Sunday, January 26, 2020
Page 2

Sunday Funday

Upsets:

Locked-in LSU upended No. 11 Kentucky, 65-59.

Boston College gave Georgia Tech their first home loss on the year, 55-48.

Clemson defeated Duke for the first time in 20 years, 62-58.

More results:

No. 3 Stanford rebounded from Thursday’s loss with a 61-58 victory over No. 8 Oregon State.

No. 5 Louisville held off North Carolina, 74-67.

No. 6 Oregon blew out Cal, 105-55.

No. 9 NC State wore down Wake Forest, 59-45.

No. 18 Arizona State made it five straight wins with a 65-56 decision over Washington State.

No. 21 Arizona rallied to stop Washington, 66-58.

No. 22 Iowa came from behind to beat Wisconsin, 85-78.

No. 23 Arkansas used powerful offense to thrash Vanderbilt, 100-66.

No. 25 South Dakota handed South Dakota State their worst Summit League loss ever, 83-48.

Nebraska edged Michigan, 74-71.

Texas got by Kansas State, 71-63.

Iowa State came from behind to nip Oklahoma State, 64-63.

Georgia snapped a losing skid by topping Auburn, 61-50.

TCU snapped Oklahoma’s winning streak with an 82-63 win.

Minnesota rolled past Purdue, 72-59.

Notre Dame routed Miami, 76-53.

All scores

Tomorrow’s game schedule features three Power 5 match ups.

College team news:

How Mississippi State and South Carolina have developed a deep rivalry.

The NCAA’s weekly power rankings.

College player news:

Sabrina Ionescu tied Gary Payton’s all-time Pac-12 assists record today. And she didn’t know it.

Stanford freshman standout Haley Jones was injured in today’s win and will undergo an MRI in Palo Alto.

The Leaonna Odom experience was on display for Duke against Clemson.

College coach news:

Wichita State coach Keitha Adams used a play by her former assistant coach, who also coached in the NBA, to win today’s game against Temple.

No surprises = amazing

No upsets today (what?)

Today’s results:

No. 2 Baylor 91, No. 17 West Virginia 51

No. 16 Gonzaga 69, San Francisco 46

Kansas 67, Texas Tech 50

Buffalo 66, Eastern Michigan 63

Ohio 79, Ball State 71

Central Michigan 80, Western Michigan 70

North Carolina A&T 84, Coppin State 38

FGCU 74, North Alabama 63

Rice 75, Southern Miss 64

Bucknell 71, Lehigh 50

Tulane 64, Cincinnati 59

San Diego 66, Pacific 64

BYU 65, Saint Mary’s 55

Idaho 52, Montana 51

All scores

Tomorrow’s game schedule is loaded

College team news:

There’s a three-way tie in the Big Ten.

Baylor has won a Big 12 record 45 straight league games.

Oregon State prepares for what could be the toughest three-games stretch of the season.

Syracuse needs to dig deep to save the season.

Notre Dame is frustrated this season.

Stanford is at Oregon State tomorrow. Can’t wait.

College player news:

Candidates for the Senior CLASS Award have been named.

Oregon’s Sedona Prince is left with $22,000 in medical bills from surgery and complications.

College coach news:

Geno Auriemma doesn’t understand why people are criticizing his team for not winning by a large enough margin.

Lindsay Whalen is trying to guide Minnesota through troubled waters.

Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale is looking for her 500th win.

Nebraska coach Amy Williams shares insights on how her team prepares to play.

Lisa Bluder’s thoughts on Iowa’s wins over Wisconsin.

“We Back Pat Week” begins tomorrow.

WNBA news:

ESPN has announced this season’s TV schedule.

The league announced that free agency begins Jan. 28 and contract signing, Feb. 10.

Cheryl Reeve is committed to grooming other women to be head coaches.

Sky forward Cheyenne Parker shares her “unimaginable journey” to the WNBA.

Hardly one night without an upset or two

Upsets:

Southern Illinois stunned No. 19 Missouri State, 70-68, for their first win over a ranked opponent since 1991.

USC took down No. 7 UCLA in 2OT, 70-68.

More results:

Butler stopped Marquette, 61-55.

Utah downed Colorado, 84-69.

Seton Hall ran past Creighton, 82-70.

No. 8 Oregon State routed Cal, 81-44.

No. 18 Arizona State handled Washington, 67-50.

No. 21 Arizona topped Washington State, 74-67.

All scores

Tomorrow’s game schedule

College team news:

Games to watch this weekend.

Is South Carolina ready to be No. 1?

Arizona State grew more confidence after their historic weekend.

Iowa’s win over Minnesota last night wore them out mentally and physically.

Oregon State has seen offensive production drop in Pac-12 play.

Georgia is aiming to grab their second SEC win Sunday.

Penn’s recent losses have weakened their chance for an at-large Ivy League bid.

BYU is benefiting from international connections.

Toledo and Bowling Green are trending in different directions.

College player news:

Destiny Pitts’ teammates react to her leaving.

One simple change brought South Carolina freshman Zia Cooke “back to her explosive self.”

UConn’s Anna Makurat went to Poland and returned with some confidence in her outside shot.

Sam Galanopoulos is chipping in for Loyola Chicago.

Virginia Tech’s Taylor Geiman has torn her ACL and is out for the season.

College coach news:

Lindsay Whalen is learning the difficulties of trying to build her own culture for the Gophers.

Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly has issues with Big 12 officiating.

WNBA news:

Will upping the ante for players make the WNBA a better league?

What did we learn from Baylor’s win over UConn?

Megan Walker unleashes a three-point shot. Steve Slade/UConn Athletics.
Megan Walker unleashes a three-point shot. Steve Slade/UConn Athletics.

Then-No. 6 Baylor defeated then-No. 1 Connecticut decisively last week, 74-58.

Despite the final margin, most of the game was highly-competitive. Early in the fourth quarter just one point separated the teams, but the Bears played confidently in the final stanza, while the Huskies faded away.

It is January, and both coaches agreed that this game was just a snapshot of a moment in time, and not a prediction.

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey warned about assuming too much from the result.

“Win or lose, we knew it would be a good game,” she said. “But I would say the same if we’d lost the game. [Today] is not indicative of what will be.”

“I don’t think there’s one team that’s just head and shoulders above everybody. I think there’s about six teams that have the ability and talent and coaching to win it all this year. We’re one of them. Connecticut is one of them.”

There are some observations that can be made from the game. But by no means are they predictive of March.

  1. If their guards continue to hit three’s, the Bears could repeat

Entering the game, Baylor had scored 59 percent of its points in the paint (622 points), and 28 percent on two-pointers elsewhere (290 points.) They had sunk just 48 three’s in 12 games, and those 144 points accounted for just 13 percent of their 1,056 points.

This figured into Husky coach Geno Auriemma’s expectations and game planning.

“[W]e knew they were going to get probably to 65, 67 [points], and then we needed to get to 70, 75. And that we needed to make more threes than them,” he said. “We made eight, they made seven. We needed to make 10 or 11. We didn’t.”

UConn’s 113 made three’s this season did not average either 10 or 11, but they had made 9.4 per game. Auriemma’s point was a good one. The Huskies had the creds, but did not hit often enough from beyond the arc.

Their defensive game-plan focused inside, and successfully limited Baylor to just four paint points in the first period, and eight in the second.

The Bears responded by going outside, and seized the lead for good in a second quarter in which they hit four of seven three’s, giving them a surprising 15 points from beyond the arc to 12 in the paint in the first half.

Mulkey showed amused annoyance last season that ESPN had called her offense “old school” – apparently a reference to 2019’s post-dominant play. Against UConn, her team proved that this year’s squad was different.

Auriemma was more than impressed with the change in the Bears.

“[Baylor this year is] able to score a lot of different ways,” he said. “They’re not so predictable.”

“Last year it was really hard to guard with Kalani Brown and Lauren Cox down there. But, with Nalyssa Smith they are way more athletic now. So they can beat you a lot of different ways, instead of just posting you up and throwing it in there. And Lauren’s making a lot more shots from the perimeter than she did last year. And as I said, if they’re going to get three or four or five three’s every game, it makes them almost impossible to defend.”

  1. This UConn team has not learned to play four quarters of a game

The Huskies played stellar basketball in the first quarter against Baylor. They played high-level basketball for 22 more minutes, though they missed many shots (and way too many layups) that they usually make during that time.

They were within three points of the Bears after three periods, and scored the first points of the period to pull within one.

Then they collapsed.

UConn only managed six points in the fourth quarter on two buckets and a free throw. They shot 2-18 in that period.

They have had a lot of these quarters throughout the year, when they stop running offense and appear to have lost all the skills they learned in practice. They have missed an astonishing number of layups all season.

What is the problem? I’m not sure anyone has been able to put a finger on it – even Auriemma. One possible explanation is that the team really has had no vocal leader since Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck graduated in 2016.

The players who followed just seem to be “too nice,” as Auriemma has put it. The team features no player with an aggressive, “killer” personality, which is often the solution to a lull in focus. Senior Crystal Dangerfield tries to be that leader, but she really does not have that personality, and has not managed to pull it off regularly.

Perhaps another way to express the same idea is that no one on this UConn team has ever had to be the go-to player in a high-pressure game.

“We’ve got a really young team,” Auriemma said. “Young in in terms of being able to play in this kind of game.”

“They don’t know how to play in this kind of game where you’re counting on them to make shots that other people used to make for them. We’re kind of immature in that way.”

The difference is apparent this season.

“Usually by this time in the year, the guys who were All-Americans last year are carrying the load,” Auriemma said. “But we don’t have any. So it’s all brand new for these guys.”

  1. Nalyssa Smith is poised to be an All-American
NaLyssa Smith controls the ball as Christyn Williams gives chase. Steve Slade, UConn Athletics.
NaLyssa Smith controls the ball as Christyn Williams gives chase. David Butler II.

With all the attention rightfully being be paid to Cox, athletic, 6-2 sophomore Nalyssa Smith is going to have a huge season. Against the Huskies she scored 20 points on 9-13 shooting and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds. None of this is a surprise to Big 12 coaches, who voted her onto the preseason All-Big 12 team, but most everyone else is just learning how good she really has become. After shredding UConn’s defense, in her next game she scored 30 points and grabbed 15 rebounds against Oklahoma State.

Last season Smith was the third option in the post after Kalani Brown and Cox. With Brown gone her role is larger this year, and that includes dealing with better defenders. But Smith has stepped right in where she left off at the end of last season. In her final game (the National Championship) she played just 17 minutes, but scored 14 points on 7-9 shooting.

This season she now leads the team in scoring (16.9 ppg) rebounding (8.1 rpg), shooting percentage (.609), and free throws made (53) and attempted (69). Did we mention she is only a sophomore?

  1. This UConn team could be good enough to go deep into March. Or not.

“[W]hen she was good, she was very, very good, But when she was bad she was horrid.”   – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Like Longfellow’s little girl with “a little curl,” UConn has played wonderful basketball at times, and looked like a high school team at others. We saw both aspects against Baylor.

The “wonderful basketball” part includes the following:

– The often-maligned Husky defense held Baylor 14 points below their season average, and effectively kept a post-oriented offense out of the paint.

(On the other hand, the UConn offense shot 20 points below their season average. The team’s post players – Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Aubrey Griffin, and starter Kyla Irwin – were 0-14 on the day.)

– When running the offense in the first 30 minutes, the Huskies got a lot of open shots, and Auriemma took some solace from that.

“I gotta believe, if we get the same shots, and as many of them as we got, we’ll make more of them [next time],” he said. “Today we didn’t. “

Part of the problem is that, as pointed out above, the only player the team has leaned on in the past is Dangerfield, and even she is facing a different look from most teams.

Auriemma noted an obvious, but easily overlooked, difference from last season.

“You know those dopes that were guarding you last year?” he asked rhetorically. “Well, now, the guys that were guarding Pheesa (Napheesa Collier) and Lou (Katie Lou) Samuelson) are guarding you.”

“So, whatever you were doing to try to get open last year, ain’t going to work this year. That’s a shocker to them. Things are harder, and it takes some getting used to.”

– Auriemma was clearly displeased with the effort of posts Nelson-Ododa and Griffin, and he benched both in the fourth period. This left the Huskies without any rim-protection for a full 10 minutes, and Baylor scored all of its field goals (10 points) in the paint. Had UConn had a player on the court over 6-2, the final score could have been smaller.

In addition, six of the Bears’ fourth quarter points were scored on free throws when the game was no longer in doubt, and UConn fouled them to no purpose. So, the real margin could be seen as 10 points.

– Nelson-Ododa could hardly play worse offensively, and her coach believes she will mature in the next three months.

“You know when the season started I said that Liv is probably the key guy that we’re going to need,” he said “And tonight just didn’t work out.”

“[Her offensive struggle] is a combination of things. She’s her own worst enemy. She plays tentatively. And she’s going to get better. And she will be better, the more games she plays. . . . The next time we play in this kind of game, she’ll play a lot better.”

– Megan Walker had a tough game against the Bears, shooting 5-20, but still managed 18 points. She is having an All-American year, currently standing in the top 15 nationally in both points per game and three point percentage, while leading her team in rebounding (9.4 rpg) as a 6-1 small forward.

– Sophomore Christyn Williams has always been a scorer, but in the last month has dramatically improved as a rebounder and passer. She should continue to improve in all aspects of the game. (She’s been awful from beyond the arc this year, however, shooting just .279, after a freshman season .367.)

Auriemma is, again, optimistic that he’ll see more from her.

“I never worry about Christyn in these games. Christyn can pretty much take the ball and go wherever she wants,” he said. “And she’s fearless. And yes, she’s not shot the ball well from the perimeter this year. But I don’t worry about her. And she’s only a sophomore, so she’s only going to get better.”

The coach is realistic about what this game meant, and what it didn’t mean. UConn might be great by the post-season, or the Huskies could fail to overcome the lack of confidence that led to the magnitude of this defeat.

“We’re like a lot of teams in the country now,” he said. “I think at this time of the year, you have to treat every game – especially a game like this one, against a really, really good team – like it’s a part of your class, and this is one of the tests you have to take. And what would be devastating was if this was the final.”

“All I can do is to get this team to be as good as this team can be. And I don’t know how good that is. I mean, we’re going to be better than we were today, obviously. But how good, come March, I don’t know.”

Ionescu makes history, leads No. 6 Oregon to 87-55 win over No. 3 Stanford

Sabrina Ionescu drives to the basket for two of her career-high 37 points on the night. Eric Evans/GoDucks.com
Sabrina Ionescu drives to the basket for two of her career-high 37 points on the night. Eric Evans/GoDucks.com
Sabrina Ionescu drives to the basket for two of her career-high 37 points on the night. Eric Evans/GoDucks.com

Eugene, Ore. – What began as a midseason showdown between two Pac-12 Conference superpowers turned into a Sabrina Ionescu-led blowout, as the No. 6 Oregon Ducks routed No. 3 Stanford, 87-55.

The senior guard, who has notched an NCAA-record 22 career triple-doubles, cemented her legacy in Thursday night’s match up, scoring a career-high 37 points and breaking Oregon’s 36-year-old career points record to lead the Ducks.

With 2:21 remaining, Ionescu hit a step back mid-range jumper and coach Kelly Graves called a timeout. As the Northern California native came out of the game to the roar of the 12,218 fans in attendance, she saluted the Stanford bench, saying later that she grew up in the shadow of the standard the program set in women’s basketball.

When told of her scoring record earlier in the game, Ionescu looked as confused as she had when she notched her last triple-double a week ago.

“I didn’t know they said something at the game,” she said. Then she paused. “Did they?”

Oregon shot poorly to start, and trailed at the end of the first quarter. They picked it up in the second and led by six at the break. The Cardinal began the second half on a 7-0 run before Ionescu and Satou Sabally, who finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds, seized control and paced the Ducks the rest of the way.

The hosts out-rebounded Stanford 35-26, and forced them into 18 turnovers, while committing only 7 of their own. Ruthy Hebard added 11 points for Oregon, while Minyon Moore scored 10. Kiana Williams had 15 points for Stanford, while Lacie Hull added 10.

If Ionescu respected the Cardinal, the feeling was mutual, as Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer said she was the deciding factor in the Ducks’ win.

“They had Sabrina, we didn’t,” VanDerveer said. “Sabrina is a once-in-a-career player. She’s phenomenal. She’ll be the (WNBA) number one draft pick.”

Graves said their opponents played uncharacteristically.

“They didn’t play a typical Stanford game,” he said. “They’re one of the most disciplined teams in the country, and what we tried to do was break their rhythm. I thought we did a really good job of that. They typically don’t turn it over 18 or 19 times.”

The Ducks’ defense compensated for their perimeter shooting struggles. After a 1-9 start they finished 8-24 from three. Outside of Ionescu’s 5-12 shooting from deep, the team shot just 3-12.

The game was reminiscent of last February’s match up between the two teams in Palo Alto, when Oregon routed the Cardinal, 88-48. Stanford returned the favor in the Pac-12 Tournament Championship game, beating the favorite Ducks to take the title.

This season, which has seen more changes in the AP top 10 than ever before, both teams have taken turns at the No. 1 spot. Though Oregon’s win Thursday was technically an upset, both teams are laden with talent in a conference full of ranked squads.

In the Ducks’ two losses this year, they shot 20.8 percent from three, which is 15.2 percent lower than their season average. But against the Cardinal, Oregon proved they can dominate the offensive end without relying on the three-pointer.

“Early in the year, we were shooting too many three’s,” Graves said. “We’re being a lot more patient (now). We’re not just settling for a quick three. We’re getting a little bit more inside. If you look at how many times we’re getting to the free throw line over the last six, eight games, it is really trending up.”

The Ducks will stay in Eugene to play the Cal Bears Sunday, while Stanfords heads to Corvallis to play No. 8 Oregon State. VanDerveer said her team will be ready.

“We don’t have time to have a little pity party,” she said. “You’ve got to turn around and play Oregon State. And they’re a terrific team too.”

Oh what a night

Upsets:

Northwestern edged No. 15 Indiana in OT, 71-69.

Technically an upset, but nah: No. 6 Oregon routed No. 3 Stanford, 87-55. Sabrina Ionescu had a career-high 37 points for the Ducks and broke the school’s all-time scoring record.

Escapes:

No. 22 Iowa rallied to slip by Minnesota, 76-75.

No. 4 UConn 59, UCF 52

No. 10 Mississippi State 64, LSU 60

More results:

No. 9 NC State rolled past Florida State, 68-51.

No. 1 South Carolina 78, Missouri 45

No. 5 Louisville 81, Boston College 70

No. 11 Kentucky 76, No. 12 Texas A&M 54 (without Chennedy Carter)

No. 16 Gonzaga 67, Santa Clara 52

No. 20 Maryland 87, Nebraska 69

No. 24 Tennessee 78, Florida 50

Georgia Tech 82, Syracuse 64

Duke 50, Notre Dame 47

Michigan State 68, Ohio State 65

North Carolina 78. Miami 58

Michigan 68, Wisconsin 56

Temple 69, South Florida 66

Wake Forest 62, Virginia 56

Rutgers 62, Penn State 57

All scores

Tomorrow’s game schedule

College team news:

The Pac-12 is looking for big things.

College player news:

Sabrina Ionescu reflects on her upbringing, her family and her identity outside of basketball.

Oregon’s Minyon Moore is taking advantage of the opportunity of a lifetime.

Jaelynn Penn and Grace Berger are fueling Indiana’s rise.

After being suspended, Minnesota’s top scorer Destiny Pitts will transfer.

Boston College forward Taylor Soule is big on the boards.

Michigan State’s Moira Joiner is no regular freshman.

Kierstan Bell is learning with other Ohio State freshmen.

WNBA news:

The league released their 2020 schedule today.

The new CBA is landmark deal for women of color.

Healthy heap of news

Upset:

Oklahoma toppled No. 17 West Virginia, 73-49.

More results:

No. 2 Baylor cruised past Kansas, 90-47.

TCU came from behind to nip Iowa State, 77-74.

Texas dominated Texas Tech, 92-66.

Western Michigan edged Ohio, 73-72.

Oklahoma State stopped Kansas State, 70-63.

Villanova ran by Penn, 70-58.

All scores

Tomorrow’s game schedule is loaded.

College team news:

No. 1 South Carolina continues to put in work.

Oregon is nothing close to their potential as the second half of the season begins.

The Ducks are ready for their showdown with Stanford tomorrow.

Oregon State has learned how physical Pac-12 play can be.

Despite national attention, Iowa knows plenty of basketball remains.

The surging Hawkeyes face less-than-full-strength Minnesota tomorrow.

Familiar faces are reaching new heights at Loyola Chicago.

HBCU midseason report.

Ohio will rely on its toughness in MAC play.

Ohio State is trying to stay hot on the road.

Iowa State has lost three Big 12 games in a row.

Pac-12 notebook.

College player news:

Why Sabrina Ionescu is so good, and where she still must improve.

Ja’Tavia Tapley went from Florida to USC to player of the week for ASU.

Tory Ozment is focused on being well-rounded for Michigan State.

Stanford’s seniors reflect on their final year.

Now healthy, Amanda Kalin is showing consistency for Duquesne.

Iowa State freshman guard Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw is a “freshman in a graduate-level class.”

Destiny Pitts is still suspended as Minnesota prepares to face Iowa.

Buffalo’s Summer Hemphill will not play this season after knee surgery.

The NCAA’s starting five for the week.

College coach news:

Felisha Legette-Jack has built a contender at Buffalo.

Adia Barnes is frustrated by Arizona’s constant string of injuries.

Dawn Staley gave her players social media back after their No. 1 ranking. Here’s why.

Courtney Banghart is just getting started for North Carolina.

Bonus:

Broadcasters balance history and game on the Syracuse crew.

WNBA news:

Transcript of yesterday’s WNBA-WNBPA conference call.

Mandalay Bay and MGM Resorts were sold. What does this mean for the Las Vegas Aces?

Sue Bird says the new CBA will lock the WNBA in as pioneers in the sports world.

Bonus:

Strides have been made in women’s sports the last few years, but inequalities remain.

WNBA, WNBPA reach a tentative CBA agreement

The WNBA and WNBPA have reached a tentative agreement on an eight-year CBA that includes:

Foremost among the deal terms is a 53 percent increase in total cash compensation, consisting of base salary, additional performance bonuses, prize pools for newly created in-season competitions, and league and team marketing deals. Under the new CBA, the league’s top players will be able to earn cash compensation in excess of $500,000, representing a more than tripling of the maximum compensation under the prior deal. Other top players will have an opportunity to earn between $200,000 and $300,000. And for the first time in WNBA history, the average cash compensation for players will exceed six figures, averaging nearly $130,000, resulting in an increase for all players from rookies to veterans.

Additional highlights include enhanced player experience with respect to travel and child care benefits, and expanded offseason career development opportunities. The landmark agreement also features a more liberal free agency system, and a more robust and equitable revenue-sharing model based on league revenue growth.

The league also announced a platform to elevate the WNBA and women’s sports:

The Changemakers platform is designed to provide direct support to the WNBA in its ongoing business transformation across marketing, branding, and player and fan experience. With a fresh approach to sports sponsorship, Changemakers are deeply invested in driving positive change for the WNBA, women’s sports, and women in society. Not only are partners providing financial investment, but they are further lifting the league and players through marketing amplification and close strategic collaboration. This group of leaders is redefining what it means to live organizational values through business partnerships.

What the new CBA means for players.

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