Sunday, January 31, 2010

A lil' NCAA parity

Look at all these upsets and near-upsets today. Is it the full moon or parity?

LA-area league titles on the line

As we head into the second-to-last week of the regular high school basketball season, several schools find themselves in showdowns for the title of their league.

Reigning Southern Section Ocean League champs Inglewood High School lost to arch rival and chief title challenger Santa Monica Jan. 15. But at last night's tournament at the rival school, Inglewood bested Windward, 60-45 in a strong performance. A few hours later, host Santa Monica lost to mighty Mater Dei, 66-56.

Inglewood and Santa Monica will face off at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 3 at Inglewood in what is a must-win for the host team if they want to claim part of the league title.

In the City Section's Marine League, Washington Prep has the upper hand over the other top teams there, as all three will play each other in the coming week. Prep beat Narbonne, 41-33 on Jan. 15, and then Carson beat the Gauchos as well five days later, with a basket at the buzzer. Prep beat Carson on Jan. 13.

This Wednesday, Prep faces Carson, and on Friday they will take on Narbonne. Carson and Narbonne will play one another next Monday, Feb. 8. And somewhere out of all of that will emerge a Marine League champion.

In other hot non-league matchups this week, Brea Olinda and Troy face off Saturday. Both currently have a 19-2 record.

A bit of great here and there

You can be good at some things while not having the best season - Missouri proves that:

COLUMBIA - The Missouri women's basketball team ranks in the bottom three of the Big 12 Conference in scoring offense, scoring margin, field goal percentage and numerous other offensive and defensive categories......

Even with offensive rebounding being a strong point for the Tigers as a team, not one individual ranks in the top 13 in the Big 12 in that category. Jessra Johnson comes in at No. 14 with 2.53 offensive rebounds a game.

You gotta be dedicated to participate in a showcase (aka "challenge") tournament in the middle of the regular season, but they did it in New York last weekend. ESPN's Lisa Bodine broke it down, from a girl named Queen-Tiye to Neptune High School to *gulp* a class of 2014 preview.

LSU is trying to get back to great.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Tennessee Vol Shekinna Stricklen not only has a huge heart for the game, but she wants to learn things, too. This story reveals so much about her character:

“I looked her in the eyes and said, ‘No I want to stay there,’ ’’ Stricklen said. “I feel like I’m getting better. I’m still making mistakes but I’m learning it.

She's willing to stay in the point guard position, which she's not entirely comfortable with, because she's learning from it. And it's all about the team:

“Another thing, my teammates believe in me and I think they like me being there. So I don’t want to change that for them.’’

Then she had an "in the zone" moment playing against Auburn recently:

“It brought back a lot of my confidence,’’ she said. “I was just playing the game and not thinking so much. And I had fun.”

How many players need to remember why they began playing in the first place - for fun.

I wish more ball players had Stricklen's values.

Broken records, winning streaks and standings

Interesting facts out of today's Oregon-USC game, which the Ducks won, 85-77. Oregon broke their five-game losing streak by breaking USC's five-game winning streak. Taylor Lilley put up an incredible nine three-pointers for the Ducks, setting a new school record and besting her own career high, with 36 points. I couldn't be any happier with that. Oh wait, I can, when you combine it with......

UCLA's blowout win today over Oregon State means that they are now tied with USC for second place in the Pac-10.

California and Arizona State are tied for fourth, and Oregon and Washington are tied for sixth.

What a difference from last year! This is fun.

Pac-10 standings as of right now:

Stanford 9-0
USC 7-2
UCLA 7-2
California 5-4
Arizona State 5-4
Washington 4-5
Oregon 4-5
Arizona 3-6
Oregon State 1-8
Washington State 0-9

In other record-breaking news today, Stanford's defeat of Arizona is their 40th consecutive home win.

UConn's Tina Charles became the sixth player from her school to score 2000 points.

Amazing Nebraska is still undefeated after a win over Colorado.

Is it the full moon or what?

Losers, winners, helpers

The Washington Huskies beat Washington State last night, 76-70, in what you could call the race for the bottom of the Pac-10. Even though Cougar Coach June Daugherty is known for her mediocrity, I'm still a bit surprised that her team is even worse this year than last. It would be a downer for me, personally, to be winless in my conference.

At Stanford, senior center Jayne Appel is handling the pressure so others can thrive, says the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review acknowledges UConn is breaking records, but asks, "is it boring?" DUH. Make that DOUBLE DUH.

Some positive press on Rutgers: there's Brittany Ray's success and Chelsey Lee's contribution.

I've been watching Arkansas' struggle this year and wondering what's up. C'eira Ricketts is living it.

Kate Starbird is helping Haiti.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Various news

The Adelphi coach was fired Jan. 8 for verbally abusing and grabbing a player during a game. Interesting that it took this long for the news to come out. Here's something about the interim head coach.

The Long Beach paper doesn't think USC Coach Michael Cooper's "eff UCLA" incident has negatively effected him.

The ACC has announced its legends list.

And Texas, who will play Baylor Sunday, insists that freshman Brittney Griner is "just another post" to them. Yeah, right.

UCLA 104, Oregon 80

I sat behind the Oregon bench for the first half, so I could see what was going on. What I saw was a team that was all business and much more energized than the Ducks of previous years, when Bev Smith was the coach. Smith, frankly, always looked like she was depressed, and that vibe translated into an often-lackluster Oregon team.

The Paul Westhead Ducks don't scan the audience during timeouts like they did last year at Pauley - they're focused on the business at hand. They also look more sleek and athletic; it's obvious strength and conditioning is newly emphasized this year. And of course, they're faster on court and have a nice up-tempo offense and defense.

Oregon reminds me of UCLA last year - fresh under a new coach and having so much potential, but still needing some seasoning. I think they're on their way to greatness, as UCLA is.

Bruins Coach Nikki Caldwell said in her post-game interview that her team had "finally put together a 40-minute game." That was right on the money, and it's what won the game for them. They were pushing it from tipoff to final buzzer - no let up or lapse. It was an impressive display.

As UCLA players continue to develop quickly, the team grows deeper and the weapons mount. Freshman Mariah Williams is a good example. She was one of six Bruins in double figures - with 15 - and played 23 minutes. Her energy was explosive and her defense was also bomb. On one Duck possession in the second half, the 5-foot-5 Williams found herself in a height mismatch situation with Oregon forward Amanda Johnson, but successfully defended her much taller opponent. It was pure intimidation on Williams' part.

Six Ducks were also in double figures.

Oregon's Jasmin Holliday, from Southern California, had one big fan in her father last night. The tall Mr. Holliday wore a customized long-sleeved shirt with his daughter's picture, name and number on both the front and the sleeves.

The crowd size was nice for a weeknight. No celebrity sightings, though.

Box score.

Reader Patrick Meighan was kind enough to post his game report last night in the comments section of another entry. Here it is:

UCLA was nominally in control for most all of the game, though the score stayed close 'til about the, I dunno, 7-minute mark or so, at which point the Bruins pulled away.

High points included a lot of rim-filling by Doreena, a nice 15 point performance by Mariah inclusive of a couple of pretty decent dishes and a perfect four-for-four from the free throw line, Jasmine continuing to be Jasmine, and (in garbage time) a couple points for the walk-on, Jackie Shepard. Crowd went pretty wild at that one, and so did the starters, watching from the bench at that point.

Decent and loud-enough crowd, too (1200 reported), although a lot of 'em were, like, junior high students on a school outing or something. They were yelling loud for the Bruins sometimes, but they also sometimes were just kind of yelling loud, period, for no real reason. You know how that is.

More good news: the Bruins' free throw shooting was better-than-horrible! UCLA shot 18 for 23 as a team, for a not-terrible-by-UCLA-standards 78%.

Only frightening part of the night: Markel Walker took a pretty solid shot to the eye (or thereabouts) in the 2nd half and looked to be hurt real bad. She sat on the bench, covering her face, for it seemed like 10 minutes before finally letting the team doctor/trainer/whatever even look at it. Finally the doctor/trainer escorted her off to the locker room (or someplace), and it looked like she was done for the night, but she ended up coming back and getting in for the last few minutes of the game, and looked strong, to boot.

Paul Westhead holds a timeout.

Taylor Lilley scraps for the ball.

Mariah Williams sets up the play.

Doreena Campbell D's up hard.

I love this wrap-around box out by Oregon's Amanda Johnson.

Markel Walker got bopped in her sore nose in the second half and walked off the court like this, which wasn't very reassuring for worried fans. She returned to the court after about 10 minutes, though.

I can't stop singing the praises of Doreena Campbell, seen here hitting a long-range side shot at the end of the game. She does it all: she's a point guard, a shooting guard, a rebounder, a slasher, a defender. She's awesome.

Full Court national high school rankings for this week

St. Mary's of Stockton, CA is still number one, and Mater Dei still bests Brea Olinda (number two and number three, respectively). Number 4 Young of Chicago, IL comes to LA next weekend to play Mater Dei Friday and number 7 Long Beach Poly Saturday. OOO!


The difference between college scholarships

Excellent breakdown by ESPN's Mark Lewis on the difference between colleges that recruit players, and what it takes to get a scholarship:

You don't need AP calculus to do this math: An average of 112,500 seniors play girls' high school basketball each year. College teams, in contrast, have space for an average of about 5,241 freshmen each year. Who gets to play?

The correct answer is that there are not exactly enough roster spots for everyone to play college ball. And the process to get on one of those teams is competitive. However, levels of collegiate play, different scholarship guidelines and unique coaching perspectives mean that there just might be a team with a space specifically for you.

Players and their families should do a breakdown of their own and have a plan of attack for landing a scholarship.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Is she really going to play?

USC claims Jacki Gemelos is finally ready to step on the court after almost four years of waiting.

And the SEC race is challenging for the Vols this year.

The 96-75 victory Jan. 3 in UT's final non-conference game seems like months ago to Alyssia Brewer.

"It feels like we played OU in like November,'' the Tennessee forward said.

Oh, how I know what she means.

(UCLA-Oregon game report will be posted tomorrow.....)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lend a hand to Haiti at Saturday's UCLA game

From Bruins HQ:

UCLA Women's Basketball Holds Shoe Drive at Saturday's Game
Lend a Hand by Donating Shoes

The earthquake in Haiti is a reminder of just how fragile our world is, and seeing the devastation that has affected so many, we wanted to help in some way.

UCLA Women's Basketball will be hosting a shoe drive in conjunction with Sport Chalet's partnership with Soles 4 Souls who have committed to providing 1 million pairs of shoes to aid in the recovery and building process in Haiti.

Bring your new or gently worn shoes to the Bruins' women's basketball game this Saturday, January 30th at 2pm in Pauley Pavilion. All shoes collected will be sent to Soles 4 Souls for distribution to Haitian people.

For information on Sport Chalet's partnership with Soles 4 Souls, click here.

To make a monetary donation to the Red Cross, click here.

UCLA will face Oregon State Saturday.

Tomorrow, UCLA takes on Oregon. Today OregonWBB posted on twitter that the Ducks and the Beavers found themselves sharing a plane to LA. I guess feathers and fur didn't fly, because OregonWBB later posted a twitpic: the Ducks stopping at In and Out.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Rutgers, Maryland not where they want to be


This is the saddest story I've seen on Rutgers yet: an analysis of what happened to the heralded recruiting class of 2008.

There are days, even now, when Rutgers sophomore Chelsey Lee dreams of buying a plane ticket home to Miami and ditching the drain of basketball practice.

“It’s hard,” she said. “I’m serious. It’s so hard.”


Problems arose early. The players were exhausted mentally by Stringer’s expectations and physically by her marathon practices. All five expected extended playing time as freshmen, and did not receive it. Personality quirks and chemistry problems piled up, splintering the group.

Lee, Speed and Sykes all admit they considered leaving, even if they maintain that those feelings are fleeting now.

Stringer believes the group turned a corner this year. But thinking about the hype, her voice rose. Her face looked stricken.

“They ain’t worth a dime,” Stringer said. “They haven’t proven themselves. They haven’t done anything. That’s just conversation. They should have left that alone.


“I just kept giving it chance after chance,” Dixon said in a telephone interview earlier this month from Los Angeles, where she averages 14.7 points a game for the Bruins. “And I realized, ‘Okay, I’m not going to waste any more time.’ I know when something isn’t right, and I felt that wasn’t right.”


That reporter got Jasmine Dixon to say more than she ever has on the subject. And "they ain't worth a dime"? What kind of way is that to talk about your players?

As for Maryland, forget about going to the big dance. They aren't even ranked.

Monday, January 25, 2010

UMMC clinches Russian cup

Candace Parker's team beat the team of Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi for the Russian cup. Parker put up 23 points for the winning team, and Bird and Taurasi each had 24 for the losing team. Pretty impressive on all counts. You gotta love the press's not written in typical U.S. journalist style, so it's a little hard to decipher.

Remember Maura McHugh? She's a color analyst for Arizona State now.

A freshman who never got to play due to her injury has left Oregon.

And tonight, unranked Purdue beat #4 Ohio State, 63-61. It's the Buckeyes' first Big Ten loss.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

SoCal roundup

Brea Olinda defeated top-ranked Etiwanda last night, 61-47. This is the sixth victory in nine days for the Ladycats.

Also last night, Santa Monica beat Troy, 45-34, and shut down the Orange County player of the year.

This is the time of the year when I wish I could be in three places at once.

Extra: nice write-up on Swish Appeal about former Long Beach Poly Jackrabbit-turned Bruin Jasmine Dixon.

National high school round up

Another case of "I heard it the other day but didn't get around to posting it": Brea Olinda injured superstar center Justine Hartman has committed to Boston College, which she calls her "dream school."

Last weekend Mark Lewis went to Berlin, OH to check out the top prospects of the midwest. Here's his tip sheet.

Lewis also has some great advice for seniors about junior colleges.

And reigning state champs St. Mary's of Stockton survived a fierce Berkeley team last night, and Rams' star Chelsea Gray escaped injury.

One-year anniversary of Kay Yow's death

Very nice tributes today in honor of the longtime North Carolina State coach:

Links page.


Kay Yow's last recruit.

Remembering Kay Yow one year later.

Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is proper remembrance.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

WNBA's Tulsa team to keep Shock name

What comes from Detroit will keep the Shock name. Hoopism gives that a "woot," because continuity is a good thing.

Pac-10 sweeps today

UCLA defeated Washington today and USC beat Washington State, so the SoCal Pac-10 schools swept the Washington schools.

Stanford defeated Oregon today and Cal beat Oregon State in two overtimes, so the NorCal Pac-10 teams swept the Oregon schools.

Cal's Alexis Gray-Lawson had 47 points (good lord!).

Here's my homey Dave's write up on the Ducks-Cardinal game:

Final: Stanford 100, Oregon 80. The game was not the laugher that the final score might indicate. During the first half both teams occasionally looked confused in transition, and Oregon was only down four at the break. Early in the second half Oregon could never seem to get closer than five, but were still in reach down eight with eight minutes to go. However, at 5:42 remaining with the score 88 – 77, the game was effectively over. Stanford finished with a 12-3 run to make the game look lopsided.

Oregon’s defense wasn’t as bad as the 100 points makes them look. Stanford’s shooters can be deadly, and they have several players who can bury it from outside. Oregon’s only consistent long-range threat is Taylor Lilley. Both teams were difficult to penetrate against in a half-court set, and Stanford doubled Nicole Canepa every time Oregon tried to get it to her low. Shooters aside, if there is one aspect where Stanford looks scary it is that their rebounding is consistent, disciplined, and strong. Second chance points hurt Oregon.

Today was a test for Oregon against the #2 team in the country. Earlier this season, Oregon looked improved over last year even in their one-point loss to Wisconsin. Weeks later they looked more confident albeit against a weaker opponent in OSU. I’m not sure how long Coach Westhead can be expected to stay with this program, but if his reputation is able to bring better depth and talent to Oregon, they will find themselves consistently ranked.

Stanford's Nnemkadi Ogwumike had a career-high 30 points and 23 rebounds (holy crap).

Upsets tonight include Illinois Chicago handing UW-Green Bay its second consecutive loss, and Mizzou beating 12th-ranked Baylor.

And Syracuse Coach Quentin Hillsman is allright after collapsing during the game against Louisville tonight. Whew.

Long Beach Poly 62, Bellarmine-Jefferson 57

What a night at the Ayala Extravaganza.

The Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits barely escaped with their lives in tonight's premiere game, rallying to beat a tough and talented Bellarmine-Jefferson Guards team. The Guards had outplayed the defending state champs, took them out of their game and flustered them at times with their incredible hustle, penetration to the basket and great rebounding.

Poly took a small lead in the first quarter, but that didn't last long as Bell-Jeff took over the lead in the second quarter. If it wasn't point guards Rishonda Napier and Margeaux Gupilan taking it to the hole or popping a non-rim jumper, it was center Jasmine Smith putting up a layup or yanking down a rebound on the defensive end for the long pass up court. Then reserve guard Leslie Lopez-Wood came in and started dropping 3's.

Poly's defense had no response. But Bell-Jeff's defense kept Poly from scoring as much as they're used to. The Jackrabbits seemed completely flustered at times. In the fourth quarter, Poly supastah Ariyah Crook-Williams was called for a foul as she landed on the ground. She jerked up in protest and then rolled twice, angrily, before getting up.

The Guards were down 35-31 with two minutes to go in the second quarter. They went on a 6-0 run to end the half ahead 37-35. They continued their dominating, disruptive play into the third, after which they lead 51-48.

But at 5:50 in the fourth, Poly had clawed up to a 51-all tie, and the momentum of the game changed. The Jackrabbits seemed to gain strength finally, and took their defense up a notch. Still, Bell-Jeff could have won if they had sunk the six free throws they missed in the period.

I have been wanting to see the Guards play for the longest time, and I had a feeling about this game. I'm so glad I went. I'm definitely a Bell-Jeff fan now. They are small but very well-schooled in the fundamentals. They are rattled by nothing, and they can be deadly from both inside and outside the paint.

They're only going to get more scary, too: there are only two seniors on the roster. Two others are juniors. The rest are sophomores and frosh.

I got a feeling for what was up by watching Bell-Jeff (red and black gear) warm up. They were running their stuff and would randomly yell affirmative statements at each other. For example: "Let's go, ladies!", and random noise. They were getting each other pumped up. I loved it.

The Guards were boxing out like beasts. This 5-on-2 situation, or something similar, was continuous.

Point guard duties alternated between Margeaux Gupilan (above), one of only two seniors on the team, and Rishonda Napier. Both did an excellent job seeing the floor, cutting and driving.

Bell-Jeff Coach Bryan Camacho is intense. He yells like he's talking to a football team, i.e. intense voice, and often. He never stops moving, either; never sat down once. On the plays where his athletes were hesitating on the perimeter, he'd yell "Attack! Attack!" More coaches need to yell that at their teams.

The Long Beach Poly bench is long: 11 players, to go with the five on the floor.

The Bell-Jeff bench includes five suited up players and one injured player.

Poly All-Star Ariyah Crook-Williams brings the ball up the court into the Bell-Jeff swarm.

I counted six missed free throws by the Guards in the fourth quarter. Guess what would have happened if they'd made them?

What's up with Texas?

Texas is still waiting for Goestenkors' giddyup (I wondered if I was the only one who wondered about that). But Kristin Nash has improved.

Rutgers is a-foulin' this year.

And on the former-WNBA-turned-high school coach tip:

Xavier wins without Coach Jen Gillom.

Natalie Williams' kids have major offense.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Around three conferences

Just as I suspected when I saw the news of last night's game, "what’s been a tremendously fun season has stopped being that" in Duck land. I hope they can pull it together again. says Tia Jackson is on the hot seat. But people have been saying that about the University of Washington coach since she got there. The Huskies have had so many injuries that I wonder if it's fair to put her there just yet.

The best thing about this Baylor-Mizzou preview story is the picture.

Interesting analysis of the Fighting Illini, whom I thought would be doing better, too.

LA Sparks season tickets: to renew, or not to renew?

OK, I want opinions so I can make a decision.

The deadline to put down some kind of desposit on Sparks 2010 season tickets is a week from today. People on the Sparks message board say that at the (Fantourage, I assume) event Wednesday, they were told that Ticha Penicheiro will be joining the team this season. I've never cared for Penicheiro, so this doesn't do much to sway my already-leaning-towards-not-renewing self.

Cons: As I posted here, after every unnecessary loss last summer I was left so irritated. The Sparks had too many superstars and not enough supporting actresses, and couldn't put it together. I don't see much changing with the personnel yet, so this year might be another summer of frustration.

I was skeptical of the hiring of Jen Gillom as head coach, because Minnesota didn't keep her after her year as intern. Why not?

I thought that when Lisa Leslie left, I could love everyone on the team, but now Penicheiro might be there. And she ain't exactly young, either.

It's a time committment. What if I want to go to some cool club ball tourney the night of a game?

No more perks. (Though I understand that we're in a recession and the owners have to make money too)

Pros: Candace Parker. She's my favorite pro player.

Betty Lennox. She's my other favorite pro player.

The fan community at the game is really fun, and I sit in the best section at Staples Center. I can slap hands with players after every game, and mess with the ushers.

It's a great way to network.

It's (relatively) cheap entertainment.

My ticket rep told me last fall that parties for MVPs would be back this summer, which would remove most of my bitching about no perks.

Possibilities: Jen Gillom might turn out to be the perfect fit for the Sparks. As Michael Cooper wasn't a good fit for the Sparks but found his niche at USC, perhaps Gillom will vibe in LA.

Should I continue to be a season ticket holder? Tell me what you'd do if you were me.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I saw the news at lunch today about how the Pac-10 reprimanded Michael Cooper for his "eff UCLA" outburst, but I didn't feel like posting it. The whole thing is pointless - a mere save-face formality.

Former Sacramento Monarchs coach Jenny Boucek has rejoined the Seattle Storm as director of player development and scouting. Great idea.

#20 Texas upset #12 Oklahoma tonight.

Another blow for Louisville: they've lost senior Chauntise Wright, whose appeal for a fifth year was denied. She graduated in December.

RAC fans message to Epiphanny Prince: we ain't mad at ya.

#8 Georgia upset my #3 Vols. I can already hear the sound of feet running tomorrow, for hours......

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Emotion in the news tonight

University of New Orleans senior Talishia Young has suffered a career-ending knee injury. Thoughts and meditations go out to her.

Notre Dame Coach Muffet McGraw won her 600th game last night. I just wish it wasn't over Louisville.

And on that note, players from both Georgetown (two) and Louisville (one) have been suspended following a Saturday pre-game brawl.

Seimone Augustus got a lil misty talking about her upcoming jersey retirement ceremony at LSU, when she spoke with the Times-Picayune.

What is it with players leaving programs and going to Baylor? Now it's Destiny Williams, who left Illinois in November.

And on an "up" note, St. Louis University senior center Amanda Kemezys has overcome stress fractures, and learned deeper appreciation because of that.

Michael Cooper apologizes

He's sent a letter of apology to UCLA Coach Nikki Caldwell, her players and the school expressing his regrets.

That's allright with me.

I've met and talked with Cooper numerous times, which is why his statement Sunday surprised me. He's a cool guy.

We all make mistakes.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

More on Brea Olinda-Mater Dei

Both teams seems to have nerves last night, as almost two minutes went by before Mater Dei's Jessica Duarte hit the night's first field goal - a three-pointer at the 6:11 mark. Then for exactly a minute, it was a Monarch blitz, putting them up 9-0 at 5:11. Brea Coach Jeff Sink called a timeout, which he explained to the media later that he used for a pep talk. When his Ladycats came back to the floor, they started chipping away at their opponent's lead.

A Breana Buczek three-shot tied the game at 11 with about two minutes to play. A Jeanier Olukemi free throw and a Kietra Wallace bucket put Brea up 14-11 at the end of the first quarter. They never trailed in the game again after that.

The second quarter saw Brea lead by five points throughout. In the third, Mater Dei's Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Ladycat Kelsey Harris traded silky three's. But Wallace and Olukemi floored the gas and the lead climbed to 10 at the end of the period.

The Monarchs made a run to start the final quarter, and came within two at 40-42. Brea's Alexis Perry made a shot, Mosqueda-Lewis was blocked, Olukemi got a crucial put-back, Mater Dei's Thomas made a three, and it was 46-43 at 2:41. After Olukemi made a free throw at about the two-minute mark, the score didn't move again.

Much of that was due to Brea's ability to shut down Adams. The sophomore point guard was called for a charge, and then Harris stole the ball from her. Adams looked absolutely flustered at one point, caught in a trap at the top left of the key.

Afterwards, Mater Dei Coach Kevin Kiernan credited Brea's poise for their comeback and strong win. Sink said he appreciated that the Monarchs were consistently ranked above them, and said "they're better than us."

I agree with Kiernan. Brea's mental toughness in the first quarter, especially, was something to behold. It would have been easy to let the game run away from them at that point, down 9-0. But they just blinked and got it done. No sour faces, no hanging heads - from anyone, all game long.

It's something people have come to expect from Mater Dei, whose size makes them look more like a DII college team than a high school squad. But that kind of professionalism coming from a relatively thin bunch of girls who's appearance is not unlike many high school teams, is something you don't see everyday. They are also ridiculous on fundamentals; best I've seen in a long while.

Both teams get mad props for weathering the pressure and putting on a great show that befit the occasion - a benefit for a beloved coach who died last year.

But one question lingers: is Brea Mater Dei's kryptonite?

Brea coach Jeff Sink has a last but emphatic word with his team before tipoff.

Second quarter: Kelsey Harris makes a lunge for Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis as she releases.

Second quarter: Monarch Jessica Duarte is blocked.

Third quarter: Keitra Wallace prepares to attack on Jordan Adams and Mosqueda-Lewis.

Fourth quarter: Jeanier Olukemi (with ball) and Alexis Perry attack.

This is how it looks when Mater Dei brings the ball up court: Adams, with Mosqueda-Lewis in the lead.

Here's another write-up on the game.

Jennifer Gillom to leave Xavier?

The new LA Sparks coach may be leaving her gig at Xavier, says one source. I guess I'm wondering why she didn't do that before. You can't do both college and pro.

Michael Cooper says "(Bleep) UCLA"

So says the Los Angeles Daily News.

This, after he lead his coaching staff to the UCLA bench prior to Sunday's game and laid a hug on every coach. (His staff followed suit).

"Eff UCLA" goes beyond trash talking and rivalry. That's just unprofessional.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Brea pulls off the upset: 47-43

By the time this game rolled around, Mater Dei was ranked #1 in the country and Brea, #3 (up from #2 and #4 last week). And they sure played like it.

After a slow start for the Ladycats, who were down 9-0 in the first quarter, they ignited, took the lead and never lost it. Intense, well-played game by two teams that each have incredible defense and exceptional offense.

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis led the previously-unbeaten Monarchs (17-1) with 23 points. Jeanier Olukemi was the high scorer for Brea (15-2) with 17.

I'll have more photos and recap tomorrow. It's waaaay past my bed time on a school night.

During warmups: Alexyz Vaioletama, left, stands while Jordan Adams, center, runs up as Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis prepares to pass the ball to the corner.

After routine shoot-around, Brea stopped and quickly ran through a couple plays.

UCLA Coach Nikki Caldwell was in tha house.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ah, those city teams

Washington Prep fans had their say - and their win - this past Friday in a regular-season Marine League matchup with arch rival Narbonne.

The Generals, who lost to the Gauchos last weekend at the Fairfax Tournament/LA City Showcase, won 41-33 Friday at Narbonne's gym. Prep fans had been outraged by what they said was the biased refereeing towards their rivals, and were miffed at what they said was the "dirty play" of the Gauchos during the tournament.

After Narbonne took the lead in the first quarter of Friday night's game, the Generals stepped up their defense and out-scored their opponents in each of the remaining quarters. Here is the stats page, which at this moment includes none for Narbonne (the coach enters the team's stats).

The Gauchos had been roundly criticized on the board for their noisy post-game celebration after winning their semifinal game Jan. 7. They danced in a circle and shouted, "Who's house? G's house!"

During the game this past Friday, the large crowd that showed up to support Prep grew very loud at times, and broke into choruses of "Who's house? Prep's house!" as the game wound to a close.

The rivalry between the teams has been fierce for years. Narbonne won the Marine League title 12 years in a row - and swept Prep every time - until 2008. That year Prep won in the second meeting of the two teams, and they shared the league title. Last year Prep went undefeated in the league and won the title outright.

Narbonne will come to Washington Friday, Feb. 5, for what will likely be this year's deciding game.

USC 70, UCLA 63

I was so pissed at the end of today's game. Came home wondering what would be on the UCLA website and was pleasantly surprised to see that they at least acknowledged it: free throws. Freakin' free throws again. But 9-20?

I have no idea why there isn't a box score either on that side or on ESPN's page, but I'd venture to guess Jasmine Dixon was 1-8 at the charity stripe. For all the things she does extremely well, that's one thing she needs to fix, and in a hurry, because she missed a grip of free throws last Sunday, too.

One thing UCLA did wrong at the end of today's game was they stopped driving to the basket; they just kept throwing up shots, and they weren't falling. (That's one of my pet peeves in basketball). The second problem was that they eased up on the brilliant defense that had kept them going for the first three quarters of the game. Coach Nikki Caldwell has said that the Bruins are still putting together a 40-minute game. I can see the progress, but geez.....I hope they can put it together soon. They're an obviously more well-coached team than USC. There's so much potential there.

Props to Ashley Corral, who ran the point well for USC and had 17 points the last time I looked up. Freshman Christina Marinacci is going to have a brilliant career.

Here's the difference: end of the game USC stats.

End of the game UCLA stats.

Doreena Campbell inbounds the ball for the Bruins in the first half.

Ashley Corral brings the ball up court for the Trojans.

USC has some shooters.

Coach Michael Cooper usually coaches sitting down.

Coach Nikki Caldwell usually stands up to do her duties.

Assistant Coach Erv Monier does a lot of coaching himself.

Jasmine Dixon hucks up her last missed free throw shot of the game.

Jasmine Dixon, you need to make your free throws.

In other college action today, more nuttiness:

Tennessee held off the Vanderbilt surge for the win.

Oklahoma upset Texas A&M.

Michigan State lost its third in a row, to Penn State.

Game day appetizers

Today's 36-game schedule pales in comparison to the 120 games of yesterday.

Heartwarming story about Cal's Tierra Rogers and Washington State's KiKi Moore (their teams play against each other today) here. They've known each other since sixth grade.

"No compromise in Summitt's approach." This is one of the funniest pieces on in a long time:

"It's an everyday thing,'' she said. "I can't slack off at all because I know the first words that are going to come out of (Summitt's) mouth are Alyssia Brewer, not even that."

She'll more likely hear the abbreviated version of her first name. At stressful moments, the sound of "Lyceee!" brings practice to a screeching halt.


While the Lady Vols have been chastened into being more receptive, it's harder to fast-forward the comprehension. Freshman guard Kamiko Williams, who has jammed a year's worth of drama into the past five months, sent multiple text messages to Summitt on Thursday, saying that she was going to be more serious and invested in the team. Then she was late by a few minutes for the pre-game meal.

But here's the bottom line:

"I expect this team to be in San Antonio,'' she said.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ayala Extravaganza schedule set

Next Saturday, Jan. 23, the schedule is as follows:

9 a.m. - Blair vs Alta Loma

10:30 a.m. - Walnut vs Magnolia

Noon - St. Bernard's vs Vista Murietta

1:30 p.m. - Mayfair vs Rosary

3 p.m. - Cajon vs Narbonne

4:30 p.m. - Chino Hills vs Perris

6 p.m. - Ayala vs Lynwood

7:30 p.m. - Diamond Ranch vs Ventura

9 p.m. - Long Beach Poly vs Bell-Jefferson

Games will be at Ayala High School, 14255 Peyton Drive, Chino Hills, CA 91709.

A day of madness

And I thought Thursday night's upsets were good.

So many games today, first of all. And so much wildness therein.

Georgetown and Louisville got down before the get-down.

Arizona beat Oregon 119-112 in the highest-scoring game in Pac-10 history in what is being called a shootout.

Stanford had to work to beat the University of Washington.

Wisconsin Green Bay won and extended their winning streak to 35 games.

Texas outlasted Texas Tech 95-90, after two overtimes.

So here's the Pac-10 standings so far:


Stanford 5-0 15-1
UCLA 3-1 10-5
USC 3-1 9-6
Oregon 3-2 12-5
Arizona State 3-3 11-6
Arizona 3-3 9-7
Washington 3-3 8-8
California 2-3 8-8
Oregon State 1-4 9-6
Washington State 0-6 5-12

UCLA and USC tied for second, Cal in eighth, Arizona State and Arizona tied for fourth.....which I guess makes Cal seventh. And Washington State is even worse than last year?

What the hell is going on?

Next point worth mentioning: UConn, Wisconsin Green Bay and Nebraska are the only three undefeated teams left.

And speaking of UConn, I turned the game off with 14:32 left in the first half. Glad I didn't stick around to watch more, as I am bored by blowouts.

Recovering after a tech

I've seen it happen before, and I saw it again last night: a team was adversely effected when a technical foul was assessed on one of its players. One minute the game was going their way and they owned the momentum, and the next minute the tide had changed and things were flowing back out to sea.

If I live to be 100, it will never cease to make me wonder how and why human beings can be so fragile, because this has happened on the high school, college and pro levels. Sure the game was stopped and technical free throws were taken. But disruption of the game and/or play suggests that the team that committed the foul took the technical assessment personally. Whatever the case, the coach has got to step up and say something - especially on the high school level where players haven't yet learned to cope as adults. It's easy as grown folks to underestimate the impact situations like this have on young people; I've done it myself.

Just a simple, "OK, so we got a tech, but don't let that stop us from what we're about to do" could save a game from going down the drain. So coaches: say something! Don't assume players are going to be able to blow off adverse events like you can. Guide them - show them how to do it. Tell them that one mistake doesn't define them, and encourage them to keep going.

It's true not only with kids but everyone else: it's amazing how much the simple things aren't said or done. And so much pain and trouble could be saved if more people said and did those simple things.

Notre Dame-UConn showdown today

Only one team will remain undefeated after tonight's matchup at 6 p.m. PST/9 p.m. EST.

The coolest thing is that it's ESPN College GameDay's first women's broadcast. Booyah.

For high school recruits, consistency is the key

Great piece by ESPN's Mark Lewis on what college coaches are looking for in recruits: consistent performances (bold is mine):

The word is consistency. Recruiters are constantly looking for it, and finding it these days seems to be a bigger challenge than it ought to be.......

When it comes to basketball skills themselves, consistency reveals a lot about the work an athlete has put into her game. Doing it just once or twice could be a fluke. Doing it consistently is a result of hard work and repetitions.

It's a new generation, as even Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt found last year with her born-in-the-early-90s freshmen; a lot of kids don't have the work ethic that previous generations have had, for numerous reasons. So finding players that demonstrate consistency is more important today than ever before.

Stanford basketball blog

C and R are Cardinals to the core, and they've got an excellent blog to prove it.

I'm looking for more college blog links, so if you know of any great ones out there, please drop me a line.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Unbeaten Nebraska shakin' it up

I've been meaning to post something about the Cornhuskers for the longest. This story seems like a great place to start:

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -Their best player is an Alaskan with a medical history as long as a basketball court and who almost quit the sport in high school.

Their coach came up playing the antiquated six-on-six game before setting records at a midmajor and embarking on a coaching career that leaves her down the list of recognizable names in the Big 12, never mind nationally.

Yet here are the Nebraska Cornhuskers, 15-0 and living large with their highest ranking ever at No. 11.

I don't know if they're going to be able to stop the Griner express this weekend, but they've got my respect.

Stakes are high for Sunday's USC-UCLA matchup

The winner gets....third place in the Pac-10.

NCAA delays club team cap decision

ESPN story says:

The NCAA Division I legislative council this week delayed a decision on a proposal that would curb the number of players a team can bring in from other states, said Erik Christianson, NCAA director of media relations.

The proposal, which aims to limit clubs to just three players from states adjacent to their own, was amended this week to take effect on Sept. 1, 2010. The original legislation was to have gone into effect immediately.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

C. Vivian Stringer searching for answers

The pic with this story says it all.

Mid-season Wooden Award nominees

Jayne Appel 6-4 Sr. F/C Stanford Pac-10
Ashley Barlow 5-9 Sr. G Notre Dame Big East
Tina Charles 6-4 Sr. C Connecticut Big East
Alysha Clark 5-10 Sr. F Middle Tennessee Sun Belt
Cetera DeGraffenreid 5-6 Jr. G North Carolina ACC
Allyssa DeHaan 6-9 Sr. C Michigan State Big Ten
Elena Delle Donne 6-5 Fr. G/F Delaware CAA
Dawn Evans 5-7 Jr. G James Madison CAA
Kelsey Griffin 6-2 Sr. F Nebraska Big 12
Brittney Griner 6-8 Fr. C Baylor Big 12
Amber Harris 6-5 Jr. F Xavier Atlantic 10
Allison Hightower 5-10 Sr. G Louisiana State SEC
Jantel Lavender 6-4 Jr. C Ohio State Big Ten
Gabriela Marginean 6-1 Sr. F Drexel CAA
Maya Moore 6-0 Jr. F Connecticut Big East
Kayla Pedersen 6-4 Jr. F Stanford Pac-10
Brittany Ray 5-9 Sr. G Rutgers Big East
Shekinna Stricklen 6-2 So. G/F Tennessee SEC
Jasmine Thomas 5-9 Jr. G Duke ACC
Courtney Vandersloot 5-8 Jr. G Gonzaga WCC
Monica Wright 5-11 Sr. G Virginia ACC

So many good choices. Who should win?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Differing opinions on UConn-Marquette game

Looks like there's a wisty bitsy bit of disagreement between UConn Coach Geno Auriemma and Marquette Coach Terri Mitchell on the physicality of tonight's game. Auriemma says it was too physical while Mitchell says it wasn't.

I've been to games where each team had 38 fouls a piece - not combined. So I'm inclined to believe Mitchell.

SoCal star leaves Oregon State

Tayler Champion has left the Oregon State basketball program mid-way through her freshman year. Champion played for four years at Inglewood High School where, as a senior last year, she lead her team to the state runner-up title in Division 3A. The once-highly sought recruit is rumored to be transferring to a Southern California college.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A little of everything today

Clay Kallam contemplates: Jayne Appel or Tina Charles?

People sure seem to like Kellie Jolly Harper. They can't stop writing about her.

Trojans' loss is Ducks' gain in Kai Felton.

Cal women are S-T-rugglin.

And USC recruit Cassie Harberts is not only inspired by her brother, but her mother met her soon-to-be-coach 21 years ago. Weird.

Lynx to trade Sun for Whalen?

If this goes down, my only question is: why didn't they do this a long time ago?

Edit at 6:20 to add: they did it. Whalen's a Lynx. Could this be what the always-a-bridesmaid franchise needs?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Evening news

Monica Wright quietly became the University of Virginia's all-time scorer tonight, in a loss to Maryland. She passed Dawn Staley in doing so - now that's a feat.

An NCAA proposal would limit club teams' out-of-state members.

And the Georgetown Hoyas are ranked in the top 25 this week for the first time in 17 years.

$100 for courtside seats at a high school game?

Well, you can get away with that if you're Mater Dei and you're hosting Brea Olinda.

Admission (for regular folks)? $15.

Cost of seeing the number two and four-ranked teams in the U.S.? Priceless.

This link explains the cause.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Other college scores, some surprising

USC beat Cal today in a thriller, with a last-second three-point shot. Here's the Cal version of the story, and here's USC's. I didn't expect Cal to drop both games. Yikes.

Other surprises for me:

Boston College beat North Carolina State, 83-66.

Auburn defeated LSU, 64-62 in OT.

Rutgers beat Pittsburg, 52-46.

Kentucky defeated Vanderbilt, 63-53.

No surprise, but good things:

Tennessee beat Mississippi State, 75-48.

South Carolina defeated Alabama, 80-68.


Stanford escapes with their lives, aka UCLA is coming along well

Stanford 65, UCLA 61

The Bruins made a huge comeback from a 20-point first half deficit, and they played so hard and so spirited that no one seemed to mind that they didn't quite pull it off. I have to admit, I was just hoping UCLA wouldn't get their asses handed to them today. They did me one 10 times better than that.

I LOVED the fact that the Bruins never gave up. That's the key to a championship team.

Jasmine Dixon, Markel Walker and Doreena Campbell are so impressive.

The last few minutes were so exciting! The crowd was so loud! Both Friday and today, I haven't had that much fun at a college basketball game in a long time. UCLA is an entertaining team.

Can't wait for the UCLA-USC matchup next Sunday at SC!

Stanford is a well-oiled machine. Joslyn Tinkle will take over when Jayne Appel leaves. And when Chiney Ogumwike gets there, they'll be even more scary.

For the last two games, there has been great attendence. Look at this crowd! And people are into the game! It's freakin awesome.

Always the floor leader, even when posting up, Jayne Appel points to where her teammate should go.

Freshman forward Markel Walker had been impeded by the face mask Friday night, and threw up two airballs early in the first half today. Suddenly the mask came off - guess she'd had enough of it. And her game came back.

Cardinal Rosalyn Gold-Onwude (out of the picture on the right) was lethal from three-point range.

Darxia Morris throws to Jasmine Dixon in the second half.

Doreena Campbell can change direction like lightening.

Coach Nikki Caldwell at an earlier timeout. The second-to-last timeout of the game, when the crowd was screaming, she had to lean in and get right down in her five starter's faces so they could hear her.

Caldwell was chilled out in the post-game interview.

Celebrity sightings:

Long Beach Poly's Ariyah Crook-Williams.

Mater Dei's Jordan Adams and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis. (Alexyz Vaioletama was also there, but seemed to be sitting in the Stanford area.

Michael Lockwood and Lisa Leslie.

Los Angeles Sparks co-owners Kathy Goodman and Carla Christofferson have also been at the last two games. Christofferson's son Jackson, almost six months old, is a cutie.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Vicki Baugh to miss another season with the Vols

Deep sadness. This time it's the meniscus.

Fairfax Tournament/LA City Showcase final: Narbonne 57, Washington Prep 38

True, Washington Prep had seven players today to Narbonne's 13. True, Prep lost two starters from last year (transfers), including their leading scorer, and a key bench player (graduation); while Narbonne's Tailer Butler, now a junior, continues to grow into a monster. But the Gauchos also had two extras on their roster in today's championship in the two referees. I haven't seen such jacked up, one-sided officiating in a very long time.

Narbonne is a very physical, aggressive team, which is what you'd expect with a roster full of short players (the heights on maxpreps have been greatly exaggerated). But the first two calls on the Gauchos in the very beginning of the game were when players jumped in the air at a Washington player. Maybe trying to come down and take the ball away from overhead? But that served as a warning of their style of play. The refs quit calling fouls on Narbonne shortly after that.

The short Narbonne players hacked, pushed and shoved their way through the game, and the refs let them do whatever they wanted. The much less-aggressive Washington team, in the meantime, was whistled for every little thing, which put Narbonne in the bonus very quickly. The refs also called a lot of phantom crap on Prep. For example, they called Reshanda "Too Tall" Gray for travelling at least four times that I can remember, and only once was a travel.

The Gauchos have great defense, and did a good job of limiting ESPN 39th-ranked Too Tall and guard Kiana Furlow in both scoring and rebounds. They're scrappy, and they've got some very good shooters on their squad. But I can't fully respect today's win because of the way the 10 (out of 14 on the roster) played. (The only exceptions for the Gauchos were Butler and junior guard/forward Jamesha Chapman.)

I prefer games where the players run them and not the officials. Regardless of who wins, fans deserve to see a fairly-officiated game.

As I promised in the comment section of Thursday's post, I asked Too Tall if she'd like to discuss where she's considering going to college. She smiled and said she is undecided for now. So we'll have to wait.

It's blurry, but Reshanda "Too Tall" Gray is going up to the hoop like Jordan.

Narbonne has a few good shooters, which was plain in the first quarter.

The Gauchos are also good at traps. Here, Prep's Kiana Furlow tries to drive out of a trap in the second quarter.

Too Tall catches the pass in the second.

Narbonne picked up their rebounding in the fourth quarter.

My new policy is to put horrendous officials on blast. So here's Worst Ref of 2010 So Far #1.

Here's Worst Ref of 2010 So Far #2, standing next to #1. Hands down the worst high school refs I've seen in at least a year.

Narbonne had a little cheer before the game, as do many teams, but no post-game chant this time.

Cal Coach Joanne Boyle stopped by to check out the action, and presumably a player or two (seen here sharing a laugh with Washington Prep Coach Ricky Blackmon before the game).

View Park and Fairfax played for third place right before the championship. VP junior guard/forward Danielle Pruitt (#1) is such a fun player to watch. She does everything: drives, shoots, rebounds. Too bad her coach only puts up her ppg stats. I'd like to know the rest of the story.