Wednesday, December 2, 2020
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Every day is a big game day

With all the cancellations and postponements, there are none of the traditional “down” days right now. Every night there is at least one major match up. I can dig it.

Today’s results:

Baylor held off South Florida, 67-62

Florida State held off Florida, 81-75

Tennessee 67, ESU 50

Auburn 97, Gardner-Webb 61

All scores

Tomorrow’s game schedule

College team news:

The NCAA’s power 10 teams.

Ohio is the NCAA’s team of the week.

The new norm: scheduling games via Twitter.

DePaul will replace UConn in the Jimmy V Classic this weekend, and will face Louisville Friday.

Oregon is 2-0 as they head into conference play.

Breaking down the creation of Duke’s schedule.

DePaul and Creighton are playing in masks.

Iowa next travels to Drake.

Nebraska tips the season Friday.

Five storylines for Minnesota.

Wichita State is off to a 2-0 start.

Utah Valley is on pause after a positive COVID test.

Air Force had to cancel a game due a positive COVID test.

Miami Ohio’s game against Purdue has been canceled due to COVID concerns.

Virginia State is opting out of the season.

College player news:

The Wooden Award watch list.

Statistically, was Charli Collier’s 44-point game the best in Longhorn history?

Baylor’s Didi Richards returned to the court tonight five weeks after a spinal cord injury.

Aari McDonald’s basketball journey has brought her to a top-caliber team.

Tiana Mangakahia rediscovered her court magic Sunday.

The shooting of Chloe Bibby and Katie Benzan will be key for the Terps.

Calm under pressure, Angel Reese is already making an impact for Maryland.

Senior Mya Hollingshed has grown up during her time at Colorado.

Kelly Jekot is providing the experience Penn State needs.

Lehigh’s Anna Harvey is using her homefield advantage.

Gadiva Hubbard is ready to take on any role for the Gophers.

Syracuse transfer Kadi Sissoko is finally ready to show off her talent at Minnesota.

College coach news:

Vermont coach Alisa Kresge on the program’s return from a COVID pause.

College conference news:

The Pac-12 has announced testing protocols and a game cancellation policy.

COVID might make it hard to find referees for games.

WNBA news:

The 2021 draft lottery will be Friday, on ESPN.

Emma Meesseman’s Euroleague season has been derailed by coronavirus.

Play continues

Today’s results:

No. 18 Gonzaga rallied past South Dakota, 54-50.

No. 20 DePaul set a scoring mark in their 128-66 win over Chicago State.

Buffalo won their season opener over James Madison, 80-64.

Arizona made it three in a row with a 62-53 win over St. Mary’s.

South Dakota State ran by Creighton, 66-47.

Ole Miss thumped McNeese State, 99-44.

In progress now: No. 10 Oregon vs. Portland.

All scores.

Tomorrow’s schedule.

College team news:

Notre Dame out, Texas into this week’s AP top 25 poll.

Pac-12 ball players will wear a device that detects COVID-19.

Which teams have the best and worst nonconference schedules?

America East preview.

Pac-12 teams are off to a hot start so far.

Louisville notebook.

North Carolina has started their season 3-0.

Illness and injury has left Minnesota with just seven players for their opener.

Utah will open their season Sunday at No. 10 Oregon.

Illinois State will also tip their season Sunday.

Florida-Florida State has been rescheduled for tomorrow.

Texas A&M has changed their Wednesday opponent from Texas Southern to Lamar.

Stanford canceled their game tonight due to Santa Clara County pandemic restrictions.

Missouri has canceled their next three games after a positive COVID test.

Southern Miss has suspended activities until Dec. 12, due to COVID protocols.

Sacred Heart is weathering another COVID shutdown.

Boston College will build a basketball practice facility.

College player news:

Mississippi State grad transfer Andra Espinoza-Hunter has landed at Seton Hall.

College coach news:

Tara VanDerveer’s quest for the all-time wins record has hit a speed bump.

Dawn Staley says the Gamecocks have found their edge.

WNBA player news:

What’s next after ‘get out the vote’?

The WNBA influenced the Georgia Senate race.

Kahleah Copper is a new assistant coach at Purdue University Northwest.

Pac-12 teams off to a hot start so far

The Ducks' "fab five" freshmen prepare to enter the game in the third quarter. Photo courtesy of Oregon Athletics.
The Ducks’ “fab five” freshmen prepare to enter the game in the third quarter. Photo courtesy of Oregon Athletics.

The Pac-12’s ranked teams have each got off to strong starts in the first few days of NCAA college basketball season.

No. 2 Stanford, No. 7 Arizona, No. 9 UCLA, No. 10 Oregon and No. 18 Oregon State all won comfortably in their debuts over four days, showcasing depth, versatility and perseverance.

On opening day Wednesday, the Cardinal ran past Cal Poly, 108-40. Junior Lexie Hull lead five Stanford players in double figures, with 19 points. Freshman Cameron Brink scored 17 and sophomore Haley Jones, whose year was cut short in January by an injury, returned to score 16 points and grab 11 rebounds. It was an impressive display by a team that features four sophomores and three freshmen.

“It was really fun to see everybody out there,” Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer said. “I’m just so thankful we can play.”

The Bruins were also supposed to open the season that day, but had to postpone the match up when opponent Fullerton’s COVID tests weren’t returned on time. The two teams faced off Friday, and UCLA easily handled the Titans, 98-49. Sophomore guard Charisma Osborne lead four of her teammates in double figures with a career-high 31 points for the win. Michaela Onyenwere added 22.

With only eight players, the Bruins know they have to be both focused and versatile. Osborne, who made the conference all-freshman team last season, said she is trying to step up her contributions.

“Going into this game, (coaches) really wanted me to be aggressive this year as a scorer, and in getting teammates involved, to continue on with what I did last year,” she said.

Onyenwere said it is especially important now, with a small team and no home crowd, to lock into the game plan from the beginning.

“Even when we had fans we always talked about being intrinsically- motivated, and now it’s even more important to have to bring our own energy from our own circle,” she said.

The Ducks have seemingly the opposite scenario, with 13 players on a roster that is deeper than last season’s, which the team spent the entirety of ranked within the top five. Though the majority of the roster consists of newcomers, it is not a rebuild.

Redshirt sophomore Nyara Sabally has been with the team for two years, sitting out with injury. Transfers Sedona Prince and Taylor Mikesell were also with Oregon last year, sitting out per NCAA rules. The team’s five freshmen were part of the nation’s top signing class.

In their opener, the Ducks dominated Seattle University, 116-51. Mikesell scored 28 points, including 8-10 from the three-point line. Prince had 17 points, senior Lydia Giomi 15, junior Taylor Chavez 11, and Sabally, 10. Eleven players scored and the team had just three rebounds on the night.

Coach Kelly Graves said he tried numerous lineup combinations, including a few minutes in the third quarter when all five freshmen were on the floor, and will continue to do so.

“We’ll go with a deeper bench for a while,” he said. “I don’t know which group will play better with each other, because we’ve got so many moving parts. At some point during Pac-12 play we will tighten it up and go with certain rotations. But for now, it will be a fluid situation.”

Mikesell, who was a sharpshooter at Maryland before coming West, said she will continue to fire from long range.

“Because of the confidence I have, if I shoot the ball and I miss it, it’s more of a fluke,” she said.

Giomi said having so much extra personnel is an adjustment.

“I think we have tons of potential because we have a deeper bench then we’ve ever had,” she said. “I was warming up with the returners and we were looking around saying, we have too many people on the court, what are we going to do with all this talent.”

“We went to the Final Four (in 2019) with eight people and now we have 13. That’s a big difference.”

Graves said he wasn’t surprised by his squad’s performance against Seattle, because they’re very capable.

“This is a good group to go a long way,” he said.

Charisma Osborne. Photo courtesy of UCLA Athletics.

Also Saturday, the new-look Beavers dismantled Montana Western, 88-54. Taylor Jones lead five from Corvallis in double figures, with 24 points.

Following a tough year of injuries and personal tragedies, Oregon State returns just two starters. They, along with Stanford and UCLA, were supposed to play two games over the four-day stretch that didn’t include Thanksgiving day. But in each case, their opponents had COVID concerns or testing issues and had to postpone or cancel the match up. The Cardinal and the Beavers both scheduled new games for tomorrow.

The Wildcats, who had a hard time finding opponents to play, tipped off their season today. After struggling to score and defend in the first half, they picked up the pace in the last two quarters to down Northern Arizona, 76-63. Cate Reese lead the way for Arizona with 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Aari McDonald added 18 points and eight assists.

Coach Adia Barnes said her squad was rusty because they hadn’t played a game in 266 days.

“We were very flat, but I’m proud we got the jitters out,” she said. “I felt like we were inconsistent with our defense and we weren’t communicating well. We didn’t shoot the ball well, and we looked gassed.”

Barnes said she challenged them at halftime to step up their game, and they did. She said what was challenging for her was her larger roster size, as transfers and signees have found their way to the rising program.

“I played a lot of different combinations because we have a lot more people,” she said. “Most games we won’t play 12. It’s hard to get consistency and rhythm going deep into the bench.”

On the non-ranked Pac-12 side, Arizona State and Colorado each picked up two wins, Washington and USC one a piece, and Cal lost twice. Utah and Washington State have not yet played.

Much to think about so far

Some big performances, both team and individually, these last four game days. Praying that we get to finish this season, because it’s already very intriguing.

Today’s results:

Upset: Wake Forest upended No. 24 Missouri State, 68-59.

No. 1 South Carolina held off No. 21 Gonzaga, 79-72.

No. 5 Louisville pounded Eastern Kentucky, 101-58.

No. 6 Mississippi State routed Jackson State, 88-58.

No. 7 Arizona shook off a slow start to run past Northern Arizona, 76-63.

No. 8 NC State vaulted by North Carolina Central, 108-70.

No. 11 Kentucky handled Belmont, 70-50.

No. 12 Maryland pushed past No. 14 Arkansas, 115-96, and broke program records.

No. 20 Ohio State thrashed Duquesne, 82-47.

No. 22 Notre Dame took care of Miami Ohio, 88-68.

In her return to the court from breast cancer, Tiana Mangakahia lead No. 23 Syracuse past Stony Brook, 50-39, with 16 points.

Duke had no problem with Western Carolina, 83-56.

North Carolina came from behind to beat High Point, 95-70.

Kierstan Bell got her eligibility today and helped FGCU stop Davidson, 84-61.

Georgia downed Georgia Tech in OT, 75-69.

Texas topped North Texas, 106-69, on the strength of 44 points and 16 rebounds from Charli Collier. The junior is just the fourth Longhorn to score 40 or more in a game and the first in 26 years.

All scores.

Tomorrow’s game schedule.

College team news:

UCLA-Pepperdine was postponed today after a positive COVID test in the Waves program.

Missouri-St. Louis was postponed today due to positive COVID tests.

Northwestern State is shutting down for two weeks due to COVID concerns.

Arizona State is seeking their first 3-0 start in three years.

Florida State is ready to show off their hard work.

Marshall is waiting to get their program started.

Several Toledo players took a knee during the anthem today.

College coach news:

West Virginia coach Mike Carey notched his 700th career win last night.

Day 2

Today’s results:

Upset: Ohio edged No. 22 Notre Dame, 86-85.

No. 9 UCLA routed Fullerton, 98-49.

No. 12 Maryland overcame a slow start to down Davidson, 94-72.

No. 14 Arkansas surged in the second half to top Wake Forest, 98-82. Six players saw double figures.

No. 24 Missouri State rolled past FGCU, 74-49.

Naz Hillmon’s 35 points propelled No. 25 Michigan past Oakland, 95-62.

Rutgers ran past Monmouth, 82-38.

Arizona State relied on defense to outrun VCU, 49-40.

Grand Canyon set a DI scoring record in coach Molly Miller’s debut.

All scores.

Tomorrow’s game schedule.

College team news:

Maryland has many new faces, but the goal remains the same.

The Terps need their young guards to shine this weekend.

Oregon State will have a new look this year.

Oregon’s starters and rotation won’t be set for a while.

Four takeaways from Northwestern’s schedule.

FGCU hopes to adjust after losing their top seven scorers.

Oklahoma State kicks off their season Sunday.

Creighton looks to fix their offense after a season-opening loss.

Everything you need to know about Missouri.

UMass will rely on two leaders this season.

Robert Morris is ready for the challenges of the Horizon League.

Wichita State’s season is filled with uncertainty.

Adjustments have been made at the Crossover Classic, due to Oklahoma’s exit.

Florida State-Florida was postponed today.

The North Carolina State-Radford game has been canceled due to protocols within the Radford program.

Nevada’s opener against San Francisco was canceled due to COVID tracing protocols.

The UConn-Seton Hall game has been rescheduled.

Sacred Heart has paused activities due to a positive COVID test.

Georgetown has paused activities due to a positive COVID test.

Southern Miss has pulled out of its own tournament due to COVID protocols.

College player news:

The Ducks finally get to unleash Sedona Prince.

The steady hand of Imar’i Thomas once again guides Cincinnati.

Early evaluations for the Big 12 freshmen.

What to expect from each Syracuse player.

College coach news:

The Niele Ivey era has begun at Notre Dame.

Delisha Milton-Jones is the new coach, but ODU has the same ambitions.

Navy looks to make progress this year under new coach Tim Taylor.

Stumbling out of the gates on day one

It feels GREAT to be able to write “today’s results” again:
 
Indiana smashed Eastern Kentucky, 100-51. Grace Berger lead the No. 16 Hoosiers with the first triple-double in school history.
No. 13 Texas A&M took care of Lamar, 77-71, behind 18 points and 18 rebounds from Ciera Johnson.
No. 11 Kentucky routed Murray State, 86-60, and caused 32 turnovers in the process.
No. 14 Arkansas stuffed Oral Roberts, 94-69. Destiny Slocum scored 22 points in her debut for the Razorbacks, while Chelsea Dungee had 14.
Texas rolled past SMU, 90-51. Charli Collier had 25 points and 12 rebounds for the Longhorns.
 
 
Postponements and cancelations:
 
 
College team news:
College player news:
Howard was also suspended today for two games for not upholding the standards of the Kentucky program. Teammate Tatyana Wyatt was suspended for three games for violating team rules.
College coach news:

The season starts in 5…4…3…2…

It seems like there are WAY more “night before” stories this season than usually. I think we are all eager to get things rolling.

College team news:

Season preview, key players and teams to watch.

ESPN’s Final Four picks, player of the year predictions and biggest storylines.

The Big Ten tips off their 40th season tomorrow.

The Pac-12 debuts with high expectations.

The ACC begins play tomorrow.

What to know about highly-touted Louisville ahead of the season.

All you need to know about South Carolina.

Kentucky is set to begin a new era.

What you need to know about the Wildcats.

Indiana is prepped for their season opener.

Arizona State opens the season with two freshmen starters and a new offense.

UCLA and USC are prepping for the unpredictable.

Washington is thankful to get on the court.

The Huskies are expected to struggle again this season, but help is on the way.

Tennessee has several frontcourt options this year.

Missouri wades through uncertainty as the season begins.

How Syracuse can improve this season.

For Iowa teams, there is no easing into this season.

Northern Iowa will provide Iowa an early test.

Iowa State begins its anticipated season.

Duke season preview.

Central Michigan has plenty of potential and high hopes.

Arkansas “expects to win everything now.”

Cal and their touted freshmen open the year tomorrow.

The pieces are in place for Duquesne to make a run.

Florida is ready for their opener.

Liberty is eager to finally get back on court.

Fun times could be on the horizon for Air Force.

Pitt is ready to take a step forward.

VCU is grateful to begin their season at the Arizona State tournament.

Norfolk State has nine new players.

North Carolina aims to educate and activate.

Michigan State has launched their erase hate initiative.

Why the Spartans are taking a stand against racial injustice.

Purdue starts their Big Ten schedule Dec. 17.

College player news:

UConn players are demonstrating strength amidst their quarantine.

Aleah Goodman and Taya Corosdale are taking on leadership roles for Oregon State.

ESPN expects big things out of Rhyne Howard, despite the late coaching change at Kentucky.

Through constant change, Janelle Bailey had lead North Carolina.

Mikayla Boykin is ready to take the reins at Duke.

Iowa State’s touted freshmen are ready for their first game.

Northern Arizona’s Sanjana Ramesh is the second woman from India to receive a DI scholarship.

Wisconsin transfer Diamond Bragg has been granted immediate eligibility at Duquesne.

Eastern Michigan transfer Aaliyah Stanley is immediately eligible at FGCU.

Miami senior guard Mykea Gray is out for the season with a torn ACL.

Seven breakout candidates for the year.

College coach news:

Geno Auriemma said the positive test didn’t come from a player or a coach, and the person was asymptomatic.

Vic Schaefer is ready to bring Texas back to prominence.

TCU coach Raegan Pebley is grateful for another season after an emotional eight months.

Virginia coach Tina Thompson stresses patience with a young team.

SIU coach Cindy Stein isn’t sure what to expect in her team’s opener.

Dayton coach Shauna Green has tested positive for COVID-19.

The contract of Virginia Tech coach Kenny Brooks has been extended through 2025-2026.

How Kara Lawson will use her diverse background at Duke.

An inside look at the Blue Devils new assistant coaching staff.

COVID news:

The Air Force Reserve Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge has been canceled.

UC Santa Barbara has canceled their first three games after a positive COVID test from the coaching staff.

Buffalo has canceled their opener against Tennessee Tech due to COVID cases at Tech.

Miami Ohio has canceled their opener against Wisconsin tomorrow due to COVID concerns.

Akron’s season opener against Ohio State has also been canceled, due to COVID protocols.

Coppin State has canceled their opening against La Salle due to COVID concerns.

St. Bonaventure has paused activities after a positive COVID test.

Bonus:

A group has formed the College Basketball Parents Association to advocate for players and educate parents.

Husky players demonstrating strength in the face of COVID quarantine

Gampel Pavilion. Photo courtesy of UConn Athletics.

Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma had to tell his players Monday that practices would cease for 14 days, and games would be canceled, due to a positive COVID-19 test within the program.

Auriemma felt badly – even guilty – that this was happening to the Huskies, after all of their hard work, preparation and patience getting ready for the season. But athletes surprised him with their strength.

“They came back at me with ‘Coach, these things are out of our control. And we’ll come back from this and we’ll deal with it, and we’re going to be even better than we were before going into it,’” Auriemma said.

“So as far as kids being resilient. Yeah. They want this so bad but they understand, you know, there’s nothing we can do to prevent this. And there’s nothing we can do to, to avoid the circumstances, you know, the consequences of what happens when it when it strikes.”

The positive test was from someone in the “Tier 1” group, defined as players, coaches and staff that come into contact with the team, including athletic trainers, strength and conditioning coaches and academic advisors. Though he stopped short of identifying the person, Auriemma confirmed that only part of the group is in isolation for the next 14 days.

“Through contact tracing, and….the normal protocols, our coaching staff is not in a quarantine situation at this time,” he said. “Our team is, but our coaching staff is not. So I’m not in quarantine.”

The shutdown means that the Huskies had to cancel two games this weekend at the Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge, which they were set to host at Mohegan Sun. They will also cancel their Dec. 4 game against Louisville at the Jimmy V Women’s Classic.

UConn, ranked at No. 3 in preseason polls, is the most prominent program to be forced to pause activities due to positive testing, but the list is growing. The announcement cast a pall over the entire season, as it seems clear that the Huskies will not be the last team to be affected by a disease that appears all but out of control across much of the country.

The quarantine is mandated by the State of Connecticut Department of Health, which Auriemma supports. But he voiced concern that there is lack of consistency nationwide because each school makes their own rules according to state guidelines.

“I think everybody’s going to be in this, in this scenario, at some point, either already has been, is, or will be, you can just pretty much predict that”, Auriemma said. “So the one thing that I’ve been struggling with, in talking with my coaches, and other coaches around the country, there seems to be such a widespread and such disparity between how each conference, each part of the country, each state, chooses to handle any of these occurrences.”

During the summer and early fall, the team divided into “pods” of four players who lived and practiced together, led by the three juniors, Evina Westbrook, Christyn Williams, and Olivia Nelson-Ododa. The Huskies have six freshmen, two sophomores, and no seniors on the roster. The Tier One group will all be re-tested Wednesday and Friday.

“We’re going to wait and see what the results are, and if we get everything that we expect to get, we’ll start back on the court in our pods again,” Auriemma said.

He expressed regret over the shutdown, considering how careful players were.

“But these kids want this so bad that, I call it, ‘They’ve been held hostage.’ Since the end of July. They can’t go anywhere. They can’t talk to anybody. They can’t do anythingm” Auriemma said. “You know, and for a couple hours every day they’re allowed out to get some recess. It’s incredible what’s happened to them.”

“And yet they hang in there, and they don’t talk about them, “I’m done with this!’ They don’t. They just talk about ‘when’s our first game? When are we playing? When’s our next practice?’”

Every basketball fan hopes that everything will be fine, and we will have a season of games, and even a tournament at the end. But having several teams cancelling the first part of their season does not bode well for anything like a normal basketball year.

Louisville’s situation demonstrates the difficulty all teams face in keeping the NCAA season viable. Although the team has not announced any positive tests, Louisville will miss both their game against the Huskies and their home opener against Middle Tennessee, which also announced a shutdown period yesterday after a positive COVID test.

Other teams that have had to shutdown temporarily include Utah, Seton Hall, Illinois State, Wright State, UMass Lowell, Coastal Carolina, and Kent State, just to name a few. Teams that have canceled their seasons entirely include the entire Ivy League, Florida A&M, Bethune-Cookman and Cal State Northridge.

UConn expects to play its first game against Big East opponent Butler at home on Dec, 15.

Full practices are set to re-commence Dec. 8.