Monday, October 31, 2011


I've heard that it happens sometimes overseas, that teams don't pay players their full salary. Now it looks like it's happened to Renee Montgomery in Hungary.

Pathetic. Can women just catch a break?

More on the upside:

University of Washington forward Kristi Kingma talks about her ACL rehab and sitting on the sidelines. She's got an impressive attitude, and it sounds like the whole team digs their new coaches.

The high school coach of Connecticut freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis - Kevin Kiernan - talks about his former player.

The Lady Vols hosted media day today at Thompson-Boling Arena, and discussed the pending season.

The votes behind the list

Here are the votes behind the Associated Press top 25 poll released over the weekend. It allows readers to see which reporters have a clue, and which don't.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Some good news, and a funny

Hoops for Hope is fighing cancer on the court in Kansas. Everyone wins.

Middle Tennessee State has new offices thanks to a generous donation. Tomorrow night the Blue Raiders will continue their annual Halloween tradition of handing out goodies to kids at Coach Rick Insell's house.

Ever wondered what it's like to be Gonzaga Coach Kelly Graves on Halloween? Meet the Sorcerer of South Hill.

Love it.

They're Playing Basketball Pac-12 pre-season poll

This week my staff - Daniel Uribe and IM in OC - and myself sat down to compile our votes on how the Pac-12 will finish this season. We were unanimous on the finish of four schools: Stanford, USC, Cal and OSU. On the rest, we disagreed, so we scored our votes. The results are below:

1. Stanford
2. USC
3. Cal
4. Utah
5. Oregon
6. Washington
7. Washington State
8. Arizona
10. ASU
11. Colorado
12. OSU

This is an interesting time in the former Pac-10 Conference. This year there are three brand-new coaches: Lindsay Gottlieb at Cal, Cori Close at UCLA and Kevin McGuff at Washington. Joseph Anders is taking the reins for a year at ASU. Scott Rueck and Anthony Levrets are each in their second years at OSU and Utah, respectively. Paul Westhead and Michael Cooper are each in their third years at Oregon and USC, respectively. Niya Butts is going into year four at Arizona. Two new schools have been added to the conference to make it 12.

It seems like the west coast's biggest conference is poised to grow. Let's hope so.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cal State Fullerton 59, Biola 50 (exhibition)

Pictures and story by IM in OC

Fullerton, Calif. - Cal State Fullerton opened its 2011-12 schedule today with a 59-50 exhibition win over Biola.

It was not a good shooting game for CSF, as they shot 32 percent and only 21 percent in the second half. Sophomore Alex Thomas led all scorers with 18 points, while freshman Tailer Butler (Narbonne High School) had 11 points in her college debut, including three three-pointers. Butler still has the nice shooting touch I remember from seeing her in high school playoffs.

Freshman Chelsea Hill (Gilroy High School) led Biola with 16 points, and sophomore Adijat Adams had a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds. I was impressed with both Hill and Adams for Biola. I think both could make it a D1 mid-major.

Biola shoots a free throw in the first half. They took an early 11-2 lead before Fullteron rallied and caught up.

The Titans during a second half timeout.

Box score.

Way to go, Tailer! Proud of you. - Sue

Injury department

I couldn't be more sad for Purdue redshirt senior Drey Mingo, who tore her ACL today in a scrimmage. Last season she had to overcome meningitis, and now this. Healing thoughts to her.

Rutgers has lost senior forward Chelsey Lee for the year due to shoulder surgery.

Baylor number one in AP pre-season poll

For the first time in program history, the Baylor Bears have been picked number one going into the season. Notre Dame, Tennessee, Connecticut and Stanford round out the top five.


Notre Dame is trying to win it all, ranking or not.

Here's a look at which AP writers vote in the college poll.

UCLA 21st and USC 22nd? These writers are out of touch. There are two Washington state, one California and one Oregon reporter on this list. The next closest thing to the west coast is the Arizona and New Mexico writers. As usual, the west coast isn't represented. Anyone who knows anything about what the Bruins are going through this season wouldn't put them in the top 25, and especially not before USC.


Pac-12 preview: the University of Utah

This is the twelfth of a 12-part series previewing the Pac-12 teams.

In the movies, when a kid gets to a new school and can keep up with or beat the students there, that new kid catches heat. Hopefully the Pac-12 will be hospitable enough to the Utah Utes, because the conference newcomers are poised to make an immediate impact.

Last season the Utes finished with an 18-17 overall record and were 7-9 in Mountain West Conference play, which was good for a fourth-place tie. After winning the Mountain West Conference Tournament, they went to the NCAA Tournament and lost in the first round to eventual National Champion runners up Notre Dame. In the 2009-2010 season, Utah played in the WNIT. They have made 17 NCAA Tournament appearances since women's basketball began in 1974-1975.

Utah returns four starters this season, including their top three scorers: redshirt junior guard Iwalani Rodrigues (14.9 ppg), sophomore forward Michelle Plouffe (13.7 ppg) and senior guard Janita Badon (12.6 ppg). Forward Taryn Wicijowski is also back after sitting out last season with an ACL tear. The redshirt sophomore was the MWC Freshman of the Year in 2009-2010, with 14.8 ppg and 6.3 rpg. She had been selected pre-season all-MWC team last year before her injury.

Other significant returnees include junior guard Rachel Messer, junior forward Diana Rolniak and sophomore guard Brittany Knighton. The Utes lost only two last year - both bench players.

Newcomers include 6-foot-4 forward Rachel Morris, who set the Nevada state record in her senior season last year for career blocked shots, with 597; and Cheyenne Wilson, a 5-foot-11 guard from Seattle who sat out several games last year due to injury, but who was the 3A state player of the year as a junior, averaging 21.5 ppg.

Coach Anthony Levrets is modest in his public expectations of the team. He commented last week, when Utah was chosen to finish sixth in the Pac-12, that "this is a brand new experience for us. Our goal is to be playing our very best basketball at the end of the season, so by the end we will be ready to compete against whoever we face. Right now, we are doing our best to get ready for our first game against Southern Utah."

With several former Pac-10 teams in transition with new coaches and other program changes, Utah may be coming in at just the right time to be contenders. Their roster is solid and experienced with a senior, four juniors and five sophomores. Levrets and his coaching staff have plenty of experience between them, as well. Finally, the staff and team are excited to be in the Pac-12.

University of Utah crash course: the school is in Salt Lake City, and the Utes are an Indian tribe with a reservation located about 150 miles east of town. School colors are crimson and white, and the mascot is the red-tailed hawk.

The Utes begin play Nov. 13 at home, facing Southern Utah. Other pre-conference opponents include Michigan, Arkansas, BYU and Texas Southern. They open Pac-12 play Dec. 31 as they take on Colorado at home.

Friday, October 28, 2011

West Virginia will go to Big 12

West Virginia will join the Big 12 conference next year after all, following a unanimous vote by the Big 12 Board of Directors today.

Other stuff:

Stanford sophomore point guard Toni Kokenis is not only a star on the court, she's a member of the Stanford band. This is the first time that's happened. Coach Tara VanDerveer doesn't have a problem with it:

"As long as she could make it work with our schedule," VanDerveer said. "I think it's great. Toni's a bit of a nut. It works."

Shanterrica Madden, accused of killing Middle Tennessee State basketball player Tina Stewart last March, has pleaded not guilty. The trial will likely begin Jan. 31. Reportedly, the two roommates didn't get along.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pac-12 preview: the University of California, Los Angeles

This is the eleventh of a 12-part series previewing the Pac-12 teams.

Even the most diehard UCLA fans have to admit that the Bruins face an uphill climb this year. They've had an incredibly bumpy ride the last seven months.

First, two of their top three scorers - Darxia Morris (12.2 ppg) and Doreena Campbell (9.2 ppg) - graduated. Then they lost their coach, Nikki Caldwell, when she left in April to take the same job at LSU.

Exit recruit Justine Hartman, who was granted a release from her National Letter of Intent after Caldwell's departure. Also leaving was Sheila Boykin, who opted to follow Caldwell to Louisiana. Enter Coach Cori Close - a veteran, respected coach originally from California.

In September, senior forward Jasmine Dixon, who was the Bruins' leading rebounder (7.3 rpg) last year with a 12.1 ppg scoring average, was lost for the season when she ruptured her Achilles tendon in practice. With October came Alyssia Brewer, who transfered from Tennessee and will play her senior year next season.

To be sure, the 2012-2013 season looks bright with those two waiting in the wings. But there's this season to contend with first.

Top returners are redshirt junior forward Antonye Nyingifa (8.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and junior guard Markel Walker (8.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg) - both of whom were starters last season. Senior guard Rebekah Gardner (7.9 ppg) is also back. But after that, there is a sharp drop in available weaponry.

Junior guard Mariah Williams, sophomore center Corinne Costa, sophomore forward Rhema Gardner, sophomore guard Thea Lemberger and junior guard Jackie Shepard all averaged 1.7 ppg or less last year. Costa, Gardner and Lemberger were considered a weak recruiting class by fans. Williams struggled playing the point behind Morris and Campbell, and Shepard is a walk-on who has never seen significant minutes.

The freshmen offer hope.

Before Hartman and Boykin left, UCLA's signing class was top five. Two of those newcomers stayed: 6-foot-3 forward Kacy Swain and 5-foot-10 guard Moriah Faulk, both of the Los Angeles area. Swain was ranked 25th in her class and ninth at the forward position.

Last May the Bruins also added Alexis Perry, a 5-foot-7 guard who played for high-ranking Brea Olinda. She had surgery after last season to repair a shoulder that has been repeatedly dislocated - perhaps most notably during the Nike Tournament of Champions last December, where she suffered the injury in the first round. Perry came back to help lead her team to a championship.

The loss of Dixon is significant for the Bruins, because she played both under the basket and on the perimeter - easily the strongest player on the team. Costa will have to step up in a big way, or Swain will have to trade off with her at the position, as she's only an inch shorter.

Nyingifa had flashes of pure brilliance last season, and she could make it her team this year, as she is now the veteran. Williams could be vying for her point guard position with Faulk and Perry.

The question for the returners is whether or not they can continue the rapid development that most saw under Caldwell. The question for the newcomers is if they can live up to the hype that surrounds them.

Whether or not UCLA rises again, as they did the last three years, will depend upon Close and her staff. Close began her coaching career as assistant for the Bruins for two seasons, and then went on be assistant at UC Santa Barbara for nine years. She's been at Florida State for the last seven seasons, serving as associate head coach.

Close was offensive coordinator at FSU and player development coordinator at UCSB. There's no doubt she can do the job, but she's been very quiet since arriving at Westwood. She's also been gone on a lot this fall on recruiting trips, leaving the coaching to her assistants.

Shannon Perry has been an assistant coach at Duke, USC and Iowa. Tony Newnan has coached at Westmont College, Oregon State University and UCSB. Jenny Huth has coached at Oakland University, and she has coached high school.

A final challenge for the Bruins this year is that they're playing in the John Wooden Center while Pauley Pavilion is being remodeled. The Center is a much smaller venue, which doesn't seem compatible with hosting Tennessee Dec. 17, as they're sure to draw a large crowd as they did four years ago.

UCLA kicks off pre-conference play play Nov. 11 by hosting the pre-season WNIT, which includes four games in nine days. Other opponents include, interestingly, LSU, San Diego State and Temple. The Bruins begin Pac-12 play at home Dec. 29, against Cal.

College chop-it-up

Nebraska Coach Connie Yori is back.

Dishin & Swishin talks to Stanford Coach Tara VanDerveer.

Seattle University is looking bigger and more talented with key transfers and freshmen.

Rutgers (remember them?) is having a revival with five frosh.

UConn loses a key recruit, but they're aiight.

After multiple surgeries, Tennessee Vol senior Vicki Baugh is back, for real.

Pro bonus:

President Obama called Minnesota Lynx Coach Cheryl Reeve today to congratulate her on the team's championship win. Point guard Lindsay Whalen was also present.

Sparks forward Ebony Hoffman blogs.

Big 12 might admit Louisville - not West Virginia

Holy rejection, Batman: it looks like Louisville might be the one leaving the Big East for the Big 12 - not West Virginia:

West Virginia University athletic officials spent most of Tuesday preparing to leave the Big East Conference for the Big 12. The Mountaineers’ athletic director, Oliver Luck, was so sure of the move that he tipped off Big East colleagues Monday night and told staff members Tuesday.

But everything changed Tuesday evening, as the Big 12 backed off its assurances to West Virginia. Hard lobbying from another candidate from the Big East, Louisville, has created a heated race for the remaining slot in the Big 12 that Missouri is expected to vacate soon. (Missouri is still headed to the Southeastern Conference after it sorts through its exit issues with the Big 12.)

A person with direct knowledge of the situation said it was “too close to call” between West Virginia and Louisville.


Pat Summitt speaks on SEC media day

Tennessee head Coach Pat Summitt answered numerous questions about her health, her involvement in practices, and her outlook on SEC media day.

Recap of highlight quotes.

A different angle from the Associated Press.

Support for Summitt includes some from the competition.

Recently, Summitt welcomed YET another men's head coach to Tennessee.

NCAA approves sweeping regulations that include academic standards, scholarship money

In a board meeting today with an "aggressive" agenda, NCAA Division I Directors approved a package of reforms that cover numerous areas:

On Thursday, the Division I Board of Directors approved a package of sweeping reforms that gives conferences the option of adding more money to scholarship offers, schools the opportunity to award scholarships for multiple years, imposes tougher academic standards on recruits and changes the summer basketball recruiting model......

The board approved a measure allowing conferences to vote on providing up to $2,000 in spending money, or what the NCAA calls the full cost-of-attendance. Emmert insists it is not pay-for-play, merely the reintroduction of a stipend that existed for college athletes until 1972. He also compared it to the stipends received by other students who receive non-athletic scholarships.

The implications? Hard to tell yet.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Major NCAA news

NCAA vice president Sue Donohoe has resigned for personal reasons. She has been with the NCAA since 1999, and before that was a graduate assistant at Louisiana Tech when they won the first NCAA title in 1982.

The NCAA reports that athlete graduation rates are at all all-time high.

Boise State may move to the Big West Conference.

West Virginia's move to the Big 12 is on hold.

Oral Roberts University will leave the Summit League for the Southland Conference next year.

Recruiting bonus:

Two players de-committing from Penn State last week was just a coincidence.

Conference champ picks!

Dayton and Temple are the projected tie winners in the Atlantic 10 this year:

1. Dayton (7) - 189
Temple (7) - 189
3. Duquesne - 159
4. Charlotte - 141
5. Saint Joseph's - 129
6. St. Bonaventure - 125
7. Xavier - 119
8. Richmond - 112
9. George Washington - 73
10. Massachusetts - 70
11. La Salle - 65
12. Fordham - 42
13. Rhode Island - 31
14. Saint Louis - 26

Tennessee Tech has been picked to win the Ohio Valley Conference:

1. Tennessee Tech (13 first-place votes) - 193
2. UT Martin (Nine first-place votes) - 187
3. Eastern Illinois - 159
4. Austin Peay - 142
5. Morehead State - 133
6. Murray State - 88
7. Tennessee State - 82
8. SIUE - 73
9. Jacksonville State - 72
10. Eastern Kentucky - 47
11. Southeast Missouri - 34

Missouri State is tabbed the Missouri Valley Conference champ:

School (First-Place Votes) Points
1. Missouri State (36) 396
2. UNI (4) 322
3. Wichita State 315
4. Creighton 246
5. Indiana State 234
6. Illinois State 224
7. Drake 168
8. Bradley 162
9. Evansville 68
10. Southern Illinois 65

Sun Belt East and West Division picks:

West Division - First Place Votes in Parenthesis

Team Points

Denver 62 (6)
Arkansas State 56 (1)
UALR 53 (3)
Louisiana-Monroe 29
North Texas 28 (1)
Louisiana-Lafayette 24 (1)

East Division - First Place Votes in Parenthesis

Team Points

Middle Tennessee 68 (9)
FIU 58 (1)
Western Kentucky 48 (1)
South Alabama 38
Florida Atlantic 23 (1)
Troy 17

Princeton is projected atop the Ivy League:

1. Princeton (14 first-place votes) 133 points
2. Harvard (three first-place votes) 117 points
3. Yale 103 points
4. Penn 68 points
5. Brown 66 points
6. Columbia/Dartmouth 52 points
8. Cornell 21 points

The season needs to just start already.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Shake up news day

West Virginia is leaving the Big East Conference to join the Big 12.

Phoenix Mercury legend-of-the-game Briget Pettis is retiring from the WNBA.

The USA finished seventh in the Pan American Games with a convincing win earlier today over Jamaica, 87-41.

Word on the final PAG showdowns coming soon.


A look inside Gonzaga.

Tennessee picked to win the SEC

Southeastern Conference and national media members have tabbed Tennessee as the SEC winner. Here's the full list:

1. Tennessee - 264
2. Georgia - 228
3. Kentucky - 212
4. LSU - 189
5. Vanderbilt - 172
6. Florida - 151
7. Arkansas - 142
8. South Carolina - 107
9. Auburn - 94
10. Alabama - 55
11. Mississippi State - 54
12. Ole Miss - 48

Pac-12 preview: the University of Arizona

This is the tenth of a 12-part series previewing the Pac-12 teams.

by Daniel Uribe

The Arizona Wildcats have seen consistent progress in the last few years towards making a home in top half of the former Pac-10 Conference. The question is, will that progress stall this year in the wake of the loss of three starters, or will the 'Cats find a way to win?

Coming off her best record during her tenure (21-12, 10-8 Pac-10), fourth-year head Coach Niya Butts is looking to continue her team's upward ascent, but must make up for the loss of one of the best players in program history: Ify Ibekwe. The Los Angeles native was a three-time All-Pac-10 honoree and defensive player of the year, and averaged nearly a double-double (16.1 ppg, 9.8 rpg). Along with Ibekwe, the team lost starters Brooke Jackson (7.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg) and Soana Lucet (12.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg).

But the cupboard is not completely bare, as the Wildcats return one of the most experienced back courts in the conference, headed by last year's second-leading scorer, junior guard Davellyn White (15.8 ppg). She will be joined by fellow returning starter, senior guard Shanita Arnold (7.0 ppg, 4.9 apg), who was second in the conference in assists; and senior guard Reiko Thomas (3.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg) who will be expected to pick up her offensive production. Also returning are sophomore forward Erica Barnes (5.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and sophomore guard Candice Warthen (4.4 ppg, 2.3 rpg).

Regarding the loss of offense, Butts mentioned the following last week during Media Day: "We're not going to ask Davellyn to go out and score thirty, but if she wants to she's welcome to it, but it's going to have to be each player individually stepping up, maybe a couple more points here, a couple more rebounds there. Again, we're looking for our defense to create some of our offense for us, which is why we changed it up a little bit."

Butts will also have the challenge of incorporating six newcomers into the fold. They are led by true freshman Aley Rohde, a 6-foot-5 center out of Cave Creek, Ariz. Rohde may be a key to the Wildcats' success, as she provides size that will be hard to match by any teams in the conference. Erin Butler is a 5-foot-11 guard out of Mission Viejo, Calif., and 5-foot-8 guard Layana White hails from Lancaster, Calif.

"Aley is going to be a key asset for us," Butts said. "Layana White plays extremely hard. Sometimes we'll find her out of position, but she goes so hard that she makes up for that. She's out there working. Erin Butler is also going to provide some outside shooting for us."

Butts has never been shy about looking towards junior college players to help her reload and rebuild the Wildcats, and this year she has continued that trend with a new trio. They are: 5-foot-8 junior guard Lindsey Fearing, from Cheyenne, Wyo.; 6-foot-2 junior forward Cheylene Harper from Asheville, N.C.; and 6-foot-2 junior foward Cheshi Poston from Chicago, Ill. Butts is optimistic about all of these players and has high expectations.

"Poston's really long, really athletic. When the light comes on for her, it's going to mean trouble for a lot of people. She's a really good player in transition, can rebound the ball," Butt said.

"Cheylene Harper - she is really physical. She's going to add some toughness to our team, I believe. We just have to figure out ways to incorporate everybody into what we're doing."

"Lindsey Fearing - she's a great outside shooter. We're penetrating and kicking that ball, we expect her to knock that thing down, and she knows she has a green light. Hopefully we'll see a lot of those shots going up and in. I think overall everybody brings something, and I think they bring enough so you're going to see them bring a little bit of everything."

One concern for the Wildcats is the strength of the pre-season schedule, as the strongest non-conference opponents are Syracuse and BYU, who they will face in a tournament in Hawaii. Last year, a lack of wins versus top teams may have been the difference maker for the post-season, relegating the Wildcats to the WNIT, where they lost in the first round to Utah State. The challenge to reach the next level and the NCAA tournament may be garnering enough wins with the strength of schedule where it is.

"That trip [to Hawaii] will tell us where we are as a team before we start conference play," Butts said.

Arizona will open the regular season at Georgia Southern on Nov. 11.

Daniel Uribe is a Los Angeles native and a freelance writer

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pac-12 preview: the University of Washington

This is the ninth of a 12-part series previewing the Pac-12 teams.

It's been a whirlwind six months for the Huskies, who got a top-notch new head coach and then saw their star player lose the season due to injury. But despite the turbulence, they seem fortified ready to go this season - in part due to some late roster additions.

Former coach Tia Jackson was fired in March after four seasons and a 45-75 record. By the first week of April, Washington was announcing Kevin McGuff as the program's new head coach. He is making more than three times Jackson's salary, but his resume is substantiative.

McGuff spent the last nine years as Xavier's coach, and his team was Atlantic 10 champions the last three years - the latter two in which they were undefeated in conference play. Xavier's record during McGuff's final two seasons was 58-7. Last season also marked their fifth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Prior to his tenure at Xavier, McGuff was assistant for six years to Hall of Fame Coach Muffet McGraw at Notre Dame.

Why did McGuff leave to come to Washington? He told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that he had always wanted to try his personal style and system in a difference part of the country, in a different conference, and at a school with greater resources. Washington apparently fit his criteria. McGuff also told the news source that he emphasizes process and style, and that fans will know what they're looking at when they watch the Huskies play.

McGuff brought assistant coach Mike Neighbors with him from Xavier, and hired Kevin Morrison, who had been an assistant at Cal for the past four seasons. Adia Barnes is the third assistant coach. She is a former WNBA forward who has worked as a commentator for the Seattle Storm and has coached basketball to children.

In August, Washington's luck went south, as leading scorer Kristi Kingma (15.6 ppg) tore her right ACL during a European tour that the Huskies were in, and was lost for this season. McGuff wasn't content to eat the loss, and two weeks ago he announced the late signing of two new players - both of whom were immediately eligible to play.

Deborah Meeks, a 5-foot-8 guard/forward from Michigan, was a high-scorer in high school and is known for her physical game and up-tempo style of play. Beatrice Carta is a 5-foot-7 guard from Italy, who has a lot of international playing experience. Both are freshmen.

Three starters return: senior forward Mollie Williams (4 ppg), redshirt senior forward/center Mackenzie Argens (7.1 ppg), and senior guard/forward Charmaine Barlow (3.9 ppg).

Regina Rogers, a 6-foot-3 redshirt senior forward/center (10 ppg) also returns, as does 6-foot-1 sophomore forward Marjorie Heard (7.3 ppg) and sophomore guard Mercedes Wetmore (3.5 ppg).

Washington also has some potentially powerful newcomers this season, and two of them are Seattle-area residents, which will probably increase the home crowd.

Seattle's Aminah Williams is a 6-foot wing who was ranked 23rd in her position. Talia Walton, of Tacoma, is a 6-foot-2 forward ranked 32nd in her position. The last freshman is 5-foot-8, 29th-ranked guard Jazmine Davis, from San Jose, Calif.

Sitting out this year is Kellie McCann-Smith, who transfered from Nebraska a few days after the Huskies hired McGuff. She played 22 games for the Cornhuskers before sitting out the final nine with a back injury. She averaged 3 ppg for the season.

It appears that Washington has hit the gold mine with the McGuff hire. The Huskies did go 5-0 in Europe despite losing Kingma. If McGuff stays true to his track record at Notre Dame and Xavier, he will breathe life into a long-dormant program. If Washington is even half good this season, by 2012-2013, they should be beastly.

Washington's pre-season opponents include Seattle University, Cal State Northridge, San Diego State and Houston. They open conference play Dec. 29 in Corvallis, as they take on Oregon State.

Payments for NCAA athletes?

On the heels of a study last month that found many college athletes were living in poverty, the NCAA is considering increasing athlete grants by $2,000, "to more closely approach" the cost of college.

USA Basketball:

The US finally won one, against previously-unbeaten Mexico, at the Pan American Games. It was an 87-58 thrashing. But the USA won't medal at the games.


A glimpse into Virginia basketball practice.

Lauren Jackson:

Photos from Saturday's ceremony naming a sports center after superstar Lauren Jackson.


The commitments are coming fast and furious as national signing day approaches.

Tennessee is having to strategize with recruiting.

Pro retro:

Where are they now? LA Sparks' Ukari Figgs.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cal unveils new multimedia website

Click all the tabs and watch all the videos on Cal's new website. Especially loving the "who I am" section, and the coaches gangsta photo under the "back stage pass" tab.

This is quite possibly the coolest website in Division I.

USA Basketball loses a tough one to Puerto Rico

The US was out-scored by five points in the last five minutes to lose 70-75 to Puerto Rico. It's their second loss in as many days.

Box score.


Pan American Games schedule for the week.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

USA women fall to Argentina at Pan American Games

Not a great first round, as the US lost 55-58 to Argentina. Box score, and quotes.


Weekly Euro roundup......Galatasaray is very happy to have Diana Taurasi aboard. Angel McCoughtry and Penny Taylor are doing well for themselves, too.


UConn's recruits for 2012 will stay at three.

Amanda Burakoski is transferring to a Division II college from St. John's.


Montana's seven tribal colleges have formed their own basketball league. They want to retain students.

Stadium re-named after Lauren Jackson

Now here's some respect: Today the Albury Sports Stadium was re-named the Lauren Jackson Sports Centre. Jackson arrived to the ceremony in a black convertible.

Background of re-naming.

"Mighty Macs" review

It would have been easy for this movie to be sappy.

The central message of "The Mighty Macs" is to never give up on your dreams. But the fuel behind such efforts is to believe in yourself, which is something every athlete and coach knows. Coach Cathy Rush's coaching style called for her players to be strong, which is the right way to deliver the message to believe in yourself. And strong the Macs were. The fact that they won the title in 1972 on an at-large bid is nothing short of miraculous - not to mention the two titles that came after that.

It's also more women's basketball history that every fan should know: the fact that longtime coach Theresa Grentz played on the team, as did Marianne Stanley.

Stanley set the record right on the Macs in this piece:

She clarified a common misconception. The Macs, she said, were not a collection of ragtag individuals who couldn't dribble or shoot a left-handed layup. They were, in fact, "a special group. We could play. We were all overachievers. And we had a great coach (Cathy Rush, played in the film by Carla Gugino). Once we got rolling, we knew we had something special going on."

Equally fascinating, Seattle University Coach Joan Bonvicini was on the team that lost to the Macs the following year, in the championship semifinals.

As I watched the movie and thought about how every young baller ought to see it, I also decided that not many of today's players would be able to last through the year and do what Rush asked them to do. Too many quitters out there nowadays.

The film's central message about resilience, which was reflected continuously in the dialogue, is timeless. But how many people fight for something anymore? Not nearly enough.

I've been re-re-re-reading Pat Summitt's "Raise the Roof" lately, and ironically, I had just read the part where Summitt talks about tearing her ACL in 1974, her senior year in college:

"Watching Kyra I remembered lying in a hospital bed, trying not to sob, as a doctor told me I would never play basketball again. Most men didn't return to the court from ACL tears, he said, much less a woman. I had my heart set on playing in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.

My father stared the doctor down, and said, 'Play? She's going to make the Olympic team. So you fix it, and fix it right."

They don't make 'em like they used to.

Go see "The Mighty Macs." You'll be glad you did.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Kara Lawson and husband running for Pat Summitt

As mentioned in this space before, former Lady Vol Kara Lawson and her husband Damien Barling will run Nov. 5 and 6 to raise money for Alzheimer's research and awareness. It is their way of helping in the wake of Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt's August announcement that she has early-onset dementia.

Summitt talks about what their efforts mean to her.

Donations can be made on the couple's website.

Pac-12 preview: the University of Oregon

This is the eighth of a 12-part series previewing the Pac-12 teams.

As the Oregon Ducks enter the third season of the Paul Westhead era, they look to recapture some of the momentum that propelled them in the fall of 2009, when the longtime coach first took over. To do it, they'll need to utilize every single player, including five newcomers.

In 2010-2011 the Ducks didn't have a very strong pre-season schedule, so they began the year with a 9-2 record. Once they commenced Pac-10 Conference play, the season began to skid out of control. In the month of February they won only one game, on Feb. 24, and it was their last victory of the year. Oregon finished with a 13-17 overall and 4-14 conference record.

The Ducks' top three scorers have returned. Senior guard Nia Jackson (17 ppg) lead the conference in scoring last year before an early February injury ended her season. Amanda Johnson, a 6-foot-2 senior forward, averaged 15.9 ppg and started every game. Sophomore guard Ariel Thomas put up 8 ppg, and was a starter by the end of the season. Deanna Weaver, a 5-foot-11 guard/forward (6.6 ppg) and Jasmine Holliday (6.8 ppg), a 6-foot guard/forward, also return. But most of the Oregon bench was lost to graduation.

Gone is starter Tatianna Thomas and seven bench players - four of whom had provided some depth for the team: Kristi Fallin (7 ppg), Ashley Buis (5.7 ppg), Victoria Kenyon (5.1 ppg) and Nicole Canepa (5 ppg).

Westhead is known for his preference for the running game, and he commented to the media a few weeks ago that this year the Ducks would be running faster than ever. Maybe it's because they have five freshmen.

Top frosh include Lexi Petersen, a high-scoring, high-ranking guard/forward from Seattle; Janitah Iamaleava, a 6-foot-2 ranked center from Carson, Calif.; and Jordan Loera, a highly-ranked guard from Moses Lake, Wash. Other newcomers are Amanda Delgado, a Las Vegas, Nev. guard and Megan Carpenter, a 6-foot-4 center from Longmont, Colo.

Besides the player changes, Oregon also saw a change in assistant coaches last spring, when Kai Felton left to take the same position at Cal. Replacing her is Shandrika Lee, who assistant coached at Army in West Point, and Cal Poly. Other Duck assistants include Keila Whittington, who arrived with Westhead in 2009, and Dan Muscatell, who has coached for six years under three different Oregon coaches.

For whatever reason, it seems like every time an older male takes a job coaching a women's basketball team, the general public goes ape. Such was the case when Westhead was hired, and to be sure, he is a positive presence who is appreciated by players and staff. The question is, can he guide the Ducks to sustain momentum through the end of the season?

During these last two years, Oregon has fallen off as the season has progressed - especially last year. Keeping athletes learning, pumped up and motivated is no small feat, but a successful head coach must be able to do all of that to win. Hopefully the third year is a charm for Westhead and the Ducks, who have grown accustomed to playing in luxurious Knight Arena.

The other key to success this year will be staying healthy, as the Ducks have sometimes been bitten by the injury bug at crucial points.

Oregon's pre-season opponents include Cal Poly, Illinois, Portland State, Weber State, UC Irvine, Fresno State and Cal State Northridge. They open conference play Dec. 29 at home against Washington State.

More possible league shuffling

It looks like the University of Missouri is ready to leave the Big 12. But to go to the SEC? They can't hang.

Other news:

Virginia is taking is slow under first-year coach Joanne Boyle.

Los Angeles Sparks forward Delisha Milton-Jones has an inspirational message to those suffering from depression.

Recruiting trail updates from ESPN.

Awesome piece on the power of positive coaching - a technique I've always used.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Big Mama news

Today is Taj McWilliams-Franklin's 41st birthday, and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune tells this heart-warming story about her. Happy birthday, Mama Taj.

Tina Thompson received the National Action Network Triumph Award last night for her contributions outside of basketball.


Dishin & Swishin talks to Texas A&M Coach Gary Blair.

Pac-12, Big East, Big 12 polls out

Pac-12 coaches voted, and picked Stanford to win the conference this year:


1. Stanford (11) 121
2. USC (1) 111
3. California 98
4. UCLA 83
5. Arizona State 68
6. Utah 61
7. Washington State 59
8. Oregon 51
9. Arizona 48
10. Washington 38
11. Colorado 36
12. Oregon State 18

Fascinating poll, and I don't agree with it at all.

Notre Dame was projected as the Big East Conference champs by coaches:

1. Notre Dame
2. Connecticut
3. Louisville
4. Rutgers
5. Georgetown
6. DePaul
7. St. John's
8. Syracuse
9. West Virginia
10. South Florida
11. Marquette
12. Pittsburg
13. Villanova
14. Providence
15. Cincinnati
16. Seton Hall

They better begin conference play in December if they hope to finish on time.

Baylor is on top of the Big 12, aka the Big 10:

2011-12 Women's Basketball Preseason Poll

1. Baylor
2. Texas A&M
3. Texas
4. Oklahoma
5. Iowa State
6. Texas Tech
7. Kansas
8. Oklahoma State
9. Kansas State
10. Missouri

Connecticut Coach Geno Auriemma blames Notre Dame for the Big East realignment.

Baylor Coach Kim Mulkey had some choice words about the Big 12's realignment at yesterday's media day.

Tayshana Murphy's alleged killers plead not guilty

The two men arrested in the shooting death of Murry Bergtraum High School guard Tayshana Murphy have pleaded not guilty. Their next court date will be Dec. 20.

More on "The Mighty Macs"

"The Mighty Macs" introduces us all to a piece of women's basketball history, and Cathy Rush and Theresa Shank.

ESPN's Mechelle Voepel loved it.

The making of the movie.

WNBA draft lottery set for Nov. 10

I still think it should be draft by worst record, but so be it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Katie Collier continues leukemia fight

Bless the heart of young basketball player Katie Collier, but she is continuing her fight against leukemia with chemotherapy treatment.

It was less than three months ago that I watched her and her Seattle-based Tree of Hope team play in a tournament at Mater Dei High School. I found myself talking to her on the sidelines before I knew who she was. I had seen her team jersey and asked how the weather had been in Seattle. When Collier stepped on to the court, I was so impressed by her play.

She is in my prayers.

Pre-season polls beginning to roll out

Cal Poly is tabbed to top the Big West Conference:

Media Poll Results
1. Cal Poly (11) - 200
2. UC Santa Barbara (11) - 191
3. UC Davis (2) - 169
4. UC Riverside - 120
5. Cal State Fullerton - 107
6. UC Irvine - 91
7. Cal State Northridge - 73
8. Pacific - 66
9. Long Beach State - 63

In the Western Athletic Conference, Louisiana Tech is projected to finish first:

2011-12 Preseason Women’s Basketball Media Poll
Rank Teams (1st-Place Votes) Points
1 Louisiana Tech (13) 144
2 Fresno State (3) 129
3 Utah State (3) 126
4 Nevada 80
5 Hawai‘i 72
6 New Mexico State 59
7 Idaho 52
8 San Jose State 22

Delaware is picked to lead the Colonial Athletic Association:

1. Delaware
2. VCU
3. James Madison
4. Hofstra
5. Drexel, Old Dominion (tie)
7. UNC Wilmington
8. George Mason
9. William & Mary
10. Georgia State
11. Towson
12. Northeastern

Other college news:

ESPN will televise a record 108 basketball games this year.

Big 12 media day report.

Conference realignment was a hot topic at Big 12 media day.

Tennessee freshman point guard Ariel Massengale made her first trip back to practice sidelines today since colliding with teammate Cierra Burdick last week and showing concussion-like symptoms. She is day-to-day.

Three of Xavier's players go waaaaaaay back.


Two have now de-committed from Penn State.

Pac-12 preview: Stanford University

This is the seventh of a 12-part series previewing the Pac-12 teams.

Fans said of last year's Cardinal team that, after so many years of "almosts," that the 2010-2011 team was the one that could finally win a championship. They were so deep and so finely-attuned to each other, and what was more, they were peaking at season's end. Sure they could do it. They could beat UConn, like they had in December when they snapped their 90-game winning streak, and win a title.

But Texas A&M shocked Stanford and the rest of the country by upsetting them at the Final Four, in the semifinals. Once again, the Cardinal returned home from the tournament empty-handed.

How soon they will be able to bounce back to contender form depends upon the ability of the returners and the six incoming freshmen to step up.

The loss of the team's second and third-leading scorers in Jeannette Pohlen (14.5 ppg) and Kayla Pedersen (12.6 ppg) is huge. Both took turns anchoring Stanford during crisis times over the years, and it was Pohlen's performance last season that propelled the Cardinal in their dominating, streak-busting win over the Huskies.

Stanford still has two huge things going for them, though, in the form of the Ogwumike sisters, who are arguably the head and heart of the team.

Nnemkadi, the quieter of the two, is the type to just lower her shoulder and get it done - and then help analyze the game afterward. Last year as a junior she averaged 17.5 points and pulled down 7.6 rebounds per game.

Chiney, a sophomore this season, is the wide-eyed, animated Ogwumike who tends to be verbal during games. When the Cardinal won the Pac-10 Tournament last year, she walked out of Staples Center with teammates to get lunch wearing the net around her neck. She was Stanford's fourth-leading scorer at 11.7 points per game for the season, and she was the team-high rebounder with eight per contest.

With Nnemkadi headed into her senior year, the two sisters are poised to go off. Their tendency to play off one another, and for one to step up when the other is slowed, will only be amplified. And hopefully their leadership will help bring along their young teammates.

The Cardinal have a trio of bench players who could become formidable starters this year. Possibly the brightest is Tony Kokenis, a sophomore who blossomed at the end of last season enough to start two games. In the Pac-10 Championship game, she put up a career-high 17 points. If Kokenis has put in work in the off-season, she could be a force this year.

Junior forward Joslyn Tinkle (5.5 ppg) could step from under the Pedersen shadow and make the flashes of brilliance she showed at the 2009 WBCA All-Star game a continuous thing. Sarah Boothe, a redshirt junior forward/center, could take over under the basket for a team that has been without a permanent center since Jayne Appel graduated.

Lindy La Rocque will likely run the point again this year, but the senior will have to step up her game (3.9 ppg) if she wants to keep Kokenis (5.3 ppg) from stealing her spot. Guard Sara James (2.2) also needs to become of a scoring threat.

Newcomers include 6-foot-2 Southern California forward Bonnie Samuelson, who was a McDonald's All-American last spring; Northern California stand out Erica Payne, a 6-foot-2 forward; 5-foot-7 guard Amber Orrange of Texas - another McDonald's All-American selection; 6-foot-3 forward Taylor Greenfield of Iowa; 5-foot-9 guard Alex Green of Texas; and Jasmine Camp, a 5-foot-7 guard from Georgia.

It's not quite rebuilding, but it's close. And of course Coach Tara VanDerveer has a great game plan, including partnering players together for skill development. There's no doubt that when the season starts, we will see Stanford basketball on the court.

But the Cardinal have their work cut out for them this year.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Miami selected as ACC preseason favorite

Media representatives have tabbed Miami as the ACC preseason favorite, followed by Duke, Maryland, Florida State and Georgia Tech.

Whoops.....North Carolina junior center Waltiea Rolle will be out until at least December because she's pregnant.

Virginia Coach Joanne Boyle's media day quotes.

Report on last Friday's midnight madness at the University of Oregon.

America is the land of unbelievable second, third and fourth chances:

Marion Jones is representing the US as a diplomat on two European visits this week.

Jordan Adams: "I didn't have the best high school experience"

Top-ranked Mater Dei High School point guard Jordan Adams is about to make her decision from five schools: UCLA, USC, Washington, Maryland and Tennessee. But what does this quote mean?.......

"I didn't have the best high school experience," Adams said of her first three years at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif. "So I don't want to have the same thing in college for four years. Two national championships and I have all this and all that. We won. That's it."

Two national championships is a heck of a lot. So what's up?

Pac-12 preview: the University of Colorado, Boulder

This is the sixth in a 12-part series previewing the Pac-12 teams.

by Daniel Uribe

The complexion of women's basketball in the former Pac-10 Conference has a new look this season because of the addition of two new teams: Colorado and Utah. Colorado, in particular, is an ambitious squad with one of the youngest coaches in Division I basketball, whose sights are set mile-high.

Coming in from the turbulent Big 12 Conference, the Buffs and second-year coach Linda Lappe bring a battle-tested team that made it to the WNIT quarterfinals last season. What the team may have gained in experience however, will be offset by the graduation of the programs all-time leading scorer, Brittany Spears.

Spears finished her career with 2,185 points and was a first-team All-Big 12 selection. She helped Colorado finish with an 18-16 record (6-10, Big 12). In the process, Colorado faced two of its future conference rivals in California, whom they beat 81-65 in the second round, and USC, to whom they lost in the final eight, 70-87.

Lappe is a 2002 Colorado alumni. Prior to taking the head coaching job last year, she was the head coach at Division II Metro State College from 2007-10, boasting three winning seasons and a record of 50-36. Last year she was the third-youngest coach in Division I, and the only rookie coach at that level to gain wins over ranked opponents: then-number 16 Oklahoma, 73-68, and number 17 Iowa State, 66-60 (OT).

Lappe sees the positives of the conference change for the Buffs.

“We’re looking at (the conference change) as a very intriguing time for women’s basketball," she said. "It’s going to be a season of unknowns in the Pac-12, with all the new coaches [at UCLA, Washington, California and Arizona State] and two new schools coming in. But the unknowns make it exciting. I like it because it doesn’t put us at much of a disadvantage."

Regarding the difference between conferences, Lappe added, "It’s tough to compare the Big 12 and the Pac-12. We know the Pac-12 is going to be very quick; there’s going to be a lot of full-court basketball played. Stanford is probably the most physical team in the Pac-12, but that could change with all the new coaches. Overall, it’s just a very tough league that, in my opinion, doesn’t get the national respect that it should."

Beside losing Spears, Colorado also lost starter Britney Blythe (4.0 ppg, 1.3 apg). But there is still plenty of experience on the roster with the return of three starters: sophomore guard Brittany Wilson (7.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg); junior guard/forward Meagan Malcolm-Peck (7.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg); and senior forward Julie Seabrook (5.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg). Also returning is last year's second-leading scorer, reserve junior guard Chucky Jeffery (13.5 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 4.3 apg), who also led the team in assists and steals. These four players will be expected to pick up their game substantially and fill the offensive hole left by Spears' departure.

Also returning for the Buffs is 6-foot-4 sophomore center Rachel Hargis (2.6 ppg, 2.9 rpg); Brenna Malcolm-Peck, a 6-foot-2 redshirt sophomore guard/forward; and Ashley Wilson (2.1 ppg, 1.6 rpg), a 5-foot-8 sophomore guard.

Lappe's ambition has started to extend to the recruiting front, and in only her second year, she has got verbals from two players in the Hoopgurlz Top 100 for 2012: #38 Jamee Swan, a 6-foot-2 forward, and #63 Lauren Huggins, a 6-foot-1 wing.

Newcomers for this year's team are: 5-foot-11 guard Lexy Kresl from Paradise Valley, Arizona; 6-foot-2 forward Jen Reese from Clackamas, Ore.; 6-foot-1 forward Arielle Roberson from San Antonio, Texas; and Jasmine Sborov, a 6-foot-1 guard from Round Rock, Texas.

Colorado will open it's season at home against Northern Arizona on Nov. 11.

Daniel Uribe is a Los Angeles native and a freelance writer.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Practices, etc


North Carolina Coach Sylvia Hatchell's contract has been extended to 2018.

Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt talks about the Vols' 6 a.m. practice this morning.

Meet the Cal coaches.

USA Basketball:

The Pan American Games Team is practicing in Houston.


Noelle Quinn and Ebony Hoffman stopped by an LA elementary school last week to promote literacy.

New hoops movie "Mighty Macs"


Story behind the movie, which opens Friday.

Sign me up to go.

ESPN announces 2011-2012 basketball schedule

Tournaments + regular schedule = droolfest.

Pre-season polls.

C'mon, November.

Pac-12 preview: University of Southern California

This is the fifth in a 12-part series previewing the Pac-12 teams.

My preview is in the form of a story, with an accompanying slideshow.

The Trojans are looking really strong already.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Some projection

What are the chances of Texas A&M repeating as champions?

Baylor tipped off the season with midnight madness, featuring a dunk contest.

Next week Cal will unveil their new multi-media website.

The Tennessee Vols continue their tradition of seeing some of their players be chosen for USA Basketball teams.

One official describes his journey into referee-dom.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Just a lil bit

The Mountain West Conference and Conference USA are talking about merging.

One brave New York high school coach plans to still head his team this winter despite undergoing chemotherapy. He works with a lot of at-risk kids, so he doesn't feel like he can just leave them. I can relate to that.

Stanford is hitting the ground running this year. They did photo day this week.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The reconstruction continues at University of North Carolina-Wilmington

Cynthia Cooper-Dyke had problems last year, her first as head coach at University of North Carolina-Wilmington. First, a player quit the team after assistant coach Johnetta Hays forced her to log roll continuously during a practice on Sept. 20, 2010. Then last May three players left the team, though whether or not it was their choice to do so was never made clear. This year the team is almost entirely brand new:

Seven players from last year's squad, which finished with a school-record 24 wins and earned a trip to the WNIT, are gone;only three graduated.

Kristen Hanzer, who was third on the team in scoring last season, isn't listed on the roster. UNCW officials said they couldn't comment on why she isn't with the team.

Hanzer's departure, along with the graduation of Brittany Blackwell (16.4 points per game) and Martha White (14.6), means the Seahawks return only 29 percent of their points on offense. Sophomore Alisha Andrews is the lone double-figure scorer from last season's team, which averaged nearly 69 points per game.

One of Cooper-Dyke's assistant coaches, Jalie Mitchell, also left to take a job at North Texas.

Other college items:

Tulane's new practice facility gets a thumbs-up from athletes.

Arizona Coach Niya Butts told supporters this week that the Wildcats program continues to move upward.

USA Basketball:

Yet another US team will be representing this week. This time it's the Pan American Games Team. They convene tomorrow to get ready for competition in Mexico.

Recruiting updates:

ESPN is on the latest verbals.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pac-12 preview: Arizona State University

This is the fourth in a 12-part series previewing the Pac-12 teams.

by Daniel Uribe

In a season where many women's basketball teams in the newly-reconfigured Pac-12 Conference will face challenges and deal with new situations, easily one of the most intriguing squads is Arizona State.

The Sun Devils are dealing with the departure of their head coach, Charli Turner Thorne, who left for a nine-month sabbatical; a new interim head Coach in Joseph Anders; and the loss of three seniors who contributed 50 percent of their offense.

Turner Thorne's announcement came after the end of last season. Her leave, she said, would begin July 1. Anders, who was associate head coach at the time, stepped into the role of interim head coach.

Last season the Sun Devils had returned to the NCAA tournament after a one-year leave, losing in the first round. They finished 20-11 and were third in the Pac-10 with an 11-7 conference play record.

In her May 3 press conference, Turner Thorne said she was not "burned out," and would continue her professional development. She is currently serving as WBCA president and helped spearhead a leadership training program for coaches in which she participated last month. She said she was looking for balance in her life again.

"Over the last few years, as seasons ended - this job has changed a lot," she said. "I really feel like, when you step back I noticed that I was kind of losing my balance. I wasn't as centered. I used to be able to have the family and coaching thing."

During the WNBA season, Turner Thorne also served as the color commentator for the Phoenix Mercury for FOX Sports Arizona.

Anders has worked alongside Turner Thorne for 10 years, and prior to that, he was the head coach at Sacramento State. Meg Sanders will continue in her role as the associate head coach, and they are joined by new assistant coaches: Amy Wright, who comes off a three-year stint at Cleveland State, and Chris Menning, who served for six years as a National Evaluator and Event Coordinator for U.S. Junior Nationals (USJN) and Blue Star Basketball.

One of the areas of concern with Turner Thorne's absence will be recruiting. Most of the 2011 class honored their letters of intent. However, the Sun Devils did lose Kiki Alofaituli, a 6-foot-1 forward (Hoopgurlz number 26) who elected to transfer to USC. They also lost 2012, three-star-rated guard Simone Westbrook, who re-opened her recruitment in June and chose Arizona.

While Arizona State has an incoming class of three freshman and one junior college transfer, the 2012 class includes only one commit: three-star rated wing Arnecia Hawkins. The lack of recruits is notable because the Sun Devils have four seniors on their roster this season.

Among those seniors is forward Kimberly Brandon, the top returning scorer at 9.5 ppg, and last year's leading rebounder at 6.5 rpg. Because Arizona State lost three out of their four top scorers last year - Dymond Simon at 13.2 ppg, Becca Tobin at 9.5 ppg (and 5.8 rpg), and Tenaya Watson at 7.5 ppg - several other players will be asked to up their production on the offensive end if the team is top finish in the top half of the Pac-12.

Three of those players are juniors. Forward/center Janae Fulcher (5.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg) and guard Deja Mann (4.0 ppg) and senior forward/center Kali Bennett (3.9 ppg). Outside of Brandon and the three departed seniors, Mann had the most starts last year with 14.

Other returning players include senior guards Alex Earl (3.0 ppg) and Olivia Major, sophomore guard Adrianne Thomas, junior center Joy Burke, and redshirt junior guard Haley Parsons.

Newcomers for the Sun Devils are Eliza Normen, a 6-foot guard who was name a WBCA High School All-American and was ranked number 28 by Hoopgurlz. Joining her are Jada Blackwell, a 6-foot-1 forward from Etiwanda, Calif., and two 5-foot-8 guards in Promise Amukamara, from Glendale, Ariz. and Micaela Pickens, a junior college transfer from Cypress College in Southern California.

The Sun Devils open their season at home versus UC Riverside on Nov. 11.

Daniel Uribe is a Los Angeles native and a freelance writer.

College, college, college

Media days:

Oregon Coach Paul Westhead will have his team running even faster this season.

Notre Dame media day.

Practice-related stuff:

Pat Summitt was more satisfied with Tennessee's practice today than she was yesterday. And Vicki Baugh is the team leader this year.

LSU is ready to live up to high expectations.

NCAA odds and ends:

UConn guard Caroline Doty had a minor procedure done on her knee that will keep her out for the next week or so.

Alyssia Brewer seems happy with her new school and team, UCLA.

Doug Oliver has joined UC Irvine as an assistant coach.

Notre Dame coaches are nervous about the possible realignment of the Big East Conference.


Here's where top prospects are visiting this weekend.

A lil more WNBA:

Dishin & Swishin talks to Mike Thibault and Pokey Chatman about their respective teams.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

No games, but plenty of news

Anybody else jonesing for college ball to start? I thought so.

It's always fascinated me, the way some athletes go on from an ACL injury like nothing ever happened, while it ends the careers of others. In talking to Seimone Augustus for this piece, that moment of mental recovery is explored. Very interesting.

In other WNBA news, viewership was up for the Finals this year by 10 percent.


UConn Coach Geno Auriemma will receive the John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award.

San Diego State will have an open practice this Friday afternoon.

Cal will have an open practice Saturday morning.

USA Basketball:

Teresa Edwards will carry the Pan American Games flag in the opening ceremonies of those games this Friday.


This past weekend was a big viewing period for college coaches. ESPN was busy trying to cover it all.

Northwest scouting report.

Mid-Atlantic report.

Midwest report.

Pac-12 preview: Washington State University

This is the third in a 12-part series previewing the Pac-12 teams.

This year June Daugherty enters her fifth season of a seven-year contract at Washington State University. Will the school cut her loose early? If they do so, it would be understandable.

Under the former University of Washington coach, WSU has not had a winning record. In 2010-2011, the Cougars were 8-23. Even deconstructed Oregon State, with a team of unknown, unranked players had a better record last year. WSU hasn't landed any top recruits since Daugherty's first year, and those two - April Cook and Jazmine Perkins - are about to graduate. No one on the team has a double-digit scoring average.

The Cougars technically return one starter, as only junior center Carly Noyes started every game last year - undoubtedly because she's the tallest on the squad at 6-foot-5. Perkins and sophomore guard Ireti Amojo each started 21 games; top scorer Sage Romberg (9.5 points per game) started 17 games. The top rebounder was Perkins, at 5-foot-10, who averaged 5.3 boards per game.

Bench players Katie Madison, Lexie Pettersen and Katie Calderwood graduated. They are replaced this year with three unknown freshmen: Tia Presley of Spokane, Wash., Jordan Kelley from Gillette, Wyo., and Shalie Dheensaw of Victoria, B.C. The fact that for the second consecutive year Daugherty is able to land only one in-state recruit from a talent-laden area says a lot.

Perhaps WSU is used to basketball mediocrity. Before Daugherty there was coach Sherri Murrell, whose Cougar teams lived at the bottom of the Pac-10 Conference. WSU has been to the NCAA Tournament once, in 1991, where they lost in the first round. They don't even play in the WNIT.

The school should get un-used to underachievement. It happened to neighboring Gonzaga, whose ascension to elite program status was cemented last year. There is room for another great team in the Washington outback. The win-starved Pullman community would embrace them in a heartbeat.

As nice of a person as Daugherty is, she doesn't seem to have what it takes to effectively coach a team. Whether or not WSU will come to the same conclusion remains to be seen. But in the meantime, it looks like Cougar fans will have to suffer through another sub-par season this year.

It's official: Alyssia Brewer to UCLA

From Tennessee to UCLA.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pac-12 preview: Oregon State University

This is the second of a 12-part series previewing the Pac-12 teams.

Rebuilding takes time, and as Oregon State is seeing now, it goes in phases.

The program collapsed in 2009-2010, as player after player left the team amid allegations that former head coach LaVonda Wagner verbally abused athletes. Wagner was fired after the season ended, and only two players were left. Scott Rueck was named the new coach in late June, and he quickly set about finding players. He signed four and got four others from an open tryout.

Though Oregon State's overall 9-21 record for the 2010-2011 season wasn't the best, it was far better than anyone imagined for a team of unknowns. At times during the year, they looked solid and strong.

But now it looks like the Beavers will have to do more rebuilding, as they lost five players from last year and have six newcomers.

El Sara Greer, the team's third-leading scorer last season and one of the two players who stayed after the fall out, graduated. Angela Misa, the second player leftover from the Wagner era, transfered to Portland State University last spring. Three other bench players quit the team: Classye James, Tami Brown and Courtney Wetzel.

The good news for Oregon State is that four starters are returning for 2011-2012. They include sophomore guard Alexis Bostick, junior guard Sage Indendi, senior guard/forward Earlysia Marchbanks, and sophomore guard Alyssa Martin. Sophomore guards Jenna Dixon and Katie Shrock also return. Martin was the Beavers' leading scorer last year with 12.4 points per game, Indendi averaged 10.7 and Marchbanks, 8.7.

Rueck and his staff went for experience in their recruiting, as five out of six of the newcomers are junior college transfers.

Adding much-needed height will be Patricia Bright, a 6-foot-4 forward/center from Pensacola State College, and 6-foot-7 center Thais Pinto from Western Nebraska Community College. Three new guards include Mollee Schwegler from Lower Columbia College, Quortni Fambro of Northwest Florida State College, and freshman Ali Gibson, who hails from St. Mary's High School in Woodbridge, Calif. Forward ShaKiana Edwards-Teasley, who is 6-foot-2, transfers from North Idaho College.

The Beavers' pre-season schedule is still appropriately conservative for a budding program. Opponents include Pacific University, Southern Utah, North Texas and Corban University. Their toughest challenges before conference play will be Montana State, Cal State Northridge, Pepperdine and Cal State Bakersfield.

Rueck also added his third assistant coach this past spring, in Megan Dickerson. Assistants Mark Campbell and Eric Ely each return for their second season.

Again this year, Oregon State is fielding relative unknowns. But this season they will be taller and more experienced than last year. Along with the change from the Pac-10 to the Pac-12, the field seems wide open for the Beavers. Maybe this year they will find their identity.

Nebraska coach recovering from infection, determined to coach Huskers

Nebraska Coach Connie Yori has been going through tough times since having knee surgery almost two months ago: she developed an infection and a clot, and spent about a month in the hospital. She is determined to come back and coach, however.

Californiagoldenblogs finishes previewing this year's Cal team, with a look at some of the returnees and freshmen.

WNBA items:

The Dream want to keep building on their successes.

Interview with Indiana Fever's Shyra Ely.

Lynx parade draws 15,000

The weather was perfect today for a celebratory parade for the 2011 WNBA Champion Lynx. More than 15,000 crowded the streets for the event.


Players have been expressing the joy that the parade brought them via social media all day long. They deserve to feel good.

Tamika Catchings will rehab, work on her other passion during off-season

2011 WNBA MVP Tamika Catchings is rehabilitating her torn plantar fascia, but she told me she has other plans for the off-season: doing work for her Catch the Stars Foundation. She explained more about the work of the Foundation in this interview.

Monday, October 10, 2011

John R. Wooden Award pre-season top 30 list released

All the great names on this list....I would hate to have to be the ones to pare it down:

LaSondra Barrett, LSU
Alex Bentley, Penn State
Cierra Bravard, Florida State
Carolyn Davis, Kansas
Elena Delle Donne, Delaware
Skylar Diggins, Notre Dame
Stefanie Dolson, Connecticut
Chelsea Gray, Duke
Brittney Griner, Baylor
Keisha Hampton, DePaul
Bria Hartley, Connecticut
Tiffany Hayes, Connecticut
Courtney Hurt, VCU
Glory Johnson, Tennessee
Shenise Johnson, Miami
Lynetta Kizer, Maryland
Natalie Novosel, Notre Dame
Nnemkadi Ogwumike, Stanford
Chiney Ogwuumike, Stanford
Devereaux Peters, Notre Dame
Samantha Prahalis, Ohio State
Jaime Printy, Iowa
Justine Raterman, Dayton
Sugar Rodgers, Georgetown
Shoni Schimmel, Louisville
Odyssey Sims, Baylor
Shekinna Stricklen, Tennessee
Alyssa Thomas, Maryland
Tyra White, Texas A&M
Riquna Williams, Miami

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Minnesota Lynx honored at today's Vikings game

They were introduced, met the mascot, were interviewed, and got to hold up the trophy, which I am guessing has been held continuously by one Lynx since Friday night.


The Lynx rank among Minnesota's best-ever teams.

Details on Tuesday's Lynx parade.

Going through the MVP Seimone Augustus pictures from game night, I am struck by the look on Rebekkah Brunson's face and Jess Adair touching Seimone's heart in this one, Maya Moore's bear hug of the star in this one, and especially this one - Mama Taj's deeply-concerned mama look, and mama gesture. This team really cares about each other. It's heart-warming.

USA National Team closes out European tour with a win

Our USA team beat UE Sopron today, 73-63, ending their European play. Swin Cash and Cappie Pondexter lead the way with 14 points a piece, and Sophia Young and Tina Charles each chipped in 12.

Box score.


Team USA went 3-2 in the tournament, which is a little unusual for an American squad. Is it because some athletes were missing, playing in the WBNA finals? Hopefully the problem will be fixed the next time this team gets together.

Pac-12 preview: The University of California, Berkeley

This is the first of a 12-part series previewing the Pac-12 teams.

It might seem odd to say that a team returning seven players is going to have an exquisitely fresh start this year. But Cal's five freshmen were one of the highest-ranked recruiting classes in the nation, and to steer this ship is a new head coach and two new assistants. It's not just a breath of fresh air - it's a windstorm.

Thanks to a weak pre-season schedule last season, the Bears had a strong record going into conference play at 8-3. In the Pac-10, however, their weaknesses started showing. By February they had a complete breakdown, winning only two out of eight games that they played that month.

Cal made it to the semifinals of the Pac-10 Tournament before losing to UCLA. They went on to play two rounds in the WNIT before being knocked out by Colorado.

At the press conference after the Pac-10 Tournament loss, former Coach Joanne Boyle seemed resigned, like she'd given up on the team. She talked about the "lack of participation" of players and the need to play a game hard for 40 minutes. Less than a month later she was gone, having taken the head coaching job at Virginia.

Enter Lindsay Gottlieb, a former associate head coach to Boyle, who had spent the last three years at the helm of the UC Santa Barbara program. While there, she guided the Gauchos to two Big West Conference championships and two post-season berths. Charmin Smith, assistant to Boyle for the past four years, stayed at Cal. Most of the players and staff seemed to feel comfortable.

Forward DeNesha Stallworth left the program, but all of the 2011 recruits elected to stay. Brea Olinda's Justine Hartman, who had signed with UCLA before their head coach departed, came to Cal after the Bruins granted her release.

Gottlieb then added Kai Felton, who had been an assistant and USC and Oregon, and Daron Park, an assistant at Maryland. Gottlieb says she and her staff are all on the same page.

Whatever that page consists of on the court remains to be seen, but off-court, it looks like some solid player-coaches bonding is occurring. The four coaches did a rap performance for players last month at an informal gathering. This past weekend, two of the freshmen visited Gottlieb and Smith at a tournament where they were scouting possible future players.

Elbert Kinnebrew, the club ball coach of freshman Reshanda Gray, said "this girl is happy to be a Bear."

Gray, from Los Angeles, finished out her high school career in sterling fashion, helping the USA U18 team capture a gold medal in 2010. She was also a McDonald's All-American last winter. A center/forward, Gray was ranked 22nd in the class of 2011.

Freshman Brittany Boyd, a point guard from Berkeley, was ranked ninth in her position. Six-foot-one wing Erika Johnson from Seattle was ranked 21st overall and third at her position. A guard from Israel, Avigiel Cohen was a member of the Israel National Team for four years. Hartman, a highly-regarded and ranked post, helped Brea Olinda stay atop the national rankings throughout her high school career.

Stallworth was the team's leading scorer, averaging 13.3 points per game. But Cal's other four starters return.

Layshia Clarendon, a junior guard, averaged 13.2 ppg last season. Talia Caldwell, a junior center, had 9.6 ppg and 8.6 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Lindsay Sherbert (8.1 ppg) and junior guard Eliza Pierre (6.4) round out the lineup.

Also returning are Gennifer Brandon, Afure Jemerigbe and Mikayla Lyles.

Cal will have a slightly tougher pre-season schedule this year, as they take on Texas, Virginia and Ohio State. Pac-12 play begins Dec. 29, as the Bears travel to Los Angeles to take on UCLA and USC.

If the enthusiasm of the coaches is any indication, this year's Cal Bears team should be a very exciting one to watch.

Lynx come home to a crowd

The WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx returned to Minneapolis yesterday and were greeted by over 500 fans at the airport, including the governor. I got a chill seeing the team come down the escalator, with Rebekkah Brunson holding the trophy.

Also loving this video - especially at the end, where the fan tells Lindsay Whalen, "it's nice to see you smile."

Lynx fans were verklempt at their team's win.

ESPNW learned five things from the Finals. That's a pretty superficial list, so allow me:

1. Yes, close teams win championships. Members of the Lynx said they "were like sisters" and "did everything together." Result? They seemed to know where each other was on the court at all times, and they trusted one another's decision-making. Contrast that with the three-win-season Tulsa Shock, who yelled at each other on court all season long. I have written in this space before about the importance of team bonding.

2. You get what you pay for. Cheryl Reeve and Marynell Meadors are excellent coaches, with a lot of experience coaching women. They are not clueless and/or replacements like Nolan Richardson and Joe Bryant. Reeve and Meadors took their teams to the championship.

3. The WNBA is getting more respect and more support. Huge crowds turned out for the Finals. Pro franchises in the cities of all playoff teams stepped up to buy tickets for fans. Pro athletes and entertainers came to the games and sat courtside. Several plays were featured as "the play of the day" on NBA TV. There is hope.

4. Hard work and persevering through adversity pays off. Seimone Augustus has overcome some horrific injuries and conditions the last few years. It's been a long time since Lindsay Whalen and the Minnesota Gophers made their NCAA run. Mama Taj is 11 days shy of her 41st birthday. Rebekkah Brunson went from unknown (to the outside world) to supastah. Atlanta's time will come. They're young.

5. One player does not a team make. Angel McCoughtry is a brilliant athlete, and she broke the Finals scoring record for the second year in a row. But the rest of the team has got to step up and contribute too, or they won't be taking home the big trophy with the ball on top anytime soon.

Right now, the Lynx are being honored at the Minnesota Vikings football game. Doncha love it????

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Laurel Richie, WNBA needs to go after pure sports fans

New WNBA President Laurel Richie has made marketing her primary focus. And to her credit, she's done some great work, like landing the Boost Mobile deal. Her next task will be to identify the league's fans and go after them to buy game tickets. To do that, she'll need to think way outside the box.

In the past, the league has tried to court NBA fans with the idea that basketball fans will love all basketball. But that didn't prove to be true, as quite often, WNBA fans and NBA fans are two different breeds. There is also a lot of one-way crossover; while WNBA fans sometimes keep up with NBA teams, many NBA fans don't track the WNBA.

Another prior tactic has been to market to women, with the assumption that they will be greater supporters of women's sports because they're women. That has also proved to be a faulty supposition. Many women and girls have a clear bias towards the NBA, men's college and boys high school basketball to the point where they won't even watch girls and women play. I have written here before about my dismay at high school girls, in particular, for not following the college game (especially when they're aspiring towards an athletic scholarship), or knowing anything about the WNBA. I've heard similar things from coaches, too. I also see plenty of grown players, both on the college and pro level, who will "tweet" about a TV show they're watching when a major game - like the WNBA championship series - is on. Ditto with college coaches. I truly question their love for basketball if they don't at least acknowledge that the game is on the other channel.

Indeed, some of the strongest support lately has come from older male basketball players and other male athletes. Bill Russell has been a regular at Seattle Storm games for years. He says that in the WNBA, the game is played "like they used to play" when he was in the NBA: team ball.

At last night's Lynx-Dream game three, Dr. J was sitting courtside. Atlanta's pro basketball, football and baseball teams chipped in and bought tickets for fans. Minnesota's pro franchises did the same thing in Minneapolis for games one and two.

Shaquille O'Neal "tweeted" his congratulations to fellow LSU alumni Seimone Augustus. Chris Paul, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Magic Johnson also added their kudos to players. Singer/rapper Lil Wayne sat courtside last night as well, wearing a Seimone Augustus jersey. When the Dream were in the Eastern Conference finals, R&B star Lloyd sat courtside.

Where were some of the past WNBA legends last night? Did Missy Elliott, MC Lyte or Nicki Minaj - who rapped about Lisa Leslie last year - attend? Nope.

Last night I went to the gym to watch the second half of the championship game. I walked in and who was already sitting there taking it in but my friend, the ex-NFL player. He was there Wednesday when game two was broadcast. He's over 50, and looks a little hard-nosed. But he knows the WNBA.

"What I'm wondering," he said the other night, "is how can one player change a team like that?"

I raised my eyebrows.

"You mean Maya Moore?"

"Yeah!" he said emphatically. "That's what I'm TALKIN 'bout!"

Last night we sat there and watched the close of the game together. He may not know all the specifics, but he knows enough. He asked me a few questions to get caught up.

"Is Harvey Catchings daughter still playing?"

I smiled. "Yep. She was the MVP this year. I love me some Catch."

"Do you think Moore is as good as that one on the Phoenix team?"

"You mean Taurasi?"

He nodded.

"Not yet but -"

he said it with me "she will be."

A little while later a friend of mine joined us. She's a 5-foot-nothing nurse who used to live in Minnesota. And she loves sports. She enjoyed every minute of the fourth quarter.

"They will be happy in Minneapolis because all the rest of the pro teams suck," she said in her African accent.

My football buddy gestured toward the TV at one point and said, "I don't see how you couldn't love this."

Laurel Richie needs to go after the sports fan. Female, male, whatever race and whatever age - although starting with older folks might be a good idea. But court the fan who loves and appreciates all sports. It would not take much to get my two friends, and others like them, to buy WNBA game tickets in the summer time.

If the sports fans are brought on board, they could help get others to see what they've been missing.