Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pausing to remember

Shayla Llanos, a Broward Community College (Florida) freshman, died last night after collapsing during a game earlier. The 19-year-old from New Jersey fell to her knees during play and was revived at the scene, but later died at the hospital. Not much more information is available, but here is some:

Last week, Alabama State University freshman center Richelle Jones died in a one-vehicle accident:

The death of a young person is always heartbreaking. When it is a young athlete, not only family and friends but teammates are effected. As we go into the new year, I pray for comfort and healing to surround the loved ones and friends of Shayla and Richelle. And may their spirits rest in peace.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Danielle LeNoir sustains concussion, sits out

Washington State University freshmen point guard Danielle LeNoir sustained a concussion in the team's game against Idaho Dec. 13, and has missed all three of the Cougars' games played since then.

Spokesman Joe Nickell said LeNoir is "day to day," and that he didn't know whether or not she would play in this Saturday's game against Washington.

LeNoir, of Los Angeles, is the younger sister of USC point guard Camille LeNoir.

Stats are a many-splendored thing

With Texas' 60-55 loss to San Diego State tonight, they are removed from the list of teams that are still undefeated. Notre Dame came close to being upset, but they hung on to beat Vanderbilt by two. The unbeaten teams are:

Kansas State
Mississippi State
North Carolina
Notre Dame
Texas A&M
Wake Forest
Wisconsin-Green Bay

I appreciate the stat freaks on, who have tallied the results of all the conference games over the last three days, since games resumed after the holiday. The game results are interesting, to say the least:

Big East 20-0
Big 12 12-1
ACC 16-3
SEC 13-5
Pac-10 4-6

The Pac-10 had been 4-4 going into tonight, but USC and Washington both lost. What is up with those two programs? I wish I knew.

Finally, I enjoyed watching the Tennessee-Gonzaga game even though I wasn't there, and it's not just because the Vols won. The Zags are very good and they don't give up, and I like that. Lyssi Brewer's no-look pass to Vicki Baugh under the basket, and later on, Baugh's behind-the-back crossover as she went up for a layup, gave me the vapors. Tennessee is starting to gel, and it's a scary thing because conference play hasn't even begun yet.

On the non-game tip, I really like the homemade T-shirts of Angie and Jami's parents Kris and Jim Bjorklund - "TennZaga." Hell, I remember seeing the sisters playing in the state playoffs at the Tacoma Dome in 2005............

All but five of tomorrow's New Year's Eve games will be played early. Only three of the top 25 teams will hit the hardwood: Connecticut, Duke and Ohio State.

Sheryl Swoopes, color analyst and commentator

For whatever reason, 2008 Seattle Storm acquisition Sheryl Swoopes decided to stay in the Emerald City after the WNBA season ended. Her son Jordan is enrolled in a local school, and Swoopes is reportedly enjoying life in the city with little sun.

Tonight she will expand her resume to include sportscasting, as she will call tonight's University of Washington game at Hec Edmunson Pavilion, where the Huskies will take on Kansas State.

It appears out-of-area fans can listen to the broadcast on KKNW's live stream feed:

Tennessee @ Gonzaga tonight

Tonight was supposed to be an ecstatic occasion for me, as I was to travel to Spokane, Wash. to see the reigning National Champions take on Gonzaga. But in a world that humans have squelched and molded to their liking more and more every year, one thing remains indomitable and that's the weather. Spokane has had 59 inches of snow in the last two weeks - almost two feet of which arrived since Sunday night. In fact it was just as the roads were looking better and I was ready once again to make the trip that the last snowstorm came along. Flying would cost $220, which is about $160 more than it usually costs from Seattle. Greyhound and Amtrak, if they're still running, would get me there right at game time. I was and am very sad.

But the going is rough even for Spokane natives. My friend Richard, who lives there, said it has taken him hours and hours to get around and do things that usually take minutes. The city hasn't seen this much snow in many, many years.

Another disappointment in tonight's game is that the anticipated showdown between Angie and Jami Bjorklund, aka the reason the Vols are there in the first place, is not going to happen. It was announced last week that because of Jami's knee injury, she'd be sidelined and unable to play against her sister. There was another bit about that in today's Seattle Times:

So while I sadly sit in front of the big TV at my brother's house tonight to watch this game, I will take a bit of consolation in the fact that I can at least get home to LA from here; Spokane is expecting even more snowfall during tonight's game.

On the humorous side, the joke in the Vol camp is that the team has tied a string to 5'2" point guard Briana Bass. As the snow levels approach five feet, they don't want to lose their floor general in the white stuff.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Winning and losing streaks

The UCLA Bruins tonight lost 62-72 to Texas Tech. The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak that dated back to Nov. 23. I didn't see nor hear today's game, so all I have to go on is the box score. 25 turnovers? 38.3 percent shooting? UCLA out-rebounded the Raiders 41-33, but 41 is still lower than their usual. Perhaps it's a combination of still having things to work on and tonight's contest being their first in eight days, and on the road at that. But I hope they can get it together, because they'll have their hands full with Oregon State on Friday. I'm looking forward to that game.

Arizona beat Boise State, despite playing only eight people (Boise State played 10). I wish Arizona would get to Pauley Pavilion sooner, because I want to see them play; I'm intrigued by them. I've noticed that the players getting the most minutes aren't always producing big points, so obviously they're doing all the intangibles - some of which don't make the box score.

For example, Reiko Thomas had 11 points, four rebounds and two assists, but the shooting guard played all 40 minutes. Guard Ashley Frazier had three points, five assists and two steals, and played 39 minutes. I wonder how this team is going to shake out.

One player who needs no explanation, however, is Wildcat forward Ify Ibekwe. Tonight she put in a career-high 26 points and 20 rebounds in 37 minutes - amazing.

On the other side of the country, 14th-ranked Rutgers got its 20th consecutive home victory with a win over George Washington tonight. Congrats to them.

It is at this time of year, as teams go into conference play, that winning and losing trends have emerged. Fans can see which teams have a tendency to lose on the road and not, and what squads successfully defend their home court. Yet, March is still so very far away, in so many ways.

NWAACC standings, poll

The women of the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges have been playing hard these last two months - some harder than others. Going into today's games, one team (Edmonds) had only played six games so far this season. A handful of other squads have played seven games; the majority have played at least eight games.

Umpqua, of the Southern Division, has the best record at 12-1:

Women's 2008-09 Standings



Skagit Valley 0-0 .000 7-1
Shoreline 0-0 .000 6-4
Bellevue 0-0 .000 6-5
Whatcom 0-0 .000 4-4
Peninsula 0-0 .000 4-6
Olympic 0-0 .000 2-4
Seattle 0-0 .000 1-8
Edmonds 0-0 .000 0-6
Everett 0-0 .000 0-8


Big Bend 0-0 .000 9-2
Yakima Valley 0-0 .000 9-5
Columbia Basin 0-0 .000 8-5
Spokane 0-0 .000 7-5
Walla Walla 0-0 .000 6-1
Wenatchee Valley 0-0 .000 5-8
Treasure Valley 0-0 .000 4-6
Blue Mountain 0-0 .000 2-7


Centralia 0-0 .000 8-2
S. Puget Sound 0-0 .000 6-3
Green River 0-0 .000 5-2
Highline 0-0 .000 5-7
Tacoma 0-0 .000 4-5
Lower Columbia 0-0 .000 2-6
Pierce 0-0 .000 2-6
Clark 0-0 .000 0-7
Grays Harbor 0-0 .000 0-7


Umpqua 0-0 .000 12-1
Lane 0-0 .000 9-3
Clackamas 0-0 .000 8-3
Mt. Hood 0-0 .000 8-3
Chemeketa 0-0 .000 4-6
Linn-Benton 0-0 .000 4-7
SW Oregon 0-0 .000 4-7
Portland 0-0 .000 2-5

(Too bad they haven't put in the winning percentages yet).

The Riverhawks were also ranked first in a coach's poll last week:

December 23, 2008



1 Umpqua (11-1) 80 (8) 1
2 Clackamas (8-1) 60 3 tie
3 Yakima Valley (7-4) 43 2
4 Spokane (6-3) 35 3 tie
5 Lane (7-2) 34 5
6 Columbia Basin (6-4) 25 6
7 Walla Walla (6-1) 11 NR
8 Skagit Valley (7-1) 8 NR

Others receiving votes: Centralia 7, S. Puget Sound 5, Mt. Hood 2, Big Bend 2
Next Poll: January 8th


Could this be the year that Umpqua reclaims the championship??

I'd love to discuss and dissect how the teams of the California Community College Athletic Association are doing, but their website hasn't been updated to show any standings whatsoever. Not too professional, is it?

Fund established for Morghan Medlock

From Baylor:

Lady Bear basketball player Morghan Medlock recently suffered a tragedy when her mother, Shannan Barron, was murdered last Friday in Little Rock, Ark., and a fund has been established at Baylor to assist her and her family. Medlock's 12-year-old half-brother found Barron's body and has since returned to Pasadena, Calif., to be with Morghan and the rest of her family.

Those fans wishing to donate funds to assist Morghan and her family should make checks payable to Baylor University. Please also indicate in the memo section that the donation is to the "Medlock Fund."

Here's the entire link:

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Ivory Latta switches teams

This news is about a week old, but I didn't catch it: Ivory Latta and the Turkish Basketball League team she was playing for, Team Ceyhan Belediyasi, came to a mutual agreement to terminate her contact. Latta will play for the Maccabi Ramat Chen team of the Israeli League for the remainder of the winter. Before her departure, Latta had averaged 20.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists for Ceyhan.

Seimone Augustus of Galtatasaray is ranked fifth in the Turkish League in points per game, at 16.4 (fourth now that Latta is gone); Alexis Hornbuckle of Besiktas is fifth in rebounds per game and first in steals; and Shannnon Bobbitt of Botas is second in assists per game with an average of six. The complete list is on the Turkish Basketball League main page:

Finally, I hope the Atlanta Dream blog author answers my question as to how these four people ended up sitting at the same table together.

Kind of an odd grouping to me.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What? Dawn Staley's program has violations?

I'm surprised at this, but I suspect Staley will clean it up in a big hurry:'s-program

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cardinal O'Hara takes TOC tournament

This is taken from the story on my employer's website, - the best reporting at TOC:

Cardinal O’Hara Takes TOC Title

Cardinal O’Hara stayed perfect Monday night improving to 10-0 on the season and likely gaining the #1 ranking in the country after defeating Bolingbrook 48-41. (Some may remember one website predicted a 7 point win by Cardinal O’Hara). Morgan Tuck who was the star for Bolingbrook all tournament long only scored 10 points in the effort which was her lowest point total of the weekend. Cardinal O’Hara played a box and 1 on Tuck which gave Bolingbrook problems first to final whistle. Natasha Cloud who is committed to Maryland was assigned to Tuck throughout the game and was the key on defense in stopping her. Ariel Massengale led Bolingbrook with 19 points in the loss. Cardinal O’Hara was led by a balanced effort but Stephanie Holzer scored a quiet 13 points compared to her other performances during the event. Alicia Manning who is headed to Lafayette next year lead Cardinal O'Hara with 14 points. All four of Cardinal O'Hara's signed seniors scored in the win, which was their first TOC Championship.

Southern California's own Mater Dei also finished perfect with a 63-41 win last night over Bishop Gorman of Nevada. No doubt this will change their ranking, which had previously been about 18 among Southern California schools.

Also from fullcourt:

Oak Ridge Struggles Again

After starting TOC as one of the hottest teams in the event Oak Ridge lost in the third place game to Regis Jesuit out of Colorado 52-44. Jesuit was led by a prolific performance by UCLA bound Mariah Williams who scored 13 points and controlled the game from the point guard spot. Oak Ridge led by four at halftime 32-28, but gave up 24 second half points in the loss. The past two game Oak Ridge has been beat by a total of 32 total points in the second half (68-32). Kortni Jones, who has signed at Middle Tennessee State, only scored seven points for Oak Ridge.

The TOC All-Tournament Team:

MVP: Stephanie Holzer, (Cardinal O’Hara); Senior Ariel Massengale, (Bolingbrook); Sophomore Morgan Tuck, (Bolingbrook); Freshman Justine Hartman, (Brea Olinda); Sophomore Alisha Womack, (Cardinal O’Hara); Senior Chelsea Gray, (St. Mary’s); Junior Samarie Walker, (Chaminade Julienne); Junior Janae Coffee, (Clovis West); Junior Anne Marie Armstrong, (Wesleyan); Senior Kortni Jones, (Oak Ridge); Senior Mariah Williams, (Regis Jesuit).

I guess I need to go check out a Brea game to see this freshman, Hartman. Wow.

AP rankings out

AP Rankings

AP Top 25

1. Connecticut (45) 10-0 1125
2. North Carolina 12-0 1078
3. Texas A&M 10-0 1001
4. Texas 10-0 976
5. Oklahoma 9-2 946
6. Duke 9-1 856
7. Baylor 11-1 819
8. Tennessee 9-2 776
9. Auburn 12-0 732
10. Louisville 10-1 729
11. Stanford 8-3 707
12. Notre Dame 9-1 609
13. California 8-2 605
14. Maryland 9-2 541
15. Rutgers 7-2 538
16. Virginia 9-2 415
17. Ohio State 10-2 400
18. Florida 11-1 343
19. Pittsburgh 9-2 284
20. Vanderbilt 10-2 245
21. Oklahoma State 7-2 179
22. Kansas State 10-0 168
23. Georgia Tech 10-2 128
24. Arizona State 8-3 118
25. South Dakota State 12-1 112


Wisconsin 85, TCU 33, New Mexico 26, Marist 16, DePaul 11, Purdue 7, Oregon State 5, Wake Forest 4, Mississippi State 2, Old Dominion 2, South Florida 2, San Diego State 1, Xavier 1,

Fairly predictable. I'm happy that my Vols are back in the top 10, but I'm wondering what UCLA has to do to get some votes, much less a ranking. Like everything else, the NCAA seems to be biased.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Current Pac-10 and SEC standings

If you would have told me last summer that these would be the Pac-10 standings going into the holiday break, I would have given you "the look." But here we are:


Team Conf. Pct. Overall Pct.

1. UCLA 0-0 - 9-1 .900
2. Oregon State 0-0 - 8-1 .889
3. California 0-0 - 8-2 .800
4. Washington State 0-0 - 7-2 .778
5. Arizona State 0-0 - 8-3 .727
6. Stanford 0-0 - 8-3 .727
7. Arizona 0-0 - 6-4 .600
8. USC 0-0 - 6-4 .600
9. Washington 0-0 - 4-5 .444
10. Oregon 0-0 - 3-6 .333

UCLA and Oregon State on top, Washington State at fourth, and Stanford coming in at sixth. It's unexpectedly fun.

SEC is still somewhat predictable right now:

School SEC PCT. H A ALL PCT. H A N Last 5 Streak

1. Auburn 0-0 .000 0-0 0-0 12-0 1.000 4-0 7-0 1-0 5-0 W12
2. Miss. State 0-0 .000 0-0 0-0 10-0 1.000 6-0 4-0 0-0 5-0 W10
3. Florida 0-0 .000 0-0 0-0 11-1 .917 6-0 3-1 2-0 5-0 W11
4. Vanderbilt 0-0 .000 0-0 0-0 10-2 .833 7-0 3-2 0-0 4-1 W2
5. Arkansas 0-0 .000 0-0 0-0 9-3 .819 6-1 1-1 2-1 3-2 L1
6. Tennessee 0-0 .000 0-0 0-0 9-2 .818 6-1 3-1 0-0 4-1 W2
7. Alabama 0-0 .000 0-0 0-0 8-3 .727 5-1 2-1 1-1 4-1 W2
8. Georgia 0-0 .000 0-0 0-0 8-3 .727 4-0 2-3 2-0 3-2 W1
9. Ole Miss 0-0 .000 0-0 0-0 8-4 .667 4-2 2-1 2-1 3-2 L1
10. LSU 0-0 .000 0-0 0-0 5-3 .625 4-3 1-0 0-0 4-1 W4
11. S. Carolina 0-0 .000 0-0 0-0 6-4 .600 4-2 0-2 2-0 3-2 W1
12. Kentucky 0-0 .000 0-0 0-0 7-5 .583 5-2 1-3 1-0 2-3 W2

Nothing against Mississippi State, but they haven't exactly had a rough schedule so far.

I will have to check in on the other conferences at some point today.

TOC so far

TOC day 1 seems so long ago. Here is the results page:

On day 2, there were some other surprises besides Long Beach Poly's second loss. For one, Jefferson of Portland, OR lost, and they had been highly-touted by some. St. Mary's of Stockton lost again. Oakridge (TN) beat Woodson of D.C. - wow. Villa Park defeated Chatsworth, and Mater Dei killed Highlands Ranch (CO).

(link is the same, but you have to scroll with your mouse roller, as it's Adobe)

A bunch of California teams won on Saturday, the third day, including Villa Park, Brea Olinda, Santa Margarita, Long Beach Poly (finally), St. Mary's, Lynwood, St. Francis, Mater Dei, Mira Costa and Bellarmine Jefferson. In Poly's victory, they trounced Christ the King 70-26. What happened to that program? Woodson lost again, and so did Chatsworth.

Tournament action continues tomorrow for those teams who have won at least one game. Here is the schedule:

Here's hoping all teams can get home after the tournament ends.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tennessee, UCLA win

I got the call at about 2:15 p.m. today from Daniel, telling me about UCLA's 67-64 win over Kansas. He knew I'd be happy that Seattle's own Christina Nzekwe grabbed the ball after a missed Jayhawk free throw attempt and was fouled. Then made both free throws. Kansas tried to hit two shots, and Nzekwe grabbed the rebound on the second one as time ticked down to ensure Bruin possession and seal the win.

I am so proud of her! Her picture is featured right now on the UCLA women's basketball web page, making Seattle proud. Not to mention the rest of the team. I can't believe how they continue to roll and roll and roll. Beating Kansas might finally earn them some respect, we'll see. Wonder what it would take to get them ranked.

And after some butt-clenching moments, a gutsy, learning-on-the-run Vols team just beat Stanford, exactly 365 days after they lost to them. Shekinna Stricklen scored a career-high 25 points - eight of which were in overtime. The girl was hot, and she was feelin it from the get-go. In the first half when she scored a long-bomb shot, she turned around and started yelling, ending in a chest bump with Lyssi Brewer. I love to see that kind of enthusiasm. Angie Bjorklund also came to play today, burying some deep shots.

In the overtime period, when Tennessee started to pull away, it was another deep Stricklen shot that made me scream so loud I probably scared the neighbors. But just moments later, Stricklen and Glory Johnson collided, sending Johnson to the floor in severe pain. The emotional roller coaster I've been on for the last two days started to go back down again, but fortunately it was reported after the game that she only has a deep thigh bruise.

Stanford Coach Tara VanDerVeer told the Associated Press about Stricklen, who had a stomach virus during last Thursday's game against Old Dominion: "She had a big game. I guess she was kind of sick for the last game. She made me sick in this game."

Oh how I love that quote.

Eight more wins, and Coach Pat Summitt can notch 1000 victories. I've said it before, but Pat Summitt is the greatest coach of all time. (And I enjoyed hearing her mic'ed up today).

Tennessee's next game is at Gonzaga, and I pray that I will get to go to that game, as I'd planned.

Baylor wins one for its own Morghan Medlock

Tragic story out of my alma mater Oregon today.....Baylor University junior guard Morghan Medlock's mother was killed in a murder-suicide in Little Rock, AR on Friday. Baylor Coach Kim Mulkey offered to cancel the game against the Ducks and go to Arkansas with her, but Medlock insisted they play, and the Bears won:

Medlock is from Los Angeles, and played for Narbonne High School. It was the recruitment process that brought her to the storied high school team that lead to the removal of its coach, James Anderson, in 2006. Medlock went on to play two seasons for the University of Southern California.

Last May Medlock transferred to Baylor after the NCAA granted her a waiver that Baylor spokesman Kevin Price referred to as "private in nature." USC never made an official release about the transfer, said spokeswoman Darcy Couch. Coach Mark Trakh said, "It was Morghan's decision to transfer, and we wish her all the best."

Medlock's stepsister, freshman Chantelle Price, also plays for Baylor.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Duke 97, USC 89

By now, if you hadn't seen it on TV yourself, you've heard about this strange game - truly one of the weirdest I've seen in a while.

In a nutshell, SC played their asses off for 38 minutes making shots, stealing the ball and clamping down on defense. Then in overtime, they fell apart. It was like a different team emerged from the huddle, and Duke surged on the momentum they'd gained in the last two minutes of regulation to dominate the overtime period and take the win.

It was quick, and it was surprising, because Duke only looked good for seven minutes of the 45 played. SC took the lead early in the game on the strength of their outside shots, and they are loaded with shooters. Brynn Cameron was 5-10 on two-shots and 4-9 from three-point range; Briana Gilbreath was 5-9 and Kari Laplante 4-6; Heather Oliver was 4-7 and 2-3.

The Trojans went up 18-10 at 12:08 in the first half, and they lead by about that margin for almost six minutes before Duke made its first mini-run. They caught up to take a 31-30 lead with just under 6 to go, but a big Ashley Corral bucket ignited SC. Both teams trades buckets evenly for the last few minutes of the period, ending it tied at 41.

Duke opened the second half shooting poorly, and SC's brutal man defense made the Blue Devils struggle in the paint. A beautiful Camille LeNoir behind-the-back pass to Gilbreath for a bucket, and then a LeNoir three on the next play, put the Trojans up 51-42 at 16:37.

It was at this point in the game that I wrote in my notes "Duke can't make shit happen in the paint and can't hit a bucket" and "USC can't miss." That trend continued for almost the next 10 minutes. I kept thinking Duke would make a move and take over the game, but it wasn't happening. They were behind by 14 at 10:57, and I began to see the 12th-ranked Blue Devils losing.

Duke had a mini-run and cut the lead to 69-64 at 7 to go, but another SC run put them back up by 11 two minutes later. Time kept ticking away, and I began seeing forks in my head because Duke seemed done. It was 79-69 at the 2:32 mark. The Blue Devils' Jasmine Thomas, a sophomore, had 17 points. Senior Abby Waner had three, and I wish I had got how many points senior Chante Black had, because it was the play of these three in the last moments of the game that carried their team over the top.

With under two minutes to go, Waner drained a three. A missed SC foul shot later, she hit again - this time on a lazy side hook shot. In the overtime, Black made a power layup, Thomas a steal and a layup, and then Waner stole the ball from LeNoir for the fast break and layup. Duke was really rolling.

Cameron scored a three for SC, but Thomas drove for a layup on the next play. Two Trojan fouls shots put them within four, 93-89, with 44.6 seconds left, but Black was fouled and made both her shots, and the game was out of reach for SC.

On Duke's side I was very impressed with Thomas, who came off the bench for 22 points, and Selby, another bench player who added 11. Thomas had a nice shot (she was 8-15), and Selby is very gutsy, particularly for a newcomer. On one play in the first half, she put her head and shoulder down and was racing up and down the side past Trojan defenders, ruthlessly seeking the right spot for a shot. In the second half, she made a big move to the basket for the score. The girl has got something there.

SC has a lot of impressive shooters, and I don't understand why they don't have a better record than they do. They clearly have a lot of talent on their team. And LeNoir is subbed out too much; she is a dynamic, intelligent point guard who deserves the top spot a little more than she gets it.

Odds and ends:

Joanne McCallie has her eyes open wide when she's talking to the team during timeouts. She is very facially expressive.

The entire Duke team seems very upbeat and positive. They came out in warmups with a lot of energy in clapping and being vocal. At timeouts, when the coaches are talking to the side, there is always one player (usually Krystal Thomas) standing up urging her seated teammates on with positive comments.

USC grad/former player, Love and Basketball player, and assistant coach to Colleen Matsuhara at West LA College Jessica Cheeks came into the game a little late. She was wearing her SC letter jacket, but came in and hugged a Duke fan and sat behind us in the Duke section.

The reffing was horrible. They missed a heckuva lot of calls for Duke, and sometimes they dropped into ticky-tack mode. In other words, miss the big calls and make the non-calls. For example: in the first half, Gilbreath and Selby both had their hands on the ball and Gilbreath slammed Selby to the ground. They called jump ball. In the second half, Thomas slammed LeNoir to the ground and was called for a foul, but it should have been flagrant. The refs must work in the WNBA, I decided.

Last night's game was part of a tournament, and tonight SC did win over Harvard, while Duke beat Siena.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Long Beach Poly loses again!!

TOC day 2 has only been underway for a few hours, but already number one-ranked Poly has lost its second game in as many days. Riverdale Baptist beat them, 57-52. The game hasn't been over long enough for those at the tourney to have written stories, but I am looking forward to reading the write-up on this one.

So if former first-ranked St. Mary's isn't number one, and neither is Poly, I wonder who will be now. All I can say is wow.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Holy moly! TOC day one scores

Dig this:

No. 25 Regis Jesuit 63, No. 12 Bishop McGuinness 40
Oak Ridge (Tenn.) 38, No. 3 Christ the King 33
No. 21 HD Woodson 63, Clovis West 56
No. 36 St. Mary's (Stockton) 73, St. Josephs (Mo.) 57
No. 23 Chaminade-Julienne 53, No. 1 Long Beach Poly 40
No. 6 Cardinal O'Hara 60, Lincoln (Dallas) 31
No. 19 Wesleyan 49, Brea Olinda 41

Long Beach Poly is so very hyped, but they lost in round one! People will undoubtedly be shocked, but I'm not. I mentioned in a previous blog that I'd seen them playing in a fall league in October. The coach plays three teams, and mixes up the players liberally. I saw two incarnations of teams play, and they didn't look as solid as they have in the past. We shall see how they do for the rest of the season.

Clovis West recently beat St. Mary's, but tonight they fell to HD Woodson, who I wrote a story about for a website. Just hearing their story and talking to some of the players, I had a feeling they'd be good. Looks like they're off to a fine start, despite losing one of their premiere starters just two days before their opener:

Christ the King lost, and so did Brea Olinda. Who the heck are the girls from Oak Ridge?

And in college news, Tennessee pulled it out against ODU in what sounds like an ugly, injurious game that I'm glad I could only hear. The hero of the night is:


Nice 29-point career high, Bjork.

Up the road, Connecticut only beat Washington 109-51. I wonder whose idea it was to have those two Husky teams play a game. Not even a contest.

Sparks just released their schedule

It looks like the league is going back to beginning around the first of June. And with the longer season now, that means going into September even in a non-Olympic year. Hmmm.



Saturday 6 vs Detroit 11:30am

Monday 8 @ Detroit 4:30pm

Wednesday 10 @ Minnesota 5:00pm

Friday 12 @ Indiana 4:00pm

Friday 19 @ Phoenix 6:00pm

Sunday 21 vs Sacramento 6:30pm

Friday 26 @ Seattle 7:00pm

Sunday 28 vs Seattle 6:30pm


Sunday 5 vs Phoenix 6:30pm

Thursday 9 @ New York 4:30pm

Saturday 11 @ Washington 4:00pm

Tuesday 14 @ Connecticut 4:00pm

Friday 17 vs Minnesota 7:30pm

Wednesday 22 @ Seattle 7:00pm

Tuesday 28 @ Minnesota 5:00pm

Wednesday 29 @ Chicago 5:00pm


Saturday 1 @ Sacramento 7:00pm

Tuesday 4 vs San Antonio 12:00pm

Thursday 6 vs Seattle 7:30pm

Sunday 9 vs Indiana 6:30pm

Tuesday 11 vs New York 6:00pm

Friday 14 vs Sacramento 7:30pm

Saturday 15 @ Sacramento 7:00pm

Tuesday 18 vs Washington 7:30pm

Friday 21 @ San Antonio 5:00pm

Sunday 23 @ Atlanta 12:00pm

Tuesday 25 vs Chicago 7:00pm

Thursday 27 vs Phoenix 7:30pm

Sunday 30 vs Connecticut 6:30pm


Tuesday 1 vs Atlanta 7:30pm

Saturday 5 @ San Antonio 5:00pm

Tuesday 8 vs San Antonio 7:30pm

Friday 11 vs Minnesota 7:30pm

Sunday 13 @ Phoenix 11:00am

Here's the entire WNBA schedule:

College, High School


What do you know but the game of last night did turn out to be Alabama and Florida A&M: 70-68, Bama. The Crimson Tide are doing better than people thought they would this season so far.

So is UCLA, who routed Rice last night, 82-64. Even I am surprised, although it's no reflection on Coach Nikki Caldwell, who is outstanding. It's just hard even for great coaches to begin their first season head coaching at 8-1, no matter who they are - and with the loss of a starter two games ago, no less.

In the back of my mind, I wonder if Caldwell will be the one to fill the planet-sized shoes that Pat Summitt will leave behind in a couple decades when she may retire. It would take an extremely exceptional coach to do that, if indeed Summitt is able to retire before death. (I'm not sure that's possible). Anyway.

Oregon lost yet again last night, to Marquette by 30 points. Their 3-5 record makes me sad, because I think Bev Smith's firing has begun to appear as the writing on the wall. Not good.

Finally last night, Arizona beat UC Riverside, 53-48, improving their record to 6-4.

Tonight, Tennessee takes on Old Dominion (yikes!), Texas and Arizona State will go at it, and Connecticut will beat the crap out of Washington. I was thinking of going to see Oregon State at Irvine, but I can't deal with the drive out there, and I have to pack for my trip home. I will, however, be going to see the Duke-USC game tomorrow night.

High School

Yesterday I again tried to go see View Park Prep play, and again their game was moved. But the head coach is going to send me their schedule and I WILL go watch them at some point. They're kicking butt right now, so I've gotta see it.

Since christmas and new year's are both in the middle of the week this year, most high school teams are taking some time off, as there are virtually no tournaments scheduled next week. Most kick in on Dec. 26. Even the Nike Tournament of Champions has been split into two weeks this year.

Sadly, that means there will be no high school games for me for a bit now. But I am looking very much forward to the Fairfax Tournament the first week in January when I'm back from Seattle. That tournament is always loaded, and this year is no exception. I'm sitting here looking at the bracket, and Fairfax, Dorsey, View Park, Washington, Crenshaw, Granada Hills, Carson and maybe even LB Poly (I'm not sure what "Poly Tech" refers to) all play on the first day. It looks like I'll be living there that entire week.

And finally, in celebration of this - my 100th post - let me say: WOOT WOOT!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dream-Sparks trade

My Sparks rep is the best. An hour and a half ago, right before I went into my last class, he emailed me to tell me about the trade the Sparks just made with the Atlanta Dream: the rights to Chamique Holdsclaw for Atlanta's first-round pick at number 13. The Sparks hadn't had a first-round pick in the 2009 draft, but now they feel like they can get someone who will stick with the team, my rep says.

In a news release to Sparks season ticket holders shortly afterward, General Manager Penny Toler said "This is the beginning of what we hope is a great offseason for the Sparks."

The 13th pick in the 2009 draft originally belonged to the San Antonio Silver Stars. It was traded to the Dream along with Camille Little and Chioma Nnamaka in exchange for center Ann Wauters, guard Morenike Atunrase and Atlanta's 2009 second round pick.

WOO! A win-win for both. Because I like Holdsclaw and want to see her play again, and with this trade, the Sparks now have a chance at getting a guard or a forward.

Good times.

Umpqua CC Riverhawks update

The hard-hittin' women of the 9-1 Umpqua CC basketball team had a disappointment last Sunday that no team should have to face: they won a championship by forfeit. After driving all the way from Roseburg, OR to Seattle, WA and smashing their opponents in the first two rounds, the Riverhawks were told by Chemeketa CC women's with less than an hour til tipoff that they were going home instead of playing, due to the snow storm.

Needless to say, both the players and Coach Dave Stricklin were pissed off. Stricklin elaborated eloquently in his blog, which I love:

What the coach didn't mention was that after being outraged, and having families that had traveled from Idaho to see the game disappointed, the team piled into the van at 1:30 p.m. They got home 10 hours later.

"What is usually a five, six-hour drive turned into a nightmare," Stricklin said. "Once you got over the Columbia River, there was a lot of ice."

Division I teams have it good compared to junior college teams. Stricklin and his wife/assistant coach Linda get their players to the game by driving them in the school van. Now that's heart and dedication - I respect that.

I also respect good student habits and good grades, and Umpqua guard Mykiea Russell has both. Los Angeles' own just got a 4.0 in her first term at Umpqua, according to Stricklin. Grades came out yesterday at Umpqua, and there was tension because a player could be ineligible for the rest of the season if her grades don't measure up.

"They were on pins and needles," Stricklin said.

Umpqua plays this weekend in Salem, OR, before getting a break.

No-woman's land

In the wake of twelfth-ranked Duke's victory last night over fourth-ranked Stanford (WOO HOO!), tonight is the battle of the unranked teams, as no top-25 names hit the hardwood.

My UCLA Bruins take on Rice, and two of my other favorite Southwestern teams collide, as UC Riverside visits Arizona. Oregon is at Marquette. And in what could be the game of the evening, Florida A&M (4-3) is at Alabama (6-3).

Last night, Dawn Staley's South Carolina squad beat Upstate Carolina, which I hadn't heard of. Rebecca says they're new.

UCLA's Tierra Henderson suspended indefinitely from team

Bruin senior guard Tierra Henderson has been suspended indefinitely from the team, according to Steve Rourke, associated sports information director for UCLA.

Henderson, who had started all seven of the team's games prior to last Sunday's contest against San Diego, was suspended for a violation of team rules, Rourke said. He declined to specify what rule was broken, but he acknowledged that Henderson could possibly re-join the team at some point.

Henderson was fifth on the team in scoring, second in rebounding, third in assists, and lead the Bruins in steals. She had averaged 28 minutes per game before her suspension.

During Sunday's game, Henderson was in street clothes in the stands, cheering on her team. A relative of Henderson told a fan that Henderson was having trouble academically, and asked the fan to pray for her.

The Bruins are currently in Houston, where they will play Rice University tonight.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The basketball world continues to tilt on its axis

New rankings today:

On the heels of their loss yesterday, Tennessee drops out of the top 10 for the first time in 255 weeks. Cal falls to 12. And Georgia Tech jumps in at 25!

So here's my question.....given the current Pac-10 standings:


Team Conf. Pct. Overall Pct.

Stanford 0-0 - 7-1 .875
UCLA 0-0 - 7-1 .875
Oregon State 0-0 - 5-1 .833
California 0-0 - 8-2 .800
Arizona State 0-0 - 7-2 .778
Washington State 0-0 - 6-2 .750
USC 0-0 - 5-3 .625
Arizona 0-0 - 5-4 .556
Washington 0-0 - 3-3 .500
Oregon 0-0 - 3-4 .429

Should UCLA and Oregon State be ranked since they have a better record than Cal?

And should Mississippi State and Florida be ranked since they have better records than Tennessee?

Just wonderin.

UCLA rolls out the red carpet for season ticket holders

Got a letter from the Bruins today. They're offering discount tickets for upcoming games for the friends of us season ticket holders, because Nikki Caldwell is a fan-gettin pimp. They're also opening up a "hospitality room" for us.

Before the Kansas, USC, Arizona State, Stanford and Cal games, the Chancellor's Room in Pauley Pavilion will be opened for season ticket holders, and at halftime. Light refreshments will be provided, and one of the assistant coaches will visit at 30 minutes before tipoff to give us a scouting report of the opponent. Enclosed in the letter was a pretty laminated hospitality pass for myself and a guest.

Pretty cool, huh? I can't wait to schmooze, although I'll have to wait until the USC game Jan. 11, as I'm going to miss the Kansas game this Sunday. Going home to see my people Saturday, but I'll watch the game on TV.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

UCLA 95, University of San Diego, 58

It looked like it was going to be a game for a few minutes.

The San Diego Torreadors came out strong and beat UCLA to the basket and to the ball, over and over. Their bigs moved well for being bigs, and for a little while it was looking like USD players had lived with their strength and conditioning coaches all summer long. They put the first five points on the board, lead 13-6 for a while, and then 17-12 at 15:46. But then, thanks to buckets by three of their four star players for the day, the Bruins began a comeback.

Doreena Campbell hit a jumper, and on the next play Nina Earl went in to the basket for two. Right after that, forward Christina Nzekwe had a pretty move under the hoop and got fouled for the and-one. Another Nzekwe play for two was followed by an Earl layup and a Campbell jumpshot. Ahead 29-23 at 9:20, the Bruins never looked back.

Campbell ended up with 18 points, eight assists, one block and two steals. Earl poured in 17 points and Nzekwe, 11. Guard Darxia Morris added 15 points and five assists.

"All in all, it was a good performance even though we started out shaky," Coach Nikki Caldwell said. "We went back to our defensive principles, and taking pride in our defense leads to scoring in transition."

With a 7-1 record, UCLA is off to its best start in 28 years.

Today's scoring was a bit less balanced than usual, and the Bruins pulled down a season-low 36 rebounds. But they also committed a season-low 14 turnovers - something Caldwell mentioned in her post-game interview. UCLA also shot 59.6 percent for the game, which I don't recall them doing this season yet either.

Is Caldwell trying to get Pac-10 coach of the year or something? She's making a good case so far.

Apparently she kicked off her shoes in the second half and was pacing the sidelines in her bare feet - something we can't see because we sit behind the bench. But shoes or not she is working on her glare, and it's coming along nicely. At one timeout she leaned over all five seated players and admonished them sternly to box out better and go up for boards.

"Ya got me? Quit playing so soft!" she said, voice slightly raised.

We giggled. It's really cool to see a real coach in action.

Only one Bruin didn't score today in Candice Brown, who was limping in the first half. All of Allison Taka's nine minutes were in the last portion of the second half, and she made the most of them, putting up nine points that included a beautiful three-shot from the corner in front of her own bench. As she released the ball, a man sitting in the end zone seats yelled, "Taka!" The rock sailed through the net to screams.

Every game brings more people, and today was no exception. In addition, the end zone was filled with cheerleaders there to perform at halftime. I bet someday soon those seats will be filled with more fans.

The player whose name is most fun to say is Antonye Nyingifa (Ning-gi-fuh). Fortunately she scored seven points, made three assists and stole the ball three times today, which gave me lots of opportunities to repeat her name after the announcer did.

Bring it on, Kansas. We ready.

Calpreps does have rankings, but.......

I'm learning many new things tonight. This great thread is from

If you go directly to the calpreps website, you need to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page and find the link that says other sports (since the website is in full football mode).

It will take you to the following site:

or you can just go directly to that address above.

On that site, click on the 2008-2009 Girls Basketball National link (it also still has the rankings up from last year under that season, so choose the correct season).

Once you get to that page, you can choose a variety of things to look at, state rankings, section rankings, divisional rankings, etc. compare leagues, compare divisions.

Then, another post was made by someone calling themselves, only as good as the information that people give it. Many scores of games have yet to be reported and like I said earlier I did not notice very many Friday or Saturday results in the rankings, so maybe from Thursday. If a team has not played 3 games, it would be a combination of their preseason ranking and first couple of games. Once you get to 3 games it is based on the season at hand.

Very early so a lot of movement still to be expected as things sort themselves out, but you may notice the computer has already dropped Narbonne out of the top 10 in the City Section compared to the preseason rankings. Los Osos dropped from a preseason #4 in Div IAA to #15. Ventura dropped from a preseason #1 in Div IA to #15.

Here is the list:

Top 25 in State (before Poly beat Sacred Heart, I think it was last updated after Thursday's games)

Rank School State League Division Rating Schedule Strength
1 Cajon (San Bernardino, CA) Southern San Andreas 1AA 52.6 36
2 Brea Olinda (Brea, CA) Southern Century 2AA 50 38
3 Poly (Long Beach, CA) Southern Moore 1AA 47.4 26.9
4 Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco, CA) Central Coast West Catholic 3 46.2 25.3
5 Hanford (CA) Central West Yosemite 2 45.8 26.3
6 Carondelet (Concord, CA) North Coast East Bay 2 43.6 28.3
7 Inglewood (CA) Southern Ocean 3A 42.1 24.9
8 St. Mary's (Stockton, CA) Sac-Joaquin Tri-City 3 40.8 23.4
9 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, CA) Southern Trinity 2A 40.7 11.8
10 Troy (Fullerton, CA) Southern Freeway 1AA 40.3 27.2
11 Foothill (Santa Ana, CA) Southern Sea View 3A 38.9 11.9
12 Colony (Ontario, CA) Southern Mt. Baldy 1A 38.4 17
13 Clovis West (Fresno, CA) Central Tri-Rivers 1 37.8 24.5
14 St. Ignatius (San Francisco, CA) Central Coast West Catholic 3 37.6 21.3
15 Eastlake (Chula Vista, CA) San Diego Mesa 1 37 34.2
16 Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA) Southern Trinity 3AA 36.3 0.1
17 St. Paul (Santa Fe Springs, CA) Southern Del Rey 4A 35 33.4
18 Muir (Pasadena, CA) Southern Pacific 3A 34.9 28.5
19 Santa Monica (CA) Southern Ocean 1A 34 21.5
20 Etiwanda (CA) Southern Baseline 1AA 33.8 15.8
21 Mitty (San Jose, CA) Central Coast West Catholic 2 33.6 35.9
22 Edison (Huntington Beach, CA) Southern Sunset 2AA 33.6 4.6
23 Millikan (Long Beach, CA) Southern Moore 1AA 33.2 25.4
24 Marlborough (Los Angeles, CA) Southern Sunshine 3AA 32.9 26.5
25 Summit (Fontana, CA) Southern Sunkist 2A 32.7 32.2

Top Division in the State
Southern Section, Division IAA

Top League in the State
West Catholic (of the Central Coast League)
Sacred Heart Cathedral
St. Ignatius
Archbishop Mitty
Valley Christian
Notre Dame
St. Francis

LA City Section Top 10
Rank School League Rating Schedule Strength
1 Chatsworth (CA) West Valley 30.9 14.9
2 View Park Prep (Los Angeles, CA) Coliseum 28.4 19
3 Washington (Los Angeles, CA) Marine 19.2 15.5
4 Fairfax (Los Angeles, CA) Western 18.8 16.2
5 El Camino Real (Woodland Hills, CA) West Valley 16.3 5.5
6 Taft (Woodland Hills, CA) West Valley 15.2 15.1
7 LACES (Los Angeles, CA) Western 14.9 19.3
8 Wilson (Los Angeles, CA) Northern 14.8 0.1
9 Carson (CA) Marine 12.1 6
10 Granada Hills (CA) West Valley 11.5 -6.3

Top Leagues in LA City Section
1. West Valley
2. Western
3. Eastern

Top 10 San Diego Section
Rank School League Division Rating Schedule Strength
1 Eastlake (Chula Vista, CA) Mesa 1 37 34.2
2 Bishop's (La Jolla, CA) Coastal - South 4 31.6 8.2
3 Mater Dei (Chula Vista, CA) Mesa 4 31.4 17.1
4 La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla, CA) Coastal - South 4 29.9 23.1
5 Mount Miguel (Spring Valley, CA) Grossmont - South 2 28.4 5.2
6 Poway (CA) Palomar 1 26.8 4.7
7 West Hills (Santee, CA) Grossmont - North 2 20.6 -3.2
8 Cathedral (San Diego, CA) Western 3 16.9 10.8
9 Our Lady of Peace (San Diego, CA) Western 3 13.6 -0.4
10 Westview (San Diego, CA) Valley 2 13.4 1.9

Top leagues in San Diego Section
1. Coastal - South
2. Grossmont - North
3. Mesa

Top leagues in the Southern Section
1. Trinity
2. Ocean
3. Century
4. Sea View
5. Moore
6. Del Rey
7. Big 8
8. Southwestern
9. Olympic
10. Baseline

Division IAA
Rank School League Rating Schedule Strength
1 Cajon (San Bernardino, CA) San Andreas 52.6 36
2 Poly (Long Beach, CA) Moore 47.4 26.9
3 Troy (Fullerton, CA) Freeway 40.3 27.2
4 Etiwanda (CA) Baseline 33.8 15.8
5 Millikan (Long Beach, CA) Moore 33.2 25.4
6 Santiago (Corona, CA) Big 8 28.7 24.5
7 Lynwood (CA) San Gabriel Valley 28.4 0.1
8 Knight (Palmdale, CA) Golden 26.6 22.5
9 Miller (Fontana, CA) Citrus Belt 25.4 0.1
10 Perris (CA) Sunbelt 25 27.8
11 San Clemente (CA) South Coast 24.7 17.5
12 Vista Murrieta (Murrieta, CA) Southwestern 21.3 23.8
13 Pacifica (Oxnard, CA) Pacific View 15.7 6.9
14 Jordan (Long Beach, CA) Moore 15 9.2
15 Los Osos (Rancho Cucamonga, CA) Baseline 14.6 29
16 Cabrillo (Long Beach, CA) Moore 14.5 0.1

Division IA
Rank School League Rating Schedule Strength
1 Colony (Ontario, CA) Mt. Baldy 38.4 17
2 Santa Monica (CA) Ocean 34 21.5
3 Canyon Springs (Moreno Valley, CA) Inland Valley 30.6 24.4
4 Chaparral (Temecula, CA) Southwestern 25 3.1
5 Marina (Huntington Beach, CA) Sunset 23 14.9
6 Rancho Cucamonga (CA) Baseline 22.9 9.1
7 Ayala (Chino Hills, CA) Sierra 22.2 12.4
8 Chino Hills (CA) Sierra 21.4 -2.5
9 Great Oak (Temecula, CA) Southwestern 20.2 17.2
10 Mission Viejo (CA) South Coast 18.9 11.7
11 King (Riverside, CA) Big 8 18.5 15.8
12 Poly (Riverside, CA) Big 8 17.9 17.2
13 Esperanza (Anaheim, CA) Sunset 17.8 20.5
14 Murrieta Valley (Murrieta, CA) Southwestern 17.1 4.9
15 Ventura (CA) Channel 16.9 11.5
16 North (Riverside, CA) Big 8 16.2 0.1

Division IIAA
Rank School League Rating Schedule Strength
1 Brea Olinda (Brea, CA) Century 50 38
2 Edison (Huntington Beach, CA) Sunset 33.6 4.6
3 Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, CA) Bay 30.8 16.7
4 Vista del Lago (Moreno Valley, CA) Inland Valley 30.8 29.4
5 Huntington Beach (CA) Sea View 25.4 -1.6
6 Canyon (Canyon Country, CA) Foothill 24.7 22.2
7 Thousand Oaks (CA) Marmonte 24.6 13.7
8 Burbank (CA) Pacific 21.6 8.3
9 Buena (Ventura, CA) Channel 21.4 15.6
10 Valencia (CA) Foothill 21 4.6
11 Centennial (Corona, CA) Big 8 20.5 8.6
12 Royal (Simi Valley, CA) Marmonte 19.7 6.5
13 Valencia (Placentia, CA) Empire 19.6 12.5
14 El Dorado (Placentia, CA) Century 19.5 7.3
15 El Toro (Lake Forest, CA) Sea View 13.5 5.1
16 Sultana (Hesperia, CA) Mojave River 13.2 -1.1

Division IIA
Rank School League Rating Schedule Strength
1 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, CA) Trinity 40.7 11.8
2 Summit (Fontana, CA) Sunkist 32.7 32.2
3 Bishop Amat (La Puente, CA) Del Rey 31.5 1.2
4 Norco (CA) Big 8 28.5 14.3
5 Villa Park (CA) Century 24.7 12.6
6 Laguna Hills (CA) Pacific Coast 24.7 16.6
7 Newbury Park (CA) Marmonte 23.7 3.2
8 Rio Mesa (Oxnard, CA) Pacific View 22.8 7.9
9 Beverly Hills (CA) Ocean 22.6 16.3
10 Don Lugo (Chino, CA) Mt. Baldy 14.6 3.9
11 South (Torrance, CA) Pioneer 14 17.1
12 Saugus (CA) Foothill 12.3 13
13 Keppel (Alhambra, CA) Almont 11.9 22.5
14 Jurupa Valley (Mira Loma, CA) Sunkist 9.4 -8.1
15 Cypress (CA) Empire 9.1 -0.9
16 Alta Loma (CA) Baseline 8.3 -1.9

Division IIIAA
Rank School League Rating Schedule Strength
1 Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA) Trinity 36.3 0.1
2 Marlborough (Los Angeles, CA) Sunshine 32.9 26.5
3 Woodbridge (Irvine, CA) Sea View 31.3 6.8
4 Arroyo Grande (CA) Pac-7 22.3 -1.5
5 Northwood (Irvine, CA) Sea View 20.8 6.8
6 Agoura (CA) Marmonte 20.4 2
7 Magnolia (Anaheim, CA) Orange 20.1 32.4
8 Canyon (Anaheim, CA) Century 17.3 9.9
9 Arlington (Riverside, CA) Inland Valley 17 0
10 Diamond Ranch (Pomona, CA) Miramonte 16 1.8
11 Fullerton (CA) Freeway 14.7 11.4
12 Culver City (CA) Ocean 12.4 11.7
13 San Bernardino (CA) San Andreas 11.8 4.2
14 North (Torrance, CA) Pioneer 11 11.4
15 Torrance (CA) Pioneer 10.4 17
16 El Modena (Orange, CA) Century 7.5 2

Division IIIA
Rank School League Rating Schedule Strength
1 Inglewood (CA) Ocean 42.1 24.9
2 Foothill (Santa Ana, CA) Sea View 38.9 11.9
3 Muir (Pasadena, CA) Pacific 34.9 28.5
4 St. Mary's Academy (Inglewood, CA) Santa Cruz 23.5 23.6
5 Palos Verdes (Palos Verdes Estates, CA) Bay 19.9 23.1
6 Barstow (CA) Desert Sky 18.9 0.2
7 Sonora (La Habra, CA) Freeway 16.5 -0.6
8 Monrovia (CA) Rio Hondo 11.9 -6.4
9 Cerritos (CA) Suburban 10.7 2
10 Bonita (La Verne, CA) Miramonte 9.5 4.2
11 Temescal Canyon (Lake Elsinore, CA) Southwestern 7.6 -2
12 Bellflower (CA) Suburban 7.1 -6.4
13 Tustin (CA) Century 4.5 0.1
14 Irvine (CA) Pacific Coast 2.2 0.4
15 Heritage (Menifee, CA) Mountain Pass 2 -2.2
16 Temple City (CA) Rio Hondo 1.2 -5.8

Division IVAA
Rank School League Rating Schedule Strength
1 Bishop Montgomery (Torrance, CA) Del Rey 26.9 17.9
2 Lutheran (Orange, CA) Trinity 24.5 4.2
3 Atascadero (CA) Pac-7 24.4 2.6
4 Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks, CA) Mission 20.7 13.9
5 Rosary (Fullerton, CA) Trinity 18.1 8.1
6 Whittier Christian (La Habra, CA) Olympic 16 -0.3
7 Alemany (Mission Hills, CA) Mission 13.8 18.2
8 San Luis Obispo (CA) Pac-7 13.7 10.6
9 Yucca Valley (CA) De Anza 13.3 0
10 La Canada (CA) Rio Hondo 13.1 4.5
11 Centennial (Compton, CA) Pioneer 11.5 -1.6
12 Calabasas (CA) Marmonte 8.5 -3
13 Northview (Covina, CA) Valle Vista 3 3.2
14 Corona del Mar (Newport Beach, CA) Pacific Coast 2.7 -17.7
15 Citrus Hill (Perris, CA) Mountain Pass 2.6 4
16 South Pasadena (CA) Rio Hondo 2.4 -2.1

Division IVA
Rank School League Rating Schedule Strength
1 St. Paul (Santa Fe Springs, CA) Del Rey 35 33.4
2 Pacific Hills (Los Angeles, CA) Olympic 30.4 30
3 Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood, CA) Mission 28.9 21.7
4 Oaks Christian (Westlake Village, CA) Tri-Valley 20.5 10.3
5 JSerra (San Juan Capistrano, CA) Trinity 17.6 9.6
6 Lawndale (CA) Pioneer 15.1 10.8
7 Windward (Los Angeles, CA) Olympic 13.3 21.1
8 Fillmore (CA) Tri-Valley 10.3 -10.8
9 Twentynine Palms (CA) De Anza 8.3 1.1
10 Morro Bay (CA) Los Padres 6.5 2.9
11 Village Christian (Sun Valley, CA) Alpha 3.9 -14.1
12 Notre Dame Academy (Los Angeles, CA) Sunshine 2.1 3
13 Chaminade (West Hills, CA) Mission 1.5 7.3
14 Marymount (Los Angeles, CA) Sunshine 0.6 -7.6
15 Los Angeles Baptist (North Hills, CA) Delphic 0.4 -8.2
16 Blair (Pasadena, CA) Rio Hondo -0.2 2.4

Division VAA
Rank School League Rating Schedule Strength
1 St. Joseph (Santa Maria, CA) Los Padres 30.8 8.9
2 Serra (Gardena, CA) Del Rey 18.4 15
3 Notre Dame (Riverside, CA) Mountain Pass 6.2 -4.2
4 Cantwell-Sacred Heart (Montebello, CA) Camino Real 5.9 3.5
5 St. Monica (Santa Monica, CA) Camino Real 5.5 -0.3
6 Flintridge Prep (La Canada, CA) Prep 5.2 -0.8
7 Valley Christian (Cerritos, CA) Olympic 3 0.1
8 St. Bonaventure (Ventura, CA) Tri-Valley 1.7 -1.6
9 La Salle (Pasadena, CA) Camino Real 1.5 0
10 Campbell Hall (North Hollywood, CA) Alpha -1.6 -17
11 Mary Star of the Sea (San Pedro, CA) Camino Real -2.6 -8.3
12 Calvary Chapel (Santa Ana, CA) Orange Coast -4.6 0.1
13 Calvary Murrieta (Murrieta, CA) Big Sky -5.3 -6.9
14 Providence (Burbank, CA) Liberty -6 -14.9
15 Sage Hill (Newport Beach, CA) Academy -6.1 -17.4
16 Fairmont Prep (Anaheim, CA) San Joaquin -6.6 -16.6

Division VA
Rank School League Rating Schedule Strength
1 Montclair Prep (Van Nuys, CA) Olympic 32.4 15.7
2 Bellarmine-Jefferson (Burbank, CA) Santa Cruz 32.1 24.5
3 Chadwick (Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA) Prep 12.9 5.4
4 Santa Clara (Oxnard, CA) Frontier 8.7 -4.9
5 St. Anthony (Long Beach, CA) Santa Cruz 5.6 6.4
6 Rancho Alamitos (Garden Grove, CA) Garden Grove -2.2 -19.9
7 Poly (Pasadena, CA) Prep -3.3 -11.2
8 California City (CA) Freelance -4.6 0.1
9 Rolling Hills Prep (San Pedro, CA) Harbor -4.6 0.1
10 Buckley (Sherman Oaks, CA) Liberty -4.6 -17.3
11 Aquinas (San Bernardino, CA) Christian -7.8 -17.5
12 Holy Martyrs Armenian (Encino, CA) Liberty -10.6 0.1
13 Bishop Diego (Santa Barbara, CA) Frontier -10.7 -15.2
14 Desert (Edwards AFB, CA) High Desert -10.9 0.1
15 Brethren Christian (Huntington Beach, CA) Academy -12 -10.3
16 St. Margaret's (San Juan Capistrano, CA) Academy -12 -27.8

Division VIAA
Rank School League Rating Schedule Strength
1 Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, CA) Delphic 10 -5.9
2 Hesperia Christian (Hesperia, CA) Agape -3.3 -15.3
3 Riverside Prep (Oro Grande, CA) Freelance -4.6 0.1
4 Le Lycee (Los Angeles, CA) Freelance -4.6 0.1
5 California Military Institute (Perris, CA) Majestic -4.6 0.1
6 AGBU (Pasadena, CA) Freelance -7.7 -33.5
7 Liberty Christian (Huntington Beach, CA) San Joaquin -7.8 0.1
8 Saddleback Valley Christian (San Juan Capistrano, CA) San Joaquin -10.1 -38
9 Rio Hondo Prep (Arcadia, CA) Prep -13.9 -19.5
10 Upland Christian (Upland, CA) Arrowhead -16.9 -13.4
11 Calvary Chapel (Moreno Valley, CA) Victory -17.1 0.1
12 Crean Lutheran South (Irvine, CA) Freelance -17.5 -26.8
13 Hillcrest Christian (Granada Hills, CA) Heritage -18 -15
14 AGBU (Canoga Park, CA) Westside -18.4 0.1
15 Ribet Academy (Los Angeles, CA) Harbor -18.9 -30.4
16 Desert Christian (Bermuda Dunes, CA) Victory -18.9 -20.7

Division VIA
Rank School League Rating Schedule Strength
1 Summit View (Valley Glen, CA) Mulholland -4.6 0.1
2 Ojai Valley (Ojai, CA) Condor -4.6 0.1
3 Westmark (Encino, CA) Freelance -4.6 0.1
4 Vistamar (El Segundo, CA) Freelance -4.6 0.1
5 Public Safety Academy (San Bernardino, CA) Freelance -4.6 0.1
6 First Lutheran (Sylmar, CA) Omega -4.6 0.1
7 Packinghouse Christian Academy (Redlands, CA) Majestic -7.3 -27.1
8 South Bay Lutheran (Inglewood, CA) Freelance -12.8 0.1
9 Immanuel Christian (Ridgecrest, CA) Hi-Lo -20.6 -28.8
10 Avalon (CA) San Joaquin -28.6 0.1
11 Price (Los Angeles, CA) Harbor -30.8 -8.8
12 Pacifica Christian (Santa Monica, CA) Mulholland -31.2 0.1
13 Bloomington Christian (Bloomington, CA) Victory -32.2 0.1
14 Tarbut V'torah (Irvine, CA) Express -32.3 -32.6
15 North County Christian (Atascadero, CA) Coast Valley -32.9 0.1
16 Desert Chapel (Palm Springs, CA) Victory -33.3 0.1

So if the info is based on team records, and the records are based on what the coaches report to (as the next post says), then I guess we're back to square one. In other words, I'll get an idea where teams are at, and I'll go see them for myself.

My next step is to get a Southern Section schedule of games, which is harder to do as they don't have a link online.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

One week, two teams, four losses

Apparently St. Mary's of Stockton lost again last night - to Clovis West, in the championship game of the latter team's tournament. St. Mary's had played four hours earlier, beating Hanford. That's two losses in a week for the (formerly) number one-ranked high school team.

Tonight, also for the second time in a week, Cal lost. Theirs was at the hands of Oklahoma, who had been down by 26 at the half and rallied to come back. Ouch! When the ratings come out Monday, I won't expect to see Cal in the top 10 anymore. Double ouch.

It makes you wonder about the momentum of a loss. Sometimes a team can let that first loss get in their heads, and they start thinking negatively. Obviously I don't know what's up in the St. Mary's or Cal locker rooms, but we'll see if they can each put their respective losses behind them sooner, or later.

Dorsey 74, Crenshaw 63

It appears that Dorsey basketball is back in the building.

A 21-7 record that left them one game shy of the city championship in 2006-2007 was followed by a dismal 10-15 season last year. But now, the Donns are off to a 3-1 start (maybe more if they'd post their results from a tourney last week on, including a "take no prisoners" win over Crenshaw last night.

If Stevie Wonder had come to the game, he would have had no problem figuring out what was going on, as the "THUMP!" of a Crenshaw body hitting the floor was heard almost as much as the catcalls from the Dorsey JV team sitting in the stands. I hadn't seen that many kids on the floor since third period, when I had my PE class perform sit-ups.

The first couple times it happened, a Dorsey player tripped a Crenshaw Cougar, sending her careening toward the ground. But in general, Crenshaw players seemed to have a hard time staying on their feet. They would simply slip, fall to the floor chasing a loose ball, or lose their balance after contact with an athletic Donn player - which was seemingly every player they had.

The result was a convincing 74-63 Dorsey win, which puts them at the top of the Coliseum League with View Park Prep (4-1). I predict those two will fight mightily for the league title this year.

Dorsey began the game strong, despite a turnover-fest on the part of both teams. Crenshaw didn't score a bucket until the 6:10 mark in the first quarter. Then both teams started with the dueling steals, multiple bad passes and bad shots a piece. This isn't uncommon at the start of high school games, to have both teams playing sloppily. The score was still 14-4 Dorsey with 2:33 to go.

The second quarter began with four girls from both teams diving for the ball and wrestling for possession; I'm glad no one knocked heads. It was Dorsey up 23-13 for a few minutes, and then Crenshaw went on a little run. They hit a three, then made another bucket on the next possession. They had cut Dorsey's lead to two, 25-23, before the Donns made their own run, including a full-court pass play. The Cougars were only able to make three more baskets during the period, while the Donns reeled off seven more buckets to end the half up 39-29.

The third quarter was the best for both teams. Crenshaw came out on fire, cutting Dorsey's lead to 41-37 at the 5:32 mark. Dorsey responded with three straight shots, and the dueling steal-fest began again. As I had felt at the game I was at a few hours before, I thought both teams would have done well to slow down.

The Donns kept their lead by eight until two minutes to go, when the Cougars went on another run. A shot, some free throws, some hustlin, repeat. Dorsey lead 56-52 at the end of the third. Both teams scored almost as much in the third has they had in all the first half.

In the last quarter, Dorsey turned it on and never looked back. Their marquee play came on a full court-length pass for a layup which wowed even the Crenshaw fans I was sitting next to. It was 66-53 at the 4:40 mark. The Cougars got one little bit of last momentum at 2:38, when they'd cut Dorsey's lead to 70-60. But the Donns hit two more baskets, and the possibility of a comeback went out the window.

I really liked Crenshaw's never-say-die fighting spirit. They never gave up, and played all the way until the final buzzer. They need to work on their free throw shots, but they have a lot of potential that I hope their coach can bring out of them.

Dorsey players who were impressive were sophomore guard Yolanda Kennard, sophomore guard Kyndal Charleston, and freshman guard/forward Destiny King. Kennard is a hustler, and really moves the ball and makes things happen. Charleston has a sweet outside shot that almost always falls. And King is a good three-shooter.

The Donns have only 10 girls on their roster this year, but I guess that isn't unusual for them. Last year they had 14, including five seniors, and the year before that -the almost-city championship year - only seven were on the roster. This year's squad includes only one senior and two juniors. The rest are freshmen (4) and sophomores (3).

If Dorsey needed some fresh blood to jump-start their program, so far it looks like they're succeeding. I must make sure to catch them again when they play View Park Prep.

Non-play highlight: Dorsey JV players chanting to free throw shooters from their varsity team, "make it, homegirl!"

Friday, December 12, 2008

Taft 48, Washington Prep 46

Ah, it's back, thank goodness. I hadn't realized how I'd missed it - the gut-churning excitement of a good high school basketball game. It's been since last March that I've felt the way I did today watching Washington Prep and Taft go at it. That's a lot of moons ago in basketball time.

It was a good-old fashioned slugfest between two top-rated teams that looked more like a February playoff game than a season-opening debut. In a contest full of bad passes, missed free throws and beautiful plays, visiting Taft hung on for dear life in the second half to pull one out over Washington, 48-46.

The moment of the game that exemplified the grit both teams brought came at the very end of the third quarter. Prep's Kejuana Gardner and a Taft player collided, throwing Gardner off-balance, and she looked like she was going to lose control of the ball. As the Taft player grabbed her, Gardner spun around and landed on the ground, but she was still dribbling the ball. She kept dribbling it as she stood up, and then broke free from her defender, running towards the basket.

The shot Gardner put up was too late, as the buzzer was already sounding when the ball left her hands. But it didn't seem to matter to the awestruck crowd; it sure didn't matter to me. I caught eyes with the man sitting to the right of me with his daughter, and I said "wow!" shaking my head. His eyes were big too and he laughed.

The game began with a quick Taft foul. I guess that should have been our first indication how the thing would be played. That, and the fact that both teams began with a blistering full-court press defense. Taft's shots weren't falling and Prep's rebounds weren't happening. Then the first steal-mania began: both sides taking turns stealing the ball from one another, whether it was off a bad pass or just grabbing a ball out of another girl's hands.

Washington kept throwing the ball away on bad passes, and their defense and boxing out were lacking. Taft made two shots in a row and built a small lead, 14-10, towards the end of the first quarter. But Gardner stepped up to make two big buckets right at the end of the period, which took Taft's lead down 17-16.

In the second quarter, Prep's Reshanda Gray jumped in with Gardner and made some big plays. She began tearing down the rebounds, and got fouled for two shots. Then Gardner did the same thing. But bad Washington passes continued to result in turnovers, and Taft scored twice in a row. Prep stepped up their defense, and the score seemed like it was 22-17 Taft for the longest time.

Finally, Gardner made good with a fast break and laid it up and in. Taft answered, and the two teams went back and forth with scoring for the last 3:20. Gardner hoisted a 3 just before the buzzer, ending the half 26-25 Taft.

While their teams were warming up for the second half, the referees took aside a team captain from each side and talked with them for a moment. I presume it was to tell them to settle down and stop playing each other so rough. Like that would really happen.

In the second half, just like the first, players continued to dive for balls 3-4 at once; they tried to wrench the ball out of each other's hands 2-3 people at a time; and they continued to push each other away or down to the ground. Typical game in girl's basketball.

Prep stepped up its rebounding game in the third quarter and began grabbing them - largely due to Gray. After a series of alternating turnovers, Gardner pulled off a big play underneath the basket. It was 31-30 Taft at the 3:47 mark.

It was especially in the third quarter that the game seemed out of control at times. It was a run and gun game, as neither team would stop long enough to set up a play or run an offense. The athleticism of both squads put pressure on all the players. It seemed like everyone was afraid that if they slowed down long enough, someone would pluck the ball out of their hands or bean them on the head. (And these fears were legitimate, as those things happened regularly....)

The fourth quarter began with a Gray assist to Gardner, again cutting Taft's lead to 35-34. Then it was Gardner's assist that lead to the next bucket, and Washington was ahead by a point. Taft poured in a couple shots, then Gardner assisted Gray for a shot. After that, Gardner made a bucket. It was 43-40 Taft for a long time, but a big Prep shot, two Taft turnovers and another Gardner play under the basket tied them up at 44 with about two minutes to go.

Washington missed a wide-open layup, then fouled Taft's Joy Hubbard. Hubbard missed both free throw shots, sending the loud crowd into hysterics on both sides. Taft did score on their next possession, and the score was 46-44 Taft with 45 seconds left.

No one could score, and with two girls fighting for the ball, possession was given to Taft with 26 seconds to go. Taft inbounded and was fouled, but again, the shooter missed both shots. Gardner then hit a 3, sending the Washington side of the gym into screaming fits. 47-46, Prep.

Taft inbounded and was fouled by Gardner. The Taft player made one free throw; Taft 48, Prep 46. Then Gardner was fouled, and Prep fans started dancing in the stands. But with 2.7 seconds on the clock, Gardner missed both shots. Washington tried an inbounds play after a timeout, but a Taft player got her hands on it and time ran out.

The free throws were the story of the game for both sides, because each team really needs to hit the charity stripe in practice. The turnover numbers were way too high, as well. Prep Coach Ricky Blackmon lamented both statistics after the game. But the bright spots outweighed those issues for me.

For one thing, Washington looked light years away from the way they played Monday at the Redondo Union tournament. Today they were hungry and determined. They look like a team who wants to take the league title badly, not to mention fighting for the city championship.

Taft also has some work to do, but they've got ferocious defense and some fine outside shooters. If Chatsworth is ahead of these two teams, as some have predicted, I'd like to see them.

Gardner, who had an off-year last year, was great Monday but was especially impressive today. Her tenacity was palpable; it oozed from her. And she was everywhere doing everything: rebounding, spinning, shooting and dishing assists. I really enjoy watching her play.

Gray, who is only a sophomore, has a lot of skill. She and Gardner should make a good tandem combo.

I talked with one of the Prep player's mothers after the game. Felicia was waiting for her daughter, who had twisted an ankle in the first half. Felicia is apparently the team mom, and gave each player a hug as they emerged from the locker room, and told her to keep her head up. Then she carried her daughter off, piggy-back style.

I'm not worried about Washington Prep anymore this year. They'll do fine.

I'm not worried about myself, either. I stayed really calm throughout the game, though I rolled to the side twice, late in the fourth quarter. It made the people next to me laugh, but I had to do it to keep myself from screaming.

I can take these types of games so much better than I used to.

After that I went to another game, but I'll write about that one tomorrow. I've been up for almost 19 hours and need to call it a day.

It's just Candace now

From my friend Larry in an email today. Ya gotta love it:

I guess Candace has fully arrived on the sporting scene. When a person is referred only by one of their names, such as Jordan everyone knows that is Michael Jordan. So now that ESPN has referred to Candace Parker as just Candace I guess that means everyone is suppose to know who that is. I was watching the show 'Pardon my Interruption' with Kornheiser and his sidekick. They were at the point in the show where they have a list of topics and/or personalities to discuss. The list is shown on the right side of the screen. The day I was watching, the name Candace appeared on the list. Sure enough it was CP they were discussing. The sidekick was suppose to give Candace some tips on marriage.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What's up with Rutgers? (And transfers who can play)

They barely pulled it out against Prarie View A&M tonight, 58-56. They had a nine-point lead in the first half and had to hang on for dear life to win in the second. They are really struggling so far this season. I wonder why.

Box score:

On one message board, someone posted that a rumor is flying around that Nikki Speed is about to join Jasmine Dixon in transferring. Do people just look at the box score, see that Speed was the only Scarlet Knight not to play tonight, and make stuff up?

Speaking of transfers. I was reading on another message board that former USC forward Morghan Medlock, who mysteriously transferred to Baylor last spring, is playing for her new team rather than sitting out the season, as most transfers do. Check the stats - she's played in all nine games so far this season:

How is this possible? Basketball guru Clay Kallam said there is a "hardship rule" in the NCAA. That opens up a whole other can of worms. USC never officially acknowledged Medlock's departure from the program, and Baylor never said anything on their end except, "she's here." What kind of hardship could she have incurred at USC?

Finally, I wonder when Jasmine Dixon will announce the school she is transferring to.

Interesting list

ESPN RISE FAB 50 Girls Basketball Rankings (Dec. 10)

Rank, Team, Location, Record, Previous Rank

1 St. Michael Academy (New York City) 4-0 2
2 Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 3-0 3
3 Poly (Long Beach, Calif.) 2-0 4
4 Westlake (Atlanta) 3-0 6
5 Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.) 0-0 7
6 Ben Davis (Indianapolis) 5-0 8
7 Mount Notre Dame (Cincinnati) 4-0 9
8 Cardinal O'Hara (Springfield, Pa.) 1-0 10
9 H.D. Woodson (Washington, D.C.) 3-0 11
10 South Bend Washington (South Bend, Ind.) 6-0 12
11 University (Newark, N.J.) 0-0 13
12 Heritage Christian (Indianapolis) 5-0 28
13 St. Mary's (Stockton, Calif.) 3-1 1
14 Bolingbrook (Bolingbrook, Ill.) 2-1 14
15 Murry Burgtraum (New York City) 2-0 16
16 Bishop McGuinnes (Kernersville, N.C.) 3-0 17
17 Potter's House Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.) 9-0 19
18 Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Colo.) 3-1 5
19 Whitney Young (Chicago) 7-1 18
20 Detroit Community (Detroit) 1-0 20
21 Archbishop Carrol (Radnor, Pa.) 0-0 21
22 Wesleyan (Norcross, Ga.) 4-1 25
23 Kentwood (Covington, Wash.) 3-0 NR
24 Highlands Ranch (Colo.) 3-0 26
25 Chaminade-Julienne (Dayton, Ohio) 2-0 27
26 Lexington Christian (Lexington, Ky.) 2-0 30
27 Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.) 3-0 30
28 Millington (Tenn.) 3-0 28
29 Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.) 1-0 34
30 Lower Richland (Hopkins, S.C.) 2-0 35
31 Wichita Heights (Wichita, Kan.) 1-0 36
32 Jefferson (Portland, Ore.) 2-0 37
33 Bob Jones (Madison, Ala.) 9-1 22
34 Trenton Central (Trenton, N.J.) 0-0 38
35 Union (Tulsa, Okla.) 0-0 39
36 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) 1-0 NR
37 Westbury Christian (Houston) 23-0 NR
38 Germantown Academy (Fort Washington, Pa.) 2-0 41
39 Dulles (Sugar Land, Texas) 13-1 23
40 Nimitz (Houston) 14-1 50
41 Eleanor Roosvelt (Greenbelt, Md.) 0-0 43
42 Oak Hill (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) 6-2 24
43 Minneapolis South (Minneapolis) 3-1 44
44 Murrah (Jackson, Miss.) 8-0 45
45 Cajon (San Bernadino, Calif.) 4-0 NR
46 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) 1-0 46
47 Wilson Central (Lebanon, Tenn.) 5-1 47
48 Mandan (Mandan, N.D.) 0-0 50
49 Mansfield Timberview (Arlington, Texas) 11-1 NR
50 St. John's the Baptist (West Islip, N.Y.) 1-0 NR

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's hard to get a ranking around here

I'm disgusted right now.

The high school basketball season has been underway for two weeks now, and doesn't have any girl's team rankings for California. Nor does the LA Times. The only site that does have something is, and theirs are all segregated. They have statewide rankings and league-by-league rankings, but no SoCal and NorCal predictions, which is important because those two divisions face off for the state championship.

Someone on posted a supposed list two weeks ago that they said they found on calpreps, but I can't locate it. The list put Washington first, Chatsworth second, Taft third, and then Fairfax and View Park Prep. The list went all the way up to 25, and I have no idea where they got that. This is only the state with the most basketball teams in the freakin country; you'd think someone would be paying attention.

So I guess I'll have to do this myself.

calpreps lists the top teams in the state as:

1. St. Mary's of Stockton
2. Sacred Heart Cathedral of San Francisco
3. Long Beach Poly
4. Brea Olinda of Brea
5. Cajon of San Bernardino
6. Mater Dei of Santa Ana
7. Summitt of Fontana
8. Clovis West of Fresno
9. Wilcox of Santa Clara
10. Foothill of Santa Ana

So 60 percent of the top 10 teams are from SoCal......and this is why people have apparently been calling for years for a different way to break down the state playoffs, as NorCal is generally weaker than SoCal. But anyway.

St. Mary's lost last weekend to Kentwood High School of Kent, WA. So they're not infallible.

I saw Long Beach Poly play in October, and they don't look like all that the way they used to. They did lose quite a few players last year.

Brea lost the championship game of its own tournament last week for the second year in a row.

Perhaps these teams should all be taken down some notches for their recent losses? The other teams could well have had losses by this point too, but I haven't looked them up yet (unfortunately I already have a fulltime job).

Last year's Los Angeles city champion runner-up Chatsworth is ranked 14 on this list.

Los Angeles City Section

There are 14 leagues in the city section, but only 10 are legitimate contenders. The other four are fledgling new leagues thanks to the glut of charter schools that have opened up in LAUSD the last several years.

According to, these are the rankings for the 10 big-time leagues:


View Park Prep
Manual Arts

I tried to go see View Park Prep today, but they'd cancelled the game. I'm going to see Crenshaw and Dorsey Friday, and I'm looking forward to that. Crenshaw was good last year, but Dorsey wasn't.

Locke used to be decent, but that was a while ago. The other teams are crap.

East Valley

North Hollywood
Van Nuys
Verdugo Hills
Canoga Park

This is one of the two leagues I know least about, so I won't comment on it. I saw North Hollywood play a couple years ago, and I've seen Verdugo Hills. But those were light years ago in kid years.

Valley Mission

San Fernando

Sylmar and Reseda used to be the business two years ago. I guess the balance of power has shifted.


South Gate
Huntington Park

This is one list where calpreps really missed the boat. The buzz since the summertime has been around Southeast, which begun the season beating defending city champs Narbonne at a tourney. I went to watch them two weeks ago, and they've got the hustle and the ball movement down. They also make their shots. Some have predicted they'll take the league title, and I'm jumping on that bandwagon. Their coach is a hard-working, knowledgeable person.

Garfield, Bell and Roosevelt will fight it out for the next three positions, as they used to take turns dominating the league. I predict Huntington Park last because they always suck, and because Jordan has begun the season much better than usual.


San Pedro

This is another list where they screwed it up. This entire league lost so many seniors from several teams last year to graduation. The top two, Narbonne and Washington, lost eight seniors a piece. The league won't be the same for a while.

I've seen Narbonne play, and they look bad this year. So far they're 0-4 on the season. I saw Washington play Monday, and they have some serious work to do as well. One of Carson's best players transferred to Narbonne, so that team is hurting a bit this year too. King-Drew has had flashes of brilliance in the past, but nothing worthy of the top of the league. Banning, San Pedro and Gardena are all pretty bad.


Eagle Rock

Eagle Rock must have lost people, because they used to be the top dogs. I'm surprised to see Marshall that high. I need to go check them out.

West Valley

Granada Hills
El Camino Real

This is one scary league. Chatsworth is no joke, and Taft won the city championship in 2007. Granada Hills and El Camino Real have also been ranked the last few years. I have no idea what the top four are bringing, but wouldn't it be fun if they all slugged it out for the top spot?


Elizabeth Learning Center
West Adams
Los Angeles

This is the league of schools that are new, having been built in the last 3-5 years or so. Bernstein took many of Hollywood's students, which might explain why they're at the top. This is going to be an interesting league to watch as it takes shape, because it's too young to have traditions or regular league champs yet.


Sherman Oaks
Northridge Academy
Fulton Prep
Discovery Prep
East Valley

Like, ohmigawd, I never get out to the Valley so like, I have no idea what this league is about. It's a little far to get there from South Central, so I'll probably settle for just reading about it unless one of those teams has the next Candace Parker on it.



Another gigantic league. Fairfax is in the top five mix in the city every year; LACES is a really tough team of girls who play physical, brutal ball; Palisades has a long reputation for producing good teams. This is one league where calpreps got it exactly right. They will finish in this order unless every single Fairfax girl gets injured.

Tennessee and Tennessee-related items

The UT Sentinel reports today that Briana Bass will start for the Vols tomorrow against Middle Tennessee State. She'll replace Cait McMahan, who's having "issues with her surgically-repaired knee." (

I had a feeling this would happen. I wish McMahan a speedy recovery - hopefully it's just a flare-up. And I hope Bass brings the tremendous energy and good dishes/ball movement that we've seen from her so far.

This will be the Vols' first game in a week.

In ex-Vol news, Shannon Bobbitt is at last playing for a Turkish team, as had been long-rumored. She is on the Botasspor Adana team with two other Americans, a German and a bunch of Turks. Here's the page:

Sparks season ticket holders today received a copy of the Sparks monthly newsletter via email, which included a short interview with Bobbitt. Since it isn't posted on their site, I'm not sure if I'm supposed to copy it, even with attribution. But I will mention the two things she said that cracked me up: 1. On the topic of her recent birthday, she commented "I'm getting up there!" I hope to god she's being sarcastic. Few things are more annoying than a young person saying they feel old. 2. She was asked what her first experience overseas was like and her first sentence was, "I try to look at everything as a learning experience." Read between the lines if you will, because Turkey ain't New York City.

I'm proud of Bobbitt, as she's so far been averaging 16 points, 4 assists and 3 steals per game. I recall fellow ex-Vol Sidney Spencer was also averaging 16 points per game for her overseas team as well. It's good to have both kinds of training - playing in a difficult league like the WNBA, with the best players in the world, and a league more akin to the American college experience. You train for field events like the shotput the same way: use the 20-pound shot for strength training and the 8-pound shot for speed.

But the best news to me? Bobbitt's been shooting 67 percent.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Jasmine Dixon story continued

The same New Jersey paper that reported her transfer last night now says she "appears to be headed to UCLA."

What is up with this newspaper? Why not tell us why you think so?

But if it's true, WOO! Good for us in Los Angeles.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Upsets and mysterious transfers

So first thing this morning, I saw this - Kentwood High School of Kent, WA upset number one-ranked St. Mary's of Stockton:

I didn't see that one coming, at least not this early.

Then I just got home from my high school scouting adventure to hear that Rutgers pulled out a horrible game against Georgia, and guess who was sitting in the stands and not playing? Freshmen Jasmine Dixon of Long Beach Poly! I didn't see this one coming either:

Obviously this is fresh, spankin' new information. But why didn't this newspaper give a reason other than Stringer's comment that "it's not a good fit"? And where is she transferring to? More information better come out in coming days. Those of us who just watched Dixon play for four years deserve an explanation.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Surprising losses

I listened to the last part of the audio feed, and I hated to hear Cal lose. They had been undefeated before going down to TCU at home tonight, and it had been fun riding the Cal train. I hope they'll use this as motivation for future games, and I hope they don't fall too far down in the rankings.

Maryland also bit it again, getting blown out by Pittsburgh 86-57. They sure are inconsistent this year - and quiet. You don't hear much from them. What happened to the spirit of the 2006 championship team? Like the Seattle Storm, it makes you wonder if it was just a mistake.

The last upset tonight was Bonaventure's victory over Michigan State, who had been ranked 24.

Tomorrow both Baylor and Rutgers play, but I will be on the road, as my schedule is busy this week.

Monday I'm heading to the Redondo Union tournament to check out Washington Prep and whomever else I want to see; Tuesday I'm catching the Southwest CC-Pasadena CC game; Wednesday it's the View Prep game; Thursday no live action, but Tennessee action; Friday it's Dorsey-Crenshaw day. If Prep makes it to the championship game, I'll have to go back to Redondo Saturday.

I wore my Santa hat that's orange with black lines like a basketball to the UCLA game today. One of my daughters from another mother said I think basketball 24/7.


UCLA 62, Nevada, 47

The Bruins finally played an athletic, solid team who beat a ranked opponent last week - and beat them. So that might shut up some of the naysayers for 45 seconds.

But I'm hung up on the number 54 right now. Because today, for the third game in a row, UCLA pulled down 54 rebounds.

I'm like my role model Pat Summitt; I understand why she reached down into that toilet a decade ago to pull out the lucky penny. So I wonder what is up with the number 54 - que significa? I'm sure we'll find out eventually.

Nevada played the Bruins tough today: they were physical, and played some serious defense. In fact, they shut down all UCLA post play early in the game by keeping them from getting inside. Coach Nikki Caldwell acknowledged that in her post-game interview.

"I challenged them at halftime to get the ball inside, and they responded," she said.

Despite the difficulties, UCLA lead comfortably throughout the first half, but in the second half, Nevada went on a mini-run and closed the gap 33-27. Thanks to sophomores Darxia Morris and Christina Nzekwe, however, the Bruins went on their own run.

Morris, who ended the day with 10 points and six assists, unleashed some jumpers. Nzekwe, who posted four steals, six rebounds, five points and one block she wasn't credited for, played some amazing defense. At times she completely shut down her opponent. The Bruins, who had been turnover-happy in the first half, cut them down to almost nothing. Forward Chinyere Ibekwe also pitched in 12 boards and eight points on the day.

"They don't start slow anymore," my seatmate Daniel said.

Nope, and it's nice to see. This team is growing extremely fast.

The only fault I'd find with them today was their shooting percentage: 29.7 for the first half and 48.1 for the second for a total average of 37.5. Their free throw shooting also still needs work. Caldwell noted some things too at a first-half timeout. From my seat, I could hear her tell the team, "Offensively, we're better than them, but we're bailing them out. Quit fouling!"

They have an entire week before their next game, so I'm sure Caldwell has several things in mind for practice this week.

Other notes:

Every game, the crowd gets bigger and bigger. Daniel and I are very encouraged. And Caldwell took the time to thank the band, the cheer squad and the fans during her post-game time at the mic. Daniel also noticed that the coaches seem to recognize some of the regular fans now; relationships are being built!

Tennessee fans will appreciate that Caldwell has a small stool to sit on during timeouts that looks a lot like Summitt's special stool, except that it's blue. I wonder if she'll take it on the road with her the way her mentor does.

Below are some photos from an earlier game this season. I thought non-LA residents might appreciate seeing what the team huddle and the Caldwell post-game interview look like from my point of view.

PS - Happy birthday, Briana Bass!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

UCLA leads, USC falters, and Vanderbilt!

In each of their first six counting games this year, UCLA has outrebounded their opponents by an average of 49.7 to 29.5. The Bruins have garnered 50 or more rebounds in four games: CSU Bakersfield, Cal State Northridge and Cal State Fullerton, all 54, and 50 vs. Pepperdine. Senior Chinyere Ibekwe has led UCLA in rebounding in five games, posting two double-digit totals (14 vs. CSUF and a career-high 15 vs. CSUN). As of Dec. 1, UCLA has the best rebounding margin in the nation at 18.4 and the best in the Pac-10 at 48.8. UCLA is also the conference leader in offensive rebounding at 20.8 per contest. Ibekwe ranks second in the conference in rebounding with an average of 10.8. The Bruins dominated the boards against CSU Bakersfield, outrebounding the Roadrunners 54-25, including 29-3 on the offensive end.

USC, on the other hand, posted a surprising loss last night to Utah Valley State at the Hukilau Invitational in Hawaii. They repeated their misfortunte tonight with a one-point loss to BYU. What the heck is going on? True the team has been plagues with injuries the last few years, but they've also been consistent underachievers. Some on the message boards are saying Coach Mark Trakh is not cut out for the job. I guess time will tell, but in the meantime it's unfortunate that the Trojans again seem headed toward a disappointing season in the senior years of three good players.

Cal beat Princeton handily tonight, and Arizona State did the same with UC Irvine. Washington State beat Long Beach State last night. All of this has resulted in the following current Pac-10 standings:


Team Conf. Pct. Overall Pct.
California 0-0 - 7-0 1.000
Stanford 0-0 - 6-1 .857
UCLA 0-0 - 5-1 .833
Oregon State 0-0 - 4-1 .800
Arizona State 0-0 - 5-2 .714
Washington State 0-0 - 4-2 .667
USC 0-0 - 4-3 .571
Oregon 0-0 - 3-3 .500
Washington 0-0 - 3-3 .500
Arizona 0-0 - 3-4 .429

I anticipated all of those placings at this point in the season except Oregon State. I admit they have surprised me, and pleasantly so.

UCLA plays Nevada tomorrow, and I'm not scurred.

UC Riverside beat Vanderbilt tonight, 50-47. I can't say I'm surprised. They struggled so hard to beat Fullerton the other night, and I agreed with the first pack of people who said they were overrated. They're a very good team, but I don't necessarily see them as SEC champs. That position is currently wide open for hire.

The other upset tonight was Arkansas-Little Rock over #17 Oklahoma State.



I'd like to say happy birthday to two of my favorite basketball players. Both of these young women have given me much basketball joy the last few years. Have a great day, ladies.

SB in the day

Shannon Bobbitt

Friday, December 5, 2008

Vanderbilt 83, Cal State Fullerton 67

When Vanderbilt almost got beat by Love and Basketball in a pre-season exhibition game, there was talk that the Commodores had been overrated in polls that predicted they'd win the SEC Conference. When Michigan beat Vanderbilt almost two weeks ago, that talk surfaced again.

Last night was my first time seeing the Commodores play in person, so I'm not an expert on the team. And having seen Fullerton play already this season (against UCLA), I noticed they put on an unusually good show. So I'm not sure what the truth is.

What I do know is that it took Vandy, currently ranked 16th, until late in the second half to establish a solid run that put Fullerton away. And this was despite stellar performances by three of their starters.

Vanderbilt came out pressing, but Fullerton responded with their own press and a quick three by junior guard Jasmine Scott, who proved to have the hot hand of the night.

Commodore forward Hannah Tuomi scored her team's first bucket, and proved to be instrumental as she was so effective in the paint. On a team that lists no centers, Tuomi fills that role, and Vanderbilt's performance began to decline in the first half when Coach Melanie Balcomb took Tuomi out. With 12:55 to go, Fullerton was up 18-12.

Fortunately for Vandy, Christina Wirth jumped in and hit her first of six three-pointers (she was 6-6 for the night) from deep in the left corner. She nailed another one a few minutes later from the top of the key, but Fullerton seemed like they couldn't miss a shot. At 8:47, the Titans were still up 24-22.

Then Tuomi came back in. She blocked a shot and scored inside. Senior guard Jennifer Risper, whose huge family from nearby Moreno Valley was sitting right behind me (we were all behind the Vandy bench) screaming, stole the ball and went coast to coast for the score. Vanderbilt was up 26-24 at the 7:21 mark. The teams traded baskets before the Commodores went on a small run. Then Fullerton crawled back, scoring 6 in the last few minutes to Vandy's 2. It was 38-34 Commodores at the half.

My favorite play came early in the second half on a transition. Wirth was already on the right high block and received a quick pass. She held it and held still for about 1.5 seconds - so that a streaking Tuomi could place her body perfectly right in front of the ball. Pass, swish.

But again, the Titans wouldn't go away. Besides Scott, sophomore guard Lauren Chow was going off. She hit a few baskets, and the score was knotted at 49 with 15:04 to go. Then Vanderbilt went on a run to put them up 56-49 at 12:32. A Risper steal and layup made her family go nuts, but the Titans' Scott hit another three. It was 62-56 Vandy with about 10 to go. That's when the Commodores finally started their run. They got it up to 67-58 with 7:25 to go, and despite some mistakes, they were able to hold the lead and build it. At 3:59, it was Vandy 73, Fullerton 62. They never looked back from there.

For whatever reason, Fullerton felt the need to do a weird back court press on their opponents in the last 10 seconds. Maybe it was just to prove a point, but they didn't need to do that. They played Vanderbilt tough, and I was impressed.

Tuomi scored 17 points in 20 minutes of play. Wirth had a career high 27 points that included her six three-pointers. And Risper scored a season-high 14 points. For the Titans, Chow ended with 20 and Scott had 19. I was very impressed with all of their performances, but especially Tuomi's; she's only a sophomore.

Side notes:

- Vanderbilt travels with a huge entourage. When I first walked in, I saw all these people sitting on their bench and wondered why they let fans sit there before the game. It turns out that besides Balcomb and three assistant coaches, there were five other people. That's a lot.

- One of those people was a 40-ish water girl. She insisted on having the water cart directly in back of the bench, which would block the view for me, so I moved to the right. It's a good thing they didn't care where you sat at Fullerton.

- It was kind of annoying not to be able to keep track of player points, but Fullerton has a pretty small gym and facility, so I guess that precludes a good scoreboard.

- Vanderbilt players and coaches are real big on leaning on one another and putting a hand on a teammate's shoulder or waist.

Final thought: both teams are better than they played. If Fullerton had played like that against UCLA, they would have given the Bruins a better run. Vanderbilt has a ton of skill, and it shouldn't have taken them that long to dominate the Titans.