Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Meighan Simmons takes McDonald's All-American player of the game honor

Tennesee fans can take heart, as signee Meighan Simmons busted 21 points in 14 minutes in today's Micky D's All-American matchup, and she was also named player of the game.

West won 84-75, but it wasn't always that close. The East was down by 22 points before going on a run late in the game. They came as close as six points with less than a minute to go, but the West held on to win:

Chiney Ogwumike, headed for Stanford, had 14 points and Duke's Richa Jackson added 12 points for the West, which built a big early lead and then hung on as the East mounted a furious comeback.

Natasha Howard, who will play at Florida State this fall, was the East MVP with 20 points, while future Connecticut teammates Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson had 17 and 12, respectively.

Post-season and "wait til next year" stuff

The jets have barely cooled on their sneakers and the Kentucky women are saying they'll be even better next year. That's a scary thought.

Holy last-four-tenths-of-a-second loss, Batman: Xavier's Amber Harris will be back next year despite the fact that she's about to graduate. She's smart; how many times will she get to just play basketball for a year.

A North Carolina publication admits that NC State Coach Kellie Jolly Harper "is the real deal."

Purdue is going to try and bounce back from their first losing season in 25 years.

Could San Diego State University's Jene Morris be a WNBA draft prospect?

Tonight in the first WNIT semifinal, Miami beat Michigan 76-59. Tomorrow Cal plays Illinois in the other semi. The championship game is Saturday at 5:05 PDT/8:05 EDT. The Cal women hope the momentum from this run will carry over into next year.

Pondexter and Dupree wanted to be traded

Swish Appeal has the dirt on this week's Mercury-Liberty-Sky trade: Cappie Pondexter and Candice Dupree wanted to be moved.

Kelsey Bone leaving South Carolina

The heralded freshman who took so long to decide where she was going last year is transferring from South Carolina. Kelsey Bone won't say where she's going, but if Coach Dawn Staley has her way, it won't be anywhere near her:

However, Bone went to Staley about two weeks ago with her desire to leave. Staley said the players and coaches did what they could to change her mind, and Bone even was seen helping host a South Carolina prospect last Saturday at a football scrimmage.

Bone would not be dissuaded. The player said through team spokeswoman Diana Koval she did not wish to make a statement or comment on her status.

"She was steady on thinking that another place was the best for her," Staley said.

Bone is expected to remain in school through the semester, then decide where to go. Staley persuaded Bone to join the Gamecocks, who were 10-18 and just 2-12 in the SEC in 2008-09, over recruiting efforts by home-state programs Texas and Texas A&M.

South Carolina improved to 14-15 and 7-9 in league play with Bone.

Staley said flatly she would not release Bone to play at another SEC school. She would evaluate any other school that Bone brings her way before signing off, Staley said.

It is the first major off-court setback for Staley's two-year-old program.


I remember last fall before the season started, and Bone and Staley went back and forth on twitter non-stop with seemingly good-natured bantering. But that eventually stopped.

Where could Bone be headed? It better not be Baylor, aka the transfer acceptance school.

And then there were four

This year's Final Four rings familiar, ESPN's Mechelle Voepel says.

I agree with her that Oklahoma's run to the Final Four again this year was improbable considering the loss of the Paris twins. I'll add that Baylor will likely be in the Final Four until at least 2014.

Will Baylor take down UConn? Naw, but hopefully Brittney Griner can scare the hell out of them.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

McDonald's All-American game tomorrow

It promises to be a great event, as usual. Too bad nobody on the west coast is going to be able to watch it, as it begins at 2:30 p.m. PDT.

Liberty-Mercury-Sky trade finalized

Say what?

NEW YORK, NY (March 30, 2010) – The New York Liberty has acquired All-Star guard Cappie Pondexter and guard Kelly Mazzante from the Phoenix Mercury as part of a three-team trade, it was announced today by Liberty president and general manager Carol Blazejowski. The Liberty sent forwards Shameka Christon and Cathrine Kraayeveld to the Chicago Sky, in exchange New York receives Chicago’s 2010 2nd round draft pick (#16). As part of the deal, Chicago sends forward Candice Dupree to Phoenix.

So all Phoenix gets is Candice Dupree, huh. I still wonder what initiated this whole thing in the first place.

Pondexter and Mazzante will be back on the east coast, which could be good for crowds. The others, I'm not sure.

Bonus: Tulsa Shock jerseys will be unveiled tomorrow.

All-American teams announced

The Associated Press has announced it's All-American team:

Maya Moore
Tina Charles
Kelsey Griffin
Monica Wright
Jantel Lavender

All five of those players are among the candidates for the State Farm Wade Trophy, which will be announced Satuday.

40 finalists are also in the running for the 10-member WBCA Coaches All-American team.

Southern Section All-CIF teams

I'm putting up all the lists, because these girls have worked so hard. Congratulations to all. Link.

ALL CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION / SCIBCA
2009-2010 GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM* DIVISION 1AA
(Released March 29, 2010 & Presented by the LA84 Foundation)
Player of the Year –Sheila Boykin, Long Beach Poly (11)
Coach of the Year – Carl Buggs, Long Beach Poly

FIRST TEAM
PLAYER GRADE SCHOOL
Ariya Crook-Williams 11 Long Beach Poly
Brittany Wilson 12 Long Beach Poly
Alex Sanchez 12 Troy
Cassie Harberts 12 San Clemente
Lindsay Sherbert 12 Great Oak
Jasmine Lister 12 Santiago/Corona
Teonna Campbell 12 Colony
Tyonna Outland 12 Lynwood
Jada Blackwell 11 Etiwanda
Danesha Long 12 Jordan

SECOND TEAM
PLAYER GRADE SCHOOL
Ta’Nitra Byrd 12 Long Beach Poly
Janae Sharp 11 Rialto
Cinnamon Lister 12 Santiago/Corona
Gabriella Hanson 09 Troy
Madalene Barrett 11 Troy
Cebrina Johnson 12 Santiago/Corona
Amelia Patterson 12 Millikan
Jasmine Bernard 12 Etiwanda
Kori Walker 11 Cajon
Danielle Rodriguez 11 Warren

ALL CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION / SCIBCA
2009-2010 GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM* DIVISION 1A
(Released March 29, 2010 & Presented by the LA84 Foundation)
Player of the Year –Thea Lemberger, Santa Monica (12)
Coach of the Year – Marty Verdugo, Santa Monica

FIRST TEAM
PLAYER GRADE SCHOOL
Moriah Faulk 11 Santa Monica
Adrianne Thomas 12 Summit
Amber Smith 12 Canyon Springs
Jillian Alleyne 10 Ayala
Kristina Johnson 11 Santa Monica
Ana Brodie 10 Summit
Tear’a Laudermill 11 Canyon Springs
Krishawn Tillett 12 Ayala
Briana Baker 11 Rancho Cucamonga
Cassie Pappas 12 Crescenta Valley

SECOND TEAM
PLAYER GRADE SCHOOL
Jasmine Rutledge 12 Mira Costa
Ericka Norman 12 Chino Hills
Ashley Weissman 10 Summit
Sophia Ederaine 11 Canyon Springs
Ariel Marsh 12 Ayala
Taera Cunnigan 11 Chaparral
Erica Evans 10 Rancho Cucamonga
Lauren Shute 12 Dana Hills
Jordyn Priestly 12 Mira Costa
Casey Zinn 11 Chino Hills

ALL CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION / SCIBCA
2009-2010 GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM* DIVISION 2AA
(Released March 29, 2010 & Presented by the LA84 Foundation)
Player of the Year – Kelsey Harris, Brea Olinda (12)
Coaches of the Year – Jeff Sink, Brea Olinda & Ann Larson, Ventura

FIRST TEAM
PLAYER GRADE SCHOOL
Alexis Perry 11 Brea Olinda
Keitra Wallace 10 Brea Olinda
Brianna Salvatore 12 Villa Park
Nicole Ballestero 12 Villa Park
Maddie Fahan 12 Ventura
Amy Pupa 12 Ventura
Brooke Lemar 12 Canyon/Canyon Country
Desiree Hunter 12 Magnolia
Bonnie Samuelson 11 Edison
Aunjanay Chambers 12 Valencia/Placentia

SECOND TEAM
PLAYER GRADE SCHOOL
Karlie Samuelson 9 Edison
Destinee LaFountain 12 Royal
Jeanier Olukemi 10 Brea Olinda
Shomari McCorkle 12 Villa Park
Mackenzie Harnett 11 Sunny Hills
Jashae Lee 11 Sultana
Paulina Solis 11 Foothill
Loren Gurrola 12 Whittier
Kelsey Minato 10 Huntington Beach
Alexandra Coleman-Thomas 12 El Dorado

ALL CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION / SCIBCA
2009-2010 GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM* DIVISION 2A
(Released March 29, 2010 & Presented by the LA84 Foundation)
Player of the Year – Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Mater Dei (11)
Coaches of the Year – Eric Bangs, Woddbridge

FIRST TEAM
PLAYER GRADE SCHOOL
Jordan Adams 10 Mater Dei
Jessica Duarte 11 Mater Dei
Ashley Ward 12 Woodbridge
Miranda Abdul-Mansour 12 Beverly Hills
Erika Williams 10 Diamond Ranch
Deanna Johnson 10 Norco
Lauren Engeln 12 Laguna Hills
Christiana Salvatore 10 Canyon/Anaheim
Chidiogo Ofoegbu 12 Mayfair
Kelsie Sampson 12 South Torrance

SECOND TEAM
PLAYER GRADE SCHOOL
Sara McCutchan 12 Woodbridge
Erica Greer 12 Diamond Ranch
Chelsea Austin 11 Beverly Hills
Cwynnci Lobaugh 11 Norco
Jasmine Polk 11 Newbury Park
Shawlina Segovia 12 JW North
Leah Crier 12 Rio Mesa
Savannah Erskine 12 Culver City
Jasmine Ray 12 San Bernardino
Shannon Smith 12 Segerstrom

ALL CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION / SCIBCA
2009-2010 GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM* DIVISION 3AA
(Released March 29, 2010 & Presented by the LA84 Foundation)
Player of the Year – Hazel Ramirez, Inglewood (12)
Coach of the Year – Steve Scifres, Agoura

FIRST TEAM
PLAYER GRADE SCHOOL
Keani Albanez 11 Buena
Ashley Carter 12 Arlington
Kylie Cunningham 10 Agoura
Kelly Kika 12 North Torrance
Larissa Loera 12 Jurupa Valley
Brittany Oster 12 Agoura
Deajanae Scurry 11 Inglewood
Kenya Thomas 11 Sonora
Noelni Tuiasoa 12 Inglewood
Arielle Wideman 12 Bishop Amat

SECOND TEAM
PLAYER GRADE SCHOOL
Kristen Dresser 12 North Torrance
Janelle Flores 12 Palm Springs
April Fultz 12 Eisenhower
Leticia Galarza 11 Bishop Amat
Kristy Kanemoto 12 Cerritos
Haley Mac Donald 11 Arroyo Grande
Bridgitte Madrigal 12 Godinez
Camile Mahlkenecht 11 Agoura
Kacie Sowell 12 Buena
Lauren Ulrich 11 Sonora

ALL CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION / SCIBCA
2009-2010 GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM* DIVISION 3A
(Released March 29, 2010 & Presented by the LA84 Foundation)
Players of the Year – Taylor Gomez, Muir (12) & Melissa Zornig, Santa Margarita (12)
Coach of the Year –Matt Hauser, Santa Margarita

FIRST TEAM
PLAYER GRADE SCHOOL
Elise Lorenz 12 Santa Margarita
Nisha Barrett 12 Barstow
Taylor Anderson 11 Bonita
Symone Brown 11 Gahr
Kelsey Brockway 10 Palos Verdes
Kristan Liddle 12 Irvine
Melinda Gomez 12 South Hills
Daysha Thomas 12 Muir
Madison McKenney 12 Santa Margarita
Madison Zylstra 11 Bonita

SECOND TEAM
PLAYER GRADE SCHOOL
Tabitha Vigen 11 Yucca Valley
Crystal Avila 12 Sierra Vista
Eboni Jacobs 11 Citrus Hill
Jessica Thawley 10 Irvine
Rebecca Griffin 12 Santa Barbara
Naijah Calhoun 12 Wilson/HH
Victoria Yutronich 10 Palos Verdes
Kerah Natividad 12 Citrus Hill
Tessa Emerson 11 Santa Barbara
Cherrelle Green 12 Barstow

ALL CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION / SCIBCA
2009-2010 GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM* DIVISION 4AA
(Released March 29, 2010 & Presented by the LA84 Foundation)
Players of the Year – Nicole Nesbit, Harvard-Westlake (12) & Nicole Hung, Harvard-Westlake (12)
Coach of the Year – Melissa Hearlihy, Harvard-Westlake

FIRST TEAM
PLAYER GRADE SCHOOL
Kristen Ale 11 Bishop Montgomery
Devon Brookshire 10 Bishop Montgomery
Kody Burke 12 Notre Dame/Sherman Oaks
Tia Chen 12 La CaƱada
Sydney Hadel 12 Harvard-Westlake
Natalie Luzar 11 Orange Lutheran
Keiona Mathews 10 Antelope Valley
Angelica Sahagon 12 Alemany
Raven Taylor 12 Atascadero
Lauren Varney 12 Oak Park

SECOND TEAM
PLAYER GRADE SCHOOL
Chelsey Aaron 11 Bishop Montgomery
Jazlyn Fuller 12 Centennial/Compton
Kellie Grenier 12 Rosary
Brett Hall 12 Oak Park
Krissy Karr 11 Orange Lutheran
Destini Price 10 Antelope Valley
Tesha Stokes 12 Morningside
Anna Tarakchian 10 Chaminade
Trinidee Trice 12 Alemany
Skylar Tsutsui 11 Harvard-Westlake

ALL CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION / SCIBCA
2009-2010 GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM* DIVISION 4A
(Released March 29, 2010 & Presented by the LA84 Foundation)
Player of the Year- Alyson Beebe, St Joseph/Santa Maria (10)
Coaches of the Year – Joe Torres, St. Joseph/Santa Maria & Steve Smith, Windward

FIRST TEAM
PLAYER GRADE SCHOOL
Kelsi English 11 St. Joseph/Santa Maria
Imani Stafford 10 Windward
Margeaux Gupilan 12 Bell-Jeff
Katie Brooks 12 Oaks Christian
Michelle Low 12 Marymount
Victoria Wells 11 Sierra Canyon
Erin Butler 11 JSerra
Courtney Jaco 9 Windward
Layana White 11 Bell-Jeff
Brianna Barrett 10 Oaks Christian

SECOND TEAM
PLAYER GRADE SCHOOL
Analise Riezebos 12 St Joseph/Santa Maria
Mian Dingle 11 Maranatha
Milica Toskovic 11 Windward
Irie Engesser 12 Twentynine Palms
Jasmine Sneed 11 Sierra Canyon
Jasmine Smith 10 Bell-Jeff
Kimi Takoaka 12 La Salle
Monet McNaly 10 Los Angeles Baptist
Megan Hansen 11 Morro Bay
Allie Ivar 11 JSerra

ALL CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION / SCIBCA
2009-2010 GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM* DIVISION 5AA
(Released March 29, 2010 & Presented by the LA84 Foundation)
Player of the Year – Talia Rayford, Serra (12)
Coach of the Year – Katie Hardeman, Valley Christian/Cerritos

FIRST TEAM
PLAYER GRADE SCHOOL
Bria Richardson 11 Serra
Raven Gammage 12 Serra
Kari Korver 10 Valley Christian/Cerritos
Taylor Cotton 12 Valley Christian/Cerritos
Laura Kobashagawa 12 Brentwood
Crystal Goodwin 12 Brentwood
Andrina Rendon 12 St. Paul
Angelea Van Skye 12 St. Paul
Megan Mushashi 12 Flintridge Prep
Lauren Holiday 10 Campbell Hall

SECOND TEAM
PLAYER GRADE SCHOOL
Magali Garcia 12 St. Matthias
Jordan Santiago 11 Cantwell Sacred Heart
Hailey Lozano 12 St. Bonaventure
Christine Pascua 12 Notre Dame/Riverside
Cory Laguardia 11 St. Monica Catholic
Kimberly Hakim 12 Milken Community
Sharon Woo 12 Westridge
Christine Mallari 12 Providence
Keiana Vines 11 Santa Clara
Danielle Dirksen 11 Ontario Christian

ALL CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION / SCIBCA
2009-2010 GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM* DIVISION 5A
(Released March 29, 2010 & Presented by the LA84 Foundation)
Player of the Year – Michelle Miller, Pasadena Poly (10)
Coach of the Year – Bob Webb, Montclair Prep

FIRST TEAM
PLAYER GRADE SCHOOL
Chantel Dooley 12 Montclair Prep
Kimberly Scamman 11 Montclair Prep
Kendal Cooper 09 St. Anthony
Rina Towne 12 St. Anthony
Haley Bush 11 Chadwick
Lindsay Schapiro 12 Buckley
Kayla Moritsky 12 St. Margaret’s
Jazmine McDuffy 12 Mojave
Hannah Kolbeck 11 Villanova Prep
Ramiah Rhay 12 Desert

SECOND TEAM
PLAYER GRADE SCHOOL
Alex Taylor 11 Montclair Prep
Claire Hosinsky 12 St. Margaret’s
Jennifer Dupper 11 Mesa Grande Academy
Stacey Helfer 12 Brethren Christian
Erin Fuklushima 12 Buckley
Ashlie Adams 11 Saddleback Valley Christian
Airiss Finley 11 Chadwick
Kristy Ness 12 Linfield Christian
Stevie Goldstein 12 Aquinas
Talor Hixon 12 St. Anthony
ALL CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION / SCIBCA
2009-2010 GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM* DIVISION 6AA
(Released March 29, 2010 & Presented by the LA84 Foundation)
Player of the Year – Destini French, St. Bernard (11)
Coach of the Year – Debbie Haliday, Hillcrest Christian/Granada Hills

FIRST TEAM
PLAYER GRADE SCHOOL
Angelica Laury 11 St. Bernard
Brittany Espinoza 12 Hillcrest Christian/Granada Hills
Christine Corcoran 12 Hillcrest Christian/Granada Hills
Rita Bali 12 Holy Martyrs
Raechelle Davis 12 Orangewood Academy
Elizabeth Cook 12 Avalon
Nicole Tweedy 11 Lone Pine
Amanda Schulenberg 11 Laguna Beach
Breanna McCloud 12 Hesperia Christian
Katrina Hager 12 Pacifica Christian

SECOND TEAM
PLAYER GRADE SCHOOL
Gabrielle Adoh 10 St. Bernard
Sarin Keosian 11 Holy Martyrs
Jackie Quintero 12 Desert Christian/Bermuda Dunes
Kiara Gamble 12 Desert Christian/Bermuda Dunes
Chelsea Parker 11 Rio Hondo Prep
Kristina Beck 12 Highland Hall
Cassie Morris 10 Victor Valley Christian
Bree Hankins 11 Baptist Christian
Jareni Nunez 10 Orangewood Academy
Paris Wagner 12 Hillcrest Christian/Granada Hills

ALL CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION / SCIBCA
2009-2010 GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM* DIVISION 6A
(Released March 29, 2010 & Presented by the LA84 Foundation)
Co-Players of the Year – Brianna Feld, North County Christian (10)
Coach of the Year – Lincoln Dial, Calvary Baptist

FIRST TEAM
PLAYER GRADE SCHOOL
Sammy Roupe 12 West Valley Christian
Lara Richmond 12 Apple Valley Christian
Una Hertzog 12 Valley Christian/Santa Maria
Eva Dondero-Gonzalez 12 Lee Vining
Maya MacHier 11 Lake Arrowhead Christian
Cristy Scarson 10 North County Christian
Priscilla Lopez 10 Bethel Baptist
Casabdra Haro 10 Calvary Baptist
Allison Dial 09 Calvary Baptist
Nanor Babian 09 AGBU/Pasadena

SECOND TEAM
PLAYER GRADE SCHOOL
Kelsey Paulus 12 North County Christian
Melissa Graham 12 Immanuel Christian
Hayley Hughes 12 Joshua Springs
Rita Batarse 12 Bethel Baptist
Madeleine Kanazawa 11 Pilgrim
Julia Giacopuzzi 11 Lake Arrowhead Christian
Talin Manoukian 10 AGBU-Pasadena
Summer House 09 West Valley Christian
Lauren Franklin 09 Calvary Baptist
Danielle Rogers 09 Immanuel Christian

Three-way WNBA team trade

So let me get this right: The Mercury's Cappie Pondexter is going to the New York Liberty in exchange for Shameka Christon and Cathrine Kraayeveld. Then Phoenix will turn around and trade those two to Chicago for Candice Dupree?

Who thought this up? And why would Pondexter want to leave, if rumors are true that she asked for a trade?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Defibrillator March Madness

What to say after not one but two buzzer-beaters propelled Baylor and Stanford, respectively, to the Final Four?

On a night when Baylor freshman sensation Brittney Griner set an NCAA Tournament record for blocks?

When Xavier senior Dee Dee Jernigan missed two wide open layups and ended her career doing 'the crawl' across the court?

1. This great tournament might make up for the fact that the championship game will likely be one-sided again.

2. Brittney Griner is one player who has truly lived up to every bit of the hype she got before coming to college. Any doubts I had about her have all been removed. Barring injury, she could be one of the greatest of all time when her career is over.

3. I was texting throughout the game with a fantastic high school basketball coach that I know. His comment after the Stanford-Xavier game was: "If you can't make a wide open layup under the basket, you don't deserve to go to the Final Four." Perhaps he's right.

4. Is Stanford not really all that after all? I thought they were the only ones that would seriously challenge UConn.

5. I'm so pleased to be wrong about Duke making the Final Four. And I wonder about Baylor's next three years with Griner. It's scary to contemplate.

6. These kind of games are hard on the system, but they're the reason the term "March Madness" came about in the first place. Great stuff.

7. Will Kentucky-Oklahoma take it to the wire too?

So much college news

Louisiana Tech's Teresa Weatherspoon has been named the Maggie Dixon Division I Rookie Coach of the Year by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association. You can't argue with that choice.

It's official: Anne Donovan is the new Seaton Hall coach. She'll "remain on the sidelines" for the New York Liberty this summer - whatever that means.

At San Diego State, success doesn't necessarily mean job security for Coach Beth Burns. I'd like to go on record saying that if SDSU gets rid of Burns after the last two years, they're DUMB.

One news source says it's Baylor Coach Kim Mulkey that's behind the rise of her team, over-the-top style and all.

Despite Nebraska's loss, Kelsey Griffin is going out as a class act.

Stanford Coach Tara VanDerveer is funny - you just didn't know it.

And follow the stats of your collegiate WNBA draft picks here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

New job for Anne Donovan

Looks like the New York Liberty's heir apparent coach will take a job at Seton Hall instead. That sure came out of the blue.

Another number one seed bites the dust

The game has been over for several minutes, but I'm still sitting here in disbelief that Kentucky just beat Nebraska. What? Because they didn't just beat them - they disassembled them. I look forward to reading about what happened, because I can't imagine what it is.

It was a different story with the Oklahoma-Notre Dame game, as the Sooners went to overtime. It still took a Nyeshia Stevenson three-pointer to give them the win, 77-72.

So here's the bracket. I'd like to meet the one person who might have picked these eight teams. The schedule:

Monday at 4 p.m. PDT/7 p.m. EDT it's Baylor and Duke. Then at 6 p.m./9 p.m. Stanford and Xavier face off.

I'll have to pick Duke and Stanford in the win column.

Tuesday, at times not yet announced, it'll be Connecticut vs. Florida State and Oklahoma vs. Kentucky.

I'll pick Connecticut and Oklahoma for those two games, although Kentucky may surprise.

I don't think I'll even watch the Final Four. Excluding Oklahoma and Kentucky, it's all my least favorite NCAA teams. Why bother.

ESPN highlights California state championships

Lest there be no doubt about how much basketball talent lies in California, ESPN has two stories on the state championships. This one is ostensibly about Stockton St. Mary's annihilation of Bishop Amat, but about half of it is about the Mater Dei-Carondelet game. This piece really is about Mater Dei, and has some choice bits:

"I've been coaching for 20 years and this is the toughest year I've ever had, and I think my assistants will back me up on that," Mater Dei coach Kevin Kiernan said. "We've been through a lot of stuff this year -- adversity, self-inflicted stuff, drama, you name it we had it."

Despite the drama, injuries and subtractions the team still won. The team's lone loss on the season came on January 18, to archrival Brea Olinda, a defeat the Monarchs avenged in the sectional championship game for the trip to state.

It likely was another huge hit of adversity that pulled the Monarchs together. On Feb. 25, Mater Dei senior Brianne Matthews committed suicide, shocking her family and the entire Mater Dei community. Matthews was a star softball player at Mater Dei who had a scholarship lined up to the University of Arizona.

"I think the passing of Brianne Matthews was a pivotal point because the girls kind of rallied around that and they came together in their grief. They needed each other," Kiernan said. "It really had nothing to do with basketball, just as a Mater Dei student and a friend of Brianne Matthews they came together and I think they learned that there's some things in life not worth worrying about. There's a bigger picture out there and I think they enjoy each other much more now.


It says much that the players could come together over the death of an athlete from another sport.

More here from the LA Times, including a sad picture, on Long Beach Poly's loss to Oak Ridge.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Coach C and WNIT

Nikki Caldwell's got a new off-season job:

UCLA women's basketball coach Nikki Caldwell, who led the Bruins to a 25-9 record and the second round of the NCAA Tournament, will take her talents to television on Sunday.

The personable Caldwell will serve as an in-studio analyst on CBS2's NCAA Post-Game Sports Central Show, joining anchors Jim Hill and Steve Hartman and Cal State Northridge men's coach Bobby Braswell.

The show is scheduled to air live following CBS' NCAA doubleheader coverage of the Regional Finals - approximately 4:00 pm PT.


Cal is the first team to earn a WNIT semifinal berth in the wake of their win tonight over BYU. They'll play the winner of the Illinois-Illinois State game:

Quarterfinal
Saturday, March 27
Cal 76, BYU 50
Sunday, March 28
Miami at Providence, 2 p.m. ET
Syracuse at Michigan, 2 p.m. ET
Illinois at Illinois State, 3:05 p.m. ET

Semifinal
0, TBA
Cal at Illinois-Illinois State winner, date TBA, time TBA

Link.

Sweet 16 becomes Twisted 12

Baylor beat Tennessee, Duke defeated San Diego State, Xavier bested Gonzaga, and Stanford pummeled Georgia.

I think I'll go slit my wrists now.

The early matchups tomorrow will probably be sleepers: Connecticut will pound Iowa State and Florida State will take out Mississippi State. But the evening games will be chock full of intrigue - especially the Kentucky and Nebraska matchup. The two teams have some eerie parallels that will make them feel like they're looking at their own reflections tomorrow:

Both top-seeded Nebraska (32-1) and No. 4 Kentucky (27-7) have rebounded from disappointing seasons to break the school record for victories. Each team boasts its conference's coach of the year and player of the year.

Both are energized by standout freshman guards, and both must avoid a letdown because they've already advanced as far or farther in the NCAA tournament than any other team in their school's history.

"It's kind of like playing yourself in a way," said Nebraska senior Cory Montgomery.

With Kelsey Griffin sidelined last season by an ankle injury, the Huskers struggled to a 15-16 record and were not expected to do much this year. Kentucky last year was 16-16 and picked 11th in this year's Southeastern Conference preseason poll.

But the 6-2 Griffin came roaring back for her senior season, averaging 20 points and almost 12 rebounds for a team whose only loss was to Texas A&M in the Big 12 tourney and is now in its first regional semifinals.

While Griffin was being handed the Big 12 player of the year award, Kentucky's Victoria Dunlap was accepting the same honor from the Southeastern Conference. Dunlop averaged 18 points, eight rebounds and four steals to lead the Wildcats to their first regional semifinals since the inaugural NCAA tournament in 1982. They've never been to the next round.

"There's no question a lot of parallels there," said Nebraska's Connie Yori, the Big 12 coach of the year. "Two teams that got it turned around."


It's a shame that one has to end the season of the other.

The Oklahoma-Notre Dame game will also be tasty:

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Oklahoma and Notre Dame last squared off in a near-empty gym in St. Thomas in late November, one day after the Sooners lost their emotional leader, guard Whitney Hand, to a season-ending knee injury.

The Sooners would love to forget about that one, since the Fighting Irish ran them out of the gym.

Now they can't avoid it.

The third-seeded Sooners (25-10) get another crack at the Fighting Irish (29-5) on Sunday night. This time it'll be in the Kansas City Regional semifinals, before a bigger crowd in a city Oklahoma knows so well.

The Sooners are rejuvenated, retooled and looking to settle a score with the Fighting Irish, who beat them 81-71 on Nov. 28. Oklahoma also lost to Notre Dame in the second round of 2008 NCAA tournament -- in overtime, no less -- so motivation certainly won't be an issue.


ESPN's Kara Lawson is the only one of her peers to pick the Sooners for the Final Four. We'll see if she's right.

Finally, I confess I've poked a bit of fun at Baylor Coach Kim Mulkey over the years for her wild outfits, and her jumpin-up-and-down-if-she's-not-rollin-on-the-ground coaching style. But she sure has shown her true colors the last few months, and they're classy colors. First it was taking the firm but compassionate stand with freshman Brittney Griner after she punched an opponent. Today in victory, she paid much tribute to Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt when she didn't need to do so:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)—Baylor coach Kim Mulkey took plenty of pride in her team’s regional semifinal win. That doesn’t mean she took pleasure in seeing Tennessee’s Pat Summitt lose.

“You have to take satisfaction from winning for these kids up here. I don’t take any satisfaction in beating Pat Summitt today,” Mulkey said. “Pat is our John Wooden.”........

“Pat is a legend in the game, and we want our program where Pat’s program has been and will continue to be,” Mulkey said. “She is just class. I go back a ways with Pat. I have watched her from a distance, and she is one of the classiest people in how she treats me or any other people she goes way back with.”


There will still probably be at least one idiot sportswriter who pens a "Pat Summitt has lost it" piece, though. But Mulkey gets it.

Only one surprise in the California high school basketball championships.....

.....and it's a biggie: Long Beach Poly lost to Oak Ridge tonight, 55-42, for the Division I title. The loss marks the end of the Jackrabbits' quest to win five consecutive state titles.

Yesterday saw Mater Dei beat Carondelet, 58-43 for the Division II title. Those there say the officiating was especially poor.

Harvard-Westlake prevailed over Berkeley St. Mary's, 58-44 for Division IV.

Pinewood defeated St. Anthony's for the Division V title, 62-44.

And in the "Sue told you so" Department: Stockton St. Mary's smashed Bishop Amat, 89-41 for the Division III title. I knew that would happen last week, when Amat upset Inglewood. I just didn't think BA's beating would be that bad.

CIF web page.

High school basketball in the state of California is turning off the lights now until November, ladies and gentlemen. Is there any other state that has a longer season then we do? Sheesh.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The night before the Sweet 16 starts news............

No one's laughing at Nebraska recruits anymore.

Analyst Debbie Antonelli loooooves her some Oklahoma Sooners.

Indiana State has narrowed its coaching search down to four candidates.

Nnemkadi Ogwumike speaks fondly about sister Chiney.

More on the "gentle giant" Brittney Griner, whose Baylor Bears play Tennessee tomorrow.

WNIT quarterfinals set

Third Round results
Thursday, March 25

Providence 77, Maryland 64
Miami 84, North Carolina A&T 77
Michigan 65, Northwestern 44
Illinois State 71, Kansas 51
Illinois 65, Missouri State 53
BYU 67, Wyoming 63
Cal 71, Oregon 57
Friday, March 26
VCU at Syracuse, 7 p.m. ET

Hoopfeed has the recap.

Quarterfinal
Saturday, March 27
BYU at Cal, 9 p.m. ET
Sunday, March 28
Miami at Providence, 2 p.m. ET
VCU-Syracuse winner at Michigan, 2 p.m. ET
Illinois at Illinois State, 3:05 p.m. ET

The WNIT site has the schedule.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

All-City girl's basketball teams

The LA Times says that Reshanda Gray of Washington Prep is the City Player of the Year. David Smith of LACES is Coach of the Year. Here's the first and second team lists:

First Team:

Stephanie Lopez (Banning)
Chante Miles (Carson)
Janitha Iamaleava (Carson)
Annie Currie (Carson)
Jasmine Grayson (Fairfax)
Ea Shoushtari (Los Angeles CES)
Taylor Holeman (Los Angeles CES)
Tailer Butler (Narbonne)
Atoe’ Jackson (Narbonne)
Rmanii Haynes (Taft)
Amari Hampton (Taft)
Danielle Pruitt (View Park)

Second Team:
Jazzmyn Davis (Birmingham)
LaTanya Drakes (Gardena)
Vanessa Aguilar (Grant)
Ana Valencia (Huntington Park)
Erica Garcia (Huntington Park)
Ani Avanessian (Monroe)
Donae Moguel (Palisades)
Olivia Ochoa (Roosevelt)
Portia Tapscott (South East)
Rachel Sample (View Park)
Kiana Furlow (Washington)
Abigail Vasquez (Wilson)

The usual batch of assorted cool news

Aw, hell. OregonWBB just twittered that the Ducks lost their WNIT game to Cal just now, 57-71. More WNIT scores tomorrow.

ESPN experts weigh in on their Sweet 16 picks.

The Women's Basketball Coaches Association has narrowed its list of finalists for the Division I All-American team.

Brittney Griner is a kid in a big ol' body.

Nnemkadi Ogwumike is simply the bomb.

Chiney Ogwumike is Gatorade's high school player of the year

No surprise, but many congratulations to Ogwumike, who will join sister Nnemkadi at Stanford next year.

Here's the official press release:

Chiney Ogwumike of Cy-Fair High School in Houston, Texas is the 2009-10 Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year. The Gatorade Player of the Year program is celebrating its 25th year in recognizing elite high school athletes throughout the nation.

Chiney was surprised with the news during an assembly by her sister Nneka Ogwumike, who earned Gatorade National Girls Basketball POY honors herself in 2007-08, and currently plays for the Stanford women’s basketball team. Nneka and the team surprised Chiney live via Skype, as the team is traveling for the NCAA tournament (pictures of Nneka surprising Chiney with the award are attached).

Since the Gatorade Player of the Year program began 25 years ago, no siblings have ever won national honors. Chiney joins her sister Nneka, as the only sibling duo to ever win the national title in the history of the program for any sport.

In celebration of the larger 25th anniversary of the program, Gatorade will host 10 polls online that will allow consumers to decide who is the greatest all-time Gatorade Player of the Year in boys football, girls volleyball, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls basketball, boys baseball, girls softball, and boys and girls track & field.

You can cast your vote for your favorite athlete of all-time once per sport, per day at http://playeroftheyear.gatorade.com.

Former notable Gatorade Players of the Year include:

• Peyton Manning, Super Bowl Most Valuable Player

• Lisa Leslie, WNBA all-time leading scorer and rebounder

• Alan Webb, Reigning American record-holder in the mile

• Emmitt Smith, NFL all-time leading rusher

• Cat Osterman, Softball Olympic gold medalist

In addition, make sure to enter the Gatorade Player of the Year sweepstakes where you could win a trip to the 2010 Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year Awards ceremony and the ESPY Awards.

For more information about The Gatorade Player of the Year program and its 25th anniversary celebration, please visit http://playeroftheyear.gatorade.com.


Other winners:

Name State High School Position

Keiahnna Engel AK Dimond HS G
Kaneisha Horn AL Ramsay HS F
Morgan Hook AR Rogers HS PG
Rebecca Woodberry AZ Tolleson HS F
Chelsea Gray CA St. Mary's HS G
Quincey Noonan CO Legacy HS G
Kastine Evans CT Norwich Free Academy G
Nicola Zimmer DC St. John's College HS PG
Betnijah Laney DE Smyrna HS F
Dawnn Maye FL Dillard HS PG
Kayla Lewis GA Southwest DeKalb HS G/F
Maiki Viela HI Lahainaluna HS G
Kiah Stokes IA Linn-Mar HS C
Katelyn Loper ID Post Falls HS G
Tricia Liston IL Fenwick HS G/F
Courtney Moses IN Oak Hill HS G
Tiffany Bias KS Andover Central HS PG
Sarah Beth Barnette KY Lexington Christian Academy F
Theresa Plaisance LA Vandebilt Catholic HS C
Lauren Battista MA Oliver Ames HS G/F
Kelsey Wolfe MD Seneca Valley HS G
Nicole Taylor ME York HS C
Madison Williams MI Detroit Country Day School C
Sari Noga MN Parkers Prairie HS G
Jazmin Hitchens MO Incarnate Word Academy F
Valencia McFarland MS Raymond HS PG
Lexie Nelson MT Butte HS G
Cierra Burdick NC Butler HS G/F
Meghan Roehrich ND Fargo South HS G
Jordan Hooper NE Alliance HS F
Tiffany Ruffin NH Winnacunnet HS PG
Haley Peters NJ Peddie School F
Kya DeGarmo NM Eldorado HS PG
Alexis Byrd NV Centennial HS G
Bria Hartley NY North Babylon HS PG
Amy Scullion OH Salem HS G/F
Richa Jackson OK Midwest City HS G/F
Jen Reese OR Clackamas HS F
Kayla McBride PA Villa Maria Academy G
Allie Jones RI South Kingstown HS C
Kayla Jenerette SC Travelers Rest HS G
Shaunteva Ashley SD Roosevelt HS G
Taylor Hall TN Morristown-Hamblen High School West F
Chiney Ogwumike TX Cy-Fair HS F
Lexi Eaton UT Springville HS G
Elizabeth Williams VA Princess Anne HS C
Allison Gannon VT Champlain Valley Union HS F
Mercedes Wetmore WA Auburn Riverside HS PG
Nicole Griffin WI Milwaukee Vincent HS C
Mariah Byard WV North Marion HS G
Jordan Kelley WY Campbell County HS PG

(Yet another list that doesn't name Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis or Shoni Schimmel)

It's firing season

Or "relieved of duties," if you're super-polite.

Gone:

Colorado University coach Kathy McConnell-Miller.

University of San Francisco coach Tanya Haave.

Who's next?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On-court demeanor, Tennessee, Orender

ESPN's Mark Lewis correctly points out the importance of high school players keeping a positive attitude on the court. College coaches are quick to write a player off for any of the infractions Lewis lists:

Not coachable
Won't play hard
Bad attitude
Doesn't compete
Doesn't play well with others

I've seen coaches walk out of gyms when they see one of these things in a player they came to see.

Georgia point guard Andraya Carter has verbally committed to Tennessee. I just wish she could get to Knoxville before 2012, when she graduates from high school.

WNBA President Donna Orender says sports drive women's success. Though I wish like hell it were true, I don't think it is quite yet.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sweet 16

Wow.

I'm sad that UCLA wasn't able to keep burning the incredible fire they had in the first half of tonight's game against Nebraska. But you know what I love about the Bruins? They never give up. That's THE winner's mentality.

They'll be back.

Very happy for San Diego State, which continues its upset streak, beating West Virginia 64-55.

Mississippi State upset Ohio State. (!) By a lot, too.

Xavier hung on to beat Vanderbilt by a point, which I'm so happy about.

Iowa State took out Wisconsin-Green Bay, 60-56.

And amazing freshman Skylar Diggins lead her Notre Dame team with 31 points in their victory over Vermont.

Who should get frosh of the year - Diggins or Brittney Griner? It's not as easy a call as it seems.

WNIT-ZAGA-WNBA

WNIT schedule:

Second Round
Monday, March 22
Illinois 74, Marquette 72 OT
Providence 76, Old Dominion 61
Syracuse 69, Richmond 55
Northwestern 66, St. Bonaventure 62

Tuesday, March 23
Texas Tech at Wyoming, 9 p.m. ET
BYU at Arizona State, 9:30 p.m. ET
Utah at California, 10 p.m. ET
New Mexico at Oregon, 10 p.m. ET

Third Round
Thursday, March 25
Providence at Maryland, 7 p.m. ET
North Carolina A&T at Miami, 7 p.m. ET
Northwestern at Michigan, 7 p.m. ET
Kansas at Illinois State, 8:05 p.m. ET
Illinois at Missouri State, 8:05 p.m. ET

Friday, March 26
VCU at Syracuse, 7 p.m. ET

Gonzaga a mid-major? They don't play like one, says ESPN.

The LA Sparks will hold tryouts for male practice players on April 13. Other WNBA news is on the right of this page.

University of Houston Coach Joe Curl resigns

This isn't surprising in light of all of his recent hospitalizations for his heart, but it's still sad.

USC assistant coaches let go

Two of USC Coach Michael Cooper’s three assistant coaches have been let go from the program.

Ervin Monier and Kelley Gibson’s contracts have not been renewed and they won’t return for the 2010-2011 season, said women’s basketball spokeswoman Darcy Couch, who explained that the move was “a coach’s decision.”

No replacement coaches have been named. Assistant coach Mary Wooley remains on staff.

The move was surprising in that this season’s results—19-12 overall, 12-6 in Pac-10 play—represented a marked improvement from last year’s 17-15, 9-9 finish. Indeed, the last time the Ladies of Troy finished with more than 17 games in the win column was 2005-06, when they ended 19-12, 11-7, but still did not make the field for the NCAA Tournament.

Monier, who was associate head coach, came aboard last summer and acted as head coach while Cooper finished out his final year as head of the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks. He was often a vocal presence along the sidelines.

Monier had high school and junior college coaching experience in the Los Angeles area before becoming assistant head coach at Temple University under Dawn Staley. He then moved on to become the associate head coach at Rhode Island for five years.

Gibson played basketball for the University of Maryland, and was on the Houston Comets’ roster from 2000-2004. Before coming to USC, she was assistant coach at the University of Maine.

Link available at: http://www.fullcourt.com

Monday, March 22, 2010

Three close ones!

Gonzaga pulls it out by one over Texas A&M on a Vivian Frieson jumper with 12 seconds left. Mad props to Frieson for doing the damn thing, and at home, too. The girl is from Seattle, and it's nice to see that, because for the longest time, Seatown has had some trouble producing talent that lasts in the NCAA. Hopefully Frieson can turn the karma tide around.

Florida State beat St. John's by a point, too. I'm bummed about that one.

And despite Andrea Riley's amazing 31-point return and an overtime, it wasn't enough for Oklahoma State, who fell to Georgia, 74-71. I'm not thrilled about that one either.

Next stop for the winners, Sweet 16 on Saturday.

Awash in college hoops stories

As a writer and reader, I love March Madness not only for the hoops, but for all the great stories that are published this time of year. I wish we could get this volume and quality of stories year-round.

Nebraska's Kelsey Griffin has been through hell.

The NCAA extracted a pound of flesh from Andrea Riley in her suspension.

San Diego State playing sisters Quenese and Coco Davis have had to work hard to get where they are now.

Tons of goodies here, including Tennessee, UConn, Oklahoma and Wisconsin-Green Bay bits.

Kentucky freshman A'dia Mathies is on sports fans' minds now.

Texas Coach Gail Goestenkors has no answers as to why her team was tossed out of the tournament in the first round for the second consecutive year.

Nice piece on how Caldwell's Bruins outlasted Harper's Pack last night.

And a nice recap on yesterday's upsets.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Changes going down at USC

A reliable source tells me that the USC Trojans will see some changes this week. I wish I could elaborate, but it'll be surprising. Stay tuned.

NCAA Upset-fest Sunday

You knew that some upsets were coming today in the wake of yesterday's calm.

I caught the last part of the Wisconsin-Green Bay vs. Virginia game, which saw Virginia climb out of a 16-point hole but still come up short on the win. Normally I go for the underdog, but it's hard to root against the great Monica Wright, who finished her amazing career at Virginia with 34 points tonight. I hope she gets drafted by a WNBA team in which she fits right in.

Arkansas-Little Rock bested sixth-seeded Georgia Tech in their first Tournament appearance. The Yellowjackets never seem to make it far in the rounds, do they?

Vermont beat higher-seeded Wisconsin. Vermont?

It seems everyone was shocked by San Diego State's win against Texas except those of us in Southern California, who already know. The Aztecs are building great things, sports fans. Just wait and see. In the meantime, Texas Coach Gail Goestenkors hasn't done much with the Longhorns since she got there. Maybe she should to back to Duke.

DePaul tried to upset Vanderbilt, but missed it in overtime.

The biggest surprise for me today was that UCLA blew out North Carolina State. I thought it would be a close game, and the Wolfpack lead for a while in the first half. But from the 3:18 mark in the first half to the 3:18 mark in the second half, the Bruins went on a 53-21 run, according to the ESPN crew. It was quite an offensive display, lead by sophomore Jasmine Dixon, who is one of the physically strongest small forwards in the country. ESPN story and UCLA website story.

There were some pretty buckets. Way reserve guard Allison Taka, who's probably played five minutes all season, unleashed a three at the very end of the game. Even center Moniquee Alexander scored a long-range basket. But with 10:17 to go in the game, the Bruins kept NC State away from their own basket for the entire length of the shot clock, and at the last second, freshman Markel Walker forced her opponet out of bounds. THAT made Coach Nikki Caldwell smile big and bright, and keep smiling. No surprise there, as defense is the Tennessee way.

What was interesting to me, though, was that there was no love between Caldwell and Wolfpack Coach Kellie Jolly Harper, who barely shook hands in the line after the game before moving on. I'm used to seeing a lot of warmth between those in the Vol family.

Next the Bruins will face top-ranked Nebraska. Hopefully they won't get their asses kicked, but I'm really proud of them, Caldwell and the entire program.

Here's a great story on Walker that ran this morning in the LA Times. The versatility of her game, as a tall player, is remniscent of Candace Parker, who Caldwell helped coach. This part of the story says a lot about Caldwell:

Walker knows that and said she left the East because she liked the bond with Caldwell. “I felt I needed that relationship type because I’m really close with my family and being away from home for a long period of time, I thought that would be affecting me,” she said.

Caldwell is personable with her players. “I try to stay in their world,” she said. “I’m going to movies, I’m going bowling, I’ve been to Chuck E. Cheese’s on recruiting visits with the kids and their families, I try to stay up to date with the music their listening to.” (Said Walker, laughing: “Her iPod is up to date.”)


Awesome piece on Stanford Cardinal sophomore Nnemkadi Ogwumike and her family.

Entertaining story about fellow Card Jayne Appel.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

SoCal Division I championship: Mater Dei 51, Brea Olinda 46

Mater Dei finally got the monkey off their back and beat Brea Olinda today. You can see what it meant to them in the face of Alexyz Vaioletama in this picture.

But the end of the game was controversial, so it wasn't a completely clean win. Mater Dei lead 50-45 with less than 30 seconds, when Brea's Kelsey Harris was fouled behind the three-point line. The ref right next to her blew the whistle and held up three fingers, indicating she'd get three shots. But when she missed the second one and players collapsed into the key to resume play, none of the refs stopped the game to give Harris her third shot. Ladycat Coach Jeff Sink protested and got T'd up. But Monarch Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis missed both tech free throws. Just sloppy and stupid overall. If the refs had correctly called players back for Harris' free throw, the outcome of the game might have been different.

Mosqueda-Lewis has become somewhat of a celebrity in these parts - especially after she verbally committed to UConn last fall after playing travel ball in Tennessee over the summer. But she's not the best player in California. She might not even be ready to be a Husky if she doesn't change a few things. For one thing, she relies too much on her outside shot which, even though it's silky, can't be her entire game. M-L needs to get quicker and move better; she'll probably have to drop a few pounds. She also needs to get stronger inside, and to get better at free throws. I don't see Geno accepting anything less.



Brea switched up at point guard. Here, freshman Ana Kim does the duties, guarded by Jordan Adams.



Brea's Breana Buczek (#21) puts up a shot in the third quarter.



Jordan Adams dribbles up court in the fourth quarter.....



.....and unleashes a three.



Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis is going to have to work on her game a lot to play for UConn, to whom she verbally committed last fall. She missed a lot of free throws and some easy layups today.



Brea reacts at the buzzer, on the big screen.



Mater Dei is happier on their side of the court.

Everyone knows that this was the true Division II state final today. But thanks to the CIF, the fake state final will put Mater Dei against Carondelet next weekend.

Other games:

Bishop Amat upset Inglewood earlier in the day, 56-54. They will face St. Mary's of Stockton next week for the Division III championship. I predict Bishop will get stomped.

Long Beach Poly beat Clovis West 68-53 in Division I. They'll play (kill) Oak Ridge next week.

In Division IV, Harvard-Westlake defeated Bishop Montgomery 57-44.

St. Anthony's bested Montclair 48-41 for Division V.

Scores and write up 1 and write up 2.

First-day NCAA scores: historical context surprises

There aren't any upsets from today's results - no higher seeds beating lower seeds (though TCU and Tulane came close, predictably). But when you consider the historical context of women's basketball, it's a "wow" day.

Rutgers out in the first round at the hands of Iowa, no less?

Gonzaga beating North Carolina?

Louisiana Tech back in the tourney to get kicked out again?

Georgetown being in the tourney again for the first time in 17 years and winning?

Tennessee and LSU back in form?

St. John's winning?

WOW!

Does this hurt women's basketball? Just kidding.

Two great Vols stories, both with the same humorous picture of the women towering over Austin Peay: they're tall, and they didn't mess up in the first round this time.

Friday, March 19, 2010

T'was the night before March Madness...........

ESPN coverage of first-round action for tomorrow.

And Sunday.

Bracket.

Awesome tidbits in this piece.

Let's goooooooo!!!!!!!

The nonsensical, infuriating California Interscholastic Foundation

No one in California seems to understand the governing body that regulates prep athletics from border to border. In fact, the CIF drives coaches, players and involved families and friends mad every year.

For one thing, it's the playoff seedings. They never make sense. Teams will find themselves seeded lower than teams they've beaten, and then stuck in brackets with egregious mismatches. Several that have gone down this playoff season come to mind.

Then there's the whole "Southern Cal vs. Northern Cal" thing. The champs of each side of the state always play one another for the title. Until last year, when St. Mary's of Stockton won Division III, Southern Cal teams usually won because the talent was so much more stacked on that side of the state. A SoCal team would get to the state match and it would be a lopsided, anti-climactic downer. Why not mix up the teams where the best just play the best, regardless of what side of the state they live on?

Another issue: there are also the games that are played at certain times that seem suspicious, as if the CIF is just putting them there to make the most money possible. Then you have the fact that they added an extra round to the playoffs this year, and you have your answer: it is indeed all about the money.

Last year the California state championships were played at this time - the third weekend in March. This year, due to the extra round added, they'll be played next weekend. That means that high school players in California that go even to the second round of the playoffs have already played longer than most high school teams, junior colleges and thousands of college teams around the country. That's ridiculous, especially considering that most girls now start playing for their club teams this month.

The CIF sucks.

That said, I found some preview pieces for tomorrow's state semifinal matchups, in honor of the young athletes that will play in them.

In a rematch of last year's SoCal Division I semi, it'll be Mater Dei vs. defending state champs Brea Olinda. Preview capsule. Neither team let major injuries stop them. Brea's Kelsey Harris always wanted to be a Ladycat.

In SoCal Division III, it's Bishop Amat versus last year's winner Inglewood, lead by power forward DeAjanae Scurry. Last week the ranked forward/center put up 35 points and pulled down 15 points for her team. If the Sentinels prevail tomorrow and NorCal's St. Mary's wins their game, it will be a rematch of last year's state championship game between the two teams.

Neither Long Beach or Fresno papers had anything today on the SoCal Division I game between defending champs Long Beach Poly and Clovis West (maybe they're waiting until tomorrow morning). But there was this from CW's victory last weekend. I hope they can give Poly a run for their money, but I wouldn't necessarily bet on it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Big girl stuff

Very interesting piece on the "growth spurt" in women's basketball by the Associated Press. Post players aren't just pulling down rebounds anymore - they're scoring:

A look at rosters from the six major conferences—Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, ACC and Pacific-10—from the mid-1990s shows that the number of 6-3 or taller players has nearly doubled in some cases.

And their roles have grown along with their stature.

What Leslie started, 6-4 Candace Parker took to another level as a do-it-all forward/guard/center at Tennessee, knocking down 3-pointers, dunking off the dribble.

Now there is Brittany Griner, Baylor’s towering 6-8 freshman, who has gained YouTube fame with her dunks and blocks. Stanford’s 6-4 Kayla Pedersen leads one of the tournament’s top contenders in scoring and rebounding, but has also drilled 49 3-pointers in 31 games and is second on the team with 86 assists.

This year’s Lady Vols features 12 players 5-10 or taller, topping out with 6-6 center Kelley Cain.

“Just the mobility of the post players throughout the country, it’s amazing to me, compared to let’s say 10 years ago,” Tennessee coach Pat Summitt says. “Being out recruiting and seeing some of these young players, there’s some post players out there that could step in and play at the college level.”

.......

“I definitely think that we’ve become more involved,” Murphy says. “We’re being looked to as scorers instead of just people to grab the boards and put the ball back in the hole.”

Griner has followed in the footsteps of players like Tennessee’s Parker and Sylvia Fowles of LSU—who both brought another dimension to the post position with their tremendous athleticism and basketball skills.

Griner was second nationally in blocked shots (6.0 per game) and led the nation with three triple-doubles. Griner joined Parker as the only women’s players to dunk more than once in a game during a 99-18 rout of Texas State. She also has a major impact on the other end.

“She stops shots. She alters shots,” Mulkey says. “And she plays above the rim. I’ve been doing this since I was 14 years old. I’ve played with some of the greatest players to ever play this game. But I can honestly say she’s the first one I’ve ever been around that you can say plays above the rim.”


Tall girls take note: develop your game to the fullest. You won't make it to the higher levels of basketball if you don't.

__________

Teresa Weatherspoon taking Louisiana Tech back into the NCAA Tournament might not seem like such a big deal until the program's history is considered:

By many standards the fall has not been a big one, after all the Lady Techsters have only missed three NCAAs. But when you have been to 25 straight and won three national titles, including two NCAA titles and the final AIAW, three years is a long time.

The Lady Techsters only lost 14 games in the four years Weatherspoon played for them (1984-88), when she started all but one game. They went to the Final Four twice and won the championship in 1988.


Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.

__________

Last year Nebraska was unknown. This year they've gone to the Big Dance, and they're "Cinderella With Credentials." I like that, and I hope they do well.

__________

Baltimore City Community College was prepared to take the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II title this year. Instead, they mysteriously dropped out of the tournament as the school was being investigated. Alleged infractions have occured, but they haven't forfeited any games. What the hell's going on?

__________

WNIT results so far, with a few more games being played right now (go Oregon!):

First Round
Wednesday, March 17
Purdue 56, Eastern Michigan 50
Old Dominion 63, American 55
Kansas 82, Prairie View A&M 70
Illinois State 57, Butler 54
New Mexico 66, SMU 51
Arizona State 84, New Mexico State 61
Cal 74, UC Davis 69 OT
Thursday, March 18
Providence 64, Boston University 58
Charlotte 74, Gardner-Webb 60
North Carolina A&T 73, Wake Forest 49
Florida 61, South Florida 54
Miami 70, Florida Gulf Coast 57
St. Bonaventure 76, Robert Morris 50
Syracuse 87, Harvard 68
Richmond 67, Delaware 49
VCU 74, Saint Joseph's 63
Hofstra 76, Penn State 68
Northwestern 79, Duquesne 72
Texas Tech 80, Houston 77
Samford 66, Mississippi 65

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Surprises all over the place

It's worthy noting, as this blogger did, that USC Coach Michael Cooper turned down a WNIT invitation the other day when his Trojans weren't selected for the NCAA Tournament. But why didn't the blogger ask Cooper why? I'm curious to know. USC was shocked at not being selected.

Video links of Cooper's reaction and the team reaction.

The University of Minnesota can't sign any local players. It seems like every college is accused of that at some point or another.

I knew this article would be written when I saw this pairing Monday night: Rutgers Coach C. Vivian Stringer sure as hell wishes her team wasn't facing Iowa in the first round.

I learned so much from this piece. 1. That there's a high school called Boys and Girls High School. 2. That they have a female coach who has coached the boy's basketball team there to a New York Public Schools championship. 3. That some feel this coach, Ruth Lovelace, would be a perfect replacement at Seton Hall for recently resigned Phyllis Mangina. Very interesting.

Despite the factual and spelling errors (Coach Harper's name, for instance), this is still a pretty good write-up on UCLA's NCAA berth.

In WNBA news, twins Kelly and Coco Miller will play again once more, as both were signed to the Atlanta Dream today. Two other former teammates were reunited too, as Devanei Hampton signed with the Storm. I hope she works out, because she and the Storm's Ashley Walker did great things together at Cal.

Brea Olinda High School Coach Jeff Sink named Coach of the Year by WBCA/Russell Athletic

ATLANTA - The Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) has selected Jeff Sink of Brea Olinda High School (Brea, Calif.) as the 2010 RUSSELL ATHLETIC/WBCA National High School Coach of the Year. This year marks the 21st year that this accolade has been presented and selected by the WBCA since 1990. With receiving this prestigious award comes the honor of serving as a head coach at the WBCA High School All-America Game presented by Nike on Saturday, April 3, 2010, at the Alamodome.

Full release.

Outstanding selection.

Sink is exceptional at teaching his players the fundamentals. Watching the Ladycats is seeing fundamental basketball. But Sink doesn't stop there: he's also an expert at motivating the athletes and getting them to believe they can achieve. Last year they won a California state title when no one thought they would, and part of the reason was that they defeated Mater Dei in the process. Two months ago, Brea beat the Monarchs again. I've not seen a more pumped up, excited team than the Ladycats were that night in a long time.

Congratulations, Coach Sink, and good job.

Rationale for the Women's Basketball Invitational

Q at Swish Appeal offers an answer to my question last night as to why there is a Women's Basketball Invitational when there's already a WNIT. The most compelling reason to me is this:

However, there is even more to the tournament than control, equality, transparency, and profit, all - especially the latter - certainly attractive selling points to participating institutions. The tournament might better represent the concept of equity - it's not just about women's basketball getting closer to having the same number of opportunities to participate in the post-season, but actually providing women's basketball programs an opportunity to develop, as described by Washington coach Tia Jackson.

"Having as many postseason opportunities for women's basketball is a good thing," said Seymour. "There are so many good teams out there that deserve postseason attention."


True, dat. I can't disagree with that line of reasoning.

I'll support the WBI.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

So much college news

The Associated Press gave out its SEC awards today. Here are the winners:

AP SEC Coach of the Year
Matthew Mitchell, Kentucky

AP SEC Player of the Year
Victoria Dunlap, Kentucky

AP SEC Newcomer of the Year
Kelsey Bone, South Carolina

AP All-SEC First Team
Victoria Dunlap, Kentucky
Allison Hightower, LSU
Bianca Thomas, Ole Miss
Angie Bjorklund, Tennessee
Kelley Cain, Tennessee

AP All-SEC Second Team
Ashley Houts, Georgia
Kelsey Bone, South Carolina
Shekinna Stricklen, Tennessee
Alexis Rack, Mississippi State
Jence Rhoads, Vanderbilt

Nebraska has come a looooong way since last year.

Cleveland State is gunning for Notre Dame.

Ohio State is trying not to think about any possible UConn matchups.

ESPN's Graham Hays' five burning questions about this year's tournament are on the money, as usual:

1. Could Tennessee's nightmare last year cause headaches for everyone else this season?

2. Which No. 1 seed has the toughest road to San Antonio?

3. Which player's star might get a chance to shine in the first two rounds?

4. Where's the best place to be for the first two rounds?

5. What's the "other" story of this year's NCAA tournament?

Stanford has a clear path to the Final Four (duh!).

And the lone WNBA entry: Katie Smith signs with the Washington Mystics. I wonder if this will break their curse?

Women's Basketball Invitational

The inaugural event starts tomorrow, and features 16 teams - one of them being Louisville (I wondered what happened to them when they weren't in the WNIT bracket).

Why did someone feel that there needed to be another alternative-NCAA tournament besides the WNIT? Apparently I missed that memo.

More female players graduate than male players; retroactive punishment

Women's NCAA teams graduate at higher levels than the men's teams, a study says. Not surprising.

Oklahoma State's Andrea Riley will miss her team's NCAA opening round game this weekend as part of a punishment for an offense committed two years ago. Riley was supposed to miss an NCAA Tournament game for taking a swipe at an LSU player in 2008, but her team didn't make the tourney last year. Pretty weird, huh?

Monday, March 15, 2010

WBCA announced Junior College awards

The Women's Basketball Coaches Assocation has given it's annual Junior/Community College awards. Andrea Smith of Gulf Coast Community College is the player of the year, and Michael Landers of Baton Rouge Community College is coach of the year. Congratulations to both of them. Here's the All-American team:

Rachel Barnes Seward County CC Soph. F 5’8
Gloria Brown Trinity Valley CC Soph. F 6’2
Danay Collier Monroe CC Soph. G 5’8
Lateidra Elliott Lincoln Trail College Soph. G 5’6
Bianca Jarrett Chipola Junior College Soph. G 5’6
Olivia Major Central Arizona College Soph. G 5’7
Kenyanna Martin Contra Costa College Soph. G 5’7
Krystal Parnell Monroe CC Soph. G 5’6
Porsha Porter Jefferson College Soph. G 5’6
Andrea Smith Gulf Coast CC Soph. G 5’8

WNIT schedule out

Very comprehensive:

Round 1
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
SMU at New Mexico
UC Davis at Cal
New Mexico State at Arizona State
Butler at Illinois State
Eastern Michigan at Purdue
Prairie View A&M at Kansas
American at Old Dominion

Thursday, March 18, 2010
Eastern Washington at Oregon
Pepperdine at BYU
Houston at Texas Tech
Eastern Illinois at Marquette
Mississippi at Samford
Providence at Boston University
Gardner-Webb at Charlotte
North Carolina A&T at Wake Forest
South Florida at Florida
Florida Gulf Coast at Miami
Robert Morris at St. Bonaventure
Duquesne at Northwestern
Harvard at Syracuse
Richmond at Delaware
VCU at St. Joseph’s
Hofstra at Penn State

Friday, March 19, 2010
Nevada at Wyoming
Stephen F. Austin at Creighton
Illinois at Western Kentucky
Oral Roberts at Missouri State
Iona at Maryland
Eastern Carolina at Drexel
Kent State at Michigan
Pittsburgh at Toledo

Sunday, March 21, 2010
Utah at St. Mary’s (CA)

The 64 teams in the tournament:
31 Automatic Berths with team record
American (22-9), Patriot
Boston University (16-14), America East
Brigham Young (20-9), Mountain West
Butler (23-9), Horizon
California (18-13), Pac 10
Charlotte (17-13), Atlantic 10
Eastern Illinois (23-10), Ohio Valley
Eastern Washington (19-11), Big Sky
Florida (14-16), SEC
Florida Gulf Coast (24-6), Atlantic Sun
Gardner-Webb (28-4), Big South
Harvard (20-8), Ivy League
Houston (17-14), Conference USA
Illinois State (24-7), Missouri Valley
Iona (18-13), Metro Atlantic
Nevada (17-15), WAC
North Carolina A&T (21-10), Mid-Eastern
Old Dominion (18-13), Colonial
Oral Roberts (23-9), Summit
Prairie View A&M (15-13), SWAC
Providence (16-14), Big East
Purdue (14-16), Big Ten
Robert Morris (23-8), Northeast
Saint Mary’s – CA (21-9), West Coast
Samford (22-10), Southern
Stephen F. Austin (18-10), Southland
Texas Tech (17-13), Big 12
Toledo (24-8), MAC
UC Davis (21-10), Big West
Wake Forest (18-13), Atlantic Coast
Western Kentucky (21-10), Sun Belt

33 At-large Berths with team record
Arizona State (17-13), Pac 10
Creighton (20-10), Missouri Valley
Delaware (21-11), Colonial
Drexel (17-13), Colonial
Duquesne (20-11), Atlantic 10
East Carolina (22-10), Conference USA
Eastern Michigan (22-8), Mid-American
Hofstra (19-13), Colonial
Illinois (16-14), Big Ten
Kansas (15-15), Big 12
Kent State (20-10), Mid-American
Marquette (16-15), Big East
Maryland (19-12), Atlantic Coast
Miami (17-13), Atlantic Coast
Michigan (17-13), Big Ten
Mississippi (17-14), SEC
Missouri State (20-10), Missouri Valley
New Mexico (18-12), Mountain West
New Mexico State (18-13), WAC
Northwestern (16-14), Big Ten
Oregon (16-15), Pac 10
Penn State (17-13), Big Ten
Pepperdine (20-11), West Coast
Pittsburgh (16-14), Big East
Richmond (19-12), Atlantic 10
Saint Bonaventure (22-9), Atlantic 10
Saint Joseph’s (17-14), Atlantic 10
South Florida (15-15), Big East
SMU (20-10), Conference USA
Syracuse (22-10), Big East
Utah (22-11), Mountain West
VCU (20-12), Colonial
Wyoming (19-11), Mountain West

Look at all those teams whose season isn't over yet after all. And look at all those teams that went to the big dance last year.

No bracketology here, just the bracket

Once again, here's the bracket. All done, finito.

Congrats to Louisiana Tech, St. John's and Gonzaga.

But Stanford will win their bracket. Texas A&M might give them a run for their money if they make it, but they're the only ones who I see there who could run with the Cardinal the way they are looking right now, which is scary.

UConn will also win their bracket. Maybe Ohio State can hang with them for a minute, but not much longer than that.

Tennessee, Duke and Baylor will be fighting for their bracket. I see a Vol-Blue Devil showdown barring any major upsets.

Nebraska should take their bracket if they've successfully (mentally) moved on from last weekend's loss and snapping of their undefeated streak. If they're at peace with it, they'll be going to the Final Four in San Antonio.

How did Austin Peay sneak in there?

I'm interested in what other teams fans think should be on the list of 64 than the ones listed there now.

Please, let it rip.

First half of the bracket is out; UCLA makes it

Hurry up, already!

Bracket so far.

UCLA vs. NC State, Vol vs. Vol.

Besides that, so far the most intriguing matchup is Oklahoma vs. South Dakota State. Iowa and Rutgers has sort of a karmic feel to it. Georgia and Tulane could be a fiery game, as could DePaul and Vanderbilt.

Ah, three on the other side of the bracket now. Poor Austin Peay, and poor Fresno State. The Bulldogs were first-rounders last year - that doesn't seem fair.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Coolest link I've ever seen

Hoopfeed has all the conference tournament results listed here, with the brackets.

Makes me drool to look at it.

Stanford 70, UCLA 46

I'll be honest - it was a boring game after a while. The Bruins came out lackluster (Nikki Caldwell admitted it post-game), and the officiating was just stupid. Marianne Karp and Michael Price were competing for the Biggest Blind and Delusional Idiot title, and Lisa Jones wasn't far behind. At the end of the game, Price leaned over and said something to one of the media members at the courtside press table. Apparently it was "aren't you sick of the yelling? (from Bruin fans at them)."

What a dweeb.

Stanford has nine seniors, is incredibly deep, and is probably the only team that can seriously challenge UConn for the title this year. Jayne Appel said after the game that their goal is a national championship. So I guess that's why I'm not upset about UCLA's loss. They've come so far in such a short period of time, and they'll go much further under Caldwell. These things take time.

Stanford team members have complete trust in each other. It seems like everyone on the team can shoot. And because they've all worked together for so long, they just flow. They barely have to talk to each other on the court.

Good luck, Stanford. May you give UConn their first defeat in a while.



UCLA freshman forward Markel Walker grabs one of her eight rebounds on the day.



Christina Nzekwe (#4) misses a shot.



Stanford boxes out extremely well, as is evident above.



Officials Marianne Karp and Michael Price were not popular with Bruin fans. And they did miss a LOT of calls.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Undefeated no more, Clair Watkins, Louisiana Tech, Pac-10

Texas A&M brought Nebraska's undefeated season to an end tonight. I'm really bummed. I like the Huskers, and I'm a sucker for those "Cinderella" stories.

The loss shows just how difficult it is to maintain a perfect record. But who knows - maybe Nebraska feels some pressure taken off now.

__________

This story makes me really happy: Clair Watkins, the North Carolina teen who was rejected by Duke after verbally committing a year earlier, has found a new college. She'll be going to Vanderbilt next year, and this year has turned out allright for her.

"I bounced back, though, and the whole team was supportive and I'm in a much better place now. I'm excited."

And now, her senior year can end really well.

Watkins, a 6-foot-4 center, is playing her best basketball of the season. Today at 5 p.m., she can help Butler (24-4) win its first N.C. 4A state championship. The Bulldogs will play Morrisville Green Hope (31-0) at N.C. State.


I really hope her team won tonight.

__________

I remember the last time Louisiana Tech was sent home early from the NCAA Tournament. I can still see the picture in my head of Cheryl Ford crying as she walked off court in 2003.

For the first time since then, Tech will be back at the Tournament. They beat Fresno State tonight for the Western Athletic Conference title. I must admit, I'm surprised at that win.

__________

UCLA won the dogfight with UCLA for the right to play Stanford tomorrow in the Pac-10 Tournament final. I wasn't there in person - only via the texts of one of my kids. So I'll let UCLA alum Patrick Meighan do the game report:

First of all, it was a great win for the Bruins, and $c deserves credit. If they get a ticket to The Dance, I really think that they could win a game (but probably not two, since they'll likely get a low seed and be stuck facing a juggernaut in the second round). Ashley Corral is nails. I hate $c just on principle, but she's very, very hard not to like. And the team as a whole played us really tough tonight, limited our offensive rebounds (11 today, same as $c, which is only about 60% as many as we usually pull down), and the trojans also took very good care of the basketball (only 12 turnovers... we usually force about twice as many). Put-backs and points off turnovers have been our offensive bread and butter this season, so if a team can minimize those two things (as $c did this evening), we lose a lot of what makes us go and we really have to grind it out for points.

Grinding it out is exactly what we did, though. All in all (and apologies in advance for the cliche), it just kinda seemed like we wanted it more. From my seat in Galen, it just really felt like the Bruin players wanted it more than $c's did... and so did the Bruin coaches, the Bruin fans, the Bruin band. I don't know, maybe it was just where I was sitting.

BTW, I assume y'all noticed Coach Neuheisel in the stands. That was cool, but I thought it was even neater to see Erica Gomez in Galen (I was sitting just a few seats away from her). She's still one of my all time favorites.

Okay, let's talk about tomorrow's game. I, for one, desperately hope that Erika Tukiainen is 100%. As much as I love Mariah Williams (and I do), she just can't hit a shot to save her life right now. As already mentioned, we tend to labor in a half-court setting, even under ideal circumstances. Trying to score points in the half-court with a non-shooting point guard is just that much more difficult.

I'm a hopeless optimist, but I recognize that this'll be an incredibly tough matchup for us. Our starters played a lot of minutes today and burned a lot of emotional juice ('cause we badly wanted this W), while Stanford's headliners got plenty of rest in their laugher against Cal. As such, if we're gonna compete against the Cardinal, we're pretty much gonna have to do it on adrenaline and grit. It might take a miracle. But if (IF!) we can manage to get the W, it'd give our program a serious, marquee win this season (one we don't currently have to our name... we're 0-3 against teams in the RPi Top-25 ). I reckon a victory over #2 Stanford would give the Tournament Committee decent cause to seed us as high as 4th, while a loss may send us as far down as 6th or even 7th.


Patrick, email me at: hoopism@yahoo.com, will ya?

__________

Stanford's Jayne Appel is the Pac-10's scholar athlete of the year. Congrats to her.

Southern California high school Saturday night results

Next weekend's regional finals, at USC's Galen Center, are set:

DIVISION I
Long Beach Poly 80, Summit 53
Fresno Clovis West 61, Santa Monica 57

DIVISION II
Brea Olinda 68, Oakhurst Yosemite 46
Mater Dei 70, Hanford 61

DIVISION III
Bishop Amat 58, Santa Margarita 48
Inglewood 85, Spring Valley Mount Miguel 60

DIVISION IV
Harvard-Westlake 78, Santa Maria St. Joseph 56
Bishop Montgomery 61, La Jolla Country Day 54

DIVISION V
St. Anthony 49, St. Bernard 26
Montclair Prep 52, View Park 45

The winners of tonight's games in each division will play each other next Saturday for the right to play the Northern California division winners for the state championship, March 26-27 in Bakersfield.

I predict Long Beach Poly in Division I, and I have no idea who will win Division II. Brea has been kryptonite for Mater Dei the last two times they've met. But everyone know that if luck is to prove itself yay or nay, it's on the third try.

In Division III, Inglewood just beat Amat a week or so ago. Unless Amat is usually way better than they were then, I predict an Inglewood victory.

Harvard-Westlake will crush Montgomery in Division IV just like they did last weekend in the CIF championship.

Montclair Prep and St. Anthony is a toss up for Division V. I'd say Montclair, but St. Anthony has a diehard coach.

The hot hand of the night belonged to Inglewood forward/center DeAjanae Scurry, who had 35 points, 15 rebounds and five steals in the Sentinels' victory.

Here's next weekend's schedule.

Brackets preview

One writer has some guesses, and they're good ones, too.

The Pat Summitt lead off is good:

Specifically, this isn't March 2009, which was the culmination of an annus horribilis for a proud Tennessee program that fell in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Ball State, an unprecedented loss that Summitt still maintains "haunts me daily."

Friday, March 12, 2010

USC, UCLA advance to semifinals with wins Friday

USC capitalized on a few key Oregon turnovers to narrowly beat them, 80-76 last night. It was disappointing, but it was a good game.

The UCLA-Oregon State game almost put me to sleep. UCLA is good enough where they had a bit of a breakdown at the end of the game and let OSU catch up, but they still whooped them 60-44.

UCLA coaches watched the first game, and Stanford coaches watched both games. Lisa Leslie, who looks to be ready to give birth any second, and her husband were also in press row. So were a few other basketball celebrities, the Sparks executive staff and some spare ESPN reporters.

I will be back in the house for the championship game Sunday. I hope it's a good matchup.



First-half action during the Oregon-USC game.



Duck Micaela Cocks take the free throw in the second half.



UCLA supastah Jasmine Dixon puts one up in the first half of the UCLA-Oregon State game.



Bruin Moniquee Alexander is actually trying to do something under the basket (!)



Cool things 1: the Oregon band was spirited in a way that I'm used to from the great bands, i.e. some low-key heckling of the USC team. "If this is your home court, where are all your fans?" one yelled. Audience members were chuckling.



Cool things 2: OOO, UCLA players have some cool custom-made shoes.



Very uncool thing: the Oregon State band. Their attempts at heckling went way across the line. When UCLA forward Christina Nzekwe went to the free throw line in the first half, one of the OSU band members shouted at her: "You look like a man!"

No audience members laughed. I was stunned. And so glad Christina was all the way across the court, so that maybe she didn't hear that.

I know Christina, and she's one of the nicest kids you're going to meet. I wonder why people don't stop to think, when they say things like that, that the player's family, friends and former coaches could be sitting there.

I'm an Oregon graduate and never liked OSU. I hate them now.


Someone I know is covering the event for the website for which they write, and asked UCLA Coach Nikki Caldwell how she motivates her team. The LA Times got the exchange partially right in this write up. The moderator ended it after Caldwell said that days off are a motivator for the players too, and the reporter nodded and acknowledged that she knew that, as she followed the coaching staff and players on twitter. Caldwell found that amusing, and the moderator then said "let's wrap it up."

Some of the media in the room didn't seem to know whether or not Caldwell was serious in her comments, and I know it's because they don't understand the Tennessee Way. They're learning, though. And as Caldwell and the Bruins keep ascending the basketball ladder, they'll figure it out even more.

Here are two write-ups on the games:

USC capitalized on a crucial Oregon turnover in the waning seconds of Friday night's quarterfinal matchup to top the Ducks, 80-76, and advance to the next round.

The neck-and-neck game, which saw the two teams exchange leads eight times in the first half alone, went down to the last minute. Oregon had built a five point lead - 64-59 - with more than nine minutes to go, when USC went on an 11-3 run. The Trojan's defense also disrupted the Ducks, causing them to turn the ball over five times in the next four minutes.

Dueling free throws made it a 73-71 USC lead with just under a minute to play. But Trojan point guard Ashley Corral hit a long-range three-point shot at the 24-second mark to put her team up by five. Duck sophomore guard Nia Jackson then calmly drove to the hoop, put it in and was fouled. She nailed the free shot to put her team within two points with 16 seconds to go.

Oregon then fouled Jacki Gemelos, who hit both free throws. But on the Ducks' next possession, senior guard Taylor Lilley lost the ball out of bounds with 10 seconds to go. Oregon had no choice but to foul, and Gemelos again made both free throws, putting the game out of reach for the Ducks.

Lilley lead all scorers with 22 points. Briana Gilbreath had 19 for the Trojans, including 15 in the second half. Jackson and Oregon forward Victoria Kenyon each had 18, and Corral put up 16 for USC.

Oregon Coach Paul Westhead said that while his players' efforts were laudable, their opponents had more at the end.

"SC made some big shots in the last minute, and that was the difference in the game," he said.

USC Coach Michael Cooper acknowledged that Oregon's up-tempo game style kept the Trojans on their toes.

"They were running and running and running, and that took a toll on us in the first half," he said. "You know when you play Oregon that you've got to put on your track shoes and run with them."

Cooper claimed that when USC was behind, he "wasn't fearful." At the same time, he recognized that the game could have gone either way.

"(This victory) means that our team was better on this particular night," he said.

Both coaches are in their first years at their respective schools, and both teams have shown notable improvements under them: USC's, most notably in its standings, finishing third in the Pac-10; Oregon's, in its players.

Jackson and Lilley, who spoke after the game, are probably the players who seem to have improved the most under Westhead. Lilley, a senior, didn't make any all- Pac-10 Tournament last year, but seems destined to make one this weekend. Jackson has played all season with a passion that Oregon fans haven't seen before. She acknowledged that her game has "changed a lot" in playing for her new coach.

"He has given me a lot of confidence," Jackson said of Westhead. "He's given a lot of confidence to the entire team."

________________________________________________

UCLA routed Oregon State Friday in the Pac 10 Tournament quarterfinals, 60-44.

The Bruins, who were never seriously challenged by the tenth-seeded Beavers, jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead to begin the game before their opponents were finally able to respond at the 17:01 mark. UCLA lead 37-18 at the half, and were ahead by as many as 21 points in the second period.

With 5:11 to go, OSU went on a small run and cut the lead to where it eventually was at game's end. This lack of response, coupled with the Bruins' 23 turnovers on the night, was cause for concern for Coach Nikki Caldwell, who said after the game that she was disappointed in her team's effort.

"We worked hard all week, but we didn't play together as a unit (tonight)," she said. "There was a lot of individual play out there, and that's not who we are. We got away from the little things."

Caldwell, whos main refrain is for the Bruins to play a full 40-minute game, acknowledged her team is still working on that. And she noted that sophomore forward Jasmine Dixon, who had 14 points on the night, and freshman forward Markel Walker, who added 10, were two of the strongest players on the squad. But Caldwell also noted that UCLA needs more.

"We have two very good players in Walker and Dixon, and they will be among the best in the country," she said. "But we still need to find that leader who's going to step up and lead this team."

The Bruins will face cross-town rival USC in today's semifinal matchup. The flame on the traditional rivalry was turned up several degrees in January, when Trojan Coach Michael Cooper cursed UCLA in a press conference following a game. The Bruins responded a few weeks later by routing the Trojans.

Both coach and players acknowledged that today's game would probably be intense.

"We understand that SC is a team that's very good at home, and we need to adapt to that because they'll be very competitive here," Caldwell said. "It's about what we put on the floor tomorrow."

Senior guard Erica Tukiainen added, "We have to execute our game plan and play Bruin basketball."

Asked how she motivates her team, Caldwell said it begins with self-discipline.

"They won't cheat each other by cheating practices," she said. "They run their own practices, they do their own scouting reports, they watch film. It's on them."

"I tell them, 'we coaches are done with our college careers. This is about you having your best career.'"

Caldwell said she makes practices competitive, with every drill having winners and losers. This increases player intensity. She also adds fun to the end of some sessions.

"They like it when we play dodgeball - they really do," Caldwell said. "Days off are a motivation too."