Tuesday, December 18, 2018
Page 802

Carolyn Peck on Nikki Caldwell

A long-figured, familiar face was sitting courtside at last night’s UCLA-OSU game: Carolyn Peck. The longtime coach and sports commentator was in town to catch Coach Nikki Caldwell and her Bruin team play the first game of their Pac-10 Conference schedule.

Peck, who was assistant coach at Tennessee during Caldwell’s senior year in 1993-94, said Caldwell is special.

“She has ‘it’ when it comes to coaching,” Peck told me.

Peck said she recently talked to Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt, and asked the legendary coach what she thought of the record of Caldwell, who left Summitt’s program in April to take the UCLA job.

“Pat said she wasn’t surprised at all, that she expected that from Nikki,” Peck said.

After the game, Peck dropped by the Bruin locker room to congratulate Caldwell and her assistant coaches Tasha Butts, Stacie Terry and Tony Perotti.

Wanted: Scouting Co-Pilot

Maxpreps.com released their top 25 teams in California list Thursday, and I am not surprised by it at all.

1. Mater Dei
2. Cajon
3. Brea Olinda
4. St. Mary’s
5. Hanford
6. Long Beach Poly
7. Foothill
8. Clovis West
9. Carondelet
10. Troy
11. Santa Monica
12. Inglewood
13. Sacred Heart
14. Bishop O’Dowd
15. St. Paul
16. Oak Ridge
17. Summit
18. St. Ignatius
19 Archbishop Mitty
20. St. Paul’s
21. Bishop’s
22. Millikan
23. Deer Valley
24. Bellarmine-Jefferson
25. Monte Vista

(Full link: http://www.maxpreps.com/california/state.aspx?state=ca&urpath=,national)

In fact, I had already scoped out a game between Cajon and Brea Olinda on Jan. 24, at Cajon. I must check out these squads, as well as the outstanding Brea freshman who was named to the TOC First Team a couple weeks ago. And it’s here where I’m throwing out an offer.

My main basketball friend doesn’t seem interested in attending high school games, for whatever reason. So I am looking for someone who might like to go to some games with me, to scout and report on teams. I’ve created a want ad for this job. Anyone can apply, as the job is not necessarily limited to one person.


Complete Hoophead – Batwoman seeks Batgirl or Batboy for high school girl’s basketball game consumption 1-3 times per week. Candidate must possess full-throttle passion for the women’s game on all playing levels, from AAU to WNBA. Strong game knowledge required; moderate high school team knowledge accepted. Candidate must be outgoing, able to tolerate Batwoman’s tendency to shut down and hunch over into the fetal position during close games, be a watcher and pick up little things, and contribute to overall report. Voracious basketball appetite and ability to sit through multiple games (such as in tournaments) a must. Age, sex, race, sexual orientation, spiritual philosophies unimportant. Sanity a must. Applications are taken in the comments section.

Link to maxprep rankings, which change every few days or so:


Brittney Griner = beast?

I’ve been hearing about Brittney Griner for a long time now. Since she signed with Baylor, I hear even more.

A couple days ago, Griner had an incredible game. Her 38 points out-scored the entire team of opponents. She also grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked 12 shots for her 15th double-double of the season. If that wasn’t enough, her first and last bucket were dunks, upper her total to 30 so far this year.

Here’s the story:


The game before that, Griner had five dunks. Video:


Of course there are naysayers who maintain that Griner is one-dimensional and over-hyped because “all she does is dunk.” Her stats seem pretty complete, though. Maybe those are the same people who like to say Candace Parker isn’t that good. Whatever the case, I am looking forward to seeing Griner play college hoops next year.

Baugh sustains knee ligament sprain

NEW JERSEY – Tennessee forward Vicki Baugh suffered a left knee ligament sprain today in practice – the same knee in which she tore her anterior cruciate ligament last April. But an X-ray revealed that the ACL is fine, and that Baugh sprained her lateral collateral ligament.

Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt told the Knoxville News Sentinel that Baugh was relieved to find out it was not her ACL. The Sentinel reported that Baugh had fallen to the court and “reacted in a strong, spontaneous fashion.”

(I wish they’d say what exactly that means).

The Vols, who are in town to play Rutgers Saturday, apparently are the target of resentment from Scarlet Knights Coach C. Vivian Stringer, according to the piece. Referring to last year’s controversial Vols win after a clock malfunction, Stringer told the Sentinel that “she’ll remember that.”

A lot of subplots, to be sure. Here’s the link:


I’m lovin the footnote that Shannon Bobbitt visited the Vols today.

Pausing to remember

Shayla Llanos, a Broward Community College (Florida) freshman, died last night after collapsing during a game earlier. The 19-year-old from New Jersey fell to her knees during play and was revived at the scene, but later died at the hospital. Not much more information is available, but here is some:


Last week, Alabama State University freshman center Richelle Jones died in a one-vehicle accident:


The death of a young person is always heartbreaking. When it is a young athlete, not only family and friends but teammates are effected. As we go into the new year, I pray for comfort and healing to surround the loved ones and friends of Shayla and Richelle. And may their spirits rest in peace.

Danielle LeNoir sustains concussion, sits out

Washington State University freshmen point guard Danielle LeNoir sustained a concussion in the team’s game against Idaho Dec. 13, and has missed all three of the Cougars’ games played since then.

Spokesman Joe Nickell said LeNoir is “day to day,” and that he didn’t know whether or not she would play in this Saturday’s game against Washington.

LeNoir, of Los Angeles, is the younger sister of USC point guard Camille LeNoir.

Stats are a many-splendored thing

With Texas’ 60-55 loss to San Diego State tonight, they are removed from the list of teams that are still undefeated. Notre Dame came close to being upset, but they hung on to beat Vanderbilt by two. The unbeaten teams are:

Kansas State
Mississippi State
North Carolina
Notre Dame
Texas A&M
Wake Forest
Wisconsin-Green Bay

I appreciate the stat freaks on rebkell.net, who have tallied the results of all the conference games over the last three days, since games resumed after the holiday. The game results are interesting, to say the least:

Big East 20-0
Big 12 12-1
ACC 16-3
SEC 13-5
Pac-10 4-6

The Pac-10 had been 4-4 going into tonight, but USC and Washington both lost. What is up with those two programs? I wish I knew.

Finally, I enjoyed watching the Tennessee-Gonzaga game even though I wasn’t there, and it’s not just because the Vols won. The Zags are very good and they don’t give up, and I like that. Lyssi Brewer’s no-look pass to Vicki Baugh under the basket, and later on, Baugh’s behind-the-back crossover as she went up for a layup, gave me the vapors. Tennessee is starting to gel, and it’s a scary thing because conference play hasn’t even begun yet.

On the non-game tip, I really like the homemade T-shirts of Angie and Jami’s parents Kris and Jim Bjorklund – “TennZaga.” Hell, I remember seeing the sisters playing in the state playoffs at the Tacoma Dome in 2005…………

All but five of tomorrow’s New Year’s Eve games will be played early. Only three of the top 25 teams will hit the hardwood: Connecticut, Duke and Ohio State.

Sheryl Swoopes, color analyst and commentator

For whatever reason, 2008 Seattle Storm acquisition Sheryl Swoopes decided to stay in the Emerald City after the WNBA season ended. Her son Jordan is enrolled in a local school, and Swoopes is reportedly enjoying life in the city with little sun.

Tonight she will expand her resume to include sportscasting, as she will call tonight’s University of Washington game at Hec Edmunson Pavilion, where the Huskies will take on Kansas State.

It appears out-of-area fans can listen to the broadcast on KKNW’s live stream feed:


Tennessee @ Gonzaga tonight

Tonight was supposed to be an ecstatic occasion for me, as I was to travel to Spokane, Wash. to see the reigning National Champions take on Gonzaga. But in a world that humans have squelched and molded to their liking more and more every year, one thing remains indomitable and that’s the weather. Spokane has had 59 inches of snow in the last two weeks – almost two feet of which arrived since Sunday night. In fact it was just as the roads were looking better and I was ready once again to make the trip that the last snowstorm came along. Flying would cost $220, which is about $160 more than it usually costs from Seattle. Greyhound and Amtrak, if they’re still running, would get me there right at game time. I was and am very sad.

But the going is rough even for Spokane natives. My friend Richard, who lives there, said it has taken him hours and hours to get around and do things that usually take minutes. The city hasn’t seen this much snow in many, many years.


Another disappointment in tonight’s game is that the anticipated showdown between Angie and Jami Bjorklund, aka the reason the Vols are there in the first place, is not going to happen. It was announced last week that because of Jami’s knee injury, she’d be sidelined and unable to play against her sister. There was another bit about that in today’s Seattle Times:


So while I sadly sit in front of the big TV at my brother’s house tonight to watch this game, I will take a bit of consolation in the fact that I can at least get home to LA from here; Spokane is expecting even more snowfall during tonight’s game.

On the humorous side, the joke in the Vol camp is that the team has tied a string to 5’2″ point guard Briana Bass. As the snow levels approach five feet, they don’t want to lose their floor general in the white stuff.

Winning and losing streaks

The UCLA Bruins tonight lost 62-72 to Texas Tech. The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak that dated back to Nov. 23. I didn’t see nor hear today’s game, so all I have to go on is the box score. 25 turnovers? 38.3 percent shooting? UCLA out-rebounded the Raiders 41-33, but 41 is still lower than their usual. Perhaps it’s a combination of still having things to work on and tonight’s contest being their first in eight days, and on the road at that. But I hope they can get it together, because they’ll have their hands full with Oregon State on Friday. I’m looking forward to that game.

Arizona beat Boise State, despite playing only eight people (Boise State played 10). I wish Arizona would get to Pauley Pavilion sooner, because I want to see them play; I’m intrigued by them. I’ve noticed that the players getting the most minutes aren’t always producing big points, so obviously they’re doing all the intangibles – some of which don’t make the box score.

For example, Reiko Thomas had 11 points, four rebounds and two assists, but the shooting guard played all 40 minutes. Guard Ashley Frazier had three points, five assists and two steals, and played 39 minutes. I wonder how this team is going to shake out.

One player who needs no explanation, however, is Wildcat forward Ify Ibekwe. Tonight she put in a career-high 26 points and 20 rebounds in 37 minutes – amazing.

On the other side of the country, 14th-ranked Rutgers got its 20th consecutive home victory with a win over George Washington tonight. Congrats to them.

It is at this time of year, as teams go into conference play, that winning and losing trends have emerged. Fans can see which teams have a tendency to lose on the road and not, and what squads successfully defend their home court. Yet, March is still so very far away, in so many ways.

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