Monday, January 31, 2011

Uppers, a downer and some warm fuzzies

Alana Beard stopped in to play ball with the Obamas.

On the down side, since Beard left Louisiana, girl's basketball has been in a slump in that state.

Tennessee:

The Vols have several days off, and Coach Pat Summitt and superstar freshman Meighan Simmons are watching tape together:

"The more we can watch tape together, the better,'' Summitt said. "I'm the one who's going to watch with her. I feel like we have a good connection. Hopefully I can help her to calm down and relax."

Awwwww.......

Two of next year's frosh class - Andraya Carter and Kaela Davis - are already homies.

In case you missed it, Lyssi Brewer has opted to return this season.

On the pro tip:

Ticha Penicheiro is expected to re-sign with the Los Angeles Sparks this WNBA season.

Connecticut 87, Duke 51

Well, that was underwhelming.

I don't think anyone thought Duke would remain undefeated after tonight - including, sadly, Coach Joanne McCallie herself - who said, "I mean, the outcome was never in question here. You all know that." But to get sucker-punched tonight? Jeez.

The team ranking system needs to change. Ratings should consider not just the wins and losses, but strength of schedule. The conference a school is in would also play a role. For example, the Big 12 and Big East right now are pretty tough, so that preclude a more weighted schedule. Partial points could be given to a conference like the Pac-10, which includes Stanford, who no one else will beat.

How would this week's rankings change if strength of schedule were a factor?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

BIG

The biggest news of today, of course, was Baylor's at-the-wire win over Texas A&M, 63-60, in front of 13,162 raucous fans. The Aggies slowed Baylor's Brittney Griner, but they couldn't do the same to Odyssey Sims. The freshman lead all scorers with 25 points, and tied her season high. Hoopfeed had excellent blow-by-blow tweeting of game action.

One AP writer wonders if Baylor is the next UConn.

__________

Meanwhile, one state over, Shekinna Stricklen lifted Tennessee over Arkansas in front of friends and family (she's from that area). The junior forward matched her career high of 26 points, which included 18 first-half points and six three-point shots. Talk about motivation!

__________

In her first interview since news surfaced of her positive drug test in Europe, Diana Taurasi denied taking performance-enhancing drugs.

One source says Taurasi intends to play in the WNBA this summer.

__________

Pat Griffin sums up the issues around homophobia in college hoops better than anyone else so far:

Part of the problem is that “family” is a term that has been hijacked by the Christian Right. When groups like “Focus on the Family” talk about family, we all know they have a very narrow definition that excludes the majority of familial groups that love and care for each other. If a coach wants to separate him or herself from the exclusionary and discriminatory code that “family-oriented” has become, let’s hear him or her do it. If they don’t and then make the preposterous claim of discrimination on the basis of having a heterosexual family and staff, how are we to trust that coach’s intentions?

Lesbian coaches have families. Single coaches, whether gay or straight, can create a “family-oriented” and “wholesome” team environment. A coach doesn’t need to be heterosexual and married to do that successfully (and lots of heterosexual married coaches can't do it worth a darn). The problem is that using your heterosexual married parental status as a recruiting tool in a culture where gay people and single people of any orientation are at a legal and social disadvantage is unfair. It is called heterosexual privilege. Claiming that being unable to use your heterosexual married status as a recruiting tool puts you at a disadvantage is insensitive at best and flat out homophobic at worst.


People who have degrees are my favorites.

__________

ESPN's Chris Hansen profiles a high school player who didn't let an ACL injury stop her. Very inspiring.

__________

Mel Greenburg has various interesting musings that include those on tomorrow's UConn-Duke matchup.

Nike Extravaganza 2011

It's on like Donkey Kong at Mater Dei High School this Friday:

Girls Friday Session

3:00 pm Rosary vs. Mission Viejo
4:30 pm JSerra vs. The Bishops School
6:00 pm Orange Lutheran vs. Edison
7:30 pm Brea vs. Bishop Gorman
9:00 pm Mater Dei vs. La Jolla Country Day

Ticket prices.

Dymond Simon concussion?

Arizona State's Dymond Simon may have a concussion after a collision yesterday in her team's win over USC at Galen Center in Los Angeles. IM in OC reports that Simon ran into a blind screen set by Trojan freshman Cassie Harberts, and was on the floor for several minutes after play was stopped. She sat with a towel over her head for the rest of the game, and had to be helped to the team bus by two ASU staffers. She had her sweatshirt hood up and sunglasses on. There is no report available on the Sun Devil's website, but video of the events is posted on USC's website for subscribers. Simon had returned this year after sitting out last season with an injury.

Bonus: UConn Coach Geno Auriemma discusses the inexact science of recruiting.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Edison 46, Troy 32

Southern Section Division 1A's top two teams - the Edison Chargers and Troy Warriors - faced off at on Troy's home court in Fullerton tonight.

Edison came into the game with a 19-2 record, with losses to Cajon and La Jolla Country Day. Troy had a 20-2 record entering the game, with losses to Long Beach Poly and Spring Valley of South Carolina.

Both teams have very solid starting teams. Edison was led by Bonnie Samuelson, who has signed with Stanford, who put up 17 points. Her sister Karlie Samuelson, a sophomore guard, scored 12 points. Troy was led by sophomore stars Gabriella Hanson, with nine points, and Briana Roberson with 13 points.

The game was back and forth, with Edison holding a small lead for most of the game. Troy had enough scoring chances, but their shots wouldn't fall, and eventually Edison pulled away in the fourth quarter for the 46-32 win. For Troy, their only scoring in the second half came from Roberson and Hanson, as the other players were ice cold.

I would expect both teams to face off again in the Southern Section CIF 1A finals.

Line Score

Edison 13 - 9 - 8 - 16 = 46
Troy 10 - 7 - 8 - 7 = 32

- IM in OC

Sue's note: It looks like the Powerade Fab 50 needs to be reworked due to this upset. Troy was listed 25th last week and Edison, who has been ranked before this year, isn't even on the list.



A good crowd was on hand for tonight's game, seen here at tipoff.



Edison Coach Dan Wiley conducts a timeout. The Samuelson sisters are #44 Karlie and #41 Bonnie.



Troy coach Roger Anderson watches his team run a play.

Mater Dei 76, Bishop Montgomery 34

It had been a while since I'd seen Mater Dei, but they are back to their own dominating and formidable game plan.

Today they were at the annual Westside Challenge at Santa Monica High School, and they took on Bishop Montgomery - usually a strong team that is fundamentally sound. But it was pretty obvious from the warmup how things were going to end up.

Besides making the Knights look like pipsqueaks with their taller, wider, imposing selves, MD ran a really professional warmup. The starters and immediate reserves did the slide-and-squeak-their-shoes-with-hands-up drill, then ran layups circular style, at a fast pace. The remaining six players (there are 18 on the team) who are deep reserves did a separate warmup near mid-court that consisted of sprints and a dynamic warmup.

Bishop started out scrapping and pushing; bless their hearts. They really did try. But they had no answer for the Monarch's full-court press. I mean, there was none. The example of this foremost in my mind occurred right in front of me. Alexyz Vaioletama, who has signed with USC, and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, a soon-to-be UConn Husky, trapped a Bishop player on the side of the court by continuing to advance two steps at at time. Squeak-squeak! Pause. Squeak squeak! Pause. Squeak squeak! The Knight turned the ball over.

Mater Dei had their faults. In fact, they were missing many shots - especially Mosqueda-Lewis - who somehow still collected the "player of the game" award for her team on the night. There were two times I can think of when the Monarchs got four rebounds in a row and still couldn't put the ball in the basket, under the basket. But they were getting all the offensive boards, which is the point.

Mater Dei's strengths are that they play together as a complete unit, and they all have 100 percent court vision. One athlete knows where her teammate is before she even turns around, and is ready to pass the ball to her. If a player is about to miss a shot, two other players have already seen that the shot is off and are under the basket to get the rebound. It's really something. I wasn't going to watch the whole game, but found myself staying for the "wow" factor. The Monarchs look much better than when I saw them lose to Long Beach Poly in November.



#33 Jessica Duarte takes the ball inside as teammates Jordan Adams and Alexyz Vaioletama watch.



Players scramble for the rebound in the first quarter.



Adams and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis on the run.



Bishop's Kristen Ale storms up the court in the second quarter, with Duarte in hot pursuit.



Adams tosses it up and in.



#21 Airiona Sampson throws it up as she is boxed out by Vaioletama.



The suffocating Mater Dei press: Mosqueda-Lewis and Adams trap Dani Lee in the back court.

Additional photos HERE.

Morning preview

Baylor is at Texas A&M today, and the sold-out crowd is only one of the exciting aspects of today's battle of the Big 12 unbeatens.

Elsewhere in the conference, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma square off today.

And in other parts of Texas, the Texas Tech Raiders are looking to get back on track today in Nebraska.

At Kansas, it's about frustration right now.

Tennessee center Kelley Cain, who sat out Thursday's game against Mississippi State, will play tomorrow against Arkansas. Angie Bjorklund, however, is still out.

High school: will Aja Ellison be like her dad and go to Louisville?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday night

A gay Iowa couple defends Iowa State basketball in the wake of an ESPN story this week on homophobia, which named the school.

A former Syracuse player is accusing Coach Quentin Hillsman of harassment.

Heading into their showdown with UConn, Duke is underestimated, says Mechelle Voepel.

Glory Johnson's hard work has translated into strong game performances. So she'll stay in Tennessee's starting lineup.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

College, LA Sparks news

College items:

Undefeated? Sure: the Duke freshmen are off to a good start.

Tennessee's Angie Bjorklund is up for a Lowe's Senior CLASS Award.

Paul "The Guru of Go" Westhead is still going strong at 71.

#18 Iowa dumped #10 Michigan State tonight, 66-64.

South Carolina upset #24 Georgia, 57-48.

On the LA Sparks tip:

Players overseas update.

Candace Parker tells ESPNW that she "has a lot to prove."

The Sparks added three to their staff this week:

Los Angeles Sparks Announce Three Key Front Office Hires

Imhoff, Rosenberg and Alkaly Join Franchise's Management Team

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Sparks today announced the appointment of three experienced sports industry professionals to key front office positions, in advance of the franchise's 15th WNBA season in 2011.

Diana Imhoff has been named Vice President of Marketing Partnerships, while Lou Rosenberg will serve as Director of Ticket Sales and Ben Alkaly assumes the role of Director of Communications.They join Director of Marketing Christopher Forrest – now in his sixth year with the Sparks – as the lead external relations team reporting to President Mike Levy, who began his tenure with the franchise in August 2010.

"With the addition of Diana, Lou and Ben to our current management team, the 2011 Sparks will be talented in the front office as on the court," Levy said. "We welcome them to the Sparks family and expect tremendous success in the areas of sponsorships, sales and publicity during our 15th anniversary season and beyond."

Imhoff joins the Sparks from Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based Cartan Tours, where she held the position of Vice President of Business Development.There she designed and implemented the company's marketing plan, with a focus on its 2010 FIFA World Cup™ travel packages.In addition to driving new sales and cultivating new strategic partnerships, Imhoff developed and executed Cartan's media outreach surrounding the World Cup project and served as company representative.

Previously, the Los Angeles native spent four years as Director of Sports and Olympic Partnerships with Hilton Hotels, managing its partnership with the United States Olympic Committee and overseeing sponsorship activation at the 2008 Beijing Games.On the team side, Imhoff worked in the Seattle Seahawks' front office for five years, first as Group Sales Director and later as Executive Sales Director, managing suite and sponsorship sale and marketing.

Earlier this month Rosenberg brought his nearly 20 years of sports industry sales and marketing experience to the Sparks, most recently as Director of Business Management with the United Football League's Las Vegas Locomotives.There he oversaw the day-to-day business operations for the team including sales and marketing, public relations and game operations.He also recently spent six years (2004-2010) with direct sales company Smart Circle International as a National Account Director, boasting clients including professional sports franchises and collegiate athletic departments.

Rosenberg's career highlights include directing ticket sales for the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup™ – which produced the largest crowd ever for a women's sporting event in the U.S. – and developing season, group and individual ticket promotions for the Los Angeles Avengers that made the team one of Arena Football League's leaders in seats sold.He also spent seven years in the front office of the Los Angeles Clippers and two with the Long Beach Ice Dogs.

Alkaly will direct the Sparks' public and community relations endeavors after serving as Marketing and Communications Manager at FOX Soccer Channel since 2007.There he helped develop publicity and advertising campaigns surrounding major network initiatives such as the launch of premium channel FOX Soccer Plus in 2010.He also oversaw the network's Facebook and Twitter platforms – among the most widely-followed in the soccer industry – and coordinated FOX Soccer's branding presence at major competitions and trade shows.

Previously Alkaly worked as an Assistant Media Relations Director at his alma mater, UC Santa Barbara, serving as the primary contact for the school's nationally-ranked women's basketball and women's volleyball programs for five seasons.There he executed promotional campaigns that helped three Gaucho basketball players earn All-America distinction, including current Minnesota Lynx forward Kristen Mann and former WNBA standout Kayte Christensen.

The Sparks begin their 15th anniversary season on Friday, June 3, hosting Minnesota at STAPLES Center at 8 p.m. PT.For group and season ticket information, call 877-44-SPARKS or visit LASparks.com.

Powerade, NJCAA rankings

This week's Powerade Fab 50 rankings:

Rank School (City, State) Record Prev

1 Brea Olinda (Brea, Calif.) 18-0 1
2 Polytechnic (Long Beach, Calif. 17-2 2
3 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) 17-1 3
4 Bolingbrook (Bolingbrook, Ill.) 16-2 5
5 Potter's House Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.) 23-1 6
6 Neptune (Neptune, N.J.) 10-0 4
7 Riverdale (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) 20-0 7
8 Ben Davis (Indianapolis, Ind.) 18-0 8
9 St. Mary's (Stockton, Calif.) 10-2 9
10 Westbury Christian (Houston, Texas) 30-1 12
11 Lake Taylor (Norfolk, Va.) 18-0 13
12 St. John's (D.C.) 19-0 14
13 Buford (Buford, Ga.) 15-1 15
14 Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.) 19-4 17
15 Whitney Young (Chicago, Ill.) 18-2 18
16 North Little Rock (North Little Rock, Ark.) 17-0 19
17 Monarch (Louisville, Colo.) 10-3 10
18 St. Mary's (Phoenix Ariz.) 18-2 11
19 Norcross (Norcross, Ga.) 14-2 16
20 Start (Toledo, Ohio) 9-1 20
21 Madison Academy (Madison, Ala.) 24-2 21
22 Spring Valley (Spring Valley, S.C.) 19-0 22
23 Nazareth Regional (Brooklyn, N.Y.) 15-2 23
24 Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.) 14-1 24
25 Troy (Fullerton, Calif.) 19-2 25
26 Butler (Matthews, N.C.) 17-0 26
27 Hoover (Hoover, Ala.) 22-3 27
28 Germantown Academy (Fort Washington, Pa.) 15-2 28
29 Goose Creek (Goose Creek, S.C.) 20-2 31
30 Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.) 9-4 29
31 Sparkman (Harvest, Ala.) 23-1 30
32 Highlands Ranch (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) 11-3 32
33 Inkster (Inkster, Mich.) 12-0 33
34 Twinsburg (Twinsburg, Ohio) 14-0 34
35 Clarksville (Clarksville, Tenn.) 19-3 35
36 Cypress Falls (Houston, Texas) 30-1 36
37 MacArthur (Irving, Texas) 25-2 37
38 Linn-Mar (Marion, Iowa) 16-1 38
39 Hollywood Christian (Hollywood, Fla.) 21-1 39
40 Incarnate Word Academy (St. Louis, Mo.) 13-3 40
41 Midwest City (Midwest City, Okla.) 15-0 41
42 Cajon (San Bernardino, Calif.) 21-0 42
43 Shabazz (Newark, N.J.) 13-0 43
44 Webb City (Webb City, Mo.) 14-2 44
45 Memphis Central (Memphis, Tenn.) 11-8 46
46 Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) 18-1 47
47 Montini Catholic (Lombard, Ill.) 25-1 48
48 Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minn.) 16-0 49
49 Wesleyan (Norcross, Ga.) 17-2 50
50 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) 10-3 45

Regional rankings.

This week's National Junior College Athletic Association rankings:

Rank College Region Record Points Last Week

1 Pensacola State College 8 22-0 199 1
2 Trinity Valley Community College 14 22-0 193 2
3 Vincennes University 12 16-2 184 3
4 Central Arizona College 1 17-3 164 7
5 State Fair Community College 16 17-2 159 9
6 Wabash Valley College 24 17-2 151 10
7 Independence Community College 6 18-1 150 4
7 Copiah-Lincoln Community College 23 12-1 150 8
9 Northwest Florida State College 8 17-4 137 5
10 Grayson County College 5 18-2 122 16
11 North Idaho College 18 19-2 119 17
12 South Georgia Technical College 17 18-2 108 13
13 Western Nebraska Community College 9 18-1 102 11
14 Hutchinson Community College 6 17-2 96 20
15 Northern Oklahoma College-Enid 2 17-2 95 15
16 Iowa Western Community College 11 18-1 80 14
17 Salt Lake Community College 18 15-4 76 11
18 Midland College 5 18-4 70 6
19 Chipola College 8 16-6 66 18
20 Chattanooga State Community College 7 13-3 44 19
21 Northeastern Junior College 9 15-1 39 23
22 Cleveland State Community College 7 16-1 23 22
23 College of Southern Idaho 18 17-5 21 21
24 Howard College 5 16-4 18 NR
25 Arizona Western College 1 19-1 12 25

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Interesting people in the news

Candace Parker has settled into Russian life and blogs about it.

Betty Lennox answers five questions.

UNCW Coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke is finding early success, to no one's surprise.

The hunt for Tennessee forward Shekinna Stricklen never ends.

Duke is still unbeaten after kicking the butts of Clemson tonight. But their real test comes Monday, when they play UConn.

ESPN talks homophobia in women's college basketball

On homophobia and recruiting is loaded:

On every top recruit's college visit, there comes the moment of the final pitch, when the head-spinning hoopla finally gives way to the business of basketball, when the high school girl steps away from the rah-rah of all the games and the ego-stroking of all the VIP intros to sit down with the head coach. During one teen's big moment, a heart-to-heart with Iowa State's Bill Fennelly, the decorated coach of 23 years sang an insistent refrain. "He kept drilling that 'this would be a family,'" says the player, who asked not to be named. "'You should come here,' he said, 'because we're family-oriented.'"

To the recruit, those seemingly comforting words cloaked a deeper meaning. Two of the four schools she was considering were purported to employ lesbians on their staffs. Her stop in Ames, in fact, was on the heels of a trip to one of those allegedly "gay programs." There, coaches avoided discussing anyone's off-court lives. Iowa State, in contrast, pushed the personal hard. "They threw it out constantly," says the player, who became a Cyclone. "'Iowa has morals, and people who live here have values, wholesome values.'" The implication, to her and to another former Cyclone who confirmed her account, was that at other schools, "there's something going on you don't know."

The messaging continued after she joined the Iowa State squad and started to help recruit younger players. Coaches told all the Cyclones to emphasize their "environment" to any visiting recruits: married head coach, straight assistants, kids running underfoot. "Tell them we're family- oriented," the player recalls. "According to the coaches, it needed to be said."


Tennessee-UConn allegations:

Negative recruiting is even whispered in answer to the game's toughest riddle: Why don't the sport's two top programs, Tennessee and UConn, play each other anymore?

Auriemma says he still doesn't know why Pat Summitt, Tennessee's legendary coach, nixed their annual showdown in 2007. But he's heard the rumor that has circulated since: UConn used antigay recruiting tactics against the Lady Vol program. "If someone is saying that's the reason," Auriemma says, "they're more out of their minds than I think they are." Summitt declined to be interviewed for this story.


Title IX:

Oddly, what forced the turnover was Title IX and lots of money. Title IX, the law that bound any educational institution receiving federal funds to offer equal athletic opportunities for women, pushed big-conference schools to add programs and scholarship money. Then the NCAA lured women's teams away from the AIAW and turned on the cash faucet. Suddenly, a women's hoops coach who could fill an arena and take a team deep into the NCAA Tourney could increase an athletic department's visibility, which meant those jobs gained prestige and started to pay more. Not surprisingly, male coaches noticed and moved in.

And the theory about the decline about women in coaching due to lack of mentoring is plausible.

This piece is an excellent start, but only the tip of the iceberg.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Polls and things

Baylor is still tops in the USA Today/ESPN poll this week. The top seven remain unchanged.

Streaks and upsets:

#3 Duke keeps finding ways to escape defeat.

#19 Georgetown upset #8 West Virginia.

Absences and presences:

North Carolina is handling Jessica Breland's absence well so far. She is out for 10 days with a knee injury.

Shereka Wright is finding success and happiness as an assistant coach at Texas Tech.

Tennessee news:

Angie Bjorklund sprained her foot and may miss Thursday's game.

Oregon Ducks:

The basketball team is getting "The Oregon treatment," aka mucho marketing and Nike clothing up to the ceiling.

And Oregon is having a Fan Fair Saturday to celebrate National Girls and Women in Sport Day.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Just a few things today

I like this story about Suzie McConnell-Serio, lifting up the Duquesne program. At first she was trying to "teach too much, too fast," but she learned to teach.

The Potter's House Christian program in Florida has become a pipeline to North Carolina's top schools.

The Atlanta Dream has extended the contract of Coach Marynell Meadors and all of her assistant coaches, through 2013 and 2012, respectively.

In tonight's NCAA action, Jantel Lavender lead #24 Ohio State to an 81-67 victory over #18 Iowa, with 22 points.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Orange and green follow-up

Oregon broke a Pac-10 attendance record in their win over OSU today at the new Knight Arena. It was 81-72 in front of 12,320. That's so booyah! (I remember when Mac Court would be packed to the rafters for a women's game). I'm going to have to go up to Eugene and check it out.

Seattle's Nia Jackson lead the way for the Ducks with 24 points, and Kristi Fallin, who went to junior college with my favorite point guard in the world, hit five three-pointers - her specialty.

On the other side of the country, Auburn shut down Meighan Simmons, but no worry - Glory Johnson, Kelley Cain and Vicki Baugh stepped up for Tennessee to take the 73-53 win.

My high school team also won both of their games this weekend. UCLA won yesterday, too. I love being 100 percent basketball satisfied.

Andrea Riley is pregnant

Sparks reserve point guard Andrea Riley came clean this afternoon with the info I heard last week, that she is expecting a girl. The due date is March 28.

It's been a well-kept secret, as can be seen by Tina Thompson's response. Because if one does the math, Riley was pregnant for most of the WNBA season last year. Women are ridiculously tough, aren't they?

So will Riley comeback this summer, ala Candace Parker? What will the Sparks do?

A lil orange, a lil green

News about my two favorite college programs could never be bad.

Team inconsistency has brought out the worst in Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt:

Rather than wonder whether they're listening, Summitt has determined that she will be heard - over and over again.

My teaching colleagues and I hear that whereas years ago when we were students, teachers and parents had to repeat themselves an average of five times to be heard by children. Today the average is 15. We believe that theory.

Alyssia Brewer is cleared to play in the Vols' game against Auburn today. Welcome back, Lyssi.

Oregon is set to enter a new era at noon today, as a sold-out crowd is expected for the Civil War game with Oregon State at the Ducks' new basketball arena. These are the times where I wish for Star Trek instant travel powers.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The homesickness issue (again)

You hear it so often now it's become the reason you expect to get when a girl leaves a college basketball program: she's homesick. Wants to go to a college that's closer to her hometown, family and friends.

Now it's Samarie Walker, who left UConn and has now enrolled at Kentucky. In saying it's not UConn's fault that Walker left, her club ball coach basically said that it's homesickness that did:

"To be honest, I haven't known one player that leaves Ohio that at some point in their freshman season that didn't want to come home," Jenkins said. "It was no different with Samarie. She just never got over being away from her family.

The coach, Tom Jenkins, bullseyes the homesickness issue with these statements:

"However, I believe, sometimes UConn and Tennessee may not be the best fit for kids, even though they are the dream schools of many. I am a believer that kids should make a decision based on three aspects of the college experience: Academics, athletics and social.

"Samarie's decision was a one-dimensional decision - basketball. And when they make one-dimensional decisions, they don't look at everything as closely as they should. She comes from a tight- knit, two-parent family. I'm not saying home sickness was a factor, but she missed being close to her family and her little brother.

"Those are factors she didn't consider, since going to UConn was her dream. It was nothing other than that. She didn't consider closely enough what she might be missing in the social or family aspect of the school she chose."


In my experience, kids and adults are about 50-50: approximately half the people end up living somewhere else besides where they were raised, and the other half stay in the same city or area for the rest of their lives. Now we have some girls who don't even want to go away to college and come back with more world experience; they just want to stay home.

Jenkins is right, and ESPN recruitment process guru Mark Lewis would say the same thing: you have to pick a college based on all factors and not just one. I've told that to athletes for years. And no one can argue that the pressures in recruiting are astronomical these days. But I still stick with what I said last year in my "Generation of quitters" post: we've got to get out of this instant gratification mindset. It's killing us.

Recently a kid I know was talked out of quitting her college program, which is ranked. It's too bad Samarie Walker's people didn't do the same for her. She'll always have her little brother, but her chance to play for the #1 or #2 team in the country for four years and win some national titles is gone. Sucking it up and growing up would have been the better choice for her.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Quickie before Friday night.........

More on last night's Stanford-UCLA game:

I like the quote from this story....."UCLA can view it as a type of reality check without letting it become discouraging. After all, this is a Stanford team that crushed Xavier at Maples late last month and then, two days later, ended UConn's 90-game winning streak."

True, dat.

Fashion report, capturing an image of the Bruins' shoes that I used on my blog a few months ago. I want those shoes! I'm not sure how Coach Nikki Caldwell walks in these.

Other stuff:

Everything you ever wanted to know about tomorrow's Baylor-Texas Tech matchup.

OK, gotta go see my girls play. If high school football is Friday night lights, what is Friday high school basketball?

Cooper has USC in a "thinking" mindset

I got a chance to attend a USC practice recently, and here's what I found.......lots of technical instruction on a Michael Cooper-run tight ship.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

And then there was one (and other disruptive scores)

The Stetson Hatters knocked off Florida Gulf Coast University tonight, 70-52. This leaves Duke the lone undefeated Division I team.

Speaking of upsets, Vanderbilt defeated #23 Arkansas, 65-54.

Washington State beat Arizona State 70-65. (How embarassing for ASU)

Both Southern California Pac-10 teams lost......

Stanford 64, UCLA 38

Cal 82, USC 71

# 19 Kentucky barely survived Florida, 59-58.

And looking to Saturday, Oregon will debut in the new Matthew Knight Arena playing arch rival Oregon State, no less. The game is sold out.

Light as a rock

Interesting statements released about Penny Taylor's departure from Fenerbahce:

Penny Taylor didn't want to believe the doping control results of Diana Taurasi, who is one of the best women basketball players in the world. Penny Taylor believes that she played an important role in Diana Taurasi's transfer (from Sparta&K to Fenerbahce) and when she learned that Diana had forbidden substances in her urine, she felt responsible for that.

In the Caferağa Arena, after the game between Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş CT, the staff responsible for the doping control randomly chose Penny's name for her to give (urine) samples but she refused to be tested.


That's deep!

____________________

As UCLA prepares to face Stanford tonight, ESPN has a brilliant portrait of her:

"Coming into this program, I thought, 'There's definitely talent here,' " Caldwell said. "My mindset was to cultivate that talent, get them to trust and buy into the system and our philosophy. It began with our cohesion as a unit. I wanted to make sure that they understood that you don't play this game as individuals, you play this game together."

......


"Coach Olivier was a good coach, I can't say that she wasn't," Morris said. "But Nikki came in and showed us a whole different system. … If you play under her you can't think about losing. That's not in your mindset. If we lose it's like the world is over."

Caldwell was so upset after UCLA's only loss this season -- to LSU on Dec. 29 -- that she joked about hiring a psychiatrist. Keep in mind the Bruins had lost by only two points, with Morris missing a potential game-tying jumper at the buzzer.


____________________

Remember when I said I liked how Tennessee freshman Meighan Simmons was quirky? The picture with this piece shows the move from Saturday's game against Vanderbilt that made me say that. It's refreshing to see an excited player. I bet she doesn't have to be motivated to play.

McDonald's All-American nominees list released

Big ol' list.

Heeeyyyy.......I know some of those girls.

Proud of you all.

Samarie Walker leaves UConn

Connecticut's official statement.

The freshman and Coach Geno Auriemma speak:

Walker had been one of the pleasant surprises of the early season. She debuted with a tremendous preseason and they carried it over into November and early December before experiencing a lull.

She was averaging 6.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and was shooting 58.7 percent in 16 games, averaging 18.8 minutes.

Walker had one of her best games of the season at St. John's last week, scoring 15 points (6 of 9) in 22 minutes with only three rebounds. A few days earlier at Notre Dame, Walker had only one rebound and one shot in 19 minutes.

After the St. Johns's game she spoke of a renewed mindset to work harder and more consistently for the coaches.

But something apparently happened on Saturday against Louisville at the XL Center. Walker played 17 minutes and made 2 of 3 shots, but she had only three rebounds. And when the team took off for North Carolina, she wasn't with them.


"Personal matters".....where is she going to transfer?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A wowin' nightcap

Kadee Malone, aka Cheryl Ford's sister and Karl Malone's daughter, will transfer to Louisiana Tech this winter to play ball.

Stanford ready for big test against UCLA Thursday.

WNBA and FIBA news: Monique Currie of the Washington Mystics tore her ACL in Turkey a few weeks ago.

Wow - Penny Taylor has quit her Turkish team.....the same one that Diana Taurasi was on before she tested positive for a banned substance.

Where is Andrea Riley?

Los Angeles Sparks reserve point guard Andrea Riley, is MIA. The Oklahoma State graduate, selected in the the first round of last year's WNBA draft, is not in Europe, not coaching anywhere - just not around.

Where is she? Does anyone know? And will she be back for the Sparks this season?

Update at 10 p.m.: Do people really not know? I don't believe you, and I'll explain later.

This week's JUCO polls

Through the miracle of modern technology, I'm sitting here watching Trinity Valley Community College kick the butts of San Jacinto via the Internet. I note that the Cards are still ranked second in the National Junior College Athletic Association's latest poll, as they have been all season long. Four teams undefeated and the last one is ranked eleventh? Interesting.

In the meantime, the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges' have their poll out for the week, as well.

Powerade Fab 50 rankings, week 7

Not a whole lot of change in this week's rankings:

Rank School (City, State) Record Prev
1 Brea Olinda (Brea, Calif.) 16-0 1
2 Polytechnic (Long Beach, Calif. 14-2 2
3 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) 16-1 3
4 Neptune (Neptune, N.J.) 8-0 4
5 Bolingbrook (Bolingbrook, Ill.) 13-2 5
6 Potter's House Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.) 22-1 6
7 Riverdale (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) 17-0 7
8 Ben Davis (Indianapolis, Ind.) 17-0 8
9 St. Mary's (Stockton, Calif.) 8-2 9
10 Monarch (Louisville, Colo.) 8-2 10
11 St. Mary's (Phoenix Ariz.) 17-1 11
12 Westbury Christian (Houston, Texas) 27-1 12
13 Lake Taylor (Norfolk, Va.) 16-0 14
14 St. John's (D.C.) 16-0 15
15 Buford (Buford, Ga.) 11-1 16
16 Norcross (Norcross, Ga.) 13-1 17
17 Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.) 17-4 18
18 Whitney Young (Chicago, Ill.) 12-2 19
19 North Little Rock (North Little Rock, Ark.) 16-0 20
20 Start (Toledo, Ohio) 8-1 13
21 Madison Academy (Madison, Ala.) 20-2 21
22 Spring Valley (Spring Valley, S.C.) 17-0 22
23 Nazareth Regional (Brooklyn, N.Y.) 15-2 23
24 Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.) 11-1 24
25 Troy (Fullerton, Calif.) 16-2 26
26 Butler (Matthews, N.C.) 16-0 27
27 Hoover (Hoover, Ala.) 20-2 29
28 Germantown Academy (Fort Washington, Pa.) 12-2 30
29 Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.) 8-4 25
30 Sparkman (Harvest, Ala.) 20-1 31
31 Goose Creek (Goose Creek, S.C.) 18-2 32
32 Highlands Ranch (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) 10-3 33
33 Inkster (Inkster, Mich.) 9-0 34
34 Twinsburg (Twinsburg, Ohio) 13-0 41
35 Clarksville (Clarksville, Tenn.) 18-3 36
36 Cypress Falls (Houston, Texas) 28-1 37
37 MacArthur (Irving, Texas) 24-2 38
38 Linn-Mar (Marion, Iowa) 13-1 39
39 Hollywood Christian (Hollywood, Fla.) 20-1 40
40 Incarnate Word Academy (St. Louis, Mo.) 12-3 35
41 Midwest City (Midwest City, Okla.) 12-0 43
42 Cajon (San Bernardino, Calif.) 18-0 46
43 Shabazz (Newark, N.J.) 11-0 47
44 Webb City (Webb City, Mo.) 14-2 NR
45 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) 8-2 44
46 Memphis Central (Memphis, Tenn.) 11-7 28
47 Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) 16-1 48
48 Montini Catholic (Lombard, Ill.) 22-1 49
49 Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minn.) 15-0 50
50 Wesleyan (Norcross, Ga.) 14-2 NR

Additions: 44. Webb City (Webb City, Mo.) 14-2, 50. Wesleyan (Norcross, Ga.) 14-2.

Subtractions: William Penn Charter School (Philadelphia, Pa.) 12-3 (42), Overton (Memphis, Tenn.) 11-4 (45).

Regional rankings.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Thinking about the freshman of the year

Odyssey Sims makes a strong case. She's picked up her third Big 12 Freshman of the Week honor, and seems to be getting better with every game.

But then there's "speedy" Meighan Simmons, who seems to have elevated the entire Tennessee team with her play. She's also falling into the point guard role, which the Vols need.

It's exciting to see young players enter their college years on fire. (And in the case of Brittney Griner, she's still ripping it up).

Bonus: USA Today/ESPN top 25.

Baylor is still tops in AP poll

This week's rankings:

1. Baylor
2. Connecticut
3. Duke
4. Stanford
5. Tennessee
6. Texas A&M
7. Xavier
8. UCLA
9. West Virginia
10. North Carolina

Graham Hays has this week's mid-major rankings.

Hays also chronicles the best three minutes of Wisconsin-Green Bay's season.

Undefeated Florida Gulf Coast University set a record last night in their win over Mercer: 20 three-pointers. And 55 attempts. My goodness.......

Scroll down this page slightly to see Big Sylvia Fowles throw one down while playing for her Turkish team the other day.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The week ahead in Orange County hoops

I'm still waiting for the results of today's Tony Matson Classic at Mater Dei to be posted. But in the meantime, ocvarsity.com takes a look at the week ahead for Orange County ball:

•Edison's Bonnie Samuelson is leading the county in scoring with 24.5 points per game. Mater Dei's Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis is second in the county with 21.5 points per game.

•If any team has a shot at upsetting Brea Olinda in the Century League, it might be Villa Park, which plays at Brea Olinda on Friday at 5:45 p.m.


When are we going to get our Brea-Mater Dei showdown?

Bonus: Atlanta Dream owner Kathy Betty announced today she has two new co-owners with her now.

NCAA players don't trust their coaches

Well that's not encouraging.

An NCAA survey of Division I athletes revealed that only 39 percent of women's basketball players trust their coaches to accurately define success. So after all that club ball, scouting and visiting - this? Interesting.

Cal lost to BOTH Washington state teams over the weekend. (Yikes!) They're distressed.

UConn plays North Carolina tonight. Maya Moore discusses the privilege of playing on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

And while we're on the topic, it's worth reflecting that the 1966 Texas-El Paso situation chronicled in the movie "Glory Road" wasn't that long ago. Thank you, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Resultas

Whoa - #24 Ohio State upset #10 Michigan State, 67-53.

Oklahoma had to surge, but they beat Texas 71-67. The Longhorns are now 0-3 in conference play.

Bonus: I'm not sure why the story of former UConn guard Shea Ralph's anorexia nervosa is being told again. But it's compelling, and it's a good lesson to help everyone be more aware.

ESPN talks to Pat Summitt

Key phrases of this interview are, "a couple of losses have been good." That's deep, and she's correct. Pat Summitt has evolved.

And her response to the (idiotic) question of whether she'd like to coach men: "My passion is in the women's game."

Duh. When oh when will people stop using the measuring rod of the men's game as success in basketball? Almost 18,000 people showed up for the Lady Vols game last night, and they gave Vanderbilt their 26th loss at Thompson-Boling. What the hell else do you want?

We need more Kara Lawsons to do interviews. She's intelligent and asks thoughtful questions.

Sounds like Tyler Summitt wants to coach women, too.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

More of today's results

UConn beat Louisville, but junior Tiffany Hays sustained a concussion. Writer John Altavilla is pretty candid in his opening line: "It's no secret that the UConn women are incredibly thin this season and we do not mean in a fashion model sense." (I would have added a comment after the word 'season')

Coach Geno Auriemma also made time to see next year's incoming freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis.

I watched the Tennessee Vols beat Vanderbilt, 68-56. There were 17,853 fans at Thompson-Boling Arena. It was a beautiful sight. And the students stood for the entire game, which made me warm and fuzzy inside.

Freshman Meighan Simmons once again lead her team, with 17 points. She's an interesting player to watch: intense, yet quirky. She reminds me of the spirit of the old Vols. She currently leads all freshmen with a 16.1 points per game scoring average. UConn's Bria Hartley follows at 13 ppg.

Tennessee looked pretty damned good, even when Vanderbilt was making a run at the end. But I'm sure Coach Pat Summitt will have them running for the missed free throws....and a bunch of other stuff none of the rest of us thought of.

West Virginia extended their home winning streak to 29 after today's 70-61 defeat of Syracuse. Coach Mike Carey runs a tough system, but players say it works.

Baylor's Brittney Griner has been called a player for the ages by....the Chronicle of Higher Education? Dopeness.

Professionally speaking, Taj McWilliams-Franklin has replaced Lauren Jackson on the Russian Spartak team. They always call Taj when they need a replacement, don't they?

Candace Parker and Cathrine Kraayeveld talk NFL football.

UCLA 87, Oregon 57

The story today was the UCLA Bruins' defense. They routed the Oregon Ducks on the strength and foundation of tenacious, suffocating defense.

The Bruins pressed, they double- and triple-teamed. And every one-on-one was no joke, either. They forced Oregon into a season-high 31 turnovers (while committing only 15 of their own). They held the normally high-scoring Ducks to 18 points at halftime. And UCLA was so busy on defense that their regular high-scorers put up much fewer points than usual.

The stats are interesting: UCLA significantly out did Oregon in assists and steals. Yet the Ducks had much better three-point and free throw shooting percentages. What made the difference today was urgency. The Bruins came out looking like they had to hurry up and defuse a bomb that was about to go off. You could see it in their faces. And their full-court press was just staggering.

I've said it before, but it amazes me what UCLA Coach Nikki Caldwell has done with the team she inherited. She has basically the same cast, with Jasmine Dixon and a few other players, that she had when she came in. There are no real stars on the team, but they are ranked tenth in the country.

I see Scott Rueck of Oregon State doing the same thing. At this moment, it is between those he and Caldwell for Pac-10 Coach of the Year.

What do they say and do to motivate their teams? That's the million dollar question. And if more coaches could figure that out, the quality of the game would rise exponentially.

My one disappointment today, besides seeing my Ducks stomped, was the decision to leave the Bruin starters in for as long as they were. And why not put the freshmen and Jackie Shepard in sooner and give them more playing experience? I can't think of one reason when your team is up by 30-35 points. Shepard, in particular, gets virtually no playing time. Doreena Campbell didn't come out of the game until the 2:32 mark, to be replaced by Shepard. I would have flipped that equation.

UCLA heads to Northern California next week to take on Cal and Stanford.



Oregon's Kristi Fallin passes to Victoria Kenyon in the first half, while UCLA's Jasmine Dixon guards.



Oregon point guard Nia Jackson (#32) has just passed to Fallin, who looks to dish it off.



Though blurry, this shows how intense UCLA's defense was today. Darxia Morris, above, was particularly tenacious - seen here guarding Jackson.

Additional photos HERE.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A lil Euro news

No Taurasi, no problem for her former Turkish team.

Tina Charles is player of the week in her league.

And the Los Angeles Sparks report that in three games with UMMC Ekaterinburg, Candace Parker is averaging 17.6 points and 10.6 rebounds per game in only 23.6 minutes of play.

In college:

It took Louisiana Tech three overtimes, but they pulled it out against Fresno State last night, 94-92.

For Missouri, unpredictablity is the norm.

Pat Summitt's got her own ESPN page. That's a mighty looooong resume.

Hoopfeed found that it's AIAW players who have been quickest to reach the 1,000-point mark in college hoops.

High school items:

Whitney Young of Chicago may be poised for a winning season, as they have a healthy roster for the first time in a while.

If Mel Greenburg is the guru of women's hoops, Mark Lewis is the guru of high school recruiting. Insanely good advice for high school prospects in this piece. Read every word, kids.

UCLA 58, Oregon State 46

I went to last night's game just as much to see Oregon State as to see UCLA.

The Beavers intrigue me. Here's a program that was stripped down to two players by last summer, and was left for dead. OSU hired Scott Rueck - a 14-year Division III coach who took George Fox to a national title in 2009 - to rebuild. Rueck held open tryouts a few weeks after he arrived, and the group of virtual unknowns formed a team and began to practice.

They won their first three games, and in pre-season overall, the Beavers were 7-4. They haven't won a Pac-10 game yet, but they're doing pretty damned well for a group of newbies. Better than anyone expected.

Writer/my homie and UCLA game seatmate Daniel Uribe summed it up well last night:

"They have good defense, they transition well, they play team ball, and they really hustle," he said.

And perhaps what won both of our hearts: "They never stop trying."

When they'd closed the gap on the Bruins in the last few moments of the game, OSU was hustling. But even when they were behind, the Beavers were still working hard. I've seen much better teams play much less inspired than they did.

Rueck and his athletes were candid after the game. Rueck said they lack experience. Sage Indendi, who lead OSU in points last night and is the second-leading scorer on the team, said some of her teammates were intimidated and others were excited.

All of that is understandable. But what isn't yet understandable is how they're doing as well as they are.

I think it's Rueck - all five-foot-four of him (or so it looked to us). He's obviously a motivator as well as a coach. That's called a complete coach, and it bodes well for the future of the Beavers.

Their weakness is rebounding, as can be seen in the box score. But OSU out shot UCLA last night, 50-48 percent.

I'll be keeping my eye on the Beavers, but for now, color me impressed.



Oregon State's Earlysia Marchbanks (#15) passes the ball.



Box-out fest.



Oregon State Coach Scott Rueck oversees second half action.



Antonye Nyingifa dishes right.

More game photos HERE.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Streaks and hall of famers and things

A rough-starting season for Florida Gulf Coast University has turned into an undefeated one, so far.

Jenny Boucek has her old job back, as assistant coach with the Seattle Storm. Boucek Q and A.

Crystal Robinson has been named to the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.

The Vols are "starting to get it," their coaches say.

Alyssia Brewer did not make the trip with Tennessee to play Florida today.

Connecticut Coach Geno Auriemma says his three freshmen haven't improved this year so far.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Griner hits 1,000 points

What if you were halfway into your sophomore year, just played the 51st game of your college career and had already hit the 1,000-point mark?

You'd be Brittney Griner.

Princeton sophomore Niveen Rasheed is out for the season after tearing her ACL Dec. 29.

Despite having one of the top programs in the country, West Virginia lacks fans. And this hurts recruiting.

Notre Dame Coach Muffet McGraw likes the intensity of her team.

Powerade Fab 50 rankings, week 6

Interesting move to put Neptune High, with a 6-0 record (lost a lot of games due to the snow) at number 4:

Rank School (City, State) Record Prev
1 Brea Olinda (Brea, Calif.) 13-0 1
2 Polytechnic (Long Beach, Calif. 11-2 2
3 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) 14-1 3
4 Neptune (Neptune, N.J.) 6-0 4
5 Bolingbrook (Bolingbrook, Ill.) 11-2 5
6 Potter's House Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.) 19-1 6
7 Riverdale (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) 16-0 7
8 Ben Davis (Indianapolis, Ind.) 15-0 8
9 St. Mary's (Stockton, Calif.) 5-2 9
10 Monarch (Louisville, Colo.) 6-2 10
11 St. Mary's (Phoenix Ariz.) 13-1 11
12 Westbury Christian (Houston, Texas) 25-1 12
13 Start (Toledo, Ohio) 6-0 13
14 Lake Taylor (Norfolk, Va.) 13-0 14
15 St. John's (D.C.) 14-0 15
16 Buford (Buford, Ga.) 10-1 16
17 Norcross (Norcross, Ga.) 12-1 17
18 Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.) 16-4 18
19 Whitney Young (Chicago, Ill.) 11-2 19
20 North Little Rock (North Little Rock, Ark.) 15-0 23
21 Madison Academy (Madison, Ala.) 18-2 20
22 Spring Valley (Spring Valley, S.C.) 15-0 21
23 Nazareth Regional (Brooklyn, N.Y.) 12-2 24
24 Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.) 8-1 25
25 Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.) 7-3 27
26 Troy (Fullerton, Calif.) 13-2 28
27 Butler (Matthews, N.C.) 14-0 29
28 Memphis Central (Memphis, Tenn.) 9-6 22
29 Hoover (Hoover, Ala.) 16-2 30
30 Germantown Academy (Fort Washington, Pa.) 10-2 31
31 Sparkman (Harvest, Ala.) 19-1 32
32 Goose Creek (Goose Creek, S.C.) 15-2 33
33 Highlands Ranch (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) 8-2 34
34 Inkster (Inkster, Mich.) 7-0 35
35 Incarnate Word Academy (St. Louis, Mo.) 11-2 26
36 Clarksville (Clarksville, Tenn.) 16-3 36
37 Cypress Falls (Houston, Texas) 26-1 37
38 MacArthur (Irving, Texas) 20-2 38
39 Linn-Mar (Marion, Iowa) 11-1 39
40 Hollywood Christian (Hollywood, Fla.) 18-1 40
41 Twinsburg (Twinsburg, Ohio) 11-0 41
42 William Penn Charter School (Philadelphia, Pa.) 12-1 42
43 Midwest City (Midwest City, Okla.) 10-0 NR
44 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) 7-2 45
45 Overton (Memphis, Tenn.) 11-3 46
46 Cajon (San Bernardino, Calif.) 16-0 47
47 Shabazz (Newark, N.J.) 8-0 48
48 Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) 14-0 49
49 Montini Catholic (Lombard, Ill.) 21-0 50
50 Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minn.) 14-0 NR

I'm sure Prince would be happy about #50.....just kidding.

And look who's back? #46 Cajon

Regional rankings.

MLK Day showcase events in Southern Cali

The Tony Matson Memorial Classic is back Monday at Mater Dei High School. Here's the schedule:

Rosary vs. La Habra, 12 p.m.
Santa Margarita vs. Mission Viejo, 2 p.m.
Orange Lutheran vs. Foothill, 4 p.m.
Brea Olinda vs. Rancho Cucamonga, 6 p.m.
Mater Dei vs. Carson, 8 p.m.

The schedule for the MLK Extravaganza, also Monday, at Narbonne High School is as follows:

Long Beach Cabrillo vs. Lawndale, 10 a.m.
St. Anthony's vs. Washington Prep, 11:30 a.m.
Mayfair vs. Serra, 1 p.m.
Palisades vs. Alemany, 2:30 p.m.
Mira Costa vs. Narbonne, 4 p.m.

Bonus, from Indiana Fever headquarters:

Indiana basketball legend Stephanie White will return to the Fever as an assistant coach for the 2011 season. White, one of the original Fever players in 2000, has coached in the college and pro ranks since 2003.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

1/11/11

Tonight's upsets:

Marquette defeated #6 West Virginia, 69-54.

Monique Oliver had a career-high 27 points for Rutgers as they beat #25 Syracuse, 78-67.

Awards:

Oklahoma Coach Sherri Coale has won a UN NGO Positive Peace Award.

Tamika Catchings is among the 2011 Jefferson Awards nominees.

Other stuff:

Lauren Jackson promises she'll be back soon.

Tributes to Tara VanDerveer.

Polls are out for the week

USA Today/ESPN still has Baylor #1 this week:

Rank School Record Points Last week's rank

1. Baylor 14-1 761 1
2. Connecticut 14-1 746 2
3. Duke 15-0 712 3
4. Stanford 12-2 681 4
5. Texas A&M 13-1 642 5
6. Tennessee 15-2 624 6
7. West Virginia 16-0 604 7
8. Xavier 12-2 546 9
9. UCLA 13-1 523 11
10. Michigan State 15-1 462 13
11. North Carolina 15-1 451 8
12. Notre Dame 13-4 431 12
13. Maryland 13-2 345 15
14. Oklahoma 11-3 307 17
15. Florida State 14-3 305 19
16. Iowa State 12-3 274 16
17. Georgetown 13-4 254 14
18. Wisconsin-Green Bay 15-1 244 20
19. Kentucky 11-4 236 10
20. Iowa 14-3 226 22
21. DePaul 15-2 202 23
22. St. John's 12-4 109 18
23. Arkansas 14-1 100 NR
24. Ohio State 10-5 55 21
25. Miami (Fla.) 16-1 48 NR

Dropped out: No. 24 Texas, No. 25 Oklahoma State.

DIII poll:

Rank Institution- First Place Votes Previous Rank Record Total Points
1 Delta State University (Miss.) -21 1 13-0 690
2 Lander University (S.C.) -5 2 15-0 669
3 Fort Lewis College (Colo.) -2 3 14-0 639
4 Arkansas Tech University 4 12-1 584
5 Clayton State University (Ga.) 5 14-0 573
6 Northeastern State University (Okla.) 7 11-1 522
7 Washburn University (Kan.) 8 11-1 497
8 Wayne State College (Neb.) 9 13-1 449
9 Michigan Technological University 10 11-1 428
10 Emporia State University (Kan.) 6 10-2 420
11 University of Alaska - Anchorage 12 13-3 376
12 Western Washington University 13 12-1 325
13 Grand Valley State University (Mich.) 11 11-2 309
14 Holy Family University (Pa.) 15 9-2 283
15 Bentley University (Mass.) 19 12-1 267
16 Millersville University of Pennsylvania 18 10-2 243
17 Grand Canyon University (Ariz.) 16 12-2 204
18 University of South Carolina - Aiken T22 14-2 201
19 Rollins College (Fla.) 14 13-2 179
20 Dixie State College of Utah 25 11-1 174
21 Metro State College of Denver (Colo.) NR 13-0 139
22 Seattle Pacific University (Wash.) 17 9-3 135
23 Quincy University (Ill.) NR 12-1 84
24 California State University - Chico 20 10-2 76
25 West Liberty University (W. Va.) NR 11-1 73

The latest JUCO poll:

Rank
College
Region
Record
Points
Last Week
1 Pensacola State College 8 17-0 199 1
2 Trinity Valley Community College 14 15-0 193 2
3 Midland College 5 14-2 179 6
4 Vincennes University 12 12-2 170 9
5 Northwest Florida State College 8 15-1 159 19
6 Central Arizona College 1 11-2 151 5
7 Jefferson College 16 12-1 149 10
8 South Georgia Technical College 17 13-0 147 8
9 Copiah-Lincoln Community College 23 9-1 134 11
10 Gulf Coast Community College 8 10-3 123 4
11 Independence Community College 6 14-0 117 14
12 State Fair Community College 16 13-2 106 15
13 Salt Lake Community College 18 12-2 102 25
14 Tallahassee Community College 8 7-1 88 13
15 Wabash Valley College 24 10-2 80 23
16 Western Nebraska Community College 9 14-0 79 17
17 Northern Oklahoma College-Enid 2 10-1 67 18
18 College of Southern Idaho 18 13-3 60 12
19 Hutchinson Community College 6 13-1 59 24
20 Chattanooga State Community College 7 10-1 56 NR
21 Chipola College 8 14-4 48 16
22 Cleveland State Community College 7 11-1 33 7
23 Iowa Western Community College 11 13-1 30 NR
24 Grayson County College 5 11-1 22 NR
25 North Idaho College 18 11-2 21 3

Monday, January 10, 2011

Jackson news

Lauren Jackson has left her Spartak Russia team and returned to Australia after sustaining an Achilles tendon injury. I honestly don't know how Jackson, who will be 30 this May 11, has played through all the injuries she's had over the years. She must really, really love the game.

Seattle native and Oregon Duck Nia Jackson has been named Pac-10 Player of the Week, following her team's sweep of the Washington conference schools.

For black athletes, fame is a blessing and a curse, saysn an ESPNW columnist.

ESPN's Graham Hays has games to watch out for this week.

Iowa State has one tiny member of their team.

Hoopfeed has a super dope Baylor page now.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

#28 Troy 57, Inglewood 38

The Troy Warriors of Fullerton, Calif. are currently ranked #28 in the nation. With a 13-2 record, they've lost only to Long Beach Poly and Spring Valley - an east coast team they played in the Crescent Bank Holiday Invitational last month. Last night they defeated Inglewood, 57-38.

The Warriors aren't big, but they're fast and smart. Point guard Shelby Doughtery never has the ball for more than three dribbles before she rockets it off to a teammate. Then it's cutting time for the entire offense. Briana Roberson is an effective scorer with her ability to penetrate.

Defensively, Troy is even more intense. Their full-court pressure D broke Inglewood's concentration again and again. The Warriors are all in great shape, able to run the court with anyone on any possession.

If Troy doesn't go far in the playoffs this year, I'll be surprised.



Troy players box out completely in the second quarter.



Troy point guard Shelby Doughtery is very impressive: she bring the ball up the court quickly, gets rid of it, and also has a nice outside shot. She finished with 11 points on the night.



Inglewood's DeAjanae Scurry puts up two in the third quarter.



Esther Du grabs the board for Troy.

More on USC-UCLA

IM in OC - a huge USC fan - sat behind the Trojan bench yesterday and provided these great photos.



USC Coach Michael Cooper diagrams a play at a timeout.



Len'Nique Brown at the free throw line in the second half.



USC's new athletic director, Pat Haden, takes in the game.

Mater Dei 70, Santa Monica 54



Jordan Adams at the free throw line.



Alexyz Vaioletama and Adams get instructions from Coach Kevin Kiernan.



Vaioletama, Adams and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, aka the big three for Mater Dei, watch the last few minutes of the game.

____________________

Jordan Adams scored 18 points and led Mater Dei to a hard-fought 70-54 win over Santa Monica at home Saturday night.

Both teams started slowly in the first quarter, with the Monarchs leading 5-4 in the first few minutes of the game. The rest of the quarter MD turned on the jets and outscored SAMO 15-5 to finish up with a 20-6 lead. MD had five three-point baskets in the first quarter.

At this point many who have seen MD games would assume it would become another blowout, but SAMO scored 23 points in the second quarter to close the gap at halftime, trailing 29-36. SAMO then scored the first five points of the second half to cut the Monarch's lead to two, 34-36.

However, MD went on a 14-3 run to finish out the third with a 50-37 lead. Each team scored 17 points in the last quarter, defense took the quarter off for both teams, and MD held on for a 70-54 win.

There was a scary moment for with about five minutes left in the third quarter, as Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis for MD and Moriah Faulk for SAMO crashed into each other near half court. Kaleena hit her head on the floor and Faulk was on the floor for a few minutes with an apparent hip injury. Both were examined by the trainer on hand, but both returned to the game a short time later. Mosqueda-Lewis went down again with some kind of leg or knee injury, but she stayed in the game until the two-minute mark.

- IM in OC

Santa Monica HS-- 6 - 23 - 8 - 17 = 54
Mater Dei HS -------20 - 16 - 17 - 17 = 70

Saturday, January 8, 2011

More on a Saturday to remember

UConn squeaked out a 79-76 win over Notre Dame.

Marquette upset #15 Georgetown in two overtimes.

Missouri shocked #22 Texas in overtime.

Baylor opened conference play with a win over Iowa State.

Oregon beat Washington in the last basketball game at MacArthur Court. *Sniff*

Video.

I'll have even more Saturday stuff tomorrow morning.

Fairfax LA City Showcase Championship: Narbonne 64, View Park Prep 35

It was a game for a few minutes, but then Narbonne's Tailer Butler (#3, black uniform in first picture) unleashed a few shots, and the Gauchos never looked back.

Narbonne's stifling full court pressure defense took the Knights out of their rhythm. Gaucho Tori Paschal seemed to be on a crusade to get all her team's rebounds. Narbonne can also shoot the lights out. If the City Championship were to be played right now, I'd pick them.

Butler just keeps looking better and better. Her three's are silky.





UCLA 61, USC 42

There was this guy in the huddle with UCLA today that they showed on the arena camera a few times. Said he was from the UCLA men's championship team in 1995. Now I see why he was there:

LOS ANGELES (AP)—Tyus Edney helped UCLA win its last national basketball championship in 1995, so coach Nikki Caldwell called on him to give her women’s team an earful.

Jasmine Dixon scored 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting and No. 12 UCLA routed Southern California 61-42 Saturday in a matchup of crosstown rivals off to their best starts in years.

“He said it’s about heart,” Caldwell said. “I think the team listened to him, they don’t always listen to me.”


Whatever it was, the Bruins dominated USC from tipoff to final buzzer. I didn't expect that. And though USC didn't play badly, UCLA just seemed utterly on and fired up:

Ashley Corral scored 14 points for USC, which had its six-game winning streak end. Still, the Trojans are off to their hottest start since going 17-1 before their first Pac-10 loss in 1993-94.

“There were a lot of things in the game we didn’t get done. We had a lot of open looks in the first half and didn’t make them,” USC coach Michael Cooper said. “Their defense was harrassing, but it wasn’t maniacal like we thought it would be. I thought our defense was going to be a lot better. We got to get a lot nastier.”

USC’s leading scorer Briana Gilbreath missed all 12 of her shots and finished with nine points—all on free throws—while playing in foul trouble. She came in averaging 14.5 points.

“We still had open looks and she just wasn’t knocking them down,” Cooper said.

The Trojans shot a 28 percent from the floor and committed 20 turnovers in front of a big crowd, including UCLA’s rowdy student section that noisily taunted the Trojans for their airballs.


Box score.

Pauley Pavilion was full of 6,675 loud people today. It was great to see that size of a crowd. Basketball celebrities in attendence included: Jessica Moore, Lisa Leslie doing commentary for FOX, and Lisa Willis.



USC's #15 Briana Gilbreath runs to help Jacki Gemelos, who has the ball.



Gilbreath and UCLA's Jasmine Dixon scramble for a rebound in the first half.



Sheila Boykin and Kacy Swain chilling at halftime and perhaps talking about what they'll do at UCLA next year, when they're playing for Nikki Caldwell.



Markel Walker pops a long two in the second half.



Dixon scores and Walker yells for joy.



Gemelos has a crazy skill set. Here she prepared to take the ball in during the second half. She shot it, missed, got her own rebound and put it up and in.

'Hood mentality

Don't take that scholarship for granted.

The success stories abound: local girl goes off to Division I school, or JC-to-DI, and makes a mark. Think Jeanette Pohlen, Layshia Clarendon or Hazel Ramirez if you're a Los Angeles-area resident.

But those are the exceptions. Unfortunately, there is far more wasted talent out there than success - particularly in low socio-economic areas - AKA the 'hood. I might offend some with this terminology, but I have to call it what it is.

First there are the ones who don't even try. A girl from my former school of employment comes to mind. One of the best skill sets we'd seen, and all that natural talent. But she wouldn't even play for the school because she "didn't care" (Translation: fear of failure).

Another girl from that school with similar great talent did play, but she didn't want to go to college. She could have got a scholarship easily. Almost went to two JCs before abandoning the idea altogether. She seemed to like the idea of sitting around the house better than being a student athlete.

And then, don't think that landing that scholarship necessarily means that it's "happily ever after" for these kids. Two examples from other South Central LA schools come to mind.

One girl came home from her JC for winter break. She got one of the assistants from her former high school team to take her to the airport for the return flight after the holiday. He called the JC coach the next day; the girl never made it. He checked the girl's house. Apparently after he left her at the airport, she found a way home and never got on the plane. She told her brother to tell the coach that she wasn't there when he called.

Another girl came home from her college for winter break, and her people practically had to throw her on the plane to get her to return, as she didn't want to go. And her team and program are ranked very well.

It confounds the mind, but for every Mykiea Russell and Reshanda Gray (Washington Prep High School), there are 10 times more of the types of girls as the two above.

Why? The reasons vary. Fear of failure, fear of success, family influences, neighborhood influences, lack of role models, lack of reinforcement, lack of structure, lack of self-esteem, lack of resilience. Most likely, a combination of the above. But it's agonizing for those of us like myself who surround these girls, and all of our efforts fail.

College coaches know about 'Hood mentality. Some - especially high-profile programs - steer clear of recruiting in certain areas. They don't want to deal with it, and who could blame them?

I wish we had the resources to address the social issues in poor neighborhoods that lead to so much wasted talent. But that's another column for another blog.