Saturday, November 30, 2013

CSUN faces Utah State today

Cal State Northridge hosts Utah State today at 4 p.m. I'll be on the radio once again, doing color commentary.

The Matadors play for tournament consolation rights, after losing to Santa Clara last night.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Upsets and almost upsets

Today's upsets:

It took an overtime, but Arizona State pulled it out over #11 North Carolina, 94-81.

Texas defeated #12 Texas A&M, 69-58.


#13 Penn State 61, Oregon State 56.

#15 LSU 69, Rutgers 65.

Other results:

#14 Colorado is not missing a beat since losing their star point guard. They are 5-0 after today's rout of South Alabama, 94-61.

James Madison is 5-0 after downing UCLA, 77-67.

Syracuse ran by Memphis, 77-58, and is 7-0.

San Diego cruised by Hope International, 86-65, for their sixth straight win.

Arkansas thrashed Southeast Missouri State, 88-37, and is 7-0.

Missouri, also 7-0, topped Hartford 68-45.

Louisiana Tech beat New Orleans, 69-39, for their first win.

Wright State handed North Carolina State their first loss, 99-90.

Wisconsin slipped by Mercer, 77-72, and remains hot.

Iowa is also sizzling: they handled Boston College, 78-68.

Marquette pounded Tennessee Tech, 84-64. They've only lost one game.

Full scoreboard.

Other news:

Dayton is trying to lure fans with bacon and beer. (This would not be an incentive for me, personally). The Seattle Times has a poll on the matter.

Offensive balance is allowing Caitlin Duffy to thrive at Colorado State.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving day results

Right now there are numerous stores across the country that are open for "Black Friday" sales on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. Similarly, college basketball teams used to have today off. Now some play - more than last year. Hopefully the teams that played today had a chance to have a Thanksgiving dinner at some point.

#2 Duke 81, Xavier 54.

#3 Tennessee 76, Virginia 67.

#6 Stanford 80, South Dakota State 60.

#11 North Carolina 93, Arkansas State 60.

#12 Texas A&M 69, Memphis 59.

#16 Purdue 75, TCU 68.

Syracuse 77, Texas 65.

Iowa 78, USC 65.

Boston College 75, UNC Wilmington 54.

SMU 68, Kansas State 57.

Kansas 68, Central Michigan 63.

Arizona State 84, Illinois 60.

"Remind me again why we fired Jody Runge?"

No, it's not just me.

Syndicated cartoonist Jan Eliot has stepped up to voice her displeasure with the University of Oregon's decision to keep coach Paul Westhead:

Bottom of the Pac

Once upon a time, Oregon had a women’s basketball team that won a Pac-10 championship and consistently went to the postseason.

Mac Court was filled with happy fans and Kidsports teams who waited post-game to get their shirts and programs signed by players. We even beat Stanford. But UO still fired coach Jody Runge and hired a former player. Under Bev Smith we stayed in the middle of the Pac. But after awhile they fired her too. So it goes in sports.

Then UO hired Paul Westhead. With experience in the NBA and WNBA, he was said to be quite a catch. He got a far more lucrative contract than any other women’s basketball coach. Four-and-one-half years and $3.2 million later, what do we have? Consistent ranking at the bottom of the Pac. No postseason. Injuries. And a dubious coaching strategy.

After playing us recently, UConn coach Geno Auriemma was quoted as saying, “Where I grew up, if you played like that, you wouldn’t be allowed to play anymore, because some of the shots that they take are just indescribable.”

Maybe UO is just waiting for Westhead’s contract to run out. My question is, do they care enough about women’s basketball to actually search for and hire a young, motivated, energetic, talented coach?

Last time I went to a game the overhead screens ran video throughout the game — not team footage, but highlights of Westhead’s career. Why?

Remind me again why we fired Jody Runge?

Jan Eliot


For what are you thankful?

North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell, who is undergoing treatment for cancer, reflects on the things for which she is thankful.

That's awesome.

Some other random droppings on this holiday:

An up-close look at Pat Summitt Plaza.

Stony Brook University and ESPN are disagreeing about some things.

Freshmen Amber Porter and Brianti Saunders are fueling a strong start by Stetson.

Candace Parker put on a clinic yesterday in Russia - 35 points and 16 rebounds.

Scores later today.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

One more milestone

Today's results:

With #6 Stanford's win over Florida Gulf Coast, Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer notched the 900th win of her career. She's the fifth women's coach to reach that mark.

Richmond beat Virginia Tech to hand the Hokies their first loss of the season.

Full scoreboard.

Other news:

ESPN has Gonzaga on top of their mid-major top ten poll.

The Notre Dame Irish are trying to move on without point guard Skylar Diggins.

DePaul's loss to Notre Dame this week is a measuring stick.

Wisconsin's Morgan Paige shares hoops dreams with her entire family.

LSU is dealing with the suspension of two of its players.

Tennessee's Thanksgiving edition of inside the paint.

Vanderbilt's players talk about the things for which they're thankful.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

VanDerveer nears 900; a few teams still undefeated

Tonight's results:

Coach Tara VanDerveer's #6 Stanford Cardinal put away #16 Purdue, 86-69, giving her the 899th win of her career.

North Carolina State sprinted past Davidson, 86-63. The Wolfpack is now 6-0.

San Diego and BYU are both still perfect, as well.

#21 Michigan State avoided an upset by Temple, 74-70.

Other news:

Missouri State coach Kellie Harper gave birth to a son last night.

Chiney Ogwumike is stoked for her senior season at Stanford. Rebecca Lobo talks to Ogwumike.

Cornell senior Allyson DiMagno crossed the 1,000-point mark.

USA Today poll: no changes in top 10

USA Today coaches poll for the week:

1. Connecticut
2. Duke
3. Louisville
4. Tennessee
5. Stanford
6. Notre Dame
7. Kentucky
8. Maryland
9. Baylor
10. Nebraska
11. Texas A&M
12. North Carolina
13. South Carolina
14. Penn State
15. Iowa State
16. Oklahoma
17. LSU
18. Michigan State
19. Colorado
20. California
21. Georgia
22. Purdue
23. Oklahoma State
24. Gonzaga
25. DePaul

Tara VanDerveer approaches win 900

As #6 Stanford takes on #16 Purdue today, Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer could soon rack up the 900th win of her career.

VanDerveer's storied coaching days have been full of milestones.

Naismith Trophy early season watch list

The top 50:

Natalie Achonwa, Notre Dame
Rachel Banham, Minnesota
Tiffany Bias, Oklahoma State
Brittany Boyd, California
Gennifer Brandon, California
Kirby Burkholder, James Madison
Asya Bussie, West Virginia
Hallie Christofferson, Iowa State
Jerica Coley, Florida International
Kaela Davis, Georgia Tech
Jazmine Davis, University of Washington
Diamond DeShields, North Carolina
Stefanie Dolson, UConn
Aaryn Ellenberg, Oklahoma
Christina Foggie, Vanderbilt
Chassidy Fussell, Texas
Bashaara Graves, Tennessee
Chelsea Gray, Duke
Cassie Harberts, USC
Bria Hartley, UConn
Jordan Hooper, Nebraska
Andrea Hoover, Dayton
Natasha Howard, Florida State
Brittany Hrynko, DePaul
Betnijah Laney, Rutgers
Tricia Liston, Duke
Jewell Loyd, Notre Dame
Maggie Lucas, Penn State
Tyaunna Marshall, Georgia Tech
Ariel Massengale, Tennessee
Kayla McBride, Notre Dame
Xylina McDaniel, North Carolina
Laurin Mincy, North Carolina
Courtney Moses, Purdue
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, UConn
Jasmine Newsome, Tennessee-Martin
Chiney Ogwumike, Stanford
Haley Peters, Duke
Theresa Plaisance, LSU
Michelle Plouffe, Utah
Ebony Rowe, Middle Tennessee
Schoni Schimmel, Louisville
Meighan Simmons, Tennessee
Odyssey Sims, Baylor
DeNesha Stallworth, Kentucky
Brenna Stewart, UConn
Alyssa Thomas, Maryland
Courtney Walker, Texas A&M
Aleighsa Welch, South Carolina
Elizabeth Williams, Duke

Monday, November 25, 2013

Just a few tidbits

Tonight's results:

#8 Maryland kept Drexel at bay, 69-63.

#17 South Carolina routed USC, 70-50.

SMU is 6-0 after slipping by Lamar, 82-79.

Full scoreboard.

Other news:

Baylor's Odyssey Sims is ESPN's player of the week.

For Minnesota's Rachel Banham, playing against her brothers growing up paid off.

This week's AP top 25 poll

This week's AP top 25 poll:

1. Connecticut
2. Duke
3. Tennessee
4. Louisville
5. Notre Dame
6. Stanford
7. Kentucky
8. Msryland
9. Baylor
10. Nebraska
11. North Carolina
12. Texas A&M
13. Penn State
14. Colorado
15. LSU
16. Purdue
17. South Carolina
18. Oklahoma
19. Oklahoma State
20. California
21. Michigan State
22. Georgia
23. Iowa State
24. Gonzaga
25. DePaul

Despite the fact that the right margin shows no change from last week, there were changes.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Harvard's Kathy Delaney-Smith reaches milestone

Harvard's defeat of Colgate gave head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith her 500th career win.

The season so far:

No upsets or other surprising wins today. But it's worth noting that some teams are struggling that we're not used to seeing go through that. By the same token, other non-top 25 teams are off to extremely strong starts.

Take San Diego, who is 4-0 after a romp over San Jose State.

SMU is off to a 5-0 start for only the third time in program history, after topping Stephen F. Austin.

Missouri is 5-0 after surviving Tennessee-Martin.

Indiana downed Butler to go 5-0.

Virginia Tech is 5-0 after battling past Hofstra.

Other news:

Boston University's Courtney Latham is finding her way as a freshman in Boston.

BYU at CSUN today

BYU visits CSUN today at 4 p.m. I'll be doing color commentary on the radio.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Big performances, and upside/downside news

Tonight's game results/big performances:

Tulane outlasted UNC Wilmington, 55-50, which gave coach Lisa Stockton her 400th win. The Green Wave is also undefeated.

Washington State not only won a game, but Tia Presley put up a career-high 37 points in the Cougar's 92-79 decision over Fresno State. She is averaging 22 points per game.

Cal State Fullerton and Seattle University each got their first wins of the season, thanks to a pair of career-highs. Marist also snapped up their first victory.

#20 Oklahoma State downed USC, 82-51. It is the first loss of the year for the Trojans. OSU is unbeaten.

Purdue is also undefeated.

Same story at UTEP: they're 4-0.

Full scoreboard.

News on the positive side:

With last night's win, Jeff Walz is now Louisville's most winning coach, with a record of 153-65.

Ohio State's three games in three days will test them.

Inside the paint: Tennessee hoops, episode two.

Texas Tech freshman Minta Spears blogs.

News on the down side:

Texas A&M sophomore center Rachel Mitchell turned herself in to police after a warrant was issued for her arrest. She is accused of assaulting a woman after a parking spot dispute.

Former San Diego State coach Beth Burns' wrongful termination claim has been denied by the California State University system.

West Virginia assistant coach Lester Rowe has been reprimanded by the Big 12 Conference for his actions last week during a post-game brawl with Hawaii fans:

“Coach Rowe violated conference rules that prohibit coaches, student-athletes, athletic department staff and university personnel from committing abusive acts toward an opponent's fans,” said Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby in a statement. “Coaches have the responsibility to refrain from behavior that incites negative fan conduct. Coach Rowe is also put on notice that future incidents may result in a more serious penalty.”

Tennessee unveils Pat Summitt Plaza

Lots of former and current players, family and friends on hand today for the unveiling of a statue of Pat Summitt, as part of the dedication of Pat Summitt Plaza on the Tennessee campus.

Tamika Catchings was one of the players who came to honor the legendary coach.

Behind the scenes.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Summitt sculptor speaks

As Pat Summitt Plaza is ready to be unveiled tomorrow on the Tennessee campus, the sculptor talks about how he created the statue of the legendary coach.

Other college news:

Redshirt freshman Andraya Carter is back on the court for the Lady Vols.

It's too early for Green Bay to be worried about their poor three-point shooting.

Tulane players will try to give coach Lisa Stockton her 400th win at home tomorrow.

Nebraska will add a walk-on next season.

No surprises so far on tonight's scoreboard.


Would the Sun trade Tina Charles, as has been rumored? A Connecticut columnist said it's not likely, but not impossible.

The virtual Lauren Jackson.

Atlanta Dream hires Michael Cooper as head coach

Michael Cooper is the Atlanta Dream's new head coach.

About last night and today

About last night:

Stefanie Dolson got a triple-double last night in UConn's win over Oregon - only the second in school history.

UMass stunned Rutgers with a 64-63 win.

Gonzaga over Eastern Washington: older sister won sibling rivalry.

Other news:

Colorado has an interesting way of getting students to come to games.

Virgina senior Lexie Gerson is embracing life in Charlottesville.

UConn's recent road trip was beneficial for Brianna Banks.

Kentucky is piling up points early in the season.

Improvement continues
for youthful Penn State.

Purdue's RIP squad - diaries.


Watch for an announcement soon on the naming of the Atlanta Dream's new coach.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Connecticut Sun: who will be left next year?

Asjha Jones might return to the Connecticut Sun next season, but Kara Lawson isn't likely. And this on top of Tina Charles tweeting last month that she "guesses she'll be in LA."


College news:

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis' elbow is healing quickly, and she'll be back in 3-5 weeks.

Tennessee Vols report.

Total access
with Duke's Chelsea Gray.

Close calls
have defined Arizona's season so far.

The pioneer spirit of Georgia Tech.

Early struggles are forcing UMass to try different lineups.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

USA Today top 25 poll, week three

This week's top 25:

1. Connecticut
2. Duke
3. Louisville
4. Tennessee
5. Stanford
6. Notre Dame
7. Kentucky
8. Maryland
9. Baylor
10. Nebraska
11. Texas A&M
12. North Carolina
13. Oklahoma
14. South Carolina
15. Penn State
16. Iowa State
17. Cal
18. LSU
19. Michigan State
20. Colorado
21. Georgia
22. Purdue
23. Oklahoma State
24. Dayton
25. Gonzaga

Katie Smith is New York Liberty's new assistant coach

Katie Smith will take Taj McWilliams-Franklin's place:

Her new occupation is being an assistant coach for Bill Laimbeer with the Liberty. Smith will join the staff as another former WNBA standout, Taj McWilliams-Franklin, moves on to other pursuits.

Smith finished a 15-year stay in the WNBA with career averages of 13.4 points and 2.9 rebounds, and she was also one of the league's best and most versatile defenders. Smith has long been like a coach on the floor, having played until age 39. And she has worked in an administrative grad-assistant capacity for her alma mater, Ohio State.

College news:

Montana coach Robin Selvig crossed the 800-win mark last night.

Kentucky's Samantha Drake is out for the season with a torn ACL.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Tennessee set to dedicate Pat Summitt Plaza this week

The Tennessee campus is preparing for the dedication of Pat Summitt Plaza this Friday.

Other news:

Sydney Umeri is off to a great start for Virginia.

Freshman Shayla Cooper is leaving Georgetown.

High school:

A Mississippi high school coach has resigned after being accused of biting a player in the face.

Top Canadian prospect Kia Nurse has committed to UConn.

This week's AP poll



1 Connecticut (36) 4-0 900
2 Duke 3-0 864
3 Tennessee 4-0 796
4 Louisville 4-0 780
5 Notre Dame 3-0 740
6 Stanford 3-1 730
7 Kentucky 4-0 699
8 Maryland 2-1 630
9 Baylor 2-0 616
10 Oklahoma 3-1 515
11 Nebraska 3-0 472
12 North Carolina 2-1 457
13 Texas A&M 3-0 445
14 Penn State 2-1 428
15 LSU 2-1 331
16 Colorado 2-0 316
17 California 2-2 298
18 Purdue 3-0 278
19 South Carolina 4-0 252
20 Oklahoma State 3-0 239
21 Michigan State 2-1 214
22 Iowa State 2-0 171
23 Georgia 3-0 157
24 Gonzaga 2-1 104
25 DePaul 2-0 76

Hawaii athletic director hurt in brawl between Wahine and West Virginia fans

The championship game between West Virginia and Hawaii at the Bank of Hawai‘i Rainbow Wahine Classic was over just about the time I went to bed last night. But apparently it was right after that when a brawl broke out in the stands between fans of the two teams. Hawaii athletic director Ben Jay had to go to the hospital:

During the 2013 Bank of Hawai‘i Rainbow Wahine Classic trophy ceremony, celebration gave way to chaos as a brawl broke out in the stands just behind visiting West Virginia’s bench.

Hawai‘i and WVU fans began trading blows, and a West Virginia assistant coach was also involved. Meanwhile, University of Hawai‘i Athletics Director Ben Jay, who was attempting to calm the fighting, was struck before walking to the middle of the Stan Sheriff Center court and seeking medical attention.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Bria Hartley is ESPN's first player of the week

UConn guard Bria Hartley is ESPN's player of the week.

A day of monster performances

Some big performances today:

UC Riverside's 90-80 overtime defeat of Santa Clara was notable also for Brittany Crain's career-high 37 points for the Highlanders.

Just ten months after tearing her ACL, Washington State's Tia Presley put up a career-high 29 points to guide the Cougars over Old Miss, 79-65.

Bashaara Graves and Isabelle Harrison each pulled down career-high 18 rebounds in #4 Tennessee's upending of Georgia Tech, 87-76. Kaela Davis lead the Yellowjackets with 28 points.

Sacramento State beat Oregon, 97-85. But that didn't stop Duck freshman Crishae Rowe from putting up a career-high 28 points, along with 13 rebounds.

Bria Hartley tied her career high of 28 points in leading #1 UConn over #13 Penn State, 71-52.

Freshman Allisha Gray lead #12 North Carolina over UCLA with a career-high 30 points. The final score was 78-68.

#3 Stanford routed UC Davis, 66-48. Cardinal senior Chiney Ogwumike had 28 points and 15 rebounds - not a career-high, but damned good, as usual. Her consistency is what makes her lethal.

Marquette handed Vanderbilt their first loss, 82-77, despite a 30-point performance from Christina Foggie.

Adrianne Thomas grabbed a career-high 19 points for Arizona State in their upending of Texas Tech, 85-77.

Preseason WNIT:

Louisville are the champs after pulling off a 97-92 overtime victory over Oklahoma.

More game results from today:

#24 Georgia held off Ohio State, 53-49.

Purdue squeaked by Toledo, 81-79.

#19 Michigan State needed an overtime to put away #23 Dayton, 96-89.

#16 Texas A&M used a late surge to outlast Houston, 63-51.

#10 Cal bounced back from a loss to beat Georgetown, 67-52.

Cal State Northridge defeated Clemson at their house, 69-53.

A buzzer-beating layup by Christa Evans lifted Rutgers over LaSalle, 59-57.

Iowa is 4-0 after a 78-40 thrashing of Stony Brook.

Wisconsin continues their hot start with a 71-51 pounding of Northern Illinois.

After two overtimes, Long Beach State overcame San Francisco, 85-82.

Today's full scoreboard.

Other news:

Amy Scullion is jumping at the opportunity at Ohio State.

Michigan State's Annalise Pickrel is playing with an edge.

It's too early to define the Oregon Ducks.

Loyola grabs first win of the season over injury-riddled NMSU, 81-64

My game story.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

More on SDSU at USC

It was interesting seeing Cynthia Cooper and Stacie Terry face off this past Wednesday, as the Aztecs visited the Trojans. Both coaches have insanely high basketball IQ, and the second half was a chess match, with SDSU clawing back from a deficit to come up just short of a win.

The Aztecs are young and short of players with significant game experience. The Trojans are learning Cooper's systems, which include urgency and precision. Both teams were a little sloppy playing each other, but there were true flashes of brilliance along the way. Under these dynamic women, watch for the two programs to blossom into West coast super powers very soon.

San Diego State coach Stacie Terry

USC coach Cynthia Cooper

USC's Jordan Adams fouls SDSU's Cierra Warren

In the thick of it

Inside the Paint: Tennessee basketball, episode one.

Former rivals and lifelong friends Jessany Williams and Krystal Saunders are suiting up together for Miami.

Maryland has extended coach Brenda Frese's contract through 2021.

Kastine Evans' new role at Kentucky is scoring threat.

South Carolina coach Dawn Staley received the Order of the Palmetto award today.

Mike Thibault's assessment of UConn forward Breanna Stewart.

Quinnipiac's Brittany McQuain has scored 1,000 career points.

San Jose State's Ta'Rea Cunnigan has crossed the 1,000-point mark.

Today's games:

Should UTEP be ranked? They kicked the butts of Kansas State, 84-39.

Arizona whiffed out a win over UC Santa Barbara, 51-49.

Temple outlasted Auburn, 78-74.

BYU needed an overtime to steal one away from Boston College, 70-69.

Full scoreboard.


Storm assistant Jenny Boucek is in discussions with Tulsa and Atlanta for the open coaching jobs there. And I know of one other major figure who is in conversation with both franchises for the same jobs. We'll see who gets what.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013

It's like that, and that's the way it is

Tonight's results:

Duke whipped South Carolina-Upstate, 123-40, coming close to the school scoring record of 128.

Albany defeated struggling Marist, 69-59.

Ohio State beat VCU, 83-71, and are 3-0.

Wisconsin routed Milwaukee, 85-60. They're 2-0.

Virginia Tech handed Florida their first loss with a 71-59 victory.

Pitt is off to a 2-0 start with a 63-58 win over Ball State.

Vanderbilt squeaked by Delaware State, 73-67, for a 3-0 record.

Full scoreboard.

Other news:

University of Washington starters Jazmine Davis and Talia Walton are injured.

Georgia freshman Sydnei McCaskill can go the distance.

Louisville and Oklahoma advance to WNIT championship

Louisville beat LSU, 88-67, in semifinal one, and Oklahoma outlasted Gonzaga, 82-78, in semifinal two.

The Cardinals and Sooners face off for the championship at 3 p.m. Central time Sunday, in Oklahoma.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

UConn loses Mosqueda-Lewis, Tuck indefinitely

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis sustained a nerve contusion in her right elbow in Monday's game against North Carolina, and will be out indefinitely. Morgan Tuck will miss 4-6 weeks after having arthroscopic surgery.

Other news:

Fouls and scoring are up in college ball under the new no-contact rules.

Oakland University must submit a report on the firing of coach Beckie Francis.

Stanford senior Chiney Ogwumike's internship in Nigeria this past spring has broadened her world view.

Louisville coach Jeff Walz will buy beer for the first 2,500 fans who come to their game against LSU Thursday.

FGCU has got right back to work.

Oregon's Jillian Alleyne is a rebounding dynamo.

Sacramento State is off to a hot start under their new head coach.


Georgetown freshman Shayla Cooper tried to block a shot by throwing a shoe at the ball.

Notable results today:

Xavier beat Michigan in overtime, 79-75.

USC staved off SDSU, 65-61.

San Diego took down ASU, 61-53.

Full scoreboard.


Elena Delle Donne's coaching gigs for the Special Olympics are close to her heart.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

With rebound, WNBA solidifies a spot at ESPN

WNBA TV viewership was up this year:

WNBA 2013 TV Ratings
■ Regular season (ESPN2): 231,000 viewers
■ Finals (ESPN2): 344,000 viewers

2013 Comps:
How WNBA measures up against other prime time and non-prime-time programming
■ Solheim Cup (Golf Channel): 521,000 viewers
■ Global X Games* (ESPN): 497,000 viewers
■ “Friday Night Fights”* (2012 on ESPN2): 409,000 viewers
■ NCAA Frozen Four* (ESPN/ESPN2): 301,000 viewers
■ U.S. Open Series** (ESPN2): 290,000 viewers
■ NCAA women’s basketball** (ESPN2): 289,000 viewers
■ IndyCar (NBCSN): 282,000 viewers
■ NCAA softball: Regionals** (ESPN2): 273,000 viewers
■ NCAA softball: Regular season** (ESPN2): 258,000 viewers
■ MLS regular reason** (ESPN/ESPN2): 220,000 viewers
■ MLS regular season** (NBCSN): 112,000

Tomorrow is signing day

A-Z recruiting guide: it's all about the letters.

Class rankings.

Some recruits on camera.

Former Cal player Tierra Rogers earns college degree

Tierra Rogers has earned her bachelor's degree. Much respect to her for her fight.

Other news:

UConn is holding off updating Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis' injury condition until tomorrow.

Oakland University reveals why they fired coach Beckie Francis: she allegedly abused them physically and emotionally.

The NCAA has granted Jasbriell Swain a waiver, allowing her to play for Memphis immediately.

Colorado coach Linda Lappe has changed the Buffs culture.

Stanford's Chiney Ogwumike and UConn's Bria Hartley talk hoops.

Interview with Louisville's Shoni Schimmel.

Duke coach Joanne McCallie is riding a wave of success. Freshman Rebecca Greenwell recaps the team's recent trip to teammate Chelsea Gray's house.

Kentucky's Janee Thompson and Jennifer O'Neill have bonded extremely well so far this season.

Virginia coach Joanne Boyle has more options to explore in her third season.

USC will have their home opener tomorrow afternoon, hosting San Diego State. I will be in the house.

USA Today top 25 poll for the week

The list:

1. UConn
2. Duke
3. Tennessee
4. Louisville
5. Stanford
6. Notre Dame
7. Maryland
8. Kentucky
9. Baylor
10. Nebraska
11. Cal
12. Texas A&M
13. Oklahoma
14. North Carolina
15. Penn State
16. LSU
17. South Carolina
18. Iowa State
19. Colorado
20. Michigan State
21. Dayton
22. Georgia
23. Purdue
24. Oklahoma State
25. Vanderbilt

More on Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis' injury

Geno Auriemma comments on his star forward's injury in last night's game.

The injury cast a pall over the Huskies' victory over Stanford.

If KML is out for a time, UConn's season will be effected.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Big Monday 1

No surprises tonight, but one possible major injury:

#1 UConn easily handled #3 Stanford, 76-57. Husky star forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis sustained a severe elbow injury.

In the evening's other televised game, #4 Tennessee dispatched #12 North Carolina, 81-65.

Other top 25:

#5 Louisville 100, Quinnipiac 82.

#6 Notre Dame 81, #19 Michigan State 62.

#15 Nebraska 62, Alabama 48.

#16 Texas A&M 67, North Texas 48.

More results:

UCLA 82, Pepperdine 78.

Virginia 73, High Point 54.

Virginia Tech 73, Old Dominion 61.

North Carolina State 69, Towson 46.

Tulane 74, McNeese State 49.

Vanderbilt 85, Western Kentucky 60.

Full scoreboard.

AP poll for this week (before Big Monday games)

Tonight's results might change this list:

1 Connecticut (35) 1-0 899
2 Duke (1) 1-0 862
3 Stanford 1-0 804
4 Tennessee 1-0 759
5 Louisville 1-0 732
6 Notre Dame 1-0 728
7 Kentucky 2-0 691
8 Maryland 2-0 676
9 Baylor 1-0 590
10 California 1-1 550
11 Oklahoma 2-0 492
12 North Carolina 1-0 476
13 Penn State 2-0 446
14 LSU 2-0 391
15 Nebraska 1-0 390
16 Texas A&M 0-0 366
17 Colorado 0-0 259
18 Purdue 1-0 249
19 Michigan State 0-0 213
20 Oklahoma State 2-0 198
21 South Carolina 2-0 190
22 Iowa State 1-0 124
23 Dayton 1-1 104
24 Georgia 1-0 102
25 Gonzaga 2-0 99

Others receiving votes: Vanderbilt 68, DePaul 60, Green Bay 51, Chattanooga 33, Georgia Tech 30, Iowa 23, Texas 9, Middle Tennessee 8, West Virginia 8, Ohio State 6, Florida State 4, UCLA 3, Creighton 3, Marist 2, Quinnipiac 1, James Madison 1

Sunday, November 10, 2013

We have our first upset of the season

Iowa 97, #14 Dayton 93 in overtime.

In another big game, #2 Duke beat #9 Cal, 70-58.

#18 Purdue got by Ball State, 63-57.

The rest of the top 25 match ups were butt-kickings by the ranked teams.

Other notable results:

Richmond overcame Miami, 57-50.

Ohio dropped Xavier, 94-88.

St. Bonaventure squeaked past Colgate, 77-72.

Ohio State survived Florida Atlantic, 91-88.

Kansas put away Oral Roberts, 84-62.

Texas squelched UTSA, 63-42.

Wisconsin took out Drake, 66-41.

Syracuse sneaked past Washington State, 69-65.

Sacramento State outlasted San Diego State, 93-89.

USC got it done against Fresno State, 63-54. They're 2-0.

Bonus from yesterday:

UNC Asheville beat Furman on a half-court buzzer shot. Check the video. Just nuts.

More college news:

Ohio State's Lisa Blair made the most out of her first chance to play.

The biggest question facing Rutgers may be, "where are the points coming from?"

Big Monday tomorrow:

First it'll be #3 Stanford at #1 UConn.

Then it's #4 Tennessee at #12 North Carolina.

Both games will be on ESPN2.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Day two

The usual whoopings by top 25 teams:

#1 UConn 89, Hartford 34

#3 Stanford 83, Boston College 71

#5 Louisville 101, Loyola (Ill) 54

#6 Notre Dame 99, UNCW 50

#10 Baylor, 110, Grambling State 55

#14 Dayton 89, UC Riverside 54

A couple of non-ranked teams might have been more interesting tonight:

Michigan outlasted Arizona in overtime, 73-71.

Oregon broke the Pac-12 scoring record with a 131-91 romp over Cal State Bakersfield.

DePaul and Auburn have started their seasons with wins.

Other college news:

Duke's five returning starters are eying a Final Four trip. The freshmen are relying on their California roots.

Expectations are high for Oklahoma this season.

Oregon State is hoping their young players grow up fast this year.

Auburn veterans and newcomers are focused on gelling.

It's Harvard's time to shine this year.

A youth revolution will need to spark Northwestern.

Seattle University is looking to take the next step.

Western Kentucky players are competing for time.

Purdue junior Liza Clemons' fiance was shot and killed last month.

Tomorrow a few more teams kick off the season, including Duke, Purdue and Iowa State.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

West Coast Conference: something standard, something new

With nine consecutive West Coast Conference championships under their belts, Gonzaga's dominance resembles that of another West coast team. And once again this season, the Bulldogs have been tabbed in preseason polls to take the top spot.

There's good reason for that: Gonzaga lost only two players last year, and they return four starters: Jasmine Redmon, Haiden Palmer, Sunny Greinacher and Shelby Cheslek. Coach Kelly Graves, in his sixteenth year, said the team is taking the high expectations in stride.

"It's humbling to be picked first again, but there's no pressure," he said. "The kids are used to it. They embrace it."

Graves is confident in the depth and experience of the Bulldogs. Seniors Redmon, who was the conference's defensive player of the year last season, and Palmer represent the last link to the Elite Eight team of 2011.

The Bulldogs are also long. Out of the 15 players on the roster, 10 are six feet tall or more.

Gonzaga has former Stanford stand out Nicole Powell as assistant coach this year, for the first time. Graves would love to best the Cardinal, who dominate in the Pac-12 the way the Bulldogs do in the WCC. Gonzaga's RPI is usually just a few percentage points behind that of the larger conference.

"Our goals never change: win conference, and go as far as we can go in the Tournament," Graves said.

They begin their season tomorrow night at home against Idaho in the WNIT. The arena is sold out, as it often is.

A newcomer to the WCC this year is Pacific, which migrated from the Big West Conference. They were conference tournament runners up last season, and went on to play in the WNIT. They lost three starters, and are picked to finish fifth in the WCC this season.

San Diego, tabbed to finish second, was 22-10 last year and advanced to the second round of the WNIT. They lost only one player last season. Third-pick Saint Mary's returns most of their roster, and Brigham Young, chosen fourth, has several returners including some coming back from injuries. The WCC's top five teams should entertain fans with great battles.

Loyola Marymount, Portland, San Francisco, Santa Clara and Pepperdine round out the rest of the rankings.

More previews

Louisville's Shoni Schimmel is back for her final act. Schimmel has five faces.

In Alyssa Thomas, Maryland has a once in a lifetime player.

Clemson season preview.

LSU is ready to build off last season's run.

Brian Neal will be promoted from interim to head coach at Xavier.

Ohio State junior guard Raven Ferguson will sit out three games for violating team rules.

One day until the season begins

.....And there is more news than you know what to do with.

In the Big Ten, it's the contenders and the rest, with little in-between.

In the heart of Texas, Michigan's Shannon Smith found herself. Wolverine preview.

Middle Tennessee ushers in a new era, with high expectations

FGCU hopes to live up to last year's expectations.

George Washington has added two new players.

Purdue preview.

Michigan State freshman Tori Jankoska has got the OK to shoot.

The Huskers will honor former star Kelsey Griffin

Notre Dame will add Skylar Diggins
to its ring of honor.

Cal's first goal is relevance.

Northern Arizona is looking for a fresh start.

Virginia hopes to return to glory.

Cal Poly is looking for another NCAA Tournament berth this year.

Virginia Tech is young and restless.

CSUN's Ashlee Guay is ready to win.

Savannah State are the comeback kids.

Marist faces questions
entering the season.

Miami's Nigia Greene has torn her ACL and is out for the season.

NAIA champs Vanguard are prepped for another title run.

Montana has room to improve.

For Boston University, it's a season of new opportunity.

Harvard was the right choice for Tami Fagbenle.

South Dakota State has a new playing style.

Nine questions with Southern Miss coach Joye Lee-Mcnelis.

Radford is struggling with depth and experience.

Toughness, finishing are Cynthia Cooper's keys to bringing back glory days to USC

Check out my exclusive story on USC coach Cynthia Cooper.

Watch for the Trojans to do big things.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Injuries, seniors

Duke's Chelsea Gray is ready to move on from the injury she sustained last year.

Iowa center Nicole Smith will be out 10-14 weeks with a knee injury.

Texas senior Chassidy Fussell is focused on being a leader this season.

UC Santa Barbara seniors unveiled.

Lady Vol hoops report for today.


At Cal and Stanford, the women's basketball programs are better than the men's.

Other news:

East Tennessee State has a new apparel deal with Nike.

Central Michigan wants it all.....again.

Tennessee Tech is ready to play real competition.

Gardner-Webb hopes to contend for the Big South title.

Drexel may have a chance at the CAA title.

Tulane season preview.

New Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff understands the high expectations on him and the program.

Rutgers sophomore Rachel Hollivay is poised to have a break out season.

Time with Team USA this summer helped Oklahoma's Aaryn Ellenberg evolve.

Taylor Wurtz's return is giving Wisconsin a boost.

Big West Conference: a whole new league in 2013-2014

Not much in the Big West Conference went according to prediction last year, and this season might still be reverberating from that.

Cal Poly surged to second place and won the 2013 conference championship. Hawaii, under new coach Laura Beeman, ended up in third place, while the media's preseason top pick, Cal State Northridge, faded to a fifth-placed tie after a string of losses.

This season the 2012-2013 Big West best top finisher and conference tournament runner-up Pacific has migrated to the West Coast Conference, leaving nine teams and a wide-open race for the top spot. A media poll two weeks ago picked Poly to finish first, Hawaii second, CSUN third, Long Beach State fourth and UC Santa Barbara, fifth. UC Davis, Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine and UC Riverside round out the rest of the preseason rankings.

The Mustangs return top scorer and rebounder Molly Schlemer (13.3 ppg, 7.1 ppg), as well as Ariana Elegado (12 ppg) and Jonae Ervin (8 ppg). But the loss of starters Kayla Griffin and Caroline Reeves means the rest of the team will have to fill their shoes.

“We are certainly feeling the loss of our graduated seniors," coach Faith Mimnaugh said. "With as many minutes as Griffin and Reeves logged over their Cal Poly careers, the time for grooming new players in those roles is upon us. How we progress as a team will largely depend on the learning curve of these team members."

"Thankfully, we have seasoned players in Ervin, Schlemer and Elegado, who assist in the transformation and integration of new talent. Those three are playing like All-Conference performers and understand the effort and teamwork it takes to play championship caliber basketball. There are plenty of challenges before us, including a brutal 13-game preseason, featuring some of the nation’s top programs. Toughness is earned through battling with foes that make you better. Our hope is to become a tough nosed ball club with a steely resolve to be the best we’re capable of becoming.”

Beeman, known for her high energy and technical instruction, steadily developed the Wahine throughout last season - their first in the conference. She looks to do the same this year.

"We are extremely excited to begin season number two in the Big West," Beeman said. "The conference again is going to be athletic, well-coached and highly competitive. The respect we have for the teams in the BWC shows in our practice preparation. Our difficult preseason schedule will definitely help us get ready for what conference holds."

Cal State Fullerton, which improbably made it to the conference tournament semifinals last year, returns almost its full roster under new coach Daron Park. Most recently, Park was associate head coach at USC. He has also coached at the University of Maryland and Cal.

Big West Conference play begins the second week in January.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013

Pac-12 preview: the University of Southern California

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

From the moment former Trojan great Cynthia Cooper-Dyke was named the program's new head coach last spring, she was embraced by fans, players and season ticket holders with excitement and enthusiasm. Cooper-Dyke was a great player and competitor, to be sure. But she has also been a fine coach, and the tenor she has set in her first six months at USC's helm seems to be a departure from traditions of recent years.

At open practices the last weekend in October, fans saw what they had only heard about: Cooper-Dyke conducting technical sessions, in which she taught the whole way through. They saw Cooper-Dyke the motivator, pushing players through drills with her urgency and positive reinforcement when they did something correctly. Her energy and excitement are contagious.

"We like to get up and down. I do like exciting basketball," Cooper-Dyke said. "I like to get out on the fast break. I like to do stuff defensively that allows us to do the fast break. Be aggressive defensively."

But it all starts with structure.

"At the same tim,e I've learned that you have to be disciplined," Cooper-Dyke said. "For example, if you run into a team that plays great defense, you're going to have to learn to play offense in a half-court setting. So you've got to be able to execute in the half court - that's big time."

Cooper-Dyke lead the Trojans to two national titles in 1983 and 1984, and was an Olympic gold medalist before entering the WNBA, where she won four Championships with the Houston Comets. Since her retirement from the league, she has coached professionally and at the college level. Most recently, she coached at Texas Southern University, where she turned the program around and guided them to a conference title. Cooper-Dyke hadn't planned to leave, but when the job opened up at her alma mater, it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

"It was an easy decision to choose USC, but it was a hard decision to leave TSU because of my ties to Houston and a wonderful athletic director, a wonderful program, coaching staff and players," she said. "But it was an easy sell to come back to USC with my Trojan family, and all of the promise with the program. And then I'm back home. I've learned so much, and USC taught me so much, so for me to be coming back home is great."

If there is any pressure on her to captain the Trojans back to championship form, she seems to be oblivious to it - perhaps because she puts so much pressure on herself. Watching Cooper-Dyke coach is like watching a tornado bear down. She doesn't let up.

In recent years, as USC teams have fallen short of expectations, fans could be heard wondering aloud how a team with so much talent could be sputtering along. This season Cooper-Dyke will have a chance to demonstrate the difference, as the Trojans lost only one starter and letter winner.

Four starters return: forward Cassie Harberts (18 ppg, 8.2 rpg), forward Kate Oliver (5.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg), guard Kiki Alofaituli (4.9 ppg), and guard Brianna Barrett (4.4 ppg). Key reserves who are also back include guard Ariya Crook (13.4 ppg), guard Jordan Adams (5.3 ppg), forward Alexyz Vaioletama (4.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg) and guard/forward Desiree' Bradley (3.3 ppg).

Three newcomers could make an immediate impact for USC. Courtney Jaco was ranked 45th among guards in the 2013 class, and Drew Edelman was ranked 41st among forwards. Junior forward Kaneisha Horn is a transfer from Alabama, where last year she averaged 8.3 ppg and 5.4 rpg. Clearly, Cooper-Dyke has the personnel. She started over the summer with the basics.

"We built from a fundamental stand point," she said. "We learned fundamentals like ballhandling, passing, cuts for offense, different moves."

Cooper-Dyke said players embraced her approach, and really got into strength and conditioning.

"It's almost like they've been thirsty to learn more about lifting and getting stronger, and how that translates on the court and into longevity in the game of women's basketball," she said.

The Trojans kick off the season Friday, at UC Davis. Other preconference opponents will include San Diego State, Oklahoma State, South Carolina, and Iowa. USC kicks off Pac-12 play Dec. 30 against arch rival UCLA.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Tennessee Lady Vols 2013-2014: Back to the Final Four?

During a recent practice, Andraya Carter sizes up the defense while Mercedes Russell, left and Nia Moore race down the court. (photo by Maria M. Cornelius)

Each year, I interview longtime Tennessee Lady Vols beat reporter Maria M. Cornelius for her insight on the team, and for her outlook on the pending season. As usual, her attention to detail does not disappoint.

Sue Favor: What are realistic goals for the Lady Vols this season? SEC title? NCAA Tournament run?

Maria Cornelius: IF they stay healthy – there are just 10 of them – the expectation is that the Lady Vols will be in Nashville at the Final Four and will compete for the national title. This is one of the most athletic teams ever fielded at Tennessee with players capable of having a tremendous impact on both sides of the ball. Tennessee was picked to win the SEC, a very fair assessment by coaches and media, but they will have competition, as the league can be brutal from beginning to end.

The SEC will be affected by the new officiating emphasis, but the flip side is that offensive players will benefit from having more freedom to move both inside and out. Also, the offensive push-off is more likely to be called. In the past, I have seen Tennessee defenders have excellent perimeter position, only to get shoved away with no call.

Cierra Burdick is a player with smooth offensive skills who can flat-out hit shots. She could benefit, too, because she can now move more freely on the perimeter, and she has the ability to get to the rim. Burdick also is unselfish – if she sees an open player in the paint, she is dishing and hitting the boards.

Nia Moore has had a year in the strength and conditioning program and should be able to provide some helpful minutes in the paint. She sets very nice screens, too, and can get shooters open.

It will be an adjustment, but the Lady Vols have skill players, and they are the ones most likely to benefit from the new rules. And while Tennessee was known for its physical defense, it has gotten away from that in the past few years because of injuries and personnel. So it might not be as big of an adjustment as initially believed. The Lady Vols should benefit quite a bit if it frees up the skill players to fill up the basket.

Tennessee isn’t hiding from the expectations. The official motto is Grind for 9, in reference to having eight national titles, and the locker room notes that the Final Four is in Nashville, which is essentially the Lady Vols’ backyard.

The Lady Vols haven’t been to a Final Four since 2008, so it may seem unfair to say that is a realistic goal in 2014. But the reality is that Tennessee is expected to be there, and the team knows it. If they stay healthy, I very much like their chances.

Sue Favor: Five starters return, and there are two newcomers this season. How does that translate into continuity and consistency for the team?

Maria Cornelius: Returning starters: Ariel Massengale, Meighan Simmons, Cierra Burdick, Bashaara Graves, Isabelle Harrison.

The key for the Lady Vols is good health. The starting lineup was gutted last season with injuries to key players, starting with Andraya Carter and then Cierra Burdick and Isabelle Harrison. Massengale was hindered by foot issues – one of the reasons Carter started early – and Harrison never got fully back on track after the knee issues, but she gamely tried in postseason.

Tennessee has an established five with big game experience, but Holly Warlick said at media day that she would likely try various starting lineups. That is because of the versatility of the team.

Carter should play a lot of minutes, whether as a starter or off the bench, because she is one of the team’s best on-ball defenders and her athleticism is tremendous. The same can be said of Jasmine Jones, who should be poised for a breakout season after a year of adjustment. She can be a shutdown defender with Carter and while Jones is 6-2, she can be deployed on the perimeter because she defends with her lateral movement and wingspan.

The new rules about hand-checking are going to test the guards, who are more used to reaching on the perimeter. If it is called as the NCAA has asked – and the edict seemed to come from the top – Carter, Simmons and Massengale will have to be careful. All three are quick enough to guard with their feet and not reach, but habits have to be broken and guards across the country are going to have to adjust.

The good news is that Massengale, Carter and Simmons can all drive to the basket to score or dish. They should be able to do so without being grabbed, held and knocked off balance, as in the past, since the NCAA wants better flow to the offensive game.

Sue Favor: It's hard to believe Meighan Simmons is a senior this year. She was the leading scorer last season. How has her game changed since her freshman year?

Maria Cornelius: For starters, Simmons is a much better defender. As a freshman, she was asked to score, and her defense slipped considerably. She had to play catch-up on that side of the ball, and Warlick has demanded that the guards play on both ends. Simmons benefits tremendously from a healthy Massengale and Carter because they will push each other for playing time. When all three were healthy, the perimeter defense for Tennessee was better. Why? They pushed each other.

Simmons’ best attribute remains her fearlessness. She doesn’t back down on the court. She also is an energy player. Simmons doesn’t have to be dialed up. She steps on the court ready to play.

She is capable of filling up the basket and from freshman to senior year, she has matured on offense. She is more selective about her shots and more likely to let her teammates help her. Simmons will be helped by a healthy lineup – she was the one player to start every game last season, though Graves started all but one – as she will have help on offense and won’t feel she has to do it all herself.

Simmons has sometimes tried to carry the team. She won’t have to do that this season. She will be better, and so will Tennessee.

Bashaara Graves, left, and Jasmine Jones interact at practice (photo by Maria Cornelius)

Sue Favor: You always say, "Bashaara Graves is a beast!" Why so?

Maria Cornelius: Graves is a throwback player. She says little and works hard every single time she is on the court. She is naturally strong – Graves didn’t lift weights until she got to college – but more importantly, she is mentally tough.

Last season, she made her first career start in the second game at Georgia Tech. She was gassed in the second half – and Georgia Tech was coming back in a game Tennessee ultimately won – when Graves had a turnover. Warlick got up, clearly ready to make a sub, but then Graves hustled down court, got the defensive board, made the outlet pass and sprinted to the other end for an and-one play. Warlick sat back down smiling. Graves simply had to be on the floor most of the time, even as a freshman. And she started every game the rest of the way.

Graves wasn’t sure about the nickname, as she is soft-spoken and engaging, but she came to embrace it as a moniker only meant to describe her court mentality. She never gives up on a play. She always goes hard. She is a Pat Summitt throwback type of player.

Sue Favor: How prepared is Ariel Massengale to lead at point guard?

Maria Cornelius: I think Ariel Massengale is poised to show why Pat Summitt declared her the starter before Massengale graduated from high school. Massengale has dealt with a concussion and hand and foot injuries, but she enters her junior year healthy. She said in preseason it was nice to not spend so much time between practices and games in the training room.

She will benefit tremendously from a healthy Carter because Massengale can be spelled in games and practice by the redshirt freshman. Carter also can play off the ball and the two showed some special synergy in the few games they got to play together last season. There may be times Warlick will play three guards on the perimeter, and that could very well be Massengale, Simmons and Carter.

In preseason, Massengale was noticeably more vocal and quicker. The team looked different – in a very good way – when she was on the court. She took control, directed traffic and, even more importantly, pushed tempo. Warlick wants a fast pace and a healthy Massengale can deliver.

Sue Favor: Andraya Carter's season last year was cut short due to injury. How does she look so far this year? Is she still hungry, and do you still consider her one of the most gifted players you've ever seen?

Maria Cornelius: The year off may have done her tremendous good. Her shoulder is healed, her knee is strong, and she learned the game even more as a coach on the sideline. She is one of the most physically gifted players I have ever watched, especially her leaping ability. She has been lauded by the coaches in preseason for her energy and leadership ability.

The fact a redshirt freshman is being asked to be a leader says a lot about her ability and maturity. The coaches trust her, and that is the ultimate compliment for a player.

Carter can handle pressure, distribute the ball and pick up the other team’s best perimeter player. She has worked on her shooting – she can hit the three ball – and she also can get to the rim at will. Graves was the freshman of the year in the SEC last season. The award could stay orange with a healthy Carter in uniform.

Sue Favor: How are the two freshmen, Jordan Reynolds and Mercedes Russell, fitting in with the team so far? What do each of them bring to the table?

Maria Cornelius: Russell brings pure post size that the Lady Vols haven’t had in a few years. She is a legitimate 6-6 with some perimeter skills, too, in that she can pass the ball and see the floor. Russell has soft hands and will catch anything thrown in her area, and with her wingspan, that will cover quite a bit territory.

Freshman post players have to adjust to the speed and strength of college basketball, so Russell will need some time to do so, but she will be a major contributor this season. She won’t be under pressure to play extended minutes right away with two returning starters in the paint, so she can make that adjustment and progress throughout the season.

The coaches have repeatedly mentioned her high basketball IQ. That is expected among guards since they have the ball in their hands so much, so a post player with the aptitude for the game must be a treat for the staff. Russell has quickly learned concepts and understands what Tennessee wants to do on both ends of the court. She will have to get up to speed physically – again, women’s basketball is a grind inside – but she should be another reason the SEC Freshman of the Year award stays in Knoxville and perhaps even the national one as well.

Reynolds is a delight for the coaches because she is upbeat and energetic. Warlick, like Summitt, despises having to coach effort, and Reynolds is ready to go when she steps on the court. She is engaging off the court – she swiped Warlick’s phone one day over the summer and posted on the head coach’s Twitter that Reynolds and Russell were her favorite freshmen – and seems to always be in a good mood. Attitude means a lot at the next level, and she has that part down pat.

She also is tremendously athletic and can get on the boards. Tennessee wants to play up-tempo this season, and Reynolds fits that style of play. Like Russell, she won’t just see the court in her first year, she will have a chance to be a major contributor.

Sue Favor: Holly had a successful first year as head coach. How does that translate on the court in practice now in year two?

Maria Cornelius: The players know what to expect. Although Warlick had been at Tennessee for nearly three decades as an assistant, it changes when the title says head coach. She went from being the player’s buffer to Pat Summitt – Summitt could bring the wrath; Warlick explained what the head coach meant – to being the one to bring the wrath.

I think the players had to get used to Warlick as the disciplinarian and not the one they went to with issues. That falls to the other assistants now. However, Warlick has a very relaxed personality, and she will cut up with the players – she dressed up as Tina Turner for Halloween – and the players are clearly comfortable with her. On a bus trip to Kentucky last season it was lightly snowing and Warlick was standing outside with the players trying to catch snowflakes.

The biggest thing is the players know exactly what she expects – at practice, in the weight room, during games. The familiarity factor has increased for everyone. Warlick has a full season of game experience as the head coach and all that has to be juggled on and off the court with radio and TV shows, media interviews, film study, recruiting, et al. Pat Summitt used a color-coded schedule to keep up with it all – nearly every minute of her day was planned – and Warlick now does the same thing.

Head coach Holly Warlick and assistant coach Jolette Law were the coaches during a recent scrimmage (photo by Maria Cornelius)

Sue Favor: How is Holly's coaching approach different than Pat's?

Maria Cornelius: Warlick retained Summitt’s team rules, especially the one about a missed class or study hall equals a missed game. The continuity from Summitt to Warlick seemed nearly seamless and that was good for the team and especially the returning players who were jolted by Summitt’s diagnosis and subsequent move to an emeritus role. Warlick was the ideal successor for many reasons, one of which was that she has embraced keeping Summitt involved in the program.

But Warlick, like any head coach, will also have her own ideas and style of coaching. Summitt had the glare. Warlick has the whistle. She doesn’t need one around her neck. Warlick can whistle so loudly on her own that one time last season the officials thought someone in the stands had one and was interfering with the game. It was Warlick getting a player’s attention.

Warlick will also get a player back in fairly quickly after a mistake. A player will come out, have a brief discussion with Warlick and/or an assistant, take a short breather and then be summoned again by the head coach. Warlick did spend 27 years beside Summitt, so she definitely reflects that influence. She, like Summitt, relies on her assistants and loosens the reins so that they all have input in decisions.

But she is now the head coach, and that final decision is hers. In her second year, Warlick will spend less time – much less probably – fielding questions about following Summitt and instead be asked about getting her team to Nashville.

Sue Favor: As far as you can tell, how is team chemistry coming along?

Maria Cornelius: The players indicate that it is excellent. That is likely due, in part, to the fact that Warlick had them all move to on-campus apartments instead of being scattered around Knoxville. The freshmen now have veterans around them all the time. With just 10 players, it is a tightknit group. The hope is the closeness transfers to the court.

In the past I have seen teams that were very close but it didn’t seem to extend to the court. If that trust and chemistry go hand in hand during games, it will be very beneficial.

During my interaction with them and seeing them together, there seems to be mutual respect and genuine affection. A team leader must emerge, and that is likely to come from the point guards. Massengale and Carter are the likely candidates.


The Lady Vols face Carson-Newman tomorrow night in exhibition play. They tip off the regular season Friday, at Middle Tennessee.