

When ASU lost to Washington State University last weekend I thought wow, they're having a rough season.

But today Arizona State was beat again - this time by Oregon. Now I'm thinking, what the hell is going on in Tempe?

Not even a slow decline. Just bam, and they're in the middle of the conference standings instead of their usual second or third. What's up?

UCLA 74, USC 56

I almost got my wish for a 20-point blowout. If it weren't for that Christina Marinacci side shot in the waning seconds of the game, it would have been 20. But I'll take it, because it was a solid win. The Bruins were never in any real trouble throughout the game; they were in control the whole way.

Both teams had very balanced scoring, which bodes well for the futures of each. The whoppin' crowd on hand had a very good time, which included a good 2-3 minutes of "the wave" around the arena, and lots of enthusiasm and happy yelling. Most of the LA Sparks staff were on hand, and the Sparks' "Old Skool Crew" performed at halftime.

As if that weren't all great enough, the game was over at 1 p.m., so we all walked out into the rest of a beautiful, sunny, 70-degree day. Life is good.



Yes, Jacki Gemelos is playing. And damned well, too. She ended up with 11 points, but had nine of those pretty quickly. It's obvious she's been hungry to return.



Bionic Doreena Campbell rebounds and sprints away from the baseline.



Markel Walker had seven rebounds today, including this one.



It wasn't the smartest idea for ESPN to pull USC Coach Michael Cooper aside for a halftime interview right next to the UCLA bench. The crowd booed him the entire time - and loudly, too.



The Trojans made a run at the end of the game. UCLA Coach Nikki Caldwell sent in a new starting five once she got disgusted enough.



Senior center Moniquee Alexander, far right, had a moment after the game. She seized a microphone from the press table and yelled at the crowd for a few seconds, making her teammates laugh. Caldwell, at the bottom of the picture, watched while she did the post-game interview.



Lots of people were around to give the team daps as they headed toward the locker room.



All three female coaches wore towering high heels today. Operations manager Pam Walker, far right, joined in the huddle during the first timeout.



Trojan assistant coach Erv Monier was standing a lot today, coaching.



8006 in attendence today - a beautiful site. I've not seen that many at Pauley Pavilion for a game before.



New LA Sparks Coach Jennifer Gillom was introduced to the crowd at a timeout. She was walking and sitting around the arena throughout the game.



Anne Meyers-Drysdale hugging Sparks co-owner Kathy Goodman while co-owner Carla Christofferson looks on.



Reshanda "Too Tall" Gray. Those long legs can jump.

Bonus: Coach Butts put up this photo on twitter.

Recruiting process like a TV show, ESPN says

More great advice on the high school recruiting process by ESPN's Mark Lewis:

All too often college coaches come across players who seem to be waiting for "something better" when the truth is they're lucky to be getting the interest they already have at that point in time. That mentality and approach can, and many times has, left an athlete to settle for virtually anything she can find in the end.

Take a good look at the interest that has come your way and try to find the consistencies that might be there in terms of what schools are knocking on your door. If you've heard from only one major conference program and 25 others that might be thought of as mid-major, odds are you already know what level might be more appropriate.


.......

That's why it's important not to eliminate schools from your recruiting process early because you perceive yourself to be a higher caliber player than the level you think their program plays on. Take your time and see who's in the mix and find out how sincere their interest might be.

More on UCLA-USC

The Daily Trojan put something up about the game after all. Funny it doesn't mention that the rivalry has been stoked up big time by the "eff UCLA" comment.

The LA Daily News has a story on Bruin forward Jasmine Dixon today. Being far away from home and lack of playing time? Cry me a river, Dixon. But I'm fine with you being on the UCLA roster.

Friday, February 12, 2010

UCLA-USC rematch

The Daily Trojan has nothing on tomorrow's game, but the Daily Bruin does:

Caldwell said she never recalled hearing anything like that when she coached at Tennessee, even with the heated rivalry with Connecticut.

What came to be the most confusing issue regarding Cooper’s comment was his motivation. Despite the intense nature of the UCLA-USC rivalry, the first game between the Bruins and Trojans contained no foul play. Moreover, Caldwell claims that she and Cooper have never had any bad blood between them.

Plus, the Trojans won.


I'm really hoping UCLA comes ready and unleashes the dragon. I want a 20-point blowout.

This "UK hoops is legit" story on Kentucky's victory last night is worth reading for this line: Veteran Georgia Coach Andy Landers — who has been coaching women's basketball in the SEC since God was young — gave UK his stamp of approval.

For Missouri, breast cancer awareness games have special meaning.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

McDonald's All-American teams named

From this gargantuan list comes two teams:

East Team

No. Name Pos. Hgt. Wgt. High School, State (Hometown) College

44 Alicia DeVaughn C 6-4 170 Blanche Ely High School, FL (Pompano Beach, FL) Maryland
31 Stefanie Dolson C 6-5 230 Minisink Valley High School, NY (Port Jervis, NY) Connecticut
14 Bria Hartley G 5-10 150 North Babylon High School, NY (North Babylon, NY) Connecticut
40 Kaneisha Horn F 6-1 180 Ramsay High School, AL (Birmingham, AL) Alabama
7 Natasha Howard F 6-4 150 Toledo Waite High School, OH (Toledo, OH) Florida State
3 Maggie Lucas G 5-9 145 Germantown Academy, PA (Narberth, PA) Penn State
21 Kayla McBride G 5-11 166 Villa Maria Academy, PA (Erie, PA) Notre Dame
23 Laurin Mincy G 6-0 140 University High School, NJ (Newark, NJ) Maryland
00 Jennifer O’Neill G 5-6 145 Saint Michael Academy, NY (Bronx, NY) Kentucky
33 Haley Peters F 6-3 160 Peddie School, NJ (Red Bank, NJ) Duke
5 Ronika Ransford G 5-8 130 H.D. Woodson Senior High School, DC (Washington, DC) Georgia
45 Samarie Walker F 6-1 195 Chaminade-Julienne High School, OH (West Carrollton, OH) Connecticut

West Team

No. Name Pos. Hgt. Wgt. High School, State (Hometown) College

5 Aaryn Ellenberg G 5-6 118 Bishop Gorman High School, NV (Las Vegas, NV) Oklahoma
34 Karla Gilbert F 6-5 208 A&M Consolidated High School, TX (College Station, TX) Texas A&M
3 Chelsea Gray G 5-11 165 Saint Mary’s High School, CA (Manteca, CA) Duke
15 Richa Jackson F 6-0 165 Midwest City High School, OK (Midwest City, OK) Duke
4 Afure Jemerigbe G 5-11 160 Saint Mary’s High School, CA (Stockton, CA) California
12 Tiffany Moore F 5-10 145 Frisco High School, TX (Frisco, TX) Texas
50 Chiney Ogwumike F 6-2 170 Cy-Fair High School, TX (Cypress, TX) Stanford
55 Theresa Plaisance C 6-5 180 Vandebilt Catholic High School, LA (Houma, LA) Louisiana State
33 Lindsay Sherbert F 6-1 155 Great Oak High School, CA (Temecula, CA) California
10 Meighan Simmons G 5-9 121 Byron P. Steele II High School, TX (Cibolo, TX) Tennessee
30 Odyssey Sims G 5-8 145 Irving MacArthur High School, TX (Irving, TX) Baylor
40 Madison Williams C 6-7 190 Detroit Country Day School, MI (Berkley, MI) Michigan State

Lookin' good.

Thursday news

The Southern Section high school playoffs are coming. Heck, all the high school playoffs are coming. There have been more senior nights this week than should be allowed. Seeding meetings will be this weekend and brackets will be posted soon afterward. WOO!

How many times has an Angie Bjorklund three-point shot saved the Lady Vols? She did it again tonight against Ole Miss. Only this time, she also became the 34th Vol to reach the 1000-point mark. Congrats, Bjork.

Someone broke the NCAA Division I record for blocked shots tonight, both career and single season. And it wasn't Brittney Griner.

A quick profile of the New York Liberty's Loree Moore and her wife.

Basketball star and Olympian Kara Lawson recently challenged the Binghamton University community to continue to affect the lives of young females through the power of sports. Gotta love K-Law.

Is winning so much killing UConn? Heck yeah.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A little college, a little pro

Indiana State has essentially fired coach Jim Wiedie by suspending him and not renewing his contract.

The main point of this story (Tulsa World is late in getting the news about Nolan) is at the bottom:

Unrestricted free agents Taj McWilliams and Nikki Teasley are not expected to join the team in Tulsa.

Teasley is expecting a baby and will not play this season. McWilliams could sign with another team.


Another baby? Really?

Le'coe Willingham explains her recent decision to leave the Phoenix Mercury and join the Seattle Storm.

Booyah for Fresno State. They're ballin' this year.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Rutgers suspends C. Vivian Stringer for a game

For misusing practice players. What does that mean?

LA Times profiles Reshanda "Too Tall" Gray

Give this young lady her due. She's overcome many challenges to become nationally-ranked among high school girls in her sport. In 2007-08, she was on Prep's JV team as a freshman. Last year on varsity, she blew up. It was the Dec. 12, 2008 game (chronicled on this blog) against Taft that told me and others in the crowd how much she had improved since the spring.

"If it weren't for basketball, I'd probably be dead or in jail," Gray says.

Instead, she is well on her way to earning a basketball scholarship.

Gray, who is 6 feet 3, averages 20 points and 15 rebounds for a Washington Prep team that is 19-10 overall and leads the Marine League with a record of 10-1 going into its final game of the regular season Friday evening at Banning. She also has a 3.4 grade-point average -- and a growing stack of letters from colleges across the country.


But this is the part that sticks out for me:

"I've worked with hundreds of kids," Dinneen says. "But there was something about her personality, her being happy all of the time through everything, that's made me take a special interest in her."

Too Tall is definitely an optimist, and it's what has made her a great player. Her former teammate at Prep, Mykiea Russell, shared with me in December that Too Tall wasn't very skilled when she first began playing ball.

"She didn't have a shot, and her footwork was all wrong," Russell said. "But she kept saying 'let's try it again.'"

Personally, I love young people who are beasts on the court but sweet off of it, and that is Reshanda Gray in a nutshell. It's one of the reasons I'm a Too Tall fan.

This part of the story also gives some insight as to why Prep was just able to capture the Marine League title, despite going up against teams with twice the amount of players they have:

She has formed sisterly bonds with her teammates, many of whom have endured similar pressures.

Their motto is "hold the rope."

"If one of us is falling off the cliff, we've got to hold the rope and hold each other up," Gray says.


Yup.

WBCA All-America game players chosen

The Women's Basketball Coaches Association has picked its top 20 senior to play in the All-America game this April:

(NAME
HIGH SCHOOL
HOMETOWN
SIGNED)

Lauren Avant
Lausanne Collegiate School
Memphis, Tenn.
Tennessee

Kristen Doherty
Sachem East High School
Holtsville, N.Y.
Boston College

Ariel Edwards
Christ the King Regional H.S.
Elmont, N.Y.
Penn State

Karla Gilbert
A&M Consolidated H.S.
College Station, Texas
Texas A&M

Chelsea Gray
Saint Mary’s High School
Manteca, Calif.
Duke

Cassie Harberts
San Clemente High School
San Clemente, Calif.
USC

Bria Hartley
North Babylon High School
North Babylon, N.Y.
UConn

Kaneisha Horn
Ramsay High School
Birmingham, Ala.
Alabama

Natasha Howard
Morrison R. Waite High School
Toledo, Ohio
Florida State

Richa Jackson
Midwest City High School
Midwest City, Okla.
Duke

Sara James
Oak Ridge High School
El Dorado Hills, Calif.
Stanford

Afure Jemerigbe
Saint Mary’s High School
Stockton, Calif.
California

Tiffany Moore
Frisco High School
Frisco, Texas
Texas

Chiney Ogwumike
Cy-Fair High School
Cypress, Texas
Stanford

Jennifer O’neill
Saint Michael Academy
Bronx, N.Y.
Kentucky

Shoni Schimmel
Franklin High School
Portland, Ore.
Undeclared

Lindsay Sherbert
Great Oak High School
Temecula, Calif.
California

Meighan Simmons
Byron P. Steele High School
Cibolo, Texas
Tennessee

Odyssey Sims
Irving MacArthur High School
Irving, Texas
Baylor

Samarie Walker
Chaminade-Julienne Catholic H.S.
West Carrollton, Ohio
UConn

Nolan, Smith not going to Tulsa; Penicheiro signs with Sparks

Deanna Nolan ain't goin to Tulsa. Probably won't even play in the WNBA this summer. Katie Smith isn't going either.

Her agent, Mike Cound, said it was "more or less correct" that Nolan's agreement in September to extend her contract was contingent on the franchise remaining in Detroit. Instead, an Oklahoma-based ownership group bought the team in October and moved it to Tulsa.

"Basically, Deanna is under no contractual obligation to compete for Tulsa or any other WNBA team at this time, nor is she under any obligation to comment on the topic," Cound wrote in an e-mail. "She is considering all alternatives and Tulsa and Coach Richardson will be the first to know anything she decides."


Ticha Penicheiro has officially signed with the Los Angeles Sparks.

Winston-Salem has fired coach Dee Stokes.

Monday, February 8, 2010

April Cook named Pac-10 Player of the Week

Following her 33-point blizzard in Saturday's game, Long Beach, CA native April Cook was named Pac-10 Player of the Week today. Cook is only the second Washington State Cougar to win the award in 13 years, and the first in four years. Pretty awesome.

Tennessee, Duke win

It was hard sitting at a high school game and getting text messages that the Vols were behind. But fortunately, they came from behind to beat Vanderbilt in Nashville tonight. Shekinna Stricklen called for a flagrant foul? I can't believe it.

I don't know which I'm more disgusted with: Duke winning or North Carolina sucking again.

Narbonne 53, Carson 47

The City Section's Marine League title belongs to Washington Prep High School for the second year in a row, courtesy of the Narbonne Gauchos. 'Bonne's ability to hold off the surging Carson Colts in their last regular season meeting tonight means Prep won't have to share the title, due to the win-loss split between the three teams.

While Prep had beaten Narbonne both times the teams met this season, the Generals split with Carson, winning the first game and losing the second. Carson beat Narbonne Jan. 20 with a shot at the buzzer. If they had defeated the Gauchos again tonight in their second meeting, the Colts would have shared the league title with Prep.

Tonight's matchup was two shades short of fugly. Both teams committed turnover after turnover and foul after foul. Bad passes, throwing up garbage shots. But it was because both teams wanted the win so badly. They were gunning for each other, and it was because of the fierce presses of both teams that they disrupted play for one another and caused havoc.

Narbonne took a small lead in the first quarter and maintained it, ending the period ahead 14-9. In the second quarter, Carson stepped it up. A Janitha Iamaleava long shot at 3:56 tied the score at 18. After that the game became a foul and turnover fest for a while, and then Narbonne pulled it together and made a couple intelligent plays. They lead 26-20 at the half.

The third quarter began sloppily, and to provide an example of how excruciating the errors were, the score was 28-21 at the 3:33 mark (that's a total of three points scored in four and a half minutes). But then something happened, and both teams began actually scoring. It was 37-27 at the end of three.

Gaucho Tailer Butler began the fourth by unleashing a three - one of maybe four on the evening. But the Colt clawed back, forcing turnovers and actually finishing some shots. Back-to-back buckets put them within one - 40-39 at the 4:55 mark. Both teams then traded baskets for the remainder of the game, and both teams missed a hell of a lot of free throws. Butler scored big for her team at the 2:30 mark, and then teammate Tashawn McGhee did the same thing on the next possession. But it was Butler's steal from Iamaleava right after that which seemed to seal the game, because she scored, putting 'Bonne up 50-44. Carson got as close as 51-47 with 26 seconds left, after two free throws, but they couldn't hold on.

Iamaleava and Butler are the big-time players for their teams, and it showed. Butler had four or five three-point shots, and Iamaleava was big under the basket before fouling out late in the fourth quarter. Props to both of them.

I give mad daps to Washington Prep, too. They have nine girls on their roster, and only seven usually suit up. They lost two starters and their main bench player coming into this year, and no one thought they'd do anything. But here they are again, Marine League champs.

Congrats to all three teams. Prep, Narbonne and Carson have made the Marine League one of the city's most entertaining for years.



Carson's star, junior Janitha Iamaleava (#32, blue uniform) tried to drive by Narbonne's star, junior Tailer Butler (#3, white uniform) in the first quarter.



Ball movement was difficult and fouls were frequent because both teams were pressing the hell out of each other until the final buzzer.



Annie Currie tried to block Butler's shot in the second quarter.



Iamaleava drives in the third quarter. She was fouled and went to the line.



Butler gets ready for Carson's offense.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Appel breaks record; Tennessee ready for Vanderbilt

Stanford whooped on USC today, and the Trojans followed UCLA and Cal's lead by breaking a 10-year record for lowest scoring in a half. But a couple good things happened out of the game:

1. Center Jayne Appel became Stanford's leading rebounder with 1153, breaking Nicole Powell's record.

2. Jacki Gemelos continued her comeback, and was the leading scorer for USC, with 13.

At Tennessee, freshman Taber Spani talks about how she couldn't stand to sit out this past week. "It killed me emotionally and stuff,'' Spani said.

In the meantime, Coach Pat Summitt is preparing for tomorrow's matchup against archrival Vanderbilt by reminding the team of how they messed it up last year.

"You know it might come (up),'' guard Angie Bjorklund said.

Count on it, said UT coach Pat Summitt.

"Oh, we'll remind them,'' she said. "We'll remind them."

Brea Olinda 42, Troy 37

Box Score

Troy 11 - 11 - 10 - 5 = 37
Brea 6 - 11 - 13 - 12 = 42

Troy opened up a 9-2 first quarter lead last night, and Brea didn't get their second basket until the last minute of the quarter. Both teams exchanged baskets in the second, with Troy keeping their five-point lead going into the break.

The third quarter saw more basket exchanging, and Brea took their second lead of the game (the first was at 2-1) with a 30-29 lead, only to have Troy hit a three-pointer in the last seconds to lead 32-30 after three periods.

The game was tied at 34-34 in the fourth quarter when Kelsey Harris scored for Brea to make it 36-34. With 1:16 left, the Ladycats caught Troy napping off a timeout, and Alexis Perry caught a bomb pass for an easy basket to make it 38-34. The next time Brea inbounded under their basket, after a Troy turnover, Brea threw a long pass to Keitra Wallace, who also scored on an easy layup to make it 40-34. Some free throws for Troy made it 40-37. Brea almost got caught with a five-second count on the inbound play, but Alex Sanchez of Troy knocked the ball out of Harris' hand before she inbounded, which was a technical foul. Two made free throws for Harris with a second remaining made the final 42-37.

There was not much inbound pressing by either team. Troy seemed to use a lot of the 30-second clock to get off shots, partly due to Brea's good defense. Jeanier Olukemi was dressed but never got in the game for the Ladycats. I did not see Justine Hartman on the Brea sidelines. The gym was crowded, as Troy had a lot of support from the student body, and Brea had its usual big crowd. Brea Coach Jeff Sink got in the face of two girls after pulling them for mistakes. Perry and Wallace were the stars for Brea and I thought Johnson was Troy's best player.

- IM in OC

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A bit of "say what"?

Item 1:

One of the UCLA assistant coaches twittered right after the victory this afternoon that the game against Cal was one of the ugliest ever seen, but they won. I saw the score, 44-32, and thought I understood. But it wasn't until I read about it that I really got it. The Bruins held the Bears to eight points in the first half.

The Bruins missed their first 12 field goals of the game before Dixon finally hit a jumper at 9:20. The tables turned for Cal, however, as the Golden Bears did not score for the final 11 minutes of the half, allowing UCLA to not only get back into the game, but take the lead. The Bruins used a 14-0 run to end the half with a 14-8 lead. Nina Earl had seven of the Bruins' 14 points in the scoring run. The Golden Bears shot a paltry 8.7% (2-for-23) from the field in the half. UCLA did not fare much better, shooting 20% on 5-for-25 shooting.....

The two teams set a UCLA record for fewest points scored by both teams in a game with 76. The previous record was 85 in a 49-36 loss to USC on Feb. 17, 2008. Cal's 32 points in the game was the fewest by a Bruin opponent since UC Santa Barbara scored 31 on Dec. 15, 1984. UCLA's 44 points were the least ever by a Bruin squad in a winning effort.

Yikes. I'm glad I wasn't there.

Item 2:

Tonight at Baylor, they honored the parents of the players before their game. Here is freshman Brittany Griner with her mom and dad. So where the heck did 6'8" come from?

Extra: this is the 1000th post of Hoopism(!).

Long Beach Poly 56, Whitney Young 49

It was a bit of a letdown, this hyped-up game.

From jump, the Whitney Young Dolphins of Chicago looked anything but the seventh-ranked team that they currently are. Poly scored nine points in the first two minutes - twice on back-door plays. When Young called a timeout at the six-minute mark, the tone of the first half had been set. The Dolphins finally put up some points a short time later, but the Jackrabbits answered every time. It was 17-12 Poly at the end of the first.

Poly began the second quarter on a rampage, with sophomore guard Destiny King's drive for the layup. A Young turnover later, it was a fancy three-pass play for the score that made the Long Beach crowd yell. Junior guard Ariyah Crook-Williams was on fire in general, and especially with three-point shots. The Jackrabbits were literally running circles around Young, and they lead 31-17 at halftime.

At 5:16 to go in the third, senior forward Alexis Lloyd's bucket seemed to ignite her team, and the Dolphins began chipping away at their opponent's lead. Poly was ahead 35-23 at the 2:52 mark when Young Coach Corry Irvin was whistled for a technical foul when she protested a charge call on one of her players. Usually coaches step back when they're T'd up, but Irvin stepped to the ref and got in her face. I thought that was pretty gutsy. Poly Coach Carl Buggs went over to Irvin and talked to her for a moment. I'm betting he was explaining the California rule that when a coach is assessed a technical, she/he has to sit down for the rest of the game.

The tech seemed to fuel Young on. They began their run then, and continued it into the fourth quarter. They began playing defense, and limited Poly's scoring. The Jackrabbits had lead 46-31 going into the last period, but by the 4:47 mark, their lead was only 46-40. Young got as close as five points, with the score 48-43 with 2:41 to go. But a couple of turnovers and a Crook-Williams three was enough gas to propel Poly to the win.

I have no doubt Young had a bad game and played below their potential tonight. I saw flashes of brilliance in the fourth quarter with the trapping and defensive sliding, and with their speed. They are, after all, a relatively short team. But I just wish they would have brought their A-game from the get-go, so it could have really been a game. I keep wondering if they'd started out in a zone instead of man, if that would have made the difference. But they never even tried the zone.



Whitney Young warms up for the game......



.....as does Long Beach Poly



The lighting at the Poly gym was even worse than the lights at Ayala, which is hard to believe. But the Jackrabbit's Destiny King (#34) was big for her team tonight, seen here getting an offensive rebound in the first quarter.



Poly's Ariyah Crook-Williams (#3) was also big tonight, seen here sliding after she drove and threw up a shot in the second quarter.



C-W was always ready for the pass.....



.....and played great D. But her shooting was ridiculously good.



It finally goes in: Young was hot, hot, hot in the second half. If they had played like that the whole game, things might have turned out differently.

Washington State finally wins one! And it's over Arizona State!

Big big win for the Cougars just seconds ago. The score was WSU 66, ASU 62. Check out the play by play....that would have been so much fun to be there!

April Cook, a 2008 graduate of Long Beach Poly, stepped up big today with 33 points.

Hoopfeed says this is the first time the Cougars have beat the Wildcats in 13 long years. Really? 1997? Wow.

It's all in how you look at it, + Kendall Hackney

To say this story - about a Washington state ball player who had her foot amputated so she could still play the game - is inspirational, is the biggest understatement that could be made. I'm floored by her attitude.

Miss Ohio Basketball 2009 is having much success and happiness at Northwestern University, where she's a shooting star.

Friday, February 5, 2010

A little West coast post

So I guess in their game last night, Stanford center Jayne Appel was called for a flagrant foul on UCLA's Jasmine Dixon, and ejected from the game. The Pac-10 reviewed the tape and decided not to suspend Appel, who was so upset at the thought that she was about to cry. Wow.

I'm wondering how the University of Oregon can get away with calling their page Full Court Press, when there's a website by that name. But they let junior Kristi Fallin blog about the Ducks' upcoming battle with Oregon State, and that makes me happy. Because coaches sure aren't giving the former junior college superstar many minutes.

And "Wynn-Wynn situation" nicely covers the coaching situation at Long Beach State.

Mater Dei 71, Whitney Young 58

I've been hoovering on the SoCal hoops board for the last 20 minutes, when the Mater Dei-Whitney Young matchup at the Nike Extravaganza would have been over. Three minutes ago someone posted that Mater Dei prevailed, 71-58. No surprises there, but too bad it wasn't a close game.

Story with video.

This was Young's first loss of the season. They're now 22-1.

Too bad neither the Young or Mater Dei coaches feel the need to post stats for their players on maxpreps. That's my biggest pet peeve with high school coaches. Not putting up your player's stats is unconscionable.

Tomorrow, Young travels to Long Beach Poly for a 6:30 showdown.