Friday, October 7, 2022
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A meeting of friends disguised as opponents

Like yesterday’s UCLA-Arizona game, today’s meeting between Tennessee and South Carolina will be an assembly of familiar faces. USC Coach Dawn Staley’s assistants, Carla McGhee and Nikki McCray, used to play for Summitt, who will achieve 997 wins if the Vols win today.


Summitt has been coaching at UT for 35 years and her influence is being felt, as so many of her former players and/or assistants are filtering out around the country in head and assistant coaching positions. If we all had a fraction of the legacy of Summitt, we’d have lived an amazing life.

Yet another dope story about Nikki Caldwell

This is the best one yet.

“There is no question that my time under Coach Summitt prepared me for what I’m doing now,” Caldwell said. “She always said that a head coach is only as good as the assistants. She was always open to our ideas. There were many times that she allowed me, (assistants) Holly (Warlick) and Dean (Lockwood) to lead practice or take the lead in recruiting. She let us lead in the scouting of future opponents.

“She provided us that experience and it groomed me to be where I am today. So, now I know how it is to run a program. She taught us how to handle media relations. She taught me how to be a head coach. Because of all that she taught me, I haven’t felt at any moment that I’ve been thrown to the wolves. I feel like I’ve been able to handle everything that has been thrown my way.”


“We have a lot of talent here, that’s the strength of our team,” said Caldwell. “I think the difference here is that we don’t have a Candace Parker. We have a young lady, Doreena Campbell, who has the same mentality in that she wants the ball in crunch time. At Tennessee, we ran every play through Parker. At UCLA, since we don’t have a superstar like Parker, we’re running things a little bit different.”


“Something that stood out for me early in the year was during our individual workouts back in April,” said Caldwell. “We have a 6-foot-6 post player named Moniquee ‘Mo’ Alexander. I laughed to her that she would play some point guard for us. She looked at me like I was crazy. So, we started working on her getting the rebound and starting the break. Well, in a game earlier this season Mo came out of a rebound and took a few dribbles and started the break. We executed and converted on the offensive end. Our bench went crazy. It wasn’t because we had scored, it was because she did something that she didn’t think she could do.”


“I think what’s helped is the confidence my girls have in what we’re trying to do because they’ve been able to see that the plan works. Any time we ask them to do something, I think they realize that this plan got us those national championships at Tennessee. I reference Pat all the time because they respect all that she stands for. They respect where I’ve come from.”

Strange coincidence:

“Candace Parker and I live in the same neighborhood,” says Caldwell. “She comes over to my place and I’ve been over to hers. I needed a dog friendly neighborhood because I have three dogs. Candace started telling me one day about this great neighborhood where she and (husband) Shelden (Williams) bought and how much they loved it. I told her that that’s where I was buying a condo. Small world, I guess.”


Saturday college roundup

Going into today’s game against Syracuse, Connecticut’s Maya Moore needed 40 points to reach a career 1000.

She got that. And now Moore is the first-fastest Husky to reach that milestone. Oh, and Connecticut whupped Syracuse, 107-53.

No other surprises today. Even in the Pac-10, the victories were predictable: Oregon State over Washington; Oregon over Washington State; Arizona State over USC; and UCLA over Arizona.

The basketball highlight of my day was listening to Umpqua CC and Mount Hood CC battle it out. Apparently online game broadcasts are a relatively new thing in Roseburg, and they’re a boon for out-of-town fans like me.

The two teams traded runs all game long. Umpqua, ranked first in the Northwest Association of Community Colleges (all of the Pacific Northwest) with only one loss, was having trouble with the 9-7 Saints. The Riverhawks climbed to a seven-point lead once or twice, but Mount Hood never gave up. They kept coming back, and then they’d take the lead. This precarious lead exchange kept going on and on. It was pacing time for me.

Fortunately, Umpqua point guard Mykiea Russell had a break-out second half, scoring 13 of her team-high 18 points in the period. Her two most important shots were a long-bomb three in the last minute, to put her team ahead again, and a crucial bucket within the last five seconds, just when it looked like the game would go into overtime. Final score: 70-68. I love games like that, even though they’re hard on the system.

APR rates for coaches will be compiled next year

USA Today is reporting that the NCAA will begin compiling Annual Percentage Rates for college coaches beginning next year.

The coaches’ APRs — “kind of like a lifetime batting average,” said University of Hartford President Walt Harrison — are expected to be publicly available on an NCAA-affiliated website by summer 2010. They’re intended for use by recruits, their parents and prospective employers in evaluating coaches and programs, along with wins and other competitive and personal criteria.

Sounds like a good idea to me. If coaches can evaluate recruits, recruits should be able to evaluate coaches.


Candace Parker is OK with the boys

I can gauge the acceptance of people and concepts, and thus the tone of the near future, by polling my high school students. What kids think is a measure of how far we’ve come/progression, so I tune in when I can.

And as far as the teenage boys at my school are concerned, Candace Parker is cool – even being pregnant.

The hottest football recruit at our school has a crush on CP. Whenever I wear one of my Tennessee T-shirts, and especially my Candace Parker MVP/ROY shirt with her picture on it, he just sighs.

I wore my Tennessee-orange Parker signature Adidas shoes to school recently, and one of the basketball players noticed.

“Kevin Garnets?” he asked me.

“Candace Parkers,” I said.

“Ohhhh,” he nodded.

Tuesday I was with my class of athletes, which includes some football players. I forget how she came up when I was talking to one boy, but he paused and said casually, “she’s pregnant.”

“They say she’ll be back in time to play for the season this year,” I said.

“Oh yeah,” he said with enthusiasm. “She will, no doubt about it.”


In the meantime, this Adidas ad features Parker:

I wonder when they came up with that slogan?

Showdown in the high desert

UCLA tips off at Arizona in about an hour. Bruin Coach Nikki Caldwell and her assistants Tasha Butts and Tony Perotti will coach against fellow Tennessee alum Niya Butts, the Wildcats head coach.

It will also be all-in-the-family on the court, as Chinyere and Ify Ibekwe face off for their respective teams. Chinyere currently can boast more, as UCLA won the matchup last year – the only other time the sisters played each other.

Random statistics from the Bruin website:

– UCLA has held its opponents to an average 62.5 points this season.

– In 15 games, the Bruins have had seven different leading scorers: Moniquee Alexander, Doreena Campbell, Nina Earl, Ibekwe, Darxia Morris, Erica Tukianien and Christina Nzekwe.

– My favorite statistic – UCLA’s 50+ rebound games:
Total (Off-Def) – Opponent
54 (25-29) – vs. CSUF (11/16/08)
50 (18-32) – vs. Pepperdine (11/18/08)
54 (26-28) – vs. CSUN (11/30/08)
54 (29-25) – vs. CSUB (12/3/08)
54 (21-33) – vs. Nevada (12/7/08)
53 (21-32) – at Rice (12/17/08)
55 (23-32) – vs. USC (1/11/09)

– In games through Jan. 11, the following Bruins rank in the Pac-10:
Ibekwe, third in rebounding
Campbell, 11th in scoring, fifth in assists, fifth in assists/turnover ratio, third in FT shooting percentage
Nzekwe, sixth in steals, seventh in offensive rebounding, 12th in field goal percentage
Morris, seventh in assists and 11th in assists/turnover ratio
Earl, fifth in steals, 15th in field goal percentage

Finally, Campbell was named Pac-10 player of the week after leading her team to its first victory against USC in over four years last Sunday. She scored 21 points.

Today’s game can be heard via the Arizona website:

Yesterday, today, tomorrow

So, yesterday.

ASU kicked the butts of UCLA, Oregon beat Washington, WSU beat OSU, and USC had to take it to OT to defeat Arizona. Things are normal in the Pac-10, in other words.

I got home in time to hear the online broadcast of Tennessee vs. Mississippi State. I was housecleaning and listening and cursing/yelling. Three times I stopped to hold a Vol in light because she had gone down with an injury. First it was Alex Fuller, then Kelley Cain, then Shekinna Stricklen. Even the UT announcer said the Vols were “dropping like flies.” I don’t think anyone was seriously hurt, and Tennessee preserved their all-time winning record over MSU.

So, today.

I’m going to try and figure out this California Community Colleges Athletics Association website over the weekend, because it’s still not showing the stats for the conferences. I emailed one of the officers, so I’ll try those instructions tomorrow when I’m awake.

But I went to see my girls play in their Juco game (again) tonight, and for the second time this week, they won.

The minute the buzzer sounded, I was (literally) running out to my car to catch the rest of the Carson-Washington Prep game – a rematch of last week’s semi-final game at the Fairfax Tournament. I wanted to see if last week’s game was a fluke.

It wasn’t.

Prep got out to a strong start and lead at the half, 29-16. Kejuana Gardner, aka Kiwi, and Reshanda Gray, aka Too Tall, lead their team in scoring.

The third quarter stayed pretty much the same, with both teams exchanging baskets but no runs made on either side. It was 40-29 to end it.

In the fourth quarter, Carson made a run about halfway through, on the strength of a few threes. It only took about 90 seconds for Prep to get it together, though, and take a six-point lead back up to nine. Only because of a last-second three was the final score 51-44. Prep looked good.

So, tomorrow.

Eventually, all games will be webcast at the very least. While we wait for that technology, we have audio.

Umpqua Community College games will now be audiocast on: Next game is tomorrow at 4 p.m. I’m excited!

If anyone has links of other game audiocasts they’d like to share, please post.

So, blast from the past.

Prior to the 2007 City Section Finals, the LA Times did a story on the Washington Prep Lady Generals and what they meant to the school. Accompanying this piece was a really cute photo of point guard Mykiea Russell and forward Kejuana Gardner (see the Nov. 28, 2008 entry on this blog). After tonight’s game, I was inspired to look for this photo online, and I found it!

This is one of the reasons I like teaching high school – so many precious kids.

Mykia and Kejuanna

American players released from Israel team

Nicky Anosike, Tan White and Adia Barnes were released from their Israeli team Elizur Ramla this week, due to “financial troubles” of the team. Personally, I was wondering if and how the league would carry on after the break ended next week, due to the current strife in that country.


Great piece on UCLA Coach Nikki Caldwell

The LA Times actually did a piece on Coach Wonder, and it’s good, too.

Among other things readers learn is that Caldwell has unflagging confidence, a condo by the Pacific Ocean and an orange Harley, and that UCLA will play Tennessee next year (I thought so).


I like the way she’s selling the team, too. Gwan, girl.

Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits 47, Long Beach Millikan Rams 37

I went to this game last night mostly to check out Poly for the first time this season. But I also wanted to see Millikan; Poly is ranked sixth in California on maxpreps and Millikan, 25th. So I figured it would be a good game.

Not quite. But I do now have a feeling for where defending state champions Poly are, personnel and team-wise.

Poly got off to a quick start, with a bucket a piece from guard Brittany Wilson, guard/forward Kelli Thompson and forward Ta’nitra Byrd. Millikan missed their first few shots, turned the ball over and committed a couple fouls. But a long shot by guard Jaslyn Cosey ignited a small Rams run. Another shot and several free throws later, Poly was only up 9-8 at 2:56. Monique Oliver finally hit one for the Jackrabbits, but both teams committed several errors a piece before the end of the quarter; the score was 14-9 Poly.

Cosey and Oliver traded threes to start the second quarter. This was where the game got more physical, but the refs kept things under control. Poly was missing free throws, but Byrd or someone else was always there for the put-back. In fact, Byrd was amazing in the first half, making bank shots and jump shots besides the put-backs. She finished the half with 11 points.

In the meantime, Millikan players kept missing simple, under-the-basket layups. They didn’t look like a top 25 team then, nor in the third quarter. The Jackrabbits begun to run away from their opponents, and the score was 32-16 at halftime. Oliver and Thompson each had six for Poly, and Cosey had eight for Millikan.

The Rams began the second half with a shotclock violation – one of three times they did this during the game. The only thing more amazing was the non-reaction of their coach Lorene Morgan. I would have ripped my squad a new one the first time they pulled that stuff.

Nevertheless, Millikan made a small run, but the Jackrabbits responded. When a Poly player again missed both free throws with 4:02 left in the third, I realized that if this team has a weakness, this is it. They really need to work on their free shots.

Both teams really stepped up their defense at this point, and the last few minutes were a shot-blocking and turnover fest on both sides. Going into the fourth quarter, Poly was up 39-24.

Oliver finally came alive in the last period. She hit one jumper, then scored a three on her team’s next possession. She ended the game with 11 points. For the Rams, it was the Sequoia Hernandez show. A reserve freshman guard, Hernandez had scored three in the first half but roared into the last half and added 10 more points to her total.

With a couple minutes to go, Poly Coach Carl Buggs took out most of the starters and put in reserves, and the Rams made a little run. For several minutes the score had been 46-27, but Millikan players out-hustled the Jackrabbit bench and closed the gap. This showed me Poly’s key weakness, besides the free throws: they aren’t as deep as they used to be. That’s why the score ended up being 47-37.

The Jackrabbits lost April Cook, Janae Perkins, Jasmine Dixon, Nicolette Brown and Morgan Turner to graduation last year. They’ve been replaced with Byrd, a junior transfer from Hawaii, Sheila Boykin, a sophomore transfer from Lynwood, Olivia Montgomery, a freshman, and Tara Burns, a junior whose origin is yet to be determined.

Byrd is the real deal. She’s got great presence under the hoop, and wonderful floor vision. The rest of the newbies are bench players.

Millikan’s Cosey was amazing in the first half, but didn’t score one point in the second. I don’t know if this is typical for her, but I hope not. Hernandez was terrific, but I have no idea if that was atypical for her or if she should be put into the starting lineup. The entire team has potential, but they have a way to go.

Bottom line is that Poly – whose two games that they lost by mid-December equaled their losses for all of the 2007-2008 season – is vulnerable this year.

Celebrity sighting: Cal State Fullerton heir to the throne (assistant coach) Marcia Foster. I saw her at the Redondo Tourney last month and the Fairfax tourney last week. She’s everywhere.