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It’s THAT weekend, baybayyyyyy

Of course there is a buttload of news today, as Final Four weekend begins……

How many millions of times have I said it’s all about whether or not you think you can? Oklahoma believed they could get back to the Final Four.

Stanford Coach Tara VanDerveer may not yell like Pat Summitt, but she’s just as intense.

Bill Walton is hoping UConn will break UCLA’s winning streak. Ick. My dad and I never liked him.

Hey, a female coach has been named to head Trinity Valley Community College! Congrats to Kenya Larkin-Landers, and good luck in returning TVCC to prominence.

Miami and Cal will face off for the WNIT championship in a few hours, but they’ve already hung out – so to speak – a little bit:

All the University of Miami women had to do to size up their opponent in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament championship game was look across the plane.

Because of a convoluted travel schedule that sent the Hurricanes (22-13) from Michigan to the Bay Area via Chicago, they were on the same flight as the University of California women — who play host to UM in the title game at 2 p.m. Saturday.

“We’re waving to each other right now,” said UM coach Katie Meier via cellphone Friday, on a short layover in Los Angeles.

Meier didn’t need to introduce herself to Joanne Boyle, coach of the Golden Bears (23-13). They’ve been friends for more than 20 years. Both are Duke grads, and Boyle got her first break into coaching as an assistant with the Blue Devils.

“Joanne’s one of the best people in the world,” Meier said.

The two friends, who speak and text on a regular basis, enjoyed an in-person chat Friday thanks to the bizarre nature of the WNIT schedule.

I love stuff like that.

Here’s a retrospective of Oregon Ducks’ turnaround season under new Coach Paul Westhead.

ESPN’s Mark Lewis is always good with the practical advice. This week he’s telling high school athletes to practice their skill sets more, which is excellent. Then this part reminded me of something I wrote on March 8:

I’m also surprised by the number of players who really aren’t fans of the game. The players who have the most vested interest in the game and who are, in essence, its future, pay little attention to what you would assume is their passion.

As a coach you try to find out an athlete’s level of knowledge about the college game during the recruiting process. I’m not talking about the specifics of a particular program or coach but about the game itself and the nuances that make up women’s college basketball. Beyond their own recruitment, many prospects actually know very little about the game.

Of course you could argue that “playing” the game is where that passion really lies, but part of excelling at any sport is what you can take from others walking in your own shoes. A young athlete can develop by imitating, learning from and being inspired by players at the highest levels.

Yup. Pisses me off, too.

Really cool interview here of Cal’s Alexis Gray-Lawson (rumored to be on the Seattle Storm’s draft list) by a school principal. As a teacher myself, I love that perspective, because the writer got some good things out of AGL:

You’re proud of the fact that you’re from Oakland, but you’ve also distinguished the difference between being raised “in Oakland” and being raised “by Oakland.” Working where I do, and seeing what my students deal with every day, I think I know what you mean, but can you speak to that a little bit?

I think sometimes people forget that I was a normal kid, like most people. Did I get in trouble? Yeah, I got in trouble too. Everybody had their paths that they could possibly take, and for me, it was like, when you come from Oakland, it’s kind of like life or death. So many of my friends chose the wrong path and a lot of them are not living today. Whereas I had a lot of role models, a lot of people looking out for me to make sure I was doing the right thing. And by me doing the right thing, I kind of ended up here. For me, just to be able to be raised in Oakland was such a big thing for me, because it helps me appreciate a lot of things, it helps me appreciate life in general, and being able to wake up every day to see my family and friends, just all of that. It just helps me to be grateful to have a dollar in my pocket, or to have clothes, and shoes. I don’t think people who come from different neighborhoods appreciate that, and I really appreciate it.

Joanne Boyle talks about—in the context of what happened to Tierra—she talkas about who you are and what you do give you a platform. And it sounds that’s what you’re trying to do, to use your platform to give back and be a role-model. You have a close relationship with Joanne, and you’ve previously said that “Coach Boyle has raised us.” Can you talk more about that?

I’ve said that people give her credit, but they don’t give her enough credit for some of the success we’ve had here as people, not just as basketball players. If you look at me and Devanei’s situation and how we come from absolutely nothing, and she shows us around the world and teaches us so much about life. I can remember Devanei getting in trouble so much every year about something; something was always wrong. She got suspended for this, suspended for that. I think Coach Boyle really helped her understand certain things about life and how to become a woman. For me personally, faith is everything to me, and my parents have kind of drilled that into me from day one. Then you come here, things change for you a little bit. Sometimes you don’t have the greatest day, and you go through so many different issues and problems. But to be able to come in and talk to Coach… For instance, when my dad got really sick, I was so depressed, and there were times when I couldn’t practice, and I’m screaming and everybody sees me crying, and everyone is trying to figure out what’s going on. Then I go talk to her and my whole day is better. I can never never repay her for any of it, because it definitely helped me to become the woman I am. Me giving others my time and my energy even when I’m dead tired, it’s because of some of the stuff my parents did, but it’s also some of the stuff Coach B does. If she could give you everything, she would, you know? So that has helped us form this bond. Everybody talks about me being the Golden Child in our group, but definitely it has helped me to build this relationship with her, and it’s one we’ll build for years to come. I already joke that when I have kids, they’re going straight to her house. She really is the mom of our team. Words I don’t think can express some of the things that she does.

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