Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Page 837

As the WNBA turns

Rumors that Yolanda Griffith won’t return to the Storm this summer are official – she just signed with the Indiana Fever:


In the meantime, a poster on a message board says that “a trade or two is about to happen” involving Tina Thompson and Lauren Jackson:


Could Lauren Jackson, who has said Seattle is the only place she’ll ever play, be leaving the Storm?

Mechelle Voepel: Tennessee fans, get a grip

However, I’d like to take the opportunity to say to any Tennessee fans who are freaking out: Chill. Welcome to your very brief sojourn into how the other 95 percent (or more) lives. Buy Debby Jennings’ terrific “Vault of Basketball” book to get you through this trying time. You’ll notice it has EIGHT national championship trophies on the cover.

Not all of Orange Nation is loosing its grip, of course. Some fans are being very reasonable, even good-humored. They saw a lot of this coming in the Season of the Rocky Top Rookies, although perhaps not the additional blows of losing Cait McMahan and Vicki Baugh to injury.

Others, though, have lost perspective or never really had any – because Tennessee has been so freaking good for so long, fans didn’t have to develop it. Vol expert writer Maria Cornelius jokingly said when I was in Knoxville last month that she stays fairly busy just trying to (figuratively) talk fans down from ledges.

The reality? Tennessee is a team of teeny-boppers, including 19-year-old sophomore Angie Bjorklund, whose game-face expression is starting to resemble that of somebody who just woke up and is gradually realizing she’s in one of those “Saw” movies.

(Go to her blog at wordpress.com)

I appreciate this entry. I am one of those optimistic fans, but last night’s loss did surprise me, and it bothered me. After reading all the “world is ending” posts on the Summitt message board, I didn’t have anything to say about the game.

But Voepel is right: there will be a tomorrow. And her humor is appreciated.

Southern Section scores, day one

Orange Lutheran 73, El Segundo 46
Gahr 74, La Quinta 53
Troy 57, Jordan 29
JSerra Catholic 62, Estancia 20
Huntington Beach 68, Kaiser 47
Segerstrom 43, Loara 26
Marina 60, Mission Viejo 52
Northwood 52, Garden Grove 49
Orangewood Academy 49, Hillcrest Christian/Granada Hills 17
Rancho Alamitos 61, Pacifica 43
Rosary 83, Godinez 28
University 62, Saddleback 25
Santa Margarita 63, Savanna 38
Edison 59, Sunny Hills 27
Great Oak 72, Tesoro 41
El Dorado 66, Westminster 46
El Toro 50, Righetti 30
Cypress 53, Mayfair 36
Esperanza 68, California 43
Valencia 72, Burroughs 54
Canyon 60, Palm Springs 23
Calvary Chapel/Santa Ana 46, Whitney 35
Brea Olinda 88, La Serna 14
Irvine 49, Palm Desert 41
Fullerton 49, Rowland 20
Royal 54, Century 33
Katella 60, Serrano 25
Villa Park 69, Simi Valley 32
Laguna Hills 47, South Torrance 37
Valley Christian/Cerritos at Sage Hill Sonora 61, Wilson/Hacienda Heights 41
Westridge 68, Fairmont Prep 36
Saddleback Valley Christian 57, Crean Lutheran South 22
Knight 70 Hesperia 33
LB Millikan 68 Quartz Hill 55
Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) 56 Littlerock 31
Wilson 67, Schurr 55
Millikan 68, Quartz Hill 55
Poly 65, Paramount 15

Check this blog out: http://socalbasketball.blogspot.com/

City Section starts tomorrow! Like the Jackson Five, I’ll be there.

Tales of two Bruins

Very moving piece on the ways center Moniquee Alexander coped with the death of her mother to breast cancer when she was 11 years old:


Coach Nikki Caldwell proved to be a confidant for Alexander right after they met:

“She’s positive and humbled by it,” Caldwell said. “She has such an amazing heart. She has a gentle soul in that big body of her’s.”

Then there’s today’s story in the Daily Bruin (bless that newspaper for all the coverage they’ve given the team) about reserve guard Allison Taka. Under the former coach, Taka sat on the bench, and as a result, lost all her confidence. Caldwell and her teammates have helped restore that:

In that meeting, Taka said she made it clear to her new head coach that she was concerned with the apparent lack of a role she had on the team. Caldwell, however, was quick to soothe those concerns, falling back on what has become a team mantra over the course of a season.
“She did have concerns,” Caldwell said. “Our meeting was about her getting to know what my expectations were of her. I wasn’t basing those expectations on anything except what we’ve seen this year.”

“I told her minutes are going to be earned, never given, and she’s earned it.”

Taka now comes off the bench regularly and is relied on to hit shots from the outside, provide an energy boost and challenge opponents defensively. It is a role reversal that has taken some time to get used to. Coaches and teammates have all made an effort to help Taka establish confidence in her playing ability, something the guard says has been difficult.

“It’s taken me awhile to start believing in myself, to really grasp that everyone was important, from the starters to the bench players,” Taka said. “It’s still hard for me to grasp that I actually have an important role.”

Now that’s awesome.

Link: http://www.dailybruin.ucla.edu/news/2009/feb/19/takas-work-ethic-earns-her-fans/

McDonald’s All-American teams picked

No surprises on either roster. And there are several other players who could have made this roster as well, except for the amount of talent in this class. The quality of the game is rising on every level.

The game is April 1 in Miami.

Link to McDonald’s site: http://www.mcdonaldsallamerican.com/

“Lost” season at Rutgers

This is a sad piece, featuring an interview with Rutgers senior Heather Zurich, whose senior year has been marked by sadness and frustration:


Mike Flynn of Bluestar Basketball bets that there will be a “mass exodus” of players leaving the Scarlet Knight program at the end of the year, in the last post on this thread:



Sparks to hold open tryouts

I don’t know if this is a publicity stunt or not. I mean, do they really expect to get a player off the streets with so much unused talent in the WNBA, i.e. at least two teams worth of players who got cut last year? Also, with the new 11-player limit this year?

Link: http://www.wnba.com/sparks/community/2009_Sparks_Open_Tryouts.html

And who’s Angela Bryant?

February Madness: it’s on like donkey kong!

City Section bracket here:


For the Southern Section, go to this page:


Under the sports tab hit ‘basketball,’ ‘girls basketball’ and then ‘playoff brackets.’ There are multiple spread sheets with brackets in all divisions.

City Section playoffs start Friday, and Southern Section games begin tomorrow.

I’m so excited!!!! This is my favorite time of year, the next six weeks.

Shekinna Stricklen is tough as hell

The girl dislocated her kneecap in Thursday’s game. Got therapy after that, and according to Knoxville-based scout.com reporter Maria Cornelius, she practiced today and didn’t even have a limp. She’s going to play in tomorrow’s game against Duke:

Tennessee Lady Vols’ guard Shekinna Stricklen took part in Sunday’s practice and will play against 4th ranked Duke Monday night.
Stricklen hit her knee in a collision in the Alabama game and was carried from the floor. When she returned on crutches, her right leg was iced.
Associate Athletic Director Jenny Moshak said Stricklen was cleared completely for practice and to play after responding well to rehab on the injury.
Stricklen leads the Lady Vols in scoring at 13.2 points per game.

Link: http://www.wbir.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=78079&catid=2I’m bowled over.
Stricklen had already crawled into my heart with her own lion-sized heart, chest thumping and bumping ways, fearlessness and offensive prowess. This latest warp-speed recovery indicates just how much she wants to play, and so it has locked her into my heart solidly, for the next four years.
I should probably go look for some pictures of the girl now. I’m going to need them.

What’s up in the land of Troy??

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Sophomore forward Ify Ibekwe tallied a career-high 27 points to lead an impressive offensive effort as Arizona posted a 74-61 win over host USC, Sunday afternoon in Pac-10 play at the Galen Center.

Two days ago, Arizona shot a season-low 22 percent from the field and tallied just 39 points in a 19-point loss to UCLA. Fast forward a little less than 72 hours and the Wildcats turned those numbers completely around.

Arizona scorched the nets for a season-best .605 shooting percentage, connecting on 26-of-43 field goals. The Wildcats also tallied their second highest point total of the season and most since recording 71 against the Trojans at McKale Center exactly one month ago.

The shooting numbers were in stark contrast to a pair of other columns on the stat sheet. The Wildcats were outrebounded, 43-33, and allowed a staggering 30 boards on the offensive end to the Trojans. Arizona also committed 28 turnovers that led to 27 USC points.

Poor shooting by USC turned the tables for the Wildcats as the Trojans were a woeful 24-of-82 (.293) from the field and 9-of-37 (.243) from three-point range. The Trojans also committed 21 turnovers and the Wildcats were efficient in creating 24 points off of those miscues.

A 5-for-5 start by Ify Ibekwe highlighted a 12-for-14 (.857) opening 15 minutes of play as the Wildcats built a 26-19 lead. Despite committing eight turnovers during that stretch, the Wildcats forced 11 giveaways and limited USC to a 7-for-24 (.292) clip.

The Wildcats used a 10-0 run to build a 30-19 lead over a 3:44 stretch. Ibekwe connected on the first two buckets, then added the final two points of the stretch while USC committed six turnovers and missed seven-straight shots before a jumper by Ashley Corral at the 2:35 mark broke the run.

Any momentum the Wildcats carried with their 32-26 halftime lead was gone within the opening 3:04 of the second half. Arizona committed four early turnovers, made just 1-of-3 shots and allowed USC to two more offensive rebounds to produce a 9-2 start and a 35-34 lead for the Trojans.

A tongue-lashing from head coach Niya Butts woke the Wildcats up and produced a quick response. Courtney Clements drilled a three-ball in the corner, then Ibekwe produced a steal and a conventional three-point play to regain a 40-35 cushion.

A jumper by Nadia Parker at the 14:38 mark drew the Trojans within a bucket at 43-41, but the Wildcats seized control of the game to build a lead they would not relinquish. Amina Njonkou drove the lane for a scooping lay-up that sparked a game-clinching 11-0 scoring run over the next 4:52. Ashley Frazier finished off the run with a transition lay-up as the Wildcats eventually stretched the lead to as much as 18 and never let the lead slip below double digits.

Ibekwe hit 10-of-14 field goal attempts and all seven of her free throws while also pulling down eight rebounds and grabbing three steals. Frazier, Clements and Njonkou each had 12 points while Faihza Hill had nine points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Heather Oliver tallied 15 points to lead USC (12-11, 6-6), but they all came down the stretch after the Cats had put the game away. Brynn Cameron tallied 13 points while Nadia Parker had 9 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.

Arizona (10-14, 3-10) returns home for a three-game homestand, starting on Saturday, February 21 against in-state rival Arizona State with tip-off scheduled for 2 p.m.


Though I’m happy for Arizona, I’m shocked that USC let another one slip through its fingers. They are now 12-11 and 6-6 in the Pac-10.

Supporters of Coach Mark Trakh will point to the number of injuries team members have sustained over the last several years as to why the Trojans always seem to underachieve. Mark Trakh critics will point to the other NCAA teams (Cal, Tennessee, etc) which see significant player injuries but still keep rolling on to wins.

Is it bad player rotation by the coach into the game? Is it mental collapses on the court? What is it?? And what should be done about it??

In other shocks, North Carolina State beat #15 Virginia on this final day of breast cancer awareness weekend; I suppose that was fitting.

Unranked LSU beat #11 Florida, and Maryland whooped Rutgers, 67-47 (the Scarlet Knights is another case where I wonder what is going on).

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