Saturday, October 31, 2015

Shock's new name, logo and color scheme to be revealed Monday

I'm so curious about the Shock's new name, logo and colors, which will be revealed Monday.

Pac-12 preview: USC

This is the eleventh in an annual 12-part series previewing the Pac-12 teams for the upcoming season.

USC may take the term "rebuilding" to another level this season.

There are seven new players on the roster this year - four of whom are from other countries. They join only five returnees, including three starters. The tallest player in the new line up is 6-foot-4, and to be sure, the Trojans will be on the small and fast side as they have eight guards, four forwards and no true center.

Players are having to adjust and learn quickly. From coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke's perspective, that process is going well so far.

“This year we have a lot of new faces so, a lot of different energy with the team," she said of her new-look USC crew. “We’ve done a lot more team-building, just to get everybody on the same page. But we are excited about our potential and we are working hard to really be one of the stronger teams in the Pac-12.”

Cooper-Dyke's first two years coaching at her alma mater have been extreme. She took the team to the highest of heights in her first season, upsetting Stanford in the Pac-12 Tournament and going on to win the title. Then before 2014-2015 practices had begun, leading scorer Ariya Crook was dismissed for breaking team rules. In November, guards Destinie Gibbs and Chyanne Butler both left the team. Butler was a highly-recruited freshman.

In January, senior guard Kiki Alofaituli announced she was taking a break from the team, and never returned. April saw third-leading scorer McKenzie Calvert and Amy Okwonko both transfer from the program. Top point-getters Alexyz Vaioletama and Kaneisha Horn graduated, and Drew Edelman left the team. Only five players remained on the roster going into the spring recruiting season.

To the credit of Cooper-Dyke and her assistant coaches, they produced in a hurry. Australian forward Dani Milisic and guard Khaedin Taito of New Zealand were signed in May. Guard Candela Abejon is from Spain. Forward Temi Fagbenle is a grad student who has one year of eligibility remaining. She represented Great Britain in the 2012 Olympics.

Sophomore guard Sadie Edwards sat out for a year after transferring from Connecticut, and is eligible to play. Freshman guard Aliya Mazcyk hails from North Carolina, and the final newcomer, freshman forward Marguerite Effa, is a Los Angeles native.

Fagbenle, with her Olympic experience, might be the highlight of the new player roster.

“Temi is incredibly important for us, for so many different reasons,” Cooper-Dyke said. “One, she is an incredible talent, two, she has incredible size and length. But she also brings a level of maturity to our team that we were in desperate need of. She is also as smart as a whip and she can just help so many young players get better quickly.”

Cooper-Dyke praised the International players, and hinted at possible causes of last season's player exodus.

“I enjoy it because you have some different players that are hungry, that listen and actually do what you say without questioning,” Cooper-Dyke said of her Trojans from abroad. “It is great to have an international kind of flair to our program right now and this is just another phase of building the USC program and the brand to where we want it to be.”

Returning is senior guard Brianna Barrett (9.6 ppg), junior guard Jordan Adams (7.3 ppg), junior guard Courtney Jaco (7 ppg), sophomore forward Kristen Simon (6.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and junior guard Alexis Lloyd (1.6 ppg).

Hard work is Cooper-Dyke's theme this season.

“It is work ethic,” she said. “Midway through that [2013-14] season, we got it, we bought in, and we were poised to go into the tournament and make a strong run. So for me, it is about getting everybody on the same page, everybody buying in and us having one focus, one drive and one passion. I think we are well on our way to doing that, that’s the only way to be successful in a very strong and competitive Pac-12.”

Despite Cooper-Dyke's strong language, USC kept a low profile at Pac-12 media day a few weeks ago, and their pre-conference schedule isn't as challenging as it has been in years past. They will be tested by West Virginia, Gonzaga and Long Beach State before beginning conference play Dec. 30, at UCLA.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

USA Today coaches poll preseason rankings

USA Today coaches poll top 25 preseason rankings:

1 Connecticut 38-1
2 South Carolina 34-3
3 Notre Dame 36-3
4 Tennessee 30-6
5 Baylor 33-4
6 Maryland 34-3
7 Florida State 32-5
8 Louisville 27-7
9 Oregon State 27-5
10 Ohio State 24-11
11 Texas 24-11
12 Duke 23-11
13 Mississippi State 27-7
14 Stanford 26-10
15 Arizona State 29-6
16 Texas A&M 23-10
17 Kentucky 24-10
18 Oklahoma 21-12
19 South Florida 27-8
20 North Carolina 26-9
21 George Washington 29-4
22 DePaul 27-8
23 Iowa 26-8
24 Northwestern 23-9
25 Princeton 31-1

A breakdown of each team.

I'm wondering if Kentucky, Oklahoma, North Carolina and DePaul are a little high.

Do you agree with the rankings? Why or why not?

NCAA, International news on the plate

Team news:

Akyah Taylor's return is a big boost for Michigan State. Transfer Morgan Green can also energize the team. Tori Jankowska and Aeriel Powers are ready to lead.

Penn State's freshmen are looking to contribute.

Iowa is focusing on who remains.

Analyst Carolyn Peck's take on the "fun and entertaining" Baylor Bears.

Player news:

The evolution of Northwestern's Nia Coffey.

Iowa's Ally Disterhoft is ready for an expanded role.

Hallie Thorne is finding her niche at Michigan.

Coach news:

New Florida International coach Marlin Chinn is wiping the slate clean.

UConn coach Geno Ariemma's biggest concern is getting players healthy in time for the season.

Georgia coach Joni Taylor talks about how this year's rule changes will effect the Bulldogs.

International news:

The Chicago Sky's own Betnijah Laney, currently playing in Australia's WNBL, draws inspiration from art.

Renee Montgomery is ready to debut for the Canberra Capitals.

WNBL team-by-team analysis.

Euroleague week 3 review.

Pac-12 preview: Arizona

This is the tenth in an annual 12-part series previewing the Pac-12 teams for the upcoming season.

There is both bad and good news at Arizona this season.

The bad news is that the Wildcats, who finished 10-20 in 2014-2015 and eleventh in the Pac-12, graduated their top scorer in Candice Warthen and their vocal and emotional leader in Alli Gloyd.

The good news is that three returning starters, eight reserves and four freshman that make up this year’s roster are beginning the season healthy and eligible for the first time in several years.

Last season injury delayed the freshman debut of guard Taryn Griffey, who is the daughter of baseball great Ken Griffey Jr. She is ready to go now, as is junior guard Lauren Evans, who sat out last year after transferring from Virginia Tech. Arizona coach Niya Butts, who enters her eighth season, has been running fully-stocked practices.

Gloyd is also back, as assistant director of operations for the team.

“I’m fired up about the season…..I’m just excited to get the ball going,” Butts said. “We have a healthy team for the first time in a long time, and I feel really good about that. We’ve had some competitive practices so far, and I like what I’m seeing. I’m just looking forward to the season.”

Most anything would be a step up for the Wildcats, who have danced with mediocrity for quite some time. They went to the WNIT once during Butts’ tenure, in 2011, but have finished mostly near the bottom of the conference each year. Arizona’s last NCAA Tournament appearance was in 2005; the program’s all-time record over 41 years is 537-642.

Returning starters this season are junior forward LaBrittney Jones (9 ppg, 5.7 rpg), junior guard Malena Washington (6.9 ppg) and senior guard Keyahndra Cannon (5.5 ppg). Key reserves Charise Holloway (6.6 ppg), JaLea Bennett (4.5 ppg), Breanna Workman (4.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg) and Dejza James (3.6 ppg) are also back.

The freshman are a diverse group. Forwards A’Shanti Coleman and Destiny Graham both hail from the Bay Area, where they were high scorers. Michal Miller is a prolific guard from Indiana, where she averaged 24.9 points per game as a high school senior. Center Eugene Simonet-Keller is from France, where she played for the French Women’s National Team. At 6-foot-8, she is the tallest Wildcat player ever signed.

This looks to be a rebuilding year, with a total of six newcomers including Griffey and Evans. They will need to gel quickly with the seven potent returnees if they want to stay afloat in a conference that gets stronger by the month. It would undoubtedly help Butts keep her job, too.

Arizona’s pre-conference schedule is challenging as usual: they face Kansas, New Mexico State, Louisiana Tech, Florida Gulf Coast, Gardner-Webb and George Mason before kicking off Pac-12 action Jan. 2 against Stanford, at home.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Many many many story lines

Team news:

The Lady Vols are confident as the season approaches. Media day transcripts.

UConn's mantra this year is less talking, more winning. They are squaring off against history.

Oregon State is making tweaks to become elite.

Maryland hopes for continued success in the front court.

Iowa has new faces, but the same intensity.

Competition is high for Michigan's guards. Their freshman class is an indication of their bright future.

Pieces are coming together for Alabama.

Florida is utilizing tough practices to replicate game environments.

Arizona's work effort fuels their hopes for the season.

Upperclassmen are bringing the freshmen along at Colorado.

Young Central Michigan is getting to work.

Wright State is "really talented."

Siena is ready to take the next step.

Player news:

Diamond DeShields expects to be ready for Tennessee's opener.

Louisville freshman Asia Durr is working hard to return from injury.

Q&A with Oklahoma's Peyton Little.

New Mexico freshman guard Jannon Otto doesn't let diabetes stop her.

Competition fuels West Virginia senior Arielle Roberson.

Dyana Pierre has been suspended indefinitely at Southern Illinois for breaking team rules.

Coach news:

Guess who's filling in as assistant coach at Montana State University for the rest of the year? John Stockton. (His daughter plays there)

Tennessee coach Holly Warlick finds comfort in narrowing her focus.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma awarded scholarships to two former walk-ons.

Oregon coach Kelly Graves has brought his annual frightful haunted house to Eugene for Halloween.

Wisconsin's veteran group is fueling optimism for coach Bobbie Kelsey.

Northern Illinois looks to push the pace under first-year coach Lisa Carlsen.

Mercer coaches are confident in what lies ahead.

Pac-12 preview: Stanford

This is the ninth in an annual 12-part series previewing the Pac-12 teams for the upcoming season.

These are some different days for Stanford.

The long Cardinal reign atop the Pac-12 Conference faded last season, as they ended tied for third place and lost to both Oregon and Arizona for the first time in many years. Arizona State beat them twice, and they split the series with Bay Area rival Cal yet again. Stanford surprised with an upset to win the conference tournament, but were routed by Notre Dame in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

This season promises to be much the same, as the Cardinal lost starting point guard Amber Orrange and another top-scorer in Bonnie Samuelson. In a coaches poll, Stanford was picked to finish second in the conference – the first time since 1999 that they haven’t been tabbed to win it.

But Tara VanDerveer, who enters her 30th season as the Cardinal head coach, is optimistic about the returnees and four freshmen.

“We’ve had some great practices and I’m really impressed with the condition our team came back in,” VanDerveer said. “I think this is going to be one of the most deep teams we’ve had at Stanford. There are a lot of people contributing and everyone is doing very well.”

Returning starters include junior guard Lili Thompson (13.3 ppg, 3.5 apg, 3 rpg) and sophomore forward Kaylee Johnson (5.9 ppg, 9.6 rpg). Junior guard Karlie Samuelson (6.4 ppg) and junior forward Erica McCall (5.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg), who split starting duties last year, are also back. So is junior guard Briana Roberson, sophomore guard Brittany McPhee, junior forward Kailee Johnson and senior forward/center Tess Picknell.

With a new team, VanDerveer came in with a plan. And some of it includes a partial return of her storied “triangle offense,” which she scrapped last season.

“Pace is really key for us, and I think we’re going to be running better than we ever did last year, honestly,” she said. “We’re looking to really play up-tempo and move the ball. We’re doing some things differently defensively, being more aggressive and hopefully forcing more turnovers. Offensively, a little bit of triangle is back, but mostly just more ball movement and more spacing.”

Freshmen include New Mexico guard Alexa Romano, ranked 22nd in last year’s class; Australian standout forward Alanna Smith; Marta Sniezek, an award-winning Washington D.C. point guard; and Ohio forward/center Shannon Coffee. Sniezek will take Orrange’s place as floor general.
VanDerveer said the quartet has assimilated with the team flawlessly.

“They’re doing really well because our upperclassmen are being great mentors and ‘big sisters’ to them,” she said. “It’s amazing - they’ve stepped on the court and are playing like they’ve been here forever.”

“We’re really excited about Marta at the point and are really excited about Alexa’s speed. Alanna gives you a whole different dimension with her size and her 3-point shooting ability. Shannon is a big body inside that is doing a great job for us.”

The Cardinal have their usual tough preconference schedule, including their annual face-off with Tennessee in December. They will also take on Gonzaga, George Washington, Santa Clara, Texas and Chattanooga before beginning Pac-12 play Jan. 2, at Arizona.

Last year was VanDerveer’s first since 2008 without either stars Nneka or Chiney Ogwumike on the roster, and Stanford did flounder a bit. But could they rebuild that quickly? VanDerveer likes what she sees so far from her team.

“They really do seem to have fun competing – good competition,” she said. “They go hard against each other, but then they’re joking with each other off the court. It has a really good feel to it. We’re very excited about how things are going and just want to keep it going, keep everyone healthy and keep everyone working hard.”

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Countdown to the season

Team news:

North Carolina has released records in the investigation of academic fraud at the school.

The Oregon Ducks like their mix of veterans and newcomers.

Player news:

West Virginia fifth-year senior Arielle Roberson is filling a critical need at power forward.

Respect for Kianna Holland lead to her being named a captain at Ohio State.

Coaching news:

New coach Brandon Schneider has brought toughness and togetherness to Kansas.

WNBA news:

Pro basketball's best free throw shooter is Elena Delle Donne.

San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon is a game-changer.

Pac-12 preview: Oregon State

This is the eighth in an annual 12-part series previewing the Pac-12 teams for the upcoming season.

Oregon State has been on the rise the last few years. But last season the Beavers truly arrived - and how.

They lost only three games during the regular season: one to Tennessee on Dec. 28, and two in February. They claimed the Pac-12 regular season title and were ranked in the top ten for the first time in school history. They won fans along the way; TV announcers and fans knew player's names. OSU went to the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row.

So how do they follow that up? The Beavers are starting well on paper, having lost only one starter. They return a tight group of ravenous upperclassmen who have not only learned about the game together, but have learned each other.

“We’ve got a team of outstanding individuals," coach Scott Rueck said. "They’ve set the bar very high in the way they’ve represented themselves, Oregon State and the Pac-12 Conference. We had an amazing year last year, and we know the expectations for this season are high. This group is one that will embrace that challenge, and handle it well."

"This conference is a ridiculous group of coaches and players to compete against, and we’re excited for the year that’s coming up.”

Rueck's story has become familiar: the way he took over an OSU program in 2010 that had crumbled, with only two players left on the roster. How he ran his coaching systems while using his recruiting acumen to find athletes in unlikely places.

The former George Fox University national championship coach found senior guard Jamie Weisner (13.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg) in a small Eastern Washington town, and he plucked center and conference-blocking record-holder Ruth Hamblin (12.9 ppg, 8.6 rpg) from remote British Columbia. Two other starters - junior guard Sydney Wiese (12.7 ppg) and senior forward Deven Hunter (8.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg) - came from smaller high schools in Phoenix and greater Salem, Ore., respectively.

Rueck gets the most from every one of his players, as he has from returning reserves Gabriella Hanson, a junior guard; Samantha Siegner, a senior forward; Marie Gulich, a sophomore center; Jen'Von'Ta Hill, a senior guard; and Kolbie Orum, a junior forward.

OSU players are known for filling up statistical categories, such as Weisner's proficiency in both scoring and rebounds. They are quick in transition and play team ball.

But though last season was unprecedented, the Beavers have room for improvement. They lost their only match up with Stanford, and were upset a week later by Colorado in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament. OSU made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before losing to Gonzaga - a squad many felt they should have beaten handily.

Rueck acknowledged that his team grew on many levels in the off-season.

“I think this team has definitely matured physically and mentally," he said. "I’m excited to see what this team will bring to the floor. Jeff Macy is an outstanding strength coach, and he did a great job with this team in the off-season. With the way last year ended, we’re coming into this year really hungry.”

He is counting on his older players to lead the charge.

“The talent is there, the experience is there, and now the experience handling success is there," Rueck said. "We learned some lessons last year that will carry over to this year. I’m excited to see that leadership in action.”

Three freshmen join the mix this season: 6-foot-4 center Tarea Green, from Hillsboro, Ore.; Katie McWilliams, a 6-foot-2 guard from South Salem, Ore.; and guard Taylor Kalmer of Chandler, Ariz. Each gained numerous accolades in their high school careers.

Hamblin said players look forward to the season too.

“Last year we got to experience what it was like to have the bull’s-eye on our backs," she said. "I think we can learn from that. We’re excited to get out on the court and compete for every possession.”

OSU continues their series with Tennessee, begun last year, as the Lady Vols visit Corvallis Dec. 19. Other pre-conference opponents include Arkansas, Marquette and Notre Dame. The Beavers begin Pac-12 play Jan. 2 on the road at USC.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Around the world

Team news:
SEC media day was today. Previews and videos are here, with more to come.

The UConn-Vanguard exhibition game Nov. 8 will be played with experimental rules.

Maryland has returned to the top of the Big Ten after a tumultuous off-season.

Both Virginia and Virginia Tech are banking on experience this year.

Young, versatile Tulane seeks a return to the NCAA Tournament this season.

UMaine is pursuing success from different perspectives.

Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Texas A&M news.

Player news:

How six of the nation's best recruits all ended up at Maryland.

Kentucky's Janee Thomspon is trying to lead while recovering from injury.

Penn State has added two walk-ons to the roster.

Haley Lorenzen looks to forge her own path at Florida.

Lianna Doty is ready to return to Missouri.

Coaching news:

DePaul has extended the contract of coach Doug Bruno one more year, through 2020-2021. He enters his 30th year this season as Blue Demons coach. Amazing!

Arkansas coach Jimmy Dykes is settled in and ready for year two.

Inside practice with South Carolina assistant coach Fred Chmiel.

Pac-12 preview: Colorado

This is the seventh in an annual 12-part series previewing the Pac-12 teams for the upcoming season.

Colorado will have a whole different look this year, from the court to the bench.

The Buffs welcome four new players, which replace the five lost, and coach Linda Lappe has two new assistant coaches in former Texas standout Jamie Carey and Julian Assibey.

The player losses are significant, considering that Colorado tied for ninth in the Pac-12 last season. Gone are starters Jen Reese (12.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg), Lexy Kresl (12.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg) and Jasmine Sborov (6.5 ppg, 5 rpg) and reserve Alina Hartman. Top scorer Arielle Roberson, who sat out last year with a torn ACL, opted not to return for her senior year.

The transition has set the stage for a rebuilding year in Lappe’s sixth season with the Buffs, who were ranked in 2012-2013, and for a few weeks of the following year. Lappe sees it as an opportunity to get back to her roots.

"I'm really looking forward to this upcoming season because we have an exciting mix of veterans and new blood,” Lappe said. “We want to get back to doing things ‘the Colorado way,’ which is being a solid defensive team who understands the work, focus, and discipline needed to be a top-notch program. We are on the rise, and I can't wait to see how this young team responds to the challenges that await us in a tough Pac-12 conference.”

Returning starters are top-scorer Jamee Swan (13.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg), a senior forward, and junior guard/forward Haley Smith (9.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg). Also back is three-point specialist Lauren Huggins, forward Zoe Beard-Fails, guard Brecca Thomas, center Zoe Correal and center Bri Watts.

The Colorado freshman are a diverse group.

Forward Monica Burich, from Minnesota, averaged 18.7 points and 9 rebounds per game as a high school senior. Makenzie Ellis, an Oklahoma forward, had a stellar junior season but missed last year due to a knee injury. Texas guard Kennedy Leonard lead her team to an undefeated record last year while Alexis Robinson, a guard from Kentucky, was an all-region player of the year in her state.

The Buffs will be tested in preconference play by Kentucky, whom they face Nov. 22, Long Beach State and Missouri. Their first Pac-12 game is Jan. 2, when they host the University of Washington.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

In the mix

Duke and North Carolina are chasing Notre Dame in preseason ACC polls.

Louisville coach Jeff Walz is sorting out the roles of the new-look Cardinals.

Tarheel coach Sylvia Hatchell is fiesty despite the trouble that surrounds her.

Wisconsin's Malayna Johnson has torn her ACL and will miss the season.

Victoria Vivians wants to do more for Mississippi State.

Maryland guard Chloe Pavlech has a unique perspective on sports media.

Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell welcomes junior college difference-maker Evelyn Akhator.

Florida sophomore Dyandria Anderson is poised for a breakout year.

Mississippi is getting better with each practice.

The University of Illinois has asked a judge to dismiss the student athlete coach abuse lawsuit.

ESPN 2015-2016 college basketball regular-season schedule

Feast on this:

Date Time (ET) Matchup Network

Sat, Nov. 14 8 p.m. UT San Antonio at Texas Longhorn Network
Sun, Nov 15 8 p.m. Louisiana-Lafayette at Ole Miss SEC Network
Mon, Nov 16 5:30 p.m. Tip-Off Marathon presented by Constant Contact: UConn at Ohio State ESPN2
Florida State at Florida SEC Network
Wed, Nov 18 Noon Northwestern State at Texas Longhorn Network
8 p.m. Penn State at Tennessee SEC Network
Thu, Nov 19 7 p.m. Virginia at Auburn SEC Network
Sun, Nov 22 4 p.m. Georgia Tech at Georgia SEC Network
8 p.m. Wake Forest at Missouri SEC Network
Wed, Nov 25 8 p.m. Hampton at Texas Longhorn Network
Sun, Nov 29 2:30 p.m. Feast Week presented by Lowe's: Texas at Tennessee ESPN
Mon, Nov 30 9 p.m. Air Force at Vanderbilt SEC Network
Wed, Dec 2 8 p.m. Mississippi State at Texas Longhorn Network
Thu, Dec 3 7 p.m. Louisville at Michigan State ESPN2
Sat, Dec 5 5:15 p.m. Jimmy V Women's Classic presented by Corona: Notre Dame at UConn ESPN2
Sun, Dec 6 2 p.m. Duke at South Carolina ESPN2
Virginia Tech at Tennessee SEC Network
4 p.m. Michigan at Princeton ESPN2
Mon, Dec 7 Noon SMU at Texas A&M SEC Network
Thu, Dec 10 7 p.m. Louisville at Kentucky SEC Network
9 p.m. Oral Roberts at Arkansas SEC Network
Fri, Dec 11 6 p.m. Basketball Hall of Fame Women's Holiday Showcase: Florida State vs. UConn (Uncasville, Conn.) ESPN2
Sat, Dec 12 1 p.m. Georgetown at Alabama SEC Network
3 p.m. DePaul at Texas A&M SEC Network
Sun, Dec 13 1 p.m. Stanford at Texas ESPN
2 p.m. Winthrop at South Carolina SEC Network
4 p.m. UC Santa Barbara at LSU SEC Network
Wed, Dec 16 8 p.m. Canisius at Texas Longhorn Network
9 p.m. Holiday Hoops presented by Kay Jewelers:Tennessee at Stanford ESPNU
Sun, Dec 20 7 p.m. Duke at Kentucky SEC Network
Mon, Dec 21 5 p.m. Holiday Hoops presented by Kay Jewelers:Florida State at Arizona State ESPNU
Tue, Dec 22 1 p.m. Little-Rock Arkansas at Texas A&M SEC Network
Sun, Dec 27 3 p.m. Sam Houston State at Texas Longhorn Network
Mon, Dec 28 7 p.m. Tennessee State at Kentucky SEC Network
8:30 p.m. Maggie Dixon Classic: Maryland vs. UConn (New York City) ESPN2
Wed, Dec 30 4:30 p.m. American/SEC Challenge: USF vs. Mississippi State (Jacksonville, Fla.) SEC Network
7 p.m. American/SEC Challenge: UCF vs. Florida (Jacksonville, Fla.) SEC Network
Fri, Jan 1 4 p.m. Florida State at Louisville ESPNU
Sat, Jan 2 8 p.m. Texas State at Texas Longhorn Network
Sun, Jan 3 1 p.m. Duke at Syracuse ESPNU
Mississippi State at Florida SEC Network
3 p.m. Arkansas at South Carolina ESPNU
LSU at Alabama SEC Network
5 p.m. Tulane at Memphis ESPNU
Georgia at Texas A&M SEC Network
Mon, Jan 4 7 p.m. Tennessee at Missouri SEC Network
Wed, Jan 6 8 p.m. Iowa State at Texas Longhorn Network
Thu, Jan 7 7 p.m. SEC Network Whip Around Coverage SEC Network
9 p.m. SEC Network Whip Around Coverage SEC Network
Fri, Jan 8 5 p.m. Tulsa at Temple ESPNU
9 p.m. UConn at Houston ESPN2
Sun, Jan 10 Noon Missouri at South Carolina SEC Network
1 p.m. North Carolina at Notre Dame or Duke at Louisville ESPN2
2 p.m. Auburn at Tennessee ESPNU
Florida at Ole Miss SEC Network
3 p.m. Maryland at Iowa ESPN2
4 p.m. Texas A&M at LSU SEC Network
5 p.m. UConn at USF ESPN2
Thu, Jan 14 7 p.m. South Carolina at Kentucky SEC Network
9 p.m. Tennessee at Arkansas SEC Network
Sun, Jan 17 Noon George Washington at Duquesne ESPNU
1 p.m. Texas A&M at South Carolina ESPN2
Auburn at Kentucky SEC Network
2 p.m. East Carolina at USF ESPNU
3 p.m. Baylor at Texas ESPN2
Missouri at Arkansas SEC Network
5 p.m. Georgia at Alabama SEC Network
Mon, Jan 18 7 p.m. Big Monday as part of My Home Court:Tennessee at Notre Dame ESPN2
Ole Miss at Mississippi State SEC Network
Thu, Jan 21 7 p.m. Vanderbilt at Tennessee SEC Network
9 p.m. Kentucky at Ole Miss SEC Network
Sun, Jan 24 2 p.m. My Home Court: USF at UCF ESPNU
Florida at Missouri SEC Network
3 p.m. My Home Court: Ohio State at Rutgers ESPN2
4 p.m. Arkansas at Auburn SEC Network
5 p.m. My Home Court: South Carolina at Mississippi State ESPN2
Mon, Jan 25 7 p.m. We Back Pat as part of Big Monday: Tennessee at Kentucky ESPN2
Alabama at Vanderbilt SEC Network
Wed, Jan 27 8 p.m. Kansas at Texas Longhorn Network
Thu, Jan 28 7 p.m. Auburn at Georgia SEC Network
9 p.m. Tennessee at Mississippi State SEC Network
Sun, Jan 31 1 p.m. Kentucky at Florida SEC Network
2 p.m. USF at SMU ESPNU
3 p.m. Alabama at Tennessee SEC Network
5 p.m. Missouri at Ole Miss SEC Network
6 p.m. South Carolina at Texas A&M ESPN2
Mon, Feb 1 6 p.m. Big Monday: Notre Dame at Duke ESPN2
7 p.m. Auburn at LSU SEC Network
11 p.m. Big Monday: Arizona State at Oregon State ESPN2
Thu, Feb 4 7 p.m. Kentucky at South Carolina SEC Network
9 p.m. Mississippi State at LSU SEC Network
Fri, Feb 5 5 p.m. Quinnipiac at Siena ESPNU
Sun, Feb 7 Noon LSU at Kentucky SEC Network
2 p.m. Notre Dame at Louisville or Tennessee at Texas A&M ESPN2
Auburn at Alabama SEC Network
4 p.m. Notre Dame at Louisville or Tennessee at Texas A&M ESPN
Mon, Feb 8 7 p.m. Big Monday: UConn at South Carolina ESPN2
Vanderbilt at Arkansas SEC Network
9 p.m. Big Monday: Maryland at Ohio State ESPN2
Wed, Feb 10 8 p.m. Oklahoma State at Texas Longhorn Network
Thu, Feb 11 7 p.m. Mississippi State at Texas A&M SEC Network
9 p.m. Tennessee at Vanderbilt SEC Network
Sun, Feb 14 Noon UConn at Temple ESPN2
Dayton at Washington ESPNU
2 p.m. North Carolina at Florida State ESPN2
Washington at UCLA ESPNU
Florida at Auburn SEC Network
4 p.m. Maryland at Northwestern ESPN2
Kentucky at Vanderbilt SEC Network
Mon, Feb 15 3 p.m. Belmont at UT Martin ESPNU
7 p.m. Big Monday: South Carolina at Tennessee ESPN2
Texas A&M at Ole Miss SEC Network
9 p.m. Big Monday: USF at Louisville ESPN2
Wed, Feb 17 8 p.m. Kansas State at Texas Longhorn Network
Thu, Feb 18 7 p.m. Kentucky at Mississippi State SEC Network
9 p.m. LSU at Texas A&M SEC Network
Sun, Feb 21 Noon Play 4Kay: Memphis at USF ESPNU
1 p.m. Play 4Kay: NC State at North Carolina ESPN2
Florida at Georgia SEC Network
2 p.m. Play 4Kay: Tennessee at LSU ESPNU
3 p.m. Play 4Kay: Maryland at Rutgers ESPN2
Arkansas at Kentucky SEC Network
5 p.m. Play 4Kay: Mississippi State at Ole Miss ESPN2
Texas A&M at Vanderbilt SEC Network
Mon, Feb 22 7 p.m. Play 4Kay as part of Big Monday: Notre Dame at Florida State ESPN2
South Carolina at Alabama SEC Network
9 p.m. Play 4Kay as part of Big Monday: Baylor at Oklahoma ESPN2
Thu, Feb 25 7 p.m. SEC Network Whip Around Coverage SEC Network
9 p.m. SEC Network Whip Around Coverage SEC Network
Sat, Feb 27 8 p.m. TCU at Texas Longhorn Network
Sun, Feb 28 1 p.m. LSU at South Carolina or Georgia at Tennessee or Kentucky at Texas A&M ESPN2
2 p.m. LSU at South Carolina or Georgia at Tennessee or Kentucky at Texas A&M ESPNU
Vanderbilt at Missouri SEC Network
3 p.m. Duke at North Carolina ESPN2
4 p.m. LSU at South Carolina or Georgia at Tennessee or Kentucky at Texas A&M ESPN
Ole Miss at Arkansas SEC Network
5 p.m. Minnesota at Maryland ESPN2
Mon, Feb 29 5 p.m. Alabama State at Texas Southern ESPNU
7 p.m. Big Monday: USF at UConn ESPN2

Coach's Corner: Stephanie Oliver, Long Island University

I'm starting a new feature on my site, WomensHoopsWorld, called Coach's Corner. Each week I'll feature an interview with a dynamic college coach. You will love the list I have lined up.

First up: Stephanie Oliver of Long Island University.

Pac-12 preview: Washington

This is the sixth in an annual 12-part series previewing the Pac-12 teams for the upcoming season.

by Joe Veyera

Any program tasked with replacing both its all-time leading scorer and rebounder is in for an uphill battle.

That’s exactly the situation the Washington Huskies have been saddled with heading into this season, with the losses of both guard Jazmine Davis and forward Aminah Williams to graduation.

But for the UW and head coach Mike Neighbors, the hope is the team’s three returning starters can pick up where the historic duo left off, and push the Huskies to greater heights than last season’s first-round NCAA Tournament exit.

There was a lot to like about last year’s 23-win campaign. A 21-point shellacking of then No. 5 Texas A&M last December was the program’s first over a ranked non-conference opponent in nearly two decades, while a 76-67 victory against another top-10 team in Oregon State in February cemented its status as a top Pac-12 contender.

And though an average of 25 points and 12 rebounds a night disappears with the departures of Davis and Williams, the team returns one of the most prolific scorers in Division I in junior guard Kelsey Plum.

Plum, who spent her summer on the world stage with Team USA at the Pan American Games, was the Pac-12 scoring leader with nearly 23 points a night last season and should be back at full-strength after knee surgery in April.

Sharp-shooting senior forward Talia Walton is the only other returnee to average double-digits in scoring last season, and was named an All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention for her efforts. She’ll also be expected to shoulder some of the rebounding burden alongside sophomore forward Chantel Osahor, after both hauled in about six boards per game.

One of the most-efficient sixth men in the league last year — averaging five points and six rebounds in 21 minutes a night — Osahor will likely slot into Williams’ spot in the starting lineup.

But the biggest presence in the post for the Huskies in 2015 may just be the team’s lone freshman: 6-foot-5 McDonald’s All-American Deja Strother. The center out of Kenmore, Wash. will be relied upon heavily in her first college season to provide rebounding, defense, and post-scoring.

Strother is third McDonald’s All-American on the roster, alongside Plum and redshirt junior forward Katie Collier. Now two years removed from an ACL injury, Collier will try to live up to lofty expectations that had her as one of the top-25 recruits in the nation coming out of high school.

Sophomore guard Brianna Ruiz made 28 starts last year, and will likely be tasked with pulling up from 3-point range often. Behind Plum and Ruiz, the Huskies will turn to sophomores Kelli Kingma and Khalia Lark, and senior Alexus Atchley to provide consistency off the bench at the guard spot.

Senior post Mathilde Gilling and sophomore guard Mackenzie Wieburg also return for the Huskies, though neither should be expected to see much playing time.

It likely won’t be until Pac-12 play until fans see how competitive the Huskies are against top-flight competition. The biggest non-conference tests comes in a neutral-site matchup with Syracuse on Nov. 27, and at home against Oklahoma on Dec. 6, while the Pac-12 season starts on the road against rival Washington State on Dec. 29.

Joe Veyera is a Seattle writer and editor for Pacific Publishing Company.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

SEC preseason poll taps South Carolina

A panel of SEC and national media picked South Carolina to win the conference championship this season. The full poll:

1. South Carolina (265)

2. Tennessee (248)

3. Mississippi State (215)

4. Texas A&M (207)

5. Kentucky (205)

6. Ole Miss (169)

7. Missouri (165)

8. Arkansas (138)

9. Georgia (128)

10. LSU (128)

11. Vanderbilt (80)

12. Florida (78)

13. Auburn (65)

14. Alabama (34)

If this poll proves to be on the money, will some of these bottom-dwelling coaches keep their jobs? We'll see.

More college news:

Maryland welcomes change after a busy offseason.

Ohio State eagerly awaits the start of the season.

UConn is relentlessly pursuing perfection.

Notre Dame's freshmen are embracing hard work for the challenge ahead.

North Carolina has the most experienced staff in America.

Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell has shifted priorities to improving shooting.

New Georgia coach Joni Taylor is providing a new identity for the Bulldogs.

Cleveland State is filled with new faces.

UC Santa Barbara's new assistant coach is Nate Fripp.

Anucha Browne's great response to James Dolan:

Go on, girl.

Monday, October 19, 2015

College news; Liberty retrograde

Key veterans are returning for Notre Dame, and freshman Ali Patberg is ready to run the point.

Hartford coach Jen Rizzotti keeps gaining experience.

Q&A with Saint Louis coach Lisa Stone.

At Purdue, the team captain is proof that nothing is given. Passion defines senior Hayden Hamby on and off the court.

Cincinnati has new Under Armour uniforms.

At Arizona, it's more than a game.

Why is this coming up again?

Knicks owner James Dolan says Anucha Browne made up the sexual harassment allegations for which Isiah Thomas was found guilty.

He's also surprised at the criticism he received for hiring Thomas last spring.

More jibber jabber.

International news:

Lauren Jackson's pro coach in Australia has urged her to be cautious in her return from injury.

Pac-12 preview: UCLA

This is the fifth in an annual 12-part series previewing the Pac-12 teams for the upcoming season.

The UCLA Bruins experienced both extreme lows and extreme highs last season, in a year no one could have scripted.

They began with lofty expectations and a preseason ranking, based on their top five recruiting class. But they also faced three power house programs in their first three games: North Carolina, Texas and Nebraska. They lost each contest.

The Bruins finally won a few games in December, but then were pounded by #1 Connecticut and #4 Notre Dame. They went into Pac-12 play with a 4-6 record.

“I think I was an over-believer last year. I never stopped believing in that team,” Coach Cori Close said. “I think I underestimated how that schedule could potentially shake us. It took us a while to get our confidence back and to really work through that.”

UCLA battled through conference play, finishing sixth. But it was in the postseason that they exceeded all expectations: after accepting a WNIT invitation, they won six straight to take the tournament title. Of their last 11 games of the season, the Bruins lost only two.

The lessons learned from the year made a big impression on senior guard and leading scorer Nirra Fields (15 ppg, 5.4 rpg), who says she is now more attuned to developing relationships and details.

“Everything counts. Every person on the team contributes toward a win...everything matters,” Fields said.

Close said that though the WNIT was exciting, it was also challenging. Assistant coach Jenny Huth addressed the team at one point, telling them, “this is what you’ve worked for.” Even the final trip to the title game, at West Virginia, was a six-hour bus ride. But the eventual reward proved worth it.

“We ended on a really good note last season, and now we have to take that momentum into this season,” Fields said.

So far, that seems to be working. And with only two freshman this year, transitions aren’t as big.

“When we came together in August, it's been the easiest chemistry-building since I've been at UCLA: the relationships, the fun, there's been no separation between older and younger, two to integrate into the team instead of seven last year,” Close said. “I have to remind myself we have two new players, because it really doesn't feel that way.”

“This year has been seamless in that we're just moving forward.”

Fields brings a new pedigree this year, having helped her native Canada win a Pan American Games title in July. Sophomore guard and last year’s Pac-12 freshman of the year Jordin Canada (11.8 ppg) also garnered experience on the world stage a few months ago, playing for Team USA in the World University Games.

Sharp-shooting junior guard Kari Korver (10.1 ppg), sophomore forward Monique Billings (5.8 ppg, 5 rpg), sophomore forward Lajahna Drummer (5.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg) and senior forward Kacy Swain (4.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg) all return, as do four key reserve players.

Freshmen include Texas forward Ashley Hearn, ranked 22nd overall in the 2015 class and fourth at her position; and guard Kennedy Burke, from nearby Northridge, Calif. Close said Hearn has such a high basketball IQ that she sometimes forgets she is in her first year.

“’Do the work’ is the theme this year,” Close said. “We are focusing on discipline and chemistry.

Coaches picked UCLA to tie for fourth in the conference this season.

Their preconference schedule won’t be without challenges, as they face South Carolina, Michigan and possibly Notre Dame in a Thanksgiving tournament. Other opponents will be St. John’s, James Madison and Louisiana Tech.

The Bruins open Pac-12 play Dec. 30 at home against archrival USC.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Just a spot

Tennessee center Mercedes Russell is eager to share what she learned while sitting out last year.

Passion and determination are guiding Iowa's co-captains this season.

Kansas State coach Jeff Mittie says the team is further along than last year, which was his first at the helm.

Broadcaster Debbie Antonelli visited the West Virginia team yesterday.

New rules mean new strategies for Saint Mary's this year.

Kianna Ibis has joined Arizona State.

WNBA news:

Q&A with Lynx point guard Lindsay Whalen.

Pac-12 preview: Arizona State University

This is the fourth in an annual 12-part series previewing the Pac-12 teams for the upcoming season.

To say Arizona State had an excellent 2014-2015 season is an understatement.

After one pre-conference loss, they didn't drop another game until Jan. 25, when they played eventual Pac-12 champs Oregon State. The Sun Devils finished 29-6, second in the conference and ended the season ranked ninth in the country. They made it to the third round of the NCAA Tournament before bowing out to Florida State.

ASU walks into this year having lost only one starter and two bench players, while returning a strong core of upperclassmen who have played together for a long time. Coaches picked them to finish third in the Pac-12 regular season, and many others are predicting an even better showing. But 19-year coach Charli Turner Thorne is quick to point out that it is too early to make assumptions.

“On paper people look at it and say, ‘Oh they lose only one starter. They will be even better,'" Turner Thorne said. "I never take anything for granted."

"You see it all the time in different sports where teams are coming off great seasons and they have a lot of people back and then they do not do as well as expected. For me, it is a new season and we are starting over. Again, we have a lot of things we can be better at and we know it and our team is aware of it, which I think is great.”

Senior guard Katie Hempen (12 ppg), junior forward Sophie Brunner (11.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg), senior point guard Elisha Davis (7.5 ppg, 4.5 apg) and junior forward Kelsey Moos (6.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg) return to the starting line up. Junior center Quinn Dornstauder (7.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg) is also back, as are reserve guards Arnecia Hawkins and Eliza Normen.

Joining the Sun Devils are four true freshmen.

Sabrina Haines and Armani Hawkins are both Phonenix-area products who were ranked in the top 25 at the guard position. Kianna Ibis comes from Nebraska, where she was the 19th-ranked forward. She has recovered from an ACL injury she sustained last January. Center Charnea Johnson-Chapman hails from Southern California, where she averaged a double-double in her senior season.

Unsurprisingly, the exacting Turner Thorne has precisely identified the flaws in ASU's game, and has a plan for how to deal with their smaller stature.

“We need to stay where we are at in terms of taking care of the ball, but we need to be a better rebounding team," she said. "Plus-five on the boards is not going to help you take that final step that we want to take."

"When you look at all the top teams, you see that they are at least plus-10. We are small and so I think if we could be at least plus 10 that will be huge for us. The other big area where we have to improve is in the area of offensive efficiency. Again, when you look at the top teams and you see how hard they cut and their efficiency and what they do offensively, we are not there. And that is where we have to grow."

Turner Thorne has never been one to shy away from a challenge, and this year that starts with the Sun Devils' first game, against Kentucky. They will also face South Carolina, Syracuse and Florida State before conference play, which they begin at home Jan. 2 against Cal.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

NCAA story lines taking shape

Before suiting up for one game, Kentucky has dismissed Oregon transfer Chrishae Rowe. In the meantime, Makayla Epps made things right during her suspension, but won't participate in Blue Madness.

The RPI advice of Washington Huskies coach Mike Neighbors made for more Pac-12 Tournament berths.

Once again, Maryland looks like the team to beat in the Big Ten. They hope to meet lofty expectations. But being a conference favorite doesn't make them immune to injury.

Iowa is healthy and unselfish. It's a new season and a new look for them.

Versatility is the key for Cal this season.

Height is no issue at Nebraska.

New Utah coach Lynne Roberts has big plans, and the patience to see them through.

Up-tempo BYU is excited about the addition of New Zealand forward Kalani Purcell.

Despite their losses, the University of Washington says they can be better.

Arkansas has more players and more options.

Florida is prepared to use their underclassmen.

Washington State coach June Daugherty remains steadfast in her quest for an NCAA bid.

Kansas State is blending veterans and newcomers.

Coach Suzie McConnell-Serio is building something special at Pitt.

Western Michigan coach Shane Clipfell has been given a three-year contract extension.

Evelyn Thompson is Tennessee Tech's new assistant coach.

Mikayla Venson is looking to build on a stellar first year at Virginia.

More on the Championship game

More on the Finals:

President Obama called the Lynx to congratulate them, and gave Maya Moore a bad time.

The aging Minnesota core savored another title.

The game had record attendance and TV viewing highs. They proved that people love the WNBA. (I loved that the Minnesota Vikings QB was there wearing a Maya Moore jersey).

The Lynx partied with Prince after the game (whoa!). He threw them a three-hour concert.

The Fever lost game 5, but have a lot to be proud of, and a bright future.

Tamika Catchings came oh-so close, but didn't get a second title.

Tamika Catchings blogs about the final game.

Non-Finals pro news:

Sue Bird and Jewell Loyd can't wait to call Breanna Stewart a teammate.

Atlanta Dream forward Reshanda Gray blogs from Italy, where she is playing this fall and winter.

Championship game press conference

Post-game press conference transcripts from last night:

Q. Was fatigue a factor tonight, emotional, physical in any way?

TAMIKA CATCHINGS: I think so. We were so excited today, and everybody was so anxious for the game. It definitely plays into just the performance tonight because everything just felt like it was like a slugfest, so slow, and everybody trying to move. We were doing a good job, a decent job in the first half defensively, but second half I just felt like yeah, it was just not a good deal.

Q. Tamika, this series has been so hard fought, so close for the first four games. Are you surprised it turned out the way it did with kind of a run away for Minnesota?

TAMIKA CATCHINGS: Yeah. This is not the way we wanted it to end, just like we talked about, just the fatigue factor. No matter what happened tonight, I was going to be proud of this group. This group was it’s been an amazing journey this year.

One thing that I told them in the huddle, there’s nothing to hang your head down for. We played, and we fought, and we did every single thing that we possibly could. Every single thing the coaches asked of us, we did. So I’m proud of this group. I’m especially proud of this girl right here [Briann January], the way that she performed and led this team the last four games yeah, this whole series, just being able to control the game the way she did.
As a group, as a unit, that’s all you can ask for from a team, that they give everything they have and play with so much heart.

Q. Maya, you’ve been here for three of these now, and not necessarily to compare the three, but given what you guys went through this year the additions, the injuries, the difficult August is this one maybe a little bit special because of having overcome all that?

MAYA MOORE: Absolutely. There have been just different elements of the journey of trying to be so successful every single year. The mental, the emotional energy and focus that that takes, the pressure, the expectations, and when things don’t go perfectly, how do we handle it? We want to be so great all the time, and we weren’t able to do that every minute of every game.

I think that was our biggest struggle of trying to get over our perfectionism and just pushing through and not quitting and not giving up and bouncing back, play after play, game after game. That was the definition of this series of just trying to bounce back. We win, they win. We win, they win. We win. So it’s just really sweet to win this way.

Q. Maya, you mentioned Seimone, but both she and Lindsay [Whalen] were dealing with health issues at the end of the regular season. I’m just wondering, it just seemed like both of them were able to really come through and make clutch plays during these Finals even if they weren’t 100 percent physically.

MAYA MOORE: What Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus did was so hard. You can’t imagine how hard it is to come back from injury at the most important time of the season, when everyone is playing well and hard and desperate and you have to find a way to be effective when your body isn’t maybe even 80 percent, and staying on your rehab and not getting frustrated that you have to spend an extra hour every day to rehab and ice and stretch and get treatment because your body needs it, and they did it.

I remember sitting back in our last regular season game and watching them run up and down the court rehabbing, trying to get their wind, trying to get their condition so they could be ready to help this team when playoffs came around, and it all paid off.

Q. It seemed like Tamika was trying to shoot you back into the game late. Your thoughts on her? Obviously, a veteran who obviously won’t get that many opportunities like this again.

COACH WHITE: Yeah, it’s Tamika is special. She’s just she’s really special. She has accomplished everything and everything that you can accomplish in women’s basketball, and I felt like this year was probably, in my opinion, her greatest accomplishment because of the way she got her teammates to elevate their play. The way she made them better, the way she empowered them, the way she sort of you know, like a mom would do pushed them along and then handed over the reins, in a sense.

I’m extremely proud of her for that. She looked physically today like she was in her 20s again. She was jumping all over the place. I’m just really proud of the way that she has approached this team, and I just I don’t have enough positive adjectives to use in regards to Tamika. But she’s just really, really special, a once in a lifetime player for a coach to be able to coach.

Q. Stephanie, this ends 2015, but you really do have Tamika playing as well as she has and a bunch of 20 somethings returning. Any thought about you certainly seem to have the pieces to make a run at this next year although New York and Chicago are looming.

COACH WHITE: Not really. It’s just too fresh and too early. Being in The Finals and I think Tamika alluded to this with some of her teammates it’s incredibly difficult, not only to go through the grind of the regular season, but then you have to be on your A game through the entire playoffs. There are great teams in the Eastern Conference.

You have to do your work early in the sense you don’t want to fall behind too much in terms of seeding and things like that, but you also have to be on your A game at all times. It’s very difficult.

Yeah, you look at who we have on our roster and a young core, so to speak, but we also realize how incredibly difficult it is. No thoughts on that right now.

Q. If you saw the box score before the game with Maya with five points, what do you think the final score is going to be?

COACH REEVE: We get beat by 20. We get beat by 20. What a testament to this team, you know. I think probably it tells our story. I think Game 5 tells our story. First and foremost, we didn’t do anything easy. This was not an easy year for us by any stretch. Just finding a way and having people step up for us.

We don’t get enough credit for our depth. Largely, people think that I don’t play people enough. I think that we don’t have Western Conference home court advantage without Renee and Anna. There’s no question about it. Devereaux Peters, the play of her throughout the playoffs was really, really big. And I thought tonight was a testament to those guys really stepping up.

Obviously, Syl was big. I thought [Lindsay] Whalen played well in Game 4 and Game 5. And then Seimone being Seimone, that was really important for us.

Q. Cheryl, yesterday you talked about how this isn’t a team on the rise, this is a team at its peak, and it’s probably going to it’s not going to go up any further. To get it done for a third time in five years, just what does it mean to you, and what does it mean to the people who were here for all three of them?

COACH REEVE: I experienced a great deal of emotion when we made the finals. I think because I have an appreciation of where these guys are and how hard it was, overall health. I think that, when you put things out in the universe as much as the media has, you can’t help but be human, and I think that maybe Lindsay, Seimone, Maya, and Rebekkah [Brunson] kind of heard the words of kind of that they were old, older, whatever it was, and that this thing was coming to an end and maybe even this year, we weren’t going to be able to get through it this year.

I think that those are things that kind of fuel this group. At the same time, I think it made them appreciate things. Each time we’re together, it gets harder and harder. The rise is always the easiest, as people tell you. Staying here is incredibly difficult, and you don’t do it without the fortitude of players like Lindsay, Seimone, Maya, and Rebekkah Brunson.

By the way, please talk about Rebekkah Brunson because she was absent for four games and she really showed up in a big way. We’re not in the WNBA Finals without Rebekkah Brunson in the L.A. series and the Phoenix series, and then certainly in Game 5 she showed up in a big, big way.

Pac-12 preview: California

This is the third in an annual 12-part series previewing the Pac-12 teams for the upcoming season.

If Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb feels a déjà vu going into this season, it’s understandable. She has come full circle as she enters her fifth year at the helm of a program she guided to elite status.

In her inaugural season, the Golden Bear team had no seniors. Now after sending off the first class she had for four years, Gottlieb this year is again left with no seniors. It is rebuilding time again, but Gottlieb relishes the challenge.

“We are excited for what this new season will bring,” she said. “We have so many people who can step up. We are long, athletic, young and versatile across the board. Most importantly, we have a tight group that wants to get better every day and wants to raise the bar for Cal Basketball. I can't wait to see how good this group can become."

That group includes two juniors, three sophomores and five freshmen.

Gone are prolific scorers and team leaders Reshanda Gray and Brittany Boyd, who were each drafted by WNBA teams and completed successful rookie seasons last month. Justine Hartman and Brittany Shine also graduated. An unexpected loss came last month in junior guard Mercedes Jefflo, who was dismissed from the team.

Two starters return in sophomore forward/guard Mikayla Cowling (10 ppg, 5 rpg) and sophomore guard Gabby Green (6.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg), as well as key bench players Courtney Range (8.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and Penina Davidson (3.3 ppg). Junior forward KC Waters is also back.

Gray and Boyd accounted for an average 30 points and almost 15 rebounds per game between them, and Jefflo brought in 10 points per game. New players will have to learn quickly. But given Gottlieb’s track record, and the pedigrees of the newcomers, the learning curve might be shorter.

Kristine Anigwe, a 6-foot-4 McDonald’s All-American forward from Phoenix, was ranked 13th in the class of 2015 and second at her position. She will help fill up the paint with 6-foot-7 freshman center Chen Yue, from China.

Two freshman guards hail from prestigious programs in Oakland. MaAne’ Mosley is from Saint Mary’s College High School, where she was the 16th-ranked wing in the country, while Asha Thomas comes from Bishop O’Dowd, where she was ranked ten spots behind Mosley.

Breanna Cavanaugh is a freshman guard from New Jersey, where she was nationally-ranked.

Gottlieb said the group has been coming along quickly.

“Our basketball IQ, versatility and ability to move the ball are as great as we’ve ever had. As a coaching staff, we’re working hard to push the veteran players to new levels and make sure the freshmen are constantly caught up to speed. That combination has been fun for us and gone really well so far,” she said. “There are a lot of new faces and expectations, but the energy is high and it’s contagious.”

Team motivation is high – so much so that Gottlieb said the season has started with more energy than she’s ever experienced in her tenure as a head coach.

“In all my years, we’ve had the most energy and collective effort and high spirit as I’ve had in any first few practices,” she said. “It’s a youthful group of players who want to take in everything they can, and want to give everything they can. That’s a really good combination.”

Gottlieb quickly elevated the Cal program to new heights after taking the helm. They have been to the NCAA Tournament every season since her first with the team, including a trip to the Final Four in 2013.

Though the faces are new, Gottlieb promised that the up-tempo Cal brand would remain intact.

“This team wants to exceed every accomplishment we’ve had here. That’s what I love about them. They want to do new things,” Gottlieb added. “They want to write their own story. It’s going to have Cal Basketball written all over it, but they’re a very unique group with uniquely talented players who are going to do it in their own way.”

Tamika Catchings congratulates Lynx after win

All class, 24/7:

MINNEAPOLIS – Champagne dripped from the locker room walls as the Minnesota Lynx celebrated their third WNBA title in five years. Jubilation beamed on the faces of every player, coach and member of the organization.

And as the cheers rang out and the cries of joy echoed down the hallway, in walked Fever forward Tamika Catchings. On the heels of her press conference after a crushing loss in a winner-take-all Game 5, one of the league’s all-time great players entered the Lynx locker room with a smile on her face.

“Congratulations, you guys,” Catchings said with her arms raised in the air. “I love you guys.”

She was embraced by numerous members of the Lynx, many who expressed their gratitude towards Catchings........

“That is a class act,” Olympian and Lynx guard/forward Seimone Augustus said. “Tamika Catchings is one of the classiest players that we’ve ever seen in this league. I mean, she’s a competitor on the floor, she gives you everything that she has, and then for her to be able to come in here – she didn’t get a chance to come right after we won. For her to come in here speaks volumes for the type of person that she is off the floor. We’ve seen that numerous times in USA Basketball. I’ve hung out with her, had deep conversations with her. I’ve played with her overseas. That’s one of the best players that I’ve ever played with in my life.”

“Much respect,” said WNBA Finals MVP Sylvia Fowles. “She respects herself but she also respects the league. For her to come in there and congratulate us, it shows there were no hard feelings. We won these 40 minutes tonight and she was grateful that we got a championship. You have to give her all of the credit in the world, because she’s just that kind of person.”

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Lynx down Fever to claim third WNBA Championship

The Lynx topped the Fever, 69-52, in game 5 of the Finals to take the 2015 WNBA Championship.

After winning two titles in Atlanta, the Lynx finally won it at home, in front of 18,933 fans - a franchise record.


Celebration video.

Trophy presentation video.

Photo gallery.

Sylvia Fowles was named playoffs MVP.

Maya Moore interview.

For longtime Lynx fans, this team was special.

Media days around the country

Lots of media days today.......


Oregon State was picked by coaches to win the conference regular-season title. It's the first time in 16 years that Stanford hasn't been picked for the top spot.

The Beavers are ready for takeoff.

Today was Pac-12 media day, and there were plenty of stories and photos that resulted.

Oregon's Jillian Alleyne wants to make a postseason splash in her senior year. The Ducks will lean on Alleyne.

Big East:

DePaul has been picked as the favorite in the Big East.

Big 12:

Baylor has been tabbed the favorite in the Big 12.

Big Ten:

Maryland is the favorite in the Big Ten.

Season preview with Maryland coach Brenda Frese.

More college news:

North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell is looking at the game through a new lens since her bout with leukemia.

Louisville coach Jeff Walz has national title goals.

LSU will have a different look this season.

Carlotta Kloppenburg, aka daughter of Indiana Fever assistant coach Gary Kloppenburg, is Winthrop's new assistant coach.

Dan Carey is the new assistant coach at Milwaukee.

Coach Tyler Summitt is pleased with Louisiana Tech's improvement in their second scrimmage.

Non-Finals WNBA:

Dallas' new franchise will reveal their new name and logo at UT Arlington on Nov. 2.

Target Center renovations will mean a temporary home for the Lynx in 2017.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Gearing for NCAA play

Is it college season yet? On Thursday, it will be......

Oregon State looks to build off last season.

With a full roster, Ohio State is optimistic.

UConn forward Breanna Stewart learned a lot from her time with USA Basketball.

Oregon senior Jillian Alleyne is making an impact off the court, too.

Leah Scott is seeking a strong finish to her career at Marshall.

Gopher alumni Lindsay Whalen is happy to see Rachel Banham closing in on Minnesota's scoring record.

Dartmouth trustee Gail Koziara Boudreaux ’82 and her family have given $2 million to the college to endow the women’s basketball head coach position.

Lauren Hill's legacy continues to inspire cancer research donations.

Game 5 preview

Can we just start the Championship game now, already?

Fever-Lynx preview.

It comes down to this single game.

With two deep teams, the Fever and Lynx are compelling to watch.

Both teams are well-aware of the task that lies ahead in game 5.

The Lynx have a chance to win the title at home.

The Fever know the winning formula.

Awesome Q&A with Fever coach Stephanie White.

Tamika Catchings' greatest legacy is making sure she's replaceable.

Catchings has helped Fever point guard Briann January become a team leader.

Catchings talks about Maya Moore.

Catchings and Lindsay Whalen are especially appreciating the game 5 opportunity.

Fever forward Natasha Howard is seizing her moment.

Can the Lynx become the WNBA equivalent of the San Antonio Spurs?

Several great player interview videos on's twitter.