Sunday, October 31, 2010

WNBA: stop ignoring Swoopes

Mechelle Voepel scores a half-court shot with this column about how the WNBA has ignored a basketball legend, and a cornerstone in beginning the league in the first place: "Hello, WNBA! We're talking in our loudest voice here! Consider this your official kick in the pants to reach out to Swoopes!"

The WNBA should really be ashamed of themselves. Not even acknowledging the woman is appalling.

In other pro news.........

Bless Candice Wiggins' heart, but she's brought together hip hop and basketball by presenting virtual awards via the same method that is done in her favorite sport. It only names West Coast rappers, and I think she's done a pretty good job. However, I would have put Ice Cube as co-winner for coach of the year with Dre. I like the way she stuck Jayo Felony in there - I've always liked him, and you know she had to rep San Diego. But I'd give the sportsmanship award to Young Lloyd (even though he's from the A). My vote for rookie of the year is Nipsey Hussle.

Nicky Anosike is back and recovered from her injury, but that means Taj McWilliams-Franklin is out on the Ros Casares team.

And on the college tip.........

Here's a nice report on yesterday's open practice at Cal.

Happy Halloween

Candace Parker's husband Shelden Williams had reported last week on twitter that his wife was mad at the Halloween costume he'd got for her (daughter Lailaa was going to be Foofa, from her favorite TV show). He just posted that Parker got into the costume, after some hesitation.

It's nice to start the day with a good bout of laughter.

Bonus: Tennessee's Kamiko Williams has been growing by leaps and bounds.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

LA Westchester League

Professional basketball skills trainer Sherrise Smith has run a fall league at the Westchester Recreation Center in Los Angeles since 2006. Recently I checked it out.

There are 6-8 teams comprised of players from both public and private schools. Smith said this gives players a chance to compete against schools they would not normally meet during the regular season.

Smith coaches one of the teams - Team X - that includes players who train with her.

"I have them play together in the league so they can work on the skills they have been working on in our sessions in a no-pressure environment," Smith said.

Smith, who played at UC Berkeley, was a renowned player who regularly competed with men. She founded Got Game Basketball Academy several years ago.

"In this Academy I unite former female players to instruct and mentor them in drills that increase on court skills and understanding of the game," Smith said. "I organize and direct camps/clinics for Got Game and for pro athletes such as Lisa Leslie, Candace Parker and Jessica Moore.

"The Academy offers players the ability to improve their skill on a year-round basis."

Smith also runs an elite college/pro summer league for current/former collegiate and international pros that begins in June of each year.

View Park Prep point guard Danielle Pruitt, who will play for Loyola Marymount University next year, shoots a free throw while UCLA-bound Kacy Swain (center) watches.

Swain steps out on defense.

Kendall Cooper (#55) of Saint Anthony's hustles back.

View Park (white uniforms) got out to an early lead in the Oct. 20 matchup, but Team X caught up and won it, 37-33.

Pac-10 preview: Oregon State University

This is the eighth of a 10-part series previewing the Pac-10 basketball teams

The complete dismantling of Oregon State basketball has been well-chronicled: the firing of coach LaVonda Wagner last spring after the departure of most of her players; the long search for a new coach as the hemorrhaging of athletes continued; the hiring of coach Scott Rueck, who immediately set about to rebuild a team and a program that included only two players.

The squad is 10-strong now, but the course they are set to sail is as unchartered as space. Of the 80 percent that are newcomers, four came from an open tryout. Rueck is also short one assistant coach, and is currently running with just two.

Anything could happen this season.

Senior El Sara Greer and sophomore Angela Misa were the only two Beavers who didn't jump ship from the original squad. Misa played limited minutes in her freshman season, leaving Greer the only player with significant Pac-10-level experience. Even at that it's only one year, as she played at Kirkwood Community College for her first two seasons as an undergraduate. Greer averaged 4.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game last year.

The new players are relative unknowns. Only two - freshmen guards Alexis Bostick of Bishop O'Dowd High School in San Leandro, Calif. and Classye James of Archbishop Mitty High School in Palo Alto, Calif. - have any kind of write-up on the ESPN website. Neither were ranked, either overall or at their position, and both received a scout's grade of 40.

The other two players who signed are freshman guard Alyssa Martin of Jesuit High School in Portland, Ore., and Earlysia Marchbanks, a junior guard/forward from Yakima Valley Community College.

OSU held open tryouts mid-summer for prospective players, and four came out of that endeavor. One - Sage Indendi - is familiar to Rueck, as she played for him at George Fox University in 2008-2009. She sat out last year with an injury. The other three are Alyssa Martin, a freshman guard from Corvallis High School; Jenna Dixon, a freshman guard from Jesuit High School; and Amanda Davey, a senior guard transfer from Shasta College.

Not only is experience lacking on the roster, but so is height and position. Martin is the tallest on the team at six feet. Marchbanks is the only one listed as a forward. There are no centers.

Rueck's two assistants are Mark Campbell, from the University of Hawaii, and Eric Ely, from Northwest Nazarene College. If he's smart, he'll hire a female for his third assistant.

The Beavers may underachieve this season, or they may surprise all of us with moments of brilliance. Whichever the case, I have to give some props to players and coaches alike for piloting this ship. If OSU achieves greatness one day, it'll be because of the foundation that may be in the midst of being laid right now. Time will tell.

Friday, October 29, 2010

AP poll and other tidbits

The AP pre-season poll puts UConn number one, with Baylor, Stanford, Tennessee and Xavier rounding out the top five.

Believe it or not, so far the Pac-10 is leading the recruiting race.

Teresa Weatherspoon knows how to make an entrance.

A quadriceps injury hasn't slowed down Oregon Coach Paul Westhead. Did you know he is a Shakespearean scholar?

Question and answer with Oklahoma's Whitney Hand, who sat out last year with an injury.

Rutgers has no seniors this year, but they're carrying on.

Kentucky freshman Jennifer O'Neill is having a rough start to her college career.

Two pro items:

Candice Wiggins talks about recovery from her WNBA season-ending Achilles injury, and her plans for the off-season.

Shelden Williams is no Mr. Candace Parker. Since arriving in Denver to play for the Nuggets, the man has been ballin.

Amber Gray will play immediately for Xavier

Redshirt sophomore Amber Gray Eligible to Play Immediately

NCAA Granted Gray's SLR Waiver

Oct. 29, 2010

CINCINNATI - Xavier women's basketball player redshirt sophomore Amber Gray has officially been given immediate eligibility to play this season by the NCAA. The Division I Subcommittee for Legislative Relief granted Gray's waiver on Thursday. She has been medically cleared for competition by Xavier team doctors and she will be available Nov. 6 as the Musketeers host Bellarmine in exhibition play.

"I am excited for Amber and am hopeful she will have a positive impact on our team this season," commented head coach Kevin McGuff. "More importantly, we look forward to helping her reach her potential as a player over the next three seasons."

Gray played at the University of Tennessee during the 2008-09 season, averaging 2.7 points and 1.9 rebounds in 7.6 minutes per game. She was one of the most highly-touted recruits in the class of 2008 when she came out of Lakota West High School. Gray scored 1,931 points during her prep career, was a 2008 McDonald's All-American and also earned All-America recognition from Parade Magazine, USA Today, the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, EA Sports and Slam Magazine.

She was also honored as the Cincinnati Enquirer Player of the Year in 2006 and 2007 and was an All-State pick in 2007 and 2008. Gray participated in the 2008 USA Women's U18 National Team Trials.

Gray was forced to sit out the entire 2009-10 season after she underwent shoulder surgery on July 2 to repair a torn rotator cuff but suffered complications stemming from a brain aneurysm that hemorrhaged. Once doctors discovered the issue, Gray underwent a 12-hour procedure to repair the aneurysm.

- From Xavier Media Relations

Chicago Sky name Pokey Chatman new general manager and head coach

I had a feeling this was going to happen somewhere. Looks like Chicago is the smart organization this time around.

UCI 84, Concordia 71 (exhibition)

UC Irvine hosted Concordia University (an NAIA team) in an exhibition opener for both teams last night. The game was a contrast in styles, but since both sides had many players not dressed it is hard to tell if that will be the way they play all year. UCI only dressed nine players and played eight for most of the game. I counted seven on the bench in warm ups so there will, or might be, some red shirts in the works. Sophomore Lauren Spinazze had her right arm in a sling.

UCI relied on an inside game, with either drives or post up moves. I don't think they hit more than two or three outside shots all game. Concordia, on the other hand, had an outside game, making about 10 three-point baskets. Concordia did make some inside shots and some fast break points, but it seemed they really enjoy moving the ball around for the outside shot.

The Anteaters led most of the game, including 45-39 at the half. In the second half they opened up a 10-point lead, and the Concordia hit some threes and two-point baskets and fouls to take a 65-64 lead with 8:27 left in the game. Concordia went cold after that and didn't score another basket until there was about a minute left in the game, and by then they were down by nine points.

Leading scorers for Concordia were senior guard Patrice Hunter, with 18 points, and Nicole Fu, also a senior guard, with 13 points. UCI had five players with more than 10 points, led by senior guard Jade Smith-Williams, with 16 points, and junior forward Kiara Belen, with 18 points. Mikah Malay-Karros added 15 points and had several drives to the basket. She definetely is the leader for the Anteaters.

My guess on the crowd was 250-300 faithful.

- IM in OC

UCI warmups before the game

Malay Karros hitting her free throw

Concordia inbounding the ball with four seconds on the shot clock (and they made the shot)

Stories and pictures by IM in OC

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thursday afternoon news

Louisville Coach Jeff Walz and his returning players are energized by the University's new arena, and seven newcomers.

Pat Summitt's comments about UConn last week have pissed off Husky fans. (Caution - Mechelle Voepel is in long-winded mode again for this one)

Pac-10 news:

The Pac-10 will combine the women's and men's tournaments at Staples Center in Los Angeles this year.

Dymond Simon, who sat out last year with an injury, is back for Arizona State University.

High school:

The dust hasn't even settled on the class of 2011 and ESPN has its Super 60 list for 2012. Breanna Stewart of New York is number one.

Former Seattle Storm forward and current commentator Adia Barnes is the new Director of Player and Coach Development at Seattle Academy.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lists and things

ESPN put a "consensus" list together of the top 100 of the class of 2011. I still think the Bluestar list is on crack.

Thecollegeinsider has completed its pre-season rankings of the top 25 mid-majors.

Alana Beard talks about Mystics business, and her internship.

Pac-10 preview: the University of Washington

This is the seventh of a 10-part series previewing the Pac-10 basketball teams

by Daniel Uribe

Despite recent travails during her tenure at Washington, Coach Tia Jackson has never wavered in her optimism and work ethic as she continues to look for improvement in her team.

Despite the rough and tumble start to her career, Jackson guided her team to a sixth-place finish in the Pac-10 last year (13-18 overall, 7-11), and hopes to continue the upward trajectory in her fourth year as the Huskies head coach. And in trying to improve that record, Jackson will look to three returning starters to help lead the way - Kristi Kingma, Sarah Morton and Regina Rogers.

First and foremost, the Huskies will be without Sami Whitcomb, who is now the video coordinator for the team. She was the undoubted leader, as well as leading the team in scoring and rebounding. However, the coach believes that Sarah Morton, the team’s lone senior, will step in to fill that leadership void. Morton was solid (5.7 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.5 apg) if not spectacular, and there have been questions about her slight frame. According to Jackson, Morton has added size to her physique, and will be the primary ball handler for the team. But depth at the point guard position will be a concern, especially since the team also lost guards Sara Mosiman and Christina Rozier to graduation.

Junior guard Kristi Kingma (9.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.0 apg) will be looked upon to assist with ball-handling duties, as well as upping her offensive output, which has proven to be inconsistent despite having some brilliant offensive games last season.

Because of the lack of depth at guard, freshman Mercedes Wetmore may be the player called upon to help provide some valuable time off the bench at the point guard position. Jackson is high on the 5-foot-7 guard out of Lake Tapps, Wash. and Auburn-Riverside HS.

Despite losing a lot of experience at guard, Washington will have strength in the post returning starters Rogers, Mackenzie Argens and key contributor Mollie Williams.

Rogers (8.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg) - a redshirt junior - lost about 15 pounds during the off-season. However, some wonder if that will be enough. Despite dominating in the low-block last season she did struggle in keeping up with the offense, although she did improve as the season progressed and her conditioning improved. Rogers must be the primary option in the low-block if the Huskies are to stand a chance of moving up in the conference standings.

Argens, also a redshirt junior, did start all 31 of the team’s games last season and has served as the team’s starting center on six occasions, including the team’s final four game. Her speed at the center position will provide the Huskies another look for teams to combat and her points and rebounding (6.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg last year) are expected to go up, especially after the graduation of Laura McLellan.

Mollie Williams may be a big key for Jackson in her team’s campaign to improve. The 6-foot-2 junior forward out of Cerritos, Calif. has the ability to break out and dominate as she did during the Huskies campaign in Florida last year. Despite only averaging 4.8 ppg and 3.8 rpg, William did have offensive and rebounding outputs in the double digits and more is expected from her, especially in helping in the paint with rebounding.

Another player who Jackson is high on is freshman forward Marjorie Heard. The 6-foot-1 player out of Snohomish, Wash. has been described as the Jon Brockman of the team -- an undersized post who is extremely physical and will bang with any player in the paint. She will be expected to also contribute valuable minutes off the bench.

Other returning players for the team are: sophomore guard/forward Jeneva Anderson; junior guard Charmaine Barlow; and redshirt freshman guard Amanda Johnson.

New players include: Ashley Moore, a 5-foot-10 freshman guard/forward from Vallejo, Calif.; and Kassia Fortier, a 5-foot-8 freshman guard from Issaquah, Wash.

On an unfortunate note, forward Liz Lay was forced to retire after being unable to gain medical clearance for injuries to her right knee. The 6-foot-1 forward out of Oklahoma City will retain her scholarship and will continue working towards her degree.

Washington will open its season at home versus Portland State on Nov. 14.

Daniel Uribe is an LA native and a freelance writer

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Timeouts and recruits

I know a lil something about the stress University of Utah Coach Elaine Elliott has seen as head coach. She's taking a break this year, becoming "the old her" again, and contemplating whether or not to return next season.

Round two of ESPN's top 100 of 2011 compilations: Blue Star Basketball's list. Not nearly as accurate a list as All-Star's, which ran yesterday.

One player blogs about her recruiting experience.

Portland State Coach "is the list"

This one gets its own post: Portland State Coach Sherri Murrell is the only openly gay Division I women's basketball coach, out of 335.

It’s certainly no secret. Murrell’s PSU bio ends with the line, Murrell and her partner, Rena Shuman, welcomed twins Halle Jane and Rylan Patrick into their family on February 24, 2009. In Portland, two lesbian moms are about as novel as a food cart, and you might think the same would be true in women’s college basketball. But here’s the undeniable reality: There are 335 Division I women’s basketball head coaches, both male and female. When Murrell identified herself as gay in her official bio, she joined, well, exactly no one on the list of D-I coaches who had previously come out. Murrell was the list. Murrell is the list.

“It is kind of comical,” says the 43-year-old, a Redmond native. “Even my straight friends, they just laugh with me about it—like, ‘What’s the big deal?’ Because there’s a lot of lesbian coaches in this business.”

Which is exactly why it’s a big deal. Even as the country fitfully accepts gay marriage, certain pockets of the sports world are like throwbacks to the segregated ’60s, and not just in men’s locker rooms. Exhibits A, B, and C: The 2009 documentary Training Rules exposes homophobic former Penn State women’s hoops coach Rene Portland, who maintained a policy of “no drinking, no drugs, no lesbians.” Last season the Washington Mystics of the WNBA got rid of its “kiss cam” to avoid showing same-sex lip-locks. And in Louisville, Kentucky, there’s a club team of Division I–bound girls whose coach attempts to steer his players away from “the lesbian and homosexual lifestyle which is so prevalent in woman’s/girl’s athletics.”

Now that's some bravery.

NCAA Round 1 and 2 sites selected for 2012

Check it:

Site Host(s)
Hilton Coliseum Iowa State University
Ames, Iowa

Pete Maravich Assembly Center Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Stroh Center Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, Ohio

Arena at Harbor Yard Fairfield University
Bridgeport, Connecticut

Carmichael Arena University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Allstate Arena DePaul University
Chicago, Illinois

Comcast Center University of Maryland, College Park
College Park, Maryland

Reed Arena Texas A&M University, College Station
College Station, Texas

Jack Stephens Center University of Arkansas, Little Rock
Little Rock, Arkansas

Memorial Gymnasium Vanderbilt University
Nashville, Tennessee

Ted Constant Center Old Dominion University
Norfolk, Virginia

Lloyd Noble Center University of Oklahoma
Norman, Oklahoma

Joyce Center University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Indiana

McCarthey Athletic Center Gonzaga University
Spokane, Washington

Tucker Center Florida State University
Tallahassee, Florida

Mackey Arena Purdue University
West Lafayette, Indiana

Not a damn thing near me, though. That sucks.

The NCAA is still discussing expanding the women's tournament.

A study has found that some scholarship athletes still pay for their education.

Renewable scholarships are being criticized.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Signing day is coming

Signing day - Nov. 10 - is almost here. ESPN will run the 'top 100 of 2011' rankings of three sources this week, starting with today's installment by All-Star Girls Report.

Pac-10 tip:

ASU Coach Charli Turner Thorne is blogging now.

Stanford has been picked to finish first in the conference in a coaches poll. *Yawn*

Other college news:

The Lady Vols have two scholarships left to give this year, and three prospects.

Florida State already had their first exhibition game, and they whumped Alabama-Huntsville 122-58.

Pro stuff:

Hoops for Hope is back in Kansas this year, with even more celebrity hoopers.

One of the best leagues in Europe - the Israeli League - is set to strike. Jeez.

The LA Sparks are finally doing something in the community again - the "Run for Her" to support ovarian cancer research and awareness.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

UCLA dinner with the team

UCLA season ticket holders were treated to dinner at the amazing home of some Bruin supporters this afternoon. It gave the 50-60 of us a chance to talk with players and staff, other fans, and hear from all the coaches.

I loved learning what each player's major is, and getting to talk briefly with most of them. I'm not exaggerating when I say I like everyone on the team. What a nice group of young women. The cute award went to junior Rebekah Gardner and her sister, freshmen Rhema Gardner, who shared the same chair at the table and giggled and laughed. They look like sisters.

Coach Nikki Caldwell addressed the group and related tales, techniques and focuses in practice. I can't give away any secrets, but I was very impressed. One thing I can mention is that Caldwell talked about how hard the team has worked since last spring.

"We will make you proud," she promised.

Caldwell is quite a motivator. I'm even more excited for the start of the season than I was before. She and her coaching staff and team have some big goals, they work hard, and they believe. That's a winning combination.

There were also some funny tales related, and the coaches and team each have a long sense of humor - also a good sign.

Things I didn't know about assistant coaches Tasha Butts, Tony Perotti and Stacie Terry: Butts was trying out for the Atlanta Dream when she got her present job; Perotti had practically rented his moving truck before he got off the phone with Caldwell and is thrilled to be at UCLA; Terry has been coaching for 12 years.

Can't wait to see these women play ball.

Assistant coach Tasha Butts (standing) talks with (left to right) forward Jasmine Dixon, guard Jackie Shepard, assistant coach Stacie Terry, forward Nina Earl, guard Rebekah Gardner, and guard/forward Rhema Gardner (a freshman, and Rebekah's sister).

Head Coach Nikki Caldwell (standing) talks to the Gardner sisters, freshman forward/center Corrine Costa, freshman guard Thea Lemberger, and guard Mariah Williams.

Markel Walker, with Shepard and Terry, is a crackup. She's excited about not being a freshman anymore, too.

Caldwell talks to the season ticket holders in attendance. Her passion for her team came through loud and clear. I am three times as excited about the start of the season than I was before.

Caldwell listens to assistant coach Tony Perotti introduce himself.

Salute to Troy

USC had a "meet the team" even for season ticket holders today, and IM in OC went. Here is his report:

USC held their "Salute To Troy" basketball lunch at Galen Center today. This event featured both the women's and men's teams, and was held at the practice facility inside the arena.

The facility has three full courts - one of which was available for both kids and adults to shoot. The other two courts were set up with tables for the buffet lunch that was served. They also had some souvenir giveaways, and the Trojan store had a table set up for shirts, hats and other items for purchase. I am guessing there were over 400 people there.

Players from both teams mingled with fans, signed autographs and posed for pictures. New Athletic Director Pat Haden spoke, and everyone seemed to think he was a breath of fresh air and very positive person. He also had a funny side, joking with several former older Trojans including former Laker coach Bill Sharman.

Members of the Trojan Band were on hand and played Fight On.

Both teams were brought up on a stage, separately, and each player introduced themselves to the crowd. After that, women's coach Michael Cooper asked for his three captains - Ashley Corral, Kari LaPlante, and Briana Gilbreath - to remain on the stage along with sophomore Chistina Marinacci and Freshman Cassie Harberts. They answered questions from one of the Trojans radio/tv announcers. I am not sure if Cooper was indicating that those five are his starters or he just wanted a mix from all classes.

I spoke to Stefanie Gilbreath, and she is ready and eager to play after being injured for so long. Michelle Jenkins is hoping for a late December or early January return from her ACL rehab. All of the other girls seem to look healthy; at least no braces or casts were visible. I was able to chat with assistant coach Laura Beeman, who is very upbeat about the upcoming season. She is also very happy to be at USC.

The team takes the stage. From left to right: C. Marinacci, M. Jenkins, M. Franco, J. Smith, V. Tagalicod, L. White, T. Southall, B. Gilbreath, C. Harberts, S. Gilbreath, K. LaPlante, A. Corral, J. Gemelos, and Coach M. Cooper. Missing was L. Brown a freshman PG. She had a class event conflict and did not attend the event.

Fans line up to shoot at the foul line.

Members of the Trojan band play for attendees.

Fans fill up the tables.

Pictures on the wall of the practice facility, including former Trojan Lisa Leslie (left).

- Report and pictures all by IM in OC

Open practice weekend, and other items

It seems that it's open practice for numerous colleges around the country this weekend. I'm still waiting for stories/articles and Facebook pages to be posted. The Oregon Ducks have the first "practice day report" that I know of right now.

The '07 and '08 championship-winning Lady Vols were honored at a Tennessee football game last month, after which they had dinner with the current Vols. The youngins got a lot out of it, and are still thinking about that evening:

Memories of the dinner and an evening of conversation linger for Johnson, along with a specific feeling.

"They're 10 times more confident than we were and so building off their confidence we gained a lot,'' she said. "If they're confident about it, we should be just as confident, if not more. If they didn't think we can do it, they wouldn't tell us that we can."

I've said it so many times - it's all about self-belief.

Tough injury tales:

LSU's Andrea Kelly is "the toughest-luck kid" Coach Van Chancellor says he has ever coached.

Khadijah Rushdan of Rutgers has had a similarly long road back from injury.


Ashley Robinson is adjusting to playing in Australia's WNBL.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pac-10 preview: the University of California, Los Angeles

This is the sixth of a 10-part series previewing the Pac-10 basketball teams

In 2008, fresh off of a National Championship, Nikki Caldwell left Tennessee to take over a beleaguered UCLA program. Despite producing some WNBA players over the years, the Bruins had a mortgage at the bottom of the Pac-10, with seemingly no hope of climbing out. But Caldwell changed all that.

With a "new sherriff in town" approach, Caldwell came in and laid out structure: discipline, a focus on defense and hard work. One player didn't make it, and was kicked off the team by the end of the year for "not following team rules." The rest of the squad began appearing in Southern California newspapers, all saying the same thing: their new coach was very tough, but was a good listener, too.

Former center Moniquee Alexander told an East LA County newspaper that she talked to Caldwell about her mother's death from breast cancer. Guard Darxia Morris was suspended temporarily that first season for violating team rules, but remains close to Caldwell. By December of 2008, the new head coach had her first transfer, as LA native Jasmine Dixon opted to leave Rutgers and become a Bruin. After the Pac-10 Tournament this past spring, Dixon said she also finds Caldwell extremely personable.

"You can talk to Coach and she'll listen," Dixon said. "You won't always agree, but she'll hear what you have to say."

That's probably the personal side answer to how/why did Caldwell guide the Bruins to second in the Pac-10 and into the second round of the NCAA Tournament in her second season, as well as being named Pac-10 Coach of the Year. The business-side answer is that Caldwell is very much like her mentor, Pat Summitt of Tennessee.

If Caldwell isn't pleased with how her team is playing, she calls a timeout and meets them halfway on the court, eyes flashing. I sit close enough to the bench that I can hear exactly what she's yelling at them, and I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end.

On the other hand, if the Bruins are doing well, Caldwell is just as quick to give a player a high-five or say "good job!" She seems to embody the right balance of firm and loving. And just about every player on a team she didn't even recruit has become noticeably better under her tutelage. I'm looking forward to seeing what this team can do in the future - especially next year when Kacy Swain and Justine Hartman get there.

Caldwell was kind enough to answer a few questions for me:

SF: Who do you expect to be the biggest impact players?

NC: Jasmine Dixon represents toughness and brings a competitive spirit to the team. Last season, she immediately fit into our system and she fit into her role. She made us better as a team and made the players around her better. Dixon also became a player we could count on, a go-to player, not only offensively, but defensively with her post defense and her ability to rebound the basketball.

When I look at our backcourt I see two young ladies (senior guards Doreena Campbell and Darxis Morris) who have withstood the test of time since I have been here. They have led this team in every facet -- to our running game, to bringing pressure which allows us to extend our defense. They also give us an offensive threat for the three and for penetration. The versatility really complements each other.

Markel (Walker) played big for us in a number of games last season. She has the ability to play any position on the court, offensively and defensively. She excels in passing the basketball which I think is one of the lost arts in the game. She knows she can give others great looks and get her own looks as well.

SF: What do you attribute to the quick rise of the Bruins the last two years?

NC: First I was able to put together an unbelievable coaching staff. We were able to give the team a clear direction for the program through a lot of team building. We also had to establish a foundation of in the practice plan, trust in the plan for player development, trust in a new system and new people and so order to reap the benefits. There was talent here when we arrived as a staff and everyone worked extremely hard and was focused on learning the new system.

SF: How do the freshmen - Corinne Costa, Thea Lemberger and Rhema Gardner - look so far?

NC: Costa...I expect her to give us what Moniquee Alexander gave us last season. She gives us size and a presence in the paint. We are teaching her the game and the system and she will give us some valuable, valuable minutes.

Lemberger...She has the ability to knock down the three. She's a smart and heady player who will stand in there and sacrifice her body. She has the competitive drive to will her team to success.

Gardner...She is 6-1, long and lanky, and brings some toughness with her. She can handle the 2-3-4 spots and offers the versatility to play a bigger lineup with quickness.

SF: What are your goals/strategies for this year?

NC: We try to make the non-conference schedule as competitive as we can nationally. We start with a San Diego State team which made a run to the Sweet 16, go to play at Notre Dame, and bring LSU and Temple to Pauley. We like to position ourselves to be seen nationally, representing the Pac-10 in a national way. When we play teams that have gone deep in the Tournament year in and year out, we only help ourselves come conference play. We need to get more teams from the Pac-10 into the Tournament and this helps to prepare our team to do its part.

A little Tennessee, a little Brittney

Pat Summitt put Connecticut and "recruiting violations" in the same sentence this week.

NC State Coach Kellie Harper is wary of "the sophomore slump" in coaching as she heads into her second year.

Brittney Griner has Baylor at center stage. (And this is surprising to anyone??)

ESPN breaks down which conferences have the lead in recruiting so far.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A quick hit before I split

The University of Oregon's practice courts are in.

IUPUI is paying for another coach to leave the program.

Tamika Raymond is fighing for India.

Pac-10 preview: the University of Arizona

This is the fifth of a 10-part series previewing the Pac-10 basketball teams

by Daniel Uribe

Arizona as a program has been through some turbulent times in the past several seasons, but under third-year Head Coach Niya Butts, the team hopes to return to the prominence it once enjoyed in the Pac-10.

Despite inheriting a thin roster, Butts has guided the Wildcats to steady improvement while at the same time building a team. After finishing 14-17 last year (6-12 Pac-10), Butts hopes that a combination of veteran players and a solid recruiting class will help the Wildcats continue to ascend in the conference standings.

Foremost among the veterans is senior forward Ify Ibekwe. The all Pac-10 performer, both on the second and defensive team, was the only player to average a double-double in the conference last season (14 ppg, 11.4 rpg) and will be looked upon to dominate opponents as well as lead the team.

Last year, freshman Davellyn White served notice that she would be a force in the Pac-10 for years to come after scoring 27 points in her first collegiate game against Iona. She would later set a school-record in scoring 39 points versus Oregon. White was named Pac-10 freshman of the year, and led the team in scoring 15.7 ppg (4.3 rpg, 2.5 apg). Along with Ibekwe, White will be expected to provide a potent inside-outside punch.

If Arizona is to increase their wins, however, the rest of the team will need to step up - especially returning starters Reiko Thomas and Soana Lucet. Junior guard Thomas (7.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg) has shown flashes of brilliance and can be a potent threat from the three-point line. She needs to provide offense and to keep defenses honest as they double teammate White and Ibekwe.

Senior forward Lucet came in last year as a transfer from the College of Southern Idaho, and provided an immediate post presence for the Wildcats. The player from New Caledonia averaged 12.9 ppg and 6.7 rpg. Despite only being 6-1, Lucet has performed solidly at center for Arizona, but the question is how will she fare defensively against the best post players in the conference?

Also returning is Brooke Jackson, the junior guard from Mesa Community College She was a solid addition for Arizona, starting in 20 games and averaging 7.9 ppg and 3.2 rpg. Also returning is junior guard Tasha Dickey (1.9 ppg) and senior forward Amanda Pierson (1.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg).

A big question for Arizona will be at the point. Despite only losing one player to graduation last year, that person was the teams point guard, Ashley Frazier. Fortunately for Butts, she has Arkansas transfer Shanita Arnold. The junior guard, who sat out last year due to transfer rules, averaged 5.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg and 2.2 apg during her sophomore year at Arkansas, and more will be expected of her as she moves into the point guard role for the 'Cats.

New players include Taylor Dalrymple, a 6-1 forward from Gulf Coast Community College, and freshmen Erica Barnes and Candice Warthen. Dalrymple will be expected to contribute immediately after coming off a season where her team set a 32-1 record and captured the National Junior College crown. She averaged 6.7 ppg and 6.2 rpg while shooting 45.6 percent during her last season at Gulf Coast.

The 6-2 forward Barnes - out of Sacramento, CA - averaged 14.9 ppg and 10.3 rpg during high school. Warthen, a 5-5 guard, led the state of Georgia in scoring, averaging 28.5 ppg. She also averaged 7.3 rpg, 7.2 steals per game and 3.9 apg.

Arizona will open its season on Nov. 12 at Wichita State.

Daniel Uribe is a Los Angeles native and a freelance writer

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pac North and South

Here's a radical look at what the Pac-10 will look like when it becomes the Pac-12: there will be a Northern and Southern Division that will split the California schools.


More media days

Now it's Big East Media Day. (How many more are there?) To no one's surprise, Connecticut is picked to win the conference title.

Sun Belt Conference Media Day one recap.

Didn't I say this already? Progress at Texas has been slow under Gail Goestenkors. But she's getting a radio show this season anyway.

Louisiana Tech is building on their success from last season.

Media whores took Pat Summitt's comments about breaking the rules out of context.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Big 12 Media Day and more

Fanhouse ranks the 2010-2011 players by position.

Big 12 Media Day notes and quotes.

Baylor Coach Kim Mulkey talks about Brittney Griner, the newcomers and more.

Griner and Texas Tech's Jordan Barncastle haven't spoken since Griner punched Barncastle in a game last March. (And why should they?)

The Maryland Terps remind me of Louisville: will they ever get back on top? But check out the item at the bottom of this piece: Brenda Frese's son has leukemia. Thoughts go out to the family.

Florida's April Carson is ESPN Rise's athlete of the day. I'm kind of concerned, though, because April doesn't seem to know the date she committed to North Carolina.

Pac-10 preview: the University of California, Berkeley

This is the fourth of a 10-part series previewing the Pac-10 basketball teams

The Cal Bears certainly were over-achievers last year. No one expected them to do much with almost an entirely new team that included six freshmen - especially after one (Tierra Rogers) was found to have a heart condition that ended her playing career before it had even begun at Cal.

But the Bears hung in there, grew, and ended up 24-13 overall and fourth in the Pac-10. While it wasn't good enough for an NCAA bid, it was fine for the WNIT, and Cal ended up winning the championship.

What they lost in the graduation of Alexis Gray-Lawson was not only their high scorer at 17.8 points per game, but their team leader. Now it seems that title, among the four sophomore returning starters, is up for grabs. If one or two players step up to fill it, the Bears will probably return to their winning ways.

If a team leader is decided on scoring, then the new title belongs to sophomore DeNesha Stallworth. The Northern California native averaged 12.9 points per game last year with a ferocious consistency that included a 30-point explosion at USC on Jan. 10.

A case could also be made for sophomore Layshia Clarendon, who put up 8.9 points per game and was the fourth-leading rebounder on the team, despite being 5-foot-9. She is used to carrying teams on her back from her high school days at Cajon, where she consistently guided her team into the state playoffs.

Other candidates are sophomores Gennifer Brandon (7.2 ppg, 8.5 rpg) and Talia Caldwell (5.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg).

Or maybe it will be one of Cal's super freshman class who will step up. Afure Jamerigbe of Stockton, Calif., was ranked 15th in the 2010 class; Lindsay Sherbert of Temecula, Calif, was ranked 29th; and guard Mikayla Lyles of Plesanton, Calif. was ranked 45th at her position.

The bench is loaded, and with a team full of underclasswomen, the field is wide open.

Then again, maybe the Bears' lone OG - Senior Rama N'diaye - will take the leadership spot. N'diaye, who was out last season with an injury, was always a Cal fan favorite, and the newcomers could truly benefit from her experience and wisdom.

I wish I could have made this preview more in-depth, but neither Coach Joanne Boyle nor one of her assistants would respond to my emails asking these questions:

- Did anyone (especially among the frosh) surprise you last year?
- What are the best things about each of the four newcomers?
- What maturity have you seen in the team from last year, when so many freshmen were on the squad?
- What are your goals and strategies for the year?

If anyone knows the answers to these questions, please post them. This rising Cal team intrigues me, as does the possibility of a Stanford-UCLA-USC-Cal-Oregon log jam at the top of the Pac-10 within a few years. I think this conference is on the edge of going to the next level.

Cal media guide, including cool pictures.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

College, college, college

ESPN has unveiled its 2010-2011 NCAA basketball schedule. Looks better every year.

Clair Watkins is having a tough time getting her college career started. The Vanderbilt freshman, who had her scholarship offer rescinded by Duke last year, has sustained a season-ending knee injury. Hang in there, kid, and never give up.

No surprises here: the media has picked Tennessee to win the SEC title this year, and Fresno State to win the WAC.

Meet the Oregon Ducks this week. This whole open college practice thing is becoming a trend, and I like it.

A month after UNCW guard Julia Finlay suffered harsh punishment at the hands of an assistant coach in practice, she has left the team. She will stay at the University to finish her degree, however.

Michigan news: the team is still smarting over missing the NCAA tournament last year. But they've lost their star point guard, so getting in this year might be an uphill battle.

Different story in Syracuse: despite losing their top player, new Coach Quentin Hillsman is optimistic about this season, saying the Big Orange has reloaded. They had their media day yesterday. (Does the attitude of the coach make a difference to a team? You better believe it)

Bonus 1: A little California basketball news.....the CIF Southern Section championships will be in Anaheim next year. I don't like that - too far away.

Bonus 2: Seattle Storm championship season exit interview.

That's some good links! I'm all excited now.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Good stuff today


The "sound of silence" at Lady Vols practice probably won't last long, if I know Pat Summitt. Also, freshman Meighan Simmons can play some freakin D.

Sportspagemagazine has picked their top 25 of the year. Connecticut, Baylor, Stanford, Tennessee and Xavier are the first five.


Ben York has an outstanding piece on Candace Parker: she transcends 'the female Jordan' label.

The Los Angeles Sparks are seeking a new communications manager.

One for the OG's: San Diego State players hosted a clinic last week for the Senior Women's Basketball Association. Love it.

Happy birthday, Brittney Griner. She's 20 today.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pac-10 preview: the University of Oregon

This is the third of a 10-part series previewing the Pac-10 basketball teams

When Paul Westhead took over the University of Oregon basketball program in 2009, he set it on fire. So excited were the Ducks at the energy and direction of their new coach that they went on a winning streak during pre-season, which included a 117-69 thrashing of Cal State Fullerton. Going into league play, they were 9-3.

But Oregon had trouble keeping that momentum, and sputtered a bit in Pac-10 play. They went 7-11 and ended up in a tie for sixth place. Then they lasted three rounds in the WNIT Tournament before losing to eventual champion Cal. After their Pac-10 Tournament appearance in March, guards Taylor Lilley and Nia Jackson accompanied Westhead to the press room, and talked about how their playing lives had changed. This is from a story I wrote on the game and press conference:

Jackson and Lilley, who spoke after the game, are probably the players who seem to have improved the most under Westhead. Lilley, a senior, didn't make any all- Pac-10 Tournament last year, but seems destined to make one this weekend. Jackson has played all season with a passion that Oregon fans haven't seen before. She acknowledged that her game has "changed a lot" in playing for her new coach.

"He has given me a lot of confidence," Jackson said of Westhead. "He's given a lot of confidence to the entire team."

The Ducks were indeed a fired-up team last year, and from the sounds of practice reports this fall, they are just as enthusiastic now. Westhead reportedly has a number of exclamations and sayings in practice that inspire players on, like "Bango!" He is a motivator, no doubt, and his team loves him.

The question is, will this enthusiasm translate into a winning program?

Highly likely. And this season will give us the answer.

On the one hand the loss of Lilley - who played for the WNBA Phoenix Mercury last summer - and Micaela Cocks, is huge. Both were starters, and they were the first- and second-leading scorers, respectively.

But the inspired Jackson, and Amanda Johnson, weren't far behind; each averaged double-digit scoring. Nicole Canepa and Victoria Kenyon followed with 8.8 and 7.1 point per game, respectively.

Oregon also has four solid freshman: forward/guard Deanna Weaver of Santa Clara, Calif.; forward Danielle Love of Everett, Wash.; guard Ariel Thomas of Sacramento, Calif.; and forward Chynna Miley of Atlanta, Geo.

The Ducks have seven players over six-feet tall, and another four are 5-foot-10 and above. They are also beginning the season injury-free. And for possible further inspiration the new McKnight Arena, which features the second-largest scoreboard in the NCAA, will open prior to the season.

The whole thing - minus the arena - reminds me of where UCLA Coach Nikki Caldwell was with her team at the end of her first season at the helm. Which I guess means Oregon will be going to the Big Dance next year?

We'll see.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

October is half over

The Oakland Tribune has quick but good previews of the major Bay Area college teams.

Sylvia Fowles takes timeout to talk about the Sky's 2010 season.

Former WNBA All-Star and Olympian Ruthie Bolton is visiting schools as part of her "Tour of Hope."

The college committments continue, including one for UCLA this past Monday. What's up with all the Santa Monica recruits? Ugh.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A few near-midnight bits

Most of the class of 2011 have chosen a school by now. But a few of the top recruits have not - they want to take all their visits. Of course, I'm wondering which school #22 Reshanda Gray will pick......

This is crazy cool: Maya Moore walked in on the men's basketball practice at UConn last week, and when team members saw her, they stopped what they were doing to applaud her recent accomplishment in Europe as part of USA Basketball.

Seattle Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel has been named one of Washington's most influential women.

The fund named for former North Carolina State Coach Kay Yow has changed names, and locations.

The Pac-10 will participate in the Super Six Series.

Nebraska's Connie Yori got a head start working with her team this season.

San Diego State's Sweet 16 appearance was good for the Mountain West Conference, a Wyoming newspaper says. The Aztecs' media day was yesterday.

Alana Beard is interning at Jamba Juice in San Francisco.

Candace Parker has updated her website, and it's the bomb.

ESPNW has made the New York Times.

Pac-10 preview: Washington State University

This is the second of a 10-part series previewing the Pac-10 basketball teams

When former University of Washington coach June Daugherty took over at Washington State University in 2007, many felt that this would prove once and for all whether or not she could coach. So far, that answer seems to be no.

Daugherty, who had a 191-139 overall record in 11 seasons with the Huskies, is 24-66 going into her fourth year in Pullman. The Cougars were a dismal 5-25 three years ago, 11-19 in 2008-2009, and dropped to 8-22 last year. What's more, they don't look to be getting out of the Pac-10 basement anytime soon.

Sure they've still got junior April Cook, who was last year's leading scorer with 14 points per game, and junior Jazmine Perkins, who's scoring average was 10.9. But freshman point guard Kiki Moore - a starter who averaged 12 per game - left the team and is now with Fresno State. Four players are injured and redshirting this year: Katie Madison, Ireti Amojo, Katie Grad and Jessica Oestreicher. One of the three freshmen - Sage Romberg - was ranked 87th in the 2010 class. The other two, Hana Potter and Brandi Thomas, were unranked.

On the bright side, WSU's junior college transfer, Rosetta Adzasu is a well-regarded player. The 5-foot-5 point guard played at Yakima Valley Community College, which won the Eastern Region championship in their junior college division both years she was there.

Another upside for the Cougars is they're returning four starters this season: Cook, Perkins, Rosie Tarnowski and Carly Noyes. Perkins and Tarnowski each averaged 10 blocks per game in 2009-2010.

But the team overall is thin. Perkins, at 5-foot-10, was the leading rebounder on the team last year, averaging a mere six per contest. Looking at the statistics of other players - some who have been with Daugherty for the duration of her tenure - you wonder how they could still have such low statistical averages.

Whatever the case, the Cougars are going to have to work hard on skill development this season, from top to bottom. Clearly Cook and Perkins are the team leaders, but ultimately they can't carry the team on their backs and all be successful. This year will really show how well Daugherty and her assistants can develop players, because they're starting from almost scratch.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the top choice of them all?

Oregon State news:

This piece headlines the fact that the squad will practice against men, but that's probably the least interesting piece of info there. More juicy is that the new team will be short, and Coach Scott Rueck still needs one more assistant.

Walk-ons can make an impact this year, including a player Rueck coached at his former school.....strange.

Other college items:

Associate head coach Barb Smith has resigned her position at the University of Minnesota.

Oregon Ducks preview piece.....I guess Nia Jackson is playing this season after all. Cool.

UConn Coach Geno Auriemma is quite certain that his team will break its winning streak this year and lose. They have five freshmen, after all.

In one pre-season poll, TCU was picked first and SDSU second in the Mountain West Conference.

Arizona State hopes to rebound from a down year this season.


Kenny Kallina provides a nice roundup of recruits and their upcoming visits.

Bonus: who knows where today's headline comes from?

Pac-10 preview: University of Southern California

This is the first of a 10-part series previewing the Pac-10 basketball teams

by Daniel Uribe

In its quest for an NCAA berth, USC has many questions to answer as it hopes to end a drought that has lasted much longer than it should have for a school with no shortage of talent or basketball history.

At the helm is second-year Head Coach Michael Cooper, who unlike most new coaches, will be expected to produce results because of his past WNBA championships and NBA background.

Last year the Women of Troy finished the season with a 19-12 record (12-6 in the Pac-10) and were expecting to make it to the big dance. But that bubble was burst as the selection was made and only Stanford and UCLA made it into the tournament. As has been recent tradition, the team rejected an invitation to the WNIT which was won by conference rival California.

All-Pac-10 players juniors Ashley Corral and Briana Gilbreath will lead the Torjans. Both players quickly became stars for upon their arrival two years ago, but their roles will become even more pronounced in the wake of the graduation of starters Hailey Dunham and Aarika Hughes.

Corral led the team in scoring last year, averaging 15.1 ppg. Gilbreath (12.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg) was chosen as co-Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year. There are however, several players that will need to step up in order for USC to battle for a spot in the post-season.

First and foremost is senior center Kari LaPlante. An all-defensive team honorable mention, LaPlante (6.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg) will need to elevate her game and carry the Trojans in the post in a conference that features some of the best post players in the country. Along with her leadership, LaPlante will be looked upon to mentor the large incoming class of post players.

The travails of Jacki Gemelos have been well-documented, but last year, the number one ranked player out of high school was finally able to take the floor after entering USC in 2006. Showing flashes of brilliance that displayed why she was the best coming out of high school, Gemelos (7.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg) was able to contribute in the final eleven games of the season and will be expected to add a much-needed offensive arsenal to the team.

Sophomore forward Christina Marinacci (5.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg) earned all-freshman honorable mention and will be looked on to improve and provide depth and versatility after earning seven starts in last eight games of the end of the season.

A bright note for the Trojans will be the appearance Stefanie Gilbreath. The McDonalds All-American will finally get to play after three years of season-ending injuries and will get to play with her sister who now has less eligibility than her.

The Women of Troy will add a large incoming with five true freshmen that has been ranked as high as number eight by recruiting services. Expected to contribute immediately is Cassie Harberts. The 6-2 forward is a WBCA-All American honoree who earned a team gold during the 2010 FIBA U18 Championships. Also joining the team are Desiree Bradley, a 6-1 forward ranked number 35 out of Oklahoma City; Len’Nique Brown, a 5-5 guard from San Antonia, TX; Thaddesia Southall, a 6-4 forward from Long Beach, CA; and Lauren White, a 6-4 center from Charlotte NC.

Also returning for USC are 5-10 senior forward Michelle Franco; 6-3 redshirt sophomore Michelle Jenkins who is coming off an ACL injury; sophomore walk-on guard, 5-9 Jade Smith; and 5-9 redshirt freshman guard Vicky Tagalicod.

Cooper begins his second season with a mostly-new coaching staff. Replacing Kelly Gibson and Erv Monier, who were let go in March, are Laura Beeman - formerly of Mt. Sac College and Cooper's assistant for the LA Sparks in 2008 - and Cooper's son Michael junior. Assistant coach Mary Wooley remains from last year.

USC will open its season at home on Nov. 12 versus Gonzaga.

Daniel Uribe is a Los Angeles native and a freelance writer

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

One day college season

Bring it on! Department:

If it's Midnight Madness, that means it's almost college season.

Six conferences have joined to create the Super Six Series women's basketball challenge this year.

General college:

The UNCW team and their new coach, Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, are staying positive despite last month's coach-player hazing episode. Both the player and coach involved were absent from media day yesteday.

Coop is instituting a full-court game that includes pressure defense......sounds exciting to me. I'm looking forward to seeing what she does with that program.

To no one's surprise, the Ogwumike sisters are elevating the Stanford team.

NCAA stuff:

It's been 29 years since the NCAA began having a championship for women's basketball. Coaches reflect on what makes the women's game so special, both on the court and in the classroom. I like that UCLA Coach Nikki Caldwell is already featured among some of the game's great coaches.

Gay and lesbian athletes are still hesitant to come out, students at a Missouri forum decided.


This Mark Lewis piece is excellent. So good that I almost did a stand-alone post on it earlier today when I first read it. "Facilities," "past success" and "football weekend" made me laugh out loud. Don't be fooled, kids.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sometimes the best things in life are indeed free

Cal State Northridge coaches are having a coaches clinic in a couple of weeks.

USC fans can meet Coach Michael Cooper, the team, and get autographs and play games during the upcoming "Salute to Troy." What a great idea for increasing team publicity.

World 'o hoops

So much news, so let's get to it:


On the sixth anniversary of the Seattle Storm's first championship is this nice piece about CEO Karen Bryant, who is incredibly dedicated.

Atlanta Dream owner Kathy Betty is seeking investors in her team, but that's not what amazes me about the picture with this story: that skinny little lady can palm the ball.

Props to the Lynx' Tamika Raymond, who is coaching in India.

Lauren Jackson might get a stadium in her hometown.


Going into her second season as head coach, Hawaii Coach Diana Takahara-Dias says her players have come prepared.

Sophomore Skylar Diggins is moving to the point position for Notre Dame.

At Iowa State, sophomores will also carry the load.

New University of Houston Coach Todd Buchanan was "very pleased" with the first day of practice yesterday.

The University of Oregon is about to sign a big time class.

Ohio State didn't get much of a vacation this summer.

The past is a motivator for TCU.

Three Stanford players are already injured.

Liberty name John Whisenant head coach and general manager

Fresh off the Liberty wire:

The New York Liberty today announced that John Whisenant has been named Head Coach and General Manager for the team. Whisenant brings more than 30 years of basketball experience to the Liberty, including a WNBA Championship and Coach of the Year honors with the Sacramento Monarchs. The announcement was made by Scott O'Neil, president of MSG Sports. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"John is a proven winner with tremendous experience and an impressive resume, including a WNBA Championship and Coach of the Year award in 2005," said Mr. O'Neil. "Liberty fans will appreciate how hard the team will play on both ends of the court, and enjoy the continuation of the journey to build a team that will bring a title to New York."

Whisenant spent seven seasons with the Sacramento Monarchs serving as General Manager; he also added head coaching duties for three full seasons (2004-06) and two partial seasons (2003, 2009). As Head Coach Whisenant compiled a .612 winning percentage (85-54) with the Monarchs during the regular season, which is the third best all-time among WNBA coaches. He was named WNBA Coach of the Year in 2005, the same year he guided the team to its first-ever WNBA Championship. In two of the three full seasons Whisenant served as coach, a Monarchs player was named WNBA Most Improved Player. During his tenure with the Monarchs the team reached the playoffs six out of seven seasons, including two conference finals runs and a conference championship. Whisenant's playoff coaching record is 19-10.

"It is an honor to be named Head Coach and General Manager for the New York Liberty and to join the Madison Square Garden organization," said Mr. Whisenant. "New York is a great basketball city with amazing history, and I look forward to the challenge of bringing a championship to the city."

Whisenant's successful career as a college basketball coach includes stints at the University of Mexico, Arizona Western College and Coffeyville Community College, where he combined for an impressive .734 winning percentage (282-102). As head coach at Arizona Western University, he led the team to three league championships. While on the coaching staff at the University of New Mexico, the team won two WAC Championships.

The New York Liberty will be temporarily relocated to Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey during the 2011, 2012, and 2013 seasons while Madison Square Garden undergoes a comprehensive, top-to-bottom transformation. The Garden will close for the next three summers for work on the transformation to be completed. Prudential Center is a convenient 15 minutes away from The Garden by train.

Two thoughts:

1. Everybody has at least 15 lives in this country.

2. Couldn't they pick a better line than the "proven winner" one?

Monday, October 11, 2010

One step closer

Candace Parker tweeted today that the doctor has cleared her to start shooting and basketball drills. It's "one step closer," she said.

Then Tasha Humphrey cautioned her to take it SLOW. She threatened to call Parker's parents if she doesn't.

Speaking of Tennessee, the Lady Vols wore their new practice uniforms today, seen here on Glory Johnson. According to a story posted on by Maria M. Cornelius, Vicki Baugh's presence has made a huge difference to the team, and Mickie DeMoss' return means new offensive strategies. Taber Spani is also back from her injury.

If you're not a subscriber, Cornelius has some amazing practice photos on this thread.

Tennessee cousins UCLA did a beach clean up recently. (Go Christina!)

Elsewhere in college happenings......

Louisville's new arena, the nauseatingly-named KFC Yum! Center, is attracting recruits.

Fresno State is loaded with seniors this year, and they're ready to kick some behind.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Inglewood 31, Saugus 24

The matchup I went to see at the Beverly Hills High School fall league today featured Saugus and Inglewood. Saugus is north of the Los Angeles area, and they had an 8-19 record last year. Inglewood was a 09-10 3A state semifinalist.

'Wood has lost three key playes in Hazel Ramirez (LMU), Janelle Ross (Dartmouth) and Noelini Tuiasoa. They are in somewhat of a rebuilding phase, lead by nationally-ranked forward DeAjanae Scurry.

Saugus got out to an early lead today, holding the Sentinels scoreless for several minutes before point guard Arielle Jones hit a 15-footer. That seemed to ignite her team, who quickly caught up and then lead Saugus by 3-5 points for the rest of the game.

The Centurions, who lost only three to graduation last year, rely a lot on juniors Megan Dawe and Kim Smither, who are both over six feet tall and like to block shots. The team, in general, plays the game very rough....and we'll get to more of that in a moment.

Inglewood, with several newcomers, looks athletic as usual. Scurry has added dribbling to her game, and had a fantastic bucket go in as she hit the floor in the second half. But the entire team needs to work on passing and rebounding.

The game resembled football more than basketball. Girls always dive for the ball, but there were more dives today than you see in an Olympic broadcast. There was also a lot of wrenching of the ball, i.e. trying to wrench it away from the opponent. Bodies were hitting the floor, but the referees did a good job of keeping the game under control.

These games, in the fall, are when you see glimpses of what and who is under construction. It's exciting.

Inglewood forward DeAjanae Scurry, who has verballed to San Diego State, debates her pass.

Camille Baker (#1 in the dark uniform in the middle - look hard) snags the rebound.

Scurry spins after getting the board and prepares to pass to teammate Arielle Jones (#2).

More signings, tip sheets

The Oregon Ducks are cleaning up on recruits right now.

Chris Hansen assesses the talent in the Midwest.

Lisa Bodine sums up the West Coast talent.

By the way, thank you all for your patience, as the first six weeks of school have been kicking my ass. I'm going to hit some live games today, though, and will hopefully have pictures and game reports later. I need to watch some live hoops or I'll go nuts.

Friday, October 8, 2010



Mechelle Voepel is right about the FIBA Conference - they don't have their priorities right:

That brings us to five "key topics" that the conference highlighted:

• Increasing the resources allocated to women's basketball.

• Lowering the height of the basket for women's basketball for all official competitions.

• Designing and regulating uniforms for female players.

• Developing a special program for creating female basketball journalists.

• Setting up continental girls' coaching camps similar to "Basketball without Borders."

Two of these things make sense: allocating more resources to women's hoops and setting up girls' camps.

As for the program for "female basketball journalists," it's hard to be sure exactly how they mean that. Do they mean basketball journalists who are female or journalists who cover women's basketball?

If it's the former, it's incorrect to assume a woman sports journalist is inherently going to be any more interested in or inclined to cover women's basketball than a man would be. They should find a way to encourage those journalists, regardless of gender, that already show an aptitude and desire to cover the sport.

To that end, FIBA, and any other organization that wants coverage, should make it as cheap as possible for media to cover it. For the 2008 Olympic trials, USA Track and Field gave journalists the option of staying in inexpensive dormitories right next to the track complex. "Inexpensive" is one of the most important words in today's media world.

At last, we can get to the two most discussed "key topics" among women's basketball fans: lowering the rims and "regulating" uniforms. My initial response to the top topics was, "You've got to be kidding me."

Same here. But then again, it's pretty common to have idiots in charge of big things.

The Seattle Storm's Ashley Robinson is playing for the WNBL in Australia this fall and winter - an unusual choice for an American. In tonight's game she had 14 points and 13 rebounds.

LA Sparks exit interview:

When you look at Parker’s 2010 stats up until the point of her season-ending injury, you can’t help but wonder how differently things would have panned out had she remained healthy. She may have only played 10 games (OK, maybe nine and a half), but in that short span Parker racked up seven double-doubles and finished with double-figure scoring in each. If the average remained consistent, it would’ve been entertaining to say the least to watch her match up against Connecticut’s Tina Charles in the rebounds and double-double race.



Pat Summitt must want prep star Isabelle Harrison, because she visited her at her high school Wednesday. I would have passed out if I were Isabelle.

Down the road in the SEC, Mississippi State is rebuilding after losing their top four scorers and two key bench players.

The Arizona newcomers are adjusting well.

Today was the first day of practice at the University of Oregon, and they've got a blog to prove it.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A little on coaching (again), and other news

I've said the same thing before as this piece: coaching is teaching, and should be structured the same way teachers build lesson plans. Check it out:

I do wish that more youth coaches truly saw themselves as basketball teachers with aims, curriculum, and pedagogy. Those that do - and you can hear it in the way they talk about the game - are among the most successful (though something should be said, especially at the pro level, for the value of a charismatic motivator).

However, teaching for sports performance and teaching for intellectual development are two very different tasks. And, from my experience, the latter is harder - what makes great teachers is not helping students accomplish the task immediately in front of them, but preparing them to accomplish tasks as intellectuals and citizens that they might encounter decades down the road. As much as we can consider the classroom practice for democratic society (as Dewey suggested), there aren’t games in which students can put their skill to work and experience the type of immediate success that helps them understand the long-term importance of practice in the short-term. Despite my belief that policy debate is an outstanding learning environment, there aren’t authentic wins and losses in teaching and it can be detrimental to impose them (e.g. standardized testing). It’s indeed a very different responsibility, but also a higher pedagogical bar.

What great teachers do is plant the seeds without expecting any sort of credit and sometimes even making the student forget that there was ever a time that they didn’t know what they were just taught. It’s a matter of patience and almost a leap of faith that is difficult to teach adults in teacher education and a personality trait that “BFF teachers”, drill sergeants, martyrs, and white teachers trying to prove to the world they’re not racist usually lack because everything they do is so wrapped up in personal gain. It’s part of what makes the crisis of education so difficult to tackle - we don’t just need more “highly qualified” (read: credentialed) teachers. Our children deserve teachers and institutions who put them first.

Beautifully said.


Hurry up college season! In the meantime......

Big 12 coaches pick Baylor to finish on top this year.

Longtime Georgia Coach Andy Landers and new athletic director Greg McGarity go way back.

The ACC has added eight games to its schedule.


Pro tip:

Jefferson Award for Public Service nominees include Tamika Catchings and Sylvia Fowles. That's a tough choice. Is it any coincidence that those are two of the nicest pro ballers on the planet? I think not.

Connecticut Sun exit interviews.

The Czech Republic is honoring its winning women's hoops team with the Golden Medal of the President. That's ridiculously cool.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Practices and things

Collegiately speaking.....

The Vols' take on earlier practice starts.

Meet the Oregon Ducks.

Up the road, the Oregon State Beavers had their first practice today.

ESPN's Mark Lewis has an insightful column on the evolution of college recruiting.


The Australian basketball powers are again calling for their superstars to skip next year's WNBA season. That's selfish, not to mention a waste. I'm going to be blunt: Australia is good, but they're never going to take the gold medal from the USA.

High school.....

One more great ESPN tip sheet.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pre-season Wooden Award nominees announced

Great list:

Name Height Class Position University Conference

Danielle Adams 6-1 Sr. F/C Texas A&M Big 12
Kachine Alexander 5-9 Sr. G Iowa Big Ten
Angie Bjorklund 6-0 Sr. G/F Tennessee SEC
Jessica Breland 6-3 Sr. F North Carolina ACC
Elena Delle Donne 6-5 So. G/F Delaware CAA
Skylar Diggins 5-9 So. G Notre Dame Big East
Jasmine Dixon 6-0 Jr. F UCLA Pac 10
Victoria Dunlap 6-1 Sr. F Kentucky SEC
Dawn Evans 5-7 Sr. G James Madison CAA
Brittney Griner 6-8 So. C Baylor Big 12
Amber Harris 6-5 Sr. F Xavier Atlantic 10
Tiffany Hayes 5-10 Jr. G Connecticut Big East
Shenise Johnson 5-11 Jr. G Miami ACC
Jantel Lavender 6-4 Sr. C Ohio State Big Ten
Italee Lucas 5-8 Sr. G North Carolina ACC
Maya Moore* 6-0 Sr. F Connecticut Big East
Deirdre Naughton 5-10 Sr. G DePaul Big East
Nnemkadi Ogwumike* 6-2 Jr. F Stanford Pac 10
Kayla Pedersen 6-4 Jr. F Stanford Pac 10
Ta’Shia Phillips 6-6 Sr. C Xavier Atlantic 10
Samantha Prahalis 5-7 Jr. G Ohio State Big Ten
Lauren Prochaska 5-11 Sr. G/F Bowling Green Mid-American
Chastity Reed 6-1 Sr. F Arkansas Little-Rock Sun Belt
Danielle Robinson 5-9 Sr. G Oklahoma Big 12
Sugar Rodgers 5-11 So. G Georgetown Big East
Shekinna Stricklen 6-2 Jr. G/F Tennessee SEC
Helena Sverrisdottir 6-1 Sr. G/F TCU Mountain West
Carolyn Swords 6-6 Sr. C Boston College ACC
Jasmine Thomas 5-9 Sr. G Duke ACC
Courtney Vandersloot 5-8 Sr. G Gonzaga West Coast

Bonus: The NCAA may create different ref pools for women's and men's basketball to improve consistency in officiating.