Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Big business and team stories

First West Virginia sued the Big East Conference so they could move to the Big 12. Then the Big East counter-sued them. Now WV is seeking to have that suit dismissed.

League realignment has messed up scheduling, says Purdue Coach Sharon Versyp.

Team news:

The Washington Huskies have found a team leader in Regina Rogers.

Rutgers Coach Vivian Stringer has high praise for senior point guard Khadijah Rushdan.

Maryland point guard Anjale Barrett is a quiet weapon for the Terps.

Touching pro bonus:

I wondered at Andrea Riley's silence since the deaths of her former coaches Kurt Budke and Miranda Serna. The point guard says Budke believed in her before she believed in herself. She is dedicating "everything she does" to Budke and Serna.

2011-2012 Naismith watch list is out

The usual suspects, but exciting nonetheless.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Random bits

Sylvia Fowles took time to visit and speak to the UCF team, as a favor to her former coach Bob Starkey.

Florida Gulf Coast scored a whopping 21 three-pointers in their win against Webber International last night. They tied the NCAA record for treys in a single contest.

LSU, at 3-3, is taking a break and won't play again until Dec. 11.

Duke starter Shay Selby has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules.

On the clock with UCLA freshman Kacy Swain.

ESPN/USA Today top 25 sees a few changes

Vanderbilt, Gonzaga and Texas Tech enter while LSU, Florida State and Georgia Tech drop out of this week's ESPN/USA Today top 25:

1. Baylor
2. Connecticut
3. Notre Dame
4. Texas A&M
5. Stanford
6. Duke
7. Maryland
8. Tennessee
9. Miami
10. Kentucky
11. Louisville
12. Rutgers
13. North Carolina
14. Georgia
15. Penn State
16. Purdue
17. Wisconsin-Green Bay
18 (tie). Ohio State, Oklahoma
20. Georgetown
21. DePaul
22 (tie). Texas, Vanderbilt
24. Gonzaga
25. Texas Tech

Two ties? Interesting.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The good and the sad

Oklahoma State update:

Miranda Serna was laid to rest Saturday in her home state of New Mexico.

So far, an investigation has revealed that the plane banked to the right and then dipped before crashing and killing all aboard.

Taking on good causes:

Baylor has adopted a child.

Former University of Nevada guard Tahnee Robinson will be a an official spokeswoman for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Class of 2012:

ESPN has tagged six seniors as players to watch this season.

Former Seattle Storm practice player dies from cancer:

Andrew Moritz, who played for the Washington Huskies, died from cancer yesterday at age 33.

Mater Dei, former Brea Olinda star ruled ineligible to play

Mater Dei guard Nirra Fields, who is UCLA-bound, and former Brea Olinda star Jeanier Olukemi have both been denied transfers from the California Interscholastic Federation. Unless both win hardship appeals, neither will be able to play this season.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Big things poppin

#1 Baylor held off #7 Tennessee. ESPN's Mechelle Voepel analyzes. So does Baylor point guard Odyssey Sims.

At halftime of the big match up, the Pat Summitt Foundation was launched. It will support Alzheimer's programs.

Baylor Coach Kim Mulkey had some kind words for the longtime coach.

Upsets:

Nebraska beat #24 Florida State.

Cal beat their first ranked opponent - Joanne Boyle's #22 Virginia Cavaliers, no less.

The unbeatens:

#19 Ohio State remains undefeated after outlasting #23 LSU, who is now 3-3 on the year.

Texas Tech is also unbeaten after today's victory over Louisiana-Monroe.

The Oregon Ducks won their own tournament and are now 6-0 on the year.

Milestone:

UConn has now won a record 89 consecutive home games after pounding Dayton today.

Heads up:

Missouri's move to the SEC will cost them.

Today, yesterday

Today it's #1 Baylor at #6 Tennessee.

Last night it was Cal State Northridge over West Virginia - the Matadors' first win over a Big East opponent in team history. Box score.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thankful for all of this game action

Upsets:

#21 Georgetown beat #10 Georgia.

Unranked Vanderbilt defeated #14 Oklahoma.

Excitement:

#3 Notre Dame needed a last-second Natalie Novosel bank shot to overcome #6 Duke at the Junkanoo Jam.

#18 Green Bay needed a last-second Adrian Ritchie three-pointer to slip by #25 Georgia Tech in overtime.

Cal missed a last-ditch shot to give #22 Texas the one-point win.

Minnesota's buzzer-beater put them over Virginia Tech by a point.

#13 Rutgers held off Arizona State at the San Juan (Puerto Rico) Shootout.

Update at 9:23 p.m.: Cal State Northridge 48-47 over West Virginia.

TCU beat Fordham by the same score, 48-47.

Also Yale over Texas-Pan American, 59-57.

It's madness, I'm tellin' ya.

Oklahoma State returns to the court with a win

The 59-35 victory over Coppin State was more than just a win - it was a triumph:

STILLWATER, Okla. -- For the first time in more than a week, the Oklahoma State women's basketball team felt somewhat normal for a few hours Saturday.

With nine days filled with funerals, memorials and mourning behind them, the Cowgirls played their first game since OSU coach Kurt Budke, assistant Miranda Serna and boosters Olin and Paula Branstetter were killed in a plane crash Nov. 17.

On Saturday, the Cowgirls wore patches on their uniforms of the number "4" that featured the initials of each crash victim and the date of the accident stitched onto the number. Coppin State players wore orange T-shirts emblazoned with the number "4" during their pregame warmups.

"Today was much deeper than the basketball part of it," OSU interim coach Jim Littell said of the Cowgirls' 59-35 victory over Coppin State at Gallagher-Iba Arena. "We had a chance to pay honor today.

"Did we play like we are capable of? Definitely not, but it was a step. It's much, much deeper than a basketball game."


Video.

Game recap.

I respect their courage.

Keeping up with the tournaments and games

Stanford overpowered Xavier, 80,64, behind Nnemkadi Ogwumike's season-high 34 points.

The Cardinal spent Thanksgiving at the home of junior forward Mikaela Ruef.

At the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas, Skylar Diggins and Notre Dame had stellar games, and beat USC yesterday, 80-58. Trojan guard Jacki Gemelos is back and in full effect, with no more doubts.

In Hawaii, Cal took their opener at the Waikiki Marriott Rainbow Wahine Showdown over the hosts, 69-54. Bear freshman Reshanda Gray led her team with 16 points and six rebounds. Cal takes on #24 Texas today in round two.

Schoni Schimmel lead #12 Louisville past #24 Florida State, as she put up 25 points.

#8 Maryland's win over Florida International makes them 6-0 - their best start in years.

Today's schedule.

Tomorrow is the big Baylor-Tennessee match up. Vol guard Taber Spani, who has been out with an injured elbow, will play.

Friday, November 25, 2011

It's high school tournament time in Southern California

......the happiest time of the year........

Nov. 28-Dec. 3:

Brea Olinda Ladycat Classic

Inglewood City of Champions Tournament

Nov. 30-Dec. 3:

La Jolla Country Day Sweet 16 Invitational

Dec. 5-Dec. 9:

Mater Dei Matt Denning Classic

Dec. 5-Dec. 10:

Fountain Valley Hoop Challenge

These are a few of my favorite things

Sue Bird and Candace Parker talk about playing against dudes.

Dishin & Swishin interviews Tamika Catchings.

Cal is in Hawaii at a tournament, and they're set to take on former Coach Joanne Boyle's Virginia team.

I'm holding off on score reporting because many games have yet to take place, but you gotta love this Thanksgiving weekend for hoops.

University of Oregon's Matthew Knight Arena: you be the judge



The modern-day symbol for the University of Oregon.....this old schooler doesn't like it.

____________________

This past weekend I finally got to check out the University of Oregon's new basketball/volleyball court, Matthew Knight Arena. I had been curious about the new venue, which took the place of 90-year-old McArthur Court last January.

It's all it's cracked up to be. Knight Arena is soundly and beautifully-designed in a way that makes sense - much more so than Galen Center in Los Angeles, which gives up a lot of seating for a big window on the north side. Knight also has a huge video screen, two stats boards, and a Staples Center feel to it. But what do you expect from Nike co-founder and Chairman Phil Knight, who was the major donor to the $227 million project?

The court has been a matter of debate. It's called "the woods" because silhouettes of fir trees line each side under the baskets. Some say the darker paint is a distraction, because it makes the floor look too busy. I'm curious to know what readers think; take a look at the pictures and post your comments.

Mac Court was where I learned to love women's basketball. But as for Knight Arena, I don't have an opinion, personally. I'm kind of conflicted in my feelings about my alma mater's athletic department anyway.

Since the early 1970's, when Steve Prefontaine was a Duck, Oregon had been a track and field school, and to a lesser extent, a basketball school. The symbol was a fighting duck bursting through a sideways "O." Somewhere in the 90's, long after I had left town, the U of O somehow got to be a football school. Autzen Stadium is nothing like it was back in the day, when my high school would play there Friday nights, and where we all went for fireworks on the Fourth of July. Now it's a monstrous series of complexes, including the stadium. Atop it all is a huge "O." (See above photo) In fact, the modern-day "O" is everywhere in town, to the point of obsession.

It's nothing different than the displays seen in the South, where football has long been a type of religion for sports fans. But Oregon's football fervor doesn't seem as naturally-evolved as the SEC's. And all the corporate money in the world will never make me think of it as a football school.

I guess the Ducks did need a new basketball arena; Mac Court was getting old. And there's nothing to complain about in Knight Arena, except for the curious fact that they don't give game programs to fans. And I am indeed glad that Phil Knight wanted to give something back to basketball and not just focus on football.

Listening to some of the fans in the stands at last Sunday's Oregon-Portland State game, I get the impression that their main issue is on whether or not the Ducks need new coaches again. But that's another column.



Approaching Matt Knight Arena. The arena is named after Nike executive Phil Knight's son, who died in a scuba diving accident at age 34.



The view of the floor.



Each side of the court is painted with fir trees, which has caused some to ask whether or not the floor design is a distraction.



The middle of the floor. It's named after former Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny, and you can see "Kilkenny" at the top of the photo.



Assistant Coach Keila Whittington, wearing orange to support Oklahoma State, and Coach Paul Westhead, confer before Oregon's game against Portland State University on Nov. 20.



The video montage that plays before player intros includes many action shots.



Freshman Lexi Petersen drives to the hoop in the second half against PSU, which demonstrates how the floor appears to players.



PSU's Eryn Jones shoots in the first half.



The Knight lounge downstairs is generally only for "VIP"s, but it was open last Sunday night, so one of my friends and I went to look. Part of the floor is the old floor from Mac Court.



Photos adorn the back walls, including one of Duck legend Bev Smith.



Not sure when this was taken, but my guess is the 2002 WNIT championship.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Things for which to be thankful

Amazing, in-depth interview with Cal freshman forward Reshanda Gray on growing up and overcoming obstacles......."Did you know you could actually get a scholarship out of this?" :)

ESPNW will interview fans from 16 teams across the country this season, to talk about their passion. First up is the Vols: Putting the Vol in volume.

Thanks to all the women and girl basketball players and coaches of the world, not to mention the teachers and mentors who got them there. Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Some Thanksgiving gratefulness

Nebraska Coach Connie Yori has reason to be grateful this Thanksgiving.

A lot of teams are probably grateful, because they're spending the holiday in beauty and warmth as they prepare to begin tournaments Friday. Check twitter for team-posted pictures of Cal and UW in Hawaii; Notre Dame in the Bahamas; and Tulane is in Cancun, Mexico - just to name a few.

News:

In a chat today, ESPN's Mechelle Voepel covered everything from Oklahoma State to the Pac-12 to predictions to the Naismith Hall of Fame.

The Big 12 Tournament will be in Dallas in 2013 and Oklahoma City in 2014.

UConn, A&M and Rutgers have top 2012 recruiting classes

The schools who wrestled down the top 60 2012 recruiting classes this fall:

1. Connecticut Huskies
2. Texas A&M Aggies
3. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
4. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
5. Tennessee Lady Vols
6. Syracuse Orange
7. Duke Blue Devils
8. Baylor Bears
9. Maryland Terrapins
10. North Carolina Tarheels
11. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
12. UCLA Bruins
13. Texas Longhorns
14. Southern Cal Trojans
15. West Virginia Mountaineers
16. Clemson Tigers
17. Oklahoma Sooners
18. South Carolina Gamecocks
19. Louisiana State Tigers
20. Florida Gators
21. Georgia Lady Bulldogs
22. Purdue Boilermakers
23. Stanford Cardinal
24. Vanderbilt Commodores
25. Virginia Cavaliers
26. Georgetown Hoyas
27. Colorado Buffaloes
28. Washington Huskies
29. Oregon State Beavers
30. Auburn Tigers
31. Dayton Flyers
32. Michigan State
33. Oklahoma State Cowgirls
34. Virginia Tech Hokies
35. Penn State Nittany Lions
36. Kentucky Wildcats
37. James Madison Dukes
38. Memphis Tigers
39. Houston Cougars
40. Louisville Cardinals
41. Pepperdine Waves
42. Grambling State Tigers
43. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
44. Miami Hurricanes
45. Princeton Tigers
46. Seton Hall Pirates
47. Mississippi State Bulldogs
48. Marquette Golden Eagles
49. Texas Christian Horned Frogs
50. Tulsa Golden Hurricane
51. St. John's Red Storm
52. Providence Friars
53. Minnesota Golden Gophers
54. Southern Methodist Mustangs
55. Hofstra Pride
56. Old Dominion Lady Monarchs
57. Kansas State Wildcats
58. Arizona Wildcats
59. Iowa State Cyclones
60. George Washington

Analysis.

Chris Hansen grades.

Keil Moore grades.

Pictures.

One parent's perspective on the recruiting process.

Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt lauds the Vol signing class.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tonight's upset is........

Northwestern beat #20 LSU, 44-43. Key game moment:

LSU seemed to take control of the game during a five-minute stretch of the second half. After falling behind for the first time all night, Northwestern regained the lead at 24-23 on a basket by Hackney with 16:59 left. The Wildcats wouldn't score for another 5 1/2 minutes.

I had a feeling this upset would happen based on an email I got this morning. This season is only 11 days old, and look at all that has happened so far.

Other key games:

Louisville Coach Jeff Walz notched his 100th career victory as his team defeated Austin Peay.

With tonight's victory over Lehigh Mountain, Rutgers is off to its best start since 2005-2006.

There are 12 games scheduled for Thanksgiving day. Who started this tradition?

This week's ESPN/USA Today coaches poll

There have already been a few changes in the ESPN/USA Today rankings this week, due to the wild start of the 2011-2012 season:

1. Baylor
2. Connecticut
3. Notre Dame
4. Texas A&M
5. Stanford
6. Duke
7. Tennessee
8. Maryland
9. Miami
10. Georgia
11. Kentucky
12. Louisville
13. Rutgers
14. Oklahoma
15. North Carolina
16. Penn State
17. Purdue
18. Green Bay
19. Ohio State
20. DePaul
21. Georgetown
22. Texas
23. LSU
24. Florida State
25. Georgia Tech

This won't be the last of the upsets and wildness, either......brace yourselves.

Cowgirls begin the healing process, with much support

The Oklahoma State Cowgirls' return to the court will help their healing process, in the wake of the losses of coaches Kurt Budke and Miranda Serna.

The OSU men's team is there for them.

Oklahoma Coach Sherri Coale and her team also lended support after yesterday's memorial service.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

It was very touching to see all the Stanford coaches wearing orange lapel ribbons during last night's game against UConn, as well as the players sporting orange hair ribbons. Some of the Oregon coaches also wore orange ribbons during their Sunday game.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Powerade Fab 50 preseason rankings

It's a brand new basketball world.

No Murry Bergtraum, no Long Beach Poly, no Brea Olinda.

UConn wins the showdown with Stanford

#4 UConn used a suffocating full-court press and 25 points from freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis to defeat #5 Stanford tonight, 68-58.

Best and worst of the game.

Of course ESPN is making comparisons between Mosqueda-Lewis and Maya Moore, whose jersey M-L now wears.

This season is going to be a wild one.

Oklahoma State:

The University today had a memorial service for coaches Kurt Budke and Miranda Serna, who were killed in a plane crash last Thursday. Among the attendees were Oklahoma Coach Sherri Coale, Texas A&M Coach Gary Blair, and Baylor Coach Kim Mulkey. Video.

Other college news:

A Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist has some interesting thoughts after watching Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt coach yesterday's game against Virginia.

On the clock with UCLA freshman Moriah Faulk.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Oregon 75, Portland State 71

Eugene, Ore. - The Ducks fought off a second-half rally by a scrappy Vikings team to win, 75-71. Senior forward Amanda Johnson notched 30 points and 19 rebounds - her second consecutive 30-plus game.

The most important of freshman Jordan Loera's eight points was her last three: a shot with five seconds to go, which sealed Oregon's win. Eryn Jones led PSU with 20, and Karley Lampman added 18.

Box score.

Oregon extended the lead to 14 points early in the second half, but the Vikings began their comeback, whittling the lead to one with a minute left.

Outside of the box score, the game began with a lot of turnovers on both sides, and was sloppy. PSU did a lot with what they have, which is a fairly short team. And they did something a lot that the Ducks need to do more often: they play defense.

Oregon was also hesitating to drive to the hoop earlier in the game, but once they did, the points started flowing. They should not settle for the outside shot, because they don't have enough good shooters to take that gamble.

Johnson is playing like a woman possessed. I like it. And Loera has a bright future ahead of her if she keeps working; she has much natural talent.

Knight Arena is indeed a well-designed, gorgeous, state-of-the-art facility. I took a lot of pictures, which I will post when I return home. I'm interested to know reader opinion on the uniquely-painted floor.

Big Sunday hoops

#1 Baylor downed #2 Notre Dame 94-81, on the back of Brittney Griner's 32 points and 14 rebounds.

But that game almost paled in comparison to the upset of the week: #3 Tennessee lost to unranked Virginia in overtime, 69-64. Was part of the problem Vicki Baugh having to sit out? ESPN's Mechelle Voepel said the game was a scene-stealer.

With a Texas A&M win over Mississippi State today, Coach Gary Blair earned his 600th win.

Purdue achieved its 700th program win in clobbering Tennessee-Martin.

#11 Georgia overcame #22 USC, lead by Meredith Mitchell's career-high 21 points.

Duke forced 35 turnovers in defeating Western Kentucky.

San Diego State claimed the Jack in the Box Rainbow Wahine Classic in Hawaii, despite losing their final game tonight to Portland, by one point. Courtney Clements was MVP, and Kiyana Stamps and Kalena Tutt were named all-tournament.

Oregon State whomped Southern Utah, 90-40. They are 4-0 to start the season for the first time in 11 years.

Cal beat Illinois 80-56 in a game where, yet again, the freshmen shone - and lead all scorers. My Cal informants also reported dubious officiating today, making the win all the more impressive.

Bearinsider interviews Cal assistant coach Kai Felton: part one and part two.

Extra:

UConn Coach Geno Auriemma recalls getting a hug from Stanford forward Chiney Ogwumike after their victory last year.

Oklahoma State tragedy:

Weather doesn't appear to be a factor in Thursday's plane crash, that killed Coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna.

The University will examine rules around traveling.

Upset city continues

The Tulane Green Waves upended #21 LSU last night in overtime, 65-62.

#16 Georgetown snapped out of their slump by throttling Houston.

Whitney Hand's late basket helped the #14 Sooners avoid an upset.

DePaul redeemed themselves from Friday's loss by beating Portland. They had 15 three-point shots.

Free throws made the difference for Washington, who beat CSUN 73-67.

Today's games are no joke either.....it seems like this year, a lot of big-time match ups are happening early:

#1 Baylor faces #2 Notre Dame.

#22 USC is at #11 Georgia.

#3 Tennessee is on the road for the first time this season, and the first opponent is Virginia.

And in other Pac-12 match ups, Illinois is at Cal this afternoon, and this evening, Portland State visits the Oregon Ducks. Oregon State hosts Southern Utah, Colorado is at Colorado State, and Washington State is at South Dakota State.

I will have a report on the Duck game later.

Oklahoma State family remembers

Oklahoma State community still reeling after tragedy.

The weather has been ruled out as a cause of the plane crash.

Stillwater residents react.

Ongoing coverage from News OK.

Remembering Miranda Serna.

Kansas State Coach Deb Patterson reflects upon Kurt Budke.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Busy college hoops day ahead

There are 70 games today. And some of the teams playing in tournaments play twice - just like in high school. Key match ups.

More on last night:

Oregon held on to beat Illinois, 77-74. Senior Amanda Johnson poured in 31 points to guide the win. I am excited because I'll be catching the Ducks' next game tomorrow evening, and I'll get to see Knight Arena for the first time. I've heard it's the best venue in the Pac-12.

And speaking of that West coast conference: Washington State beat Wisconsin 69-51. Senior April Cook reached the 1,000-point career mark in the process.

Monday:

So early in the season? Stanford travels to UConn.

Friday, November 18, 2011

One more upset: San Diego State 82, #18 DePaul, 74

They're being slow to post tonight, but I watched it on gametracker a while ago. The two teams are playing in the Jack in the Box Rainbow Wahine Classic in Honolulu, and were tied 33-all at halftime. San Diego State began to pull ahead at the start of the second period and never looked back; they lead by as much as 12 in the game's final minutes. Keisha Hampton lead the Demons with 27 points, and Courtney Clements lead the Aztecs with 25.

Can't wait to hear the details.

Box score.

Nebraska 68, #22 USC 50

Lincoln, Neb. - The USC Trojans started a two-game road trip flat in their shooting and rebounding, and ended up on the wrong side of an 18-point differential to the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

USC was 20 percent (7 for 35) from the field in the first half, while Nebraska shot 42 percent (11 for 26). The Cornhuskers led 35-22 at the half. The Trojans came out strong to start the second period and whittled the gap to seven points with 18 minutes to go, but they couldn't sustain the comeback. For the game, USC was outrebounded 66-40 - a number that was shockingly lopsided.

On a positive note, Trojan forward Christina Marinacci played her first game of the season, after sitting out last week's opener for "medical reasons." She added 19 minutes of valuble play time tonight, wherein she put up six points, grabbed two boards and made two steals.

Box score.

USC has another tough game in less than 48 hours, against the Georgia Bulldogs Sunday afternoon in Athens, Ga. Very little time to recover...and Notre Dame comes after that.

- I'M in OC in Lincoln, Nebraska

Catching up with other news

The Oklahoma State tragedy made all other news pale in comparison. Now we catch up......

Last night's games:

Four Cal Bears scored in double figures as they overcame Sacramento State, 85-61. Talia Caldwell had 17, Justine Hartman 16, Reshanda Gray 15 and Layshia Clarendon, 12.

Elena Delle Donne erupted for 40 points as Delaware upset #11 Penn State.

#5 Stanford routed Old Dominion, 97-48.

Tonight's games:

Nebraska upset #22 USC 68-50.

Other college:

The NCAA has launched an investigation into Penn State that will encompass all of the University's athletic programs.

Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt's "toughness" has earned her an inspiration award from the AARP.

Louisville guard Tia Gibbs will miss the season due to a torn labrum in her shoulder.

Pro notes:

The contract of Seattle Storm Coach Brian Agler has been extended through 2015.

Cheryl Miller and Tina Thompson are among the pros who will play in the Obama Classic Basketball Game on Dec. 12.

More on Kurt Budke and Miranda Serna

It was almost 11 years ago that an eerily similar tragedy struck Oklahoma State University. Now, with the deaths of basketball coaches Kurt Budke and Miranda Serna, the OSU community is saying, "not again."

Budke had worked his way to the top of his profession.

The Louisiana Tech community mourns the loss of their former coaches.

More reaction from coaches.

Coaches memorialized on podcast.

More details from the Washington Post.

Oklahoma State Coach Kurt Budke, assistant Miranda Serna killed in plane crash

It's been a few hours since I heard the news that Oklahoma State Coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna were killed in a plane crash, and I am still reeling.

Budke was in his seventh season with the Cowgirls.

They were on a recruiting trip in Arkansas when the plane went down yesterday afternoon.

Budke and Serna had coached together for more than a decade.

Reactions from other NCAA coaches have been heartfelt.

ESPN's Doris Burke reacts.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Smidgens

Former Virginia coach Debbie Ryan was presented the Joe Lapchick Character Award today.

Dishin & Swishin speaks with Debbie Antonelli, Michelle Smith, John Altavila and Abby Waner as part of a panel interview.

So many games today, which I will discuss tomorrow, as several of them aren't done yet..........

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tennessee Lady Vols, 2011-2012



Coach Pat Summitt talks with assistants Mickie DeMoss, Holly Warlick and Dean Lockwood before a recent practice.

(photo by Maria Cornelius)

____________________

My annual tradition of interviewing scout.com writer/reporter Maria Cornelius continues this year. The longtime Lady Vol beat writer has a tremendous amount of knowledge about the team, the coaches and the program from years of covering them. She took time out to fill me in on this season's outlook.

SF: This team has got a little bit of everything: Vicki Baugh, who is a holdover from the Candace Parker/Nicky Anosike era; the heralded freshman class of 2008; last year’s superstar freshmen; powerful newcomers this season. How is that all blending together?

MC: The early indications are very good. Vicki Baugh is both a respected leader and beloved by her teammates. And, as noted, she is the last player connection to a Final Four. They know she knows what it takes to get there, so she has everyone’s ear. Baugh also is one of the hardest-working players on the team. Coaches love it when one of the best players is also one of the hardest-working – much like Candace Parker was – because it sends the message that there are no shortcuts to greatness.

Another senior who doesn’t get much attention but who deserves a shout-out is Briana Bass. She could have gotten discouraged during her time on campus, but instead she has become a team-oriented player who works hard every single day, has stepped up to help Ariel Massengale, and before that, Meighan Simmons, even though it meant they played over her at the point position. Players like that are so beneficial because they could be a detriment to team chemistry and turn out to be an asset.

All the returning players have shown a willingness to help the newcomers make the adjustment on the court to college basketball.

It might have been tricky to mesh a freshman point guard with a veteran team, but two things have facilitated that process: Ariel Massengale is no ordinary freshman, and the seniors have yet to make a Final Four in their careers. They realize they need everyone on the roster to fulfill their dreams.

It is a small roster with just 11 players, and junior guard Kamiko Williams remains out while she rehabs an ACL injury. But even Williams is finding a way to contribute. Williams had never been asked to play a possession of defense in her career until she arrived at Tennessee and it was a huge adjustment to her. For some insightful viewing, watch the bench during the Nov. 15 televised game against Miami when Tennessee is playing defense on that end of the court. Williams is up pointing to get people in the position and screaming for players to get their hands up. She sounds like Pat Summitt on the sideline. Just call her Coach Williams.

SF: At SEC Media Day, Pat Summitt and Holly Warlick commented that Baugh looks like the player they signed five years ago. Why do you think they said that? How does Baugh look different this year?

MC: Baugh is as healthy as she has been since her freshman year so that would explain the coaches’ enthusiasm. She is back to running the floor like a guard as she did pre-ACL injuries, and she has added strength and transformed herself physically.

Baugh will need time. With the limitations of the thrice-operated knee (two ACL repairs and a meniscus surgery), she has essentially been off the court for three years. So it will be an adjustment to get into the flow of the game and learn a new position. She has always played facing the basket and is used to operating in space. Tennessee will need her to post up and play the center spot with her back to the basket in some sets.

The offense is predicated on spacing, cuts and screens and Baugh’s mobility will be a big asset, but she needs time to get up to speed with her game and get used to playing with her teammates.

SF: Baugh is the elder stateswoman of the team. Do players listen to her?

MC: It is not an exaggeration to say she is revered. Her attitude, her sense of humor, her work ethic, her resume – it all adds up to a teammate that is truly beloved. They also know she got it done in the postseason of 2008 – that was Baugh’s breakout period –and she is the only player with a national title ring.

Freshman Isabelle Harrison is now known as Mini Me Izzy because she does what Baugh does and listens to her. In my opinion, Harrison is an excellent judge of character to have selected Baugh as the person to emulate. Candace Parker and Vicki Baugh still talk on a regular basis, as do Baugh and Nicky Anosike. Those two also endorse Baugh as a player and a person. She is special, no doubt about it.

SF: Glory Johnson was so strong last season. How does she look this year?

MC: Johnson has been a workhorse for the Lady Vols. Through all the post injuries of the past three seasons, Johnson had answered the bell for every game. She has gone from relying on sheer athleticism as a freshman to becoming a basketball player as a senior. She is listed as 6’3 but is closer to 6’2 and of slender build – though as you noted she is extremely strong – but has battled bigger posts throughout her career.

A nice development of her game is being able to hit that baseline mid-range shot from the short corners and the elbow jumper near the free throw line. She is explosive to the rim so that will force defenders to get out on her, thus opening driving lanes.

She is also outstanding on the boards, especially the offensive end, with her leaping ability, and she is difficult to box out because of her strength. She gets battered inside and just keeps battling.

SF: What has Meighan Simmons done to grow her game since her incredible freshman debut last year?

MC: The best thing to happen to Simmons is the arrival of Ariel Massengale. Simmons will have to be ready at the point spot, but it will be in relief. She can now play her natural position of shooting guard, and defenses will have to account for Massengale, Shekinna Stricklen, Taber Spani and Meighan Simmons on the perimeter. Somebody will get open.

The next step for Simmons is her court awareness on offense and defense, and she has demonstrated a willingness to listen to the coaches. That is a vital step for any player. Simmons had a lot on her plate last season as she tried to run the team at the point, a position she had not played. Now, she can work on getting better at her position of shooting guard and becoming a stout defender. Her aggressive attitude and passion for the game will be beneficial as she takes her game to another level.

SF: What are each of the freshmen bringing to the Lady Vols program?

MC: Ariel Massengale is the most college-ready player I have seen for Tennessee since Candace Parker. She missed nearly all of October with a concussion, plays with her teammates in a game situation for the first time in the exhibition game and looks comfortable nonetheless. She understands the game in ways that have been taught – her father had a huge influence – since she was a youngster.

Pat Summitt surprised people when she announced that Massengale was her starting point when she was still in high school. Summitt had the benefit of having seen Massengale play. Now, we all know what Summitt saw.

Cierra Burdick will be a difference maker at Tennessee during her career. She is athletic, handles the ball well, already has a midrange game – she shoots very well off the dribble – and has a work ethic that is uncommon for a freshman. Like any freshman, she will have to learn defensive concepts and become a better one-on-one defender, but she played in USA Basketball systems so her learning curve is not as steep. Tennessee will want her to be able to play at the three and four spots, so we will need to add a consistent three-ball to her repertoire, and it has already improved from September to November with repetitions, so it’s doable.

Isabelle Harrison has been a pleasant surprise for the staff, because of her work ethic. She gets in extra repetitions on a regular basis and has shown touch around the rim and the aptitude to take instruction in a drill and apply it to game situations. She also has a solid midrange game that is so vital for posts because she can step out of the paint and hit a shot, thus drawing a defender with her. She will have to get stronger for the college game, but she arrived last summer just for that reason so there is no doubt she will make the commitment.

SF: What are the strengths of the team so far? What are some things they are working on?

MC: This is a veteran team so that always helps because they have vast experience in all types of game situations. It is also a close-knit crew that remains very tight off the court. The next step is to hold each other accountable on the court, something that the senior Baugh will do, and at the other end of the roster, the freshman Massengale.

They no longer have the size at the post that they did in past seasons, but they do have more mobility, so they will become more active on defense and be able to extend it to the full court.

They also have the chance to be an outstanding shooting team, especially from behind the arc, with Spani, Stricklen, Bass, Massengale and Simmons all being capable of hitting the trey.

A weakness last season was the overall free throw shooting, but that has shown some signs of getting better. Burdick and Massengale are already solid from the line, and Harrison is working on being more consistent from the stripe. Baugh is an excellent free throw shooter and since she plays in the paint that is good because she will draw fouls. It also is something Johnson has spent time on, which is important because she will draw a lot of fouls. Alicia Manning has a knack for being around the ball and getting fouled, and she is a very good free throw shooter.

They also are better at handling ball pressure, a major weakness in recent seasons. That is attributable to Massengale and the speed that Tennessee can put on the floor to beat pressure. Passing and dribbling drills have been an emphasis, too, to focus on reducing turnovers and taking better care of the ball.

SF: Same question as last year: are they getting yet one step closer to capturing the energy of "the old Lady Vols"?

MC: The biggest indicator that they have returned to their roots will be the performance of the defense. Tennessee has been vulnerable on that side of the ball for three seasons – and gotten progressively better each year. The next step is to be able to be the dominant defensive team that Tennessee has been known for – the types of teams that won national titles.

Early signs are good as the staff has demanded excellence on that side of ball, even going so far as to hold a defense-only practice the day before the first exhibition game. The defense will be a season-long development and could be quite a force by the time it really counts – postseason.

These seniors want to get to their first Final Four. They also realize every player on the roster is needed to get them there.

LSU beats Georgetown

#20 LSU downed #14 Georgetown, 51-40.

Other college:

Gonzaga hopes to recapture the magic of last season.

As usual, expectations are high for the Marist Red Foxes.

Taber Spani is the Lady Vols' only junior.

Oregon Coach Paul Westhead talks about the Ducks' big game Friday against Illinois.

Pro:

The off-court accomplishments of the Indiana Fever's Tamika Catchings are many.

Updated Euro/Asia map on where WNBA players are throwing it down this winter.

University of Tennessee rejects discrimination claim by women's athletics employees

The claimants were associate Athletics Director for Women’s Sports Medicine Jenny Moshak, Assistant Athletics Director for Women’s Strength and Conditioning Heather Mason and Associate Director for Women’s Strength and Conditioning Collin Schlosser. They said their salaries weren't comparable to those who did the same job in the men's athletic department. But the University of Tennessee rejected the claim, saying the jobs aren't the same.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

USA Today/ESPN top 25 still mostly the same

Baylor is still numero uno, and Tennessee is likely still numero tres after defeating #7 Miami tonight. ESPN version.

#4 UConn kicked Pacific's booties for their 85th consecutive home win. Former Husky Maya Moore had advised the team to keep it simple.

#6 Texas A&M got their national championship rings, and then overcame #9 Louisville. The Cardinals were without star point guard Shoni Schimmel, who was serving the second of a two-game suspension for playing in a non-sanctioned tournament on her Oregon reservation this past summer.

Kentucky killed Jacksonville State, and forced 48 turnovers.

Way dope bonus:

Maxpreps' preseason top 25 national high school team rankings.

Cal State Northridge 79, Loyola Marymount University 62

CSUN dominated LMU last night, holding them to 28 percent shooting with stifling defense. Second-year Matador Coach Jason Flowers has done amazing things with this team, from development to recruiting. They have six players six feet tall and up - a forest.

The Lions' Alex Cowling is an amazing player, and LMU has a lot of great things going for them. But CSUN has depth. I will definitely be checking out both teams again as the season progresses.

The life and times of Tayshana Murphy

Deep, thorough story on Tayshana Murphy - the New York City star high school hooper who was shot and killed Sept. 11.

Timeout for workout tips

Washington Mystics teammates Crystal Langhorne and Marissa Coleman talk about the importance of off-season workouts, and trying to improve weaknesses.

Workout one.

Workout two.

Workout three.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Naismith Award nominees announced

The 2012 Naismith Hall of Fame nominees are Jennifer Azzi, Teresa Weatherspoon, Katrina McClain and Rebecca Lobo.

Renee Montgomery issued a statement as to why she left her Hungarian team a few weeks ago.

One long-time fan's take on Pat Summitt and the Lady Vols.

California news:

Former Brea Olinda star point guard Jonae Ervin is finding success at the college level. In Cal Poly's season opener against Oregon yesterday, Ervin put up 33 points. She's the Big West Player of the Week.

San Diego State University associate head coach Jualeah Woods will receive the Jackie Joyner-Kersee community service award before the team's home opener tonight.

Imani Stafford chooses Texas

#10 Imani Stafford is headed to Texas to be a Longhorn. Texas is looking good now.

#17 Kahleah Cooper has picked Rutgers. ESPN's Rutgers analysis.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

College season in full swing

I watched the Cal at #17 Rutgers game online today. The Scarlet Knights looked better than they have in years in their 73-70 victory. The Cal Bears were ridiculously good considering how young they are. Basketball veterans have been here before.....you can see the potential of the team, and it's frightening. Three of the four Bears in double figures weren't starters, and two of them - Brittany Boyd and Reshanda Gray - are freshmen.

The future is bright in Northern California, indeed.

Meanwhile, back in that area, Stanford forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike erupted for 33 points in the #5 Cardinal's defeat of visiting Gonzaga, 76-61.

#10 Maryland avenged last season's NCAA Tournament loss to #11 Georgetown by beating them 72-53.

Baylor Coach Kim Mulkey collected her 300th win in her team's 91-31 thrashing of Chattanooga.

Oklahoma's Whitney Hand is back in convincing style, putting up 18 points today in the Sooner's 117-55 pounding of Sacramento State.

Maybe UCLA isn't so bad after all: they're 2-0 after beating Tennessee Tech today, 74-52. Rebekah Gardner had a career-high 21 points and 10 rebounds to pace the Bruins, and Antonye Nyingifa added 16. Sophomore Thea Lemberger and freshman Kacy Swain also stepped up.

Game blog.

For the rest of you Pac-12 aficionados, Oregon upended Cal Poly, 102-93; Washington State took out Cynthia Cooper-Dyke's UNC Wilmington team, 72-60; Arizona State pulled out a 56-52 overtime win against Colorado State; and Oregon State put one on Montana State, 83-53.

Tennessee defeated Pepperdine 89-57. But the bigger stories are that 1. Coach Pat Summitt received the Mildred "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias Courage Award before the contest began, and 2. She is no longer speaking to the media after games - she's leaving that to her assistants:

Summitt didn't address the media after the game and plans to rely on her longtime assistants to handle postgame news conferences among their other expanded duties this season.

Associate head coach Holly Warlick channeled Summitt easily during her interview, criticizing the Lady Vols' defensive efforts.

"I thought today we played in spurts," Warlick said. "We came out in the second half and shot the ball really, really well, but I'm really disappointed in our one-on-one defense. We put a lot of time in on that, and we just weren't very good."


The Lady Vols told Summitt in pre-season, "we have your back."

ESPN's Graham Hays has his standout picks for opening weekend, plus a look at the week ahead.

Cali High School Showcase 2011

Yesterday's Cali High School Showcase 2011, at Cal State Dominguez Hills, brought out some of Southern California's top teams. And it's true: the basketball world order in this part of the universe has changed.

Mater Dei 58, Serra 44

The score is deceptive, because Serra kept the game close most of the way, and dominated for stretches at a time. They lead last year's state champion Monarchs 26-23 at halftime, and it took Mater Dei several minutes in the second period to get going. The Monarchs earned a 40-30 lead by the 8:01 mark, but the Cavaliers chipped away and closed the gap to 39-42 by 5:55. Mater Dei kept working, and had an eight-point lead with over two minutes to play, which they were able to extend by the buzzer.

Serra, in Gardena, has been a few pieces short of greatness for the last few years, and now they might finally have a winning assembly. Assistant Coach Derek Gray said three transfers have helped the team tremendously - especially two from Morningside High School: point guard Deandrea Toler, and 6-foot-3 center Tatiana Howard. The Cavaliers are a threat both inside and outside the paint, and they use stifling pressure defense to their advantage.

Mater Dei has lost Alexyz Vaioletama, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Jessica Duarte, and they are noticably smaller this season. Adding to matters yesterday was the absence of star senior point guard Jordan Adams, who Coach Kevin Kiernan said was in Arizona at a photo shoot for next month's Nike Tournament of Champions.

Kiernan said the team had practiced for two hours that morning. Once they realized they couldn't press Serra, they stuck to a half-court game, he said.

"We were a little slow, but it's about what I expected for the first game of the season and practice the same day," Kiernan said. "We're going to be OK."

Since the Monarchs will be smaller this year, Kiernan said they will become more of a running team.



The scramble for the first-half rebound goes to Mater Dei (dark uniforms).



Serra made things difficult for Mater Dei with their full-court press.



Nirra Fields, who just committed to UCLA, debates her options.



Serra runs the offense.

Bishop Montgomery 42, St. Anthony 16

St. Anthony's, coached by SoCal legend James Anderson, has had its ups and downs the last few years. Yesterday against the annually consistent Bishop Montgomery, they were on a down side. Jourdan Cooper has graduated, but her sister Kendall still covers forward and center duties.

Bishop, looking small and speedy as always, dominated the mid-afternoon matchup from start to finish.



St. Anthony's Sequoia Hernandez passes to a teammate in the first half of play.



Bishop Montgomery comes up with the rebound.

Long Beach Millikan 38, Etiwanda 19

This game was surprising because Etiwanda is usually a strong team; their record last year as 24-4. But it seems that losing six seniors has taken its toll. Millikan, which has had a few "down" years of late, may be back on top. They used pressure defense to take the Eagles out of their rhythm and keep them from doing much scoring or rebounding.

A couple Ram players were very impressive - especially their ferocious short point guard, who attacked with a basketball better than most people do with their fists. Unfortunately, Coach Lorene Morgan has no roster up for the year yet, so I don't know the young woman's name.



Millikan guard stumbles......



....but recovers for the drive and shot.



Etiwanda had trouble getting to the rack because of the Rams' defense.



Millikan's offense was clicking largely because of their pint-sized, insanely aggressive point guard.

Long Beach Poly 44, Serra 41

Once again, Serra proved that they're not messing around this year against a traditional Southern California powerhouse.

Poly's ranks have thinned this season, from their usual 15-18 to a roster of nine. Gone is Ariya Crook-Williams, who now plays for USC. In her place is a young squad lead by senior guard/forward Destiny King, who has been turning heads on the court since she was a sophomore, and Keyla Morgan, a junior guard with explosive athletic ability.

The Jackrabbits kept the lead throughout, boasting a 21-14 margin at halftime and a 27-16 lead at 8:48. But the Cavaliers played them hard with not only their defense, but their relentlessness on the boards. In the last minute of the contest, Serra went on a scoring rampage and closed the gap to 41-42 with 15 seconds to go. But then they fouled King, who made both shots at 4.5 seconds, and then Poly stole the Cavaliers' inbounds pass to seal the victory.



Look at the height that Poly junior guard Keyla Morgan attains on this first-half jumper.



Poly used pressure defense, but Serra wasn't rattled; they pressed too.



Serra grabbed a lot of rebounds, including this one.



Poly guard puts up a shot.

Tournament scores and results.

It's a whole new high school basketball world in SoCal, and I'm still trying to figure it out.

The rest of the teams kick off season today

Rutgers is returning to Coach Vivian Stringer's infamous "55" press this season, and today they'll try it out on the visiting Cal Bears. Tipoff is at 11 a.m. PST/2 p.m. EST.

Tennessee's first victim today is Pepperdine.

UConn, trying to adjust to life without Maya Moore, face Holy Cross this afternoon.

Other intriguing Sunday matchups are Georgetown at Maryland, and Gonzaga at Stanford.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

LSU Coach Nikki Caldwell is pregnant

First-year LSU Coach Nikki Caldwell is expecting a child, due in March.

I'm speechless. But I sense there will be some kind of March Madness plot twist at the end of this.

A little yesterday catch up

Check out my story on #23 USC's victory over Fresno State last night, including a slide show.

In the meantime, Washington Coach Kevin McGuff's debut went sour, as the Huskies dropped the game to Pacific.

Today's scores included a few ass-whoopins.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Recruiting recap

Some players waited until the last minute to committ, and seven schools benefited in particular.

Baylor made out like bandits.

Rutgers landed a second big fish this week.

Thinking way ahead of the curve, for the classes of 2013 and 2014.

Tennessee:

Lady Vol recruits Kaela Davis, Andraya Carter and Bashaara Graves said Coach Pat Summitt's early-onset dementia diagnosis announcement didn't dissuade them from keeping their committments in the slightest.

The first day is in the books

#5 Stanford beat #20 Texas 72-59, despite Cardinal forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike sitting with an upper body injury.

Villanova upset #25 Michigan State, 75-64.

#1 Baylor pummeled Howard 82-28.

#7 Miami won their 25th straight at home, beating Texas-Pan American 83-37.

Other WNIT results and upcoming games.

ESPN writers predict the conference champions, Final Four and champions.

Loyola Marymount reloaded and ready to go

Check out my story on this year's Loyola Marymount team. They're looking powerful.

Penn State has a history of deficient leadership, Mechelle Voepel says

Remember Rene Portland, who had a "no lesbian" policy for the basketball team she coached at Penn State? The school has had a long history of leadership that has allowed poor practices to continue, ESPN columnist Mechelle Voepel says.

Toppa the first day of the season morning

Opening day overview.

Opening day top 25 schedule.

Key games for the season.

Hitting the road is different for freshmen vs. upperclasswomen.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The night before the season starts!!

Let's gooooooo!

ESPN's Graham Hays offers his mid-major predictions:

1. Gonzaga
2. Temple
3. Dayton
4. Green Bay
5. Florida Gulf Coast
6. Duquesne
7. Marist
8. Oakland
9. Oral Roberts
10. Princeton

Collegeinsider's list is different:

1. Green Bay
2. Gonzaga
3. Marist
4. Princeton
5. Toledo
6. Bowling Green
7. Middle Tennessee
8. Florida Gulf Coast
9. Northern Iowa
10. Delaware
11. Hampton
12. James Madison
13. Missouri State
14. Appalachian State
15. Arkansas Little Rock
16. Tennessee Tech
17. Oral Roberts
18. McNeese State
19. VCU
20. Liberty
21. UMBC
22. Lamar
23. Illinois State
24. Central Michigan
25. Samford

Hays' top mid-major players to watch for.

New coaches seek success in their first seasons.

Collegeinsider has an interesting list of the top 25 assistant coaches in Division I.

West Coast swag:

For Gonzaga, it's life after Courtney Vandersloot.

UCLA plans to run a five-guard offense. Coach Cori Close said, "we don't have a post player in sight." Whoa.

Cal Coach Lindsay Gottlieb press conference.

East Coast swag:

Virginia Tech Coach Dennis Wolff talks to ladyswish.

Virginia Coach Joanne Boyle likes to give back.

Middle of the country swag:

Kentucky junior guard A'Dia Mathies is ready for her close up.

After yesterday's signings, Notre Dame has reloaded.

Interviews:

Dishin & Swishin talks with Kevin McGuff, Joy Cheek and Joanne Boyle.

Hoopfeed speaks with Kara Lawson about her fundraising run this past weekend.

Bad luck:

Florida has lost two players already - one to injury and one with a dying parent.

Pro bonus:

Israel Basketball Association talks are going nowhere.

Sparks win the draft lottery

The Los Angeles Sparks will have the first pick in the 2012 draft after today's draft lottery. Here's the first-round order:

1. Los Angeles
2. Chicago
3. Minnesota
4. Tulsa
5. San Antonio
6. Phoenix
7. New York
8. Washington (from Atlanta)
9. Connecticut
10. Washington (from Seattle)
11. Indiana
12. Minnesota

The lottery went against the odds.

Who will the Sparks pick as number one?

Cali High School Showcase 2011 is Saturday

The annual Cal Sparks Cali High School Showcase is Saturday at California State University, Dominguez Hills: 1000 E. Victoria St., Carson, Calif., 90747. As usual, some of the region's best high school teams will be playing.

Long Beach Poly vs. Serra and Corona Centennial vs. Bishops San Diego pool.

St. Anthony vs. Bishop Montgomery and Etiwanda vs. Millikan pool.

J.W. North-Mayfair-Ridgeview pool.

Crenshaw-Inglewood-Long Beach Poly #2 pool.

Middle school brackets, too.

Woo!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Two days before the season starts

I feel like Tyrone the crack addict, waiting for this season to pop off.

Preview:

ESPN names the top five players at each position. What do you think about this list??

The NCAA lists their players and teams to watch.

ESPN's preview.

Other NCAA odds and ends:

The pre-season WNIT begins Friday, and here are the matchups.

Sophomores could be the key to UConn's season.

In Tennessee, seniors Shekinna Stricklen and Glory Johnson have unfinished business. The Lady Vols team is incredibly conditioned going into the season.

Former assistant coaches Carlene Mitchell and Nicci Hays Fort are now head coaches.

Mechelle Voepel says Stanford senior forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike has become even better than last year.

Purdue's Natalie Novosel got a lot of support and help from twin brother Nathan when she was struggling as a sophomore two years ago.

This year's announcers and game callers are revealed.

Pro bonus:

The Culture and Sports Ministry in Israel is doing its best to un-cancel the basketball season.

National signing day

Athletes have been signing on the dotted line today, and it looks like UConn will come out on top in the recruiting battle.

#13 Brianna Butler chose Syracuse.

#96 Kuaneshia Baker signed with LSU, and gives first-year Coach Nikki Caldwell's program a boost.

More on the Nirra Fields signing.

Gonzaga signs three.

Complete recruiting update.

Congratulations to all the class of 2012 scholarship winners.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pre-season just about done.......

Three of my favorite Southern California Division I teams had their final exhibition game last night, and all came out on top.

USC defeated Westmont, 77-65, behind 23 points from #23, senior Jacki Gemelos. Tugce Canitez put up a whopping 33 points for the Warriors. Ashley Corral, Briana Gilbreath and Ariya Crook added 17, 14 and 10 points, respectively, and freshman Alexyz Vaioletama grabbed nine boards for the Trojans.

UCLA beat Vanguard 81-52. Bruin junior Antonye Nyingifa exploded for 22 points and 16 rebounds, and senior Rebekah Gardner added 11 and 11. Freshman Kacy Swain came off the bench to add 17 points, and frosh Moriah Faulk put up 14.

San Diego State beat San Diego 79-60. Chelsea Hopkins, Melissa Sweat and Courtney Clements had 17, 13 and 10 points, respectively.

USC opens the season at home this Friday, as they take on Fresno State at 5 p.m.

UCLA is also home, and face McNeese State at 2 p.m. Friday in the first round of the pre-season WNIT.

San Diego State plays their first counting game Monday, as they take on Arkansas-Pine Bluff at home.

Recruiting news:

#11 Nirra Fields of Mater Dei High School has committed to UCLA. This is the third major committment for the Bruins from the class of 2012, and word has it that their recruiting class ranking is going up.

Pac-12:

Sports Illustrated notes that new Cal Coach Lindsay Gottlieb is already making her mark on the Bears:

"Lindsay is high energy,'' Barbour said. "Here's a coach who knows how to motivate young people. She certainly is a student of the game and an outstanding coach from an X's and O's standpoint, but I think her real strength, and that of her staff, is their ability to connect with these young people to motivate them both athletically and academically. I just think she is the perfect fit for Cal and the sky's the limit for the kind of success we can have as a women's basketball program.''

And therein lies a crucial key.

Lets take a Pac-12 twitter survey.......

Washington Coach Kevin McGuff and UCLA Coach Cori Close both post on twitter, but infrequently.

Stanford Coach Tara VanDerveer and Arizona Coach Niya Butts rarely tweet.

Oregon Coach Paul Westhead doesn't have a twitter account, but his assistant Shandrika Lee does. She posts rarely.

Arizona State Coach Charli Turner Thorne used to have a twitter, but she's on sabbatical.

Washington State, Oregon State, Colorado and Utah coaches don't have twitter accounts that I know about.

USC Coach Michael Cooper tweets fairly often.

Gottlieb and her three assistants - Charmin Smith, Kai Felton and Daron Park - all have twitter accounts, and post everyday. They tweet their players, each other, other coaches, and former players. They are humorous, interactive, and they demonstrate what the story talked about: they connect with young people.

This should be a fun season.

Injury roll call

This is NOT a fun entry for me:

Oregon freshman Janitah Iamaleava will miss the season after sustaining a knee injury last week. She was to be the Ducks' center.

Iowa center Anna Prins will miss two weeks after a knee procedure yesterday.

Better news:

Oklahoma guard Whitney Hand is back, at last.

Purdue point guard KK Houser is also back.