Monday, April 30, 2012

The NCAA coaching hires that just won't stop

Georgetown assistant Keith Brown will be elevated to head coach.

Former Wisconsin coach Lisa Stone is expected to be named St. Louis coach.

Tasha McDowell joins Cincinnati as an assistant, coming from Western Michigan.

Beth Cunningham returns to Notre Dame as an assistant coach.

UNCW's coaching search is down to the last few finalists.

Wisconsin-Milwaukee athletic director Rick Costello resigned last night, and employees are under a gag order.

Player transfers:

Brittany Shine is leaving Florida for Cal.

Kaila Hulls leaves Bowling Green for Indiana.


The Connecticut Sun has partnered with Goodwin College to offer scholarships.

Tiffany (Jackson) Jones will miss this season with the Shock due to pregnancy.


The USA will face Angola and China in the first round in London. This makes China's West coast trip to play the Sparks and Storm this week even more significant.


Vanderbilt documentary, "Grenny's Got Game."

More on WNBA training camps

As the Fever open camp, here are five areas to watch for.

Sky Coach Pokey Chatman talks about the first day of camp.

The Mercury is thinking point guard.

The off-season was good for the Silver Stars' Sophia Young.

April Sykes is giving her best during Sparks tryouts.

As mentioned in this space last week, Jacqua Williams is getting her chance with the Storm. Here's one of my favorite pictures of Williams, from 2007 when she lead Georgia Tech to an NCAA playoff win:

Outtakes on my Sparks-first-day-at-camp story:

- First I talked to the veterans, who commented on how strong and conditioned the rookies were. Then I talked to Nnemkadi Ogwumike, who said the veterans seemed so strong that she hoped she'd match up.
- It really struck me when Ogwumike said she wasn't sure if she could handle the practices. People build up their favorite athletes into these goddesses, but the athletes just think of themselves as regular people.
- Delisha Milton-Jones talked about trying to ease the pressure for the youngsters. She said she'd joke until someone finally copped to something like, "I'm nervous today." She'd then say, "why you nervous, baby? It's the same game - just a little bit more intensity. It's gonna be hard work, but it's gonna be needed, so don't sweat it." Milton-Jones and Ebony Hoffman are truly nice people.
- I love the coaches accents: Carol Ross with her Southern slant, and assistant Sandy Brondello on the Australian tip. Assistant Jim Lewis didn't say much, so I don't know where he's from............

Carol Ross sets aggressive tone for Sparks on opening day

My story, and photos from opening day at Sparks camp yesterday.

WNBA team updates and rosters.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

First day of training camp in the books

The Shock opened with a long, energy-filled practice.

The Lynx have new faces, but the goal is the same for the defending champs.

Mystics day one highlights.

Practice for the Storm ended with the traditional huddle. The camp begins with key questions.

Dream owner Kelly Loeffler addressed the team before camp opened.

Wow.....five practice players at Phoenix Mercury camp threw up today.

Picture from San Antonio's camp.

Chicago Sky camp went well, according to veteran Ticha Penicheiro.

Not much from Indiana.

Nothing from the New York Liberty.

Nothing from the Connecticut Sun.

I went to Sparks camp today and saw the last third of the session. On hand were Delisha Milton-Jones, Ebony Hoffman, Marissa Coleman, Nicky Anosike, Nnemkadi Ogwumike, April Sykes, Tyra White, Farhiya Abdi, Darxia Morris and Khadijah Rushdan. Still overseas but scheduled to return this week are: Candace Parker, Kristi Toliver, Jantel Lavender, Jenna O'Hea, Ashley Shields, Sharnee' Zoll and Alana Beard.

It was a VERY interesting session, and interviews afterward were great. Look for my write-up tomorrow.

Friday, April 27, 2012

More and more coaching shifts

St. John's associate head coach Joe Tartamella is now the head coach.

Longtime Oral Roberts assistant Misti Cussen takes the reins as head coach.

Two North Dakota State assistants have resigned.


The New York Liberty have hired Norm Ellenberger as assistant coach.

And the most exciting news of the day to me has no link - just a bunch of tweets: WNBA players are arriving in their team cities by the hour. Some have already attended workouts today. Training camp opens Sunday, with pre-season games beginning next weekend. It's almost time for the season! Bring it on.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

USA TODAY's 2012 All-USA high school girls basketball team

First, second and third teams:

All-USA first team

Breanna Stewart, Cicero-North Syracuse (N.Y.)
Alexis Jones, MacArthur (Texas)
Bashaara Graves, Clarksville (Tenn.)
Morgan Tuck, Bolingbrook (Ill.)
Moriah Jefferson, THESA (Texas)

All-USA second team

Jewell Loyd, Niles West (Ill.)
Diamond DeShields, Norcross (Ga.)
Malina Howard, Twinsburg (Ohio)
Katie Collier, Seattle Christian (Wash.)
Brittney Sykes, University (N.J.)

All-USA third team

Nirra Fields, Mater Dei (Calif.)
Bria Holmes, Hillhouse (Conn.)
Jonquel Jones, Riverdale Baptist (Md.)
Antoinette Bannister, Potters House (Fla.)
Alexis Prince, Edgewater (Fla.)

Breanna Stewart is POY.

Just a tiny bit

ESPN continues their series analyzing the recruiting needs within the major conferences. This week: the Big Ten.

More coaching shifts (will it ever end?):

Joe Haigh is the new coach at St. Francis University.

Kristen Holt has resigned at Colorado State.

Central Michigan likes their coach - they signed Sue Guevara to a five-year contract extension.


Dishin & Swishin flashes back to a January, 2011 conversation with Pat Summitt.

Kyra Elzy leaves Kentucky to take assistant job at Tennessee

Former Lady Vol Kyra Elzy will reportedly leave her assistant job at Kentucky to be one of Holly Warlick's new assistants at Tennessee. Elzy helped Tennessee win two national championships as a player, including the 1997-1998 year, when the Vols went 39-0.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

WNBA training camp opens this Sunday; Pat Summitt receives Wooden Award


Good news for LA Sparks fans - Candace Parker has signed a multi-year contract extension.

The Seattle Storm's training camp roster is complete, with the addition of five signees. Two are from Washington state: Ashley Corral, who just graduated from USC, and Seattle native Jacqua Williams. I thought Corral should have been drafted, and I remember the Williams days at Rainier Beach High School. Good luck to both phenomenal players.

Other signees include Lykendra Johnson to the Sky; Jasmine Lee to the Lynx; Aisha Sutherland to the Dream; and Cierra Bravard to the Silver Stars. I SO wish there were two more teams in the league to handle all these talented players.

Indiana Fever forward and 2011 MVP Tamika Catchings will be inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.

More new NCAA coaches:

Jerry Finkbeiner is leaving Oral Roberts after 16 years to coach at Utah State.

The University of Missouri Kansas City has picked Marsha Frese as their new coach. She's the sister of Terp coach Brenda Frese.

New coach Patricia Bibbs is part of big changes at Grambling.

NCAA transfers:

Three players are leaving Oklahoma State.

Pat Summitt:

Pat Summitt received the 2012 Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup Award just a short time ago in Atlanta.

Pat Summitt, Chamique Holdsclaw and Tyler Summitt at tonight's Wooden Award presentation (photo by Chamique Holdsclaw)

Click the "Pat Summitt's legacy" link in the middle of this page to see a great video of the legend, narrated in part by former Lady Vol Michelle Marciniak.

Study links women's higher rate of ACL tears to nervous system

Interesting study:

Research at Oregon State University suggests men and women differ in how they transmit the nerve impulses that control muscle force. The finding may help explain why women are far more likely than men to blow out their knees, specifically the anterior cruciate ligaments, during non-contact activity. Answering that question could lead to training regimens that reduce the risk of injury. Although ACL tears often are repaired, there is a 15 percent chance of re-tearing, and even repaired injuries can lead to osteoarthritis.......

In addition to obvious skeletal and muscular differences between the sexes, the study of 17 male and 17 female college-age recreational athletes found men and women differ in “recurrent inhibition,” or how they transmit the nerve impulses that control muscle force. Men control nerve impulses much like athletes trained for explosive muscle usage, like sprinters. Women control nerve impulses more like athletes trained for endurance, like cross-country runners.

Explained another way, Johnson said, all movements begin with a motor command, or action potential, from the central nervous system. Within the spinal cord are a multitude of mechanisms that modulate how those commands are sent. He and his team measured several of them, including recurrent inhibition. Recurrent inhibition is most generally thought of as a regulator of motor output in that it modulates the action potential sent to the muscle.

It sounds like the medical community is finally on to something with this wretched syndrome.

Recruiting and evaluation periods a matter of perspective

This story, on ever-changing NCAA summer recruiting/evaluation regulations, ran last weekend as the recruiting season took full flight. UConn Coach Geno Auriemma, and others, are quoted as being dismayed by what they call a shrinking window of time to be able to see prospects:

Auriemma is troubled by the shrinking evaluation and recruiting calendar in women's basketball, even though he and other Bigfoot programs are the primary beneficiaries.

"Any time you limit how many times a coach can go out and see players play," Auriemma said, "you're eliminating the opportunities for the programs that are really trying to become successful and you're helping the programs that already are successful."......

"Every year, it looks like the windows get smaller — when coaches can come out, when they can't come out, who they can talk to, who they can't talk to," said Princess Anne High coach Darnell Dozier, who has coached one of the state's best Group AAA programs for the past 19 years and is an annual fixture at Boo's tournament.

"My feeling from when I first started to now is college coaches don't really get a good evaluation of most kids," Dozier said. "Back in the day, coaches could come out and see us two or three times a week, and tournaments like this weren't so big and rushed. You might see a kid 15 or 20 minutes this game and 10 minutes the next. It's just not a very good system right now."

The 2011-2012 recruiting calendar runs from June 1, 2011 to May 31, 2012:

(a) June 1-14, 2011: Quiet Period

(b) June 15 through August 1, 2011: Evaluation Period

(c) August 2 through September 6, 2011: Quiet Period

(d) September 7 through October 14, 2011: Contact Period

(e) October 15, 2011, to the date of the prospect’s initial high school or two-year college contest: Quiet Period

(f) November 7 (7 a.m.) - 9, 2011, (7 a.m.): Dead Period

(g) The period between the prospect’s initial and final high school or two-year college contests: Evaluation Period

(h) March 1 through May 14, 2012, [except for (1) below]: Contact Period

(1) April 9 (7 a.m.) - 11, 2012, (7 a.m.): Dead Period

(i) During the Saturday before the start of the Division I Women’s Basketball Championship through Wednesday noon after the Championship game, [March 31 through April 4, 2012, (noon)]: Dead Period

(j) During four sanctioned Amateur Athletic Union women’s events occurring between May 18 and June 14 selected at the discretion of the institution and designated in writing in the office of the director of athletics: Evaluation Period

(k) During any high school all-star game that occurs within the state in which the member institution is located: Evaluation Period

(l) All other dates: Quiet Period

NCAA spokesman Christopher Radford said there have been no changes to this year's recruiting calendar.

"For background, after the Division I Board of Directors last fall adopted Leadership Council recommendations for a new recruiting model in men’s basketball, the Council focused its attentions on recruiting issues in women’s basketball," Radford said.

"A subcommittee featuring representatives from the WBCA, Women’s Basketball Issues Committee and the Council – is currently seeking feedback in several areas of potential change in recruiting. The group hopes to collect feedback through the summer, and the subcommittee will present the recommendations to the full Leadership Council in October."

I guess I would question why there were objections to aligning recruiting regulations in women's and men's basketball. It seems to me that everything should be uniform, and unilaterally enforced.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Michael T White Tournament of Champions, LA, title game: Cal Sparks Gold 58, Team Concept 57

Santa Ana, Calif. - It was a match up that had been anticipated, and the top two teams on the West Coast did not disappoint the hundreds of fans and coaches in attendance at Sunday's MTWTOCLA championship game.

Cal Sparks Gold squeaked out the win over Team Concept, 58-57. Class of 2013 guard Courtney Jaco lead the way for Gold with 26 points, which included seven three-pointers. Jordin Canada added 15 points. Concept was lead by Kailee Johnson, who put up 24 points.

Each team was able to shut down their opponent's star player, as Gold held Concept's #1-ranked Mercedes Russell to 10 points, and Concept limited #6 Erica McCall's contribution to four.

The game got off to a quick start, and the pace only continued to accelerate as both teams traded basket for basket. The energy was so intense, according to Gold Director and Coach Elbert Kinnebrew, that fans gave both teams a loud ovation as they broke for halftime as a credit to their effort.

"I've never seen that happen at a club ball game before," he said.

In the game's waning seconds, Gold had managed a 58-55 lead, when Concept's Jordan Reynolds shot a three and was fouled by Jaco with .4 seconds on the clock. She made the first shot, missed the second and swished the third, so Gold just inbounded the ball for the win.

Kinnebrew, who has fielded increasingly talented Los Angeles-area teams for over a decade, said it was the best game he'd ever coached, and called Portland-based Concept the best team Gold has played in seven years.

"They are every bit as advertised," Kinnebrew said. "They are a complete team, and they're the first team we've played (this year) who were bigger than us."

Concept includes Springfield resident Russell, several Portland players and two from Idaho. They began making a name for themselves on the club ball circuit last summer, which they solidified at the end of the season. Their next major tournament appearance will be End of the Trail in early July.

Kinnebrew gives credit to Gold guard Siera Thompson, who found out less than a minute before tipoff that she would need to start for an injured teammate.

Significant numbers of fans and NCAA coaches came to the tournament. Some coaches could be seen, during the championship game, sending messages to colleagues updating them on the action.

"It shows that the West Coast does have major, successful tournaments," Kinnebrew said.

Hires, tranfers and tributes

Coaching hires:

Pensacola State's new coach is Leah Drury, formerly assistant at Alabama.

Kansas assistant Tori Verdi is expected to be named Eastern Michigan's new coach.


JoNiquia Guilford is leaving ODU for Hampton, but she and her coach differ on the reasons why.

Amber Rechis leaves Florida Gulf Coast University for an NAIA school.

Pat Summitt:

The legendary coach has a book deal, and is working on a memoir.

Pat Summitt and son Tyler will be the recipients of the Alzheimer's Association's Sargent and Eunice Shriver Profiles in Dignity Award.

Chamique Holdsclaw says her coach is also her second mother.


Candace Parker on motivation: practice how you play.

A bit on the LA Sparks open tryouts this past weekend.

Monday, April 23, 2012

More coaching hires

Kennesaw State's new coach is Nitra Perry - the former associate head at Toledo.

Tracey Dorow is Valparaiso's new coach.

Kim Barnes Arico was introduced as Michigan's head coach today. It's still sad to me.


Holly Warlick's challenge will be meeting Pat Summitt's standard.

One writer says the days of a Lady Vol dynasty are over.

I'd say to that, who knows? Just let Warlick coach the way you should have let Summitt coach this past season.

Asjha Jones tabbed for 12th Olympic team spot

Asjha Jones was named to the 2012 Olympic Basketball Team today, taking a spot that was thought to be saved for Brittney Griner, before she opted out last week. This means that half of the athletes on the team are UConn graduates: Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Diana Taurasi, Tina Charles, Maya Moore and Jones.

Geno Auriemma, coach of the Olympic squad, said "he would like to think it's a coincidence," and that the players were named because they deserved it.

So if Auriemma didn't pick these players, who did? ESPN points out that Auriemma only has input, and a committee makes the decisions.

Aside from the Huskies issue, with all due respect to Jones, I can think of at least a dozen other players who are more skilled for the job. I wonder why her, of all of those players.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Michael T. White Tournament of Champions LA, Day One

Santa Ana, Calif. - It's the same great scenario every April: numerous ranked teams, copious numbers of college coaches. It makes for an exciting and fun day.

Lady Style Elite (Seattle) 65, West Coast All Stars (San Diego) 45

For the first several minutes it looked like WCAS wouldn't have a problem taking this game, because they clearly have some talented athletes on their team. Briteesha Solomon stood out in particular, with her shooting ability and quick penetration to the rack. But the Style took advantage of the fact that the San Diego-based squad wasn't playing as a team, and they also out-hustled them. What was a nine-point lead at halftime for the Style turned into a 20-point win.

Many of the players on WCAS go to Mission Bay High School in San Diego, and play for coach Sade Wiley-Gatewood. The club team was started by Wiley-Gatewood's parents; I met Jerry Gatewood yesterday. His daughter wasn't present.

The Style's star players are from Seattle powerhouse schools Franklin and Garfield high schools. They won their evening quarterfinal match last night and advance today to play Cal Sparks Gold in the tournament semifinals.

Cal Sparks Gold 72 (Los Angeles area), Team Arkansas Elite 29

Gold is loaded with high-profile players like Erica McCall, Jordin Canada and Courtney Jaco. The score was close for only a few minutes before Gold broke it open and turned it into a blowout. No one had a bad game.

McCall told me before the game that she enjoyed her recent visit to UConn, but she is keeping her options open at the moment in choosing a college.

Team Concept (Portland) 63, East Bay Explosion (Northern Cal) 34

EBX is a good team and is not used to being thrashed. And they did a fairly good job on Team Concept star, #1-ranked Mercedes Russell, who they held to 10 points. But TC has too many other good players, and when Russell was being limited, they all stepped up. For being from all corners of the Northwest, TC plays together extremely well. It is no wonder they've become such a force on the club ball circuit so quickly.

TC plays plays the Arizona Warriors this morning in the semifinals. They are expected to advance to play Cal Sparks Gold in the tournament championship game this evening.

National Division bracket.

Full photo gallery.

NCAA coaches showed up in particular to catch Cal Sparks Gold and Team Concept, but healthy crowds remained throughout the day. It was encouraging to see such respected coaches as Dean Lockwood, Bonnie Henrickson and Geno Auriemma on hand for most of the day. I saw representatives from every Pac-12 team except Colorado.

Kansas Coach Bonnie Henrickson and Tennessee Assistant Coach Dean Lockwood talk between games.

UConn Coach Geno Auriemma settles in to watch Cal Sparks Gold vs. Team Arkansas Elite.

Mercedes Russell calls for the ball during Team Concept's game.

Erica McCall collects a rebound for Cal Sparks Gold.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Weekend odds and ends

Mickie DeMoss chronicles her journey with Pat Summitt the last few years. Deep stuff.

Top 2013 recruit Mercedes Russell isn't phased by the changes at Tennessee - one of the schools on her finalist list.

Kate Starbird is a new assistant professor at the University of Washington.

Merit Management Group strikes again: Lorin Dixon, the UConn graduate who played at MMG's pro camp three weeks ago, has been signed to training camp by the Tulsa Shock.

Leaving St. John's is hard as heck for coach Kim Barnes Arico. I'm still stunned at that announcement, myself.

One blogger names last year's six most underrated WNBA players. It's a good list.

Catching up with Mercedes Russell

Last May, Springfield, Ore. center Mercedes Russell showed up to the West Coast Premier Invitational in Pomona, Calif. a little-known figure outside of her home state, where she and her high school team had just won a state championship. At that event, and subsequent club ball tournaments that summer, Russell made a name for herself. Her star really took off.

Eleven months later, the 16-year-old has narrowed her college choices down to ten schools: Tennessee, Louisville, Kentucky, Notre Dame, Georgia, USC, Duke, North Carolina, LSU or Baylor.

Narrowed to 10?

Today at the Michael T. White Tournament of Champions, Los Angeles, I caught up with Russell, who is here this weekend with top-ranked Team Concept. We talked about her whirlwind year, which was capped by a second state title last month.

Since she had to narrow her list to 10 schools, how many letters of interest did she get from colleges?

"Oh, so many," Russell said, shaking her head.

She has taken unofficial visits to Tennessee, Louisville and Kentucky, but is keeping her options open at this point. She said she has a vision for the type of school where she'd like to play.

"I'd like to play in front of big, enthusiastic crowds," Russell said.

She is still 6-foot-5, but is more muscular and thus a more intimidating presence in the paint. Russell is also notably more confident and well-spoken. On the court she has bolstered her skills, and averaged almost 30 points a game this season.

The next major tournament for Team Concept this season is the End of the Trail Tournament in early July.

"I think what I've improved most about my game this year is my moves and my footwork," she said.

Class of 2013 #1-ranked Mercedes Russell of Springfield, Ore. listens at a Team Concept timeout today.

Russell prepares to box out on a free throw.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Holly Warlick "knows the tradition and the legacy"

This story will make any Tennessee fan feel better:

"Like (Warlick) said in her press conference, her philosophies and her values are very much in line with Coach Summitt and what she is about, and so that's going to make the transition a lot smoother," Spani said. "But Holly is her own personality as well, so we're excited about adjusting to that and looking forward to that."

Summitt's voice will still resonate throughout the gyms during practice. There will also still be "The Stare," Summitt's famous stare down that can send chills through players and officials.

The Lady Vols are glad they won't be seeing a total makeover next season.

"I think seeing this year and seeing a mini version of what next year might look like, that makes the transition a lot easier instead of a very abrupt difference," Spani said. "So knowing that Coach Summitt is still going to be around and still going to be very involved in our program, we want that as players and we need that as players, and she knows that Holly needs her to be involved."

Summitt met with her players before the press conference. Many of the Lady Vols appeared subdued — and some of them sad — as they took their seats before the news conference began.

However, their moods lightened as Summitt, her son Tyler, and Warlick spoke to a huge media gathering.

"It is an emotional day," said Cierra Burdick, a Lady Vols freshman last season. "It's bittersweet. Coach (Summitt) is accepting a new role, and I think she's happier in that new role. Holly is stepping up into a greater role, and she has big shoes to fill, but I have full faith and confidence in her that she will do so in a way that will benefit the program."

Burdick said she was relieved that Warlick was hired as Summitt's successor.

"I think it would have been a complete curveball if they brought in a completely different coaching staff with different coaching styles," Burdick said. "I think the fact that (Warlick) knows the tradition and the legacy from Pat, I think it's going to make this transition a lot smoother."

Pat Summitt is always larger than life.

She passed her principles on to her son Tyler.

Summitt's effect on college basketball is everlasting.


Kim Barnes Arico has left St. John's to be head coach at Michigan. It's the 61st Division I head coaching vacancy this year.

Other coaching news:

Vernette Skeete will leave her assistant position at Miami to be head coach at her alma mater, Gulf Coast State College.

Pat Bibbs returns to Grambling as head coach.

Amanda Levens leaves Southern Illinois University Edwardsville to be associate head coach to Charli Turner Thorne, at Arizona State.

Laurie Kelly leaves Northern Arizona for Gustavus Adolphus College - a DIII school.

Former Texas assistant LaKale Malone has landed at Illinois.

Are you scratching your head at some of these changes? Me too.

Other news:

Brittany Mallory is enjoying her last days at Notre Dame as a member of the Irish lacrosse team.

New Mercury point guard Samantha Prahalis showcases her workouts.

Dishin & Swishin interviews several of Monday's WNBA draft picks.

Lindsay Sherbert is leaving Cal. The sophomore guard's transfer destination is not yet known, according to Cal spokeswoman Melissa Dudek.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"Pat Summitt is still much more abled than disabled"

Sally Jenkins underscores many of my thoughts in this piece:

“Everybody wants to know how I’m doing,” Summitt says, “but they forget to ask me.”.........

This is what she lives with: a disturbing sense of disorientation when she wakes in strange, dark hotel rooms on the road. Difficulty drawing, which means she can’t diagram plays anymore. A weird mental slipperiness when it comes to retaining numbers, especially room numbers in hallways that all look the same. An unmistakable loss of her old ferocity. An occasional pause in her brain function that means sometimes she has to be more patient in answering questions — and that friends have to be more probing of her thoughts, and patient in listening to her — which is all the more puzzling because she can still be so lightning quick.

That’s it. Those are her worst symptoms.

But here is the thing no one talks about: Pat still has many more abilities than disabilities. While she can’t wield a clipboard and make decisions at warp speed anymore, the irony is that her son Tyler would tell you she’s actually better than she was last spring, thanks to treatment. Although she will be restricted in duties by NCAA rules, and by her symptoms, she will continue to attend and observe practice, motivate, discipline and advise players and other coaches.

This is what was irritating me all season long:

Leave it to Pat to make something good out of Alzheimer’s Disease, graceful, even. Which was pretty hard to do, with everybody staring at her for almost a year, wondering when she was going to crack or show telltale traces of illness. She has been under pressure from critics and friends alike to buckle under to the diagnosis and retire, to protect her so-called “dignity” and “legacy” by disappearing from public view. As usual, she has come up with an elegant solution to a difficult problem, and produced another victory.

Every commentator seemed to feel like they had to mention it at least a dozen times every game. The public hand-wringing, and the speculation as to when Summitt would retire. It was a hell of a lot of pressure. I did blog mid-season that everyone should just leave Summitt alone and let her coach. Too bad more people didn't do that.

I found it odd that the public wondered who would take Summitt's place, when Holly Warlick has always been the obvious choice. I thought it insulting that people didn't give enough credit to the Tennessee Athletic Department to handle the matter. Warlick has been there for 30 years; women's athletic director Joan Cronan, 29.

Though it's still sad, I am relieved for Summitt too, and I hope she can relax more as she begins her new duties. I can't think of anyone who deserves that opportunity more.

I thought April was supposed to be a quieter period


NBC will stream the Games online - all of it.

Brittney Griner withdrew from consideration for the team due her mother's illness.


ESPN continues their recruiting outlook series. Today - the Big East.

Four of five Wisconsin-Green Bay recruits this year will stay to play for new coach Kevin Borseth.

Loyola Marymount lost one recruit.

USA Basketball:

Miami's Katie Meier will coach the U18 women this summer, with LSU's Nikki Caldwell and Gonzaga's Kelly Graves as assistants.


The Tulsa Shock will partner with Oklahoma State University this summer to honor the memory of former coaches Kurt Budke and Miranda Serna.

Pat Summitt retirement is made official

It's official now, after a press conference at Thompson-Boling Arena today to mark the shift of Pat Summitt from coach to coach emeritus.


Summitt handed over the whistle to Holly Warlick.


ESPN story.

President Obama has honored Summitt with the Presidential Medal of Freedom - the highest honor that can be given to a civilian.

More coach and player statements about the legend.

Chamique Holdsclaw talks about what Summitt has meant to her. She also talked to ESPN.

Super-writer Maria Cornelius details her first Summitt interview.

Beth Mowins and Debbie Antonelli discuss the coach's career.

Celtics Coach Doc Rivers paid tribute to Summitt in a post-game press conference last night, and got choked up.

Top recruits Andraya Carter and Brashaara Graves have reaffirmed their commitments to the Vols.

Chamique Holdsclaw's open letter to Pat Summitt

The picture on this link is priceless, too:

Dear Coach Summitt,

I'm sitting here exhausted in my hotel room in Nashville, Tenn., after a whirlwind day of book signings and speaking engagements. Just when I thought things couldn't get much busier and I didn't have any energy left, you made your announcement to step down as head coach. Suddenly my voicemail went from just two messages to completely filled with messages from media asking me to comment on the special relationship that we share.

So here I am, in the wee hours of the morning pouring out my thoughts on paper for you Coach Summitt. Even in your absence as head coach you're still pushing me and making me see what I'm made of.

Last week at your home, we had already spoken about your decision to step down as head coach so this announcement was no surprise to me. Yet, I was still touched that so many people would reach out to me because they know how much you mean to me and that we have done some amazing things together.

From cross-country trips, to magazine covers to HBO documentaries and the first three-peat championship in NCAA women's basketball, we've had a wild ride. But off the court you did an even more amazing thing for me. You took a cocky girl from Queens who had been told all her life that she was "the star player" and you pushed me. You knew how to turn that competitive New Yorker in me into something special. You fueled me and so many other players to be the best we could be on and off the court.

Unlike all the other coaches who recruited me, you didn't promise me tons of minutes and control of the team. Instead, you promised me a solid education and that I would be ready for the world after college. Playing time was secondary. I think that is the main reason why my grandmother let me go to Tennessee. She knew that you would take care of me and I would graduate in four years with a degree.

My grandmother also knew that you didn't take any mess, and if I ever got out of line (which I did a couple of times) you could handle my temper tantrums. I thank you for that.

As I grew into a professional player and more importantly a woman, I struggled with my own demons. At times people in the media would throw me under the bus, not knowing why my behavior was so erratic. You didn't know either, but you stood by my side. With each outlandish media report you reached out me to make sure that Chamique, the person, was OK.

I remember being at your house in 2007, right after my suicide attempt. You didn't know I tried to take my life but you opened up yourself to me and talked about your divorce, family, politics and my well being now that my grandmother was gone. Then you said something I will never forget, "Mique just do what makes you happy and what is best for you."

Those words from the most respected person in my life gave me everything I needed. You had no idea but those words resonated through my body made me secure in my decision to step away from basketball and gave me the courage to take care of my inner demons.

That conversation at your house was the first time we ever crossed that coach-player boundary. It was the first time I saw you as more than the coach with the icy glare that made me run wind sprints, you were a woman and more importantly my friend.

Now we hangout at your house on the weekends, you invite my friends -- who you've never met -- to stay at your home and go out on your boat. We even share an occasional glass of wine together, even though I still feel strange drinking in front of my coach.

That's because in my mind, no matter how old I get, no matter what your title says, and no matter where you sit on the sideline, you will always be Coach Summitt to me. Not Pat, not Patricia, but my Coach Summitt.



Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Can't stop, won't stop: more coaching news

Didn't I tell you there would be a heck of a lot of coaching changes this year? There are now more.

Danielle O'Banion takes over at Kent State.

Kerry Cremeans is Denver's new coach.

None other than Tyler Summitt is a new assistant at Marquette.


Scroll down to the "Busy schedule continues..." entry to see who's coming to the Mater Dei MTW Tournament this weekend.

Pat Summitt, the legend

Pat Summitt's retirement today was expected, but no less sad. Amazing:

Summitt never had a losing record and never had a scandal. Every Lady Vol who completed her eligibility at Tennessee also graduated, and 74 of Summitt’s former players, assistants, and graduate assistants are currently coaching basketball.

Her unrivaled statistics.

Career at a glance.

Summitt forever changed the game.

She embodies Title IX.

Indiana Fever coaches and players speak about Summitt.

Prominent NCAA coaches quoted here.

Twitter reactions.

Kara Lawson speaks.

Summitt's career in pictures.

Lawson's tribute video (get out a tissue).

Her new duties as head coach emeritus.

She has raised awareness about Alzheimer's Disease.

All the links you could ever need.

ESPN Classic is having a marathon of Tennessee gamecasts today and tomorrow.

This picture is from February, 2008. The moment is played in full in the University of Tennessee's championship year video for that season. Shannon Bobbitt received a technical for running her mouth, and Pat didn't hear the call. She asked the ref to explain, and he stepped to her left side and began telling her what had happened. He hadn't finished his explanation before Pat, with "the look" on her face, turned and screamed, "SHANNON!!" The ref stopped talking, looked to the side slightly with an "oh sh*t" expression, and walked away. In the meantime, Bobbitt came toward her coach saying repeatedly, "rebound, rebound, rebound" (something that Lady Vols say to show they will take the criticism and learn from it). The above picture is Pat chewing Bobbitt out for the incident.

That's the coaching side of Pat that we will fondly remember, and for whom we will be eternally grateful.

Pat Summitt now coach emeritus; Holly Warlick is the new Lady Vols coach

After 38 seasons, legend Pat Summitt will step aside and be a coach emeritus, due to her early-onset dementia diagnosis last year. Associate Head Coach Holly Warlick, who has been with the program 32 years and was acting head coach this past season, will be the new head coach.

I wonder if I'm the only Pat Summitt/Lady Vol who wondered why some were thinking her replacement would be anyone else but Warlick.

Washington Post story.

It is a sobering day.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

More on the draft, and new NCAA coaching hires

WNBA draft:

Draft recap.

Woops....the Dream drafted an ineligible player in Isabelle Yacoubou of France.

When the Mystics selected Natalie Novosel and LaSondra Barrett yesterday, they reunited friends who go back to AAU days.

The Shock's draft picks are getting good reviews. "Our team got significantly better in the last 90 minutes," said Shock President Steve Swetoha.

San Antonio Coach Dan Hughes discusses the draft.

The Sun must have felt they needed more, as they signed Brittany Carter to training camp.

As if the Lynx didn't already have enough, they invited Purdue's Brittany Rayburn to camp.

NCAA coaches:

Longtime Bowling Green assistant Jennifer Roos is now the head coach.

Larry Joe Inman is Tennessee State's new coach.

Drake's new coach is former Iowa standout Jennie (Lillis) Baranczyk.

Aaron Roussell is Bucknell's new coach.

Latricia Trammell will head Oklahoma City University.

Whew! Where is that coach vacancy list again?

Mahogany Green joins the Kansas staff as an assistant.

Other college news:

Not sure where this story about the friendship between Pat Summitt and Bonnie Henrickson came from, but it's a nice one.

These conference realignments are a bear. One Texas T-shirt company misidentified some SEC members.


ESPN's series looks at the recruiting needs and efforts of the SEC.

Mark Lewis has more gem advice for recruits, who head into the season this month....and especially this weekend.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A few other things happened today too


The Sky wisely re-signed Sylvia Fowles.

Janel McCarville will sit out her second consecutive season to "rest and spend more time with family."


North Texas' new coach is Mike Petersen from Wake Forest.

Two from Virginia Tech are transferring.

2012 WNBA draft

Draft board:


1 Los Angeles -- Nnemkadi Ogwumike
2 Seattle -- Shekinna Stricklen
3 Minnesota -- Devereaux Peters
4 Tulsa -- Glory Johnson
5 San Antonio -- Shenise Johnson
6 Phoenix -- Samantha Prahalis
7 New York -- Kelley Cain
8 Washington -- Natalie Novosel
9 Connecticut -- Astan Dabo
10 Washington -- LaSondra Barrett
11 Indiana -- Sasha Goodlett
12 Minnesota -- Damiris Dantas


1 Los Angeles -- Farhiya Abdi
2 Atlanta -- Tiffany Hayes
3 Los Angeles -- Khadijah Rushdan
4 Los Angeles -- Tyra White
5 Tulsa -- Riquna Williams
6 Minnesota -- Julie Wojta
7 Minnesota -- Kayla Standish
8 Minnesota -- Nika Baric
9 Connecticut -- Chay Shegog
10 Seattle -- Keisha Hampton
11 Chicago -- Shey Peddy
12 Phoenix -- C'eira Ricketts


1 Tulsa -- Vicki Baugh
2 Washington -- Anjale Barrett
3 Chicago -- Sydney Carter
4 Los Angeles -- April Sykes
5 Tulsa -- Lynetta Kizer
6 Phoenix -- Christine Flores
7 Minnesota -- Jacki Gemelos
8 Atlanta -- Isabelle Yacoubou
9 Phoenix -- Amanda Johnson
10 Indiana -- Courtney Hurt
11 Washington -- Briana Gilbreath
12 New York -- Katelan Redmon

ESPN followed #1 draft pick Nnemkadi Ogwumike for a couple days, and now we've got the Nneka chronicles.

Nneka talked to hoopfeed's David Siegel after the draft.

Draft chat.

Photo gallery.

Player quotes.

Nneka is excited to join the LA Sparks, but gives all the credit to Stanford. A few interesting tidbits on the Cardinal superstar here.

The top five picks are interviewed.

Rebecca Lobo, Carolyn Peck and Pam Ward analyze the draft.

Storm Coach Brian Agler has a vision for their #2 pick, Shekinna Stricklen. He has been tweeting about it, too......

The selection of four Tennessee Vols is a reflection of Coach Pat Summitt.

Some feel Samantha Prahalis' style fits her new team, the Mercury.

Nice story on Shenise Johnson.

My takes:

- Surprises were the order of the day. To begin with, some thought Tiffany Hayes, Riquna Williams, Julie Wojta and Lynetta Kizer would go higher. But 1. fans keep only American players in mind and not international players. WNBA coaches did their research this year. Now fans will get to learn who Astan Dabo, Damiris Dantas, Farhiya Abdi, Nika Baric and Isabelle Yacoubou are - myself included.
2. Draft lists are made according to who is the best player. Teams draft based on their needs. If their pick rolls around and they need someone else besides the next top pick who's available, they will fill that need. It's nothing personal.
- Jacki Gemelos was perhaps the biggest surprise of the day, being drafted by the Lynx in the third round. Admittedly, it made my day. It's not that I don't believe in the warrior athlete, who's been through five ACL reconstructive surgeries - I didn't necessarily know that a WNBA team would. But Gemelos' former coach, USC's Michael Cooper, did. When I was interviewing for this story in early January, Cooper told me, with confidence, that "Jacki will be drafted." That's the same kind of faith Gemelos has. I hope the Lynx will keep her.
- Speaking of ACL warriors, congratulations to Vicki Baugh. I pray the Shock keep her, too. I wish everyone in the third round lots of love and luck. That is a list of very deserving players.
- The Shock made out like bandits in this draft. An A+, to be sure. If new Coach Gary Kloppenburg is this intelligent all the time, they should be a good team.
- Minnesota is in ridiculous shape. They are stacked, loaded, full-staffed. They could give away some to the needy. Who will challenge them this year?
- The Sparks are also loaded. But as we've seen the last few years, just because they have the personnel doesn't mean they'll have the chemistry. All eyes will be on new Coach Carol Ross to put it all together. First, though, they're going to have to cut some people. But who?
- San Antonio got the ideal pick in Shenise Johnson. Phoenix also did well getting Samantha Prahalis, since Penny Taylor is out.

Training camp needs to start yesterday.

The regular season begins May 18.

Coquese Washington will stay at Penn State

She interviewed with Michigan, but Coquese Washington will remain coach at Penn State, she announced just a short time ago. Much to the relief of Nittany Lion fans.

MTW Tournament of Champions schedule

This weekend, Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif.: some of the best high school club ball teams in the nation will be kicking off the 2012 NCAA viewing period playing in the Michael T. White Tournament of Champions.

Headlining the games will be 2013 #1 ranked Mercedes Russell and Team Concept, and #7 ranked Erica McCall and Cal Sparks Gold. They're part of the 17U National bracket.

Other great players and teams:

17U Signature bracket

17U Open bracket

16U Open bracket

I am beyond excited! I need a hoops fix.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The effect of unstable and trade-happy teams

A couple months ago, I asked someone at the WNBA to verify the short list of players who have been with one WNBA team their entire careers. I had been thinking about Tamika Catchings, Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird - the longest-termers. Catchings was drafted by the Indiana Fever and Jackson, the Seattle Storm, in 2001. Bird was taken by the Storm in 2002. While other players have been dealt away and franchises have folded, these three have remained with their teams of origin for over a decade.

It's no small feat these days, as one newspaper noted. Here's the rest of the list of players who have been with one team, and one team only for the duration of their careers:

Diana Taurasi - Phoenix Mercury, 2004 draft
Seimone Augustus - Minnesota Lynx, 2006 draft
Sophia Young - San Antonio Silver Stars, 2006 draft
Essence Carson - New York Liberty, 2008 draft
Sylvia Fowles - Chicago Sky, 2008 draft
Crystal Langhorne - Washington Mystics, 2008 draft
Candace Parker - Los Angeles Sparks, 2008 draft
Candice Wiggins - Minnesota Lynx, 2008 draft
Leilani Mitchell - New York Liberty, 2008 trade before start of season

Nakia Sanford spent eight years with the Washington Mystics before moving to Phoenix last season. Charde Houston was drafted by the Lynx in 2008, but was recently traded to the Mercury.

Lisa Leslie played all 13 of her seasons in the WNBA for the Sparks before retiring in 2009 - the only player yet to do so.

More athletes would have been able to do the same as Leslie, if their teams hadn't folded. Think Ticha Penicheiro, Tina Thompson, Helen Darling.

In the cases of other star players, I don't know why they were ever traded from their original franchises in the first place. I'm thinking Katie Smith and Becky Hammon.

I suppose it was politics that we don't need to know about. But it would be nice if we had more players who stayed on teams long-term. It would definitely create more fan loyalty. Is it any coincidence that the Storm have such rabid and dedicated fans? I think not. Fever fans are extremely loyal, too.

I am hoping everyone on the above list stays on their respective teams, and that there are others like them to follow.

Tomorrow's WNBA draft will be at 11 a.m. PDT/2 p.m. EDT on ESPN2.


Cierra Warren, take she's going to San Diego State. Will she stay there? We'll see at the end of the 2013-2014 season. She'll probably have a doctorate degree by then.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

All levels news (as usual)


The Liberty have signed DeMya Walker.

Marie Ferdinand has retired.

WNBA draft:

Tennessee warrior Vicki Baugh was skeptical when she first learned she'd been invited to Monday's draft. Nate Parham analyzes Baugh and teammates Glory Johnson and Shekinna Stricklen's draft possibilities.

NCAA assistant coach hirings:

Bob Starkey has been hired at Texas A&M.

Johnnie Harris left Texas A&M for Mississippi State.

Mary Wooley has joined Hawaii, and Gavin Petersen remains.

Travis Mays and Amie Smith Bradley go to Texas.

Mike Divilbiss will join Matt Bollant at Illinois.

AND! Word is that Cal assistant coach Daron Park will be an assistant at USC now. More when I get it.

Class of 2013 recruiting has begun:

The last unsigned top player of 2012 has made a decision, and major 2013 recruits like Mercedes Russell and Erica McCall are starting to take unofficial visits.

Friday, April 13, 2012

How will NCAA's new eligibility rules effect student athletes?

The NCAA Division I Board of Directors' decision last fall to allow universities to give additional scholarship money to student athletes, for cost-of-living expenses, was well-documented. Additional initiatives passed on eligibility were less-talked about, but may have farther-reaching impact on athletes, coaches and teams.


Eligibility: Under new rules beginning in August 2016, to be eligible for competition incoming freshmen must have a 2.3 grade point average in a set of high school core courses, up from 2.0, and the appropriate standardized test score on the NCAA’s sliding scale, which has been adjusted slightly to account for the new GPA minimum. However, under a new “academic redshirt year” model, students whose GPA falls between the old and new minimums will still be eligible to receive athletic scholarships and practice with the team in their first term of enrollment, and can practice in the next term as well as long as they pass nine semester or eight credit hours.

In an attempt to eliminate the “summer miracle,” as Emmert calls it, in which a high school student looking to earn an athletic scholarship packs all the required core courses into a summer or two before graduation, would-be college athletes must now complete 10 of the 16 required core courses prior to senior year. Seven of those must be English, math and science courses.

And beginning in August, community college transfers must have a minimum 2.5 grade point average, up from 2.0, to be eligible for competition, and those who didn’t meet that mark straight out of high school must complete a core curriculum including English, math and science courses.

It's difficult to get coaches to comment on this legislation. I threw it out to four respected Division I head coaches, and the Sports Information Director of only one school wrote back to tell me that the coach couldn't comment. "She has to do more research," the SID said. I suspect that is the case with the other three, as well.

Two Southern California coaches did comment, and each represents a different side of the spectrum on this issue.

Cal State Northridge Coach Jason Flowers has one concern with the new requirements, and that is that they will keep low-income student athletes out of the picture.

"The impending changes to the NCAA initial eligibility requirements are going to have a direct impact on prospects from low-income areas," Flowers said. "Those of us who have a genuine interest in providing opportunities for young people, from those communities, need to educate prospects and parents in addition to doing what we can to make sure they meet the standards. The bar has been raised and we have no choice but to use it to propel us to new heights."

Elbert Kinnebrew, director of Long Beach-based Cal Sparks Basketball, thinks the new requirements are fair when compared to the general student population, with the exception of the requirements for junior college athletes.

"I will gladly trade the high school 2.3 GPA for multi-year scholarships," Kinnebrew said. "In most cases this is still far below what it would require for non-athletes to earn admission. I wonder how many schools and conferences will implement the multi-year, since it is allowable and not required.

"I don't like the 2.5 junior college GPA requirement - it should be 2.3, just like high school."

I can see both sides of the issue.

On one hand, it does indeed seem unfair to have a lower GPA requirement for athletes than the general student population. And on paper, a 2.3 GPA doesn't seem like it would be too hard to achieve.

Conversely, I have taught high school in one of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods in the world (according to the Los Angeles Police Department Sergeant with whom I went on a ride-along a few years ago). When kids are struggling with broken/absent families, abuse, gang/drug influences, psychological issues from all of that, or all of the above, a 2.0 GPA is a lofty accomplishment, indeed. The general public has NO idea.

It would be great if the NCAA provided resources to educate and help athletes and their families in lower-income areas, rather than leaving it to high school coaches like me who have to then enlist the college and career counselor and others for help. I don't see that happening anytime soon, however.

What do you think about these new requirements? Fair or not? And how can we help more kids to meet the new standards and go to college?

One writer says Kim Mulkey "dropped the ball"

The comments on my previous entry on the Baylor recruiting scandal are running 3-1 against Coach Kim Mulkey. Today longtime Washington Post writer Sally Jenkins added her two cents, and she's on the side of the three: she says Mulkey dropped the ball on protecting the game's integrity. Key excerpts:

Maybe that’s because women’s basketball is comparatively clean. You hate to see the standards lowered in a sport that still actually has some.......

But that’s why the list of petty abuses she committed is so aggravating. Mulkey is positioned as the new standard bearer and bright coaching star of women’s basketball — a role she clearly wants, judging by her glittering outfits — but she just dipped the flag in the mud.

The women’s game is at an interesting juncture: Coaches and administrators are trying to figure out how to grow it in profitability without emulating the corruptions of the men’s game. They can legitimately argue that their audience is devoted — 4.2 million viewers watched Baylor beat Notre Dame for the title — precisely because the sport has a purer brand. Players are still real students who graduate at high rates; coaches are still real teachers as opposed to shysters; and the athletic scholarship is still meaningful, as opposed to a one-year inconvenience.

The question is how long it will stay that way. The answer is up to Mulkey.

That’s not a light or facetious statement. The answer really is up to her, personally. Because Mulkey is at the top of the game, every other coach in the country will now imitate her. All of her peers will treat the rules the way she treats them........

But here are some other facts: In 2006, at around the same time she was cultivating the Griners at summer games, Mulkey hired DFW Elite’s coach Damion McKinney to her staff. McKinney is the assistant who made many of the improper calls and texts detailed by the NCAA, more than 300 of them in 2011 to a current DFW Elite coach.......

Anyone who cares about the women’s game wants Mulkey to become everything she should be: not just the next possessor of multiple banners, but preserver of what integrity the game still has. That means embracing a certain reality: She has extra responsibility to do things the right way. If we eventually look over our shoulders and ask when the women’s game went down the slippery slope, we’ll look at this day, the day the reigning national champion went on probation, as the starting point.

Strong stuff. Is Jenkins on the money or not?

Gearing up for Monday's WNBA draft

Mock draft:

1. Nnemkadi Ogwumike
2. Shenise Johnson
3. Glory Johnson
4. Shekinna Stricklen
5. Devereaux Peters
6. Riquna Williams
7. Natalie Novosel
8. Samantha Prahalis
9. Tiffany Hayes
10. LaSondra Barrett
11. Sasha Goodlett
12. Lynetta Kizer

Agree? Disagree?

Other items:

The Phoenix Mercury have signed Dymond Simon, Brittney Thomas, Zane Tamane and Chastity Reed to training camp contracts.

The Tulsa Shock has added Jason Glover as an assistant coach, completing Coach Gary Kloppenburg's staff.

The Dream's Alison Bales has retired to pursue medical school.

The Sun have issues to consider before draft day.

NCAA bonus:

Three from Arizona leave the team - Erin Butler, Lindsey Fearing and Aley Rohde.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

NJCAA All-American teams

'Bout time these teams were named. Here's the first team:

Aubry Boehme, Otero Junior College, So, C
Sha’Kayla Caples, Trinity Valley Community College, So, F
Jacqueline Chandler, Hill College, Fr, G, First Team
Meghan Dunn, Shelton State Community College, So, G
Portia Durrett, Walters State Community College, So, F
Keuna Flax, Trinity Valley Community College, So, G
Lavonda McCall, South Georgia Technical College, So, G
Jacqueline Patterson, Hutchinson Community College, So, F
Priscila Santos, Utah State University – College of Eastern Utah, So, F
Uju Ugoka, Gulf Coast State College, So, F

Congratulations to all.

It all blends together

High school:

Mark Lewis, a guru of recruiting "things to watch out for," is now writing for Blue Star Media. He has some interesting thoughts on how a head coach's race, sex and age may be an issue for some recruits in choosing a school.

ESPN is projecting the 2012-2013 recruiting needs of each team in the six largest conferences in the country. They begin with the ACC, and the Pac-12. What a great idea.

NCAA coaching changes:

Ali Jaques is Siena's new coach.

New Wisconsin-Green Bay Coach Kevin Borseth has retained two assistants hired by former coach Matt Bollant: Sarah Bronk and Amanda Leonhard-Perry.

Elena Lovato is the new Trinity Valley Community College coach.

In the meantime, the men's coach at Saint Louis University has been retained, but it's been six weeks since women's coach Shimmy Gray-Miller was let go, and no replacement has yet been named.


Yesterday, analysts, coaches and draft prospects weighed in on Monday's draft.

ESPN says the draft is full of questions.

Nnemkadi Ogwumike is preparing for the draft.

Miami Hurricanes Shenise Johnson and Riquna Williams are ready.

Wisconsin-Green Bay's Julie Wojta will attend the draft.

Notre Dame's Devereaux Peters is set to be drafted.

WNBA all-time scoring leader Tina Thompson remembers her draft experience.

Former Cardinal Jeannette Pohlen remembers draft day last year.

USA Basketball:

The Women's National Team will play China at a May 11-13 training camp in Seattle.

Sports Illustrated says no Olympic team has been under more pressure to win gold than this year's. What about 1996?


Oklahoma State was honored today by the Oklahoma State Senate for "their courage and perseverance following the tragic plane crash involving head coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna." A congratulatory resolution was passed.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

An upper for Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State Cowgirls will be honored:

The Oklahoma Senate will honor the team's season accomplishments tomorrow morning on the Legislature floor. Awesome.

Coaching news:

I heard this a few hours ago and I still can't believe it - Coquese Washington interviewed for the Michigan job.

Chanda Rigby is Troy's new coach.

North Texas has narrowed their search for a coach.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi will name Royce Chadwick coach, a source says.


Rebecca Lobo predicted in a conference call today that after Nnemkadi Ogwumike is drafted first, then teams will take Glory Johnson, Skekinna Stricklen and Shenise Johnson, in no particular order.

The Liberty re-signed Essence Carson.

Baylor put on probation

The NCAA put Baylor on probation for three years for recruiting violations that dated back to 2008. The University imposed its own penalties, which the NCAA accepted.

Full report.

Is this punishment enough for the infractions?

Top college prospects invited to attend next week's WNBA draft

The list of invitees to Monday's WNBA draft:

Name College/University Position Height

LaSondra Barrett Louisiana State Forward 6’2”

Vicki Baugh Tennessee Center 6’4”

Sasha Goodlett Georgia Tech Center 6’5”

Tiffany Hayes Connecticut Guard 5’10”

Glory Johnson Tennessee Forward 6’3”

Shenise Johnson Miami (Fla.) Guard 5’11”

Lynetta Kizer Maryland Center 6’4”

Natalie Novosel Notre Dame Guard 5’11”

Nnemkadi Ogwumike Stanford Forward 6’2”

Devereaux Peters Notre Dame Forward 6’2”

Samantha Prahalis Ohio State Guard 5’7”

Kayla Standish Gonzaga Forward 6’2”

Shekinna Stricklen Tenneessee Guard/Forward 6’2”

Riquna Williams Miami (Fla.) Guard 5’7”

Julie Wojta Wisconsin-Green Bay Forward 6’0”

All prospect profiles.

Draft order, by round.

Team overviews.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

As the basketball world still turns

NCAA transfers everywhere:

Three sophomores have left Missouri: Maggie Flynn, Tori Niemann and Paige Spietz.

Washington sophomore Ashley Moore is leaving.

Michala Johnson is transferring from UConn.

Coaching changes:

The long-rumored departure of Cynthia Cooper-Dyke from UNCW is indeed true: she's the new coach at Texas Southern.

Karen Aston has named her coaching staff at Texas: Travis Mays, Jalie Mitchell and Angela Ortega.

High school:

Tomorrow opens the spring National Letter of Intent period. A couple on the 2012 top 100 still have to make that choice, but it's mostly the unranked players making decisions now.

Not to be upstaged by the lame-as-hell-for-women's-sports LA Times, has their own Nirra Fields story.


Tough break for Penny Taylor, Australia and the Phoenix Mercury, as the forward has torn her ACL and will miss the WNBA season and the Olympics.

Understatement of the season:

Kim Mulkey and the Baylor staff should have been more careful in their recruiting efforts.

Mid-major coaches to watch for: follow up

Preview Review: A look back at our mid-major coaches to watch

Earlier this season, the most knowledgeable Division I assistant coach I know, and myself, sat down a put together a list of up and coming mid-major coaches to keep an eye on. We published these picks as conference play began in earnest this season. Rather than a “best” or a “most known" list, it was an attempt to provide readers insight into a few of the bright coaches at the mid-major level who weren’t necessary household names, but do a tremendous job where they are and could next names that you might hear at BCS schools.

As the season has ended, we wanted to take a look back at our preview. Here is a review of how the seasons of the coaches featured ended up. It is definitely worth noting just how many of these coaches that we highlighted have now taken a step up in their coaching careers.


Gail Streigler, Long Island (Northeast)

21-10 Overall, 10-8 Conference

The theme for the LIU program seems to be “the song remains the same.” Another year and another solid season and coaching job by Striegler, who at the controls of the Long Island program has made it a fixture in the NEC title hunt. The X & O's maestro loses one of her best players this year, but strong recruiting and a bevy or returners should keep LIU competitive with Steigler’s savvy. With an NEC quarterfinals finish last month, and her last three seasons of 19, 22 and 21 wins, the next step for Streigler is to take the Blackbirds into the NCAA tournament.

Courtney Banghart, Princeton (Ivy)

25-5 Overall, 14-0 Conference

Another year, another league title and another 20+ win season for Banghart and the Tigers. Princeton dominated this year, winning by an average 18 points per game on their way to the league title and an NCAA tournament appearance. Raising the bar and raising expectations, Banghart is a coach that has the Tigers rolling, and is a perfect fit for Princeton: a coach that gets the balance of academics and athletics. The proof is another conference championship in the trophy case.

Susan Robinson-Fruchtl, St Francis, PA (Northeast)

14-15 Overall, 11-7 Conference

*New Coach at Providence for 2012-13

Robinson-Fruchtl marks the first of our mid-major coaches to watch for (MMCTWF) who leaves their post for a new challenge, as she will take her talents to Rhode Island to re-energize the Friar program. While patrolling the sidelines for Saint Francis, the former Penn State icon guided the Red Flash to three consecutive Northeast Conference Championship Games, captured two conference titles and advanced to the NCAA tournament in 2010 and 2011. She leaves with a 74-83 record with the Red Flash and program rebuilt and poised to continue success.


Stephanie Glance, Illinois State (Missouri Valley)

19-13 Overall, 13-5 Conference

With nearly a quarter century of experience in coaching, and having worked for legends Pat Summitt and Kay Yow, our most veteran “new name” on the head-coaching scene really proved her mettle this year. Though her record didn’t match the previous year, Glance’s work garnered her Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the year honors, and is more proof that the Redbirds hit a home run with their hire two years ago. With another strong recruiting effort, don’t be surprised to see Glance and Illinois State in the postseason next year.

Curt Miller, Bowling Green State (Mid American)

24-7 Overall, 14-2 Conference

*Named Head Coach at Indiana for 2012-13

Miller is the second of our MMCTWF who is leaving for the challenge of a BCS-level school in need of rebuilding. We mentioned in the preview that he would be on a short list for BCS athletics directors in the spring, and Indiana quickly scooped him up. Moving west to the Hoosier state, Miller leaves behind quite a legacy at Bowling Green: an overall record of 258-92, a record of 135-41 in conference games, and eight consecutive postseason appearances. The Hoosiers are getting the heads of one the most dominant mid-major programs the last eight years, and are hoping he can duplicate that success in Bloomington.

Matt Bollant, Wisconsin Green-Bay (Horizon)

31-2 Overall, 17-1 Conference

*Named Head Coach at Illinois for 2012-13

In Bollant, the Fighting Illini get a coach who elevated the UWGB program into “elite” status, cracking several top 10 polls this season and considered by many the top mid-major program in the country. Though he didn’t “build” the UWGB program, he did enhance it greatly. As a head coach, he guided Green Bay to a 148-19 record and four trips to the NCAA tournament, reaching the Sweet 16 last season and losing in the second round this year with a 31-2 record. With Big 10 resources at his disposal, expect big things from this former MMCTWF and Illini in the future.


Jackie Carson, Furman (Southern)

15-16 Overall, 10-10 Conference

Long known as a strong recruiter, Carson can add another line to the resume: program builder. Slowly but surely, Carson has moved the Furman program from a five-win team to a place of stability. Furman achieved its first winning season in several years, and now comes the next phase of the rebuilding project: to compete for conference championships. In year three, expect Carson and her young squad, which loses only two seniors, and her recruiting classes to mature and push Furman back to the forefront of the Southern Conference.

Karl Smesko, Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun)

29-3 Overall, 18-0 Conference

In Florida Gulf Coast’s first year of eligibility for the Atlantic Sun title, FGCU walked away with the title and its first appearance in the NCAA tournament as a Division I school. Smesko’s carefully-crafted motion offense has wreaked havoc on the league, with no end in sight. Look for Smesko to build upon a tremendous foundation he has put in place, shepherding the FGCU program from Division II, to Division I to champions.

Brooks Donald Williams, McNeese State (Southland)

26-8 Overall, 13-3 Conference

Donald-Williams capped off another banner year for the McNeese State program by making second-seeded Kentucky sweat in the first round of this year’s NCAA tournament. Powered by a strong back court, the Cowgirls model the headwoman’s no-nonsense, gritty approach. An approach that allowed the McNeese State program to be back-to-back tournament championships, and Donald-Williams soon to be a sought-after name for potential other opportunities in the future if she chooses, if the Louisiana native ever opts to leave home.


Karen Aston, North Texas (Sunbelt)

15-16 Overall, 7-9 Conference

*Named Head Coach at Texas for 2012-13

Though only at North Texas for one year, the Mean Green finished 15-16 in Aston's only season after being 5-25 the previous year. With her deep ties to the state, the Longhorns tabbed Aston to help get the Texas program back to its fans want it. With 86 wins in four seasons at Charlotte and tripling the win today from the previous year at UNT, expect Aston to hit the ground running and the Horns back in the “elite program status” conversation in short order.

Matt Daniel, Central Arkansas (Southland)

24-7 Overall, 14-2 Conference

This past year marked a lot of firsts for Central Arkansas and Daniel. The coach guided UCA to its first regular season conference championship at the Division I level. UCA also recorded its first conference player of the year nod and made its first trip to the Southland Conference tournament - all impressive feats With Daniel at the helm. The question, “can this once strong DII program make the successful leap to Division I?” has been answered. Now a better question may be if the Sugar Bears will have enough room on the mantle for a long run of championships.

Kevin McMillan, UT Martin (Ohio Valley)

23-9 Overall, 15-1 Conference

McMillan, a successful high school coach in the state of Tennessee, has created a force in the competitive Ohio Valley Conference. Each year has been a steady climb for him, and at one point he had the youngest team in the NCAA. Now he can boast a conference crown and a tremendous 15-win run through the OVC. After boosting the roster, McMillan now has crafted one of the most impressive team turnarounds in the country. Expect the coach with strong Tennessee ties to have continued success in league, unless he’s snatched up by some enterprising athletic director first.


David Six, Hampton (Mid-Eastern Athletic)

26-5 Overall, 15-1 Conference

Despite a somewhat controversial seeding, Six had the Hampton program back in the NCAA tournament again this year. The Lady Pirate program set a school record for wins (26) and also led the country in both scoring defense and three-point percentage defense as it cruised its way through the MEAC, and happily into March Madness. Six, a former Virginia high school coach, has done a masterful job with the Lady Pirates, building to the program into the first MEAC team to win three straight titles since 1998.

Stephanie Pemper, Navy (Patriot)

18-14 Overall, 8-6 Conference

Pemper is one again proving she’s one of the nation’s best coaches. She inherited a program that only had one winning season in an eight-year span, and now they are back-to-back Patriot League champs, which is almost unheard of at a service academy. Pemper has remade Navy into a rock-solid basketball program, and has Annapolis buzzing about basketball for the first time since the David Robinson era. The long time DIII coach, formerly at Bowdoin, is showing that “the Pemper way” works with the Midshipmen, and as long as the academy keeps Pemper, the program’s sails are set on a championship course.

Phil Stern, UMBC (America East)

17-15 Overall, 9-7 Conference

After a rough 3-4 start, Stern righted the ship and guided this year’s version of the UMBC squad to the America East tournament championship game. A superb strategist, Stern adapted and adjusted all year and got the fifth-seeded Retrievers to gutty performance in the America East tournament. With a conference rookie of the year returning, and a large chunk of the roster returning expect for the Retrievers to be in the thick of the America East championship chase next year.


Erik Johnson, Denver (Sunbelt)

19-12 Overall, 11-5 Conference

*Named Head Coach at Boston College for 2012-13

Johnson will trade the Mile High City for Beantown, as he moves to the ACC and Boston College next year. In his four seasons at the University of Denver, Johnson led the Pioneers to a 72-52 record, consecutive 19-win seasons the past two years, and a berth in the WNIT in 2011. Johnson compiled a 44-23 mark (.657) in the Sun Belt Conference, finishing in the top three in the SBC in each of Johnson's four seasons. Expect this MMCTWF to attack the ACC with the same intelligent approach that made the Pioneers a tough squad to beat.

Tricia Binford, Montana State (Big Sky)

19-11 Overall, 10-6 Conference

Tricia Binford’s leadership of the Montana State program has firmly placed the Bobcats in the upper echelon of the challenging Big Sky Conference. In her best season yet, Binford, the former professional player, led the Cats to a 19-win season and to the semifinals of the Big Sky tournament. Montana State loses a star player but a team with only one senior most likely will be playing in the post season next year under the watchful eye of Binford.


Jason Flowers, Cal State Northridge (Big West)

17-14 Overall, 11-5 Conference

Flowers inherited a dilapidated program in 2010, and scrapped together a 4-26 record on several close losses that year. This season, with the help of some brilliant recruits, the Matadors finished 17-14 overall and 11-5 in league. They sat atop the Big West Conference standings all season long, but ended up finishing second after some key losses towards the end. Five players made the BWC all-conference team, and Flowers was named Big West Coach of the Year. Flowers would be the first to say that CSUN needs to work on finishing games, and they did falter in the conference tournament by losing in the first round. But the turnaround of the program is dramatic, and Flowers has the Matadors looking like they haven't in 15 years. The future of the program under this exciting young coach is very bright.