Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Page 696

Guess who got married two weeks ago?

CP did.

And from the video, you can see she’s cut her hair. Love the double-finger point at the end:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYD44RkcTl0

Much happiness to ya, girl.

More weirdness

Here are the current Pac-10 standings.

Oregon State ahead of Stanford and Arizona State? Washington State at 6? USC at 9?

I know this won’t last for long, but I have to laugh right this minute.

2008-09 WOMEN’s BASKETBALL

Team Conf. Pct. Overall Pct.
California 0-0 – 3-0 1.000
Oregon State 0-0 – 2-0 1.000
Stanford 0-0 – 3-1 .750
Arizona State 0-0 – 2-1 .667
UCLA 0-0 – 2-1 .667
Washington State 0-0 – 2-1 .667
Arizona 0-0 – 3-2 .600
Oregon 0-0 – 2-2 .500
USC 0-0 – 1-1 .500
Washington 0-0 – 1-2 .333

Oh, I guess it’s the parity

I ran a search engine for parity in women’s college basketball, to see if anyone had any theories about what had happened this past week. I found one story from the Oct. 6, 2008 edition of USA Today which doubted parity existed. Stories from 2005 and 2006 were more pro-parity, ironically. In one piece, Stanford Coach Tara VanDerveer attributed the trend to more AAU teams, more clinics and more specialized attention for young people. You can’t argue with that.

A generation ago basketball was a one-season sport; now it’s year-round. And if your kid isn’t dribbling with both hands before she’s got Elmo’s name out of her mouth, she’s way behind.

So it’s interesting that although it’s the flooding of young girls into the sport, and intense development of them for play that has laid the groundwork for parity – that parity would first be seen at the professional level.

The first six years of the WNBA, the league had only two champions. In the six years since that time, there have been four more. Most all the teams that once lived in the basement of the league are near the top now (and one went back to the bottom after that). This past year we saw every single playoff series go to the maximum three games for the first time. Fresh faces were everywhere, and there were games when it seemed like any team could beat any other team at will.

So now it looks like it’s trickling down to the college level. Unranked teams are beating ranked teams; highy-ranked teams are tumbling down like cards. (And it’s funny that myself, who was raised by a father who always went for the underdog but grew up to love Tennessee is enjoying all of this immensely).

High school has to be next. Hell, old standby Christ the King of New York isn’t even in the top 25 this year. It’s schools like Woodson High of Washington D.C. and St. Michael’s Academy of New York who are there instead.

This is an exciting time in women’s basketball.

So unsurprisingly, today’s top 25 is much different than last week’s:

AP TOP 25 – Women’s College Basketball

1. Connecticut 3-0
2. North Carolina 5-0
3. California 3-0
4. Oklahoma 3-1
5. Stanford 3-1
6. Baylor 4-0
7. Louisville 3-0
8. Texas A&M 3-0
9. Tennessee 3-1
10. Maryland 3-1
11. Texas 5-0
12. Duke 3-1
13. Rutgers 2-2
14. Notre Dame 3-0
15. Auburn 4-0
16. Virginia 2-1
17. Vanderbilt 4-1
18. Oklahoma State 2-1
19. Purdue 3-0
20. Ohio State 3-1
21. Arizona State 2-1
22. TCU 4-0
23. Old Dominion 3-1
24. Michigan State 5-0
25. (tie) Iowa State 3-0
25. Xavier 2-2

And if you look real quick on the SEC page today, you’ll see some standings you might never have seen before, nor might ever see again:

School SEC PCT. H A ALL PCT. H A N Last 5 Streak

Arkansas 0-0 .000 0-0 0-0 4-0 1.000 4-0 0-0 0-0 4-0 W4
Auburn 0-0 .000 0-0 0-0 4-0 1.000 2-0 2-0 0-0 4-0 W4
Ole Miss 0-0 .000 0-0 0-0 4-0 1.000 1-0 1-0 2-0 4-0 W4
Miss. State 0-0 .000 0-0 0-0 2-0 1.000 2-0 0-0 0-0 2-0 W2
Vanderbilt 0-0 .000 0-0 0-0 4-1 .800 2-0 2-1 0-0 4-1 L1
Florida 0-0 .000 0-0 0-0 3-1 .750 2-0 1-1 0-0 3-1 W3
Tennessee 0-0 .000 0-0 0-0 3-1 .750 2-1 1-0 0-0 3-1 W2
Alabama 0-0 .000 0-0 0-0 2-1 .667 1-1 1-0 0-0 2-1 W1
Georgia 0-0 .000 0-0 0-0 2-1 .667 1-0 1-1 0-0 2-1 L1
Kentucky 0-0 .000 0-0 0-0 2-1 .667 2-1 0-0 0-0 2-1 W2
LSU 0-0 .000 0-0 0-0 0-1 .000 0-1 0-0 0-0 0-1 L1
S. Carolina 0-0 .000 0-0 0-0 0-2 .000 0-1 0-1 0-0 0-2 L2

Crazy, huh?

_______________________________

I attended my first high school basketball game this afternoon. Just checking things out. It was literally the first high school game in LA today. More will begin tomorrow and Wednesday.

Tomorrow I’m going to check out my girls as they and their JC team have another in-town game, at a college across the city. Wednesday I’m going to another high school game.

It’s the holiday season.

What in the name of basketball is going on?

I’ve never seen so many upsets in one week in my life as we’ve seen this week.

Today, despite Stanford losing PG JJ Hones for what sounds like will be the season, the Cardinal destroyed Rutgers, 81-47. I turned it on after the Tennessee game and couldn’t even watch it after a few minutes. Granted, I think the Scarlet Knights were overrated at 2, but I didn’t see annihilation coming.

Michigan upset number 12 Vanderbilt. Florida upset 21st-ranked Florida State. Number 20 Auburn took down 18th-ranked Ohio State. And though neither is ranked, it’s somewhat surprising that Temple beat Illinois.

So what’s up?

Please, share your thoughts.

_____________________

Some of my favorite Pac-10 teams won today, as Washington State beat Montana State and Arizona defeated UC Santa Barbara.

I wish Oregon had seen the same results, though. With their loss to South Dakota State today, they are at .500 on the season so far.

UCLA lost to Maryland today, and I’m less surprised by that. Those who were there said the Bruins looked good in the second half, as usual.

Candace Parker sighting, college scores

CP is back in Los Angeles.

After traveling to Connecticut last week to film her ESPN spot – and god knows where else her jet-setting self went – my girl Monique spotted our superstar at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Marina Del Rey. The Sacramento Kings are in town to play the LA Lakers, and CP was following their bus in her vehicle. Everyone pulled up in front, and CP had the luggage in the back.

I guess she is staying with fiance Shelden Williams. Hopefully someone will capture a picture of her sitting courtside during the game.

___________________________________________________

The espn.com scoreboard lists games involving the top 25 teams on its first page, and there are only five of those games tonight. Nothing major there, unless you consider Detroit defeating 23rd-ranked chronic under-achieving Georgia an upset.

When clicking on the “all scores” tab, the reader sees that 71 other games were also played today. That’s when I start contemplating (basketball) life.

I wonder what has happened to North Carolina State if Yale can beat them. (Once again, I didn’t know an Ivy League school had a team).

I see that Miami, Ohio defeated a team called IPFW. But clicking on the IPFW tab still doesn’t tell me what the letters stand for, nor where the school is (though from their schedule I am guessing Midwest).

There is a Madonna University? Well good lord. No pun intended.

Quinnipac defeated Vermont. Quinnipac? I hadn’t heard of Longwood, Kennesaw State, Wagner, McNeese State, IUPUI, Lehigh, Coker, Towson or Campbell, either.

So all this makes me wonder what it’s like to play for a small D1 school. I suppose it wouldn’t be too much different than playing for one of the Jucos I’m writing about for my other gig, as many of the top schools are in small towns. We do all tend to forget that there are hundreds of D1 schools across the country, way beyond the top 25. To all you young women out there playing for a small D1, hats off to you. And I think I have my next story idea………

Finally, I see that Seattle’s own Jacqua Williams lead her Georgia Tech Yellowjackets in beating Mississippi Valley State tonight. Way to do it, girl.

Upset City! (and a not-quite upset)

I was here at the casa listening to the Vols grind one out against Chattanooga. That is, I was pacing and cussing – almost ready to get in the fetal position – as Tennessee crawled back from a deficit, missed a bunch of free throws, and hung on for dear life to win, 66-63. They hadn’t yet won when word came through on the Summitt board that fourth-ranked Duke had been upset by unranked Hartford. That’s the third major upset in six days.

The CBS College Sports announcer doing the play-by-play commented that the women’s game is becoming like the men’s game in that, on any given night, one team can beat another regardless of the ranking. A true and exciting statement.

THEN. Checked the scoreboard as the Tennessee game ended and #24 Old Dominion was about to beat #11 Virginia! Final score was 78-70, ODU.

Very interesting. And the Cal-Rutgers game doesn’t start til 8 p.m. It’s a free-for-all, y’all. I like it. (As long as the Vols don’t lose)

Dawn Staley wastes no time in getting ’em signed

Staley Inks Early Signees for Top-10 Class

COLUMBIA – University of South Carolina head women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley announced that Ieasia Walker (Copiague, N.Y. / Copiague) and Monique Willis (Savannah, Ga. / A.E. Beach) have signed National Letters of Intent to attend the University and play basketball for the Gamecocks.

Both players will have four years of eligibility beginning with the 2009-10 academic year. The duo’s signing prompted The Collegiate Girls Basketball Report to rank the ninth-best recruiting class in the country.

“I feel very fortunate to bring to the University of South Carolina Ieasia Walker and Monique Willis,” Staley said. “Both of these young ladies are equally great people. We can’t wait for the day they put on their South Carolina uniforms.”

Walker is rated as high as the 17th-best player in the 2009 class by Blue Star Basketball. The All-Star Girls Report tabs her as the 19th-best, and Hoopgurlz.com tips her as the 10th-best point guard in the class. The 5-foot-8 Long Island product posted 19.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 7.4 assists and 5.1 steals per game in 2007-08, leading Copiague to the Suffolk Class AA semifinals. A three-time All-Suffolk County and all-conference selection, she earned a spot on the New York State Sports Writers Association Class AA All-State Third Team.

“Ieasia is a consummate point guard,” Staley said. “She has the qualities that I look for to manage our team. She has a natural feel for the game and will instantly make us better when she steps on campus.”

At 5-foot-8, Willis is rated No. 24 in the 2009 Class by All-Star Girls Report, and Blue Star Basketball has her at No. 59. She helped the A.E. Beach Bulldogs to the program’s fifth-straight Region 3-AAAAA championship in 2007-08, posting a double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds in the title game. For her efforts her junior year, Willis earned a spot on the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association All-Class AAAAA South team.

“Monique is a player that somewhat went under the radar,” Staley said. “We are extremely pleased that she chose us over other SEC and ACC schools. She is electric on both sides of the ball. She brings a level of athleticism that is second to none.”

– by gamecocksonline.com, posted Nov. 20, 2008

Diggins signs, college hoops stays upright on its axis for the night

Unsurprisingly, at least for me, was that Skylar Diggins decided to remain in her home state and signed with Notre Dame this week. At a press conference last night in South Bend, IN, the point guard unsnapped her high school letter jacket to reveal an “Irish 4” T-shirt. The third-ranked player in her class said she liked the idea of playing where her family could come to games. She will retain her number 4 in college.

http://www.wsbt.com/sports/34769974.html

In the meantime, second-ranked Kelsey Bone has said she may not make up her mind until the late signing period in April. That’s interesting to me, as top-ranked players don’t usually wait. I wonder what’s up with the Bone?

No major upsets in college hoops tonight, although Texas A&M had to struggle mightily to hold off Michigan. And what is Texas doing beating up on Texas A&M Community College? That should have been a pre-season game.

In the world of the pros, the Shock signed Bill Laimbeer to a new two-year contract today. Like he was ever going to leave. He loves coaching that team.

UCLA 66, Pepperdine 55…..and signees!

The bad news is that UCLA isn’t yet a 40-minute team. The good news is that they can still lead the game and win, even playing as poorly as they did at times last night.

The Bruins shot almost 38.7 percent in the first half and 47.6 in the second, and a dismal 0 percent for 3-shots in the first and 33.3 in the second. They had 23 turnovers to Pepperdine’s 17, and the Waves almost doubled UCLA’s steals.

But the Bruins beat their opponents on the boards, and at 50 for the game, they are still averaging above their 2007-08 rebounding percentage.

I brought my girls to the game, so arrived a couple minutes late to see UCLA already had the lead. That didn’t last long, however, as the Waves started their full-frontal attack – literally.

They unleashed a full-court press early in the first half, and generally played the Bruins very rough by pushing, elbowing and charging them. This wasn’t helped by the fact that UCLA couldn’t buy a basket, and there were some stanzas where they kept getting beat on defense. At a timeout late in the first half, Coach Nikki Caldwell walked all the way out to center court as her players were walking towards her, and either said something or just stared at them. She was not happy.

Doreena Campbell took the ball from half-court all the way to the rim for the score with 18 seconds left, and Tierra Henderson blocked a Waves shot to keep the score at 30-27 at the break.

The rebounding picked up in the first half and thank goodness, because the Bruins started with two missed free throws (they need to work on FTs) and two missed shots in a row – the first on a wide-open look.

Caldwell took junior center Moniquee Alexander out almost halfway into the second half. As she arrived at the bench, her coach stopped her and got really close to her face, using hand gestures to punctuate what she was saying. Alexander had a horrified look on her face. It’s no doubt because of the respect she has for Caldwell.

“It’s all about winning, and she reeks of excellence,” Alexander told an Orange County reporter last month (1).

Right after she expressed herself to Alexander, Caldwell began saying things to the bench – you know, when the coach sees something on the floor she doesn’t like and turns to the seated players and rails on about the mistake. I always get amused by that.

But shortly after that, the Bruins stepped it up on defense. Two trapped a Pepperdine player right in front of the UCLA bench, forcing her to lose the ball. Nina Earl scooped it up and took it in for the bucket, to our wild cheers. The Bruins also began a wicked full court press.

The offense also picked up a bit. Alexander redeemed herself with a nice spin move under the basket for the score, and Caldwell reacted by pumping her fist. Senior Chinyere Ibekwe had an amazing save, swatting the ball exactly to her teammate at she careened out of bounds on the baseline. The result was another bucket.

My seatmate Daniel asked, “Why weren’t we seeing that earlier – the attacking-style offense?”

Great question. It seems that it takes the Bruins a while to warm up sometimes, but I suspect that will change soon. Recent stories in the school newspaper, The Daily Bruin, paint a team that is happy with the changes their new coach has brought this year.

“It was like a breath of fresh air,” junior Erica Tukianien said. “You knew something was coming and something very good.

“She’s an educator, she’s a coach and she’s a role model. I have so much respect for her and I want to buy into the system. I want to follow her and I want to make sure the team gets together and that we are successful.” (2)

Those who followed former coach Kathy Oliver and have been to at least one Caldwell practice say the new coach uses a “tough love” approach focused on winning via discipline, with the long-term goal of winning a national championship. (1)

Caldwell has assigned players to a coach for monitoring, and she holds regular team meetings to keep communication lines open. If I hadn’t already been a fan, I would be now. I’ve always maintained that poor communication is the root of most of the worlds’ ills.

One thing that hardcore Tennessee fans like myself will appreciate: Caldwell has brought the towel tradition to Westwood. When a player goes into the game, she brings a towel to the player she’s replacing, handing it to her as she leaves the floor. A class and courtesy thing, courtesy of Pat Freaking Summitt.

A personal highlight of the evening was that I finally got to talk to sophomore forward Christina Nzekwe. As I’ve mentioned before, I coached her in track and field when she was a high school freshman, in Seattle. Christina is a sweetheart, and I was so proud when I first heard she’d signed two years ago.

She explained that the reason she wasn’t playing last night was that she’d sustained a concussion in practice Monday. She’ll be out for a week, which sucks, as I’ve so enjoyed her increased playing time. But by the time the Bruins come back Nov. 30, she should be ready to roll.

In other news, Caldwell inked her first two committments today: Markel Walker of Pittsburgh, PA and Mariah Williams of Aurora, CO. Walker, a forward, is ranked fourth by ESPN. Williams will become the team’s first shorter player, at 5’4″. In a news release, Caldwell said she is very quick and takes it to the rack. Full release:

http://uclabruins.cstv.com/sports/w-baskbl/spec-rel/111908aaa.html

Go, Caldwell. I’ve said it before: this team is going to do great things.

1. http://www.ocregister.com/articles/caldwell-player-team-2211633-olivier-vols
2. http://www.dailybruin.com/news/2008/nov/12/new-coachs-credo-shapes-teams-philosophy/

And Tennessee drops a game

It’s gonna be a bumpy season, but ultimately it’ll be OK.

What the Best Coach of All Time had to say:

http://www.utladyvols.com/sports/w-baskbl/recaps/111708aag.html

No other surprises tonight. But tomorrow, Rutgers gets to kick the crap out of Princeton. Princeton? I didn’t know they had a team.

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