Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pac-12 preview: the University of Arizona

This is the tenth in a series previewing the Pac-12 teams

After some success a few years ago under sixth-year coach Niya Butts, the Arizona Wildcats are going to have to rebuild this season.

They are beginning with significant losses. First came leading scorer Davellyn White (17.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg), who was drafted into the WNBA after graduation last spring. Then last week senior forward Alli Gloyd (9.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg) tore her ACL and is out for the year.

The Wildcats still have their remaining three starters: senior guard/forward Kama Griffits (10.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg), senior forward Erica Barnes (8.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and senior guard Carissa Crutchfield (6.3 ppg). Junior guard Candice Warthen also returns after sitting out last year with an injury. She averaged 11.7 ppg the season prior to that. Two sophomore reserve guards are back as well, in Nyre Harris and Keyahndra Cannon.

Five newcomers round out the roster, which means Arizona will lack depth unless the new players can learn quickly.

Farrin Bell is a sophomore guard who transferred from SMU, where she averaged 3.4 ppg last year. The remaining new players are freshmen: forwards Dezja James, LaBrittney Jones and Breanna Workman, and guard Ashley Merrill. Jones was ranked 87th in the 2013 class, and 23rd at her position, while Workman was ranked 70th among forwards. Neither James nor Merrill were ranked.

Last year the Wildcats finished tenth in the Pac-12, and coaches tabbed them to finish eleventh in a preseason poll. Their WNIT appearance in 2011 and their last NCAA Tournament run in 2005 seem very far off.

Arizona takes on UC Santa Barbara, Pacific, Wake Forest, BYU and Texas Tech in preconference play. They begin their Pac-12 schedule Jan. 3, at the University of Washington.

Colleges big and small, news all

The SEC wants to end their recent absence at the Final Four.

Duke's Rebecca Greenwell is making progress in rehab.

Ten thoughts about UConn. Brianna Banks is back from injury and ready to compete.

There is an intense battle at power forward, for Iowa's final starting spot. Hawkeye players describe themselves as scrappy. Persistence has paid off for Theairra Taylor.

Texas A&M coach Gary Blair's contract has been extended through the 20-17-2018 season.

Auburn preview: the wings.

Richmond senior guard Becca Wann will miss the season after sustaining a concussion.

New Pitt coach Suzie McConnell-Serio has identified a fragile confidence in her team. They will rely on their returning starters to lead them into ACC play.

Wisconsin coach Bobbie Kelsey is irked by her team's snub in preseason polls.

For Cincinnati's Bianca Quisenberry, basketball goes deep into the family lineage.

Hartford has lost two players to torn ACLs - again.

Sacramento State's Fantasia Hilliard continues to thrive at point guard.

Tammy Sutton-Brown will be inducted into the Rutgers Athletics Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Senior CLASS Award 2014 candidates announced

The preseason candidates:

Name Position School

Gennifer Brandon Forward California
Heather Butler Guard UT Martin
Alyssa Charlston Post Idaho
Hallie Christofferson Forward Iowa State
Jerica Coley Guard FIU
Allyson DiMagno Forward Cornell
Alexis Dobbs Guard American
Stefanie Dolson Center Connecticut
Jamierra Faulkner Point Guard Southern Mississippi
Ataira Franklin Guard Virginia
Chelsea Gray Guard Duke
Sarah Hansen Guard Florida Gulf Coast
Cassie Harberts Forward USC
Jordan Hooper Forward Nebraska
Natasha Howard Forward Florida State
Amanda Hyde Guard IPFW
Maggie Lucas Guard Penn State
Dequesha McClanahan Guard Winthrop
Sarah Nelson Forward Creighton
Eilise O’Connor Point Guard UMKC
Chiney Ogwumike Forward Stanford
Haley Peters Forward Duke
Theresa Plaisance Forward LSU
Michelle Plouffe Forward Utah
Odyssey Sims Guard Baylor
Alex Smith Guard Holy Cross
Kacie Sowell Forward Seattle
DeNesha Stallworth Forward Kentucky
Rachel Tecca Forward Akron
Alli Williams Forward Saint Francis

Some sad news among the goodies

More injuries and illnesses:

Notre Dame senior forward Natalie Achonwa will miss 4-6 weeks with a meniscus tear.

Kentucky freshman forward Kyvin Goodlin-Rogers is out for the season after being diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism this week.

Other college news:

The Lady Vols are hoping better unity produces a better finish.

Stanford wants to forget last season's disappointment.

There is a lot to like at Penn State.

The University of San Francisco has an infusion of youth and passion this season.

Purdue will have new promotions this year.

Pat Summitt:

....left the hospital today after a three-day stay. She was undergoing routine tests, her spokesman said.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pac-12 preview: Stanford University

This is the ninth in a series previewing the Pac-12 teams

Each of the last few years, as Stanford has graduated players and reloaded with a little less ammunition, the question has been: can they keep up the tradition of dominance? The one that has earned them most of the Pac-12 titles in the history of the conference tournament, and five consecutive Final Four appearances from 2008-2012?

The question remains the same this season.

Second-leading scorer Joslyn Tinkle graduated last spring. Then the Cardinal were hit with bad news over the summer, when junior guard Toni Kokenis (7.7 ppg) was forced to take a medical retirement after sustaining too many concussions. Last month redshirt freshman Aly Beebe medically retired after tearing her Anterior Cruciate Ligament for a third time. Kokenis was the team's fourth-leading scorer, and provided a spark on the court with her inspired play.

Star senior forward Chiney Ogwumike (22.4 ppg, 12.9 rpg) will lead Stanford, as she did last year, and junior Amber Orrange (10.8 ppg) has been solid at point guard since her freshman year. The other returning starters - senior guard Sara James (5.3 ppg) and senior forward Mikaela Ruef (4.2 ppg) - score much less, as does the rest of the team.

Other junior returnees are forward Bonnie Samuelson (5.4 ppg), forward Taylor Greenfield (3.9 ppg) and forward Erica Payne (1 ppg). Redshirt sophomores Alex Green and Jasmine Camp will play this year, as will forward/center Tess Picknell. All returning players will need to step up.

The rest of the Pac-12 seems to be catching up to the Cardinal. Last year they edged out Cal for conference bragging rights by a tiebreaker, after splitting the regular-season series. In the Pac-12 Tournament title game Stanford had to fight for the win, as opposed to their usual blowout of opponents.

Despite losing Jeannette Pohlen and Kayla Pedersen in 2011 and Nneka Ogwumike in 2012, the Cardinal have found ways to win, and win big at times. Last year they kicked off the season by snapping Baylor's long winning streak, and they ranked in the top five for most of the season afterwards.

It is a tribute to the experience and meticulousness of coach Tara VanDerveer, who enters her 28th year at Stanford this season, that her team has made the most of what it has had. Their hope in paving a strong future might lie in this year's newcomers.

Forward Erica McCall was ranked 11th overall in the 2013 class, and third at her position. Forward Kailee Johnson was ranked 20th overall and fifth at her position. Guard Karlie Samuelson was 77th overall and 20th among guards. Guard Briana Roberson was ranked 58th at her position. It is the highest-ranked class for the Cardinal in a few years. A fifth freshman, Lili Thompson, wasn't ranked.

Stanford will need to figure it out fast, as they take on defending champions Connecticut Nov. 11. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2. Other preconference opponents include Texas, Purdue, Florida Gulf Coast, Gonzaga and Tennessee. The Cardinal kick off conference play Jan. 3 at home, against Oregon.

Nine days til tip off

ESPN's college game TV schedule for the season.

Full schedule of games for opening day, Friday, Nov. 8.

Other college news:

The Big East Conference has hired former Phoenix Mercury COO Amber Cox as its associate commissioner of women's basketball. She left the Mercury to work with former WNBA president and Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman. (The entire WNBA misses Val).

Former San Diego State coach Beth Burns claims her firing last spring was retaliation from the school.

A group of U.S. Marines have been training LSU players this fall.

Experience looks to drive Western Michigan this year.

Maya Moore:

Did you check out Maya Moore's performance in the "Uncle Drew: Chapter 3" video?


Mike Peden's great championship homecoming video.

Pat Summitt:

The legendary Lady Vols coach was admitted to the hospital Sunday for routine medical tests. She was expected to be released this afternoon.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pac-12 preview: the University of Oregon

This is the eighth in a series previewing the Pac-12 teams

The good news for Oregon is that all four of their starters (they had so many injuries last year that only four had enough starts to be deemed starters) are back this season. More good news: three players who had to redshirt last season also return, and the Ducks are, so far, beginning 2013-2014 healthy. There are four seniors, five juniors, five sophomores and two freshman, which translates into a lot of experience on the court.

The bad news for Oregon is that this is the last year of coach Paul Westhead's five-year contract, so what few season ticket holders are left will have to sit through yet another year of the failed experiment with the former "run and gun" coach.

Westhead had his day, achieving success at both the college and WNBA levels. But his methods are now outdated and ineffective, and the "University of Nike" didn't buy out his contract early.

In 2012-2013, the Ducks' record was a program-low 4-27 (2-16 in the Pac-12). They didn't get their first win of the year until mid-December. Westhead defenders blamed the injuries that dropped Oregon players like seeming flies. Then towards the middle of the season, some of the athletes were quoted as saying they should be playing harder. If previous coach Bev Smith seemed like a wet blanket, Westhead looks like a soggy one. His record at Oregon is 50-75.

Sophomore forward Jillian Alleyne (13.0 ppg, 11.9 rpg) is a bright spot for the Ducks. She played in 31 games last year, as did senior forward Danielle Love (7.3 ppg) and junior guard Jordan Loera (6.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg). So is redshirt sophomore guard Lexi Petersen, who was a force to be reckoned with her freshman year, and began the same way last season before being injured.

Senior guard Ariel Thomas (10.6 ppg) and junior guard Amanda Delgado (8.5 ppg) are back, as is redshirt senior guard Laura Stanulis (8.2 ppg) and junior forward Liz Brenner 7.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg).

If the Ducks can stay healthy, use all the players regularly that are available (something that didn't happen last year), and find a way to motivate themselves, it could be a decent season for them. If the year turns into another losing effort and/or catastrophe, then Westhead's tenure can't be over soon enough.

Oregon's major preconference opponents are Connecticut, Princeton, Cal Poly and Cal State Northridge. They open Pac-12 play Jan. 3, at Stanford.

San Diego State ramping up and rebuilding with new coach and personnel

Here's what's up at San Diego State.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Pac-12 preview: the University of Utah

This is the seventh in a series previewing the Pac-12 teams

This is year three for Utah in the Pac-12, and year four for coach Anthony Levrets. Going from the Mountain West Conference, where they were always contenders, to the larger up-and-coming conference has been a rough transition for the Utes.

They have posted winning records three of the last four years, but have not done the same in conference play since entering the Pac-12. Nor have they been to the NCAA Tournament, which they had done fairly regularly.

Injuries haven't helped, and that will hold true once again this year, with the loss of second-leading scorer Taryn Wicijowski (14.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg). The redshirt senior forward tore her ACL in practice three weeks ago. This puts a lot of weight on the shoulders of senior forward Michelle Plouffe (17.2 ppg, 9.4 rpg), because last year's third and fourth point-getters are gone. The last starter, sophomore guard Danielle Rodriguez (2.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg) returns, but the rest of the Utes will need to step way up.

Other returnees include junior guard Cheyenne Wilson and sophomore guard Paige Crozon (each 4 ppg); junior guard Ciera Dunbar (1.6 ppg); redshirt freshman forward Nakia Arquette (1.3 ppg); sophomore guard Awa Kalmstrom (.9 ppg); and senior forward Ariel Reynolds (.8 ppg).

Utah has four freshmen and one sophomore transfer,and unsurprisingly, Levrets will be counting on them.

“This is a really young team," he said. "I expect all four of our freshmen to play significantly. They are going to have growing pains, and we have to be patient with them and know that we’ll be playing our best basketball at the end of the season. Hopefully we’re good enough early on to win a few games as we go, but I really think the ceiling for this team is incredibly high.”

Forward Malia Nawahine is one of the two stars of the freshman class, as the highly-decorated 2012-2013 Gatorade Utah Girls Basketball Player of the year. Her sister, sophomore Valerie Nawahine, transferred to Utah from BYU. The other freshman who could have an immediate impact for the Utes is forward Emily Potter, who played for the Canada Junior Women's National Team at the FIBA U19 World Championships for Women this past summer.

Guard Devri Owens hails from Texas, where she was awarded for her offensive dominance. Forward Wendy Anae comes from San Diego, Calif.

Last season marked an improvement for Utah, as they made it to the WNIT finals. But despite the youth of the squad, Levrets said at Pac-12 media day this week that the goal is to make the NCAA Tournament. The reason is Plouffe, who will likely surpass the 2,000 career point and 1,000 career rebound marks this year. Levrets characterized Plouffe as an exceptionally-special player.

Among the Utes' pre-conference opponents are Nebraska, UNLV, Butler, Marquette and BYU. They open Pac-12 play Jan. 3 at UCLA.

Hard work and some injuries

The field for this year's ACC is stronger.

Stanford has traded in couches for exercise equipment.

Highly-touted freshman point guard Tyler Scaife is working tirelessly.

Iowa hopes to play tall.

North Carolina will retain coach Sylvia Hatchell's imprint while she is fighting cancer.

Minnesota Gophers practice report from yesterday.

On the injury tip:

Michigan guard Danielle Williams is out four weeks with a hand injury.

UMaine's Ali Nalivaika is standing tall again after missing two seasons for injuries.

Michigan State is being cautious with center Madison Williams, who has missed three consecutive seasons due to injury.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Coaches, tickets, arenas and recruits

Longtime WNBA assistant coach and former George Mason coach Jim Lewis is Georgetown's new interim coach.

South Carolina has sold 3,000 season tickets so far this year.

Iowa senior Theairra Taylor has overcome much during her career.

Texas A&M sophomore Courtney Walker had last year's season assist.

Rutgers met the media.

Richmond has unveiled its new basketball arena.

With a little over two weeks before signing day, here are ESPN's rankings of the 2014 recruiting class.

Many of the top prospects have yet to verbal.

Final Four may go Friday through Sunday

The NCAA may move the Final Four two days earlier, from Friday to Sunday. The change would take affect in the 2014-2015 season.

The NCAA Division I Basketball Committee says it's a difficult decision.

The changes may increase attendance.

In other NCAA news:

The four-year graduation rate for athletes has hit 81 percent.

Pac-12 media day

Today was Pac-12 media day, and news on the West coast's top league is flowing:

Cal is counting on Brittany Boyd to lead them. Cal is keeping its poise.

The always-rappin' Stanford Cardinal have a new music video in the works. Chiney Ogwumike gives back to her roots.

USC is a player's program.

Arielle Roberson is growing up for Colorado.

Arizona got etiquette lessons. They've also lost senior forward Alli Gloyd for the season, after an ACL tear.

Deja Mann is ready to suit up again for ASU. Coach Charli Turner Thorne says rules changes won't affect the Sun Devils.

The University of Washington is showing commitment to improvement.

Young leaders are stepping up for Oregon State.

Utah fights crime, too.

Washington State got a confidence boost from their games overseas.

UCLA has a new look this year.

"Down one, up four" for Oregon.

Photo session kicked off media day.


John R. Wooden preseason watch list

The list:

Natalie Achonwa/6-3/Sr./F/Notre Dame/ACC
Rachel Banham/5-9/Jr./G/Minnesota/Big Ten
Brittany Boyd/5-9/Jr./G/California/Pac-12
Gennifer Brandon/6-2/Sr./F/California/Pac-12
Hallie Christofferson/6-3/Sr./F/Iowa State/Big 12
Jerica Coley/5-8/Sr./G/FIU/Conference USA
Jazmine Davis/5-7/Jr./PG/Washington/Pac-12
Diamond DeShields/6-1/Fr./G/North Carolina/ACC
Stefanie Dolson/6-5/Sr./C/UConn/The American
Aaryn Ellenberg/5-7/Sr./G/Oklahoma/Big 12
Bashaara Grave/6-2/So./F/Tennessee/SEC
Chelsea Gray/5-11/Sr./G/Duke/ACC
Cassie Harberts/6-2/Sr./F/USC/Pac-12
Bria Hartley/5-8/Sr./G/UConn/The American
Jordan Hooper/6-2/Sr./F/Nebraska/Big Ten
Tricia Liston/6-1/Sr./G Duke/ACC
Maggie Lucas/5-10/Sr./G Penn State/Big Ten
Tyuanna Marshall/5-9/Sr./G/Georgia/Tech/ACC
Kayla McBride/5-11/Sr./G/Notre/Dame/ACC
Xylina McDaniel/6-2/So./F/North Carolina/ACC
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis/6-0/Jr./F/UConn/The American
Chiney Ogwumike#/6-4/Sr./F/Stanford/Pac-12
Theresa Plaisance/6-5/Sr./F/LSU/SEC
Shoni Schimmel/5-6/Jr./G/Louisville/The American
Meighan Simmons/5-9/Sr./G/Tennessee/SEC
Odyssey Sims#/5-8/Sr./G Baylor/Big 12
DeNesha Stallworth/6-3/Sr./F/Kentucky/SEC
Breanna Stewart/6-4/So./F/UConn/The American
Alyssa Thomas/6-2/Sr./F Maryland/ACC
Elizabeth Williams/6-3/Jr./C/F/Duke/ACC

Tar Heels using coach Sylvia Hatchell's absence as motivation

While coach Sylvia Hatchell battles leukemia, North Carolina is using her absence as motivation.

Other college news:

Jannah Tucker will enroll at Tennessee in the spring.

At Michigan, it's a transition year. Senior Cyesha Goree has lost 20 pounds, and is ready to roll.

Seniors Tyrese Tanner and Peyton Davis are leading Auburn.

Kentucky is in a good place going into the season.

Colorado wants more than just an NCAA Tournament spot. They will rely on the front and center.

Purdue's director of basketball operations has made a full recovery from cancer.

Madeline Blais will step up for Marist.

MTSU's Ebony Rowe brings her A-game to the scholar athlete equation.

Rebuilding requires patience for Delaware.

UT Martin will wait to set goals.

Arizona is having fun with their new nickname.

Versatile guards will be a strength for South Alabama.

Fresno State has unfinished business.

Utah State enters the Mountain West Conference, and wants to make an impression.

Illinois State is shaping up to be a running team.

New coach Bunky Harkleroad has brought a fast-paced style to Sacramento State.

Colorado State must replace Megham Heimstra.

The unfamiliarity between Towson players and coaches doesn't equate to lower expectations.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A few odds and ends from everywhere

Point guards lead the way at Texas A&M's scrimmage.

Inside Oklahoma's practices.

Central Florida's Briahanna Jackson is criminal-minded.

Arizona State notebook.

Two Florida transfers hope to play a big role this season.

Bits from Arizona's media day.

Cornell preview.

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

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

Surpassing their achievements last season would already be a challenge for UCLA. They were ranked in the top 20 all year, finished third in the Pac-12, played Stanford for the conference championship and went to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Oklahoma.

But the Bruins graduated three of their starters and top scorers. Then this past month saw the loss of two key reserves - Kari Korver and Kacy Swain - to ACL tears. The thinned-out roster puts UCLA at a disadvantage, which may mean a down year.

Sure, leading point-getter (11.6 ppg) and sixth-year senior forward Antonye Nyingifa is back, as is point guard Thea Lemberger (8.6 ppg) and sophomore guard Nirra Fields (7.8 ppg). Junior forward/guard Rhema Gardner, junior forward center Corrine Costa and freshman guard Lauren Holiday are back from injury, after missing last season. But aside from reserve Madeline Brooks, the remaining Bruins are new, leaving them short on experience.

The four newcomers are a diverse group. There is 5-foot-9 guard Dominique Williams of Arizona - the only overall-ranked signee - at 94th, and 21st for her position. Savanna Trapp is a 6-foot-9 center from Minnesota who was ranked 20th among posts for the 2013 class. Another center, 6-foot-3 Liviana Luvalo, is a junior transfer from Northwest Florida State College. She averaged 8.6 ppg and 5.2 rpg in an average 7.3 minutes per game last year. Paulina Hersler, a forward from Sweden, rounds out the freshman class.

Much has been made this past week of coach Cori Close's 2014 recruiting class, which ESPN dubbed the best in the nation, with five A-list recruits. But what about this season?

If the Bruins hold true to form, they will be better than expected. Two years ago they were befallen by injuries, but battled and finished in the top half of the Pac-12. Last season they surpassed conference, overall and NCAA Tournament expectations despite the losses of Gardner, Costa and Holiday.

Close and her assistant coaches keep a fairly low profile, making UCLA somewhat difficult to assess. On paper, this year's Bruins look like they'll be spread thinly. But fans won't truly know until they step on to the court.

After a Halloween night opener, UCLA will face Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Auburn in pre-conference play. They open in the Pac-12 Dec. 30 against chief rivals USC, at home.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Less than two weeks until college season begins

For DePaul, it's family forward.

Kentucky is fine-tuning its offense to get over the Final Four hump. Senior DeNesha Stallworth aims to meet great expectations. The Wildcats now boast seven McDonald's All-Americans.

High expectations surround Lady Vol freshman Mercedes Russell.

Notre Dame senior forward Ariel Braker is all about overcoming adversity.

Penn State has chosen their team captains.

Witchita State gets back to work, under six-year coach Jody Adams - a former Lady Vol.

Florida coach Amanda Butler talks about how practices have been going.

UCF junior forward Brittni Montgomery is itching to play again.

Fresno State's Ally Sheedy blogs.

LSU-Alexandria's first coach is Bob Austin.

Siena coach Ali Jaques sees improvement.

Akron senior forward Sina King will sit out the season for medical reasons.

A look at Missouri coach Robin Pingeton. The Tigers have freshman Sierra Michaelis feeling right at home.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Pac-12 preview: the University of Washington

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

The University of Washington has been ambushed by injuries, illnesses and coaching changes the last three years. But thanks to some coaching retention, a majority of returnees and a healthy start so far this season, the Huskies might be poised to continue the momentum they had going last year.

Coach Kevin McGuff left Xavier in 2011 to take the helm at the UW, and just as suddenly last spring, he departed for the open Ohio State University job, leaving the Huskies reeling. When the University announced it was promoting assistant coach Mike Neighbors to head coach, players were elated. The retention of the other two assistants, Adia Barnes and Kevin Morrison, means continuity for the Huskies, who had climbed out of the conference cellar under the new staff. They finished 21-12 for fifth in the Pac-12.

"We didn't have to change the culture - it was already good," Neighbors said. "Now we've gone about doing things in different ways. Kevin (McGuff) and I are different personalities and do things a bit different in practice. But the goals haven't changed: to get the team back into the NCAA Tournament, back into the top half of the Pac-12 standings, and hopefully a top four seed going into the Pac-12 Tournament."

"The strength of the (conference) of the past few years and the trajectory that it's on with its improvement....we think we can become an NCAA Tournament team. We kind of feel like this is year three, not year one, because so much stuff is still the same."

The roster is virtually unchanged, as well, with starter Kristi Kingma the only major loss. The other four - junior guard Jazmine Davis (19.3 ppg), sophomore forward Talia Walton (13.6 ppg), junior guard/forward Aminah Williams (9.2 ppg, 10.8 rpg) and senior guard Mercedes Wetmore (6.8 ppg) - are back. So is key reserve Heather Corral (4.5 ppg), a sophomore guard.

Katie Collier will also step on to the court for the first time, after redshirting her freshman year to battle leukemia. As the disease went into remission in 2012, Collier then tore her ACL that summer. Neighbors said her battle back has inspired the entire team.

"Having Katie back impacts us every single day on the floor," Neighbors said. "She's impacted us off the floor last year even when she was (out). But having her out there on a daily basis, not only as an inspiration of what she's overcome, and how hard she's had to fight through effects us."

"She's a really talented player that brings us a bit of size, and an awful lot of toughness. Sometimes people just see a six-foot-three tall blonde kid in the airport and they judge her; they don't realize how tough she is. So having that toughness in practice has been a huge benefit. She pushes the other players's given us a presence inside that we've lacked."

Add to that are four newcomers that could help the UW immediately.

Guard Kelsey Plum of San Diego was ranked 26th in her class last year. Neighbors said she wasted no time making her presence felt at the University.

"Kelsey Plum has impacted us since the day she stepped on campus, with her work ethic and getting people in the gym," he said. "She's a natural leader as a freshman. She makes us really hard to guard."

Arizona native Chantel Oshahor was the 11th-ranked forward of the 2013 class.

"Chantel Oshahar has done exactly what we hoped she would do in coming in and giving us an inside presence that can also shoot," he said. "She continues to amaze us every day in practice with a pass or two."

Brianna Ruiz was the 16th-ranked guard in the nation, but has re-injured her knee and is rehabilitating it. The fourth newcomer, sophomore guard Alexus Atchley, comes to the Huskies after spending her freshman year as a walk-on at Colorado.

Neighbors said the team has been going hard in practices, where they use a male practice squad. For both the team and coaches, the season can't begin soon enough.

"We're a little anxious to get started," he said. "Practices have been going well and....we're excited to see what that looks like...see how it stacks up."

The Huskies' pre-conference opponents include Wisconsin, Pepperdine, San Diego State and Georgia Tech. They open Pac-12 play Jan. 4, at home against Arizona State.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

College news: swimming in it

North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell has a lot of support in her battle against cancer.

Q&A with former WNBA great and Eastern Illinois coach Debbie Black.

Hofstra coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey has signed a multi-year contract extension.

Senior point guard Valencia McFarland will be the key to Ole Miss' up-tempo style of play.

Lady Vol freshman Mercedes Russell's basketball role fits her nicely.

Cal has premiered its new website.

Oakland guard Zakiya Minifee will miss the season due to knee injuries sustained over the last two years.

Longtime UTEP assistant coach Eva Laskowska has been promoted to associate head coach.

Injured Miami players are on the road to recovery.

Missouri won't abandon their long-range plans.

"Ballin in the Mall" introduced Drake University basketball to the public today.

Midnight Madness ushered in the new era of coach Sheryl Swoopes for Loyola, Ill.

CSUN had fun at their Midnight Madness.

Minnesota Gophers practice report for Friday.

UC Irvine coach Doug Oliver is "taking over twitter" this month.

Tulane is celebrating 20 years under coach Lisa Stockton.

A tiny bit of pro ball:

The veteran Delisha Milton-Jones is blogging. Check her out from Turkey.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Pac-12 preview: Arizona State University

This is the fourth in an annual series previewing the Pac-12 teams

This year will be telling for Arizona State, in the wake of longtime coach Charli Turner Thorne's sabbatical during the 2011-2012 season. Last year's team was young and inexperienced and ended up 13-18 - ninth in conference - and didn't advance to post-season play for the first time in 14 years. Some criticized Turner Thorne's absence, saying it hurt recruiting and continuity. With four returnees and four newcomers this season, she will try to recoup from her new beginning.

The bad news for the Sun Devils is that leading scorer Janae Fulcher (11.5 ppg) has graduated, as did fellow starter Micaela Pickens (6.5 ppg). The good news is that junior guard Promise Amukamara (8 ppg), senior center Joy Burke (7.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and senior guard Adrianne Thomas (5.3 ppg) are back, as is senior guard Deja Mann, who sat out last year after surgery on her right knee. Mann averaged 7.6 ppg two years ago.

Newcomers include forward Sophie Brunner, from Illinois; Katie Hempen, a transfer guard from SIUE; Kelsey Moos, a forward from Washington state; and center Quinn Dornstauder of Regina, Saskatchewan. Turner Thorne said Brunner and Moos could be major contributors early on, based on their performance during preseason workouts. Hempen was the 2012 Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Year, and is known for her shooting prowess.

ASU scored fewer than 50 points seven times last season, and Fulcher was the only player to average double-digit scoring. Clearly, the Sun Devils are in need of some offense, which is why Turner Thorne has let it be known that this year's starting positions are up for grabs. She and her assistant coaches are looking for the best five players to fill the roles, and are focusing less on position, as the offense will be transition-based.

Another bright spot for ASU is that overall, this year's team has more experience. Last year, the majority of the active squad were freshmen, sophomores and transfers who didn't have Division I experience. This season there are four seniors, a junior - and a lot more confidence.

The Sun Devils will not shy away from challenges in pre-conference play, as they will take on Texas Tech, Illinois, North Carolina, Miami and Syracuse. They begin Pac-12 competition Jan. 3, at Washington State.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Some pro ball wrap-up

DePaul has extended the contract of coach Doug Bruno through the 2018-2019 season.

More than 50 former players have signed a letter in support of Holy Cross coach Bill Gibbons, in the wake of a lawsuit another former player filed against him.


Erlana Larkins was the Indiana Fever's rock this season.

Where Mercury players are this off-season.

The Mystics' Crystal Langhorne discusses the 2013 season.

Fans share their favorite Silver Stars season memories.

Sun players overseas.

The Lynx's page is spiffed out.

Make that three WNBA coach openings

The Dream isn't renewing the contract of coach Fred Williams.

Russ Pennell will not return to the Phoenix Mercury, opting to return to college coaching.

Don't try to propose Corey Gaines and/or Michael Cooper, please.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pac-12 preview: the University of California

This is the third of an annual series previewing the Pac-12 teams

Cal came up with quite a recipe for its basketball program.

They took one group of talented players, added a brand new head coach and an energetic assistant coaching staff, and got some amazing results in year two: a top ten team, a co-holder of the conference title and a trip to the Final Four. So what does coach Lindsay Gottlieb do for an encore in her third year? She acknowledges that things have changed in Berkeley.

"I'd be lying if I said that the bar hasn't been raised around Haas Pavilion," Gottlieb said of Cal's home court. "It has, and that's a good thing. I think Cal players now, and future Cal players forever, will aim for championships (and) for deep NCAA Tournament runs. Higher expectations means that we've established a championship culture."

But the upbeat Gottlieb stays true to her "one day at a time" philosophy.

"That being said, the way you win championships is by getting better today, and tomorrow, and the day after that," she said. "We focus on the process and little things, so that huge things become possible. So in terms of our goals, yes, we want to be Pac-12 champions again, but more will be said in our locker room about how we want to play, who we want to be, and the level we need to strive for each day in practice."

The Bears have to begin by filling some big shoes - especially those of dynamic guard Layshia Clarendon (16.4 ppg), who lead the team to the Final Four before being drafted into the WNBA. Other major losses are center Talia Caldwell (9.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg) and guard Eliza Pierre (2.6 ppg, 3 rpg). The good news for Cal is that seven players return, and four freshmen and two transfers step in.

Junior point guard Brittany Boyd is poised to run the show, as she averaged 12.5 ppg last year and made the All-Pac 12 team. Senior forward Gennifer Brandon (12.3 ppg, 11.1 rpg) will likely handle most of the post duties, along with junior forward Reshanda Gray (8.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg). Senior guard Afure Jemerigbe (7.4 ppg, 3 rpg) also returns, as does senior guard Mikayla Lyles, junior forward Justine Hartman and senior guard Avigiel Cohen.

Cal's freshman class was ranked 12th. They include Mercedes Jefflo, ranked 29th among guards for the class; forward Courtney Range, ranked 38th overall; KC Waters, a forward ranked 54th overall; and Hind Ben Abdelkadar, a guard from Belgium.

Two highly-regarded transfers will also suit up this season. Brittany Shine is a 5-foot-10 guard from the University of Florida, and Kyra Dunn is a 6-foot-3 forward from the University of Pittsburgh. Gottlieb is excited about the mixture of veterans and newcomers on the team.

"We had a magical year last season, one that no one will ever forget, but we don't wish for a 'do-over,'" Gottlieb said. "We are excited for where this Cal Basketball program is headed next. I can't wait to see the new people step in and the veterans step up."

"We have six dynamic new players in the program. They all bring something a little bit different in terms of skill set, but they will help to maintain and uplift the exciting and positive culture we have here. I think Cal fans will enjoy seeing them in blue and gold."

Truth be told, the Bears have made many new fans, in addition to the old ones, since Gottlieb took the helm. Her resonance with young people and her ability to motivate them and help them believe in themselves has resulted in a hard-working squad that never gives up. Even fans of other teams found themselves rooting for Cal as they reached the stage in New Orleans last April.

What's more, the Bears might be ready to wrest the long-held top spot in the Pac-12 from Stanford's grasp, if their tie with them for the conference title last year is any indication. Even with six newcomers, it is not safe to bet against the "can-do" Bears.

Cal is not shying away from challenges in pre-conference play. They will face Duke, George Washington, Georgetown and Northwestern in November, and Connecticut in December. They begin conference play Jan. 3 at home.

As the NCAA practices turn

Ohio State is lacking stars - not confidence.

Coach Holly Warlick and her Tennessee Vols have found a comfort zone in year two of her tenure.

Virginia is heading into the season healthy.

Alabama is looking for a fresh start under new coach Kristy Curry.

Purdue freshman Bridget Perry may have an immediate impact.

New Ole Miss coach Matt Insell is trying to put the controversial days of the program behind him.

UCLA has some highly-ranked freshmen.

The NCAA has denied the transfer waiver request of FGCU's Kaneisha Atwater.

The University of South Dakota is on target.

Expectations are high for Tulsa University.

Seattle's own Sheila Lambert will be part of Baylor's 2013 Hall of Fame induction class.

A lil WNBA:

Candace Parker is the Women's Sports Foundation's Sportswoman of the Year.

Seattle Storm exit interview: center Ashley Robinson.

One Minnesota publication says the Lynx is the definition of a sports dynasty.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

First college news motherlode of the season

In case you were wondering, I'm not linking any college "pre-season predictions" stories. Nobody that writes those does their research very well, and they're always half-baked.

There's plenty of concrete news to discuss:

Lady Vol freshman Mercedes Russell met the media for the first time yesterday.

The Georgetown team is trying to stick together after coach Keith Brown's resignation.

Auburn coach Terri Williams-Flournoy is back to coaching young Tigers. Auburn is pressing toward its ultimate goal.

Missouri is looking to build after their first year in the SEC.

Rachel Theriot is stepping up to fill the point guard role at Nebraska.

Marist is preparing for an exciting season.

The NCAA has denied a waiver for Wyoming's Jordan Kelly.

Colorado's Jasmine Sborov is ready for a break out season.

Penn State's roster features stars and fresh faces. A slimmed-down Candice Agee is ready to do her part.

BYU is looking for a big season, with Jennifer Hamson in the middle.

Illinois State is quickly learning new coach Barb Smith's fast pace.

New faces are boosting LSU.

Coach C. Vivian Stringer is mum on her last contract year with Rutgers.

A former Holy Cross player has sued coach Bill Gibbons and the school, claiming he was physically and verbally abusive. Gibbons has stepped aside while the investigation takes place. Other former players are shocked by the allegations. Read the lawsuit here.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pac-12 preview: Oregon State University

This is the second in an annual series previewing the Pac-12 teams

Oregon State coach Scott Rueck has had quite a journey since taking over the program four years ago. With one player left, he built the team back up from scratch. A few departed after that first year, and in the second, a core formed. The Beavers notched some key victories, posted a winning record, and Rueck was named by media as Pac-12 coach of the year. Then last year, decimation occurred.

Injury after injury hobbled the OSU roster, striking key players and resulting in loss after loss. The Beavers finished 10-21 and tenth in conference. Then they graduated six seniors.

This season the team is reborn again, and Rueck seems to again be piloting a brand new ship. Of the seven returning players, only two are upperclasswomen: senior guard Alyssa Martin (7.2 ppg, 3.8 ppg) and junior guard Ali Gibson (9.1 ppg). The rest of the returnees are sophomores: guard Jamie Weisner (12.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg), forward Deven Hunter (4.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg), center Ruth Hamblin (4.4 ppg), forward Samantha Siegner (3.8 ppg) and guard Khadidja Toure (2.6 ppg).

Rueck said he is looking to Martin and Gibson for leadership, but noted that the entire team is carrying the load.

"When you have only one senior and one junior, you obviously point to the two that have been here the longest for leadership," Rueck said. "Alyssa Martin has been a three-year starter for us, has been through everything and seen it all. Ali Gibson is a two-year starter for us who has made so many big plays for us over the past couple of seasons."

"But what I love about this group is it's coming from everywhere. There are certainly times for each person to step up. I love the example our upperclassmen are setting, but our sophomores went through so many things last year that they're displaying it too. This is a highly-functioning group of mature 18-22-year-olds."

Four freshmen join the team this year: forward/center Breanna Brown, of Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland, Calif.; guard Sydney Wiese of Pinnacle High School in Phoenix, Ariz.; guard Gabriella Hanson of Troy High School in Anaheim, Calif.; and forward Kolbie Orum of Maple Ridge Secondary School in Maple Ridge, British Columbia. Brown and Wiese were ranked in the top 100 of the class of 2013. Hanson has played for the Swedish National team, and Orum has played for the Canadian National Team.

"We're really excited about our freshman class," Rueck said. "All four bring such dynamic backgrounds, and they've all won a lot."

OSU's biggest pre-conference challenge will be at a Thanksgiving Bahamas tournament, where they'll face Penn State and either Floria or Illinois State on the second day. They'll also take on Notre Dame, Clemson and Creighton before beginning Pac-12 play.

Players are optimistic about the season.

"We're young right now, but I think this is a chance for everyone to grow up quickly," Martin said. "We all get along really well, and I think it's going to be a good year."

Tulsa Shock fires coaching staff; Mercury president and COO resigns

Hard-hitting news day.

The Tulsa Shock fired coach Gary Kloppenburg and his staff, after two seasons.

Phoenix Mercury president and COO Amber Cox has reportedly resigned. She has confirmed the decision, in so many words, via twitter. Sources say Cox has also posted the news on her Facebook page. Mercury fans report getting this email:


I have written you many letters in my time with the Mercury, but undoubtedly this will be the most difficult because it will be the last. After nine years working for the best organization in sports, and alongside the best fans in the WNBA, I have decided to start a new chapter and pursue a new venture.

To say this is bittersweet would be a supreme understatement; but, as much as I will miss our players, staff and incredible fans, what makes this move possible for me is the confidence I have in the direction the organization is headed. I am proud to say that confidence is rooted in our unparalleled business success over the past nine years, culminating in a record-setting season in 2013. The precedent was set before me, and it is a standard that will continue to be reached after me: this is the best organization in the WNBA.

Every night on the court we judge successes and failures in terms of wins and losses. But the ultimate victory, as I have always told everyone who will listen, is that the WNBA has changed the world. Young women joining the league now have never known a world without a professional women's basketball league in the United States. Unlike my generation and generations before me, today playing professionally is a possibility for everyone on the playground court—not just the boys. That is why this league matters, why your support is so valuable, why I am so thankful for my time with the Mercury, and why I will continue to be an advocate and fan of the women's game and the WNBA no matter where I go. I know most of you share that passion.

So I write to say thank you, not simply for your unwavering support over the last nine years I have been here, but for believing in what this league and this team can be, next year and beyond. Thank you for your enthusiasm and engagement, for making Brittney Griner's jersey the league's top seller, for making the league's most visited site, for leading historic, league-wide increases in attendance and television ratings. Basically, thanks for making it so enjoyable for me to come to work each day.

The 18th Mercury season starts in just over 200 days. I plan to be in the stands and I hope to see you all there.

Until then, all my gratitude,

Amber Cox

Monday, October 14, 2013

Former SDSU coach Beth Burns files wrongful termination claim

No surprise at this litigation:

Burns and her attorney, Ed Chapin, did not comment Monday and instead referred to the 34-page claim, which was obtained from CSU through an open records request. It characterizes the incident with Barrett as “an unintentional response from a coach in the middle of a basketball game” and as “a feeble attempt to cover up the real reason” for dismissing the winningest coach in program history.

“SDSU fired her,” the claim says, “in retaliation for her unwavering demands that SDSU put women’s basketball and men’s athletics on an equal footing … Coach Burns refused to remain silent in the face of the inequities she witnessed. She regularly complained regarding the department’s disparate treatment of the women’s basketball program.”


The Lynx celebrated their championship today in Minneapolis with a parade and rally.

Where, overseas, that team members are headed now.

Janel McCarville would love to be back next season.

North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell "temporarily stepping away" after leukemia diagnosis

Longtime Tar Heels coach Sylvia Hatchell will step away from coaching duties to fight leukemia, the school announced today. Assistant coach Andrew Calder, who has been with the team 28 years, will act as coach.

Hatchell plans to face the disease head-on.

There has been an outpouring of support for Hatchell from former players, coaches and others.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pac-12 preview: Colorado University

This is the first in an annual series previewing the Pac-12 teams

Coach Linda Lappe's third season heading the program at her alma mater proved to be the charm last year, as Colorado marched toward elite status with a strong record, a national ranking and an NCAA Tournament appearance.

The Buffs overcame years of mid-season lulls and lack of depth to put together a 25-7 overall record, and a fourth-place conference finish. Their 11-0 start got them into the top 25, where they stayed for the rest of the season. Colorado's only losses were to the three Pac-12 teams that finished above them, and to Kansas, to whom they lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. It was their first tourney appearance since 2004.

With only one starter and two bench players lost, the Buffs would be poised to repeat such success this season, except that it is mercurial point guard Chucky Jeffery who is missing. Their top scorer for the last two years, Jeffery was also the team's leader, and her absence leaves a large void.

The good news for Colorado is that the four returning starters are a strong and resilient core. Sophomore forward Arielle Roberson (12.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg) was a welcome surprise in her first year, as the team's second-leading scorer. Senior guard Brittany Wilson (8.3 ppg), junior guard Lexy Kresl (6.0 ppg) and senior center Rachel Hargis (4.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg) also return, as does key bench player Jen Reese (8.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg), a junior forward.

Other major returnees are Jamee Swan (5.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg), a sophomore who is Colorado's field-goal percentage leader, and senior guard Ashley Wilson, who always provides a spark off the bench.

Who will fill Jeffery's shoes? Maybe Wilson, who ranked second on the team last year in steals, assists and three-point field goals. Or perhaps it will eventually be freshman Desiree Harris, a decorated guard from Oakland, Calif. The question could be crucial for the Buffs, who have relied on Jeffery for so long.

Other newcomers include Zoe Beard-Fails, a forward from Herndon, Virginia; Haley Smith, a Washington state guard/forward; and Bri Watts, a center from Fresno, Calif.

Colorado's schedule is virtually the same as last year's, as they face pre-conference opponents Louisville, Illinois, New Mexico, Wyoming and Denver. They begin conference play Jan. 3 at USC.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

College season begins in exactly one month

Coach news:

Georgia coach Andy Landers lip-synced and betted with fans during the team's "BasketBash" event.

New Drury coach Steve Huber is taking time off to deal with health concerns.

Team and player news:

Basketball has always been in style for Lady Vol freshman Jordan Reynolds.

Vanderbilt commercial: other girls.

The Minnesota Gophers are committed to toughness and defense.

Seniors Bree Farley and Taylor Thompson are ready to lead Fresno State.


More on the Lynx homecoming, including video and photos.

Assistant coach Shelley Patterson thinks Minnesota is still on the rise.

To get to the finals, the Sky roster needs a makeover.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Lynx come home to a Champ's welcome

The WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx came home to a packed airport today:

The fans stretched so deep that they were blocking off the route to baggage claim. They waited patiently at the bottom of a staircase -- sometimes spontaneously breakout out in "Let's Go Lynx" chants and then burst into loud cheers when players walked down.

The Lynx had fun celebrating with fans:

Lynx players allowed other passengers to exit the airplane before they finally emerged in the terminal with Augustus holding the championship trophy. Moments later, players stood atop a flight of stairs in stunned silence as applause boomed from the fans gathered below.

The Championship parade and celebration will be Monday.

Cool bonus: The NBA's Kevin Durant says fiancee/WNBA Champ Monica Wright is the better basketball player.

It's all about college now

Sacramento State has named a new coach.

A July accident has left Miami shaken but united.

Ohio State players credit their coaches with a rise in energy level.

The Terps are hoping for a clean bill of health this season.

The Vanderbilt seniors are planning a big year.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Georgetown coach resigns

Georgetown coach Keith Brown has resigned:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Georgetown women's basketball coach Keith Brown has resigned after an investigation into unprofessional conduct and inappropriate language as alleged by some of his players.

Georgetown announced Brown's resignation Thursday, citing a school policy that stresses the importance of ''providing an environment for student-athletes that is safe, supportive, and founded upon the values of integrity, respect, care, honesty and professionalism.''

Lynx sweep Dream, claim second Championship

The Dream kept it closer this time, but the Lynx still prevailed in game three, 86-77. It's a sweep for Minnesota, and their second WNBA title.

The Lynx dominated.

Videos of the trophy presentation, and Maya Moore's Finals MVP presentation, are on the league's fantastic Finals blog.

Moore felt right at home in her hometown.

ESPN says the Lynx were the favorite all season long.

With very little time left before tipoff............

I'm betting the Lynx make it a sweep tonight with a win over the Dream. If they do, Maya Moore will do it in "her special place."

Seimone Augustus is playing like the Finals MVP that she was in 2011.

The Lynx aim to celebrate in Gwinnett.

Dream head honcho Fred Williams is a player's coach.

Other WNBA news:

Storm exit interviews: Noelle Quinn excelled coming off the bench.

Shekinna Stricklen had a rocky season.

Tina Thompson interview on NPR.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Tamika Catchings will be inducted into the Lady Volunteer Hall of Fame

Tamika Catchings will be inducted into the Lady Volunteer Hall of Fame next month.

Delicious tidbits

WNBA playoffs:

In-depth conversation with Angel McCoughtry.

Lynx staffer's blog on the team's road trip to Atlanta.

Maya Moore will have a homecoming in returning to Georgia.

Other WNBA:

The WNBA is still setting the bar for diversity hiring.

Sparks players talk about their experiences last weekend at USA Basketball camp.

College news:

Xavier coach Amy Waugh has resigned.

Game two fall out

Angel McCoughtry is mad about the physical play last night:

"The whole pulling me down on the fast break, all that crap, it's not needed," McCoughtry said. "I really hurt my elbow when Maya pulled me down on that play. I feel like it wasn't needed. We don't play that way. We are going to play hard and we are going to play scrappy, but we aren't going to pull you down and hurt you. I just felt like I deserve a little more respect than that."

The Lynx's Seimone Augustus is ready to write a new ending, in view of last year's Finals loss.

Janel McCarville and Rebekkah Brunson ruled on defense.

One columnist says Minnesota has affirmed they are the league's best.

College news:

Regional sites this spring will be: Nebraska, Stanford, Notre Dame and Louisville.

Colorado is eager to build on last season's success. Coach Linda Lappe is not changing what works.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

College odds and ends

Unlimited texting could be coming back to college recruiting.

Notre Dame enters the unfamiliar ACC with familiar goals.

Lynx rout Dream to come within one win of the WNBA title

Game two was a deja vu of sorts, as the Lynx pounded the Dream, 88-63. Minnesota beat Atlanta by 25 points in Sunday's game one.

It's a bit of a let down, isn't it?

Finals blog, full of goodies, as usual.

Pre-season Wade Trophy watch list

The list:

Natalie Achonwa, Notre Dame
Rachel Banham, Minnesota
Brittany Boyd, California
Gennifer Brandon, California
Jerica Coley, FIU
Stefanie Dolson, Connecticut
Aaryn Ellenberg, Oklahoma
Bashaara Graves, Tennessee
Chelsea Gray, Duke
Bria Hartley, Connecticut
Jordan Hooper, Nebraska
Maggie Lucas, Penn State
Tyaunna Marshall, Georgia Tech
Kayla McBride, Notre Dame
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Connecticut
Chiney Ogwumike, Stanford
Theresa Plaisance, LSU
Ebony Rowe, Middle Tennessee
Schoni Schimmel, Louisville
Meighan Simmons, Tennessee
Odyssey Sims, Baylor
DeNesha Stallworth, Kentucky
Breanna Stewart, Connecticut
Alyssa Thomas, Maryland
Elizabeth Williams, Duke

Game two in T-minus five, four.........

Atlanta and Minnesota tip off game two at 5 p.m. PDT/8 p.m. EDT tonight.

Minnesota expects a physical Atlanta team this evening.

ESPN says the Lynx are top-notch on both sides of the court.

The Lynx throw it down pre-game.

Angel McCoughtry is leading Atlanta's title hopes with lifted spirits.

Ruth Riley says there is no need for the Dream to panic.

Erika de Souza is worth of center stage.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Gearing for game two

More on game one:

Monica Wright was vital to the Lynx:

"She was amazing," Moore said. "She lifted us completely to another level, so much energy. Her defense, her hustle, her activity. She is vital to us, and we need that from her. When she plays like that, she gives everybody else life.

Wright does what it takes.

Minnesota is aware of a possible bounce back by the Dream.

Atlanta forward Angel McCoughtry said her team must stop being nice if they want to win a title.

Post-game press conferences.

Game two and beyond:

Much news in the Finals blog - Tiffany Hayes is a gametime decision tomorrow after a bad fall in game one, Seimone Augustus expects things to get chippy tomorrow, and Angel McCoughtry wants her team to step up.

Rebekkah Brunson plays a key role for Minnesota in their hunt for a second championship.

Janel McCarville is a perfect compliment to her flashier teammates.

Non-playoffs news:

Storm point guard Temeka Johnson enters the fold.

College news:

Tennessee has found a new athletic trainer to replace Jenny Moshak.

Maryland is enjoying their new, remodeled locker room.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Lynx crush Dream in Finals opener, 84-59

Maya Moore, Monica Wright and Seimone Augustus lead the Lynx over the Dream, 84-59 in game one of the WNBA Finals tonight.

Moore was 10-16 shooting, Wright was 9-14 and Augustus, 9-15.

Box score.

Tonight's attendance: 13,804. They looked good on TV.

2013 Player efficiency rankings

Stats freaks - feast your eyes on James Bowman's 2013 WNBA player efficiency rankings. About a million things to think about:

Candace Parker 2013 LAS 30.38 889
Elizabeth Cambage 2013 TUL 29.96 499
Sylvia Fowles 2013 CHI 27.74 1001
Maya Moore 2013 MIN 27.61 1068
Tamika Catchings 2013 IND 27.55 942
Nneka Ogwumike 2013 LAS 27.12 878
Penny Taylor 2013 PHO 25.60 161
Chucky Jeffery 2013 NYL 25.50 6
Elena Delle Donne 2013 CHI 25.27 941
Angel McCoughtry 2013 ATL 25.25 1036
Diana Taurasi 2013 PHO 24.49 1032
Sancho Lyttle 2013 ATL 24.38 180
Riquna Williams 2013 TUL 23.56 612
Erika Desouza 2013 ATL 22.71 1016
Brittney Griner 2013 PHO 22.29 699
Lindsay Whalen 2013 MIN 21.70 1005
Seimone Augustus 2013 MIN 21.34 922
Glory Johnson 2013 TUL 21.01 875
Epiphanny Prince 2013 CHI 20.37 930
Tina Charles 2013 CON 20.01 951
Tina Thompson 2013 SEA 19.64 976
Rebekkah Brunson 2013 MIN 19.35 965
Essence Carson 2013 NYL 19.35 118
Danielle Adams 2013 SAS 19.11 899
Mistie Bass 2013 CON 18.58 593
Candice Dupree 2013 PHO 18.57 1057
Kara Lawson 2013 CON 18.54 271
Jantel Lavender 2013 LAS 18.48 571
DeWanna Bonner 2013 PHO 18.24 1119
Jessica Breland 2013 IND 18.04 439
Tiffany Hayes 2013 ATL 17.93 513
Jia Perkins 2013 SAS 17.88 1037
Julie Wojta 2013 SAS 17.79 25
Erlana Larkins 2013 IND 17.73 1022
Kristi Toliver 2013 LAS 17.70 1019
Courtney Paris 2013 TUL 17.62 276
Crystal Langhorne 2013 WAS 17.14 973
Janel McCarville 2013 MIN 16.87 700
Carolyn Swords 2013 CHI 16.87 181
Shavonte Zellous 2013 IND 16.85 908
Danielle Robinson 2013 SAS 16.74 812
Ivory Latta 2013 WAS 16.70 1072
Jayne Appel 2013 SAS 16.66 768
Kelsey Griffin 2013 CON 15.98 864
Tanisha Wright 2013 SEA 15.61 1050
Katie Douglas 2013 IND 15.39 143
Karima Christmas 2013 IND 15.00 913
Kara Braxton 2013 NYL 14.93 740
Lindsey Harding 2013 LAS 14.88 1011
Quanitra Hollingsworth 2013 WAS 14.88 42
Shekinna Stricklen 2013 SEA 14.87 797
Emma Meesseman 2013 WAS 14.75 498
Allison Hightower 2013 CON 14.69 672
Shenise Johnson 2013 SAS 14.62 901
Temeka Johnson 2013 SEA 14.58 877
Cappie Pondexter 2013 NYL 14.50 1027
Aneika Henry 2013 ATL 14.33 434
Camille Little 2013 SEA 14.28 1030
Courtney Vandersloot 2013 CHI 14.26 985
Monique Currie 2013 WAS 14.03 881
Michelle Snow 2013 WAS 13.91 571
Plenette Pierson 2013 NYL 13.90 883
Kayla Pedersen 2013 TUL 13.64 162
Monica Wright 2013 MIN 13.61 743
Leilani Mitchell 2013 NYL 13.34 633
Nadirah McKenith 2013 WAS 13.34 282
Swin Cash 2013 CHI 13.20 961
Kia Vaughn 2013 WAS 12.95 680
Nicole Powell 2013 TUL 12.88 715
Tayler Hill 2013 WAS 12.71 593
Kelsey Bone 2013 NYL 12.68 663
Devereaux Peters 2013 MIN 12.67 631
Alex Bentley 2013 ATL 12.62 753
DeLisha Milton-Jones 2013 SAS 12.40 409
Candice Wiggins 2013 TUL 12.34 876
Matee Ajavon 2013 WAS 12.29 772
Armintie Price 2013 ATL 11.86 838
DeLisha Milton-Jones 2013 TOTAL 11.86 622
Tierra Ruffin-Pratt 2013 WAS 11.71 503
Marissa Coleman 2013 LAS 11.64 595
Kayla Pedersen 2013 TOTAL 11.52 431
Tamera Young 2013 CHI 11.51 596
Erin Phillips 2013 IND 11.42 383
Renee Montgomery 2013 CON 11.13 625
Tianna Hawkins 2013 SEA 11.13 321
Toni Young 2013 NYL 11.05 344
Avery Warley 2013 NYL 10.89 102
Roneeka Hodges 2013 TUL 10.88 567
DeLisha Milton-Jones 2013 NYL 10.81 213
Briann January 2013 IND 10.73 946
Anne Marie Armstrong 2013 ATL 10.58 25
Davellyn Whyte 2013 SAS 10.44 433
Alana Beard 2013 LAS 10.44 703
Avery Warley 2013 TOTAL 10.32 215
Kayla Pedersen 2013 CON 10.25 269
Jenna O'Hea 2013 LAS 10.19 398
Sugar Rodgers 2013 MIN 10.07 212
Angel Goodrich 2013 TUL 9.96 680
Skylar Diggins 2013 TUL 9.96 845
Ashley Walker 2013 CON 9.89 55
Kalana Greene 2013 CON 9.84 888
Avery Warley 2013 CHI 9.81 113
Iziane Castro Marques 2013 CON 9.74 441
Tiffany Jackson 2013 TUL 9.74 393
Noelle Quinn 2013 SEA 9.72 870
Alysha Clark 2013 SEA 9.68 505
Jasmine James 2013 PHO 9.29 190
Allie Quigley 2013 CHI 9.28 318
Alex Montgomery 2013 NYL 9.27 782
Shay Murphy 2013 CHI 8.86 379
Amber Harris 2013 MIN 8.79 263
Briana Gilbreath 2013 PHO 8.79 763
Kayla Alexander 2013 SAS 8.76 371
Jasmine Hassell 2013 SEA 8.71 9
Jasmine Thomas 2013 ATL 8.69 935
Farhiya Abdi 2013 LAS 8.48 122
Ebony Hoffman 2013 LAS 8.38 412
Shameka Christon 2013 SAS 8.06 740
Tan White 2013 CON 7.91 549
Jeanette Pohlen 2013 IND 7.79 191
Le'coe Willingham 2013 ATL 7.71 755
Katie Smith 2013 NYL 7.65 904
Rachel Jarry 2013 MIN 7.57 184
Charde Houston 2013 PHO 7.44 586
Sydney Carter 2013 CON 7.09 259
Sasha Goodlett 2013 IND 7.07 187
Lynetta Kizer 2013 PHO 6.95 266
Kamiko Williams 2013 NYL 6.47 453
Chelsea Poppens 2013 SAS 6.44 63
Cathrine Kraayeveld 2013 SAS 6.31 285
Kelly Faris 2013 CON 6.17 338
Krystal Thomas 2013 PHO 6.14 477
A'dia Mathies 2013 LAS 5.96 276
Michelle Campbell 2 2013 CHI 5.63 238
Jennifer Lacy 2013 TUL 5.28 450
Lindsey Moore 2013 MIN 5.19 130
Natasha Lacy 2013 CON 4.84 50
Alexis Hornbuckle 2013 PHO 4.39 373
Layshia Clarendon 2013 IND 4.14 582
Jasmine Hassell 2013 TOTAL 2.60 162
Nakia Sanford 2013 SEA 2.43 153
Samantha Prahalis 2013 PHO 2.34 101
Jasmine Hassell 2013 IND 2.24 153
Sharnee' Zoll 2013 CHI 1.96 184
Chante Black 2013 SAS 1.82 10
Samantha Prahalis 2013 TOTAL 1.59 109
Ashley Robinson 2013 SEA 1.28 200
Chelsea Hopkins 2013 SAS 0.68 58
Ruth Riley 2013 ATL 0.42 121
Courtney Clements 2013 ATL 0.17 244
Erin Thorn 2013 IND -0.10 67
Cierra Bravard 2013 SEA -4.37 27
Joslyn Tinkle 2013 SEA -6.74 11
Samantha Prahalis 2013 NYL -7.89 8
Becky Hammon 2013 SAS -8.17 12
Jessica Moore 2013 WAS -13.50 8

Last-minute bits

Finals-related items:

The Lynx are going to key in on slowing down Angel McCoughtry's chaos.

One writer says rookie Alex Bentley is the X-factor for the Dream.

Other WNBA news:

Some free advice for the WNBA from one fan on their "bizarro scheduling."

Storm exit interviews: Camille Little wanted to do more.

Jannah Tucker:

The Washington Post's write-up on the Tennessee-signee's experience with domestic violence.

Exit interviews: the fans

I recently conducted exit interviews with season ticket holders of some WNBA teams. Here is what they said:

Seattle Storm

This season ticket holder is not going to renew in 2014, after nine years. She says that for some reason, it's not as fun as it used to be to attend games. She didn't like what she perceived as the attitude that this year's squad was merely a substitute for when Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird return from injury. She is concerned that the two stars are so much older than the rest of the team. And she said Tanisha Wright never gets the respect and credit that she deserves.

Los Angeles Sparks

The season ticket holder I spoke with says the Sparks need players who are willing to play hard, dive for loose balls and bang. "It's too finesse, too Hollywood," she said of Sparks play. She feels the Sparks need more passion, more intensity and less apathy. "They need a pulse," she said. She questions why Farhiya Abdi and Jenna O'Hea were kept on the team instead of Briana Gilbreath and Alyssia Brewer. She wonders what will happen to Ebony Hoffman, who is getting older.

New York Liberty

In New York fashion, the season ticket holder I spoke with was up front with her views: "Bill needs to get us some players who didn't play for the Shock, Cappie needs to get her head out of her a$$, Kara needs to go, Essence needs to come back strong, Alex needs to learn how to shoot, Leilani needs to be traded to a team that uses her, and everyone needs to find their cojones." She will renew her tickets next year.