Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tuesday items

Tennessee's Vicki Baugh is becoming a leader: she initiated a meeting with Coach Pat Summitt, as the coach-player laision. This initiated an interesting twitter discussion between former Vols Candace Parker and Nicky Anosike about the program and the current team.

Fanhouse names their top college players, teams and games of the week.

Sue Bird has a new website.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Acres of news

Things have shifted a bit in the AP's top 25 list.

Purdue's Drey Mingo has been released from the hospital. Thank goodness.

UConn's Stefanie Dolson responded to the verbal taunting of Geno Auriemma with a good game.

Candice Wiggins speaks about World AIDS Day, coming up Wednesday.

Penn State is 6-1 under Coquese Washington.

All that extra work is paying off for Tennessee forward Glory Johnson, who is the SEC Player of the Week.

Oregon forward Amanda Johnson is the Pac-10 Player of the Week.

Brittney Griner of Baylor and Jordan Hooper of Nebraska are the Big 12 Players of the Week.

ESPN has some tasty info after a high school tournament last week. There was the Turkey Jam in Memphis, and the subsequent player evaluation sheet. Good stuff.

Bonus: three reasons why enthusiasm will make you a better coach.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

UCLA 71, Temple 61

UCLA had to work hard today to put away the Temple Owls. Outside of the Notre Dame upset almost two weeks ago, this was the Bruins' toughest test of the season so far.

Temple isn't a big wide team - they're a tall, fit and fast team with superior strength and conditioning. They played relentless defense and are probably used to running other teams into the ground.

They ran a stifling zone defense that forced UCLA to take shots at first, because they couldn't get into the paint. It took a while for the Bruins to make the adjustment and find ways to attack the zone.

Southern California's own Kristen McCarthy - who played for former hoops power house Bishop Amat - had five consecutive three-pointers in the first half for the Owls. This helped her team stay in the lead until literally the last second of the period, when Bruin guard Darxia Morris hit an improbable shot to tie the score at 35.

Temple began the second half on a run, and maintained a five-point lead until UCLA went on its own 13-0 run. But the Owls charged back, and it wasn't until a Jasmine Dixon putback with 8:35 to go that the Bruins took the lead for good. UCLA stepped up its defense, which included a full-court press, and that seemed to cool Temple down.

Coach Nikki Caldwell said after the game that her team "plays in spurts," and that she "is waiting for them to play a full 40 minutes."

McCarthy lead all scorers with 22 points, and her teammate BJ Williams had 12.

Morris and Markel Walker each had 15 points for the Bruins, and Rebekah Gardner added 14.

Check out my game action shots HERE. They turned out well today.

I saved out three "homegirl" shots for this space:



Southern Cali's own Kristen McCarthy had a big crowd on hand for her today at Pauley Pavilion. Here, she lines up for a free throw in the second half.



McCarthy, a junior forward, lead all scorers with 22 points, and she also had nine rebounds.



OK, Allison Taka fans, she was at Pauley today taking in the action (seen here talking to a friend at a timeout). I'm not sure why you search for her on my site.....I know you do because the stats tell me she's almost always one of the top 10 terms you punch in before you come here.

I never wrote about Taka much; she was a bench player, and didn't play much at all last year. So I'm a little mystified why you're always looking for Taka stuff here. But I thought I'd give you a picture since you're so dilligent. Now if her name keeps popping up, there will be a reason for it.


No upsets today.

Vanderbilt Tournament - final day



Vanderbilt in pre game warm ups. They had the band and about 50 cheerleaders at the game.



Princeton, in orange, boxing out late in the game.

Consolation Game

USC 78, Quinnipiac 59

USC won the consolation game over Quinnipiac at Vanderbilt's Thanksgiving Tournament today. Both Christina Marinacci and Briana Gilbreath had double-doubles for the Trojans. Gilbreath led in scoring with 18 points, and she added 14 rebounds. Christina Marinacci had 15 points and 18 rebounds.

The game was tied 35-35 at the half. However, USC held Quinnipiac to 24 second-half points to pull away for an easy win. USC had only nine turnovers for the game and dominated the boards. Quinnipiac had seven three-point baskets, but struggled with their inside game. USC goes on to play Xavier Thursday night in Ohio.

Championship game

Princeton 68, Vanderbilt 74



Vandy, in white, looking to set up a screen play.

Before I say anything about the game, Princeton is a good team. I read some forums where people was upset with USC's loss, but it was not to a poor or fluky team. Yes USC will need to win these games, but Princeton could gave any team ranked about 15th or lower a solid game.

Princeton and Vanderbilt both play solid half-court offenses. Princeton has a three-point shooter named Micir who hit six three's - all from behind the men's line. She finshed with 20 points. Northern California sophomore Niveen Rasheed added 15 points.

For Vanderbilt, Southern California freshman Jasmine Lister had 15 points, and played a ton of minutes.

Vanderbilt led by three points at the end of a back-and-forth first half, 29-26. Vandy did open a 10- or 11-point second half lead, but Princeton fought back to trail by three points with just over a minute left. A three-pointer by Vandy and some foul shots sealed the victory at 74-68.

Tournament MVP was Hannah Tuomi for Vanderbilt. Named to the all-tournament teams were Lister for Vanderbilt and Marinacci for USC.

Admission was free on both days of the tournament and both days had about 3500-4000 fans show up.

- IM in Nashville (soon to be back in OC)



Tournament Awards Vanderbilt had Tuomi, MVP in white uniform #15, Jasmine Lister #11 in white uniform, and Tiffany Clarke #34 also for Vandy. Christina Marinacci in black warmups for USC, and Micir for Princeton #23 in orange uniform. Not sure of Quinnipac winner.

____________________

In other tournament wrap-ups, Cal won the Colliers International Classic by beating Portland State, 82-49. Southern California's own Layshia Clarendon had 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in the win, and took the tournament's MVP award.

The Ducks won the Oregon Invitational with a solid victory over Sacramento State, 110-60.

Hard luck times

Two seasons worth of injuries and then mono can't keep Ohio State's Amber Stokes down: she's back.

Glory Johnson talks about Tennessee's loss to Georgetown last night.

Stack Magazine discusses Candace Parker's return to regular practices, and includes her practice shooting sequence.

Non-hard luck bonus: Nationally-ranked Brea Olinda hosts their annual Ladycat Classic this week. The brackets are solid, and action begins tomorrow.

Cal State Northridge falls to Chattanooga, but they're coming along

The Cal State Northridge Matadors aren't where they want to be yet, but they're getting there.

I stopped by last night to check in on them after last seeing the team on their first day of practice back in late August. What a difference. Though they lost to Chattanooga they fought hard, and I saw some brilliant performances out there.

Coach Jason Flowers and his all-star coaching staff of Christine Collins-Kiernan, Bryan Camacho and Lindsey Foster have a job akin to Obama's: cleaning up a mess that took years to make. The CSUN program has been in the basement of the Big West Conference for a long time, but I believe those days are numbered.

Check out my story and accompanying photo gallery.

CSUN faces off with LMU Tuesday night.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Geno Auriemma gets personal

UConn Coach Geno Auriemma took shots at one of his players, and at Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt, in a post-game press conference tonight.

Here's the Stefanie Dolson insult:

“I just thought Samarie’s been working at a real high level in practice,’’ he said. “I thought defensively she’d be a little better able to help us because most of their big guys are perimeter guys or want to play on the perimeter. So I thought Samarie would be better defensively to do that. And Stefanie played (15) minutes against Howard. So we don’t want to wear her out. Those two rebounds took a lot out of her. So we want to save her for the stretch run here. She came to practice today and she was really beaten up, and I didn’t realize the toll it was taking so I wanted to give her a rest.’’

Here's the Summitt insult:

Auriemma certainly saved his best jab for last. This one was aimed directly at Summitt. Earlier this season, she again accused Auriemma of cheating in recruiting.
And after the Lady Vols defeated Louisville 63-50 in the season opener on the road Nov. 12 Summitt said she would not mind again playing Louisville in the future because Cardinals coach Jeff Walz does things the right way.
Fast-forwarding to tonight at Gampel Pavilion, LSU coach Van Chancellor said he would like to again open a series with UConn. Auriemma was asked about a potential series with the Lady Tigers and ran with it.

“We’re not playing any SEC schools this year except them,’’ Auriemma said. “So, yeah, I could see us getting that series back with Van. He does things the right way. So I wouldn’t be opposed to playing Van going forward.’’


Pat and Geno have smack-talked each other before, so that's nothing new. But should Auriemma take shots at one of his own players? Was what he said taking it too far? Should such conversations be reserved for the locker room, or should players be put on blast? Was sarcasm appropriate in this case?

I'm wondering what you think.

(My) upset city

Georgetown (12th) upset Tennessee (4th) tonight at the Paradise Jam. What's more, forward Shekinna Stricklen was injured. But UT women's athletic director Joan Cronan tweeted that Kinna is OK and was in the whirlpool. She also called the game "rough, very rough."

Halfway across the world, Cal State Bakersfield capitalized on a monster comeback to hand Oregon its first loss, 82-78.

Ugh on both counts.

Duke barely escaped Charlotte tonight, 61-55.

And following up on yesterday's semifinal, Georgia put the hurt on LMU in today's final - 76-44.

Vanderbilt Tournament action

The USC Trojans lost to the Princeton Tigers 60-59 on the opening day of the Vanderbilt Tournament in Nashville, Tenn yesterday. This was a game that USC led for most of the way. Princeton's last lead was at 21-18 midway throught the first half, but USC failed to put away a team that on a man-to-man basis, they were better than. They also failed to make their free throws, hitting nine for 18 in the game, while Princeton hit 16 for 20. Princeton made their last two free throws to win the game with five seconds remaining, and trailing 59-58. USC's inbound play was a desperation three-pointer by Jackie Gemelos that didn't fall. Ashley Corral led all scorers with 21 points, and played the entire 40 minutes. Niveen Rasheed led Princeton with 18 points.

- IM in Nashville (regularly OC)



The benches in Vanderbilt are on the baselines, not the sidelines. This was Vanderbilts bench. Vandy beat Quinnepac, 111-53.



USC warms up for their game against Princeton.



Vanderbilt's arena is almost a square with three levels. SEC conference flags hang on the ceiling, including Tennessee's.

Best starts

Yesterday seemed to be "career high" day for many players, including Tennessee's Glory Johnson, who grabbed 18 rebounds in yesterday's win. That's why she's wearing the pirate's hat.

In the meantime, Cleveland State and UC Riverside are off to their respective best starts in a number of years.

Bonus: San Diego State University hangs on to win one.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Other NCAA action

UConn beat Howard tonight, pushing their win streak to 82 and setting an NCAA record.

Tennessee routed Georgia Tech 66-42.

Brittney Griner recorded a career high 35 points in Baylor's defeat of Liberty. She also had nine blocks. You gotta admire Liberty for trying to defend her.

Missouri upset #12 Georgetown.

All scores.

Courtyard by Marriott Los Angeles Westside Thanksgiving Classic action today

Loyola Marymount University 94, Stephen F. Austin 62

by Daniel Uribe

LMU used a 21-0 run and 64 percent shooting in the second half to bury Stephen F. Austin in the opening game of the Courtside by Marriott Los Angeles Westside Thanksgiving Classic today.

The game got off to a more even start, as both teams were shooting well and running good transition games. The Lions took an eight-point lead, but the Ladyjacks went on a run and caught up. The same sequence happened twice more, and LMU was up only 47-40 at halftime.

The second half was when they rolled out the can of whoop ass, and it was all down hill for SFA from there.

Junior Alex Cowling lead the Lions with 27 points, and freshman point guard Hazel Rarmirez had a career-high 22 points, to go with five assists.

Box score.

Both teams are very fundamentally sound, are quick and have great shooters. But LMU appears to have more depth.



Furious boxing out in the first half.



SFA brings it up the court.



Freshman point guard Hazel Ramirez (#4) - starting for the Lions - pushes the ball up court.



Kinda blurry, but that's partially because Ramirez is always hustling. She's only 5-foot-5, but doesn't hesitate to take the ball to the rack.



Alex Cowling (#3) swishes two of her game-high 27 points. Georgia players, in the red, are watching in case they have to play the winner of that game tomorrow.



Candice Nichols (#22) stumbles as she successfully puts up a shot.


University of Georgia 73, Denver University 51

Georgia's Jasmine Hassell matched her career high today, scoring 22 points in her team's victory over Denver University.

Like the other semifinal before it, the Bulldogs played well in the first half but kicked their game up another three gears in the second half, burying their opponents.

Porsha Phillips contributed 18 for Georgia, and Jasmine James had 17. Britteni Rice lead Denver with 12 points.



Venerated Coach Andy Landers conducts a timeout in the first half. The Bulldogs bring their own chairs and have a small crew run and set them up for the players as a timeout is called.



Georgia's Anne Marie Armstrong steals the ball, and instantly both teams are on the run.



Denver sets up the play while Bulldogs players clog the middle.



Porsha Phillips, who had 18 points and 11 rebounds, storms up the court after stealing the ball.



Meredith Mitchell looks to pass.



Landers is his usual, vocal self, and gives directions during the game at times.

Mingo's condition upgraded to "fair"

It appears those medications have been working, thank goodness: Purdue forward Drey Mingo's condition has been upgraded to "fair." She was hospitalized in critical condition earlier this week with a rare case of acute meningitis. The team will resume practice this afternoon.

The Oregon Invitational this weekend is a homecoming for former Ducks star Jamie Craighead.

UConn's challenge? Managing Maya Moore's minutes.

Nineteen games on tap today - hoooweee!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving morning

While we wait for today's games to either finish or begin, there are other things to contemplate on this holiday.

Freshman Jordan Hooper already means something to the Nebraska Huskers.

UConn point guard Caroline Doty may be out for the season with a torn ACL, but she's a team captain.

St. Louis beat Indiana last night, 69-58.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Weekend tourneys and some big pro news

Tennessee hasn't been to the Paradise Jam in five years, and they haven't faced their upcoming opponents in much longer than that. Coach Pat Summitt says her team is facing the unknown. Sounds like some great tests to me.

Florida Gulf Coast University won't play Purdue at the Caribbean Challenge, as they thought they would: they'll face Montana.

UCLA senior guard Darxia Morris is the UCLA/Muscle Milk Student Athlete of the Week.

Pro news: Anne Levinson - one of the four women who bought the Seattle Storm in 2008 - has left the partnership group. Ain't that somethin'.

Super bonus:

New Junior College rankings after last weekend's WNIT -

Top 10 National Poll

1 Pensacola State College
2 Trinity Valley Community College
3 North Idaho College
4 Gulf Coast Community College
5 Jefferson College
6 Central Arizona College
7 Midland College
8 Tallahassee Community College
9 Copiah-Lincoln Community College
10 Cleveland State Community College

Drey Mingo upgraded to "serious but stable" from "critical but stable"

Sweet, interesting and frightening bits about the Purdue forward's case comes to light in this piece:

Touching:

Coach Sharon Versyp, whose team was scheduled to play in Cancun, Mexico, before canceling the trip, talked to Mingo in the hospital briefly before coming to Mackey Arena.

"When I saw her last, she said 'Coach V' and smiled," Versyp said. "I wrote something down for her that said, 'Together We Attack. Everyone is here for you.' And she gave a thumbs up and said 'Yes.' ... She knows that everyone's around.

"She's a very strong, tough woman. She's the one who has pretty much proven to our team how strong she is and we're just right there with her and she knows we're right there with her. That's what's going to see her through."


Interesting:

Mingo, who scored 21 points and had 13 rebounds in Purdue's WNIT championship win Sunday afternoon, is being kept largely sedated to allow antibiotics to try to help her fight off the bacteria. Acute bacterial meningitis, which is inflammation of the lining around the central nervous system and spinal cord, is extremely rare. It's characterized by a particularly quick development of symptoms, such as fever, severe headache, stiff neck, sensitivity to light, nausea, and vomiting, along with mental status changes, like lethargy, fatigue, confusion, inability to answer questions and not knowing who or where they are.

Scary:

Team physician Alayne Sundstrom says doctors are treating the suspected bacteria, but they won't know if it's the right one until Thursday evening or Friday morning.

One of my kids was injured this morning in her college practice. Illnesses and injuries to athletes serve as reminders of just how precious life is and how it can all change in an instant. If you believe in positive thoughts, I hope you'll send some to Wingo and all the other injured and ill athletes out there. Every little bit helps.

Update: Drey Mingo is in critical but stable condition

Scary stuff. Thoughts go out to this young lady.

Purdue player falls ill, team cancels trip

An unamed Purdue player contracted meningitis, and the Boilermakers canceled a trip to Mexico, where they were to play in a tournament. Reports are that the player is redshirt junior Drey Mingo, who is hospitalized. Other team members and coaches have received antibiotics as a precaution.

More wrap-up from last night:

The Houston Cougars rallied for the comeback and beat Louisiana Tech, 70-66.

Brittney Griner on her blocks record: "this one's a little special."

Yowism:

North Carolina State athletic director Debbie Yow is continuing her family's legacy at the school.

High school news:

Stacked with talent, Southern California's Mater Dei is poised to repeat last year's winning season, despite, and because of, changes.

ESPN's pre-season high school rankings:

(Records are from 09-10 season)

1. Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) 32-1
2. Brea Olinda (Brea, Calif.) 31-3
3. Westbury Christian (Houston) 33-8
4. Bolingbrook (Bolingbrook, Ill.) 28-1
5. Memphis Central (Memphis, Tenn.) 26-4
6. Potter's House Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.) 34-4
7. Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.) 21-8
8. Neptune (Neptune, N.J.) 31-1
9. Whitney Young (Chicago, Ill.) 28-3
10. Buford (Buford, Ga.) 29-4
11. St. Mary's (Phoenix, Ariz.) 23-6
12. Long Beach Poly (Long Beach, Calif.) 32-3
13. Ben Davis (Indianapolis, Ind.) 28-0
14. Monarch (Louisville, Colo.) 22-5
15. Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.) 26-5
16. Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh, Pa.) 29-2
17. Lakeville North (Lakeville, Minn.) 32-0
18. Start (Toledo, Ohio) 18-4
19. Goose Creek (Goose Creek, S.C.) 27-1
20. Hoover (Hoover, Ala.) 33-1
21. Lake Taylor (Norfolk, Va.) 30-1
22. Nazareth Regional (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
23. Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Colo.) 18-8
24. MacArthur (Irving, Texas) 38-2
25. Lake Mary (Lake Mary, Fla.) 32-1
26. Norcross (Norcross, Ga.) 28-4
27. Incarnate Word Academy (St. Louis, Mo.) 30-1
28. Germantown Academy (Fort Washington, Pa.) 23-4
29. Fayette County (Fayetteville, Ga.) 24-6
30. Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland, Calif.) 27-4
31. Clarksville (Clarksville, Tenn.) 30-5
32. Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.) 29-2
33. Spring Valley (Spring Valley, S.C.) 26-3
34. La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla, Calif.) 26-4
35. Duncanville (Duncanville, Texas) 33-4
36. Jefferson (Portland, Ore.) 21-3
37. Sparkman (Harvest, Ala.) 21-6
38. North Little Rock (North Little Rock, Ark.) 31-0
39. Butler (Matthews, N.C.) 26-4
40. Detroit Renaissance (Detroit, Mich.) 19-3
41. St. John's (D.C.) 24-6
42. William Penn Charter School (Philadelphia) 18-7
43. Marion County (Lebanon, Ky.) 33-2
44. St. Mary's (Stockton, Calif.) 34-1
45. St. Joseph's Academy (St. Louis, Mo.) 21-8
46. Oak Hill (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) 14-5
47. Linn-Mar (Marion, Iowa) 23-0
48. Racine Case (Racine, Wis.) 19-6
49. St. John the Baptist (Islip, N.Y.) 10-11
50. Carondelet (Concord, Calif.) 27-6

San Diego State woes

Wow.

Just six months after being hired, former USC coach Mark Trakh has left the San Diego State program "to attend to personal family matters."

And the Aztecs dropped a game last night to lowly UC Irvine, which means they're winless so far this season.

What's up with last year's Sweet 16 team?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Brittney Griner tops Baylor blocks record

Entering her sophomore year, after only 41 games, Brittney Griner became Baylor's blocks leader tonight. Griner put up 27 points and had three blocks in the Bears' win over Texas Southern. The previous record was 249 blocks, which took her predecessor over twice as long to achieve. Baylor Coach Kim Mulkey said Griner "has a knack for timing it just right" to get blocks.

Griner and Brooklyn Pope in the first half.

Elsewhere tonight, Amber Harris had 28 points and a career-high 18 rebounds in Xavier's win over Louisville.

USC defeated #18 Georgia, 71-63.

Bonus: check out the first episode of the Kara Lawson show. Way cool.

Morning digest

After a rough start to her tenure as head coach, Cynthia Cooper-Dyke's University of North Carolina-Wilmington Seahawks are 3-0 so far after their win last night over High Point. Coop is interviewed after the game.

C. Vivian Stringer's and Patricia Cage-Bibbs' teams faced off last night.

Pac-10 alert: Oregon State has only lost one game, and Arizona is 4-0. A quiet revolution? Yes.

Graham Hays ranks the mid-majors, and Xavier is on top.

And this story about the resilience of Green Bay's Celeste Hoewisch shows why Hays is one of my favorite ESPN writers. The lead alone is worth an award:

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Few players seem less fluent in the language of failure than Celeste Hoewisch, whose very basketball existence suggests that sheer stubborn will to succeed comes in packages as distinct from the norm as Brittney Griner's size or Kayla Pedersen's versatility.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Good news and bad news

The bad news first: Baylor sophomore guard Shanay Washington is out for the season with a torn ACL. Healing thoughts go out to her.

Buckeye good news: Ohio State's Samantha Prahalis was back today from her three-game suspension, and wasted no time putting the hurt on East Tennessee State.

Swin Cash will return to China to play this winter.

On the Tennessee tip

Candace Parker is back, beastin' up the workouts and getting ready to go play in Russia again this winter.

The next Candace, aka Tennessee frosh Meighan Simmons, is interviewed on video.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Today's games

Jeanette Pohlen - aka she of the heart attack shots - helped lift Stanford past fighting Gonzaga today. Big Ogwumike (Nnemkadi) put up 21 points and pulled down 14 rebounds for the trees in the 84-78 victory. Hey, maybe Stanford can lose after all.

Someday UConn will lose too, but it wasn't today. Maya Moore scored 30 to lead the Huskies past Georgia Tech, 71-51. Their winning streak stands at 81.

Tennessee cruised past Arizona State today, lead by the dunkin-in-practice, hard-working Glory Johnson.

Notre Dame lost their second straight game, as Kentucky beat them 81-76.

Purdue won the preseason WNIT with a 67-58 victory over DePaul. They're now 4-0.

In other scores, Florida State beat Vanderbilt 72-66. Duke thrashed Western Kentucky, Texas killed Boston University and North Carolina annihilated Western Carolina.

A little bit of yesterday:

Trinity Valley CC walked away with the WNIT championship, beating Central Arizona 81-70. Sha'Kayla Caples had 24, Jenea Barrett 13, and Kejuana Gardner 12 for TVCC. Ashley Mitchell (another SoCal product) had 17 points for Central Arizona.

Marist is off to a hot start - they've won three in a row.

A little bit of last week:

ESPN's Graham Hays recaps.

The athletic director at Florida Gulf Coast University won't grant one freshman's request for a transfer.

# 15 UCLA 65, UC Davis 49

UCLA is off to a 4-0 start - their best in 24 years - after beating UC Davis today, 65-49. It was the first-ever meeting between the two teams, curiously.

The Bruins got off to a fast start. But the Aggies went on a run and caught up, thanks largely to Vicky Deely, who had five three-point shots as part of her total 21 - most of them in the first half. Then UCLA put their own pedal to the medal and went on a 13-0 run to put themselves up 32-21 at the half. They kept attacking in the second period, going on a 13-3 run to extend their lead.

Box score.

UC Davis is a very disciplined team and they have great, disruptive defense. But in the end, UCLA had more depth. Jasmine Dixon, Doreena Campbell, Darxia Morris and Antonye Nyingifa were double-digit scorers, while only Deely and Paige Mintun went double on the other side.

The Bruins shot an impressive 54 percent for the game, but they had 29 turnovers - three less than the Aggies. UCLA also had only 36 rebounds.

Overall, however, the Bruins are improving each game, and they were playing more like a unit today. Coach Nikki Caldwell is correct in saying that her team plays in spurts. But they look closer to being able to play for a full 40 minutes (something Caldwell always wants) than they were at this time last year.



UCLA's Antonye Nyingifa rips the rebound away from UC Davis' Kasey Riecks (#25).



Hannah Stephens brings the ball up court as Doreena Campbell guards her.



Vicky Deely unleashes two of her 21 game points in the first half.



Darxia Morris for two in the second half. She had 14 for the day.



Campbell looks to pass. She scored her 1000th career point in Thursday's Notre Dame game - good job, Do!



UCLA recruit Kacy Swain watches the game with her parents. Another Bruin signee - Moriah Foulk - was also in attendance (in the shorts two rows up).



Campbell and Mariah Williams (left) alternated at point today.



Late in the game, Williams had a beautiful behind-the-back pass to Nyingifa.



I could not be a coach on this team, as the shoe dress code is for one-foot heels. I would, however, gladly be a player for this team......those are some FLY ass kicks, in my brand.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Trinity Valley wins NJCAA WNIT

Fifth-ranked Trinity Valley Community College beat number two Central Arizona tonight, 81-70, at the National Junior College Athletic Association WNIT in Midland, Texas.

I'm still waiting for a story from the Midland newspaper, as well as the websites of those involved. But there are two game pictures at the bottom of the Mywesttexas sports page.

And Tennessee junior forward Glory Johnson is embodying the old Candace Parker work ethic by asking for extra sessions with assistant coach Dean Lockwood:

The way to Dean Lockwood’s coaching heart is through his cell phone. When a player calls and wants to meet him in the gym for repetitions that tells the Lady Vol assistant that the player has decided to invest in her own game. Candace Parker remains the gold standard at Tennessee for this extra effort, but Glory Johnson is now the one initiating the contact with her position coach.

“We just can’t do this in practice,” Assistant Coach Dean Lockwood said after a recent one-on-one workout in Pratt Pavilion with Glory Johnson that left him as sweat-soaked as the player. “You don’t have the luxury of working with players individually. You’ve got to do that outside of practice. The player has to be hungry and thirsty for it and really, really want to learn and get better.
“I use the Candace example. Candace Parker would have been good no matter what but one of the things I respect her so much for is that she cared and invested enough in her game that she took individual time.”

Johnson will next take the court for Tennessee, 3-0, on Sunday at 2 p.m. Eastern (SportSouth, Lady Vol Radio Network) against Arizona State, 2-0, at Thompson-Boling Arena. This will be the first time the Sun Devils have played in Knoxville.

Parker and Lockwood basically inhabited the gym in her third season at Tennessee and if Lockwood was on the road for recruiting reasons, Parker went on her own. She also was a habituĂ© of the gym outside of practice in her first and second years, but it really increased in the third year. Lockwood hasn’t been nearly as busy lately – and that is partly due to injuries and court limitations with some post players – but Johnson has taken some steps to change that.

“Some of it was force-feeding early, but (last Sunday) she mentioned it,” Lockwood said. “She said, ‘Hey, can we do our thing today?’ I said, ‘By all means.’ It is rare that I won’t be available for you. Something freaky has to happen for me not to be available for one of those kids who wants to get better.

“Her investment is starting to pay some dividends because you can see some carryover. That is what I point to. It doesn’t mean anything if you can’t carry it over in a game. We’re seeing some of that stuff now and that’s to her credit. I give her all the credit, because she is the one investing, she is the one that is receptive, and she’s the one that sees this is important.”


I am going to copy this part of the story and give it to every kid I know, because they need to see it. Many don't have any idea of the work involved in being a great player, and that includes assuming that Candace Parker just plays off her talent alone.

It takes work, kids - lots of concentrated work. So get to it like Glory.

The unexpecteds start flowing in

It's always smooth sailing for the first few days of college basketball season, but then the inevitable upsets begin to occur. Take today's scores.

New Mexico beat Cal 63-54 in two overtimes, and Bears Coach Joanne Boyle isn't happy about it.

(Idaho also needed two overtimes to be UC Santa Barbara tonight.....did UCLA and Notre Dame start a trend Thursday night?)

Oregon State won its third consecutive regular-season game tonight against Cal State Northridge at the University of Hawaii tournament. The Beavers, incredibly, are 3-0; Northridge is 0-3. But it's the Matadors that have the story on their website - not OSU. The Beavs went out to dinner afterwards and got a tour of the kitchen.

Richmond beat North Carolina State 81-75.

There will be more upsets, to be sure.

Some of tomorrow's games will be intense:

#10 Kentucky vs. #12 Notre Dame

#14 Florida State vs. #20 Vanderbilt

DePaul vs. Purdue

Middle Tennessee vs. Arkansas

JUCO WNIT

Midland College in Texas has been the site of the largest and most powerful gathering of National Junior College Athletic Association teams the last three days - the first annual WNIT. After two days of great competition, Trinity Valley and Central Arizona will play for the championship tonight at 7 p.m. CST.

Bonus:

Look at who Tennessee might be considering: Jordan Adams, Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson, Imani Stafford, and Andraya Carter, just to name a few.

Q and A with Candice "Ice" Wiggins.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Basketball night cap

Class of 2011 recruiting rankings:

1. Tennessee
2. Connecticut
3. UCLA
4. Duke
5. Rutgers
6. Stanford
7. Cal
8. USC
9. Texas A&M
10. Texas
11. Iowa
12. Kentucky
13. Virginia
14. Northwestern
15. Arizona State

FIVE Pac-10 schools? Wow.

In Mechelle Voepel's chat, she discusses everything from Baylor-UConn to Samantha Prahalis to Ohio State.

Baylor was back to their winning ways tonight, beating Michigan State 78-52. Brittney Griner lead the way for the Bears with 29 points. One more block and she'll beat the school's career blocks record.....as a sophomore.

Old war horse Andy Landers got his 1000th game at Georgia tonight, as his Bulldogs beat Chattanooga.

And once again, ESPN's Mark Lewis hits a homerun with his advice to "embrace the high school game." Very well said. High school ball is so damn much fun to watch, too.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Interesting stuff

Pro stuff:

Hoopfeed.com has a great piece on new Chicago Sky Coach Pokey Chatman.

Nancy Lieberman is going to coach the dudes.

The Chicago Sky has named Mount Assisi Academy its first high school team of the week. Now why doesn't every WNBA team do that??

Collegio:

Jody Conradt won the Joe Lapchick Character Award and she's not even coaching. That's something.

Kentucky likes Coach Matthew Mitchell: he just signed a new five-year contract.

UCLA takes double OT victory over Notre Dame, 86-83

Finally! A team I like pulls off the upset. And oh what an upset it was:

SOUTH BEND — No. 15 UCLA fought back at the end of regulation and the first overtime, and then survived a last-second Irish shot to score an 86-83 double-overtime victory against No. 12 Notre Dame Thursday night in college women's basketball action.

Notre Dame trailed, 84-83, when Natalie Novosel was fouled in a battle for a loose ball. Novosel missed both, and UCLA's Markel Walker rebounded and was fouled. Walker went to the free-throw line with 5.8 seconds left. Walker missed both. Natalie Achonwa rebounded, and the Irish called a timeout with 4.2 seconds left.

Darxia Morris stole the inbounds pass intended for Skylar Diggins, who immediately fouled Morris. Morris hit two free throws for an 86-83 lead with 3.6 left. Diggins' desperation 3 bounced off the rim as the buzzer sounded.


Jasmine Dixon and Darxia Morris went big for the Bruins tonight.

Skylar Diggins continues to be a monster; I really appreciate her game.

I adore one-, two-, or three-overtime games, even if they're hard on the system.

The only other major news tonight is Angie Bjorklund's six treys in leading Tennessee's win over Virginia 85-73.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Recruiting trail and pre-season high school rankings

ESPN is at it again, thank goodness.

Number six Briyona Canty waited until the last day to choose Rutgers. What this means for the Scarlet Knights.

Ninth-ranked Morgan Jones will go with Northwestern.

They say all the talent we have in California will be challenged this year.

But "challenged" doesn't mean beat. Cali still has three schools in maxpreps.com's top 10 list: 1-5 and 6-10.

Add another one when you factor in ESPN's regional rankings.

Powerade Fab 50.

And all this started yesterday with a story about Oregon high school baller/milk drinker Elizabeth Brenner.

Good stuff.

Gumbo

Playas:

Mariah White, Danielle Robinson and Jordan Hooper were named the Big 12 Players of the Week.

Briana Gilbreath is the Pac-10 Player of the Week.

Roundup:

Atlantic-10 basketball notebook.

Coach:

Pat Summitt discusses many Lady Vol players in her teleconference.

Hey, somebody stole my idea:

Ex-UConn players "tweet" it out.

More Baylor-UConn:

Kim Mulkey post-game interview.

Geno Auriemma post-game interview.

DIII:

Division III play is now in full effect.

WNBA:

Will Katie Smith join the Seattle Storm next year?

Nice piece on the Sparks' Marie Ferdinand-Harris.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Two quick ones

Remember Richie Adubato? Yeah, me too. Always liked him. And he interviews well.

Texas A&M is ready to take the next step.

Connecticut 65, Baylor 64

It was everything you could want in a game of its caliber, with the two top-ranked teams going at it - the stars, the surges, the butt-clenching finish. A rare treat so early in the season.

Interesting innuendos in this story:

Geno Auriemma covered his head with his hands when he went to meet Kim Mulkey at mid-court after the final buzzer.

Mulkey said she "learned she has a talented basketball team."

Auriemma said: "I think there's always something cool when you do something for the first time with a group of people. You know you don't have all the answers. For the last two years it's been let's do that. Now it's not going to be like that."

Hmmmm.

Graham Hays says the youngins are coming of age already.

After checking in on twitter for the night, I have one related question: is it OK to make fun of Mulkey's outfits?

Fans have long giggled at her antics during games, which include grabbing her head while screaming, stomping, beating the floor and pounding the score table. But Mulkey's colorful outfit (one of many) was being panned tonight - in fact straight-up clowned - by a number of UConn past and present players and WNBA stars.

The worst is probably Meghan Gardler, who posted:

Kim Mulkey has on a gold pleather jacket which looks like she stole from Willy Wonka

Noo #kimmulkey def thought she was going to a rave she brought her own disco ball (her pants)

I think ESPN should have a fashion segment and I should host it. It might encourage players/coaches to not look so heinous


Tasha Humphrey was only slightly nicer:

Kim Mulkey knows she can't dress.. So I think she dresses bad to stir up controversy bc she HONESTLY can't think she looks good.. Can she?

Kim Mulkey looks like she should guest star in the Adidas commercial w/ D. Rose, D. Howard and the asian dude from The Hangover!?


So what do you think? Is it all in good fun, or should one of the pioneers of the game get more respect?

Monday, November 15, 2010

College season, days 1-4

ESPN's Graham Hays has some good opening weekend observations.

Fresno State almost beat a school record in their 120-93 victory yesterday.

C and R are just as happy as myself that college season has finally begun. The Stanford fans thought Chiney Ogwumike was all business in the win over Rutgers yesterday. The San Francisco daily said both sisters put the hurt on the red team.

Tonight's games:

Duke Coach Joanne P. McCallie got her 400th career win tonight as the Blue Devils defeated the University of Southern California, 75-50.

Freshman Meighan Simmons strikes again for Tennessee, leading four players in double-digit figures with 26 points in the Vols' win over Chattanooga. Is she this year's Brittney Griner?

In their victory over Michigan, Xavier proves they are scoring machines.

Pro bonus:

Angel McCoughtry saw her jersey retired at Louisville Friday.

Tamika Catchings discusses overcoming odds.

Lists!

This week's rankings:

1. Connecticut
2. Baylor
3. Stanford
4. Tennesseee
5. Xavier
6. Duke
7. Ohio State
8. Texas A&M
9. Kentucky
10. West Virginia
11. Oklahoma
12. Notre Dame
13. Georgetown
14. North Carolina
15. UCLA
16. Florida State
17. Texas
18. Georgia
19. Iowa State
20 St. John's
21. Maryland
22. Iowa
23. Vanderbilt
24. TCU
25. Michigan State

Here are some other lists that are too long to copy - the pre-season Wade, Naismith and Wooden award candidates. Glad I don't have to make the picks.

All-time winning and losing streak lists.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Another one dunks the ball

Now Tennessee's Glory Johnson is dunkin' it. And that ain't no weak throw down, either.

Today's college scores....no surprises.

UCLA 66, UC Santa Barbara 52

If you're one to start ranting about how UCLA must suck based on today's score, chill out. Once the Bruins were up by 18 in the second half at 54-36, Coach Nikki Caldwell put in the freshmen and other reserves, as she should have. Sure, UCSB closed the gap a bit, but UCLA was never in any danger, and the youngins got playing time.

Gaucho Coach Lindsay Gottlieb was kind, saying the Bruins "have Final Four potential." But it's not quite there yet. Caldwell sized it up accurately in her post-game interview.

"At halftime I asked them, 'do you know each other?' Because we weren't playing together as a team," she said. "In the second half we set the tone for a team effort."

No one came up big today except UCSB guard Emilie Johnson, who lead her own team, and all athletes, with 14 points. Four Bruins were in double figures, barely, and three didn't score at all. Shooting was 43.8 percent, but total rebounds were only 39. UCLA has some work to do, and I hope they get busy, because they've got Notre Dame coming up Thursday.

Box score.



Ticha Penicheiro hits up the snack bar at halftime today.



Markel Walker (far right with headband) hits a runner.



Rebekah Gardner showed the same amount of intensity today that she did in last week's season opener. Emilie Johnson - number 10 - lead the Gauchos in scoring for the second consecutive game, with 14 points.



Darxia Morris no-look-passes to Doreena Campbell.



At one timeout, assistant coach Tony Perotti took forward Jasmine Dixon aside.



Freshman Corrine Costa (34) has nice footwork. She only scored two points, but she had three big blocks and was the only Bruin to pad that portion of the stat column.

College roundup

Well I'll be darned - Oregon State routed Long Beach State last night, 71-39. But I don't know if this necessarily says great things about the Beavers as much as it's a harbinger of the season for Long Beach State. The 49ers dropped an exhibition game last weekend to a Division II team.

On the other side of the country, North Carolina State dumped Creighton.

Remember Elena Delle Donne? She's carrying her Delaware team.

Yesterday's full scoreboard.

In the meantime, I guess Louisville doesn't suck anymore, because they're being hailed as Tennessee's main rival this year.

Lady Vol freshman Meighan Simmons is a hit with her teammates.

Stanford Coach Tara Vanderveer is more excited than usual about her team this year. She says they "get it."

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cali High School Showcase

Accompanying photos can be found on my photostream page.

10:15 a.m.: Washington Prep vs. View Park

The Generals made a valiant effort, but they were no match for the quick-moving Knights. Prep has Reshanda "Too Tall" Gray, but they lost a key starter to graduation last spring, and several players are new. View Park team members, on the other hand, have been together for years.

View Park is lead by senior point guard Danielle Pruitt, who at 5-foot-9 is not at all afraid to block someone's shot. But don't count Prep out yet. People have been doing it for two years, and they've been proven wrong each time. February is a long way away.

Final: View Park 60, Washington Prep 38

10:15 a.m.: Long Beach Jordan vs. Inglewood

Inglewood lost several key players to graduation last year, but they've reloaded with a stable full of fast young players. Lead by San Diego State signee Deajanae Scurry, who was having a "block party," the Sentinels dominated Jordan in every way.

Final: Inglewood 42, Long Beach Jordan 22

(Yes, I watched both games)

12:45 p.m.: Long Beach Poly vs. Mater Dei - the rematch

Poly got their revenge today from last year's game - a contest that was eerily similar to the 2009 version.

Mater Dei, who still look more like a college team (size) than a high school squad, predictably came out blazing. To begin with, Alexyz Vaioletama was back from sitting out the last year injured. So the big three - Vaioletama, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Jordan Adams - were back and in full effect. The Monarchs won the tip and Adams went tearing down the court before anyone on either side could come with her. That set the tone for the game.

And for a while, Mater Dei was wiping the floor with Poly. It began in the first half when they were tied at 15, and Poly Coach Carl Buggs put in reserves and left them there too long. The Monarchs grabbed the lead and ran with it, literally. They were flying over the heads of the Jackrabbits, putting up shots, pulling down boards and driving to the basket. Poly, on the other hand, couldn't hit anything and they let Mosqueda-Lewis get hot and failed to defend her well, so she got off several three-pointers. They lead 42-27 at halftime.

But in the second half, Poly clawed back and started chipping away at the lead. They started making more shots, but it was their defensive clamp down that really put the brakes on Mater Dei. The Jackrabbits went ahead at the 5:27 mark on a two-point shot, and they never trailed again. A bucket from deep in the right corner by Tajanae Winston put Poly ahead 60-52 with about three minutes to go, and that seemed to deflate the Monarchs.

The Jordan Adams-Ariya Crook-Williams point guard battle was fun again, but I'd say Crook-Williams won out this year because she got hot in her shooting for a little bit, as she is wont to do sometimes.

These two teams probably won't meet again this season, so today was a treat. And the large crowd loved every minute.

Final score: Long Beach Poly 68, Mater Dei 53

Friday, November 12, 2010

USC 79, Gonzaga 73



USC guard Jacki Gemelos drives to the basket.

______________________________________________________

The USC Trojans opened their 2010-11 season at the Galen Center today with a come-from-behind win over number 22 Gonzaga, 79-73.

It was not a well-played game by either side. Gonzaga took a lot of shots - often of poor quality - or sometimes just for the sake of shooting (38 percent from 74 shots). USC had 25 turnovers, with 14 of those in the first half. The Trojans seemed to make forced passes early in the game.

I thought the Bulldogs did a great job of stopping USC's half-court offense with quick hands and deflections of Trojan passes. USC helped Gonzaga by often using the entire 30-second clock before making their passes, thus leading to forced passes and forced shots. Twice in the first half the Trojans had shot clock violations, and this was a reason Gonzaga was able to lead 25-14 about 12 minutes into the first half.

USC started a 14-2 run to take a short-lived 28-27 lead late in the first half. Then the Trojans again made mistakes and the Bulldogs ran off on a 10-2 run late to finish the half with a 37-30 lead.

The second half was a much better half for the Trojans. Although they still had too many turnovers (11), they were able to stop Gonzaga from getting scoring chances off those turnovers. The Bulldogs were only able to get seven points off turnovers in the second half. USC also became much more aggressive and drove to the basket with more authority. They then got quality shot chances and followed up those shots with 16 second-chance points, after only having four such points in the first half.

Highlights for the women of Troy were Briana Gilbreaths' 21 points and 10 rebounds and Christina Marinacci's 16 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman Cassie Harberts added 16 points in her college debut, and played 37 minutes. Harberts played with four fouls with about eight minutes remaining in the game, and was coming in and out over the last 3:45 - in on offense and out on defense.

Stephanie Gilbreath made her long-awaited debut, and had one basket in five minutes of play. The Trojans will need more minutes from Stephanie Gilbreath and freshmen Len'Nique Brown and Desiree Bradley. Those three logged no more than six minutes per player, leaving the bulk of play to the five starters and Marinacci.

Courtney Vandersloot led the Bulldogs with 19 points in 36 minutes. Gonzaga did not get much help from their bench, with only Jazmine Redmon putting up eight points.

USC next plays Monday night at fifth-ranked Duke. Gonzaga's next game is Sunday at home versus Whitman.



The women of Troy and their band party it up on the jumbotron after the game.

- Pictures and text by IM in OC

Opening day!

College season is finally here!!!!!!!!! I'm SO excited!

Scoreboard:

Tennessee 63
Louisville 50

Baylor 83
FIU 36

UCLA 55
San Diego State 48

Xavier 84
South Carolina 65

USC 79
Gonzaga 73

Ohio State 84
Temple 75

Cal 66
Rutgers 57

.....just to name a few.

Budding star alert: we may have another Candace Parker-type on our hands in orange country. Freshman Meighan Simmons scored 22 points in tonight's Lady Vol win. This is similar to what she's been doing in Tennessee's exhibition games.

UCLA had to rally to beat San Diego State.

Rutgers appears to be dead, and Cal looks like its rising again.

Earlier, ESPN's Mechelle Voepel wrote about Baylor.

ESPN writers made their conference champion picks for the year, and they look very similar.

They also made mid-major picks.

Kara Lawson and Carolyn Peck discussed the season that is upon us.

ESPN also predicted this year's All-Americans.

And in case you missed my Pac-10 previews, hoopfeed.com has consolidated them here.

Tennessee 2010-2011: getting back to the "old Vols"



It's orange vs. blue at a recent practice.

Again this year, Hoopism is pleased to interview respected scout.com reporter Maria M. Cornelius on the Tennessee Lady Vols. Cornelius is about as respected an expert on the Vols that there is, as she attends virtually every team practice. The deep, detailed pieces she writes are legendary.

Hoopism wanted insight into this year's squad, and Cornelius was gracious enough to oblige.


SF: Does it feel like "the old Lady Vols" yet?

MMC: It is getting much closer. The “old” Lady Vols still had that enforcer in Nicky Anosike, the player who was undervalued at times by fans but not by coaches and teammates. Anosike held everyone accountable. This team still needs a take-charge player or players, and that likely will emerge as the season unfolds. Alicia Manning and Taber Spani are good candidates. Both are vocal and demand as much of themselves as they would others. Angie Bjorklund also has become a better communicator and can take charge in a team huddle.

SF: Has Angie Bjorklund matured into the senior/team leader that Pat Summitt always envisioned for her?

MMC: I think Pat Summitt knows that some players are quiet by nature and tend to lead by example more so than by voice. Angie fits this category, but she has come out of her comfort zone and will get the team in tight huddles. She also will talk on defense. Nicky Anosike was one of the best at this – she could call out defenses switches and screens from her post position. I also think the more Vicki Baugh plays, the more her voice will be heard.

SF: What has Vicki Baugh brought to the court and team, both with regard to the game and personally, since returning from injury?

MMC: Vicki is a competitor to her core. The buzzword with her is patience as it has been 21 months since she played in a competitive game. She needs time to get her knee adjusted to playing basketball again. Jenny Moshak said the issues now are what she calls “peri-knee” as the areas around the knee, such as iliotibial band and hamstring, work out the kinks. But she is already a difference-maker in practice with her defense – her hands are always active and her feet are always moving; she should be required viewing for a young post player – and her touch around the basket.

She also is an excellent passer. Alyssia Brewer is expected to return at some point in December, and those two could be outstanding together in a high-low game.



Players watch the action from the sidelines during practice

SF: Is Kelley Cain ready to dominate? Who will be her point guard this year?

MMC: Kelley Cain can dominate on defense. Her ability to blocks shots all over the court is rather eye-popping. She has had to deal with her own knee issues and a sore hip, so that affects her mobility, but she is a classic back-to-the-basket center who can score at the rim. When Tennessee wants to run half-court sets on offense, Kelley needs to be on the floor.

Shekinna Stricklen will start, for now, at the point guard spot, but she will slip more to the wing as the backups develop. Briana Bass has improved her shot and is pushing tempo. She knows she has to hit the three ball as her predecessor Shannon Bobbitt did and she lofted thousands of shots over the summer.

I have seen a willingness to move Stricklen more off the ball. Avant missed preseason time with allergy issues and then a hand injury, so she is playing catch-up, but she will give the team some quality minutes at the point guard spot this season. Meighan Simmons and Kamiko Williams also will have limited offensive packages from the spot so they can be used there at times.

SF: How has the loss of Alyssia Brewer affected the team?

MMC: The post depth took a hit. Glory Johnson is an athletic big but not a classic post player in terms of size. She is built like a sprinter and can guard a lot of posts, but Alyssia Brewer, Kelley Cain and Vicki Baugh will be needed to take on the bigs in the paint.

Brewer has been very upbeat in her rehab and maintained her level of fitness as best she could. She also looks physically fit despite the time away from the court. I think her return will be a tremendous boost and allows Tennessee the bodies it needs to go against bigger teams.

SF: Name the assets and strengths of the two freshmen, Lauren Avant and Meighan Simmons.

MMC: Lauren Avant can already play defense. That is rare in a freshman. She is still learning all the schemes – Tennessee defenses can get complicated, especially when to switch, help, etc. – so she is not always certain right now exactly where to be but she will try to get there in a hurry. She can also pressure the ball in the backcourt. On offense, she missed a lot of time with injuries so that part of her game is rusty, but she does have a point guard mentality and her first inclination is to distribute the ball. She can get to the paint on the dribble drive and hit a pull-up or get to the rim so that will keep defenders honest.

Meighan Simmons is the fastest player with the ball in her hand that I have seen in awhile. She has Shannon Bobbitt-speed in a taller body. She has deep three-ball range and also can score off the bounce. She also brings effort on defense, and that will score points with Pat Summitt, who hates to try to coach effort.

Both freshmen are eager and willing to work. They will have growing pains, all freshmen do, but it won’t be because of lack of heart. They want to help this team as soon as they can and they already practice as if that will be soon in the season.

SF: How has Mickie DeMoss' presence changed practices?

MMC: Mickie now brings a head coach’s mentality to practice. In her previous stint at Tennessee, she wasn’t as vocal. That has changed now. It has been a godsend for Pat Summitt, who doesn’t have to always be the enforcer. She can let DeMoss’ voice be heard, too, and that keeps players from tuning either one out. If a player hears from one coach too much, it loses its effect.

Holly Warlick also seems more relaxed and is happy to have a close friend back on the staff. Last season when Daedra Charles Furlow was battling breast cancer, the coaches were down a staff member until Stephanie Glance was activated, and it took a toll on the other two assistants. They did all the scouting reports – those take hours – and had to be very hands-on in practice with what was still a young team. The distribution of duties is spread out now and Charles-Furlow remained as director of character development. She works with the players off the court and has had a very positive effect. She is someone they can go talk to when they need a sympathetic ear.

SF: What are the Lady Vols' strengths right now?

MMC: Depth. And that’s the first time they can say that in years. When Lyssi Brewer comes back, they will have 13 players that Pat Summitt can put in a game in various situations and feel comfortable with what they will do.

They also have deep three-ball shooters in Angie Bjorklund, Taber Spani, Shekinna Stricklen and Meighan Simmons. When they are on the floor in assorted combinations, the defense has to come out on them.

The post play will be among the best in the country when Lyssi returns and Kelley and Vicki get their sea legs, so to speak. Given the size of some of the top teams in the country, a strong post game is a must this season to get to the Final Four.

The other strength is experience. This team has been through a lot, especially the freshmen who are now juniors, and they have played a lot of games in a lot of venues. Nothing is new in the SEC this season – they’ve been to every team’s gym now.

The players also are resilient. They watched a former teammate nearly die in Amber Gray and knew last season that a beloved coach was fighting breast cancer. They bounced back from one of the worst seasons in Tennessee history to a 32-3 record.

They know the lack a huge notch on their resumes – a Final Four and a national title. They seem to now understand how hard they have to work to accomplish that.



Associate Head Coach Holly Warlick is passionate about making a point

SF: Who do you predict will be key contributing players this year?

The starters likely will change on occasion but for now Pat Summitt is going with Shekinna Stricklen, Angie Bjorklund, Taber Spani, Glory Johnson and Alicia Manning.

I expect all five of those to be major contributors, as will Vicki Baugh, Kelley Cain and Lyssi Brewer in the paint.

That leaves five more players and I think Pat Summitt will try to squeeze as many minutes out of as many as she can this season. The freshmen will definitely contribute as they have speed, something Tennessee has needed more of in the backcourt.

Bree Bass remains a steady and solid player when she’s on the floor. She also is the one you want on the floor if the team has to hit a free throw. She is automatic from the line. Sydney Smallbone can knock down shots and has worked to become a better defender.

Kamiko Williams remains one of the best athletes on the team and can get to the paint pretty much whenever she wants to with the ball. I am curious to watch her development as a sophomore as she has the potential to also be a shutdown defender.

In terms of player I expect to be the key in terms of contributions this season, it has to be Vicki Baugh. She has been sorely missed because of her skill, heart and desire. She is not just a special basketball player. She is a special person.

SF: How is team chemistry?

MMC: Excellent. This group has been the most cohesive team I have ever watched at Tennessee. They have a genuine love for each other in what they call their “sisterhood.” The players who face the greatest challenges – Briana Bass with her size and Sydney Smallbone, who has worked to improve her defense – are the ones they cheer for the most in practice.

It’s a special team in terms of chemistry, and the freshmen seem to want to fit in and be a part of it.



The 2010-2011 Lady Vols

Tennessee opens their regular season tonight against Louisville. The Cardinal's new arena has been sold out for the game.

- Photos by Maria M. Cornelius

Thursday, November 11, 2010

New conference alignments, and other news

The Pac-10 has released its schedule for 2011-2012, when it becomes the Pac-12. Not only will there be six games per week, but conference play will begin in December instead of the traditional January. Check out the first four dates:

Thurs., Dec. 29
Stanford at USC
California at UCLA
Washington State at Oregon
Washington at Oregon State

Sat., Dec. 31
Arizona at Arizona State
California at USC
Stanford at UCLA
Washington at Oregon
Washington State at Oregon State
Colorado at Utah

Thurs., Jan. 5
UCLA at Arizona
USC at Arizona State
Oregon at Stanford
Oregon State at California
Colorado at Washington
Utah at Washington State

Sat., Jan. 7
USC at Arizona
UCLA at Arizona State
Oregon at California
Oregon State at Stanford
Utah Washington
Colorado at Washington State

The Western Athletic Conference will add the University of Denver, the University of Texas at San Antonio and Texas State University by July 1, 2012.

The LA Times found that USC players and coaches still think everyday about not being chosen for the NCAA Tournament last spring. Yet the picture with the piece is of former point guard Camille LeNoir, who graduated in 2009. Did the Times not go to any SC games last year?

North Carolina State Coach Kellie Jolly Harper talks about the upcoming season.

Tennessee items:

Pat Summitt discussed Tennessee's first two games of the season in a teleconference yesterday.

So far, the long-time coach likes what she sees this year.

The day after signing day

On the eve of many season openers, there is so much news:

ESPN's Graham Hays has the top mid-major players to watch.

Also, the Elite Eight losers are back for attack.

Syracuse is determined to make it to the tourney this year.

Five collegiate players to watch this year.

Maryland Coach Brenda Frese is still struggling to coach and deal with her son's cancer.

Ohio State's junior point guard Samantha Prahalis has been suspended for three games for violating unspecified NCAA rules.

Some dude tried to play off his negative comments about George Washington University transgender player Kye Allums on Kara Lawson and Carolyn Peck. Of course, they weren't having it.

More news on hoopfeed's twitter.